Thursday, August 23, 2012

Back to a new grind

DS started college last week, which is a milestone all on its own. He is loving every minute of it - what a relief!

I'm settling in as best I can to the new normal of being even more of a chauffeur than ever. College schedules are brutal on an old person like me! His classes are intentionally spread out, time wise, as he would not be able to physically traverse the campus and make back-to-back classes. When I say spread out, I mean really spread out. One morning class, one afternoon class and two night classes. Thank goodness, the school is just a few miles from our home, because the miles are already adding up ... and so is the cost of gas (how come gas prices only went down when I didn't have to drive?!).

During one of the drives, I was pondering finances. Summers are pretty stagnant when it comes to debt repayment. Expenses are higher and income is lower. As long as the overall number doesn't climb, we're good.

I've realized something else this summer. While the debt is always at the forefront of my mind, I don't think I'm as stressed anymore. I don't mean those numbers aren't stressful, just that I'm beginning to be able to breathe again when thinking about things. I guess it's because 20 months into this journey, we're proving it can be done. It's slow - and yes, it's painful - but we're continuing to move in the right direction. And although it is years away, there is a finish line in that direction. This is one of the hardest races we've ever run, but we've found our pace.

One day we'll get there. I know it. And if my writing this blog gives anyone in the same situation a little bit of hope, then it's worth it - we're in this together. But for now, I'll keep trying to figure out how to keep up with the gas and grocery prices!

Sarah

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Help! Where did my pages go?

When I click on my debt and goal tabs, I am told this page no longer exists. But it does!! If I go in to edit the page, it's there. Why can't I see it in a view mode? Is it just me? Please take a second and try to open Sarah's Debt and Sarah's Goals pages and let me know if you are able to get in. And if anyone knows why this is happening, please let me know ASAP! This is really stressing me out!!

Sarah

Monday, August 6, 2012

Glad I paid attention

Last month, we opted to switch a Parent Plus loan to a different lender for a slightly better interest rate. It required virtually nothing on our part in the way of applications, fees etc., so it seemed like a no-brainer. The original lender was paid in full by the new lender on July 9. On July 10, our regularly scheduled payment of $368 was debited from our account by the original lender. Uh, huh?

I let it go for a couple weeks, thinking the account would be reconciled and the overpayment either shifted to the new lender or returned to us. No such luck.

Last week, I braved the lengthy options menu with a phone call. After being on hold for close to a half hour, I finally reached a live person. I explained the situation and asked what had happened to that $368. If it was applied to the loan, fine. If not, where was it? Her immediate reply was "you are not due a refund." OK. So what happened to the money? She stumbles over her answers a couple times and I finally tell her that I would like a detailed statement so I could see exactly where the payment was applied. She allowed as how she would send it for a review.

Not even 24 hours later, I got an automated email saying a refund check had been issued. It came today, and I immediately used it for the next payment on that loan.

But it got me thinking. What if I hadn't noticed? What if I hadn't asked? It's clear there was no intention to return that money. And in my world, $368 is not pocket change.

The moral of the story is check and recheck the numbers. And if you don't understand, insist that a clear explanation is provided. I don't think the money was intentionally withheld from us. I just think that most times, there's no one there who cares. And that's where I come in. Because, I most certainly do care!

Sarah