Category Archives : budget


January Numbers – Down with Debt Challenge! 1 comment

Well, once again I’m really late on updating my numbers from last month.  Oops.

 

The good news is that we didn’t have a lot of unexpected surprises come up in January.  My husband’s income also looks higher, since there were 3 pay days in January for him.  My work income, however, was smaller this month, due to the winter break we had at the school – I had 2 weeks of unpaid time off.  So, the numbers are not exactly exciting, but they aren’t bad, and that in and of itself is exciting, in it’s own way!

 

Hubby’s income (full time):  $3,118

My income (part time):  $508

Online Income (Surveys, blog):
$214.50 cash
$45 Amazon GC

Total:  $3,840.50

 

Expenses:

Tithing – $384

Charitable – $20

Mortgage – $1,052

Phone/Internet (3 phones, home internet) – $82

Gas/Electric/Water – $237

Life Insurance – $32

Groceries – $400

Car (Insurance/Gas) – $193

Debt payment – $655

Emergency Fund – $20

Laptop savings – $153.50

 

Total:  $3,228.50

 

The remaining $612 is going towards expenses this month:  Groceries, insurance, etc.  The reason is that the 3rd paycheck came on the last day of the month, and so it will be covering bills that come out at the beginning of this month before we get paid again.

 

So, there you have it!  Pretty boring, eh? :)  Frankly, I kinda like boring lately.!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


December Money/Budget Report – Down With Debt 3 comments

Oh, dear.  I am SO late getting this report done.  I apologize for the delay.  My son and I both caught that terrible, awful flu bug that is going around (the entire nation, it seems).  I have been wiped out, and haven’t accomplished a whole lot in the last few weeks.  I’m feeling almost completely better now, except for the cough that doesn’t want to leave, and I’m hoping to get caught up on everything in the next few days!

 

indexOur December income looked pretty standard:

 

Husband’s income (full time):  $2,086.21

My income (part time):  $563.32

Online income:  $150

 

Total income for December:  $2,799.53

 

The biggest unplanned expense this month was the doctor visits and medication for the flu.  Anyone who has picked up a prescription for Tamiflu knows what I’m talking about – that stuff is expensive!  I only picked up one prescription for my son and rode it out myself, so between that and our $20 co-pay, we had $97.85 unplanned expense with the flu.  Everything else was pretty standard, and expected:

Tithing:  $273

Charitable:  $20

Mortgage:  $1,035

Phone/Internet (2 smartphones and one cell phone):  $91.72

Utilities:  $183.88

Groceries:  $225

Emergency Fund:  $50

Christmas:  $100 (Our actual total purchased was more than this, but we used gift cards that we’d earned online and as prizes from my husband’s work, so $100 was our total out of pocket this year for Christmas.)

Car fuel:  $175 (normally $210 each month; thank goodness for the lowering gas prices!)

Debt:  $548.08

Medical:  $97.85

index

Total Spent:  $2,799.53

 

My goal for January is to increase our debt payment by at least 50%…here’s hoping! :D

 

 

 

 

 


How to Get Out of Debt: 5 Important Steps to Take in 2015 5 comments

Debt sucks.

 

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We all know it, and many of us live feeling burdened by it.  This year, if you haven’t already done so, then join me in DOING SOMETHING ABOUT IT!  Below are 5 important steps to take in 2015 to rid yourself of debt:

 

1.   Know your debt.  You can’t fight the monster that you can’t see.  Add up EVERY LAST ONE of your debts, big and small.  You’ve got to know what the big picture is.  It can be extremely discouraging to see the total number, but use it as a motivator instead!  It’s a wonderful thing to see the numbers go down, and a great way to keep you motivated, but you won’t see the progress without the starting number.  If you are visually oriented, you can create a chart mapping out the total amount of debt, and/or a chart mapping the total amount of each individual debt.  Don’t be afraid.  You’ve got this!  (You can see and download different charts here, here, or  here.)

 

2.   Track your expenses.  Once you know your total numbers, it”s time to find out where all your money is going, so you can figure out where you can afford to make cuts.  It’s generally recommended that you do this for an entire month, so you have a monthly picture.  For me, it’s an ongoing process, and that’s what I’d personally recommend.  Yes, track for a month so you can take the next few steps, but continue each month to track what you’re spending!

