How Much Excess Notebook Paper is Hanging Around YOUR Old School Work?

For those of you out there on the interwebs who still have your high school or college paperwork laying around – when was the last time you looked at it? I have a double-wide milk crate that sits on a shelf in my closet and is filled with my college and graduate school notebooks and homework. While I typically don’t notice the milk crate sitting there on the shelf, every now and again I think to myself, “I have to dig through that thing one of these days.”

And last night was the night that I decided to dig through that milk crate.

All of the notebook paper that I did NOT use while I was in college... amazing.

Now some of you might wonder why I keep this old school work decided to dig through this milk crate. It’s simple. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, then you know that almost two years ago to the day I wrote an entry that talked about how I planned to use every disposable/short-term item in my possession before buying a new item of the same type. In other words, I don’t plan on buying any more blue or black ink pens until all of the pens at my disposal are used and gone. I don’t plan on buying any new highlighters or pencils until all of the ones that I currently have in my possession either run dry or run down to the eraser.

Why buy more of something that I have an abundance of already?

The picture above shows all of the excess notebook and loose leaf paper that I pulled out of my old college notebooks and random paperwork last night. I did this once before, but I only pulled out a few slices of paper (maybe 50 at most). However, once I had all of that old milk crate poured out on my bedroom floor last night, I figured that this was my chance to pull out all of the unused paper from the crate. And why pull out all of that unused, dusty paper?

To use it, of course!

Granted, I don’t have many uses for that paper in my at-home life. In fact, I’ve been working on depleting a stack of “scratch paper” that has been sitting on my bookshelf for the last two years. So I certainly don’t need to add to that pile. However, I’m going to bring that stack of unused college paper to my office and slap it on a clipboard to use when I go out for site visits to my clients or to take notes during in-office meetings.

Will it help prevent a tree from being chopped down somewhere on the planet? Maybe – I don’t know. But what I do know is that it makes a lot more sense to use the paper that I already have in my possession than to go out to Staples and buy a new pack of paper. Not only does that generate a greater need than is really needed, but it’s a waste of money.

So, what resources or items do you have laying around your house, closet, or storage unit that you don’t need to buy any more of any time soon? Take a look around. You might be surprised at what you find!

Monmouth Men’s Basketball Releases 2011 – 2012 Schedule

Today, the Asbury Park Press released the Monmouth University men’s basketball team’s schedule for the upcoming season. However, since they clearly copied and pasted from some website or e-mail and didn’t take the time to go through the copy and reformat it so it didn’t look like a complete mess, I’ve reformatted the schedule here for your viewing pleasure.

2011 – 2012 Monmouth University Men’s Basketball Schedule
Friday, November 11th at Villanova, 7:00 PM

Dick’s Sporting Goods NIT Season Tip-Off Tournament at Virginia Tech
Monday, November 14th at Virginia Tech, TBA
Tuesday, November 15th vs. George Mason or FIU, TBA
Monday, November 21st – Wednesday, November 23rd vs. TBD, TBA

Regular Season
Friday, November 25th at Vanderbilt, 9:00 PM
Thursday, December 1st at St. Francis, PA, 7:00 PM *
Saturday, December 3rd at Robert Morris, 7:00 PM *
Tuesday, December 6th at Navy, 7:00 PM
Saturday, December 10th vs. FORDHAM, 7:00 PM
Monday, December 12th at Rutgers, 7:30 PM
Thursday, December 22nd vs. RIDER, 7:00 PM
Wednesday, December 28th at Lafayette, 7:00 PM
Sunday, January 1st at UNC-Chapel Hill, TBA
Thursday, January 5th vs. MOUNT ST. MARY’S, 7:00 PM *
Saturday, January 7th vs. WAGNER, 7:00 PM *
Tuesday, January 10th vs. HARVARD, 7:00 PM
Thursday, January 12th at St. Francis, NY, 7:00 PM *
Saturday, January 14th at LIU, 7:00 PM *
Thursday, January 19th vs. ST. FRANCIS, PA, 7:00 PM *
Saturday, January 21st vs. ROBERT MORRIS, 7:00 PM *
Thursday, January 26th at CCSU, 7:00 PM *
Saturday, January 28th at Bryant, 7:00 PM *
Thursday, February 2nd vs. SACRED HEART, 7:00 PM *
Saturday, February 4th vs. QUINNIPIAC, 7:00 PM *
Wednesday, February 8th at FDU, 7:00 PM *
Saturday, February 11th vs. FDU, 7:00 PM *
Thursday, February 16th at Mount St. Mary’s, 7:00 PM *
Saturday, February 18th at Wagner, 7:00 PM *
Thursday, February 23rd vs. ST. FRANCIS, NY, 7:00 PM *
Saturday, February 25th vs. LIU, 7:00 PM *

NEC Tournament (if Qualified)
Thursday, March 1st; Sunday, March 4th; and Wednesday, March 7th

* = Northeast Conference Game
Opposing Team’s Name in CAPITAL LETTERS = Home Game

There are a few things that stick out in this schedule to me. First, there are only 12 home games according to this schedule while there were 15 last year. I don’t know whether or not this schedule is truly finalized (I assume that it is not), but I would hope that the powers that be find a way to put a few more home games on the schedule.

