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Posts tagged with: personal finance

The Green Eyed Gimmies


Has anyone read the classic Bernstein Bears book (or seen the associated cartoon) about the Green Eyed Gimmies?

It’s really a lesson for children about how they should be happy with what they have and not always be looking for something new/keeping up with the Jones’, etc.

But it’s hard not to make those social comparisons, you know? It’s a natural human thing to look at our neighbors and feel a little pang of jealousy when they have the shiny new car or insert-whatever-the-new-thing-is.

Recently I experienced a little bit of my own Green-Eyed monster, but not about something you might think.

Does anyone else read Stephanie’s blog – SixFiguresUnder?? I have to admit I’m more of a casual reader, but I think someone recommended it back when I first started blogging here and, every couple of months, I’d head over to her blog to read their latest debt update.

It’s been a minute (so I’m a little behind on this), but I recently went to check out their latest happenings and was shocked to see that they’re now DEBT FREE!!! (read Stephanie’s debt free post here).

Now, I don’t know Stephanie. Never met her in my life. I have no connection to her or her family. But, as a reader, I was happy for them! Becoming debt-free surely must be an incredible feeling!

But I was surprised by an underlying feeling….that of envy.

Stephanie and her family managed to pay off $144,000 in debt.

My starting debt was $145,000.

Stephanie started blogging in September 2013.

I started blogging just a few months later, in February 2014.

Our incomes started out about the same – Stephanie’s first reported monthly income was under $4,000 (from here). Our first monthly income was just over $5,000 (from here).

Our incomes even increased around the same time. Her husband, a lawyer, opened his own practice which dramatically increased their income. I found a full-time job, which dramatically increased our income. The big difference were that they had fewer fixed expenses so a larger proportion of their income was able to be put toward debt. We do pretty well in our house, too, but Stephanie’s family has us far beat both on groceries (one of our big expenses) and on rent/utilities (they live for free in their in-laws’ basement for now).

We’re different people. Different situations. But the desire to make comparisons is strong. I knew they would finish their debt journey before us. When Stephanie started blogging they were already down $40k, starting right at $100k in debt. And we didn’t even start our debt journey until a full 6 months after them. So obviously we would finish after them! We had different start points; it’s only natural we’d have different end-points.

Even so, I felt jealous.

Ohhhhh how I yearn to know what it’s like to be fully debt-free! To not owe anything to anyone.

I love listening to the debt-free screams on Ramsey’s radio show because it’s so motivating and inspiring. But somehow, reading it online caught me off-guard (my own fault, because I wasn’t following their story closer…I should’ve known it was coming up!!!)

So I try to remind myself about all the AMAZING things we have already accomplished!

Our only remaining debt is for student loans and medical debt. That means we own ALL of our possessions 100% outright (ahem – at least until we close on the house). NO ONE can come and take ANYTHING from us as a repossession or as collateral on an existing loan. Electronics, furniture, even vehicles = all are OURS!!!

And we’ve paid SO MUCH DEBT off already! Yes, we still have a long way to go. But I’m proud of where we’ve come from!

For newer readers, you might have a hard time believing that when I first started blogging here, many didn’t think I’d make it. There were whole GOMI threads dedicated to the Blogging Away Debt bloggers (Yes, I know about them. No, I don’t visit them often. And we’re rarely discussed anymore for that matter). People thought I was an airhead. Naive, dumb, blonde – whatever you want to call it.

I was a different person then than I am now. A lot has transpired in the past almost 3 years!

I still have my “airhead” moments. I am human, after all. But I’m learning.

I got my first job! I have been working hard at negotiations (for title, raise, etc.)! I’ve learned about buying (and selling) homes! I’ve been working on the ever-elusive work-life balance. And even as we’ve increased our spending on “life” stuff (e.g., date nights, family entertainment, foods-not-cooked-from-scratch), we’ve still continued to put a good proportion of our income toward debt each month. In a typical month, about 25% of our take-home pay goes straight to debt. That’s in addition to our savings goals, our monthly expenses, etc. I’m proud of that figure.