 

3.   Create a budget – one that ELIMINATES credit card use!  You can use free Budgeting Worksheets, or you can use software programs like Mint or YNAB.  I personally use YNAB (You Need A Budget), and I love it.  It feels more complete than a worksheet and it tracks EVERY PENNY, which is something I was never good about doing with a worksheet.  To each his own though, do what works for you!

 

4.   Add any extra $$ to one debt only. Pay the minimum on all your debt balances except for ONE, and on that one, pay every extra penny you can.  There are different ways to go about this.  You can pick the debt with the highest interest rate since it’s costing you the most per dollar, and get rid of it ASAP, or you can do like Dave Ramsey recommends and take out the smallest sized debt first, so that you are able to see successes sooner and keep motivated.  It’s really a personal decision.  And please, do NOT use the credit card/debt account to accumulate any new debt while you are doing this!

 

5.   Keep at it!  Never stop following these steps.  When you are free from credit card debt, start paying off the car, or the medical bills, or the student loans, or the mortgage!  Want to buy a big-ticket item?  Use these steps to save up for it, and never allow yourself to get into debt again, if you can help it!!

 


November Budget Report 1 comment

I’ve been putting this post off.

Not necessarily because the numbers are BAD, more because the numbers are…well, not all there.  Friends, my LAPTOP DIED.  What a sad, sad day it was.  With it, the budgeting software (which I can recover) with all the updated numbers (which I cannot recover).  So…yeah.  Oops.

 

One thing I have found since getting serious about budgeting EVERY penny is this:  There is NO such thing as a normal month, or at least there hasn’t been so far!  I keep thinking to myself, “when we have a normal month, without surprise expenses, then we’ll really get this debt paid down quickly!”, and yet, those kinds of months don’t seem to exist.  It’s been a great eye opener for me, and I’m so grateful for that.  We had over $500 in vet bills, in addition, or course, to the laptop dying (although that’s not really an expense right now, because I ain’t spending money for a new one).  And while the gymnastics bill wasn’t unexpected, I wasn’t exactly prepared for it.  Another great learning experience:  ya gotta budget every month for expenses that don’t come out every month.  (Y’all already knew that, didn’t you?  I’m kinda slow.)

 

indexI can still give you the main gist of the month, so let’s take a look:

 

Household Income:

  • My part-time job (Para Educator) – $537.79
  • Hubby’s full time job – $2,232.76
  • Online income (blog, surveys, etc) – $276.04

Total Household Income:  $3,046.59

 

Household Expenses:

  • Mortgage – $1,035
  • Tithing – $305 (We pay 10% of our income to tithing each month)
  • Other Charitable giving – $30 (Donations, etc)
  • Gymnastics – $180 (This comes out every 3 months, so I need to remember to budget $60 each month for this, so I’m not caught off guard next time!)
  • Vet bill – $518.81
  • Credit Cards – $664.14
  • Phone bill (this includes our 3 phones and internet) – $81.72
  • Utilities (heat, water, electric)  – $122.86
  • Car Insurance – $73.45
  • Emergency Savings – $35

Total Household Expenses- $3,045.98

 

Halfway through November, I had a higher debt payoff amount…but that was before the 2nd visit to the vet with my very sick cat.  That 2nd bill was put on our credit card (BLAST!), so I had to deduct it from the debt payoff to even it up.  Does that make any sense?  :)  It’s late and I’m sleepy, so one never knows…

 

Anyway, there’s the gist of it.  The two biggest lessons I learned this month:

  1. Budget EVERY month for the expenses that don’t occur every month.

  2. NO month is “normal”!  Plan for unexpected expenses EVERY month!

 

 


Down With Debt Mid-November Update 4 comments

I’ve gotten so behind on posting updates about our finances, but I wanted to at least do a quick check in.  So far, November has been more kind to us, in regards to surprise medical bills and unexpected car repairs.

 

indexOur cat recently started peeing outside the liter box and the other day we noticed blood in his urine.  I called the vet and scheduled an appointment, and $233 later, we’ve got two prescriptions that I can’t get him to take.  Because I didn’t have a budget for vet bills, it was put on our credit card…AUGH!  I was quite shocked when I saw the bill and realized that $40 was charged FOR THE PHONE CALL I made to schedule the appointment.  Don’t think I’ll be calling them again.  We’ll just have to show up, ha ha.

