Goodbye 2018: The Year in Debt Review

Hi Peeps! Goodbye 2018. Here is the review of my latest year in debt.

Past end of year reviews:  2014 Review  |  2015 Review  |  2016 Review  | 2017 Review

2018 In Review:

In the Winter, after declaring my 2018 goals, I kicked off the new year by making a student loan payment that put me In the 50’s. February was all about my bonus. I started the month imagining how I might allocate it while also dealing with housing instability.

Actually getting the bonus mid-month left me Feeling like a Rat…and a Cat. By the end of February and the winter season, I celebrated having paid off half of my $112,258 student loan debt. I now had a $56,000 balance and couldn’t be happier.  

By the Spring, after making good debt payoff progress, I decided it was time to “Treat Yo’Self!” and took an actual vacation. In April, I was ecstatic and exhausted after taking only my second international trip in over 10 years because of debt. Unfortunately, as I was feeling underpaid, I tried looking for other jobs at the same time while exhausted and jet-lagged, and the interviews did not go well (lesson learned).

Fortunately, and unbelievably,  just a few weeks after that I got a pay raise (technically a ‘salary adjustment’ by Human Resources), because I was, indeed, underpaid. In May, I immediately started planning how to use this pay raise, or rather what was left of it after taxes, to pay down debt. I soon found myself In the 40’s and bolstered by my salary adjustment, I was feeling very optimistic, despite My Ma’am Problem.

I started the Summer feeling good about moving my Emergency Fund to a high interest savings account as well as looking into lowering my ever increasing student loan variable interest rate.  I went from a virtually nil savings interest rate to then 1.7% (nowadays 2.25%) for my E-fund. I was able to RE-refinance my student loan with my same lender which lowered my interest rate from 4.98% (and rising!) variable to 3.25% fixed.

Heading into Independence Day, I was able to see the Tiniest of Tiny Pinpoints of light ahead. Right on cue, a couple of weeks later, I got an unexpectedly high medical bill. By August, I was feeling put out by changes to my job and overwhelmed at work. The silver lining to this month was my achieving a Panoply of Milestones.

By the Fall, I knew that it was Time for Me to Leave my job. Continuing debt payments landed me In the 30’s! I shared the Story of a F*ck Off Fund. Ladies, read it, and share it with others. By October, I was already stressing about the expected holiday family guilt tripping I would get for not going home for the holidays. I wrote a Halloween-Inspired Post about the future of burials, and got caught up with the Financial News Headlines.

More student loan unrest in November as Navient (boo! hiss!) completed it’s takeover of Earnest. I quickly refinanced with another lender and am waiting for the final paperwork to settle. My student loan interest rate dropped again (from 3.25% fixed to 3.09% fixed) with this latest move. I also unknowingly celebrated Singles Day and started easing into the holiday season.

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Now in Winter again, with the year winding to a close, I feel as though I’m being dragged across the finish line into 2019, just like I felt last year. Given my recent employment concerns, however, unlike last year, I’m anxious about what the next year will bring.

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Alright. Now it’s time to look at some numbers.  For context, I’ve included a shortened version of my goal descriptions from the original 2018 Goals post that I made in January.

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2018 Goals & Outcomes:

GOAL ONE –  Pay down my student loan debt from $60,300 to $39,900 or less.

Goal Description from January: “I want to end 2018 in the 30’s!  This should be achievable in theory, given that my minimum payments (including interest) should get me to the lower 40’s by December.  However, my extra payments this year will be substantially smaller than they were last year, so meeting this goal will take effort.”

End of 2018 Verdict: PASS!  I have met and exceeded my goal and am ending the year with $35,000 in student loan debt.

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GOAL TWO – Increase my net worth to $100,000+.

Goal Description from January: “In my age group (40-44), most Americans have had time to accumulate some wealth. I’ve had the time, but don’t have the wealth.  When I started this blog I had a net worth of over -$142k. This put me, for my age group in the U.S., in the bottom 1% according to this data. With a current net worth of $50k, I am now in the 46th percentile. I plan and hope to end 2018 with a net worth of over $100k, which will put me in at least the 59th percentile..”

End of 2018 Verdict: Pass!  This one was a nail biter that went down to the wire with the outcome of the markets today on Dec. 31st. Even with the stock market drops in recent months, I managed to squeak in with this goal, ending the year with a net worth of $100,743.

