broke
Debt FIRE Student Loans

February Update: We’re Broke

Since the beginning of 2017, we have been living paycheck to paycheck. The other night, Mrs. MilitaryFIRE asked how much we were making after each paycheck. “Zero,” I said, “we’re essentially broke.” We started the year with our checking account below its normal level due to some 2016 year-end IRA contributions and we haven’t been able to bring it up yet. A higher than normal heating oil bill set us back even further this month. It’s a tough situation to contemplate, but for the first time since my FIRE conversion I’ve come close to tapping into our emergency funds to

Read more
debt
Debt Investing

Pay Down Debt or Invest for Retirement?

Should you pay down debt or save for retirement? Like many finance questions, I think the answer to this question is: it depends. In the following post, I designed an experiment to test my guess that it is better pay down high interest debt fast, but it might be better to invest if you only have low interest debt. (Spoiler- you can create conditions for various debts where it is better to invest then eliminate debt aggressively.) The Federal Reserve issued its average American’s debt report for Q3 2016 with the following results: Question We know debt is bad for

Read more
Budgeting this tree helped the beaver.
Debt Investing

Budgeting is an Excuse to Spend

I am a budgeting failure. Once, in a calorie counting phase, I found myself viewing the calorie budget as a challenge. If I had 100 calories left over at the end of the day, I would allow myself a donut, or a beer, up to my maximum, rather than banking my lower count for the win. This is exactly what happened when I started a traditional budget. Each month I spent exactly what was in my little envelope, with nothing left over. Budgeting was giving me permission to spend. Being in debt, especially six figures of debt, mean no spending

Read more
BTC
Debt Refinance Student Loans

Risks and Rewards of Balance Transfer Credit Cards

After I resolved the Loan Group fiasco, I undertook our most risky strategy yet. We used a Zero-percent balance transfer credit card. What is a 0% BTC? Many credit card companies issue promotional offers to entice customers to switch their business. Zero Percent Balance Transfers are a common enticement. By applying for the card and indicating what current credit card you have a balance, the new card issuer will pay off the old card, and issue you a new card with an equal balance. This balance will then have a 0% APR for a term, usually 6, 12, or 18

Read more
student loan refinance - nope, Eagle.
Debt Refinance Student Loans

Student Loan Refinance – FIRE Edition

Our next foray into repaying our $107,000 of student loans was learning about student loan refinance and consolidation. I researched several options, including SoFi and Citizen’s Bank, where Mrs MF held a checking account. I submitted our request to refinance to both companies. We included myself as a co-borrower because I had better credit due to the age of credit history. At the time, interest rates were at historic lows, but the US Federal reserve was rumbling about, and eventually did, raise its benchmark interest rate while we made this decision. Student Loan interest rates are tied to the LIBOR benchmark,

Read more
Swim away from the Debt Snowball
Debt Student Loans

Debt Snowball: Not a Chance in Hell

Have you considered the Debt Snowball for your debt? Learn from my story and save yourself the trouble. As I noted in the introductory post, before we got married, my wife and I sat down and seriously discussed our finances. I knew she had student loan debt. When she said she had a lot of debt, I assumed the worst would be twice the average borrower, for a total of around $60,000, on account of her Master’s Degree tuition. So we sat down, pulled together the statements from her various loan servicers, and started adding them up to get the latest figure. The

Read more
aluetians
107K Debt Student Loans

Our experience paying off $107,000 of Student Loan Debt

Student loan debt is an evil drain on our national economy and a “hair on fire” emergency for our wallets. When I married my wife, we sat down and discussed our finances. We agreed that we would combine our finances, the good and the bad. While she brought great credit to our union, I also married her undergrad and graduate student loans, all six figures of them. I knew the stats; many millennials stay in their parents’ basement, unwilling and unable to pay off their loans, loans which prevent them from saving for a home or early retirement, loans which are so

Read more