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Posts tagged with: sticking to a budget

Talking to Friends About Money

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Today I wanted to talk about something a little taboo (I guess we’ll just keep with the theme, since today’s mid-day post was a bit taboo, also).

Do you ever talk with your friends about money? Not just casual mentions of money, but deeper conversations about budgeting, debt payments, financial goals, etc?

Confession: when I first started blogging here I hadn’t ever talked about money (on a deeper level) with any of my friends, ever! It made for a challenging transition from my old spending habits to my newer (more frugal) ones.

Eventually I slowly started talking a little bit about how I’ve been working to pay down our debts. One of my friends, in particular, has been really kind about my debt reduction mission. She still doesn’t know specifics (exact figures of debt versus monthly payments, etc. etc.), but she knows that I’ve become much more money-conscious (side note: she’s actually made innocent comments occasionally about how “tight” money is right now in our household. LOL! If she only knew the truth = that we spend $2,000/month on DEBT!!!).

This friend and I used to get together nearly once a week for lunch or a happy hour and, instead, we now get together to do a little 3-mile walk/jog on a popular jogging trail here in Tucson. I love it because I’m able to get some exercise and some girl talk all at once, and to do so for 100% free!

But still….no one knows the extent of our debt situation, nor the sacrifices we’ve made to really try to chip away at our debt.

I have a different friend that I was chatting with the other day. She and her husband were preparing their taxes and realized that last year they’d had a dramatic income boost – 33% over the previous year. The scary part is that she said she has absolutely NO IDEA where the money has gone. They still have the same living arrangements (same modest apartment, same old car, no new baby, same basic “stuff”), so it’s not like their expenses have gone up. Just…the money has disappeared.

To be totally fair, she recognized that her spending has gotten a little “willy-nilly” lately (e.g., extra Starbucks runs, more dining out), and my friend is one of the most generous people ever so she spent a TON at Christmas (I don’t want to give her financial specifics, but when she told me the amount she’d spent on family I was SHOCKED!) I’m sure she’s equally as generous throughout the year with other occasions (birthdays, showers, etc.)

So after hearing all this, where does the conversation go from there? I know my friend has some debt (student loans at a minimum, though I don’t know specifics about other consumer-related debts), and I want her to win with money! I wanted to tell her all about what I’ve been doing, to encourage her to examine her spending, make a budget, try to cut back, etc. etc. etc. Only…I didn’t feel comfortable to do so completely unsolicited.

I did mention that I’d been working really hard this last year to pay off debts by really trying to stick to a budget (hoping this would open the door for more questions), but the conversation just kind of ended there. She picked up with a different topic.

So what would you do? Do you talk to friends about money? Would you ever do so unsolicited, or simply wait to be asked? It feels like a weird topic (kind of like trying to push your religion on a friend), but I’ve just felt so thrilled with my progress this past year and I really WANT my friend to do well financially, too! Especially with their big income boost, they deserve some financial wins, you know? But it’s definitely still so taboo.

How do you feel about the topic?
Would you talk to your friend(s) about money? Would you try to encourage them to get on a budget, or just let them see how you live your life (with the hopes that one day they ask about your success)?


Ashley’s January Debt Update

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I pre-wrote and scheduled a couple of posts for today because I’ll be doing my campus interview all day (my itinerary is from 9am-7pm)!!! I probably won’t have a chance to respond to any comments until tonight or tomorrow so I just wanted to give you a heads up on that. Please send me some good vibes, positive thoughts/energy, prayers, good juju, whatever works for you! I am trying to come off as confident (but not cocky), enthusiastic and likable (but not desperate), professional, and articulate. Remember – I’ve kinda got all my eggs in one basket on this one, so it feels like a BIG day for me! Wish me luck!!!

The numbers are in and here’s how my debt has been shaping up this month…

PlaceCurrent BalanceAPRLast Payment MadeLast Payment Date (original debt, March 2014)
Capital One CC-17.9%-Paid off in March ($413)
Mattress Firm-0%-Paid off in May ($1381)
Wells Fargo CC-13.65%-Paid off in May ($7697)
BoA CC-7.24%-Paid off in June ($2220)
License Fees$22082.5%250January ($5808)
PenFed Car Loan$159782.49%1000January ($24040)
Navient - Federal Student Loans$44448.25%16January ($4687)
Navient - Dept of Ed$722318.25-6.55%260January ($69191)
ACS Student Loans$210407.24%77December ($21035)
Medical Bills$64110%75January ($9000)
Totals$122,312 (Last month = 123,667)Total: $1,678Starting Debt = $145,472

Maybe it’s just because we’ve reached the 10-month mark so some of the newness and excitement has started to rub off a bit, but I’m just not as enthusiastic about my progress as I was early on in the debt-repayment process.