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GOAL THREE – Max out my 401k, Roth IRA and HSA.

Goal Description from January: “Given my age and repeated flirtation with career burnout, maxing out all appropriate tax-advantaged savings vehicles now is mandatory. Putting money aside every pay period to max my Roth will cut into the extra money I can put towards my loans. I’m prioritizing saving money in these accounts because they are ‘Use it or lose it’ every year. Any money leftover from maxing these accounts will go toward my student loan extra payments”

End of 2018 Verdict: Conditional Pass  I was able to max out my 401k and HSA (Health Savings Account), but I wasn’t able to re-start putting money in my Roth IRA until halfway through the year. So far I’ve put in $4,468 out of $5,500 for 2018. I aim to either take my early contributions in 2019 and put them toward maxing out the 2018 allotment instead or take $1k of my bonus early next year. (If I’m employed long enough to get it.)

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GOAL FOUR – End 2018 with no credit card debt.

Goal Description from January: “This credit card debt has been dogging me ever since I paid it off the first time…and the second time. I want to end 2018 with no credit card debt”

End of 2018 Verdict: PASS! I sacrificed some end of year student loan payment dollars in order to pay off my credit card debt. I don’t like having to do that, but I do like being out of credit card debt.  I’m Single Debt Single Woman again.

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report-card

Overall Grade for 2018:  A-

I’m giving myself a grade of ‘A-’. I’ve met or exceeded all* of my financial goals. (*The Roth IRA one won’t be fulfilled until early next year.) In 2018, my net worth grew by $50,243. This is quite a bit less than the growth that I saw last year thanks to the market downturn, but market corrections are necessary. I’m not complaining.  This is the first time I’ve given myself an A, however I added a minus because, although I’ve met all* my goals, I could have done better with respect to spending less and putting more money toward the debt. In any event, I’m pleased with how the year has gone.

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Debt Journey Breakdown  (2012-2018)

 

 

 

How did your 2018 goals work out? Any surprises?

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“Debtor’s prison is real, and opportunity cost is a bitch.” (DDSW Archives)

 

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16 comments

  1. Solitary Diner · January 1

    The change in your net worth in such a short period of time is amazing! I hope you thoroughly celebrated your progress as the New Year started.

    Like

    • Thank you! Happy New Year! I don’t feel like I can celebrate until this debt is gone forever, but I am happy to see the numbers shifting like a see-saw. 🙂

      Like

  2. Maria · January 1

    You’re doing so well! You’ve not only paid off a lot of debt, at this point you also have a healthy emergency fund and a significant amount in your retirement fund!

    I’m sorry to hear that your job situation is so bad. Are you currently looking at other jobs? In any case, I hope your current one improves very soon, or that you’ll find something way better asap. Hang in there!

    Like

    • Thanks, Maria. 🙂

      I am looking for other jobs, but the process goes on ice during the holidays. Things should pick up again later this week.
      I’m not looking forward to it, but it needs to happen.

      Like

  3. Brokekiwi · January 1

    Well done!! The results in your graphs really illustrate your hard work.
    All the very best with the job hunting, it can be traumatic, to say the least. Looking forward to hearing about your new (and improved) job situation!

    Like

  4. Isabella · January 2

    Seeing it all laid out there shows how far you have come. Great work!

    Like

  5. Tainted Tiara · January 2

    Wow! Fantastic job on meeting all of your goals for 2018! I haven’t done my assessment yet, but I’m feeling pretty good about where I ended up, at least financially. Only $35,000 to go…can you do it this year???

    Like

    • Thank you, Tainted Tiara!

      Killing this debt, once and for all, this year is within the realm of possibility. The wild card, however, is my job situation, where the ice is growing thinner by the week.

      I’ll post a 2019 Goals list in the next week or so.

      Looking forward to seeing your end of year tally. I know you slayed, as usual.

      Like

  6. AW · January 2

    Your goal setting is impressive. I need to follow your example and set a few goals.

    Praying the job situation improves sooner rather than later. While new jobs bring some stress they also come with hope and a bit of fresh air. And for you I hope an increase in pay as well.

    Hope you did celebrate a least a bit. You’re doing fantastic. Cheering you on in 2019.

    Like

  7. jjiraffe · January 9

    Wow. This is really impressive work! Congrats 🙂

    Like

  8. zeejaythorne · January 28

    I love that you keep that graph with progress since 2012! You have done so much!!!

    Like

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