Category Archives : budget


Down With Debt: March Monthly Finance Report 2 comments

Last month was closer to a typical month for us, income-wise.  Most of our expenses were what we expected, but near the beginning of the month my husband’s uncle died unexpectedly, and so my husband ended up traveling out of state to attend the funeral.  That ended up being put on the credit card, as I’d already budgeted and allocated all of our money for the month.  Our debt number went up as a result.   Here are the exact numbers:

 

My income – $975

Hubby’s income – $2,161

Online income – $126

Total income for March – $3,262

 

Expenses:

Birthday gifts (2 birthdays)- $40

Groceries – $500

Emergency Fund – $205

Gas money – $130

Tithing – $664

Charitable – $40

Car insurance – $72

Internet – $104 (We got a new internet account, and so we had the initial set up fees in addition to the monthly bill)

Phone – $83

Mortgage – $1,017

Utilities (electric, gas, water, etc) – $182

Life insurance – $32

Debt – $193

Total Expenses – $3,262

 

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I’m already bracing myself for ugly numbers in April.  On the very first day of the month, I was rear ended by an SUV, and my car is totaled.  It’s going to cost more to repair than the car is worth, which means I’ll be looking for a new car.  That will probably be the main financial factor in play for next month’s report.

 


Down with Debt – February Income/Expense Numbers 7 comments

Time for the Down-With-Debt monthly report!  Well, February was a good month, financially for us.  We received our tax return, and my husband received his once-yearly bonus.  In years past, his company has taken over half of his bonus check and put into taxes, so this year we changed the tax claiming so that we could get as much of the check as possible.

 

Because 2 of our paychecks (including the bonus check) fell on the last day of February, some of that income will be going towards expenses in March.  Here’s the run down:

Hubby’s income (full time):  $6,159 (this is with a $4,000 bonus, yippee!)

My income (part time):  $634

Online income:  $424

Tax return:  $4,140

Total income:  $11,357

 

indexHoly cow.  Can you imagine if we made that kind of money EVERY month?  :)  I can pretend, can’t I?  ha ha.

 

Anyway, like I said, some of the money is going towards expenses in March, but we were able to use this income to pay down our debt quite a bit, which made my day:

  • Tithing (we pay 10% of our income to tithing every month):  $1,357
  • Charitable:  $60
  • Mortgage:  $1,017
  • Phone/Internet (3 phones, internet) – this number will go up next month, because after struggling with spotty internet for a few months, I about lost my mind and decided to pay for it, rather than stick with the free stuff we were getting with my phone’s hotspot:  $83
  • Utilities (gas, electric, water):  $229
  • Life insurance:  $32
  • Groceries:  $200
  • Car (Insurance, gas):  $202
  • Emergency Fund: $200
  • Debt Payment:  $5,928
  • Gymnastics:  $90
  • Swimming lessons:  $35
  • Medical bills:  $20 co-pay
  • Spending money (this is the first month in quite some time that we’ve done this:  I decided to let us have some extra spending money to buy some clearance winter clothes, as well as some gardening supplies.  I feel it was a worthy splurge!):  $160

Total expenses:  $9,558

 

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*linked at Share the Wealth Sunday and Frugal Friday

 

 


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   Recently updated !

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? ;)