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Hope’s Monthly Budget – Fall and Winter, 2017

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This is my current monthly budget. A debt update is coming up next. I think most of this is self-explanatory, but I’ve added a few notes below.

Budget

Personal Expenses Business Expenses Summary
Allowance 400 Adobe 30 Total Personal 3634
Auto – Gas/Main 250 Cell Phones 286 Total Business 509
Auto/Rent Ins 315 Dropbox (annual – Oct) 8 Total Debt Payment 1920
Clothing (bi-annual) 150 Internet 77 Total Monthly Costs 6063
Electric 150 Microsoft (annual – Jan) 8
Groceries/Eating Out 600 Misc 100 Income
Gymnastics 350 Total Business 509 1099 3200
Health Ins 305 W-2 3462
Life Ins (annual – Dec) 21 Debt Payments
Rent 650 Car Payment 400 Total Income 6662
Spending 200 CC 100
Water/Gas/Trash 75 Computer Equipment 85 Savings Goals
Spanish 160 Other 500 Emergency Savings Goal 700
Amazon Prime (annual) 8 Self Lender (Christmas) 97 Couch
Student Loan 307
Summer Camp/Activities 375
Universal 56 Total Savings Goals 700
Total Personal 3634 Total Debt Payment 1920 Total Extra Income -101.0

Details

Monthly Expenses – These are our day to day living expenses. Many have some flex money built in, specifically gymnastics which typically runs $240 per month. I added the extra money to cover the competition costs that must be paid during competition season (Nov-Apr.) I don’t know how much they will be with our new gym, last year I paid $600 in meet fees. Spanish is new. I’ve hired a online tutor to work Princess and Gymnast 1 hour a week, this was our first week.

Business Expenses – I’ve added my regular business expenses including our cell phones, internet and so on because I thought my budget would look funny with out these important expenses. (These are associated with my contract work.)

Debt Payments – I have another post on this category coming this week. I am grateful that a lot of this debt is chosen – summer camps and activities, Universal and a Self Lender loan (a chosen debt in an attempt to help repair my credit) versus stupid decisions or debt hoisted upon me by other’s decisions.

Income – I continue to work three jobs regularly, and have recently picked up a couple of new smaller contracts so we will see how they work out. The kids are starting to ask when I will cut down on my work hours. But I am not there yet.

Savings Goals – My emergency savings is still my #1 goal. But I am starting to think of other “things” I would like, specifically a couch. I’ve put it on the budget as a holding place, but I am not actively pursuing it at this time. In my head, I’m thinking next summer for a couch.

Summary

I am in the negative as far as this budget goes. Reality is that I spend quite a bit less than this on a regular basis, but there are certainly months where it is more. I feel like this is a true representation of where my money goes on a monthly basis.

My FSA, vision and dental insurance and 401K deductions all come out of W-2 income. I have consulted with an accountant and for this year, I am in a good place tax wise due to the Adoption Tax Credit. I will have to adjust my tax rate for next year.


Hope’s Fall 2017 Monthly Budget

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Without further ado, my new monthly budget.

DescriptionMonthly Budget
Total$2,819
Rent$650
Groceries$600
Health Insurance$305
Gymnastics$300
Auto (gas & maintenance)$300
Utilities$250
Entertainment$200
Auto/Rent Insurance$130
Gym Membership$50
Netflix$12
Bill (paid annually)
Life Insurance$22

Some important things to note.  This budget does not include my business expenses, or rather bills I pay out of my business account and use for tax purposes including but not limited to my cell phone bill ($286 monthly,) Adobe Suite membership ($29 monthly,) Microsoft Office ($99 annually,) Dropbox ($99 annually) and so on.  I have completely separated my personal and business expenses since I am working full time as a employee while continuing to work as a contractor.

My income is still pretty variable but the bulk of my income comes from my full time corporate job and a steady consulting job where I work 25ish hours per week.  I currently have 4 sources of steady income and continue to pick up odd jobs. My  income since March of this year has averaged about $6,000 per month.  This is post-deductions for my W-2 full time job and pre-deductions and tax for my consulting jobs.

Now, with that being said, I already know there are changes coming to this budget…first, my deferment ends on my student loans in September at which time I will start paying a minimum of $305 per month AND per my last post, I am beginning to invest in my company sponsored 401K beginning this next pay period.

I did read all your advice and while I get more educated and review all options, I did cut back my 401K from my originally planned 20% to 10%.  I am going to look at Roth IRAs, etc. over the next couple of months, and continue to build my local savings account.