 

Other than that, things have gone about as expected.  Our pet food bill will be going up, as we’re supposed to put our cat on a wet food-only diet to help with the crystals forming in his bladder.  I just bought a pet water fountain on Amazon to try and help encourage more water drinking, but that didn’t cost anything because I had earned enough Amazon.com gift cards with Swagbucks.  I also have a Prime account, so the shipping is free, and I’ll get it in 2 days!  I hope it’ll help.

 

Another expense that we don’t have monthly occurred (it happens every 3 months):  enrolling my daughter in gymnastics ($180).  It’s the one thing I will NOT sacrifice.  She’s waited so long to start, and when I finally bit the bullet earlier this year, she was the 11-year old girl in a class with 6-year olds.  She stuck with it and has advanced every single term, and, starting December 1, she’ll be enrolled in the highest level they offer before competitions!  She’s finally learning with girls her own age, and it’s been a dream come true for her.  I’m so happy she’s found her passion.

So far we’ve been able to pay $864.63 on our debt.  Using the YNAB budgeting software has been SO helpful in helping me to know exactly how much I can put to our debt.  I anticipate that as we keep using it, we’ll be able to pay a little more each month to debt, simply as we find little extra bits of money here and there.  Of course, it’ll help to avoid some of the financial “surprises” we had in the previous 2 months!  Fingers crossed. :)

 

 

 

 


Down With Debt – October’s Monthly Finance Report

Well, well, well.

indexIt’s already time – another month has passed.  October turned out to be fairly full of medical bills and car repairs – although not as full as September was (thank goodness!).  Let me show you the numbers, with comments:

 

Income:

Total (net) income from both our jobs for the month of October:  $2,798.89

Online Income (surveys, etc):  $74.66

Total Income:  $2,873.55

Expenses:

Mortgage:  $1,035

Utilities (phone, internet, gas, electric, etc):  $247.71 – I have a sinking suspicion that this will be our last low gas bill month, with the cold weather arriving!

Insurances (life and car):  $105.85

Tithing, charity:  $300

Debt repayment:  $211.91

School (fundraisers, pictures, lunch):  $69.25

Medical Bills:  $182.74

Grocery: $280

Gas Money:  $164.48

Car Repairs and yearly Registration:  $251.61

Emergency Fund:  $25

Total Spent:  $2,873.55

 

I love that I was able to find a spot for EVERY PENNY we made.  I used to estimate and get close, but with me wanting to get more serious about our budget, it’s important to me that I find a home for EVERY dollar, and yes, EVERY penny!  I have the YNAB budgeting software to thank for that.  Now that I’m using it, I feel more confident that my numbers will continue going in the right direction.

 

So…you know, it wasn’t an overly impressive debt repayment month, but we kept our heads above water.  We’ve started building our emergency fund again as well.  I’ve made a few changes that will save us an additional $100+ each month, so November will be even better.  I’ll be sharing what I did later this week!

 


Budgeting – The Basics

Okay, so most of us are familiar with the term “budget.”  If it’s something that is fairly new to you, let me give a very simple overview and explanation:

 

What Exactly is a Budget?  The Basics:A good builder uses a set of building plans to build a house. If he didn’t, the kitchen might get overlooked completely.  That’s how important a plan is.

Yet most of us handle our finances without any plan at all.

Not very clever of us, is it?

Without a money plan, we will travel on our financial sea without a direction and end up shipwrecked on the island of financial grief.

A money plan is called a budget.  A budget is the ultimate financial management tool and it is crucial for us if we are to get to our desired financial goals.  Budgeting is simply having a plan or guideline showing how your money will be allocated or spent during a particular period.  I usually build my budget for a month’s time, although you can certainly do it for a week instead, if that works for you.

The main objective of budgeting is to produce a spending list that is equal to or less than your income.  Being aware of how you spend money is the most critical step in financial freedom.  Budgeting is one of the hardest financial disciplines to keep (not the actual making of the budget; that’s fairly easy to do. It’s sticking to the budget that is difficult)!  And that’s okay. It’s a work in progress, after all.