Second, the first home game isn’t until nearly the middle of December?! Come on! That ain’t right – not just for the fans, but for the players. These kids should be given an opportunity to play in front of their fellow students and home town crowd during a time that isn’t right smack dab in the middle of preparation for final exams. If there isn’t another home game added to this schedule before the December 10th game, then this is just poor scheduling on someone’s part.

Third, talk about playing against some stiff competition! This is great! I’m so glad that the Hawks are no longer going to go to that silly Basketball Travelers Classic in Idaho. Who gives a damn about that tournament? Getting into the Preseason NIT? Now that’s a step up for the program – nice work! And a game against UNC-Chapel Hill right in the middle of the season? I love it! Very, very good work putting this type of real, tough, competitive schedule together.

Here’s looking forward to the coming season! Read more about this season’s schedule at GoMUHawks.com.

Rutgers University Tops the Monmouth Hawks, 56 – 79

Since I first purchased season tickets to the Monmouth men’s basketball team last season, I haven’t been faced with a situation where I was unsure who I wanted to win a game. Up until tonight, I wanted Monmouth to win every game, every time they played – period. However, tonight’s game presented a problem to me because I’m a graduate of both universities! Back in 2003 I earned a Bachelors Degree from Monmouth and a few years ago in 2006 I earned a Masters Degree from Rutgers.

What’s an alumnus to do?! Who’s an alumnus to root for?!

The Monmouth Mob Actually Showed Up

Well, as you might imagine I opted to root for Monmouth since it feels a little bit more natural to me. Also, I think I have more of a connection with Monmouth (good or bad). Although no matter what the outcome of the game, I knew that I was leaving the game with my alma mater winning!

But tonight’s game was an interesting one at the MAC Center in West Long Branch, New Jersey. Not only were there a bunch of red shirts in the crowd, but there was a crowd in the first place! Tony Graham over at the Asbury Park Press says that there were 2,852 fans in attendance and I wouldn’t doubt it at all. That building was jumping! Personally, I’m looking forward to this Wednesday night’s game against Villanova which I heard is completely sold out. That’s a 4,200 seat arena that is sold out – should be fun to watch.

Back to tonight’s game.

I was very impressed with the level of competitiveness that Monmouth played with early on tonight, but that would seem to for the Hawks’ style. When the Hawks play against bad teams, they play down to their level. When they play against good teams, they play up to their level. Being so inconsistent isn’t a good thing for any sports team and I wish that Monmouth would just play their game each time they take the court instead of acting like this weird chameleon type of team. Mr. Graham at the APP’s Hawks Nest had a quote from RJ Rutledge regarding Monmouth not playing their style of game in the latter part of the game:

“We hung in with them for most of the game,” Rutledge said. “It’s just that at the end we let the turnovers get to us and we didn’t keep on playing our game.”

The other major issue that bothered me tonight was that the final score didn’t reflect the level of competition that Monmouth played with for most of the game. When you see that Rutgers scored some 79 points to Monmouth’s 56 points, you think, “Wow. Monmouth got blown out.” The truth is that they didn’t get blown out at all and that certain players like RJ Rutledge, Ed Waite, and Nick Del Tufo had phenomenal games tonight. Sure, Del Tufo needs to keep his level of aggression up on defense, but he was one of the stars for Monmouth tonight. I will admit that the final score, though, definitely captured the feeling of the game in the last 5 or 6 minutes.

And that’s the final issue that bothered me about tonight’s game. As a fan sitting in the stands and having played competitive sports against all different types of skill levels of opponents, I’m pretty good at telling when a team packs it in and calls it a day. Somewhere with 4 or 5 minutes left in the second half, it really appeared like Monmouth packed it in and called it a day and that’s a damn shame. I don’t deny that Monmouth was outmatched in terms of skill, but I do believe that if Monmouth was playing at their best and playing their style of game – well, they may have had a chance of beating this Rutgers team tonight.

Here’s hoping that Monmouth can keep their level of aggressive, competitive play up for the Villanova game this Wednesday. If they can believe that a victory can happen, then you never know – something great might happen on Wednesday night.

Major Student Loan Announcement: My NJHESAA Loan is Fully Repaid!

