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Monthly Item Updates


My numbers for April will go up this afternoon.  In the meantime, I thought I would just give some quick updates on other things that happened during my first month here on BAD:

  1. New Job – I’m on week three of my new part time job and it looks like I’ll average about 11 hours a week.  I haven’t received a paycheck yet but have set the direct deposit up to feed 50% into a new emergency fund and 50% into a checking account to go toward debt.  Needless to say, it will not be a lot, but every penny counts and I’m really enjoying this new schedule.
  2. No More Allowance – The kids have acclimated quickly to no longer getting a weekly allowance and almost daily ask for paid jobs.  I’ve been writing them on a big whiteboard we use for school stuff a couple of times a week and refusing to pay for poorly done jobs.  It’s a hit! (And right now, I’m paying out far less than previous allowance amounts and getting things done that would have otherwise languished or had to have been done by me.)
  3. No More Coke – I went cold turkey a little over a month ago and have not had a single sip of soda since.  The temptation has been strong but I’ve held out and am really proud of myself.
  4. Groceries, groceries, groceries – The kids continue to do our weekly shopping, feeding 5 for seven days on $100.  It’s still a struggle, but I see improvement on the quality of our food.  We still squeak to the end of the week with little that they want to eat, but that’s part of the lesson, I suppose.  In an effort to help with the “healthiness” of our meals, I have joined Relay Foods for weekly deliveries of fresh, locally grown produce. This will not only make sure we get some fresh veggies in our diet, but forces us to try new things, which we all need. *Note: the Relay Foods link is an affiliate link which if used, will give us credit toward some food.
  5. Dogs – We found a local teacher in training who is graciously house/dog sitting for us while we travel beginning at the end of next week. A big load off both my mind and my budget!
  6. Birthday Party – I have decided that we will not be having a birthday party this year.  I haven’t told the kids this yet, and the cost will not be wholly eliminated as I’m going to find something small but special to do for them.  In the end, I have decided that I just don’t have the mental/physical fortitude to take on a birthday party on a stringent budget this year.
  7. Emergency Fund – I will begin funding an emergency fund this month. I cannot bring myself to stop my debt payoff in its entirety to do this, however, I will be siphoning off some income to be put away.  Still working on the details, but the account is set up and ready.

Our summer travels begin this month which will bring on a whole new set of circumstances so stay tuned to hear more about that later this month.  And as mentioned at the beginning of this post, my April numbers will go up this afternoon.


  • Reply Walnut |

    Wow. Look at how all of those little changes add up to a huge impact. Props to you for your resolve to pay off this debt.

    You’ll have to report back on the creative new meals you’ll come up with to use the fresh veggies.

  • Reply scarr |

    Congratulations for staying soda-free! And, congrats for all of the other things you have accomplished and done to get your debt paid off. Keep up the awesome work!

  • Reply DC - Kate |

    Your determination is on display. Good for you Hope! You’ve made some hard choices and I think you’re going to have great success on this journey.

  • Reply Scooze |

    Wow, you’ve made some very impactful changes in a very short time period. Good for you! Keep up the good work. I gave up soda 10 years ago, and do not miss it. I can’t drink sweet beverages anymore at all. This will help your figure and your finances!

  • Reply Mary from SC |

    You are doing great. I especially applaud your decision to forgo the birthday parties this year. That is a HARD decision to make when emotions are involved. I know you will find a way to make this an extra special day for your children and also give them the life lesson that you don’t have to always spend a great deal of money to have a great time. Way to go Hope!!! And kudos on kicking that soda habit. That is HUGE!!!

  • Reply Shoeaholicnomore |

    Great job! Lots of little changes add up to big progress. Please update us on what you decide to do for their birthday instead of a party 🙂

  • Reply manda |

    Hope, you are kicking it! Amazing. I love the small, but HUGELY DIFFICULT changes you made to allowance and birthday parties. What you are doing is changing your family in a very significant way. What is important? You value hard work (allowance), and family (not presents and a big party!). Also a huge high five for no Coke! Cold Turkey. Well done! Keep at it!

  • Reply Mary |

    Great job Hope! I am sure that will feel great having an emergency fund. Kudos to you for all of the changes-none of them are really easy. As for the birthday parties, I am sure that is a tough one. The good news is that when you are debt free and the kids can have a larger party, they’ll appreciate it more. The veggies are a great idea. $100 a week is pretty slim for a family of 5 so I applaud you for that although adding $100 more to the budget wouldn’t be unreasonable. $100/person for the month is typically a pretty frugal budget and only $75/person is quite lean.

    • Reply Kerry |

      Which reminds me, and you might want to incorporate this into your lesson plans for the kids or researchto get them on target with meal planning–the USDA has a breakout of what the weekly/monthly cost of food should be per person in a family based on the age of the children and adults and 4 different income levels (thrifty to liberal) here: http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/usdafoodplanscostoffood.htm

      THe USDA also offers meal planning tips. Feeding 5 for a week on $100 is below the level of the thrifty plan.

      • Reply Alexis |


        That table of food expenses at different levels is really interesting! Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply Theresa |

    I am really proud of you for staying off sodas. Those ingrained habits are very hard to break.

  • Reply Kili |

    Yay, good for you Hope! Great to see so much progress. And I really know you’re doing the right thing starting that emergency fund!

  • Reply adam |

    i like reading your updates. you have a tough job with a family of 5 and self-employment, and you are working REALLY HARD at making changes to enable debt reduction. good job, and inspiring to read. commenters here often use the word “relatable.” you are very much so.

  • Reply emmi |

    Deep Breath! And then another . . . keep doing that, sounds like you need it. Then pat yourself on the back.

  • Reply Julene |

    Just a quick thought on the birthday parties. What about buying a cake mix and having the kids make the cake and inviting a bunch of friends to play at the park for the afternoon and celebrate. That way they still get somewhat of a day for them but with no expense to you.

So, what do you think ?