Cutting the Cord

Saving money on stuff really isn’t that hard.  Honestly, it’s not.  It’s a matter of looking at what you’re spending money on, deciding what matters and what doesn’t, and cutting out the stuff that doesn’t.  It’s not a magic formula, but it takes a little introspection and some discipline.

Some things aren’t really optional.  Life and disability insurance, rent or a mortgage, food and utilities; these are things that you really can’t live without.  There are certainly ranges of costs that you can choose from in those categories, but the bottom line is you’re going to spend some money on those things because you have to.

It’s the other things in life – the vacations, the dinners out, the entertainment – that are harder to reduce or eliminate, because we just aren’t wired to give up things we like.  Still, grown ups have to make tough decisions sometimes, and we did that when we decide to cut the cord (and yes, I realize that giving up cable is not a life or death decision, but still… it was tough for us!).

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Do What You Love (As Long As It Pays The Bills)

Having a child changes your perspective on things, as every parent knows.  Recently, I’ve been thinking more about the advice I’ll give once my kid starts talking about what they want to be when they grow up.

A common response I hear whenever this question is posed (by someone of any age), is “Do what you love.”  In a perfect world, that is absolutely the best answer.  It’s the answer I’ll give when my child is young and lives life with no preconceived notions of what’s possible.  

The reality is, as idyllic as it may be, doing what you love isn’t always the prudent decision.  When you’ve got bills to pay and loans to honor, the first thing you need is a paycheck.  Maybe that sounds harsh, but it really shouldn’t.  It’s just the fact of the matter.

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The Beauty of the 401(k) Match

In my last post, we went into some pretty specific details about why I feel that Dave Ramsey’s financial plan doesn’t work for high-debt young professionals.  One of the big issues I have with it is that it doesn’t call for any retirement investing until after your student loans are paid off.  I think this is the biggest flaw in Dave’s plan, and as much as I love his work and have been personally inspired by him, this point deserves some deeper inspection.

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Dave Ramsey Doesn’t Get It

I know what that post title sounds like.  You’re thinking, “Here’s another entitled Millennial, complaining about how tough life is.”  

I’m going to make a statement right off the bat:  Dave, if you’re reading this (verrrrrry unlikely, but just in case), let me just say that there is no one that I need to thank more for getting me interested in personal finance.  I know that the title of this post is a little harsh, but it’s really not meant to disparage how good Dave is at what he does.  In fact, I’d go as far to say that when it comes to inspiring people to learn about their finances and encouraging them to get out of debt, nobody does it better.  It’s a noble mission he’s on, and he’s helped countless people improve their lives through his programs, including me.

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Decisions Make a Difference

Most things in life worth doing involve periods of excitement, fulfillment, and happiness, punctuated by moments of terror and self-doubt.  Paying off a ginormous loan is no different.

I’m totally guessing here, but I would say that about 90% of the time, we are perfectly happy and content with our student loan repayment plan.  We see the forest for the trees, so-to-speak, and always try to focus on how we assume we’ll feel at this end of this journey.  Even when we get frustrated from time-to-time about how strict we have to be with ourselves when it comes to spending money, we usually can still keep our eyes on the prize and focus on a debt-free future.

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Why We Have NOT Refinanced Our Student Loans

It’s almost impossible these days to go on any personal finance blogs that discuss student loans in depth and not see articles/ads/links on refinancing.  There are several major student loan refinancing companies right now that are starting to have a large presence online, but newer companies are popping up every day as well.  Especially for people that graduated with similar debt to that which we have (interest rates in the 6-8% range), refinancing is almost a no brainer.

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Our Student Loan Payoff Strategy

In mid-2015, we were starting to feel pretty good about our financial situation.  We had been practicing in our respective health professions for about 4 years, our incomes had risen significantly, and we were beginning to see progress in our student loans being paid off.  Still, we didn’t have a real plan for what we were doing; we paid more as we got it, but there was no real rhyme or reason to the choices we were making.  We thought that needed to change.

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Keeping Our Perspective

We try hard to be as frugal as possible.

As I type this, I’m writing it on a brand-spanking-new Samsung Chromebook 3.  I bought it for $189.00 at Walmart a couple weeks ago.  I needed a replacement for my 2007 Macbook that takes 10 minutes to boot up these days, so I did some research on the cheapest and most effective Chromebooks.  The Samsung 3 kept coming up, so I threw caution to the wind and just decided to splurge on it.

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Putting It All Together: Our Progress, Part 4

If you’ve been with us since the start of this Our Progress series, you’ve seen where we began in terms of loans and income, as well as how our loan payments have looked in the past.  We went into some detail on the hows and whys when it came to income and repayment amounts changing.  Today we’re going to rehash the numbers and try to paint a clear picture of how everything has gone for us, but in fewer words.

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Debt Repayment: Our Progress, Part 3

If you missed Parts 1 and 2 of the Our Progress Series, catch up here and here. You’ve seen where we stood as far as income went the last 5 years or so. Thankfully, we have seen a steady increase in both our gross and take-home pays over the last several years, the reasons for which we went into in the last post.  

Today, we’re going to look at our student loan payments over that same time period.  One would hope that if our incomes were increasing, our student loan payments would increase as well.  I’m happy to report that aside from one exception, that was true for us.  

In my opinion, paying debt down is addicting.  I’m not kidding.  Maybe I’m a weirdo, but watching those loan numbers get smaller and smaller every month is a rush.

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