I think most of my budget is self-explanatory, but here are a few notes:

  • I now have to pay for Little Gymnasts training. Ouch!  No more barter. The monthly cost is not quite $300 but I put some buffer in there to help cover the meet fees which will run most of the winter while he is competing.
  • While my commute to work is only 12 miles, I have a two hour round trip 3-4 times a week for gymnast training, thus the higher gas cost.
  • I opted out of the company sponsored health insurance due to its cost and limitations and instead chose to go with a Christian based medical sharing company.  That is the month healthcare cost for the four of us (History Buff is now working full time.)  I do have dental and vision through my corporate job for a very reasonable cost for the entire family.
  • I know $200 is a lot for entertainment. It’s really more a buffer for odds and ends right now.  Sports for the kids and misc housing costs as we continue to settle into our new home. (For instance, I have to buy Sea Cadet a bed this month before he returns from being gone all summer, working at summer camp.)

I will try to be responsive to questions. I know I have tightening up to do. I’ve recently pulled all my credit reports – ugh! So will get a debt update up in the next couple of weeks.


Budget Plan for Glamping

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Many of the recent comments have mentioned how I am not paying off debt at this point in my journey.  They are right.  With little steady income over the four months, not even enough to cover my my typical monthly obligations, not only am I not making regular debt payments, but I’m having to pay many bills late.  BUT all of that is about to change if I can just get through March and April, the tides are going to turn.

The financial windfall that having free housing for is going to be HUGE for us.  And debt payments (after I catch up with what I am behind on) will resume along with a savings plan.  So I am starting to think on that as you could see from my last post on my “plan” for living in a tinier space.

So for the first time in months…I am going to have a real budget and I’ve started putting some thought into it.  Here is my first draft with some notes below, would love some feedback and suggestions:

Glamping Budget (May - July, 2016)

CategoryMonthly
Budget
May
Actual
June
Actual
July
Actual
Total
Total$1596
Cell Phone$230
Car Gas$200
Entertainment$100
Food$800
Clothing$150
Savings
Debt Payments
Life Insurance$23
Storage$78
Auto/Renters Insurance$150

You will see that I am planning to take a note from Ashley and try to show my budget with the actual over these few short months.

You will also note that my total is missing a couple of numbers.  I am working on those as I figure my minimum obligations as well as set a reasonable goal for savings.

There are some changes to my categories and to my numbers, here is why:

  • Cell phone – up significantly.  I plan to add a bit more data to our current shared 3GB as we will be out a bit more and I will need it to work, I think.  I won’t add it until I’m prompted by going over and it’s something I can add or take away without any long term commitment, but my thought is that it will be higher.  (History Buff pays $30 of this every month for his smartphone plan.)
  • Car Gas – double the typical amount.  We are going from living within 3 miles of absolutely everything we do, to being 20 minutes away.  I will also be making at least 2 round trips every day into town based on the anticipated activity schedule (swim in the morning and gymnastics at night.)  So again anticipating a significant change due to the move.
  • Groceries – we have been living on a REALLY tight grocery budget for more than a year now, and frankly I just need a break from it, so I’m giving myself permission to flex a little bit.  This may change back, but for now…I’m going to myself some flexibility.   This will also incorporate any eating out.
  • Entertainment – new category for us.  While I am going to be working my butt off to revamp and relaunch my old business, I think this is going to be a very fun few months for us and want to plan for some fun money.  I think giving myself this permission and boundary will keep me from splurging or making rash decisions on fun activities.  We’ll see how it goes.
  • Clothing – new category for us. In the past, the little one’s dad paid for most all of their clothing and the older ones have been responsible for their own clothing for over a year now.  Unfortunately, as I write this, there is still no regular support from the little ones dad, and they will both need almost completely new wardrobes, they refuse to stop growing!  So I am anticipating and planning for that.  In addition, I have lost a good amount of weight, so will need a few new things as well.
  • Savings – need to save for a housing move, emergency fund, etc.  This will take precedence over debt payoff I think, but will see when I get a final plan together.
  • Debt – as soon as I catch up with payments I am behind, I will update this with the minimum payments needed each month.  Extra payments will have to be considered on a month to month basis as I work to add income.
  • Life Insurance – no change.
  • Auto/Renters Insurance – no change.  (History Buff pays for $72 of this for his car insurance.  I occasionally gift him by paying 1/2 for a month when I can.  I am so proud of him that words cannot express it.)

With no rent/mortgage, no utilities…I am so excited to see what could come over these months.  Have  I left anything out?


