Author Archives: alijoon

SPENCER MAIL: Mattyc in Baton Rouge, LA

spencer mail mattycspencer mail mattyc

I just found your blog and it’s totally awesome. I love Spencer most, but it’s so great that you guys decided to go debt free. I’ve been debt free for about 5 or 6 years now, and it feels great. I have plenty of monies in the bank and always have available resources to travel or purchase anything I need/want. I only had about 14k of student debt after college and decided to get rid of it as soon as possible. It only took me about a year and a half. Making the last payment is amazing. Just seeing the $0.00 next to the amount owed is so cool. I wanted to do something to support what you guys are doing. Take this money and do something you guy’s typically don’t get to do. Go out to eat… or splurge on burritos several times in one week. This money is not in your budget, so you can splurge on stuff. Keep up the good work guys.


p.s. Everyone else that sent you stuff did cool drawings. I can’t draw, BUT, I did find this random card when I was digging through some old stuff…so I figured it would be perfect to send.

This card is from our good friend that I have participated with in various online facial hair competitions. We are happy to hear your story and that you have been doing it long before us. One of the things I admire about Matt is he is able to give freely to various charities and causes. We look forward to being able to do more and more of that. Thanks for the card and money Matt! Lots of burritos were consumed by me, oh and I did take Rachel to a movie with it.


READERS: If you have a story to share, or a challenge question for us, we’d love to hear from you! We’re accepting good old fashion letters and postcards about our project, and will do our best to answer your question, rise to your challenge, or share your story. You can reach us here:

Ali & Rachel H
PO Box 11506
Portland, OR 97211

Spencer Mail

August Spencer Update: FINAL PAYMENT!

We are posting this a little bit later than normal…  our final Spencer payment. We were able to pay down the remainder of our Sallie Mae-held student loans on August 23. It took us a total of eight months and 23 days to complete our goal, which is actually quite a bit faster than we originally expected. We’re thankful for having gotten our income up and our expenses way down this year.


12/1/2010 starting balance: $69,176.76
8/23/2011 total payoff: $69,999.41

We went out to a fancy dinner last night to celebrate!

We finally received reimbursement from moving expenses (we had to drastically reduce our payment in July after covering the cost of a U-Pack pod and cross-country move). We also realized Rachel had a big chunk of cash sitting in her business accounts that would better serve us in finishing our debt. These two piles of cash allowed us to pay off the final part of Spencer at an accelerated rate.

Originally, when I posted the grid I mentioned that we would deal with the horn later. I figured I would adjust the remaining ten squares to eat up any interest added along the way. At Maggie’s super suggestion, I decided to leave the horn squares at approximately $500 each. (The body squares each valued at $100). So Spencer still represents our original amount, and the pile of dung represents the interest we paid.

Just wait until you see the size of the interest we would have paid if we didn’t go ahead with this goal. Another post, another day.

July Spencer Update

We have some big life changes ahead of us. With Rachel’s departure from her job and me going to Boston this weekend to move our stuff we are going to have to take a pause this month. Rachel is ramping up her photography full speed so once we get the numbers from her business figured out and I get reimbursed from my job for the move we’ll quickly get back on track. In the meantime, we are only paying our minimum payment this month.

STARTING TOTAL (12/1/10): $69,176.76
PAID SO FAR: $53,030.09
LEFT TO GO BEFORE 12/31/2011: $16,643.76 (plus accrued interest)


Our good friend and loyal reader Maria has sent us the following email:

We feel readers might appreciate this.


Hurray! Congratulations – that must feel wonderful mdog! We are doing a happy dance with you.

Do you have any unusually large animals living uninvited in your house? What are their names? Send us a postcard and tell us about it.

Rachel & Ali H
PO BOX 11506
Portland OR 97211

June Spencer Update

Well, in typical me-fashion I am going to be brief once again. We are starting to see the end in sight, but there is still a lot to go. There are many things eating into our cushion, like the little monkeys Rachel blogged about and now we have our stuff in Boston that we need to move. My work is reimbursing us but we have to pay out of pocket up front, so you may see a decline temporarily in our intensity as we take care of that. Okay, enough talk, here are the numbers:

STARTING TOTAL (12/1/10): $69,176.76
PAID SO FAR: $52,750.00
LEFT TO GO BEFORE 12/31/2011: $16,881.34 (plus accrued interest)

April Spencer Update

This one is running a little late because we were travelling in the Bay Area for a wedding the past week. We have a pretty nice setup there. I am originally from there so we have a place to stay and a car to use to get around while we are there. My company also has a small satellite office so I can take several extra days and work from there. This allows me to fly on off peak days and still save up my vacation days.

It appears we are starting to get some consistency on our spending and budget.

debt snowball spencer rhino

starting total (12/1/10): $69,176.76
paid so far: $40,500.00
left to go before 12/31/2011: $29004.59

February Spencer update

We got another monthly report to update you on. We have been doing pretty well with our budget and trying to cut out a lot of extra expenses, such as going out. Because of this, we are feeling a little better about the amount we need in savings for emergencies and are tapping into that to really get things moving. Stay tuned for a couple of posts from me regarding some of the ways we are trying to cut down on big portions of our budget.

Here is our updated Spencer. He is filling out pretty nicely.

debt snowball spencer rhino

starting total (12/1/10): $69,176.76
paid so far: $28,500.00
left to go before 12/31/2011: $40,777.09

I noticed a minor detail with the numbers and that a small part of our money does go to interest each month. Should I worry about that calculation? I could add a line that shows that and also add how much interest we are saving by paying extra. Would this be of any curiousity to you?

December 13, 2010: A good start.

Since we knew we were going to be unemployed for an undetermined part of 2010 and possibly moving to Europe, we had a good chunk of money saved off. Europe did not happen, but we managed to settle into Portland quite nicely. Now that we both have jobs and kicked off this adventure we can put the savings into our debt. Here is the updated Spencer. Questions? Send us a postcard!

starting total (12/1/10): $69,176.76
paid so far: $15,159.09
left to go before 12/31/2011: $54,017.67

meet Spencer 2.0

Hi. This is Ali and I will be giving the numbers around here while Rachel will be providing the words.

Since Rachel is a visual person, I built Spencer 2.0 with some grids that we can fill in to show our progress. There are roughly 650 squares contained in Spencer with 10 of them in the horn. We will assign $100 to each of the 640 non-horn squares. The 10 horn squares are special super squares that help us get rid of the remainder. We’ll deal with those later.

For now I give you Spencer, with [zero] squares filled in.

spencer the rhino