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Ashley’s Year In Review (2015)

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I know we’re now a full week into the new year, but I always like to look back and reflect on the previous year around this time. So indulge me in a week-late review of some of the big highlights of 2015.

Personal and Financial Goals

The year began (or really was preceded by) setting some big goals. We had one list of financial goals, and a second list of goals related to “growing up” (in my mind this meant doing things like getting wills, life insurance, etc.). By the end of the year we hadn’t quite met all of our financial goals, but we’d made incredible progress. In all, we paid off over $26,000 in debt!!! We did even better on our “year of becoming an adult” goals. We fully accomplished 3 of our 4 goals and are well underway on the 4th goal (see update here). We’ve set some pretty lofty financial goals for 2016, too!

Budgeting

In early January, we made some pretty big changes to the way we did our budget. This eventually lead us to using YNAB for budgeting (we’d previously used an Excel file). I still can’t say enough great things about YNAB. I really think it’s made a huge impact on how well we’ve been able to stick to our budget and, therefore, how well we’ve done with paying off debt (see my full review here).

One of the categories in our budget that we really struggled with this year was our grocery budget. I talked several times about our efforts to make cheap meals, saving money by making homemade yogurt (super easy and so tasty!), DIY-ing pumpkin spice coffee (a personal fave), and trying my hardest to meal plan (which was much easier when I worked from home compared to an office-setting, and I’m still learning to balance competing needs).

I also saved a lot of money on self-maintenance this year. With the exception of 2 professional cut/colors (which I did prior to big job interviews), I’ve saved money in our budget by cutting and coloring my own hair for the past 21 months (but who’s counting? hehe). I’ve even received compliments on my self-maintained hair and really like my new darker color. To be transparent, I did just barely receive a professional cut/color from my Mom as a birthday gift, so this totals 3 professional jobs (only 2 that I personally paid for) in nearly 2 years.

Employment

I interviewed for 3 separate jobs in 2015:  one in January (recap), one in March, and one in June. I was offered the third job (third times a charm!) and accepted the position soon thereafter. I started the position in July and have been very happy in the job ever since (though I have plans to try to negotiate for a title change and more money).

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Gift-Giving

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Before I started our debt reduction mission we really spent a ton of money on gift-giving. Since starting to blog here, I’ve drastically reduced the amount spent on gifts. I now try to spend an average of about $15-20 per gift (though hubs and I set a $50 limit on gifts to each other). I talked about a cheap classroom gift here and waxed poetic about the impact of a hand-written thank you note (as opposed to an expensive flower delivery). I also talked about a cheap going away gift basket, a cheap Mother-in-Law (or grandparent) gift, an inexpensive alternative wedding gift, and relatively inexpensive ($50 limit) anniversary gifts.

Kids Crafts

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The kids did lots of fun and cheap crafts this year. A sampling of crafts include: a  Valentine’s craft, a Mother’s Day craft, and an Easter craft. All of these doubled as cheap cards/gifts for family, too!

Entertainment

Our entertainment budget was really bare bones this year as we tried to funnel all our extra money toward debt. But that doesn’t mean we didn’t have fun! I talked about a free family activity here and a free painting class (courtesy of Yelp Elite) here. I also shared how we got cheap Halloween costumes for the kids and had fun with a cheap-ish birthday day date for hubs’ 33rd birthday.

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Successes

In April we celebrated kicking hubs’ license fee debt to the curb! That left us with only the car loan, some medical debt, and the monstrous student loans to contend with. That same month I did a balance transfer of a higher-interest student loan (8.5%) to a 0% APR credit card to pay off one of my Navient student loans at a lower rate (just paid a 2% initiation fee). I also celebrated when we paid off another of my Navient student loans back in October. It’s no secret that I freaking hate Navient, so I can’t wait to rid them from my life!