On one hand, we put over $1,600 toward debt this month! That’s great, right?!

On the other hand, my student loan balances went up. Again. (my minimum payments don’t cover the interest, so the balance keeps slooooowly growing).

And my total debt ($122,000+) is still so out-of-control. I cannot WAIT for the day that I break the $100,000 barrier and dip into the $99,999s.

Hubs ended up making an extra debt payment toward his license fees at the end of last month. So if you were to compare the balance this month to the one from last month, that’s why there’s a discrepancy (the table says $250 was applied this month, which is true, but hubs had made a payment of just over $250 at the end of last month, too, so it’s gone down by $500 compared to last month’s beginning balance).

Can I make a little confession that will become pretty apparent anyway real soon (when we talk about how the budget went this month)???

I ended up going a bit over on a couple categories this month. I think some of the holiday-spending spilled over into January and I was just a little too loosey-goosey on my spending. Nothing crazy or extravagant. Mostly just up to my old tricks again….spending too much on groceries and crap that we don’t really need because its oh-so-easy for me to justify grocery purchases as a necessity, even if they aren’t.

Anyway, my plan at the beginning of the month was to pay extra toward my student loans (above the minimums) so I could pay the interest in full and not have a growing balance. *Sigh* Having gone over on my grocery budget (by a lot, I should add), I re-allocated those funds to cover my frivolous food expenses and, alas, the student loan balances continue to grow. Very discouraging.

I will do better next month!

Another confession, since we’re on that train now…

Hubs and I have fallen off the wagon with our monthly finance talks, too.

For long time readers, you’ll know that hubs and I have a unique financial relationship (I talked about it here when I first started blogging). Some of it is changing (e.g., we’re adding each other to all of our accounts this month), but one of the big things is that I’ve always been the one to sit down and actually pay the bills. When I first started blogging we started loosely following a Dave Ramsey-esque type program where hubs and I would have a monthly budget discussion to decide exactly how to allocate that months’ funds.

Over the holidays we’ve sort of slipped back into our old patterns where hubs has simply given me money and I’ve put it where I think it should go. To be clear, I really am doing what I believe to be best with the money (in terms of debt allocations, etc.), but I do think it’s important for hubs to actually be in on these decisions rather than simply letting me handle the funds how I see fit. Things seemed to be moving faster and progress seemed to be better when we were working together. So that’s coming back at the end of this month as we discuss our plans for February.

Hopefully in the coming months we’ll see some stronger progress!

How’ve you been doing with your debt payments? How do you and your significant other handle finances/bills/etc?


Planned December Budget

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Hi friends!

Is it just me or does the week after Thanksgiving not even feel like a “real” week?? It’s like you’re supposed to be back at work, but everyone is out doing Christmas shopping and holiday planning and things are just nuts! It’s impossible to concentrate! I know I’m definitely guilty of this and I’ve certainly been a bit distracted lately! It’s also hard because most of my “pressing” work (things with deadlines) is done right now and basically on hiatus until January (this is my last week of teaching for the semester, so just a little bit of grading and that’s it). I really, really need to be working on getting some manuscripts submitted to academic journals for review, but its soooo hard focusing on that stuff when there’s no set deadline and I feel like there are so many other things competing for my time and attention….

Anyway, that was a bit of a tangent but I’m sure some of you are in the same boat with me right now!! Onward!

Here’s my planned December budget:

Place Planned Budget
Rent 1055
Electricity 170
Water 60
Natural gas 20
Sprint (2 lines) 115
Cable/Internet 100
Car Insurance 56
Health Insurance 350
Trash 35
Debt 2078
Miscellaneous 300
Groceries 400
Baby Purchases 1200
Gasoline 100
Saving for Irregular Expenses 495
Total Budgeted 6534

 

There are exactly 2 things that are different from last month (see November’s budget and update here). I raised my baby purchases back up to $1200 (where it had been originally), and I raised up the amount going toward debt! Woohoo!! Finally a month where I’m breaking the $2,000 mark toward debt! Last time I paid over $2,000 toward debt in a single month was all the way back in August! Feels good to punch some debt in the face!!!

