WAY under $15K

Another month… another student loan update.  I’ve been excited to post this month because I’m finally under $15k!  And WAY under it… even under $14K!!! I feel like I just posted about being under $25k (only 6 months ago)… crazy how time flies and at this point each month I feel so much closer to the final goal!

25 Month Progress

  • Starting Debt: $41,868.53 (Nov  ’12)
  • Debt Today: $13,725.94
  • Total Debt Paid Off: $28,142.59

I’ve officially paid off twice as much as I have left to pay off!  Crazy to think I’ve paid off almost $30k in two years.  This month’s numbers are pretty good – making up for last month‘s ‘meh’ numbers:

October Review

  • Starting Balance: $15,472.88
  • End Balance:  $13,725.94
  • Paid Towards Loans: $1,834.36
  • Interest Paid: $52.66
  • Principle Paid: $1,781.70

My little blue line of progress is inching closer and closer to that red goal line. I give it three more months before I pass it – which means I’ll be paying these off BEFORE my 30th birthday!

Red = goal, Blue = loans remaining to be paid

I’m two months away from my next loan pay off…and it’s the last big one.  At 6.55%, it’s the last high interest loan… the next drops down to 4.73%.  I’ll be sooo happy when this one is gone because it weasels 20 bucks out of me a month, just for interest!

Loan Pay Off Plan

I have two months to pay off loan 1-01 ($3,057.66), which means I need to put at least $1530 towards it the next two months.  That’s going to be hard, since I have been averaging $1500 extra a month towards whatever loan I’m working on paying off for a while now.  More means cutting back on the VSAC loans – they don’t have a minimum, and have low interests (they only accrue $7-$10/month in interest), so instead of paying those every week, I can pay them every other week and use the extra $80 in Nov. & Dec. (I put $40/wk towards them) to loan 1-02.

As the loan amount keeps going down, it’s not as daunting… $13k seems so doable (unlike the $40k+ I started with!).  And if all goes as planned, in 7 months I will be student loan debt free!  At which point I will ride off into the sunset…

… and after I splurge on something fun (like another fun trip to Parc Safari or Jay Peak Water Park?!), It’ll be back to saving $$$… for our dream house!

I just have to keep telling myself… only 7 months to go.  Honestly, as perky as these monthly updates are, this is HARD.  I’ve had to be focused on a budget and saving money for over 2 years now.  Yeah, I splurge here and there on some things, but on a daily basis, I don’t spend money on anything.  I have this goal in the back of my mind every single day – and the goal of making a home for Avery and I is what’s really pushing me.  I want Avery to grow up in a home… somewhere with roots, where he can make memories, and always come home to the same place – So, I stay committed, motivated, and before I know it, these pesky loans will be GONE!

<3 Meghan

Check out my About Meghan page for more posts on finances and paying off my student loans.

Spooky & Silly Salem Weekend

We’re back from a weekend trip to Mass.  Avery spent the weekend with his Dad and Grandma while we (Mom, Dad, Uncle Mike, Aunt Denise, Joey and I) spent the weekend in Salem.  For the ten years I lived in Boston, Aunt Denise kept talking about taking a weekend trip to Salem (she loves spooky stuff), and of coarse, we never got around to it.  (We did however, have a couple trips exploring Boston (while I played tour guide) and one rainy day Brewery hopping (starting at 9am, hehe)  So, a few months ago I did the research and planned our trip to Salem!

We left at 11am, and made good time (minus the minor traffic jam in Lebanon NH because of construction), arriving at our hotel just outside Salem just before 3pm.  Avery played in the back seat, snoozed, and played some more.
We checked in at the hotel, and Joey and I hopped back in the car to bring Avery to his Dad’s while everyone else went into Salem.

After fighting glorious Boston traffic, we were finally all in Salem.  What did we do… took a candlelight ghost tour of course!
And it wasn’t but a minute after the tour guide warned us about catching our cups on fire when Dad caught his on fire!  The tour was OK.  The tour guide wasn’t dressed up and talked way too fast.


