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Without Further Ado…The Budget


Without further ado, here is the budget:


 Monthly PaymentBalanceInterest rate
total payments4738
student loan014286.14
student loan10749.35
Lane bryant2735027.24%
Credit One 25372.1220.65%
Credit One 25411.4220.65%
Capital 1 401706.737.4%
Capital 1 50175023.4%
Capital 1 60180021.4%
Personal Loan 1802505.10
Capital 1 753230.037.4%
Credit Union Credit Card2357755.618.5%
Personal Loan 22447838.0110.75%
total debt111959.06





Husband and I get paid on alternate weeks. My hourly wage is $20.40 an hour, with a few hours of overtime each pay period. His hourly wage is $13.91 an hour, with not much overtime. He also carries the health insurance for the family.


Our take home is around $1150 every two weeks for me and $650 every two weeks for my husband. That is with very little overtime. We are trying to build up our overtime to increase our income. I am up for my annual review with a raise promised from last year, and I am allowed at this time to get 5 hours a week overtime. This will increase as the weather gets colder. My husband’s overtime has been unreliable in the last few months, but he is trying to get as much as he can.

I also have 2 401k loans coming out of my paycheck that will be paid off within the next 8 months, so my income will go up there approximately $100 a paycheck. I also plan on canceling my AFLAC accident and cancer policy’s when open enrollment happens in October. That will add another $60 per paycheck back into my check. After all is said and done, the only thing that will come out of our checks is taxes, and health insurance.

With the paychecks falling every week, the house payment, personal loans, and vehicles are paid every week. The above budget and income are based on 4 pay periods.  The extra 5th paychecks that come every few months don’t count for us, as the major bills are paid right off the top for 52 weeks a year, not 12 monthly payments. It gets them paid off faster, and for less interest.


The cell phone bill is huge I know.  It has too many tablets on there, that we are making payments on. I called Verizon, and the only thing we can do is pay off the devices, and turn them off. I should be able to knock of $55 on the bill within 3 months, and other $55 off the bill in about 7 months. My cell and my husbands are not due to be paid off for 13 payments, and we have one more tablet on there, but it has 18 payments left.


That’s it. Like I have said in my previous posts, we are not walking away from one dime we owe.  We will figure out how to pay this all off.  One dollar at a time.


  • Reply Felicity |

    So getting it all written down is a big step. Am I reading things right… your monthly expenses are $4,738 and your monthly income is $3,600? If that’s right, what is your plan for the $1,138 shortfall?

    • Reply Laura |

      I had the same question. If you are trying to make up the shortfall with overtime that is risky because overtime is never a given.

  • Reply OneFamily |

    I about spit out my coffee when I see you are paying $380 a month on cell service! Maybe you should sell the tablets and whatever else you can and get them paid off and cancel the service. I’m confused about your total take home income per month you give and the total payments per month. Total take home worked out to $3900/mo and your payments are $4738. An $838 deficit each month? Have either of you thought about taking on a part time job for awhile? Best of luck to you!

  • Reply Shanna |

    Gosh…..where to even start here…..first your honesty is appreciated, although I am gobsmacked by your situation. I think initially you MUST find a second job(s). Clean houses, babysit, dog walk, temp on the weekends, work in fast food somewhere in your off hours. Every dime of that can go to pay your smaller cards. And as you play them off, CLOSE them permanently-store cards are a total rip off. I don’t recall seeing what area of the country in which you live. In my area babysitting pays teens $15-$20 an hour and house cleaners make at least $20 plus an hour. Even at only $10/hour a few weekends of some side jobs will pay off a few cards. Can you sell your phones and at least 2 of the tablets? Even if you lose money on them you can buy a phone at Target for about $30 and buy pre-paid time for phone and text. Are the student loans yours or those of your adult children? If they are for their schooling, they need to take over for now. Once you are in a better place you can help out again, but you are in no position to now. As for the house, why do you want to buy? I see you mentioned your credit union will give you a loan, but your debt to income ratio FAR exceeds acceptable mortgage ratios. I can’t imagine any bank taking a risk on you at this point. Are you able to rent in your area instead of the rent to own? I know you are aware home ownership also brings a lot of expenses that you won’t have as renter. On another note, while you made the bad decisions continually to get yourself to this point, I also feel the predatory lending that went on that allowed someone so clearly ill equipped to handle more debt is criminal. The companies that extended further debt to you, especially recently, should be sanctioned for preying on people who are extremely poor credit risks.

    • Reply Kili |

      Good suggestion!
      There must be a way out of that huge cell phone bill….
      it’s almost half of what you pay or groceries…

    • Reply Marie |

      The student loan debt is mine. I have listed a tablet to sell as of last night. Fingers crossed it sells asap. As for renting, our house payment is actually less than the rental for the same house. The rentals in our area are 1000+ for the same house. We have a 3 bedroom on .34 acres.