Fall, 2015 Budget – Hope

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We have been living on a pretty strict budget since last spring (see previous budget posts on this here: Summer Plan and here: Going Hardcore.)  We gotten lots of amazing things done on this budget including playing off most all my consumer debt (minus ex-husband’s car,) sending all the kids to their summer camps, having a mini-vacation at Great Wolf Lodge for the twins’ prom and just generally getting a better handle of our finances.

An important part to our success was budgeting on my “regular” income and saving “extra” income.  Regular income are long term clients who have hired me on a contract basis AND have proven reliability of paying regularly.  It also includes the adoption subsidy for the twins. Extra income are a variety of projects that I pick up at any given time.  That EXTRA is really what allowed us to live a little while going extreme in day to day finances.

So with that being said, I have decided to continue to budget that way.

DescriptionMonthly Goal
Monthly Total$3,108
Rent + Water + Storage$1,344
Life Insurance$23
Car Expenses$150
Electricity$130
Phone$200
Internet$75
Car & Renter's Insurance$107
Groceries$600
Kids (Misc)$400
Netflix$9
Busch Gardens$50
Misc Business $20

Based on this budget and a reliable, regular income that varies little on a month to month basis of $5,261, this leaves with me $2,153 monthly to pursue debt pay off, savings and housing options.

At this time, only two things are for sure with how I will use this money…

  1. I will continue putting $100 per month into my EF account which I promptly forget is there.
  2. I will continue paying monthly minimums on my one remaining debt.

After my September 1 deadline for making a housing decision, I will come up with a more concrete plan for this money.


Ashley’s April 2015 Budget Update

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Happy Monday! Hope you had a good weekend, wherever you are! We spent our Saturday morning at the splash pad and Sunday morning at church. A fun and relaxing little weekend (wishing it weren’t already nearly 100* in Tucson)!

Now that we’re officially in May, here’s an update on how we did with our budget in April.

Place Amount Spent
Rent 1055
Electricity 101
Water 53
Natural gas 22
Sprint (2 lines) 115
Cable/Internet 99
Car Insurance 58
Health Insurance 394
Trash 35
Preschool 1035
Gift-Giving 37
Restaurants 125
Entertainment 16
Groceries 416
Gasoline 75
Household Goods 93
Clothing 20
Parking 8
Toddler purchases 40
Rainy Day Savings 100
Savings Goals 500
Debt Payments 1796
Total  $6193

 

Some notes:

  • Gift-Giving included a going away gift basket (post coming soon), the purchase of some mother’s day cards, and another baby present (I’ll be sending a baby present this month too…I think this makes 3 months in a row. I’m definitely at “that” stage in life, lol).
  • Restaurants was a little over my typical $100 budget due to all the get-togethers this month (one for a dissertation defense and two for going-away celebrations).
  • Entertainment included a couple songs on itunes and some supplies we bought for when we went camping (I consider camping to be entertainment, and therefore, it was included in this category).
  • Household goods was a little high this month. I finally got some gardening supplies (soil, a new pot, some herbs), and I got Costco-sized packages of toilet paper and laundry soap.
  • Clothing included purchase of two $10 pair of water shoes for the girls. Their preschool class goes to the splash park twice a week and water shoes are required. I got the shoes (which were some of the cheapest I found, but still of good quality) online from Target. I use a Target card because I get 5% off and free shipping to my house! (I pay the card in full whenever used)
  • Toddler Purchase is a C0stco sized box of diapers.
  • Rainy Day Savings represents $50 each, toward my health fund (including dental/vision/health) and my annual fees fund. I use Capital One 360 to easily separate my money for these different savings goals (<<refer a friend link).
  • Savings Goals represents $400 toward Cruise 2016 and $100 toward a Roth IRA.
  • Debts. This figure is broken down here (and in my most recent debt update post):
    • $100 PenFed car payment
    • $453 student loan payments (that’s ACS and Navient payments)
    • $1119 for our very last license fee(!!!)
    • $124 toward medical debt

So there you have it. I’ve got to run. Hope your week is off to a great start!


Ashley’s February Budget Update

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After admittedly falling off the frugal train in the month of January, I think I did a much better job in February. You’ll see that not every single purchase was one of absolute necessity, but I also think I maintained a good balance of saving money, paying down debt, and getting a few things that were needed during the month. Here you go….
February Budget Update

Budget Category Amount Spent
Rent 1055
Electricity 158
Water 60
Natural gas 22
Sprint (2 lines) 114
Cable/Internet 99
Car Insurance 165
Health Insurance 394
Trash 35
Preschool 1040
Gift-Giving 50
Personal Maintenance 40*
Restaurants 87
Entertainment 35
Groceries 310
Gasoline 57
Household Goods 115
Clothing 22
Toddler purchases 20
Rainy Day Savings 625
Savings Goals 500
Debt Payments 2102
Total $7105

Let’s discuss….

