Friday, July 8, 2016

We've MOVED!

Check out our new updated site at:

See ya over there!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Next Stop: Tulsa, Oklahoma

PC; FREQUENT WANDERER (defending Tulsa)
Danny has officially accepted an offer with a dentists' group in Tulsa. I feel much like CHANDLER ON FRIENDS.

We really are excited at this opportunity. It really was an offer we couldn't refuse. The cost of living in Tulsa is cheap. The people of Tulsa are great. (and plus they actually go to the dentist). It will be an amazing place to ditch all of our DEBT.

 We can't wait to to be near family and old friends (I grew up near Tulsa) but are sad to say goodbye to other family and friends. And also sad that we're not moving to the beach. (I digress).

Anyway, I haven't found a job yet so if you need an attorney in the Tulsa area, I'm your girl!

Monday, May 2, 2016


Searching for rental income properties is no joke. We're in kind of a weird situation. We're trying to get pre-approved for a mortgage BUT we have 1) me- who is about to change jobs/might be jobless upon moving and 2) danny- who hasn't worked for a million years, but has an employment contract which identifies guaranteed income per month.

We have an income to debt ratio that might make some lender's hearts beat fast, but, we also have options such as IBR, PAYE, etc etc to sign up for. But, we also cannot sign up for those options until his loans go into repayment, in June when he graduates.

Anyway, it has complicated the process of getting pre-approved for a mortgage with all of this craziness going on.

<script async defer data-pin-hover="true" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-round="true" src="//"></script>
Me, getting pounded at Pounders. Its a metaphor. 
Its also tricky being at a distance and maintaining full time jobs/school and trying to schedule in looking at properties. Not to mention the cost of traveling to go look at those properties, sheesh!

What do you think? Are we in over our heads? Is it worth it??

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

April Debt Update: [Student Loans]

Feels like we're at a little bit of a standstill this month. We are getting ready to purchase a rental income property (see HERE) and are using some of the money we would be putting towards these loans on a down payment for that property. So, its a little ouch right now but hopefully will pay off in the long run.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Rental Income Lets us Live Rent Free! Or does it? TBD

If we are ever going to pay off this debt, we are going to have to get creative. So,

We have a plan.
I haven't decided how good of one it is.

Here is what I'm thinking:

We haven't narrowed down exactly where we will be moving, but in some of our options (OK, AZ, CA, OR) the cost of living/buying a house is SO cheap. Like, you can buy a pretty nice house (Think 3-4 bedrooms, 2-3 bathrooms in a nice neighborhood for 120k). --> mortgage payments for a house at this price are typically $600-$800 month, as a general rule of thumb. (obviously not in california, ha)

We are thinking we will buy a duplex, live in one side, and rent out the other side. In the areas we are looking at, units like this rent out for somewhere between $900-1200 a month, essentially the cost of our mortgage plus some likely maintenance fees that will come up.

Certainly there are cons to renting, and these are my top three concerns:
1) Finding legit tenants and dealing with bad ones
2) Collecting rent every month
3) Exposure to liability

But if that lets us live "rent free" (since tenants will be covering our mortgage) for a few years, maybe its worth it? What do YOU think??

Thursday, March 31, 2016


Danny's graduation just keeps getting closer and closer which means one excellent thing: we are getting closer and closer to having a real income. But it also means that we are getting closer and closer to having to make a decision on how we are going to tackle his MOUNTAIN of debt. So, I've gone through each of our options (or lack of options, but hopefully it is helpful for you). Without further adieu:

Lets start off by looking at this fancy chart. You should create your own HERE as it is helpful in reviewing what the best option is for you.

1. IBR

to qualify: must have FFEL, Stafford/Graudate Plus loans (can't have anything that contains Parent Plus loans)

  • Loan forgiveness. After 25 years, the remaining balance of your loans disappear.
  • Live better lifestyle immediately after graduation. This is as a result of the fact that you will  be making low monthly payments.This is appealing to people who have been students (and living like students) for more than 10 years.
  • Never have to pay more than what would be required under 10 year standard repayment plan. 
  • Payments change with income.This helps ensure that your payments are affordable- if you get a job that pays less, then your payments will decrease. 
  • Possibility for saving and investing money earlier
  • Doesn't incentivize you to make lots of money (since its based off percentage (15%) of income. The more I earn, the more I pay, while interest is accruing).
  • Pay FAT taxes the year that your loan is forgiven. You are taxed on the remaining balance of your loan (which, for medical and dental students, can easily be more than $1million). Meaning, you might be paying $100k - $400k JUST IN TAXES the year your loan is "forgiven"
  • You have debt hanging over your head for 25 years 
  • Your loans will earn more interest 
IN SUM: Good for people who have high debt compared to income and or family size. Or who want to live a more comfortable lifestyle and not concerned about lifetime value of the loan. 

2. PAYE:

To Qualify: Must have Stafford or Graduate Plus loans that were taken out ON OR AFTER Oct, 1, 2011, or have consolidaton loans that were made on or after Oct 1, 2011 OR direct loan borrowers can qualify if they have no loans made before Oct 1, 2007.