Our next stop (well, after the candy shoppe – yum!) was the House of the Seven Gables.  A book was wrote about this house by Nathaniel Hawthorne.  (Name familiar?  It was for me – he wrote The Scarlet Letter, I read it in highschool) The tour was amazing – my favorite of the weekend.  We stopped in each room of the house, and an actor would play out a character that lived in the house… a ghost, a butler, crazy girl, and a sweet old penny shop keeper.  The house was ‘wicked’ cool – low ceilings, steep winding staircases.  After the tour, we bought the two books :)

Day two began with a text to see how my little guy was doing (I missed him!).  He was having fun with his Dad and Grandma.  So, back to the adult only fun – first a workout in the fitness center and breakfast at the hotel, and off to Salem to see a baseball game played like it was back in the Civil War.IMG_3672

A nice guy from the team (his nickname was ‘Pigtail’) gave us a brochure and told us a little about the league.  The ball they used used to be handmade, and the stitching was done in a ‘x’, and the uniforms and bats were authentic.


They played 8 innings a game, and since they played barehanded (no gloves!!), they could catch a ball off a bounce and it would be an out.
The teams playing were from Providence and Brooklyn.  Providence whooped butt.

Next up, some walking around – the streets were full of vendors and very festive vistors.  We joined in and I found these two cute hats for Mom and Aunt Denise.  I needed free hands to eat fries before we met back up with them, so I just wore them both for a while…


And then started our day of musuems… first the Pirate Museum.  Mom and Aunt Denise wore the hats proudly!  (Apparently this is the IN thing down there… mini witch hats – cuz they were so expensive!  These little guys were $10 each.  The other larger ones on headbands were $20+ each, eek!  I need to get in that business!)


Oh and guess who we ran into… you know, the most famous pirate of all of history… Johnny Depp!


I’m pretty sure this was the museum that I got spooked.  See, all these museums have fake people, showing the witch trials and the last guy was a real guy… he moved and yep, I jumped and screamed like a little girl, haha!  Next up was the Witch history musuem, and then the witch dungeon.  Did you know they put over 150 people in these dungeons that had cells that were as small as a phone booth!  So sad.  We took some fun pictures when we got out of the dungeon tour.



In between the museums, we stopped in a few stores for souvineirs, oh and Mom and Aunt Denise and I found a sweet vintage shop.  I almost bought a dress for an upcoming wedding, but I was good.  Mom did however, find the cutest red boots!  Dinner at a fancy seafood restaurant was more silly than proper.  Aunt Denise made good friends with the waiter, which later earned us a free desert!


Our last musuem was the Salem Witch Musuem in this pretty building.IMG_3670

I was not impressed with the performance/show, but the second half was pretty cool, a history about ‘witches’ and the different versions throughout history.

Our last stop before leaving the spooky city… Salem’s haunted watering hole – The Bunghole!


We stocked up on some gifts and a few drinks for later that night while we played cards at the hotel.


Back at the hotel, we played a round of 31 while munching on leftovers.  Oh and we didn’t have a deck of cards so I hunted around and could only find some at this comic book store – so I picked the Walking Dead zombie ones… and man were those a good choice.  They threw everyone off – Aunt Denise was so disgusted and didn’t want to look at them and Uncle Mike was picking out the one Aunt Denise looked like in the morning – good times!

So, no ghost sightings, but we had a great time and I could probably write a book myself about Salem’s Witch Trial history!  If you ever visit, use this website.  It tells you all the events going on. Most tours/museums were under $10, and if you get combo tickets, it’s very reasonable.  And the city is very walkable.  We parked and walked around all day.  Weekend parking is $20 minimum for the day, but on weekdays the lots are only $1/hr for unlimited time.

We headed back home on Sunday.  I did a little shopping to kill time before picking Avery up from his Dad’s – scored some nice cold weather running gear – much needed because I’m doing the Glow Run tomorrow night!

We’ve had a busy week of tumble class, pumpkin carving, playing with Avery’s new toys from his birthday with his Dad, oh and Avery’s Halloween costume came in the mail, so he wore that for quite a while one night.  A busy weekend ahead of us – I’ll be back next week with more…

<3 Meghan

Avery Turns 3!

