How I destroyed a $20,000 car

It was a cold wintery Illinois day on December 31, 2013. The last day of the year, and one of the supposed best days of the year to go car shopping. Dealers want to get rid of their inventories, and the holiday season means plenty of auto manufacturers are offering discounts. So what was I doing on this day? Hunting for a new car.

The decision was a spur-of-the-moment happening, a quick “let’s take a peek at some used cars” for fun, I told my mother. I had plans to drive 3 hours north to celebrate the New Year with some friends, and had no intention of making a purchase that day. Yet after a good three hours at the dealership there I was, signing a loan for a 2011 Hyundai Sonata.

If you’ve read some of my recent posts, you’ll know that I have happily sold that Sonata, so here’s the reason why: I destroyed that $20,000 car.

IMG_01796It was the worst financial decision I’ve made thus far, or, on the other hand the worst mistake you could make when you purchase a like-new car. What did I do? I drove that Sonata (with only 2,000 miles on it at the time of purchase) into the ground, putting over 75,000 miles on it in less than two years. And I’ve been making payments on the car for the past two years, at $338.43 per month, and put $4,000 down at the time of purchase.Continue reading “How I destroyed a $20,000 car”

Debt Update: $34,030.34

It’s been about five months since my last post, so here’s an update. First of all, I’m no longer preparing for a wedding – my former fiancée and I decided it best to call it off as we both work on ourselves and deal with some personal issues that would prevent us from having a happy, long-lasting marriage. No big deal – it’s water under the bridge, we’re glad we made the decision we did, and all is well. But how does that impact my financial situation? Glad you asked!

Since I’m only accounting for my own financial picture now, the total debt number is a lot smaller. The debt meter originally read about $90,000. Today, it’s at $34,030.34. Here’s the breakdown of that number:Continue reading “Debt Update: $34,030.34”

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?”

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?”

No financially sound reason exists to get a payday loan

I read a blog post the other day that listed the pros and cons of getting a payday loan, why you should get one, and things to remember when you do get one. It was completely horrible and misguided financial guidance. In fact I assume it was written by someone in the evil industry. The post was so cringeworthy that I decided to leave a comment linking to this video below from John Oliver’s popular HBO show Last Week Tonight.Continue reading “No financially sound reason exists to get a payday loan”