With that being said, I wanted to remind you that we live on last month’s income and to let you know that we’ve got more to work with this month (meaning, our income was higher last month). Always a good thing! I think it’s largely due to husband’s extra crew. Wahoo!!!

Last month we earned a total of $6550. I’ve budgeted a total of $6534, which leaves us a tiny little buffer. I like to have a little bit of wiggle room, even if its only $25. It helps!

I’m excited and nervous to see how we do this month with income (income that will be spent in January). Even though we’ve decided to go out of town for Christmas, we should still earn some money from husband’s additional crews while we’re gone. There are some good jobs lined up already, so I’ve got my fingers crossed that our income won’t be hit too hard by taking off for a bit this month (we’ll be gone a total of 10 days).

How are your months shaping up? Is your budget drastically different in December to accommodate gift giving and/or travel expenses?


November Budget Update

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Hi all! I hope you’re doing well! November seemed to fly by faster than most. I swear I was just typing up my October Budget Update the other day….and somehow a full month has flown by! I guess that’s how it works, especially around the holidays!

As a quick reminder, we live on last month’s income, so for the month of November we had a total of $5855 to budget and appropriate to various categories. Here’s how things worked out…

November budget (planned & actual spent):

Place Planned Budget Actual Spent
Rent 1055 1055
Electricity 170 168
Water 60 56
Natural gas 20 28
Sprint (2 lines) 115 114
Cable/Internet 100 100
Car Insurance 56 55
Health Insurance 350 350
Trash 35 35
Debt 1498 1498
Miscellaneous 300 867
Groceries 400 419
Baby Purchases 1100 1180
Gasoline 100 75
Saving for Irregular Expenses 495 495
Total Budgeted 5854 6495

 

As a reminder, miscellaneous is broken down into 4 categories:

  • Entertainment: budgeted = $20; spent = $26
  • Eating Out: budgeted = $100; spent = $129
  • Personal Maintenance: budgeted = $30; spent = $5
  • Other: budgeted = $150; spent = $707

Side note: In January I’m going to do a big, formal assessment of my monthly spending all year and re-do my budget/categories a bit. Right now I have miscellaneous broken into these four sub-categories but starting in January I’m going to simply give each of these categories its own line item instead of lumping them together and itemizing separately. It’s so weird, I don’t even know why I did this to begin with!?

I think this is the very first time since I started blogging that I went over in the entertainment category (I went to a movie with a friend, which cost $12 and tipped me over in this category). Obviously the biggest overage is in the “other” category. I don’t feel comfortable divulging exact details regarding the monetary settlement we came to with our landlord (for damages from the Great Flood of 2014), so I’m purposely going to leave out exact numbers here. I will, however, say that the overage is due to a combination of these three things: (1) iphone screen repair, (2) costs associated with the Great Flood, and (3) truck repair. Note that I was, indeed, able to get my phone screen fixed (rather than having to buy a whole new phone – whew!!), and a portion of the truck repair was paid for out of our vehicle maintenance savings account (we didn’t have enough to cover the full repair, so the deficit came from this category).

I also went a little over in our natural gas bill and in our grocery line-item. Nothing too bad. But I was over by a full $80 in the baby purchases category (which includes the cost of preschool, pull ups/diapers, and any purchases that are toddler-specific). Honestly, I generally budget $1200 in this category so I don’t know why I thought I could drop it down to $1100 and not go over. That was unrealistic and I’m bumping it back up to $1200 for next month.

We had a total of $5855, but spent a total of $6495. This leaves us with a deficit of $640.

Ouch!

We’ve had other rough months in the past but this is, by far, the worst since I started blogging. I think I was only over budget one other month, and it was only by about $20. Here we stand this month, over by nearly a grand (I exaggerate, but we’re still over by a lot!) Again – thank goodness for our emergency fund! I think I’m actually going to write a full blog post dedicated to the EF sometime soon because I haven’t talked much about it since I first started blogging.

At any rate, this month we learned some tough lessons. Lessons in preparedness and in the amount of funds we need to have liquid for future “Murphy’s Law” incidents. I’m going to hold off on changing anything at this time (e.g., altering savings for car repairs), but this will be something I look closely at in December and January as I plan and budget for the new year.

 

How did you do with your November spending?