Personal

In June I let you know something I’d been keeping a bit of a secret. I have a very close family member experiencing a debilitating illness for which there is no cure. I later told you all that the “close family member” is my father and divulged that his diagnosis is frontotemporal degeneration (a type of dementia). I had a rough time in regard to processing this information. I was painfully honest about the scary feelings and emotions experienced knowing that his health is quickly declining and my siblings and I will be tasked with becoming his caretaker and all of the other financial implications of the situation. I also discussed prioritizing the costs of therapy so I could take care of myself. I never updated, but I did in fact search for therapists but there was only one person who really stood out to me as a good fit. Of course, that person was not accepting new clients at the time and, feeling overwhelmed by life, the new job, etc., I never pursued any other options. To be honest, I do think I’ll try again to find someone to talk to in the New Year. I feel like I am in a much better place mentally than I was when I first wrote this post (or this one, too), but I know my Dad’s health issues will continue to be a HUGE deal in my life and I would like to see someone at least occasionally to help me process everything as his disease progresses.

Summary

2015 was a wild year! Lots of great successes – Can I get a high five for that $26,000+ of debt that was paid off!?! and some tough times, too. In 2016 we plan to split our priorities a bit between saving for a house and continuing to pay off debt, but I know that we’ll continue to make great progress along the way. I’ve admitted before that I may loosen up the purse strings slightly. I think it’s important to have more regular date nights and such. But I also can’t wait to make some big dents to our debt this year. This will be the first full year of me having a full-time job and income (in addition to my part-time job & hubs’ job). With the additional money we really hope to do some crazy things in 2016. A house, a car (not a new one, but our current one being paid off), punching Navient in the nose, and so on. Great things ahead, friends! Thank you for joining me on life’s wild ride!


Year of Becoming an Adult: October Update

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Just last month I told you guys that we’d completed 2 out of our 4 2015 goals on our Year of Becoming an Adult list. Here’s where we stand now:

  1. Wills: Completed a couple months ago.
  2. Life insurance for hubs: I’d mentioned in my last update about hubs losing a bunch of weight (50 lbs, to be exact!!!) He still wants to lose about another 20, but decided to go ahead an initiate the life insurance process now. I remember it taking two or three months last time around (not a quick process), so hopefully by getting the ball rolling now he’ll be able to be insured before the end of the calendar year. And, just to show you how far he’s come, check out this incredible before/after photo comparison (note: I forced him to do this –he’d be embarrassed to do a mirror selfie himself; I also forced him to wear the same shirt for comparison purposes. The difference is incredible, right?!?! So proud of him!!!).

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  1. Open retirement accounts: We opened a Roth IRA back in April, and I also started funding an additional account through my work (a 401a) in July. I’m investing 10% of my paycheck into the 401(a) + my 7% employer match, plus still doing the $100/month toward the Roth (I know its not much, but better than nothing!)
  2. Open college savings accounts for the kids: I finally did it! I opened two 529s (one for each child) and have set up an auto-deposit of $25/month for each of them (a total of $50/month). Once we’re further along in the debt-payoff process we may increase contributions a bit, but I’m happy with where they’re at for now. It’s not much, but every little bit helps.

It’s been a crazy whirlwind of a year! Some serious happy times and some serious lows have been had. And in the last few months as I’ve transitioned back into full-time work I feel like I’ve let a lot of these “household” type tasks fall to the wayside as I’ve been trying to balance my work obligations and father caretaker tasks.  I’ve alluded to this without outright saying it, but I’ve taken over 100% of my father’s financial matters. Since he owns two separate properties, it feels like I’m essentially running THREE households myself. Hubs and I still have our budget meetings so its not like he doesn’t contribute to our household, but I’m still the person who balances the YNAB budget and physically pays the bills. It’s been a lot to take on, but I’m of course happy to help my Dad and just trying to stay on top of everything. I’m eternally grateful for the accountability I’ve received here!!! I’ve always done Excel budget spreadsheets, but I don’t think I was as uber-careful about where every single penny was being spent until I started blogging here (and, really, YNAB has been a life-changer in that regard. Check out my review if you’re interested.) Without the organization I’ve gained since I started blogging here, managing 3 separate household budgets would be really tricky. I mean, its tricky either way, but it’s certainly much easier being organized.