  • Electricity. It’s weird that my electric bill this month was exactly the same as last month. At first I thought this was a mistake and double-checked, but this is the correct figure. Just a weird coincidence (note, I’ve been working to try to conserve electricity and the bill has gone down this month – wahoo!!)
  • Car Insurance. This got messed up this month because somehow husband’s truck ended up back on our personal insurance (instead of a separate policy in his company’s name). I’ve called to correct this so the bill should go back down again for next month.
  • Gift-Giving. We had several gift-giving occasions in February. This $50 figure includes a $30 photo book for my Mom’s birthday, my $5 classroom gift basket, and supplies for the Valentines we sent out to friends and family members (including pictures I had printed, postage, and a couple of cheap V-Day gifts I picked up from Dollar Tree for the girls).
  • Personal Maintenance. I put an asterisk next to this item because I didn’t actually spend any money during February on personal maintenance, but I plan to spend the money this month and wanted it set aside. I’m trying to decide what to do (may write a post about it), but am thinking I may get my hair done again before my big “not an interview” trip. It feels so soon, since I’d gone a full 9+ months without getting it done a single time, and then I went at the end of January before my ‘real interview’….but it’ll be a solid 9 weeks by the time I go on my next trip. Should I get a trim? Have my highlights touched up? Etc? I know I want to look sharp, so basically I set the money aside with the intention to use it this month. Not sure how (i.e., what I’ll be doing) or in what fashion (e.g., Groupon? Hair school?) yet. I’ll keep you posted.
  • Restaurants. We did better on eating out this month than we have in recent months (generally I set this at a $100 budget). However, we spent more in the next category than we usually do…
  • Entertainment. Some of this was little stuff ($3 for itunes songs; $6 to feed the giraffes at the zoo). The biggest splurge is that hubs and I actually went on a date this month! This was our first date since our anniversary in November, and we won’t be going on any dates for probably another couple of months so I’m okay with this expense. Just to be transparent, I paid for the actual “date” (movie tickets and snacks), and hubs paid for a babysitter separately, so this figure is lower than it would be if a babysitter were included here.
  • Groceries. Knocked it out of the park with groceries this month (we usually budget $400!!) I guess this makes up a bit for my overage in January, though it means I’m starting out March with a pretty bare pantry and fridge/freezer, and with it being such a tight month financially it means I’ll have to be creative with our dinner plans.
  • Household Goods. This category was also much higher than normal (usually we spend less than $30/month on household items). Some of it was just refilling some cleaning supplies (new kitchen scrub brush, laundry detergent), but I spent $40 on Round Up since our weeds have been out of control (side note – Costco is the cheapest place around for Round Up! I spent $40, but I got THREE of the big jugs-worth of weed killer, whereas Walmart sells the same stuff for $40 for only ONE of the big jugs of weed killer. Costco is the bomb.com)! The other large expense here was the YNAB software. I spent $54 for the YNAB software, but I think its money well spent (edited to add = I thought this was an annual expense, but a reader pointed out this is a one-time fee! Wahoo, I didn’t even realize that, makes it seem like an even better deal now!!!)
  • Toddler Purchases. $20 on gummy vitamins. I get two kinds: a multivitamin and an omega-3 vitamin. Also from Costco and much cheaper than I’ve seen anywhere else (even beats the sales prices at my local grocery store).
  • Rainy Day Savings. In YNAB I’ve made categories for all my savings needs. This month’s rainy day savings include: $200 (car repair fund), $125 (dental/vision), $100 (semi-annual fees), and $200 (a one-time pet expense saving). Remember when I was going to just put $500 toward my pet savings for the year? Yeah, too much money. But I made a good dent in it with the $200 savings (and then I promptly withdrew $51 to buy pet food). But still, that money will last for probably half the year, and I’m not planning to add any additional money to the pet savings right now since things are a bit tight.
  • Savings Goals. These are longer-term savings goals, not just for routine expenses. I saved $100 toward a Roth IRA, and $400 toward cruise 2016.

I said I was going to stop doing a full “anticipated budget” post for the current month, but just to give you a quick idea of how things are changing this month during our time of lower income….

In March I’ve done away with rainy day savings. I’ve changed all my Capital One 360 automatic savings plans so that nothing will be saved toward any of my rainy day funds in the month of March. I’ve also reduced my savings goals. I still have the $100 going toward a Roth IRA, but only $200 is going toward Cruise 2016 (instead of the $400 I’d initially planned). That’s a whopping total of $300 in overall savings in March…. compared to the $1125 I saved in the month of February.