Recently I received a comment on an old post. Someone asked why I was still saving for retirement, contributing to my kids’ college accounts, and saving for an emergency fund all while trying to get out of debt. Dave Ramsey talks about how when you split priorities, you never get anything done. That’s why he’s all about focusing on one thing at a time.

I responded simply that “I’m not following Ramsey’s plan.”

I wish I could. I wish we could be that focused.

But that’s not our reality.

Most of Ramsey’s followers get out of debt in under 2 years. I believe their average is 18 months.

We’re (nearly) 3 years deep, with perhaps another 2-3 years to go.

That’s too long to put off life and living, in my opinion.

We didn’t start out with only $45,000 in debt. We had $145,000 to contend with. And a lot transpires in the 5-6 years it will take us to be fully debt-free. Too much to go without for so long. As an anecdote – I remember asking my mom for foaming hand-soaps from Bath & Body Works for my birthday one year. I distinctly remember nearly tearing up about it. I felt so deprived that I would never be able to buy a stupid $5 soap because we were using the cheap bulk soap from Costco and refilling our hand soap pumps. How I longed for those Bath & Body Works soaps. Would I ever get to have fancy soaps ever again? Surely not! We couldn’t justify a $5 soap in our tight budget!!!

I couldn’t live like that for a half decade or more. Some are stronger than me. Some may be less materialistic. Some maybe just don’t care a single iotta about their soap. And, to be fair, I still refill our hand soaps with the cheap bulk stuff from Costco. But this is just a silly example to discuss the idea of “living” while in debt-repayment. We were BARE BONES for a solid 2 years. I’m talking not a single new article of clothing, not a single professional hair cut or color, not a single vacation, all homemade foods/all the time, all from scratch/all the time, etc. I made my own baby wipes, for goodness sake!

And I just couldn’t do it forever.

At the end of the 2 year mark we made a conscious decision to loosen up the purse strings a bit. For us to make it through to the end of our journey, we just had to allow some room for “living.” Now we have monthly date nights (and we pay a babysitter to watch the girls!), we went on our first real vacation (cruise 2016) this past April, I’ve bought new clothes – mostly for work, but when I need a new pair of jeans I just buy them instead of continuing to mend and re-mend the hole-in-the-crotch of the pair I already own (true story – I mended the same hole 3 times when I first started debt repayment. I refused to buy anything new and was determined to “make do”). The point is that we had to find what worked for us so that we can make it to our own finish line.

How that looks will be different for every family.

Maybe your family can scrimp and save and not spend a penny and be out of debt in 12 months. I would be the first to congratulate you (and I’d try to not be envious!) : )

But maybe your family needs a little bit more room in the budget for discretionary spending. Maybe that’s what you need in order to survive the long haul to debt-freedom.

I don’t regret the beginning of our debt journey. I think the first two years of super-strict spending gave us the jump-start we needed and put us in the right frame of mind to succeed. But there came a time when we also needed to be realistic with ourselves about our own limitations. We couldn’t keep at it forever at that pace. Rather than fall off the wagon entirely, we made the conscious decision to loosen up the budget a little. It can be a slippery slope and it’s not the right choice for everyone. But it was the right choice for us. And we’re still making killer progress, thank you very much (latest debt update here).

So maybe this is a “do what I say, not what I do” moment.

When you feel yourself becoming envious over someone’s debt journey, remember that it’s just that – someone else. It’s not you. It doesn’t reflect on you one way or another. It’s a different person with a different situation under different circumstances. What might work for them may not work for you and vice versa. Be kind to yourself, forgive yourself, and never give up.

My debt-free date may not be right around the corner….but it will be here before we know it!

Until then, I’ll keep you in the loop about our latest adventures on the journey.




Ashley’s April 2015 Budget Update


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!

Review of YNAB


I’ve now been using the You Need A Budget (YNAB) software for two full months and have to say that it has been a game changer.

