No credit card debt… Cool.

So, about the time I started Dimes to Dough, I had just signed up for a new credit card, my second credit card ever, an AMEX card. Years of 0% APR on my Citi Card had finally ran out, and I didn’t feel like negotiating for 0% APR again. So, I agreed to a seemingly nice 15 month no interest card from AMEX with a $200 cash back offer after spending $1000. I signed up with the intention of switching over any purchases from the Citi card to the AMEX, and paying off both as fast as possible.Continue reading “No credit card debt… Cool.”

Stop wasting the best years of your life

Listen up. I don’t care how old you are. I’m in my twenties. You could be in your forties. But here’s the deal… Stop wasting the best years of your life working and waiting for retirement. My parents’ generation started working by age 18 or 21 and set out to continue working until age 60 or 65. That’s about 40 years of life given to work, usually an 8 to 5, 40+ hours each and every week. For everyone that has done that, I hope you found great pleasure in your work.

Now don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy my career now, but if I didn’t find enjoyment in it I’d be quick to move on to something else. I’m just starting out in my working years but I don’t want to look back when I’m 30 or 40 or 50 and wish I worked harder and saved harder in my twenties. I want to work hard now, stash away plenty of money, and live on way less than I make. Unfortunately, my household debt is about $90,000 and at the moment it seems like it will take forever to get it paid off. But that shouldn’t stop me, and it shouldn’t stop you.Continue reading “Stop wasting the best years of your life”

Increase your credit limit every six months

Did you know you can increase your credit limit on your credit cards every six months? It’s simple. Just pick up the phone or get on your credit card company’s website. No hard credit check needed (if you do it right)!

To give an example, when I got my first credit card in college, a Citi card, I was ‘granted’ a $4,000 credit limit. Not bad for a college kid with no credit history other than student loans. I spent my credit wisely and paid off my balance in full each month, and after a few months rolled around I pulled up my account information online and requested an increase in my credit limit. Within seconds I was granted an increase to $5,500 or so.Continue reading “Increase your credit limit every six months”

Introducing the Debt Payoff Meter

Starting today I’ve added a new graphic to my blog, and I’m calling it the Debt Payoff Meter. You can see it from just about any page on the site. It’s super straightforward – Each time I pay off debt (or each month, at least) I’ll update the meter to reflect how much money I’ve put down on the debt and how much closer I am to my goal of being debt free.

As of now, February 9th, my fiancée and I have just above $91,000 in debt remaining. I thought it was more around $90,000 as of my last post, but after double-checking all of the accounts it’s sadly just a little bit higher. Nevertheless, it is what it is, and my goal is to get rid of it as soon as possible. My aggressive repayment plan pegs us to be debt free by August 2018. That’s about three and a half years away. It’s a scary target and means we’ll need to throw as close to $30,000 down in debt each year as we can, but it’s certainly possible. And by all means I’ll try to get us debt free a lot sooner.

With our tax refunds going straight to the debt this year, rather than emergencies (like last year), we have a nice boost this month. We’ve also adjusted our tax basis so that we don’t get much of a refund next year. That means more money in today’s dollars to throw towards debt and less in the hands of Uncle Sam.

Overall, the goal of the meter is to keep me motivated and to provide a nice visualization to any fellow readers. If you’re following me, keep an eye on my tracker and help keep me accountable!

Emergency fund, check! Zero balance on credit card, check!

Today is a good day. I’m happy to report that I’ve paid off the entire balance on my Citi credit card! I carried a balance on that thing for over a year! Fortunately, I only had to pay interest charges for the past two months ($30 total or so). I first got the Citi card in college, was immediately granted a $4,000 credit limit and 15 months no-interest, but made purchases wisely and paid it off in full every month. However, over the past year or so, a number of financial emergencies and frivolous purchases crept in.

Citi Card Paid Off Sam Miller

Before tackling the Citi card balance, I stocked away $1,000 in an emergency fund. I haven’t had $1000 or more in my savings account in over a year – since I bought my current car and paid cash for an (absolutely amazing) engagement ring. So, I’ve got Dave Ramsey’s first baby step checked off, and now I’m at step number two – paying off all debts (except the mortgage – of which I don’t have).Continue reading “Emergency fund, check! Zero balance on credit card, check!”

A non-profit that helps to pay down student loan debt?

Are you looking for a non-profit that helps to pay down your student loan debt? Funny thing, because such a concept really doesn’t exist. Go ahead, take a spin on Google. Let me know what you find.

Okay, I know there are organizations that provide financial counseling and education to help you get out of debt, but I’m not talking about that. I’m also not talking about debt consolidators, credit unions, lending clubs, and so on. I’m talking about a non-profit whose sole goal is to help pay off people’s student loan debt.Continue reading “A non-profit that helps to pay down student loan debt?”

Personal finance blogs lack transparency

There are thousands of personal finance blogs out there, this one included. All of them talk about getting out of their own money troubles and provide advice to others. But the issue I continue to find is that the authors of most personal finance blogs are unwilling to share the true specifics of their financial situation.

Without full transparency, it’s really hard to inspire others and relate to strangers. Also, no matter how bad your current financial situation is, being transparent makes it easier for you to correct your money problems. It’s about accountability. Being transparent forces you to own up to your dumb, unnecessary expenses, and causes you to do some serious thinking. You can’t hide behind your money problems if you throw them all out on the table for all to see.Continue reading “Personal finance blogs lack transparency”

Why can’t lowering student loan rates be this easy?

As I’m sitting here wondering how my fiancée can fastest pay down her two highest-interest student loan debts, a strange idea came to mind. But first, let me preface my idea by noting that her two highest-interest student loan debts are private loans she received from a local credit union before starting college. She tried having the interest rates lowered on multiple occasions over the past few years but the canned response from the credit union has always been a resounding “there’s nothing we can do.”

For perspective, the balances on the two high-interest loans are $13,759.13 for one and $8,166.02 for the other. The interest rates are 8% and 11.25%, respectively. Ridiculous! The monthly minimum payments for each one are $219.40 and $108.77. The worst part, though, is that out of the two minimum payments, only about $155 is being paid down in principal each month…combined! So, we’re looking at a monthly expense of $328.17 and approximately $173.17 is being dumped in the trash! Over half of the monthly bill goes straight to interest charges!Continue reading “Why can’t lowering student loan rates be this easy?”