That’s right, folks, you read the headline of this entry correctly. After 52 months of repayment – beginning way back in July 2006 – my New Jersey Higher Education Student Assistance Authority (NJHESAA) student loan is now fully repaid. And now it’s time to celebrate! Well, before the celebration begins, let’s take a look at some of the facts and figures around this student loan. Starting with the screenshot of my account balance being listed at $0!

After graduating from Monmouth University in May 2003 and the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University back in May 2006, I earned two powerful degrees: a Bachelor of the Arts Degree in English and a Master of the Arts Degree in Public Policy. However, I also obligated myself to an overwhelming financial anchor in the form of $120,720.46 worth of student loan debt. NJHESAA’s share of that anchor was $51,595.27. Believe it or not, I actually tracked how all of that student loan debt was assumed and here’s the breakout (the financial figures include both the amount of the loan and the capitalized interest; also, these are my figures and may be a few pennies or a dollar or two off from what the loan company keeps on file).

Freshman Year of College (1999 – 2000): $7,604.23
Sophomore Year of College (2000 – 2001): $9,233.47
Junior Year of College (2001 – 2002): $12,611.89
Summer Session (2002): $8,693.78
Senior Year of College (2002 – 2003): $12,941.06
Total NJHESAA Debt at Consolidation (Plus $510.84 Refinancing Fee): $51,595.27

Total Principal Paid During the Life of the Loan: $40,095.00
Total Interest Paid During the Life of the Loan (Includes Capitalized Interest): $24,251.61
Total Fees Paid During the Life of the Loan: $1,893.69

Total Amount Repaid: $66,240.30

I’m compelled to note that the total repayment amount is 165% of the original loan amount. I don’t know about your point of view, but the fact that hardworking students and graduates are put in a position to pay 65% over their original loan amount is revolting. What aggravates me the most is that I paid 165% of the original loan amount even though I engaged in an extremely aggressive repayment schedule.

Imagine the folks who can’t manage to engage in that type of aggressive repayment schedule. How much is their total repayment as a percentage of the original loan? I shudder to think of it…

Really – you should see this spreadsheet that I put together with all of my student loan debt broken out from each of my loan sources. I sit back and look at the spreadsheet these days and I can’t help but comment that the amount of debt I took out to attend both college and graduate school is absolutely remarkable. However (and let me say this again), I’m not some victim nor was I duped into signing these promissory notes. I fully understood that by taking on these student loans I would be fully responsible for repaying them. This is what I wanted and this rapid repayment is what I always planned to accomplish.

But what’s even more remarkable is that as of today, that $51,595.27 student loan (plus $14,645.33 in other interest and fees) sits at $0.00. It’s amazing. But where does that leave this whole repayment plan that I’ve been talking about for the better part of the last year? Well, actually… it’s over. I specifically created and designed the repayment plan to aggressively repay my NJHESAA student loan and as of today that goal has been achieved.

But there’s a new plan in place…

Only $54 thousand left!

This past summer I began envisioning this very day and thinking about what the next step in the overall repayment of my student loan debt might look like once this day arrived. So yes – I do have another repayment plan that will address my remaining student loan debt to the United States Department of Education (USDOE). However, my relationship with the USDOE has always been excellent. Their customer service folks are friendly and helpful and I’m not charged an interest rate that is borderline criminal. I think that I have a great borrower/lender relationship with the USDOE Direct Loans program and I’m looking forward to continuing to work within that relationship (which, by the way, carries into my professional life as I manage a large USDOE grant for my company).

And the other part about the USDOE Direct Loans Program that I love is how their online payment system doesn’t charge any additional fees to make a payment! A borrower logs online, makes a payment, only pays the amount of the payment, and that’s it! No additional fees. Period. Much different from the online payment system over at NJHESAA. For almost a year I’ve been on the USDOE’s automatic debit plan where they take an ACH transfer from my checking account each month to make the monthly payment that is due. I’m going to stay on that plan and then make some additional payments here and there to bring down the total amount of principal outstanding on this loan. By the way, if you were wondering how these additional principal pay downs impacted the repayment of the NJHESAA student loan, take a look at this breakout, which covers the entire time during which I engaged in this overpayment – starting from last December through today:

I’m not sure if I’ll wind up attacking the USDOE loan – which sits at about $54 thousand outstanding right now (down from a high of $59 thousand) – with the same vigor and hyper-focus that I put into repaying the NJHESAA loan. Over the summer, I drafted my financial goals for 2011 (yes, I draft my financial goals half a year in advance and then I revise them during the months leading into New Year’s Day) and among my financial goals for 2011 is to pay $10 thousand in excess of the minimum monthly payment due to the USDOE. And when you consider that I paid more than that to NJHESAA this week alone, it shouldn’t be too hard to accomplish that goal!