Although I really liked the idea of YNAB (and wrote about it way back last summer), I wasn’t initially psyched with the idea of ditching my old budgeting software (ahem, a modest excel spreadsheet) in favor of their fancy-pants software. I watched a few of the getting started videos and understood all the concepts but was held back for a couple reasons.

  1. First and foremost (and what I wrote about it here) is the fact that I found it challenging until I was living on last month’s income. I know you can start at any time, and there are tips and techniques for budgeting when you have a variable income (like hubs and I have), but I just didn’t love it.
  2. The second reason was simply because I hadn’t really “committed” yet to the idea of it. It was very different from my previous budgeting method (which had been much more rigid and “set”), and since I hadn’t committed yet to YNAB (meaning, I was just doing the trial and unsure if I’d buy), I didn’t want to abandon my old budgeting techniques yet. That means I was basically committing myself to completing TWO completely different budgeting spreadsheets simultaneously (my old excel one AND the new YNAB one). It was, frankly, overwhelming. So I quit my trial early and didn’t look back for months.

In January I decided it would be a good time to give it a second try. I re-watched some of the beginner videos and emailed customer support to see if they’d give me another free month trial (They did. For the record they were super helpful and friendly).

Well, folks, I’m two months deep and I’m never looking back!!!

So what’s so different about YNAB? (again, I’m comparing to a simple excel spreadsheet)

  •  The constant back-and-forth between screens. I was used to having everything in a single excel sheet (I had a different page for each month), so initially it felt cumbersome to have to switch back and forth between the budget screen and the accounts screen (where you actually log all income and expenditures). It took some getting used to and was something I didn’t like initially. But now that I’ve got the hang of it, I love that I can easily see just the budget and compare between recent months (you can easily move forward or backward to look at your current month, past months, future months, etc.) It’s a nice and easy little comparison.
  • YNAB allows you to set up savings goals inside of the program. I’m not quite ready to give up my Capital One 360 accounts….but YNAB sure makes them seem pretty pointless. One of the features in YNAB allows you to set up savings goals. Basically you can allocate money toward each of your savings goals (e.g., savings for Roth IRA, saving for cruise 2016, etc.) and your rainy day funds (e.g., savings for emergency fund, dental/vision, annual fees), so you can really easily see how much you’ve got in each category. I’ve used Capital One 360 in the past because I like to be able to have my money saved in multiple different categories, but with YNAB you don’t need to literally have the money separated into separate accounts. You can have it all in one account and, as long as you reference your budget, you know what all the money is for (so it doesn’t just seem like a pile of money; you already know every dollar has a job or a purpose.
  • YNAB’s flexibility. This is probably the biggest game-changer, so far. YNAB allows for such fluidity between budget categories. I used to have very rigidly set categories that were identical from month-to-month. With YNAB my categories change based on my monthly needs. Need new clothes? Allocate money to the clothes category (I used to have one “catch all” category named miscellaneous that clothing would fall under). Spend too much money on household goods? Take away some money from the restaurant fund. Have money leftover from a lower-than-expected electric bill? Add more money toward debt payments! So extremely easy-peasy and really lets things be fluid and flexible between and within months.

I also know there are some really cool features I still haven’t even gotten into yet! You can run reports and make graphs from excel, but the reports feature in YNAB is just so seamless and easy! You don’t have to program any commands or know computer-lingo – you just press the reports tab and click on the type of chart you want to see (spending by category, by payee, spending trend, etc. etc. etc.)

Everything about it is so user-friendly and incredibly well planned and thought-out. One of my best friends is a designer (she does architectural design, specifically), and the YNAB program just seems like something a designer would have had a hand in. It’s not just created by some finance geeks (term “geeks” used affectionately). It serves a family’s personal finance needs, but is done so in a way that is elegant and efficient in design. I love efficiency. And who doesn’t love a little elegance? ; )

There are some cons though…

From my own experience, I would say that YNAB is not really something you can pick up overnight. It can be a bit overwhelming (this is coming from someone who already had a pretty decent budget, and I imagine it’d be even harder for someone starting with absolutely no budget). I would also bet that I’m not the only person who required a couple different tries for the program to really “stick.” In fact, I would say that if you’re interested, you might as well go into it expecting to have some growing pains and a little bit of a learning curve as you get used to the software.

