Report Card: February 2013

Status: Ahead of Schedule!

  • Extra Payment: $1,435
  • Total Pay Down: $1,740.66
  • Total Pay Down Since Start: $8,482.46
  • Total Outstanding Balance: $62,690.29
  • Percent Complete: 11.9%

Feb13_Goal

*These numbers are for my Wells Fargo Private Loans only.

Month two of my rapid debt pay-down adventure is complete. Overall I did very well in February. I was able to make a pretty large extra payment thanks to low rent this month and modifying my 401(k) deduction.

Again I have tracked every dime I spent during the month and graphed it all out to give myself a visual representation of how well I am doing. I love seeing how my new habits are having a positive impact on my financial health.

Outstanding Debt & Goals

This chart plots my high interest rate Wells Fargo loan. The black bars give you my outstanding balance goal each month and the red line is the actual monthly ending balance I achieve.

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

I ended February $600 below my goal! Thanks to a special rebate on rent during the month and a clever adjustment to my 401(k) deduction I was able to make a much larger extra loan payment than anticipated. The best part: the adjustment to my 401(k) will allow me to keep making larger than expected extra payments. This means I will be well ahead of my goal in the coming months and this graph is going to keep looking better and better. Stay tuned.

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

My Net Worth continues to improve and my total debt keeps declining. This is my favorite graph as it really shows the cumulative effect of my extra payments and frugal spending.

Spending

This pie chart displays my total spending since the start of 2013.

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

I think I am doing a pretty good job with controlling my spending. Since I started this marathon 83% of my spending has gone towards my student debt. 

Here is how the spending broke down in February compared to January:

ExpenseTracking_Feb13

The big numbers here:

  1. RENT: Rent was half off in January and February. This was due to receiving a special rate promotion when I recently signed a new lease. The other half of what would have been my rent payments went towards debt pay down! 
  2. CABLE: I made my last payment to Comcast in January. That $95 I would have normally spent on the tube went towards my loans instead. I honestly haven’t missed cable for a single minute since I cut the cord. 
  3. GROCERIES: I kept my grocery spending much lower than my $150 budget. This was mostly a result of my conscious effort to eat less meat in February. By eating less meat and eating more veggies I was able to cut down my food costs and I was eating healthier. This is a win win. I’m still expecting my grocery spending to be higher than this in coming months however.
  4. RESTAURANTS & BARS: I spent waaaay too much money on restaurants and bars in February! I don’t have an excuse for this at all and I can’t really explain it. I guess my explanation is that I have been working a lot over the past several months, 60 to 80 hour weeks. As a result I don’t have a lot of time to go out with friends, in fact all of this spending is from only three nights out in February. One night my tab came to $60 bucks! I think my problem is that I work so much and when I finally do get a chance to hit up the bars I take the opportunity to buy what I want. This means $10 whiskey instead of $5 wells. This means local craft brews instead of bud light. This means $20 artisan pizza at 2 am when we have the drunk munchies. I rationalize this by telling myself that I work hard for my money and I deserve to treat myself. I still can’t bring myself to buy a flask and I am not going to stop going out. I can also rationalize this spending by pointing out that my average restaurant and bar tabs were about double this in 2012, so I am improving. This is just one of those habits that is proving hard to change. Anyone have suggestions?
  5. TRANSPORTATION: I spent two dollars for a bus ticket to go see my family for Easter in March. I still have to buy the return ticket but my transportation costs are still crazy low. If you are able, ditch your car, walk/bike to work, take the bus for longer distances, and save a shit ton of money. If I still had my car this section of spending would be somewhere between $250 – $350 each month! Instead I am paying down debt. 
  6. ADDITIONAL PAYMENTS: I wrote a big, fat check to Wells Fargo in February for some extra principal payments on my loans. Each extra payment means my pay-off date gets closer and closer and my interest charges get less and less. 
  7. OTHER: My cash spending went entirely to bars, see number 4. My other spending consisted of my renters insurance which I am required to carry. I get charged about $20 bucks every other month or so. This wasn’t built into my budget but I can’t avoid paying it, so there it is.

I spent a total of $3,347 in February. 71% of that spending went towards my student loans! I am continuing to look for ways to lower my expenses and keep my extra debt payments up. This blog is doing its job and keeping me motivated to keep this process going. 

Balances

Let’s take a look at how my outstanding balances fared compared to January.

Balances_Feb13

My total debt continues to drop and by this time next month it will be less than six figures! My net worth continues to improve and jumped by $3,000 in February! I am also still saving money in my 401(k) while making all of these extra debt payments, that’s a big win. Slowly but surely my financial health is improving. 

Looking Ahead: March

February went pretty well and I think I can do even better in March. Some of the big things coming up this month are my tax return. I originally had this planned for April but I received all of my forms this week and did my taxes on Wednesday.

I should be getting my return in two to four weeks. The good news: my return is over $2,300! I originally had estimated it to be around $1,400 so this is another big win. The bad news: I need to change my exemptions! Something is off with my tax withholding. I would rather not give the government an interest free loan.  

My extra payment goal for March is $800 and I will easily be able to do better than this. With my tax return my extra payment should be over three grand. Not bad at all.

My other goal for March is to get my entertainment spending lower. Wish me luck with this one; I must admit I am not too optimistic. I am also trying to consolidate my federal loans into one loan in order to have a lower monthly payment. Then I can throw more cash at my high interest rate private loans. More to come on this.

Things are looking pretty great on the financial front. I am amazed by the progress I have made in 8 short weeks and wonder why I didn’t start this last year. I would be so far ahead at this point; oh well, whats done is done.

Beyond my finances there are some other areas of my life that need some TLC. I have been working insane hours and my social life and general mood has suffered. Just when I think I am about to be caught up at work something new comes up. With this in mind I am hoping to only work two weekends this month, this is a super stretch goal but I really need to find some time outside of the office. There is more to life than work.

Wish me luck on March!

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3 comments
  1. I really like your graphs and pie charts and shit like that. What do you use to make such wonderfully appealing graphics?

    • I am a bit of an excel nerd and it was all done in excel. It takes a lot of formatting to get the tables and graphs to look just so but isn’t too difficult once you learn how to do it. Once I finish building the budget sheet I will post it up here for anyone that wants to use it.

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