refine (v): to improve by making small changes
 Refining With Tiffany - Personal Finance Blog - Budgeting - Paying Debt - Becoming Debt Free - Saving money - earning money


Welcome to Refining with Tiffany! I’m so happy to have you here.

I created this blog to help me and my husband pay down our debt ($335,163.66 as of 10/31/2017) and help others to pay down their small change at a time!


About Tiffany

As you may have guessed, I’m Tiffany. I live in Asheville, NC with my husband DJ and our four fur-babies (Mikey, Sissy, Sota, and Cuse).

I’m a big Sci-Fi/Fantasy nerd. I love Battlestar Galactica, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, and Lord of the Rings. My mom even grounded me from watching Star Wars when I was a kid because I watched it too many times.

I love to travel and have visited 22 states (this doesn’t include those that I’ve traveled through). I studied abroad for four months in Spain in 2001. I’ve also been to Ireland, France, Portugal, Germany, Austria, Canada, Mexico, and several islands in the Caribbean. Traveling to every country in the world is part of my bucket list.

I also love baseball, especially rooting for the Baltimore Orioles! And my favorite candy is the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.

My Debt Story

I graduated from Syracuse University back in 2002. Even though Syracuse is a pricey private school, I only took out $9,000 in student loans. (This was thanks to receiving grants and scholarships, working as a Resident Advisor, and doing work-study.)

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, so I went to graduate school at George Washington University. I graduated in 2004 with an additional $36,350 in student loans. (Bringing my total student loans to $45,350 without accounting for accrued interest.)

I got my first job in 2003 as an analyst for the federal government in Washington D.C. I didn’t make much, but it was enough to pay the bills and start paying on my student loans.

In 2005, I moved to North Carolina and bought my first house. I was making a lot more money by then but I didn’t have any savings. So, I had no down payment and mortgaged the entire purchase.

It was at that time that I realized how much I didn’t know about personal finance. So, I started reading everything I could get my hands on (blogs, Debt-Proof Living, Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover, etc.).

I started implementing what I was learning and saw my finances improve. I had an emergency fund, was saving for periodic expenses, and was working towards paying down my debt faster.

I was lucky in that I sold my house in 2007 (at the start of the mortgage crisis) and was able to sell it for a profit. I used some of that money to buy a new car and put the rest into savings.

In 2008, doctors found a mass on my stepdad’s pancreas. After a long battle, he passed away in 2009. Because of his experience, I decided that I wanted to go to law school. So, in 2010, I started law school at Wake Forest University. It was there that I met my husband DJ.

By the time I started law school, I had paid my previous student loans down to about $32,000. I had also saved a decent amount of money to help pay for law school.  

So, between my savings and a great scholarship, I only had to take out about $37,000 in student loans to pay for law school.

But DJ’s loan situation was much different. He had gone to the University of Minnesota for undergrad. When he graduated in 2008, he had $32,000 in private student loans. Although he also received a great scholarship from Wake, he had to take out $61,500 in student loans to pay for law school.

 Refining With Tiffany - Personal Finance Blog - Budgeting - Paying Debt - Becoming Debt Free - Saving money - earning money

So, our total outstanding loans upon graduating from law school in 2013 was about $162,500. (Gulp!) And with accrued interest, it jumped to over $201,000. (Double gulp!)

But, thanks to budgeting and finding ways to make extra money, we’ve been able to pay it down to $158,314.80.

We also have $166,724.98 in mortgage debt, $5,644.91 in a 0% interest loan (expiring in 2022), and $4,478.97 on a 0% interest credit card (expiring in May 2018). [*Note: We plan to pay both of the 0% debts off before they expire so that we don’t incur any interest or fees.]

That puts our total current debt (including our mortgage) at $335,163.66. (Yikes!)

Are You In?

So, now that I’ve bared my financial sole to you, are you ready to take this journey with me? Are you ready to share our successes and struggles together?

If so, welcome! And congratulations on taking the first small step towards refining your life.

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