Avery turned THREE!  As per family tradition, we had to throw a big bash.  The first means of business was picking a theme.  If you follow this blog at all, you could guess what theme Avery would pick… and so the invitations were born:


I knew there would be questions about what to get Avery, so I made a Birthday Wish List on Pinterest:

Pinterest Third Birthday Wish List

Next, tons of shopping and party planning (which by the way was quite difficult because Ice Age is not a new/popular movie, so finding any decorations for the theme was near impossible!) and cake making!

Avery picked out a blue cake mix, so I used my Grandma’s giant cake pans to make an epic cake…


And after two nights of frosting…


The iceberg was finally made! IMG_3262

My parents had taken Avery to the store so I could have the night to make the cake and when they came back, my Mom loved the cake and asked how I designed and made it, and I have no idea!  I just took a really big knife and chopped away at it until it looked like an iceberg and I could put a waterfall down it (like in the movie).  I topped it with Ice Age characters!


A little work from some paper and a sheet and we made this fun display for the party!


Some balloons, snowflakes, streamers.. and it was party time!



Avery had loved the bouncy house at a party we went to this summer, so it was only fitting he had one at his party!


It was a hit!

And so were the Ice Age games… First, acorn hunt!  We acquired alllll these acorns from Uncle Todd the week before…


We spray painted a few of them, and had the kiddos search for them!IMG_3341IMG_3345

Next, dinosaur excavation! (dinosaur’s frozen in ice)IMG_3347

It kept the kids occupied for quite a while… and the kids were quite creative, using the spoons, smashing them on the ground, or licking them!

Avery opened his presents… (which took me days to put them all away – Avery is very loved and now has an even bigger college fund)


We ate yummy burgers and hot dogs (and the delicious dishes everyone brought to share!)


Each kiddo took a whack at the acorn pinata (Thanks Mimi)!IMG_3355

Everyone got a goodie bag of dinosaur stamps, figures, tattoos, and noise makers (per Avery’s specific request)



After going thru three rounds of hitting the piniata, and a little help from Jeremy… there was candy all over!IMG_3358

Avery blew out his #3 candle…IMG_3361

And he opened his big present from MiMi and Grampy… a tractor with wagon!


Needless to say, Avery wasn’t too graceful his first time at the wheel.

And what do you do with a wagon?  Carry other kids of coarse!  Avery wasn’t driving the tractor for more than a minute before another kiddo jumped in the wagon for a ride.  Both of them fell out (nobody was hurt!)

The party came to an end, but the after party continued that night and the next morning. Avery’s cousins spent the night and they had fun together…IMG_3364

We put Avery’s new quilt on his bed (Thanks Nana!)IMG_3366

And we displayed all of Avery’s fun birthday cards on his book shelf!IMG_3365

And to follow up with Avery’s THREE post update, I’ve got Avery’s annual checkup details. We met Avery’s new pediatrician, took a fun test (I had a list of things to ask Avery to do and questions for him to answer, and he did great!!!), and Avery got his height and weight checked. 


Avery is 31.75lbs (50th percentile, up from the 42nd last year), and 38 inches tall (70th percentile, down from 78th last year).

He checked out very well, got a flu shot (and band-aid), and two stickers, which he proudly displayed on our way out.


And we did our annual height mark on Avery’s giant ruler.


It’s official… I have a three year old!  And he’s awesome!!!  We had such a fun party, and birthday celebrations – thanks to everyone for making it fun and special!  Until next year…

<3 Meghan

Playing Catch Up

If there’s anything that keeps me going when I’m down, and puts a smile on my face when I’m on the verge of tears… it’s Avery.  I promise I’ll get to all of Avery’s birthday festivity photos and recap soon.  Before I do, here’s a fun mish-mosh of outings and activities with Avery this summer that I’ve been meaning to post but not sure how to mash them up in a cohesive post.  It’s only fitting that when I’m up at 2am in the morning, unable to sleep, that this little guy will get me in good spirits for tomorrow…

National Night Out – Milton, VT

My friend Kate invited us to this event in her town (right next door to us) back in August. There were exhibits for safety and the community and lots of fun stuff for the kiddos.  (more info here at their website)


We walked around and got lots of goodies…

…like this cool hat… and Avery and Kate’s kids toured the ambulance.


