Tuesday, October 23, 2007
So, Uncle Sam will pay off your student loans? Not so fast.
In the wake of the student lender scandal, the College Cost Reduction and Access Act was intended to make student loans easier to bear for payees across the United States.

One of the chief provisions allows workers in "public service" jobs to have their remaining debt forgiven after 10 years in public service. That sounds great! And it probably is, for students who are just starting out and aren't making very much.

For those of us who have been in the work force for awhile, the deal isn't necessarily so good.

The reason is that the legislation only provides forgiveness for payors on a standard repayment plan (which has a 10-year term, and so would be repaid anyway), or an income-based repayment plan.

The income-based repayment plan isn't the simplest formula, but generally speaking, it assumes that your payments will be no more than 15 percent of your discretionary income. Discretionary income is defined as the difference between adjusted gross income and 150% of the federal poverty line. For a single person, the federal poverty line is $10,210.

When I consolidated my federal loans after grad school, I chose the extended repayment plan (30 years) because I had other loans with which to contend, and because my interest rate was (and is) extremely low (2.75%). This kept my payment low, which allowed me to rent a nice place, pay my other loans, and save extensively for retirement (and somewhat less extensively for a condo).

If I were to switch to IBR now, given prevailing interest rates, a shorter loan term, and a much higher salary, I would basically double my monthly payment. My cash flow simply can't take that kind of hit. As nice as it would be to be done years sooner (and save thousands and thousands in interest payments), I would rather concentrate on paying down my higher-interest rate loans and saving for a condo.

Depending on your circumstances, you may make a different decision.

You might want to look at these tools:

Finaid Income-Based Repayment Calculator

Department of Education Repayment Calculators


Monday, October 22, 2007
We did it!
We raised over $2000 in 16 days for DonorsChoose.

Six fully funded projects. 102 students impacted in this year (and more in future years). We're in fifth place on the topical/local leaderboard and in nineteenth place overall. Given the sheer number of blogging groups out there participating in this challenge, I am ecstatic.

There are still a few unfunded proposals in the challenge, if any of you have not yet donated and would like to. (We didn't include them in our goal total because other donors have contributed to some of "our" projects, and we wanted there to be opportunities for everyone to donate.)

And don't forget, if you donated, you can email me with proof of your donation and I will enter you into the raffle for the $10 Starbucks gift card. So far, only one person has entered the raffle!

I am just floored and giddy and overcome. Y'all rock.

And now I can get back to blogging about other things.

Friday, October 19, 2007
DonorsChoose Update #2.
In short, go us.

Since last week, donors have contributed an additional $330. We are now at $1930, only $70 from our goal, and less than $150 away from completing the last partially funded challenge.

First, I would like to thank the people who have publicly highlighted/donated to this project:

(If I've missed anyone, please let me know.)

And please, those of you who donated anonymously, also accept my fervent thanks.

If you have not given to this project, I understand. There are many other worthy organizations out there, and many of them start asking for more donations as we move into the winter holiday season. I would simply like for you to keep this in mind:

Just 10 bucks.

$10 is the minimum donation to all DonorsChoose projects. If seven new donors contributed that $10, we would complete our challenge. If 14 people found that $10, we could finish out Money Management 101, as I would personally contribute the remaining funds to complete the project (and send the remaining few bucks to operations).

We have twelve more days to work on this project before the challenge is over. Obviously, there is need throughout the year, but I think it would be fantastic if we could close the books on some of those goals.

Again, thank all of you for what you've done. And I hope we can push just a little bit more.

Friday, October 12, 2007
DonorsChoose Update, Or, Everyone is Awesome.
And I'm going to give one of you a gift! (Keep reading.)

pfblogs.org Challenge Page

Three of our four initial projects? Completely funded. Two additional projects? ALSO completely funded.

$1600 raised in a week, blasting through our original $1500 goal. 78 students impacted (although it will actually be more, as almost all of these projects will benefit future students as well).

I am delighted and awed.

So, what now? We have raised the challenge goal to $2000. We have added some projects to give you more choices for donations. And we are asking, everywhere, for people to give this challenge some publicity.

Speaking of publicity, I'd like to highlight two of our projects.

One of the original projects, Money Management 101: Philanthropists in Training, is not only designed to teach 3rd through 5th graders about spending and saving, but also to encourage them to use their class account money for charitable donations. It's partially funded, but needs $513 to be completed. I would really like to see this one get funded.

