Sallie Mae / Citibank Update

Brain Dump! I realized that if I tried to include all of this in a May Recap in a week or so, it’d be WAY too long, so I thought I’d go ahead and do an update!

Sallie Mae / Citibank Update:

One of the most frustrating things about monitoring our finances as closely as we do is that payments aren’t immediate. Credit card charges hang out in (what I call) the “gray area” – on Mint.com, the charges are in gray text, meaning they haven’t truly “gone through.”

It’s especially frustrating when we’ve been dealing with that private loan through Sallie Mae – read more about the decision we made to pay it off with a check from Citibank here.

Getting that done has been a huge chore. And not even for me, because it’s under my husband’s name so he has been on the phone with Sallie Mae several different times, trying to figure out why they can’t seem to follow simple directions. Honestly, I don’t want to get into it all here because I’ve been sick for the past week and thinking about those details makes my head hurt.

Suffice to say, Sallie Mae messed up and claimed we owed them more (BASTARDS) and then finally processed a separate debit card payment from us (because you can’t pay off the final amount with a credit card?!) and then the payment didn’t go through for a day and we were charged MORE INTEREST. So the amount from the debit card charge didn’t actually even cover the whole amount by the time it was “processed.” %)(#@$&%*#@)(!@()*#$)(@!!!!!

Anyway. We think it’s resolved now, but it did involve paying $200+ from our checking account that we weren’t expecting. It doesn’t actually change the total (we didn’t end up paying Sallie Mae more than we were supposed to), but paying from our checking account was unexpected – we thought it would all be a part of the new Citibank credit card balance.

More on the Citibank Card:

At the time we decided to pay off the Sallie Mae card with the check, we had a $500 balance remaining on the card. Recalling that it didn’t need to actually be paid off until the fall before it accrued interest, I thought about just leaving the balance on there. Then I thought, “What if Citibank tries to screw us over? Even if we pay $500 or more next month, they might try to claim that the original $500 accrued interest sometime in the next few months!” (Bear with me. I can’t explain that any better.) So, I pulled the $500 out of our Sinking Fund, trying to avoid potential future money headaches. (Remember, the Sinking Fund also acts as our Emergency Fund, though we always replenish it if we need to pull from it! And of course I don’t advocate for using it as an Emergency Fund. I’m just saying we do.)

So when we needed to pull that $200+ from our checking account, I realized we could end up being short this month. I can’t handle having a checking account with only $50 in it for 10 days until we get paid… what if something unexpected happens? So…. what did I do?

Asking My Mom for a Loan:

Yes, 30-somethings do this. I’m gonna guesstimate that 70% of 30-somethings do this. Based on science. And stuff.

I sat down and calculated how much our checking account would be short after that draft for Sallie Mae would go through, and I looked at how much we had in our Sinking Fund ($140). I transferred the $100 for a buffer and asked for $200 more from my mom, with the promise to repay it on payday (May 31). She is awesome, so she understood the problem (everyone hates Sallie Mae, did you know?), and she was super helpful and understanding.

On a side note, an interesting item to come out of that conversation:

Mom: “But once that’s gone, you’ll be done with Sallie Mae, right?”

Me: “Well, we still have our other Sallie Mae loans, but we’re just paying the minimum on those until this 8% interest one is paid off.”

Mom: “How much more do you owe Sallie Mae?”

Me: “Um, more than $60,000?”

Mom: “What? I had no idea!”

I guess I had no reason to think my mom knew all the ins and outs of our finances, but I thought surely she knew about those loans. In fairness, my part of that is only about $15,000 now, so I probably never told her how much H still owes.

Restructuring our Budget for Summer & Beyond:

I’ve started to consider how our budget will change over the summer, and then for next year.

We’ve crossed a big debt off our list – the original Citibank balance, which was all consumer debt.

We’re also thisclose to having the car loan paid off – I plan to use some of my side hustle check at the end of the month for that, then it will be DONE.

Those are big ones to celebrate! In my mind, that means we’re CONSUMER DEBT FREE (because mortgages are just so huge that I can’t even count that with the rest of it). And technically, our Sallie Mae debt is now “consumer debt” because it’s housed on the credit card, but I still feel better about it. We can pay it off more conveniently this way (though it involved some major annoyance over the past few days, which just makes me feel justified in moving it over to a credit card loan instead!). I don’t know what we’ll do when it’s done and it’s time to move on to the other Sallie Mae loans. (We ain’t payin’ those off with credit cards!)

So with a couple of debts out of the way and some lifestyle changes (L no longer in daycare but will be in after-school care; teaching L piano lessons myself to save money – eep!; different ballet school that costs slightly more), I need to determine how we’ll allocate our debt repayment over the next six months.

I actually enjoy that quite a bit, and once it’s done, I will share it here.

Anyone else have Sallie Mae horror stories to share? Come on, I know you do.

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