Avery’s favorite activity was the dunk tank.  He played twice, and dunked they guy both times on the first shot!


And it’s not a party without bubbles…!!!IMG_2577

Kat and Hannah got their faces painted and all three kiddos scored some yummy treats…


They had a great K-9 unit demonstration, and while we were watching, Kate snapped this…


LOVE. LOVE. LOVE. Fave pic of Avery and I.  And what’s even better about it, minutes later the skies opened and it downpoured! haha.  Fun times, even running back to the car and getting in soaking wet, but Avery didn’t have a drop on him… Momma’s are good like that ;)

Stowe Bike PathStowe, VT

Mimi, Grampy, Avery, and I took a ride down the Stowe bike path.

The bike path is 5.3 miles long.  We started on one end, and came back.  The weather was gorgeous.


We made a pit stop at the end before turning around (potty training while out and about it tricky… but doable!)


On our way back, we stopped at the Stowe Farmer’s market.  There were yummy goodies, so we sat down and added some treats to our packed snacks.


Avery loved the brick oven pizza, and he had a real fruit icee… it was soooo good!IMG_2984

The views of the mountain were gorgeous!  Avery was so occupied… lots to look at, bridges to go over and small hills up and down.IMG_2987


We stopped to feed some animals at a corn maze and petting pen.  And right before we were back to the car, we stopped so Grampy could take Avery in the river.


Avery was thrilled.  They threw rocks and waded around.


It was a fun family day!  If we have a free weekend day before it gets too cold, I’d love to take Avery again.

Johnson Family BBQ – Westford, VT

Out of the blue, Mom and I had the idea to have her side of the family over for a summer BBQ.  And after all this great end of summer weather.. well, it poured.  That didn’t stop us though!

The ‘adults’ hung out in the garage while all the kids (Avery’s generation of second cousins) played in the basement with Avery’s toys for hours.


Honestly, it was so great having all the kids together, playing.  Since Avery doesn’t have any siblings, Me, Grampy, or MiMi are his playmates.  So, it was great to kick back and talk with my cousins, uncles, grandparents, while the kiddos had fun together and they were all in a safe place to play that I didn’t have to keep an eye on Avery every second.


After a while, they all settled down to a movie.


Too darn cute!

And finally, the rain stopped and the badminton net got some use.  And it’s last use too… cuz someone drove over it with the tractor later on in the week…IMG_2969

And here we all are!!!  Even the latest addition, baby Peyton!  She makes the count of Great Grandkids (Avery’s generation) up to 7!


We’ve grown up quite a bit…

cousins circa Christmas 1997.  

So glad we got that side of the family together.  We are planning to do it again around the holidays… can’t wait!

Fishing & First Movie WeekendArrowhead Lake, Milton VT & Williston, VT

Avery, Grampy, Aiden and his Poppi (aka Michael Eyes, to Avery) took the boat out on the lake for some fishing on a nice summer afternoon.  Avery and Aiden were so excited to spend time together!


Grampy caught the first fish…IMG_2891

Aiden walked on water…IMG_2893

The weather was gorgeous.  The sun eventually came out and the boys fished away…

Avery had fun looking out the boat and occasionally fishing.


Grampy caught this little guy.


Avery tried to hold it but quickly got grossed out when he touched it.  Aiden showed him how to hold a fish…


Michael Eyes showed Avery the worms…IMG_2907

Avery does love his bugs…


And this time out in the boat, it didn’t die on us! (Camping on the 4th, the boat died and we were stranded in the perfect fishing spot, thankfully)  So, this time, Avery got to drive!


I’m on top of the world!!!


Avery and Aiden had fun spotting animals (birds, turtles, etc.) and looking in the water.IMG_2916

Although only two fish were caught, these kiddos had fun!IMG_2917

That night, we jumped in Michael Eyes pool, had some yummy pizza, and a bon fire.

The next day, We took Avery to his FIRST movie at the theatre!IMG_2920

We saw hot to Train Your Dragon 2 (Aiden had wanted to see it, and invited Avery, but as a Mom, I had to have Avery see the first one to make sure he would sit through it.  We rented it earlier that week and Avery like it).  The boys sat together munching on popcorn and candy.  Aunt Denise, Uncle Mike, Grampy and I chaperoned… and thanks to Aunt Denise for bringing so much candy!!!