This is yet another example of how having a lean month can be helpful. When I was really studying the budget and seeing where we could cut back, it’s hard not to notice that OVER A THOUSAND DOLLARS A MONTH IS GOING TO SAVINGS!!!!

How is this??? HOW!?!?!

We still had a decent debt payment (over $2,000; nearly 30% of our total income), but it was a bit of a shock to realize just how much is simply being set aside and saved on a monthly basis. When things get tight, the savings is the first thing to go! Just as a heads up, my debt payments will be much smaller this month, too. I’m just focusing on trying to pay all of our minimum obligations (okay, a little over the minimum, but not by much), and get through the month without any overspending. It’s been a long time since our income has been this low, and with the girls’ preschool accounting for nearly 25% of our take-home pay, regular bills (rent, utilities, insurances, etc.) accounting for another 50% of our take-home pay this month….there’s not a lot leftover for big-sized debt payments and non-discretionary spending (like groceries, gasoline, etc.).

But still, progress is progress. Any month that we’re moving forward is a good month, no matter by how little.

So there you have it.

How’d you do with your budget last month? Any big changes for this month?


Weekly Update #4- Orlando Trip

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Hey everybody!

I’m back from my visit with my sister and my nephew. I couldn’t be more stoked that I went. An amazing trip. I got to Orlando on Wednesday night/ Thursday morning at 12:30AM (just barely, though. I made my connecting flight by the skin of my teeth. 2 minutes later and they would have taken off without me.) Since my sis and her fiance are both Cast Members at Walt Disney World, we spent all of Thursday at Magic Kingdom with the baby. Friday was spent hanging out with my sister and other family that was visiting, while her fiance worked. Saturday was spent at Epcot and Animal Kingdom and I left very early Sunday morning.

Here’s a picture of me and baby on my favorite ride, Living with the Land, in Epcot:

Disney Pic

 

He was so amazing and seemed to love the rides we took him on (if sleeping on them means loving them, lol). The only ride he didn’t like was Haunted Mansion, which he just screamed and screamed and screamed on.

OK, so for the financial aspect of my journey, I had budgeted $200.00 (above the $70 I normally carry in cash) for the trip, but it ended up tallying $280.00, give or take. I took it all in cash and had too much change left over to count, I just threw it all in my change jar. I would have been pretty close if I had accounted for the $25 in baggage fees each way for my checked bag. Oh well, I’ll know better next time. The remaining $230.00 was spent mainly on food. I bought dinner on Wednesday (McDonald’s) when I arrived, snacks throughout Magic Kingdom on Thursday, dinner at Sweet Tomatoes Thursday night, dinner at Downtown Disney on Friday night and snacks throughout the day on Saturday. Given the fact we ate so much in Disney, the damage could have been much worse, but my sis gets a pretty nice Cast Member discount that could be used at each stop.

So, here’s what my budget looks like for February:

Weekly Update #4

I have yet to return the juicer (ugh), but I’ve vowed to do that sometime this week, hopefully as early as tonight. But thankfully, even though I spent a majority of week in Florida, I was still able to pay $497.85 on my student loans, which brings the tallies to:

Loan NameInterest RateOriginal Balance- May '09Current BalanceTotal Paid Off
Sallie Mae 015.25$27,837.24$24,462.48$3,374.76
Sallie Mae 024.75$22,197.02$19,189.15$3,007.87
Sallie Mae 037.75$20,692.10$655.99$20,036.11
Sallie Mae 045.75$10,350.18$7,723.61$2,226.57
Sallie Mae 055.25$6,096.03$5,356.99$739.04
Sallie Mae 06 & 074.75$6,415.09$0.00$6,415.09
Sallie Mae- DOE 015.25$5,000.00$0.00$5,000.00
Sallie Mae- DOE 025.25$3,000.00$0.00$3,000.00
AES6.8$9,000.00$0.00$9,000.00
TOTALS$110,587.66$57,338.22$53,249.44

My current slush fund balance didn’t change from the previous post:

Slush Fund= $2,577.57

For the following week, with V-day (Saturday) and my birthday (Sunday) coming up we have some plans for the weekend, but nothing that will cost a significant amount. I have some money budgeted and a pretty good plan for my V-day gift, but I can’t reveal how much and what I’m buying until next week (my GF reads this too, lol). How is everyone else going to spend their Valentine’s Day? Do you treat it like a holiday to celebrate your spouse, or do you see it as a “Hallmark Holiday”? Let me know in the comments! I know couples that do both. Some see it as a nice day to enjoy time together, and others just see it as another day.


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