Category Archives: monthly reports

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)

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)

May Spencer Update

I [Rachel] am motivated by psychological rewards much more than raw data. I got to push the button to pay Sallie Mae this month, and the simple act of clicking a button and typing in some numbers had a disproportionately high reward factor for me. Sometimes the littlest things can have the biggest impact.

We’re trying to pay off a little more than what’s written in the plan every month, putting extra into the monthly payoff and hopefully kicking this rhino out of our house before the end of the year. This month, we dealt with tax payments and still managed to pay ol’ Sallie an additional $250 from my photography business earnings for April. I’m hoping photography income will continue to supplement our payments as I become better known here in Portland. It’s no easy task to relocate a small business to an entirely different side of the country!

This month since I’m writing the Spencer Update, I’m giving more information than our usual report. I struck a deal with Ali to share some percentages to you. Here’s the breakdown of the money we spent this month:

Expenses for April 2011

  • Rent/Utility: 30%
  • Food: 11%
  • Shopping: 11%
  • Transportation (gas & train): 10%
  • Entertainment: 6%
  • Other: 32%

Percentages above are based on the proportion of what we SPENT, not our total income. So it’s all relative. We’re using the information as a tool to illustrate to ourselves where we are overspending according to our budget.

The entertainment category is up this month because I decided to get season tickets to the Oregon Symphony after they ran a really amazing promotion. I also took my mom to see a play when she was in town. Normally we have budgeted 2% of our spendable income toward entertainment.

I’m amazed at how much I still spend on shopping despite watching our pennies and resisting most purchases. Honestly, I’m a little concerned for myself in coming months as I get fatigued from resisting the allures of all these wonderful local things here in the Pacific Northwest. Normally we have budgeted 7% of our spendable income toward shopping, so we’re up a couple of points.

The food category came in a little under our budget expectations in April, but we suspect some money got miscategorized since I’m not great with my cash envelopes and often pull from whatever envelope has the most cash at the moment.

Also to note: ‘other’ is ridiculously vague as we intentionally omit a few categories.

Here’s our updated chart. It seems like we are making so much progress, but we still have a way to go.

Minimum monthly Sallie Mae payment: $280.09
May 2011 payment: $6250
We paid $5969.91 over our minimum monthly payment. GO US!

STARTING TOTAL (12/1/10): $69,176.76
PAID SO FAR: $46,750.00
LEFT TO GO BEFORE 12/31/2011: $22,426.76 (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?

January 1, 2011

The first day of the new year seems like a great time to make a large payment. Ali managed to lock up my online loan account with too many password guesses (!) but we managed to move money around to accommodate the first large regular monthly installment. We calculated the remainder of Spencer into 12 projected payments of about $5000 each month for 2011. The secret goal is to throw any extra income we can at him every month, in order to end our debt repayment early and free up cash to apply toward saving for holiday travel in December 2011, and then a big anniversary trip in February 2012.

I chose to apply an extra $1350 to give us a strong start in January, applying a “paycheck” from my photography business toward our goal. Since my business here in Portland is only beginning, I won’t have regular business cashflow to contribute in future months. I was able to do a few family portrait sessions in Boston in late September, and just recently did my first Portland boudoir commissions. I worked really hard for that $1350, and it makes me feel good that the fruit of this labor is going toward a tangible goal.  My goal for the photography business in 2011 is to make four times as much as I spend on the business, which I know from years of experience will be surprisingly difficult to accomplish. The challenge of keeping overhead down will be my worthy opponent.
One significant business-related thing I did recently was purchase all new photography equipment which seems ridiculous given our goal of saving as much as possible. The kit totals about $5000, between two camera bodies (F100 and D700) and two Zeiss lenses. I’ve been shooting on Canon equipment for the past few years, but wanted to make the switch back to Nikon for the lens interchangeability between film and digital bodies. This was a HUGE decision for me, and I did not make it lightly.  I was able to make about $3000 back toward the new equipment purchase by selling off my Canon kit (5d body, 2 speedlites, and 3 lenses) via Amazon marketplace, and then used money I had squirreled away in my business account to make up the difference.

Spencer’s portrait for January 1:

debt snowball spencer rhino

starting total (12/1/10): $69,176.76
paid so far: $21,500.00
left to go before 12/31/2011: $47,676.76

Reader mdog pointed out that last month Spencer got pants. Now he has high-waisted GRANDPA pants. Haha, Spencer, you look stupid!

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