Back to Mimi and Grampy’s, we had dinner and the boys settled down for the night together… a little elephant movie…IMG_2927

And then Aiden read Avery books before bed.IMG_2930

These guys had a fun filled weekend together :)  It’s crazy thinking my cousin and I grew up together, and now our kids are having fun together.  Time flies!

Okay, that made me feel better.  This kiddo, and our family is so much fun.  More fun to come.  I’ll recap Avery’s birthday festivities next week.  This weekend we’re off to a baby shower BBQ in NH, and I’m cranking up the running schedule.  My long run this weekend is 4 miles, eek!  I did 3 yesterday and didn’t die, so I can do it!

Happy Friday!

<3 Meghan

I Think I Can…

… I think I can.  I’m channeling a chugging engine today, only fitting from a Mom of a train loving 3 year old.  I’m running on low today, so bear with me.  It hasn’t been the best of weeks for me, so doing a dry boring post about paying down student loans only seems appropriate… I’m bound and determined not to let this blog die… so many of my loved bloggy friends have fallen off the end of the blogosphere -but I’m still here, chugging along with another boring financial update.

22 Month Progress

  • Starting Debt: $41,868.53 (Nov  ’12)
  • Debt Today: $15,472.88
  • Total Debt Paid Off: $26,395.65

This wasn’t a spectacular month in the $ department, but it was decent.  I made progress, so that’s what matters, right?

September Review

  • Starting Balance: $16,916.93
  • End Balance:  $15,472.88
  • Paid Towards Loans: $1504.36
  • Interest Paid: $60.25
  • Principle Paid: $1444.11

A couple birthdays, Avery’s party, and paying off last month’s activities and a future trip to Salem later this month caused the dip in extra funds. Next month won’t look as bleak.

Red = goal, Blue = loans remaining to be paid

I gotta kick it up a notch, because if I want to pay the next loan off in December, my next goal, I need to put at least $1550 into Loan 1-01 for the next 3 months.

Loan Pay Off Plan

I’ll tell you this now, if you have my name for Christmas, ‘SHOW ME THE MONEY!’ Yes, that was a sad and corny attempt at being humorous, I’m clearly off tonight.

I can’t believe it’s already October.  I’m bummed that this summer flew by, but I should be excited because I’m one month closer to closing in on these loans.  7 months to go, and they will be gone!  I’ve been at this for almost 2 years and it’s almost done… just gotta hang in here a little longer.  Then start the next phase… saving $ for some land.  Or a house.  I would LOVE to buy land and build a house, but that seems forever away.  It would take me 1 1/2 years to save for land cuz I need 20-30% down.  If I buy a house, I would need 5% (which I could save in a few months).  Much more attainable.  Avery and I could be sitting in our very own house this time next year… but we’ll see… I don’t need to decide now.  Focus on this goal first.

The pretty fall foliage does almost make up for the fact that summer is ending…
Mother nature’s way of saying, ‘I’m sorry, winter’s coming so here’s a pretty treat’…?

<3 Meghan

Check out my About Meghan page for more posts on finances and paying off my student loans.


My baby is three today.  He’s grown so much in the last couple months – really gaining his independence, talking up a storm, and he’s no longer a baby, or a toddler, he’s a preschooler!

Avery started his first day of preschool today.

I dropped him off, and he gave hugs and kisses to Joey and I and went off to play.  He didn’t cry or cling.. he’s all grown up!  He was so proud of his new backpack (a hand-me down from cousin Aiden), and wouldn’t let go of his ice age characters from his birthday party this weekend.
There are so many things about Avery that I just want to bottle up and save forever because I know he will continue to change and grow.  But for now, here are a few things I’d like to store away and look back on someday…

Things ‘I can do myself’ :

    • Put on & Take off my shoes.  I’m working on taking off my socks, but since I demand to wear big long white sox like Grampy that practically go up to my knees, I get too frustrated before I can pull them off completely.
    • Sing the ABCs. I like to sing when putting the alphabet puzzle together with Mommy and when Mommy asks me to read anything, I recite the ABCs.
    • Use the Potty. I’m ALMOST potty trained… I just have to remember to tell Mommy I need to go, BEFORE I go.  I  can pull my pants down and use the step stool to get to the potty myself!  Oh and I stand up like big boys do ;)


Avery was sooo excited when we went shopping for big boy pants – he took them out of the bag and laid them all out like this, silly kid!