But in spite of all that, I can honestly say I would recommend the program. Even with the cost (and BELIEVE ME, I was reluctant to shell over the money for the program and YES I did pay for it. In no way is this a sponsored post), I think it’s money well spent.

You can try the program free for a month (see here).

And if you’re a college student, you can even get the program 100% free!!! (see here). Can’t beat free!

Or, if you’re not a college student but are ready to invest in the YNAB program, maybe consider purchasing through my referral link here. You get $6 off the program (10% off the $60 price tag), and I get $6 for referring you. It’s a win-win!

If you’re going to invest in the program, I highly encourage you check into some of the free online classes. They even give away an activation code for free at the end of every live class (so you can try to win one for free….I’m never that lucky!)

If you’ve used YNAB, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the program! What is your favorite part of the software? What took some getting use to?

My Hopes


Hi all!

Thank you so much for all of the fabulous tips and comments you left me on all of Monday’s posts. I always appreciate constructive criticism and love all of the ideas you have left in the comments – it gives me lots to think about.

Right now, I’m not making any big changes. I’ve decided to put off all non-essential purchases (including hair cut/color, dental work for my chipped tooth, vehicle maintenance, etc.). I think this month has really been tough financially and I just want to wait and see how the dust all settles before making any changes or spending any more money. All of these expenses are “necessary” (in that, yes, I need to have my chipped tooth looked at, we need to take care of our vehicle, etc.), but nothing is urgent so I’m just putting it all on hold for now.

Instead, I want to talk about what my hope is for the outcome of this month (calling them “hopes” instead of “goals” because I feel like, with 1 week left in the month, we’re a little late in the game for defined “goals”…though I will be updating our goals for the upcoming months in a post to come next week). Remember, with our variable income it’s always difficult to predict how a given month will go. That’s one of the reasons I’m so keen on starting to live on last month’s income!

Soooo, here are my hopes in order of importance (#1 being the most important hope, #2 the second most important, and so on).

  1. I hope we’ll have enough money leftover at the end of the month to do great things, as opposed to barely covering our expenses. Remember, we had some very pricey expenses this month (husband’s root canal, and my car maintenance). Currently, the “other” portion of my budget spreadsheet shows nearly $2,000 in expenditures (for reference, only $125/month is budgeted), so this is already a huge excess that will eat up a lot of our “extra” income. My first hope is that we’ll still have plenty extra even on top of this.
  2. I hope we’ll be able to put $2500 toward my “living on last month’s salary” savings. Last month we socked away $3200, so if I were able to add $2500 that would bring us to a total of $5700. That’s much lower than we’ve been earning the past few months (our income has been closer to $9,000ish), but it’s certainly a livable amount. Plus, it would only be one month with this somewhat lower income, because we’ll be stashing the full amount of all of our August paychecks for use in September. I’m very excited about living on last month’s income, so I have put this hope above #3.
  3. I hope to pay off the last of the license fees. I’m going to be honest and say….I don’t think we’ll be able to do this in full. We still owe a little over $4,000. Originally, I was thinking we’d be able to have that paid off by August (this is the bill we’re currently throwing our snowball at and our regular snowball payment is $1055/month). I don’t think we’ll have an extra $3,000 from July (on top of the $2500 going toward “living on last month’s income” and the $2000 already spent on car maintenance/dental care) in order to make this happen. But hopefully we’ll still be able to make somewhat of a dent.

Just to give a brief heads up about where our finances are sitting right now, today (with another week in the month to go), our expenses total roughly $7500, and our income is sitting at just under $9000…..so, yeah. It’s gonna be tough.

That being said, we shouldn’t have any other big expenses (knock on wood!) and husband still has another check coming his way so we’ll see how things all shake out. I guess this is what Dave Ramsey refers to as “more month left than money.” Ugh! I’m wishing August would just hurry up and get here already!!!! I can’t wait to give an updated budget, see where we stand with spending, and where we are in our debt payoff journey!