At any rate, in spite of the haze that this year has been (can’t believe its already mid-October! Where is 2015 going!?), I’m really glad to have now solidly accomplished 3 of our 4 “Year of Becoming an Adult” goals and that we’re well on the way to completing the fourth as well.

Now….if we can just squeeze in some debt payoff milestones we’ll be set! ; )

Have you ever tried YNAB? What did you think?

Do you do goals or resolutions for the year? How are you doing on your 2015 goals?


May 2015 Budget Update

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I have been dreading this post. Like – dreading it!

This month has not been great in terms of our budgeting. I’ll show you the numbers in a second and I know they’re higher than our average numbers, but I also don’t feel like we went crazy or anything.

In basically all categories, our overspending was due to known expenses that I had failed to plan for. Basically – no big surprises came up (no crap river or emergency dental visits). Instead it was stuff like needing to buy the girls new swimsuits for their free swim lessons (they grow too fast! I tried to put them in last year’s swimsuits and the resulting atomic wedgies indicated it was NOT going to happen). Also, I mentioned that my mother-in-law and grandmother-in-law visited for four days. While here we paid to take them out to dinner one night in celebration of MIL’s birthday (and to thank them for their visit). That single dinner blew our entire month’s eating out budget. I should have increased it for the month since I knew this visit was coming up. Same thing happened with groceries. Aside from the one big dinner out, we did most of our eating at home and I hadn’t adequately planned by increasing our grocery budget.

At the month’s end we were over budget by nearly $400.

This is where YNAB comes into play and – again – why I have loved it so much (see my full review here). Going into the software I was easily able to move some monies around. I’d originally planned to put some money toward savings for dental/vision and annual fees but I re-allocated that money to different categories. Additionally, I had to tap into some of my Capital One 360 savings accounts. I didn’t want to pull all the money from my Emergency Fund (more on that in a minute), so I pulled about half from the EF and the other half from my semi-annual fees account. This move was partly psychological and partly strategic. It didn’t feel like as big of a “hit” when I spread the money out (instead of taking solely from my EF). That’s the psychological part. How was this move also strategic?

Sigh…

Here’s the part I’ve REALLY dreaded of this post. I have to tell you guys that this month did not go well for husband’s business. In the past when we’ve had lower income months I’ve gotten all introspective about it and been very public with what I think our mistakes were and how to correct them. But in the interest of keeping some things just between hubs and I, I’m not going to go into reasons this month (though he and I have discussed them endlessly, so its not for lack of analysis).

Long story short, Hubs’ business came up empty-handed this month. Completely. This isn’t the first time, though it’s the first time in a looooooong time (first time since I’ve been blogging). In the early days of his business some 4+ years ago this happened more frequently. There were even some months where he’d lose money! (Yes. As in, we’d have to take money from our personal checking/savings to cover his business losses). On the overall, his business’ trend has been upward. But this is life owning a small business. Some months are awesome! And some months you may not make anything. You hope the awesome months are more frequent and the crappy months are few and far between (and, in general, that’s the trend his business has been taking). But this month was a crappy one.

So how will we survive?

Well, fortunately, I still get paid from my job! And with the shortage we’ll be forced to raid our EF. However, we’ve also been trying to sell things to minimize our losses. Husband has sold some of his shoes (it’s funny, but he has a larger shoe collection than I do!), and has sold a nice watch he owns. Our regular pay will still be business as usual (being saved for the following month since we live on last month’s income). But with any side-money we receive from selling things, we’ll use it to supplement the current month (June) to minimize the amount we have to take from our EF to survive the month.

So there you have it. Last month’s overages and the plan for next month.

Now, onto the actual numbers.