We don't qualify for this so I didn't research this too hard because its too depressing on what we are missing out on. If you qualify, really consider taking advantage of this!


- 10% of your income for twenty years and then it is forgiven.
- Allows you to live comfy-ish lifestyle immediately after graduation
- total balance of your loan that you end up paying will likely be less than what you would have paid under the conventional loan option (or any other option for that matter, see chart customized to our situation above)


- you  have debt hanging over your head for 20 years.
- You'll be taxed on the remaining balance that is forgiven plus whatever your income is that year, so that will HURT



- good option if your job is not reliable or you think for some reason you may earn LESS money in the future
- only pay 10% of whatever your income is. So if you went to school and then decided to become a SAHM for example, you would pay $0 (since your income is $0).
- good option if you don't qualify for PAYE


- Accrue WAY more interest than other repayment options
- Get taxed (as discussed above) when your loan is forgiven


The standard plan sets up your payments such that you'd pay off your loans within ten years.


- smallest amount of interest accruing
- gets rid of debt hanging over your head the fastest


- living like students for another 10 years (ideally less, since ideally you'd be throwing more money at these monthly than what is due)
- takes a lot of discipline to not spend the money you are making

So, our expenses could look something like this next year:

Yearly expenses based on $150,000 income (ps, we don't know what exactly our income we'll be, so this is just a random figure I chose out of the air) 
Taxes: $37,500 - 49,500 (25-33% depending on how we file) 
Tithing: $15,000
Housing: $9600
Food: $5000
Standard loan: $62,000 IBR: $17,976 PAYE: $15,000 REPAYE: $15,492
Car maintenance: $500
Clothes: $500

This factors in basically no discretionary income- gifts, vacations, etc. And this could change a lot because it depends quite a bit on what our actual income is.

Super appealing to only have to spend 15k on student loans next year instead of 60k! But super unappealing to think about getting taxed to death in 20-25 years. And super unappealing to STILL be paying loans in 20-25 years. In the end, its a personal choice, obviously. What do you think? What have I not considered? What are you doing for your student loans?? Or what are your plans?? HELP US DECIDE-- comment below! 

Friday, March 18, 2016

Student Loans: March Debt Update

Progress is progress I guess! 
Kind of. Except that I looked at Danny's dental school loans and his masters degree loans this week. Its like looking after you squish a bug or blow your nose- you've gotta see it but you really really really don't want to. But you do. But really you don't. He's only accrued $60k in INTEREST so far. BAH. I just about passed out. 

At least he graduates in a couple of months and can start knocking those bad boys out. 


Friday, March 11, 2016

Tax Returns

This year, we are actually getting a tax return!:

1) because I (Amber) am actually working instead of in school
2) because I don't get paid that much as a law clerk and
3) because we had a baby last year! Thanks Max.

We are planning on just throwing our whole return at debt, but I like thinking of the future when we won't have debt. So, what do you do with your tax returns?? Comment below- we'd love to hear it.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The best things in life are free

Starting a new series featuring the best things in life, that are free.

 First up: babies with puppies. Ok ok neither of those are actually free but the moment was.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Couponing, Sale Shopping, Oh my!

When we lived in Miami I was a mad couponer. Groceries were much more expensive than previous places we had lived (and keep in mind, we moved there from China where groceries cost almost nothing). It was really disheartening to come home with a couple bags of groceries that somehow cost +$100.

I was chatting with a couple of friends from church about it and they all lit up like Christmas trees talking about couponing. I had seen some episodes of extreme couponing on TV but figured it was all bogus (and also, I didn't need like 500 free toothbrushes. I just wanted to save me and my family a little money on our regular groceries).

Anyway, those friends taught me a thing or two about couponing and away I went!

The nice thing about couponing these days is that so many people do it, there are literally hundreds of blogs that cover it, that you don't have to do any of the brain work yourself! You just go to the blogs, find the deals, go pick out the coupons and go buy your stuff. It really is that easy.

My favorite website is: Southern Savers.

For me it was the easiest to navigate around and has a good amount of chain stores (Target, Walgreens, Walmart, etc). If you explore her site for a while, she easily teaches you how to coupon, so I'll leave it to her HERE.

The idea is that you combine BOTH manufacturer coupons with store coupons when the store is having a sale on the item of purchase. The result? MAD savings.

It does require a little more planning and prepping and a shopping mentality shift. Stores usually repeat the same sales every 6-8 weeks so one thing you'll do is stock up on the items on sale when they are on sale- buy enough to get you through those 6 weeks until they are on sale again.

Since moving back to Utah, we've found that couponing is not so red hot here. What makes couponing so great in other states is stores that have Buy One Get One Free sales (aka BOGO). When you combine coupons to BOGO's-- thats the sweet stuff. That's how you get stuff real cheap or free. But, we still shop the sales and we still apply coupons when we can. With a little discipline, we really have quite a bit of money on our groceries.