However, I don’t plan on increasing my focus on the USDOE student loan until the end of this coming summer. This doesn’t mean that my financial vigilance ends today, though. My mindset today remains the same as it has for years: less spending + reducing debt + more saving + more investments = stronger financial health. In fact, I look at today’s victory through the words of the late Senator Ted Kennedy at the Democratic National Convention in August 2008: “The work begins anew. The hope rises again. And the dream lives on.”

It feels weird to quote a Senator that I wasn’t crazy about from a political party that I’m ambivalent towards, but his words really fit the day.

For those of you who have been following my student loan repayment story on JerseySmarts.com, I thank you for your patronage. If you’re coming to this page or to JerseySmarts.com for the first time through a Bing or Google search, then I welcome you to the blog and I hope that you stick around to hear the story of how I repay the remaining $54 thousand that I have outstanding in student loans to the USDOE.

The work begins anew… right now!

In May 2006, I graduated from Rutgers University with a Masters Degree and $120,720 in student loan debt. After completely repaying over $61 thousand in student loans from the federal Perkins loan program, the New Jersey Higher Education Student Assistance Authority, and CitiBank, I currently owe $54 thousand to the United States Department of Education’s Direct Loans program. Follow my student loan repayment story on JerseySmarts.com.

__________

Update – December 26, 2010: Hey everyone! I’ve added some downloadable content to this page. Now you can download a version of the spreadsheet that I used to track my repayment of this NJHESAA student loan. Incidentally, I’m going to use this same spreadsheet to track the repayment of my USDOE loan, too. In addition, I’ve uploaded a PDF of my official paid-in-full letter from NJHESAA. Oh, and this letter includes the amortization/repayment schedule, too… including a breakout of the $14,645.33 that I paid in interest alone! Feel free to look through this stuff and let me know if you have any questions. Enjoy!

Update – July 30, 2012: Sometimes, I get the urge to revisit some of these older posts. After reviewing this one, I noticed that the student loan breakout was not as clearly attributed as it could have been. So, I revised some of the numbers up above to show the true cost of the loan during its lifetime. The numbers above all “foot” (i.e. equal) the same amount paid to the NJHESAA – $66,240.30. However, with the revisions above I’ve better described how much of that $66,240.30 was actually principal, how much was capitalized interest or regular interest, and how much was different fees. For those of you who are learning about student loans and financing – capitalized interest is interest that is added to the principal amount of a loan. The interest due on my NJHESAA loan was added to the principal balance at the end of each semester. Anyway, the numbers above are more reflective of what I actually paid to this private loan company.

Getting Ready to Get Yelled at By the Doctor this Morning…

Later this morning I’ll be heading to the doctor for my quarterly blood tests. Since I’ve been diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes I’ve had to head over to the doctor once each quarter to have my blood tested. They look at the glucose levels and some other stuff that tracks the level of my blood sugar over a longer period of time.

However, I think that the doctor will probably not be pleased that I’m weighing in at about 350 pounds. During my last quarterly blood test I went in there and weighed 347 (might have been 348, I don’t remember clearly). Since I graduated from Rutgers University’s Bloustein School back in May 2006, I’ve had a harder than usual time keeping my weight down in the mid to high 200’s (where I feel most comfortable). As I’ve said on this blog before, I attribute this problem to the fact that I spend at least two hours each day in a car commuting into Trenton and then back to Tinton Falls. It’s annoying and something that I think students should be told about in their life skills courses in college (they teach that stuff now, right? I don’t know).

Some people think that the way out of this problem is to get a different job. Frankly, that’s a dumb choice given the fact that my job is great and I’m building a stellar professional resume at my current company. At 29 years old I’m doing the same work (with ease) that folks in the middle of their careers struggle to understand. Plus, my current job has allowed me to take on teaching gigs at the local college and the state’s online college that really help me out in terms of incoming cash. Who doesn’t want extra money coming in, right?

Other folks might suggest that I absolutely have to make working out a part of my daily schedule. Well, I’ve been doing that to some degree and I think it’s helping. Though it’s just the Wii Fit, I’ve managed to work out on it for at least 30 minutes each day for over a month now (I missed working out on those days that I was in Boston, obviously). The Wii Fit has helped me drop about 15 – 20 pounds from my recent peak of 365 – 370 (that was a few months ago). The Wii Fit is a great tool for those of us that are generally running around like crazy people and just don’t have the time to work out.

Anyway, according to my bathroom scale, this morning I’m weighing in at 349.6 so I’m not really that far off from my last quarterly visit to the doctor. However, the truth is that I need to be going DOWN in weight during each visit – not up! If anything crazy happens during today’s doctor’s visit, I’ll let you know!