 

Place Amount Spent
Rent 1055
Electricity 127
Water 61
Natural gas 18
Sprint (2 lines) 119
Cable/Internet 99
Car Insurance 58
Health Insurance 394
Trash 35
Preschool 1024
Gift-Giving 29
Restaurants 162
Entertainment 10
Groceries 550
Gasoline 71
Medical 11
Household Goods 100
Clothing 20
Toddler purchases 60
Work Purchases 47
Rainy Day Savings 130
Savings Goals 500
Debt Payments 1708
Total 6388

I hope your May was more fruitful than ours! Here’s to hoping we knock it out of the park in June!

Do you/have you ever had a variable income? How do you handle the fluctuations? Our variable income is one of the main reasons I loved YNAB’s idea of living on last month’s income. It’s also one of the main reasons we have a larger emergency fund than the $1,000 beginner EF recommended by Dave Ramsey. That’s way too low for my comfort level given the sometimes unexpectedly low income months we have on occasion.

 

Note: My YNAB and CapitalOne360 links are refer a friend links. If you join it doesn’t cost you anything extra but I do get a small compensation for the referral. All opinions are 100% my own and I joined paying my own money so this is not a sponsored post and I received no discount or anything for mentioning them. Particularly for YNAB, I’m just giving them a shout out because their budgeting system really has made a HUGE impact on getting our financial house in order!


Review of YNAB

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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?


A New Budget + Stretching Food Budget

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Hi all! Hope your Friday is off to a good start! We’ve been battling colds over here (again!!! I swear, this cold/flu season has been the worst!!!!!) but we’re all finally on the mend, the girls are back in preschool (after being home sick on Wednesday), and life is good! ; )

I’ve already mentioned that I overspent January’s budget (particularly in our grocery budget). I’ll give you all the details on Monday with my January budget update post, but today I wanted to tell you a little bit about how I’m making our food dollars stretch to try to spend a lot less on groceries this month.

First, I’ve been really trying to eat from our pantry and freezer. Second, I’ve been trying to repurpose meals by making leftovers into a second (or even third) meal so that every single bite of food is eaten and not wasted. I HATE wasting money and food waste is always one of the biggest culprits! Whenever I have to throw away old lettuce or meat or whatever, I see dollar signs being tossed in the trash. It’s a HUGE pet peeve of mine! So I’ve really tried to re-focus on making sure all food gets eaten before it goes bad. Here’s a list of the things we’ve eaten lately, and how I’ve tried to re-purpose leftovers so meal time doesn’t get stale:

  • Sausage wraps with broccoli & shells with cheese (sausage from freezer, broccoli was on hand, and shells & cheese and tortillas were in the pantry).
  • Ham and potato cheese soup (ham chunks from freezer leftover from last time we ate ham, potatoes from pantry, cheese from fridge, homemade rolls on the side). Also ate leftover soup throughout the week for lunches!
  • Cheeseburgers with home fries (meat from freezer, sliced and baked fries from potatoes we had in pantry, cheese on hand in the fridge, and leftover homemade rolls for the buns).
  • BBQ chicken, corn, and shells & cheese (chicken from freezer, canned corn from pantry, leftover shells & cheese from a previous dinner).
  • Spaghetti and meat sauce with garlic bread (crumbled leftover burgers for meat, used sauce and noodles from pantry, sliced up leftover rolls that I buttered and sprinkled with garlic before broiling for the garlic bread)
  • BBQ chicken “pizzas” and corn (leftover BBQ chicken that I shredded, cheese from fridge, made on top of tortillas instead of traditional pizza crust; leftover corn…doesn’t really go with pizza, but it worked).

It takes a little forethought to make sure I can reuse and/or repurpose leftovers, but I’ve already noticed such a huge difference in my grocery spending. Not only does it cost less money this way (i.e., re-using leftovers in future meals), but its actually easier, too! It’s the whole “cook once, eat twice” mentality (not sure where I’ve heard that, so can’t credit a source but I think it’s a pretty well known phrase). It’s so, so much easier when parts of the meal are already cooked (especially when the meat is already done, as with the spaghetti and meat sauce and the bbq chicken pizzas). When the main protein is already pre-cooked all I have to do is just assemble, heat, and serve! Score!