On a semi-related topic – we do have some extra cash in our regular checking/savings account. Remember that I like to keep a buffer of at least a couple thousand sitting there to cover bills (this is how I was able to pay all our expenses the first half of the month while we were waiting to get paid. I also talked about the buffer this post). Since we’ll be living on last month’s income…..could I eliminate this buffer and put that money toward these hopes??? Note, this isn’t an official “emergency savings” (I have that set up as a Capital One 360 account), and the money goes up and down depending on the time of the month, the bills that have gone through, when we’ve been paid, etc. But it occurs to me that if we fall short on some of this month’s hopes that maybe we can simply take money from here to try to make a larger dent in our debts (and/or make sure we have enough for living on last month’s income). Just so you have the full financial picture, we only have $1200 in our “emergency savings” account, but we have several sub-accounts for various things (car repairs, dental/vision, semi-annual expenses, vet expenses. A full list of our monthly savings can be found here.) and if something awful were to happen I could always tap into our money market mutual fund account (which has close to $6,000). So we don’t have a ton of liquid assets, but we do have enough that we may be “safe” to eliminate our buffer….




There are a couple of big financial changes happening over here. I’ve been hinting at these, but I wanted to wait until things were official before sharing with you guys.

Let’s start with the first financial change….

  1. I’m starting to pay on my student loans now. This is actually something that was brought to my attention when Liz from Great Lakes posted on my very first debt update (nitty gritty debt details. Side note: some of you thought we should declare bankruptcy when you first saw those numbers! My, how things change in 4 short months!). I don’t even have Great Lakes as a carrier of my loans, and I know Adam had mentioned issues with them (and I’ve seen other commenters complain about payment problems), but I am very grateful for that post.

Liz mentioned that I may qualify for Income Based Repayment (IBR) to get a lower monthly payment. The real “cincher” though, in me deciding to sign up for IBR, is this: the total cost of my student loans continue to rise every month due to accumulating interest. Under IBR, “the government will pay your unpaid accrued interest on your subsidized loans for up to three consecutive years from the date you begin repaying your loans.” (see here: http://askheatherjarvis.com/blog/pay-as-you-earn-hotter-than-IBR). That means I can continue focusing on paying down my car debt without my student loans continuing to gain interest.

There is some controversy about IBR plans. Under this plan, any remaining student loan balance is forgiven after 20 years of qualifying payment. Obviously people have a lot of strong feelings about this. Let me be perfectly clear: I fully intend to have my loans paid off well before the “20 year” period. This means I intend to pay my loans in full without relying on the government for any forgiveness (big exception = forgiveness of some unpaid interest, but none of the principal). Additionally, I will actually pay for most of the interest because, after the car is gone, we will start attacking the student loan debt more seriously and will be paying above the minimum IBR payments. But in the meantime, I really appreciate that my loans won’t continue racking up interest.

What does this mean for my budget? Overall, the amount we pay toward my student loans is going to go up (since most are currently in deferment). The monthly payment is going to be in the $500ish range (about $250 each toward Sallie Mae and ACS). But that’s a far cry from $1100 (which is what it would be otherwise after deferment ends), so it’s a fair trade. Instead of waiting until February when my loans come out of deferment, I’m starting repayment with IBR now. (side note: see current budget here)

  1. We are starting a new childcare situation. This is the change I really didn’t feel comfortable talking about until it was “done.” And, because of this whole situation, I also really don’t feel comfortable explaining my reasoning and rationale for this. We’ll simply have to file it under the “personal” label of “personal finance” and roll from here, knowing that this is what is best for our family right now.

Unfortunately, our childcare changes have come at a cost. A BIG cost. Instead of paying $50/day, we’ll be paying $125/day. Yep. A BIG increase. To try to offset these costs a bit, we’ve reduced our child care to two days a week (instead of 3). This means we’ll be paying more, but for less care. Instead of $150/week (for 3 days of care), we’ll be paying $250/week (for 2 days of care). Just to continue with the math for you, this means our monthly cost will be roughly $1000 (for a 4 week month), instead of only $600.