Anyway, if you have specific questions, feel free to leave me a comment. Happy couponing!

February Debt Update

Credit card debt;         $0
Undergrad loans:        $0
Car loan:                     $0 (but to be fair, not by choice, see HERE.
Summer loan 1:          $0 (paid it off before interest accrued. Schwing!)
Law School Loan 1:   $8,370 (6.8%)
Law School Loan 2:   $12,492.75 (6.21%)
Law School Loan 3:   $13, 619.46(5.41%)
Danny's Loans:       +$500,000

Amber's total debt: $34,482.21

I didn't feel that impressed by this until I checked out my October debt update. I guess we are making progress after all :) 

Friday, January 22, 2016

January Debt Update

Credit card debt; $0
Undergrad loans: $0
Car loan: $0 (but to be fair, not by choice, see HERE.
Summer loan 1: $1000 (5.5% interest, none accruing yet)
Law School Loan 1:$10,670 (6.8%)
Law School Loan 2: $12,492.75 (6.21%)
Law School Loan 3: $13, 619.46(5.41%)
Danny's Loans: +$500,000

Its always a good feeling when you are able to pay off more of your loan than what accrued in interest, ha. We tried to keep Christmas gifts slim this year and I've been picking up a few photography jobs and mystery shopping to add a little bit of cash. It definitely helped us survive the Christmas season and the huge set back of losing our car. :) 

We have started applying for jobs for when Danny graduates and are really starting to crack down on how we want to tackle his fat stack of debt! IRB? PAYE? Standard repayment plan? TBD. I'll post our thoughts on each.

P.s. Max turned one this week. Time is such a bully! I am a wreck. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016


A few days after Christmas, we were driving to meet up with some friends. The highway looked nice and dry, until we got to one section, just about to go over a bridge, and Danny said "is the ground wet?" [Kind of, it was black ice.]

Just as he set it, we started fishtailing. I couldn't get control over the car, and we started spinning. We were in the left lane, so were spinning in the left lane and shoulder. There was plenty of traffic behind us- I just remember seeing lots of bright headlights, and especially the lights of a semi-truck. I don't know how it missed us. Eventually we hit the concrete barrier in the center, in the front and then in the back, where Max was sitting. The air bags went off at some point while we were spinning, before we stopped. Danny was shouting, and the whole time I was just thinking about Max. Was he ok? Was he going to be ok? If he was ok, was he scared because we were screaming? Everything was in slow motion. I was praying for the car to stop. Eventually it did. Danny was shouting at me (it was loud, we were on the highway) to get out of the car because we were hanging into traffic. I couldn't- my door was crushed shut. Probably my biggest fear in life-- being trapped. It was even worse because all I wanted to do was check Max and hold him and let him know everything was going to be ok, but I couldn't. I was stuck. And I kept imagining the worst, because I couldn't hear him crying, I could only hear Danny shouting.

I was shouting at Danny to hurry and get Max out and get out of traffic and onto the shoulder.
A kind lady pulled over to help, she offered to let max sit in her car (it was warm). Danny put him in her car and started walking towards me. I started SCREAMING for him to not leave Max. I envisioned her driving away with my baby after he had just survived that crash and I was panicked.
While this was all going on, I was calling 9-1-1. Danny was on the phone too (he called my mom). My mom (and brother) arrived right about the same time as the cops & firemen. I've never been so happy to see them.

We unloaded everything from the car and signed some papers for the cops and firemen. They checked Max to make sure he was ok and they installed his car seat into my mom's car. We got in her car and just drove away and we just sat there, staring into space, in complete disbelief at what had just happened. I couldn't stop shaking and was really cold the rest of that night. We all had some pretty serious soreness and migraines for several days (lets just say if it was us against the airbags and or the concrete barrier we hit, the airbags and barrier won. big time). And I, being the driver, felt a lot of guilt (and still do) for nearly killing us and for killing our car. But we were ok. And so grateful for our lives. And especially grateful for Max's life and for his car seat.

pics from when we went to look at the car at the car storage place. 

I really can't even complain about the bummer this put in our finances and in our digging-out-of-debt plan, because I really am just so grateful that we are all alive. Especially my two guys, who I am pretty dang crazy about. 

But, it was certainly a setback. 

We still owed about $2800 on our car. 
We have a $1000 deductible on our insurance.

Our car was kind of a junker, so we were just crossing our fingers, hoping to break even. 
Our insurance was actually really decent to work with. There wasn't a lot of haggling and arguing over a price-- they offered about $5500 which obviously covers the balance of our loan and the deductible with a tiny bit left over.

And-- as a bonus, if you weren't aware, most insurance companies will pay for you to get a new carseat! In our case, we got about $350! 

Some take aways we learned: drive carefully out there in stupid winter, be nice to your insurance company and maybe they will be nice back (but if they aren't, haggle your way and get what your car is worth!), and don't take your days on this earth for granted. 

We haven't decided what we'll do as far as replacing the dang thing goes. $1700 doesn't exactly cover much of a new (used) car. TBD!