So I’m really making an effort to try to get my spending back on track and, so far, I think I’ve been doing pretty well. Toward this end, I’ve also made the decision to do a new budget. Not just a new budget, but a  new budget software, too! Remember back when I’d tried to do YNAB (you need a budget), but I’d bailed less than a week into the month? I wasn’t ready at the time. But I gave it another shot a few weeks ago and have fallen for it hard. Once you get a hang of it, it’s really so superior to my old Excel spreadsheet. If there’s any interest I’d be happy to write a full review at some point.

In the meantime, if anyone is interested in purchasing the YNAB software, usually $60, I’ve got a link I can share that will get you a 10% savings. Note that if you purchase through this link, you get $6 off the price and I get a $6 referral credit. A win-win (plus you can share your personal link with friends to earn credits, too). Just wanted to be transparent on that (you can also try a free month-long trial by going to their website, too).

What are your favorite rollover meals or cheap meal ideas? 


The Downside of Living on Last Month’s Income

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I’ve run into a problem with living on last month’s income. In general, I think its an awesome thing and has been really valuable for us. But maybe you YNAB-ers can fill me in on how to handle this situation….

You’ve got a budget all planned for the month and things are going well. Mid-way through the month (and everything is on track), something costly comes up. It cannot be put off until the following month and it is 100% for sure going to blow your budget.

If you are living on your current month’s income then maybe you can try to sell some things, work extra hours, or do whatever it takes to boost your income. But if you’re living on last month’s income then your income is already set and there’s really not much you can do about it (aside from “cheating” and using money from the current month’s income and/or dipping into savings). How is this issue best handled???

Let me tell you what’s happened/happening…

Remember my friend whose getting married? Her wedding is at the end of this month. Remember how I talked about giving her a decent-sized check because I’d initially thought I might be a bridesmaid, but since I’m not incurring any of those expenses I’d like to put (some of) the money I would have spent toward giving her a nice gift? Wellllllll, apparently things have changed.

What is it about the wedding industry that sucks people in and forces them to get all hyped up on the hoopla even when they’re trying to avoid it? I swear, its like they tell you that if you don’t get the monogramed napkins and matching monogrammed floor sticker that your marriage is doomed to divorce. I don’t want this to come off as talking badly about my friend but….she got sucked into the trap. And now, all of these things that didn’t exist before (bachelorette party, bridal shower, etc.) suddenly exist.

I had already budgeted to give her and her husband-to-be some money. Initially I’d thought $100-$150, and I ended up budgeting for $100. But that is it. There is no more wiggle room in our budget. Now, with two weeks notice, I have been invited (and would love to attend) a mini bachelorette the week of the wedding. Nothing crazy or over the top, but it’s a night out that will NOT fit in my eating out and/or entertainment budgets. And although she said no gifts, I feel like there’s an inherent expectation of maybe picking up a round of drinks or showing up to the party with some of those fun penis-shaped straws and whatever bachelorette parties entail. This all, of course, costs money. Maybe not a lot of money (certainly nowhere near as much as being a “real” bridesmaid would have cost), but money nonetheless and money I don’t have in our budget.

I know many will say simply not to go. But even though we may not be life-long friends (we met 4.5 years ago), she is one of my best friends in the state. We moved here at the same time (for school) when we didn’t know anyone else and have been through some serious life transitions together (weddings, babies, graduation, employment/lack thereof). I want to support her. I want to be there. So then do I just go and not really participate? Don’t buy her a drink, don’t buy myself a drink, don’t partake in the festivities? Do I give her less for her wedding and put some of that money toward these expenses? What would you do?

And, back to the down side of living on last month’s income, what do you do if you simply have an expense that exceeds your monthly budget/allotted income? Where does the extra money come from? I know a wedding/party is a whole different situation than a real necessary expense (like, a car tire blows out and HAS to be replaced immediately), but either way, how does this work with the YNAB living on last month’s income system?

Suggestions? Advice? What would you do?