My hope is that this will not be the situation forever. Once the girls (who just turned 2) are potty-trained, a bunch of additional and more cost-effective options open up. My goal is to try to get them potty trained by about 2.5, so we’ll be able to switch to a different place in about 6 months and pay significantly less. We shall see.

So I hope this explains some of the vagueness of my posts the past couple weeks while I’ve been trying to sort the whole childcare situation out. I am not going to lie – going down to 2 days a week has already been tough work-wise. I’m having to work a lot more late evenings when the girls are in bed and just generally trying to be more efficient. If this were a “forever” situation, I don’t know that it would be viable given my work-load. However, I keep reminding myself that this is a temporary, relatively short-term solution (for hopefully only about 6 months). Also, my work-load is extra heavy right now as it is summer session for the courses I teach, which is much more condensed than the regular semester. When the Fall semester starts, my grading will be spread out further, meaning the courses won’t be quite as demanding as they currently are.

In the meantime, I apologize for some of the babbling and otherwise hasty posts you may be seeing from me! I used to have the luxury of spending much more time writing and editing posts and now I feel more of a need to get them thrown up quickly so I can move onto my next task.

In this spirit, I need to get going.

I hope you all have a Happy Friday and a safe and happy weekend! See you on Monday!!!

2013 Spending Plan WORK IN PROGRESS


I’ve taken some time and put together a partial 2013 spending plan.  I say partial b/c I am currently not sure what my 2013 take home pay is actually going to work out to be because I made a lot of changes to help me with taxes, I now have my health insurance taken out, the reversing of the payroll tax “discount,” etc.  I was using the fact that I will not know my exact take home pay beginning in January 2013 as an excuse for not setting up a budget for my “spending money.”  I caught myself using that excuse so here I am to just get started.

By way of information for new readers, I’m in a good place with knowing my regular monthly bills and laid out those constants in a post about a month ago but it is those little here and there spending items that kept getting me and that I did not have a plan for.  I just had weekly spending money that had to cover things that came up.  That isn’t a great way to manage your money I have learned and so I’m trying to lay out something super specific.  My readers have challenged me to do so and while I’m thankful, I’m also a little cranky.  🙂  I don’t like getting this specific which is exactly why I must do it.

I’ve decided to go with the cash in envelopes system to start on these items. The “use my spending money” method is far too lenient.  I cannot keep track of what I am spending in that manner.  So, from each paycheck I will set aside cash in envelopes for these items:

Kid incidental spending (from this will come field trip fees, school pictures, fundraising contributions, teacher gifts, birthday gifts for parties they attend):  $20.  Looking back at this year’s spending it appears that January and February will be light on the spending for kid incidentals so I should be able to set aside $80-$100 as a good start on this fund.  (After re-reading the list you will see below I can already see that this category is too broad.  I’ll re-work it but am leaving it here as the learning tool it might be for a reader).

Clothing budget for me:  $25 per paycheck.  I received clothing as gifts (or gift cards that I can use toward clothing) so I am good on clothes and shoes for at least 3, probably 6, months.

Beauty Budget:  $25 per paycheck.  Since beginning the blog I have dramatically reduced my spending at the hair salon.  I mean DRAMATICALLY.  This fund will be for my now twice a year visits for a good cut and color as well as the cheap in between hair coloring I do at home.  I now use grocery store shampoo (but wash my hair much less frequently than I used to) and since that adds up to $15.00 about every six weeks (for the shampoo, conditioner and hair mousse), I incorporate that into my grocery budget.  This fund will also cover my twice a year make up purchases as well although I’m pretty low maintenance on the make up front.

Car Maintenance:  I’m setting aside $20 per paycheck to save up for somewhat major maintenance should it arise–oh and tires and brakes.  The vehicle I am driving has oil changes for life covered as well as the basic maintenance check.  This fund will be for the bigger stuff but I a pray that b/c my mileage use is SO low that this fund will not be needed much.