A new project, Funny Money Auction Math, will teach children about interest rates and taxes on personal accounts, and allow them to bid on interesting items at classroom auctions. This project is halfway funded, but still needs $336 for completion, and is ending in five days. This would be another great project to push through.

So I'm sweetening the pot. Anyone who contributes to our challenge (including those who have already donated), and emails me proof of their contribution, such as a DonorsChoose email receipt, will be entered in a raffle. I'll number all emails in order of submission, and use random.org to pick the winner. The prize is a $10 Starbucks gift card, which I will mail to any address in the continental United States. The minimum donation is $10, so if you give the minimum and win the raffle, it's basically a free donation! As of right now, there are 11 donors, so your odds are pretty good.

(My email is in this image link: )

Here are some additional questions I've seen floating around:

Q. Can I donate anonymously? A. Yes. Select that option when you register to donate. I believe anonymous donations still get a receipt, but if you do not and still wish to enter the raffle, email me and I will see about finding acceptable "proof of donation."

Q. What if I don't like credit cards? A. You can try using a debit card, if that's what you prefer. Or you can send a check, and write the project ID on the memo line. This won't count toward our challenge, but I'll still accept proof of donation for the raffle if it goes to one of our projects.

Q. How long does the challenge run? A. Until October 31. The end is not far away!

Again, you people are amazing, and I'm honored to have shared this experience with you.

Saturday, October 06, 2007
DonorsChoose PFBlogs.org challenge!
You may have already heard about this elsewhere, but since I initiated the proposal, it's probably about time that I mentioned it.

DonorsChoose is an award-winning organization that connects generous individuals with teachers and students in need. The group is running a challenge this October to get various bloggers and groups to fund several projects across the country.

Thanks to the support of pfblogs.org, we are running a challenge to raise $1500 for some projects that deal directly with money management and financial literacy. This could help a LOT of students understand money when they are young and when the lessons can do the most good.

The great news is that, as I type this, we are already 22 percent of the way to our $1500 goal. Any amount that you can spare, even $5 or $10, can help push that thermometer up to 100%.

However, the four projects that we have targeted actually need $2400 to be completely funded. And English Major found a few more projects that we can add to the challenge if we fulfill the original four projects.

I know that sounds like moving the goal posts, but isn't that what pfbloggers are all about? We reach our original goals, and then set up new ones for ourselves.

I would be over the moon if we could raise $1500 for these kids. I would be past the stars if we needed to expand the challenge in response to everyone's generosity.

So, again, please consider donating to the pfblogs.org Financial Literacy challenge.


Monday, October 01, 2007
September Net Worth

This was a GREAT month for me.

Personal Items

KBB said the value of my car went up again, but I was suspicious, and left it alone.

Cash and Cash Equivalent

I miscounted my obligations at the end of the month, and had to use my overdraft account to cover one bill. From now on, I'll hopefully be pushing that back up to the $500 mark. I also chose to hold some more money in my checking account because my credit card payment is later than usual, so the improvement looks better than it "should".

On the objectively bright side, I am very close to another nice round number target on my online savings, and am still on track to get my e-fund to a full two months of expenses by the end of the year.


For me, as for many people, this was a great September for investments. My brokerage account (which I basically just let sit) has moved into a new digit category, which is nice.

Loan Balances

Slow and steady wins the race. Or so I tell myself.

Other Debt

I paid a laziness tax to get my hair done for the wedding. (I needed the haircut, and would have had to buy a curling iron, but that still leaves about $35 because I am a style-lacking nincompoop who can't properly curl her hair without aid.) Still, I wanted to look nice for the pictures, and I think it was worth it.

I also discovered that submitting flex spending claims for less than $15 (or possibly $20) leaves my reimbursement as "pending" until I submit further claims. Huh.

Still, by and large the increase is due to getting Avenue Q tickets. I'm going to be able to pay everything off by the statement due date (as I invariably do), but I'm trying to have a quieter October.

The Month Ahead

Apple-picking is on the agenda, and possibly the really spooky "haunted forest" across the river. But other than that, I only plan on paying for a pair of desperately needed jeans (I love my old pairs, but they fall apart in the wash too easily, so I'm trying a new brand), and some birthday flower deliveries (I have coupons for all of that). I did spend $4 at the library book sale this weekend, so I have two new-to-me books to read on my own time. (I check out MANY library books, but it's nice not to have to worry about a forcible recall because a title is on hold.)

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