Ashley’s June Budget

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Hi all! Happy Independence Day to the U.S. readers! I hope you all have a safe, happy, and healthy long holiday weekend! I’ve scheduled this post ahead of time because I’ll be spending time with family all day today. For those of you who would like an update on our Utah trip, we decided to split the drive into 2 days on the way there and drive straight through in 1 day on the way back. We’re coming back Sunday (meaning, we won’t be home until late Sunday night). I’ll try to write a post with this trip’s expenses as soon as we return.

I promised an update on our budget for the month of June. This was my second (and last) month of trying to do the envelope system. This month I’ll be using the YNAB free 30 day trial (and it sounds like some readers will be doing it with me!). I’ll certainly update about my experiences with that along the way, but for now let’s cut to the chase of how I did with our June spending.

Overall, we didn’t do terrible. I feel like I’ve given you a ton of budgets lately (“old” and “updated” – see this post), so instead of boring you with yet another budget, let me just give you the bottom line.

Here are our budgeting “fails” for the month:

  • First: We went way over with groceries. I had budgeted $380, and spent $453. Some of this was due to expenses from hosting the toddlers’ second birthday party. But some of it was just due to unnecessary spending on ‘gourmet’ grocery expenses (like cheeeeeese), and a big Costco trip. I have raised my grocery budget back up to $400 (where it was set prior to starting blogging), and I am excited to stick to the $400-limit. I will NOT go over this month. I will NOT go over this month. I will NOT go over this month. If I say it, it must be true. Yes? (psssst: but using the YNAB system, its okay if I go over a little because I can take that money from another category).
  • Second: We failed on our “eating out” budget. I had budgeted $75 and spent $149 (nearly double!!!) The funny thing is that I really don’t even remember eating out much this month. Then I look at my spreadsheet and see a string of drink stops (Starbucks, Sonic, Wendys – who has the best strawberry lemonade in the world!) All of these stops, individually, is only in about the $4 range. But they sure did add up! There are only 2 actual dinners out….ALL the rest of the expenses are little trips here and there that added up. This was total lack of constraint on my part. I WILL do better this month!

And here are our budget “successes” for the month:

  • First: Our childcare expenses were much lower than normal this month, so we saved a couple hundred dollars there.
  • Second: I was proud of myself in that I was “under” budget in all of my “miscellaneous” categories besides eating out (to jog your memory, the other categories include:  entertainment, personal maintenance, and “other”). I’m thinking I might be able to lower the “other” budget a little but I want to wait a month and see how things go. I was barely below budget this month ($120 out of $125 budgeted), but since I’m saving for so many different things now, I’m hoping I can reduce this category of spending.

All of my other expenses were pretty much in-line with what they should be (either at- or under-budget). The only other categories with higher spending were in debt payments (where we paid nearly $2000), and my gym membership (since the first month I had to pay $240 – to account for first and last month’s payments + an initiation fee). This should decrease back down to $70. (Side note = I realized in my updated budget I had my gym line-item as $50, but that’s the base fee…I’m paying an extra $10/child for gym childcare, so the monthly cost should be $70).

Whew! Lots of words! Now onto some numbers:

June Income: $9406

June Expenses: $5706

Income – Expenses = $3700 surplus (woohoo!!!)

 

How will we spend the surplus?

$500 = snowflake payment toward Chris’ license fees

$3200 = put money in savings (to build up one month’s living expenses)

I made our license payment earlier this week and it amounted to $1569 ($1055 regular snowball payment + $500 June snowflake payment + 14 extra for the processing fee). This brought the total amount due to just under the $2500 mark (at one point this was over $10,000….though when I started blogging here in March it was just under $6,000). I’m excited to think/hope that the license will be paid in full by August AND that we will hopefully have enough set aside to start living off of last month’s income in the month of September! Fingers crossed!!!

How have you done on your budget lately? Left with “more month than money”? (< a Dave Ramsey saying) What are you doing to try to cut expenses and/or make more money?


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