Okay I know this isn’t an all-inclusive list and I have distance to go on thinking about what items I need a separate line in the budget for, so I remembered a long time ago I had saved a list from a website that I now cannot recall the name of (apologies!) and somehow I dug it up.  I share it with you below as food for thought for myself AND anyone out there who may need help like I do in capturing where the money goes! I am going to use this list by starting to delete those that don’t apply.  I sometimes feel like I am standing in mud and cannot move when I try to think about these budget items.

  • Airline fares (and the luggage fees).
  • Alcohol (you may include this in dining out, but I would separate this from your grocery budget if you buy for take-home).
  • Alimony paid in or out.
  • Allowances (his, hers, kids …).
  • Appliances.
  • Baby formula or breastfeeding supplies.
  • Bank fees (such as when you order checks, use an out-of-network ATM, have debit card access fees, or pay a check-cashing fee).
  • Batteries.
  • Birthday gifts.
  • Bus fares.
  • Cable or satellite TV.
  • Car insurance.
  • Car payment and / or car purchase fund.
  • Car registration fees (including the driver license renewal fees).
  • Car repair and maintenance.
  • Cash assistance.
  • Child support paid in or out.
  • Christmas gifts.
  • Cleaning services.
  • Cleaning supplies.
  • Clothing.
  • Coffee shop.
  • College fund.
  • Computer and office supplies.
  • Condo or neighborhood association fees.
  • Coupons and rebates.
  • Credit card payments.
  • Day care and babysitter fees.
  • Dental insurance.
  • Diapers.
  • Dinners out.
  • Donations to church, non-profit or charity.
  • Dry cleaning.
  • Electric bill.
  • Emergency fund.
  • Fast food.
  • Fitness center or gym membership.
  • Fuel for the car.
  • Furniture purchases or repair.
  • Garden supplies.
  • Greeting cards.
  • Groceries.
  • Grocery assistance (such as you receiving food stamps or buying groceries for a family member.)
  • Haircuts, manicures, spa treatments.
  • Health insurance.
  • Hobbies.
  • Holiday candy and flowers (Valentine’s Day, Easter, Halloween …).
  • Home maintenance and repair.
  • Income taxes paid or refund received.
  • Income tax preparation fees.
  • Internet service.
  • Investments.
  • Landline phone.
  • Laundry service (as in coin-operated machines or drop-off laundry service).
  • Lawn care.
  • Legal expenses.
  • Life insurance.
  • Medical co-pay and deductible expenses.
  • Medical insurance payments.
  • Mortgage – primary.
  • Mortgage – secondary or home line of credit.
  • Movie tickets or DVD purchases.
  • Museum, park and zoo passes.
  • Natural gas, propane or heating oil bill.
  • Newspapers, books and magazine subscriptions.
  • Nuisance (aka annoying expenses). Yes, I did see that category on a budget list once!
  • Over-the-counter medications.
  • Parking passes and parking fees.
  • Payroll – regular.
  • Payroll – overtime.
  • Payroll – bonus or holiday pay.
  • Payroll – severance pay.
  • Personal care products.
  • Pet expenses.
  • Photo printing.
  • Postage.
  • Property taxes.
  • Property insurance.
  • Rent.
  • Retirement fund.
  • Satellite radio.
  • School lunches.
  • Sewer bill or septic tank maintenance.
  • Shoes.
  • Snacks.
  • Sports, club and activity fees and equipment (I should be able to save some money on equipment from Goalie Monkey).
  • Sports event tickets.
  • Student loan payments.
  • Taxi fares.
  • Textbooks.
  • Theater or concert tickets.
  • Tobacco.
  • Toiletries.
  • Trash and recycling bill.
  • Tuition and class fees.
  • Turnpike and bridge tolls.
  • Uniforms for work, school, scouts, or sports teams.
  • Union dues.
  • Unemployment benefits.
  • Vacations.
  • Vision insurance.
  • Water bill.
  • Wireless phone (including texting and data plans).
  • Wedding plans.
  • Work lunches.
  • Yearbook photos.