The best way to make a budget that you can stick to in the long term is to make it realistic. Never (and I repeat never) make it a financial starvation plan. Instead make reasonable allocations for all your necessities, entertainment and savings as well as the occasional luxury item.

Why should you even bother with budgeting?

You will be shocked at ‘non-necessaries’ you spend money on.  If we can get control of the expenses that really don’t matter in the grand scheme of our lives, we can enjoy financial freedom eventually.  And that is what we all want, isn’t it?

 

 


Back to School Shopping Complete!! (August Budget Challenge Update)

IMG_20140814_111913I’m happy to say that we have completed our back-to-school shopping.  What a blast we had, too!
 
I am monitoring our spending very closely this month for the August Budget Challenge, and doing everything I can think of to save.
 
We took advantage of the Savers Club Member clearance day….50% off all summer clothing, and 50% off all silver tagged items.  Being a thrift store, Savers is already nice and cheap – to add an additional 50% discount makes me one happy lady!
 
Here’s how we did (these are the totals for ALL of our school/work shopping, not just this last trip):

  •  ALL of my purchases (thrift stores and yard sales) included 3 pairs of pants, 14 tops, 1 skirt, 1 belt, and 2 bras.  My entire total:  $42.19.

  • My husband in total purchased 6 shirts, 1 (new with tag) pair of pants, and 2 shoes.  His entire total:  $12.82.

  • IMG_20140815_145251Munchkin got 2 pairs of shorts, 4 pairs of pants, 9 tops, 4 pairs of shoes/boots, 1 bed sheet, 1 hair straightener, 4 bottles of lotion, a pack of underwear and socks, 2 pairs earrings, 3 bras, 2 dresses, 1 coat, a backpack, and school accessories (pencils, erasers, folders, notebooks, crayons, etc).   She also went shopping with her grandma and bought 1 pair of shoes, 2 shirts, a pack of underwear and 1 pair of pants.  Her entire total is:  $62.48.

  • IMG_20140815_144222Buddy Boy got 4 pairs of pants/shorts, 11 tops, 2 pairs of shoes, 1 backpack, 1 robe, 1 coat, 1 bed sheet, and 1 nightshirt.  He also went shopping with his grandma and bought 2 pairs pants, 2 shirts and a pack of underwear.  His total:  $45.92.

We also used some of this budgeted money to buy other things at the yard sales:  ribbon, Christmas decor, kitchen supplies, etc.  We spent another $35 on those.

 

We originally budgeted $300 to go towards our back to school shopping.  Our actual total ended up being $198.41.  Gasp:  We made it under budget!!  YAY! 

The $101 we did NOT spend that was budgeted is being divided between groceries for next month and our emergency fund.  September is usually the month that money is the most tight, as it is the 3rd and final month that we are living on just my husband’s income (I work at a school and don’t get paid in the summer).  It’ll be nice to have a head start on the grocery budget.

 
 

Are you done with your back-to-school shopping already?  Or do you wait until the last minute like me? ;)

 


August Budget Challenge – Grocery Update #2

I normally am not happy when I see that the month is nearly halfway over, because it means time is going too quickly, but today, I’m grateful.  This is because we only have half a month left to survive on not much money, ha ha!  We overspent this week again, although not as badly as the week previous.

Our grocery budget for the month is $220.  This includes non-food items as well, such as personal care, diapers, kitty food and liter, etc.

We did a couple of shopping trips to get the best prices on items:

Trip #1 – Smiths:

  • 4 boxes Chex cereal (back to school stock up item) – $1.99 each w/coupon, total $7.96
  • 1 can Kroger tomato sauce –  clearance for $0.19
  • 1 pkg cream cheese – $1.00
  • 8 Greek yogurts – clearance for $0.25 each, total $2
  • 1 cupcake (not pictured – treat for the kids for behaving) – clearance for $0.49
  • 6 pumpkin muffins (to freeze for snacks) – clearance for $1.99
  • 1 pkg Friskies cat food – $4.00
  • 1 loaf white bread – clearance for $0.59
  • 2 pkgs Hormel pepperoni – clearance for $1.49 each, total $2.98
  • 2 pkgs quart freezer bags – $1 each, total $2
  • 1 pkg brown rice – $1

Shopping total w/tax:  $25.21

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Trip #2:

  • 2 lb bag carrots – $1.09
  • 3.33 lbs Kiku apples – $0.79/lb, total $3.03
  • 6 limes – $1
  • 2 red bell peppers – $0.79/each, total $1.58
  • 10.57 lbs bananas (freeze for smoothies) – $0.39/lb, total $4.12
  • 1 bunch parsley – $0.79
  • 1 pack pencils – $1.19
  • 2 pkg canning lids – $1.86/each, total $3.72
  • 3 2-liters cherry coke (for the hubby) – $5

Total w/tax:  $22.35

I was feeling okay about this week, and then my husband decided to surprise me and take another shopping trip:

Trip 3:

  • 6 gallons milk – $2.65 each, total $15.87
  • 1 large pkg cat liter – $11.99

Total w/tax:  $29.16

 

Total for the week:  $76.72

 

That leaves us with $50 for the rest of the month.  Can we do it?  I don’t know.  We’ll see!

The bad news:  We’re way over budget so far this month.  I was not planning for that 3rd trip.

The good news:  I don’t think we need to stock up on anything else for the month.  We’ve got tons of cereal, snacks, frozen meat, and now milk available.

 

 

 

 


August Budget Challenge and Grocery Updates

How’s everyone doing on their budgeting?  I’m doing a great job of keeping track of everything, but I’ve already spent more on groceries than I would have liked this early in the month – doing a lot of stocking up for the school year.  I suppose it’s to be expected!

Here’s a rundown of our grocery purchases:

Shopping trip #1

  • 20 lbs boneless, skinless chicken tenders – $1.89/lb, total $35.80

  • 2.28 lbs red grapes – $1.39/lb, total $3.17

  • 2 avocados – $0.99 each, total $1.98

  • 2 red bell peppers – 2 for $1, total $1.00

  • 5.78 lbs bananas – $0.39/lb, total $2.25

  • 0.68 lb carrots – $0.89/lb, total $0.61

  • 1 lb strawberries – $1/lb , total $1.00

  • 2 12-pk toilet paper – $4.29 each ($0.36/roll), total $8.58

Shopping total w/tax:  $56.22

IMG_20140805_083049

Shopping trip #2

  • 2 whole chickens – $1.09/lb, total $10.45

  • 2.12 lbs boneless pork ribs – $2.49/lb, total $5.28

  • 1-lb package frozen corn – $0.88

  • 1 half-gallon almond milk – $2.98

  • 1.17 lbs fresh ground almond butter – $6.94/lb, total $8.12

  • 2 lb package corn tortillas – $2.68

  • 2.56 lbs red apples – $0.98/lb, total $2.51

  • 0.35 lb broccoli – $0.98/lb, total $0.34

  • 1 cucumber – $0.58

  • 1/2 lb bananas (cause we ran out) – $0.52/lb, total $0.25

  • 1/4 lb unsweetened coconut – $3.06/lb, total $0.77

  • 1 lb organic baby arugula - $2.98

Shopping trip total w/tax:  $37.82

Total for both:  $94.04

The GOAL was to spend about $55/week, and as you can see, I went way over that.  We had the cash, of course, but it was meant to last longer.

The bad news:  I’m bummed out about the pork deal, but I was required to add pork back into my diet this week and didn’t have any on hand, so I had to buy what was available, and it was not on sale.  The almond milk is ridiculously priced, but it’s the only milk I’m allowed right now.

The good news:  I’m glad that we’ve got 20 lbs of chicken, although I worry it won’t last long, as we don’t have a lot of other meat in the freezer.  Yay for stocking up!  I was thrilled with the toilet paper deal as well, and kinda wish I’d had more cash on hand to buy a few more. :)  I’m also happy with the discovery of the $.39/lb bananas, since they are “older”.  I take the majority of the bananas I buy and freeze them for smoothies, so it works well!

The plan:  This week I’m planning on stocking up a little more, this time on cereals for the kids.  I’m not a huge fan of the “cereal for breakfast” thing, but with my work schedule change, along with my husband’s schedule change, I want to have a bunch of easy, quick breakfasts on hand to take at least one stress off the table.  After that, we should be good and not need to buy much of anything except fresh produce for the rest of the month.

 

How are YOU doing with your shopping so far?  Are you kicking my trash?  Ha ha, it wouldn’t take much this week! Here’s to a better week – starting today!