I`ve written about my major college debt before…it`s been on my mind more recently because I`ve been thinking that I want a master`s in education…or at least another bachelor`s that`s in education rather than spanish. The problem is, with the debt I have, I can`t see any realistic way of going back to school currently.
Anyway, I realized I haven`t shared my budget in quite a while; it`s actually changed a bit. I`ve gone more towards what`s known as a zero base budget, which means that every yen of my income is accounted for in some category or other. But the fact that my budget has changed over the past couple of years is a good thing…everything I`ve ever read online says that a budget should be a fluid thing, and perhaps even change month to month in order to suit a person`s needs better.
This is my April 21-May 20 budget plan: (as a side note, I’m wicked lucky in that my rent is currently subsidized)
That illustrates another good point about budgets. If you`re careful to keep track, then you get to see exactly where you`re going over, and can adjust the budget accordingly. One of the reasons I was so far over last month was because I forgot to subtract what I’d spent from the allocated amount for a few weeks. Ideally it should be done every night, once a week at the absolute least.
Oh, and part of the reason I went over the food budget was because it was the beginning of the school year. Beginning of the school year in Japan means that there will be a leaver`s party, for all the teachers leaving, and a welcome party, for all the incoming teachers. Together, just those two parties (and the semi-obligatory after parties) and nothing else was around￥17,000. (xe.com says that that is about $160, if anyone was wondering). Which means that just that was over half my food budget. Even after that, it appears that I still eat too much though…
So that`s my budget. Half my income goes towards that pesky debt that I hate. Which brings me to my next point, and one I`ve touched on before–all those `I got out of debt super quick` stories. I finally found a post from someone who did not get out of debt quickly, but rather paid down about a quarter of it in one year. To me, something like that sounds much more obtainable!
It still may not be possible for everyone, but it gives people on smaller incomes a little more hope, I think. If you want to read for yourself, the story is here (and should open in a new window so you can finish reading my story first 😛 ) : Adebtfreejourney.com
Aaaand that leads me to my least favorite part of getting paid each month…having to pay towards the debt. It`s hard, when what seems like a lot of money still doesn`t look like it makes a dent in the total debt. But you have to just keep chipping away anyway. As I`m still trying to follow the debt snowball method, the lowest amount loan is the one that gets the biggest payment every month, while all the others only get the minimum and nothing else. (Although I do pay off my credit cards every month as well…there`s no way I want that debt to creep up again!!)
Another thing about debt snowball…they say (whoever they are) to throw everything extra you can at that loan. I don`t. I definitely do throw extra at it, but not everything that I could. I have three reasons.
First, I don`t want to. Which is not a good enough reason not to, I know.
Second, I want to have savings. I want to make sure that I have enough saved that if my car broke down tomorrow, if my apartment burnt down tomorrow, if anything unthinkable happened, that I would be able to deal with it without going into more debt, even if it does wipe out what I`ve currently saved. Loans do not give you breathing space just because something bad in your life happens–they still expect to be paid.
Third can be stated in one word: shaken (pronounced sha/ ken not shay/ken). This actually relates up to the second reason of savings because it is savings, but for a particular purpose. What is shaken, you might ask? If you live in a country not Japan, you have probably never heard of it. Shaken is Japan`s biannual car tax. The closest I can compare it to is American yearly inspection stickers, but even that isn`t really close, as the american stickers cost maybe $60 and I`ve been warned that shaken is almost never less than $1000. It works the same in that if your car doesn`t pass, it`s not allowed on the road. So part of my savings (that I budgeted!) goes towards this. Mine is actually up in July this year, so I`ll get to find out all about it then. (Wikipedia does have some info though)
But that`s why I don`t throw absolutely everything extra I have at debt; because there are some things that need money that are just as, if not more important than the loans. (If I didn`t have a working car I couldn`t get to work to earn money to pay off those loans, now could I?)
This month`s debt totals:
My substafford loan: $1596.22
My advantage loan: $6976.17
My discover loan 1: $8245.16
My consolidation loan: $38,931.39
Dad`s consolidation loan: $44,244.57
My discover card: $6.72
Despite the fact that the substafford loan there has the lowest amount, that`s not the one I`m paying the most for at the moment. The company I have that loan with did a sneaky thing; when I pay any money towards that loan, it gets split between that loan and the advantage loan. Which means that really, those two together, so far as payments are concerned, count as another $8000 loan, rather than two separate ones. So since the discover loan has the highest interest (11%!!!) and had about the same balance as the substafford and advantage together, I`m going for that one first.
April 2018 Total Debt: $100,000.23