    • Wash My Hands.  If Mommy asks me to wash my hands before dinner, I can go into the bathroom, turn on the light, pull up the step stool, turn on the water, get the soap and wash my hands, and put everything back.
    • Count to Thirteen.  I can count very high, but after 13, I tend to go back down to 8.
    • Ride a Trike and my Bike with Training Wheels. My favorite time to ride my bike is when we are visiting Great Grandma & Grandpa.


  • Pick Clothes Out of My Dresser.  Mommy can ask me to go pick out clothes and I can get them all by myself.  Sometimes I come back with Pajamas or long shirts and I have to make a second trip, but I am learning!

Avery’s favorite things change pretty often now.  He has a short attention span and moves from one activity to another after a few minutes, and he could like one food today and hate it tomorrow.  But here are a few consistent favorites…


    • Fruit: Strawberries & Apples
    • Meat: Sausage & Hotdogs
    • Vegetable: Corn on the Cob


    • Meal: Tacos or Spaghetti
    • Books: Thomas book from Sarah T
    • Candy: Jelly Beans & Sour Patch Kids
    • Snack: Popcorn & Fruit Gummies
    • Songs: There’s a Hole in My Bucket, Rain Rain Go Away, and the commercial song ‘I’m a Big Kid Now’
    • Color: Blue! or Red, or Green, depending on the day, haha.
    • Movie: The Elephant Movie (Ice Age)
    • Outdoor Activity: Riding his new tractor, playing in the garden, playing in the garage
    • Indoor Activity: Thomas Trains, Cars, Play Doh


There are some quirky, distinct, and particular things we do every day that not many people know about but Avery never lets me forget and reminds me if we don’t do them.


  • When I pick Avery up from school, he likes to wear his (heavy and full) backpack outside to ‘Show my kids’ (classmates) as he says, because he is ‘Big and strong’ and ‘Im a Superman!’
  • When Avery says goodbye or goodnight to Mimi, she gets 2 Kisses and 1 hug… every time!
  • Avery gets the mail every day after school.  He sits in my lap in the car at the mailbox, reads off the mailbox numbers, gets the mail out and brings it in the house.
  • When we go for walks, on our way back, Avery races us by going down Tom’s driveway (the neighbor, which runs next to ours) and beats us home.
  • We get jelly beans every day after school at Joey’s work
  • We stop and look at the ‘broken house’ every day (It’s a house they are building, but Avery has called it the broken house, haha)


Oh Avery.  Words to describe this kiddo… Energetic, loving, caring, fearless, stubborn, persistent, determined, athletic, clever, daring, polite, bold, handsome, entertaining, bright, confident, curious, thoughtful, happy, and healthy.

Avery has his 3 year check up on Wednesday, I’ll be back to give his stats after that, and post pictures and video from Avery’s birthday party!

<3 Meghan

Keep Calm….


Strangely, I’m not freaking out!  It’s the last year of my 20s, and I’m totally OK with that :)  I’m happier, healthier, and have so much more going for me this year, than last year, and the years before.  So, bring on year 29!!!

And honestly, how can I be bummed about the end of an era closing in on me when this little munchkin gave me a pink loufa, blue leopard print pajama pants, and mini M&Ms for my birthday this morning??!!


Gotta love when you’re 3 year old picks out the most random things for your birthday present :)  Nothing better than that!

Oh and guess what I did on my lunch break today…

Happy Birthday to me!  Thanks to my thoughtful little sis, I got pampered at the spa :)

Way to start off a birthday!!!  Back to work this afternoon, and then later tonight…we’re making pizza and watching a movie together to celebrate.  Tomorrow is Avery’s big birthday bash… sooo excited for this weekend… FUN FUN FUN!

<3 Meghan