  • Reply Laura |

    My stomach hurts seeing all those credit cards. Is there a way to bring the cell phone bill down now? Can you sell a tablet? Can you turn the data off on a tablet even if it’s not paid off?
    Unless you have a long commute $800 for groceries and gas seems high for a family of 4.
    Finally, are you sure you want to buy right now? What are rents like in your area? Homeownership comes with a lot of expenses as you already know.
    Getting it all out there is a good first step.

    • Reply Laura |

      Also, have you tracked your expenses to see where your money is going every month? I don’t see anything budgeted for irregular expenses like medical care, school supplies, home maintenance, etc. I’ve been tracking with Mint for years and is was really eye opening at first seeing where our money was actually going. It also better helped me budget expenses that were necessary but might vary from month, like medical expenses.

  • Reply Kili |

    Also with the more fixed costs than income:
    – What about canceling cabel?

    Can your husband find a higher paying job? what line of work is he in?

  • Reply xacta |

    wow, i can not fathom racking up that much debt especially since there has already been a
    bankruptcy. how do you have the time to do that much shopping if you work a full time job with overtime. there are only so many hours in a day.
    i think it is very dishonest of you to be in the rent to own situation with the home owner. your chances of getting a mortgage with over $100,000 of unsecured debt have to be pretty much zero. you should not wait around with your head in the sand until the deadline and then say “oh well” to the homeowner. personally i would not be able to sleep at night with that on my conscience.
    also in your comment on your last post you say that cable has been gone since february but it is listed in the budget in this post.

    • Reply Marie |

      I mislabeled the internet as cable. It is just 54.99 a month for internet. we use an antenna and netflix

      • Reply xacta |

        thanks for your reply. i’m sorry that i seemed so harsh but your situation is very shocking. i would recommend that you call the company and try to get a lower deal on your internet. i did that by instant chat just a couple of months ago and got mine lowered from $58 to $41 for the next 12 months just by asking nicely. this is something i do every year when it is going to go back up and i have never been told no. good luck.

      • Reply xacta |

        oh, i also meant to ask who is carrying insurance on the house? i’m assuming that the geico is only on the vehicles. if it is the owner then you at least need it on the contents. we went through a house fire 20 years ago and replacing everything is very expensive.

        • Reply Marie |

          we carry the property insurance. It is 145 every quarter. I forgot to list it in the budget. I’ll try getting the internet lowered again, I didn’t have much luck when I called the other month.

          I went through a house fire myself in 2005, so I don’t skimp on insurance. I know how much help it was.

  • Reply AS |

    The interest rates are egregious, I count around $8500 owed at interest rates over 20%. Wow. That’s $150/mo in interest alone.

    The other commenters are right, you need to increase your income somehow. With a $1000+ shortfall per month you need to stop sinking before you start climbing out of the hole.

    Since that won’t happen overnight, here are a couple of very small things to look at:

    For the cell phone bill, do you have the damage insurance (like Asurion)? $7/mo per device or whatever? Can you drop down to a lower data plan? If you pay off a single device ($165?) can you reduce a line of service sooner? Unless there is a way to slash it, at least chip it down slowly.

    Next if you can get rid of that Amazon credit card, ~$100 gets your monthly minimums down $25.

    Is there an emergency fund and/or what is the situation with assets?

    • Reply Marie |

      We have no emergency fund. We are starting that this week. The I spoke with Verizon the other day, and until tablets are paid off, we can’t trim any off of that. However, I have one tablet that is not being used, and only have 3 more payments, so I listed that on the facebook yardsale pages last night. With a price of the payoff plus some for the emergency fund

      • Reply Lisa |

        Where are you getting the money for the emergency fund? Currently you will have to rob Peter to pay Paul. Just asking for the actual plan.

  • Reply Margann34 |

    This chart is your reality check. It tells you several truths:
    1. You can’t control your spending impulse. If you don’t address this problem, you will NEVER be debt free.
    2. You will NOT qualify for a conventional mortgage any time soon. You cannot continue to plan on refinancing your home and better start considering alternatives.
    3. You need to make more money so you can pay off your debt.

    So that is your reality. If you choose to accept it, the you can get to work and change your future trajectory. You have taken a big first step but I think you are still in denial about the housing situation. I wish you the best and would LOVE to follow you to the end of your long journey.

  • Reply Janie B. |

    I’d like to reframe what Margann34 said in her first point:

    You may not have controlled your impulse spending in the past, but you *CAN* do it going forward.

    I have faith in you, Marie!

    Also, in the meantime, look into doing the Dave Ramsey “snowball” approach. That is, pay off your smallest debts first.

    For example, throw *ANY* “extra” money that you have at that Amazon bill. (It also has a very high interest rate; paying off high interest rate debts first is called the “avalanche” approach. It saves you interest costs in the long run.) I don’t care if it is as little as $5.00! Keep at it until that bill is GONE. Then, take the $25.00 per month that you had been paying to Amazon, and add it to the next smallest bill’s monthly payment. That means that you then would be paying Walmart $50.00 per month, instead of only $25.00. Again, any teensy, tiny amount (a “snowball,” or even just a “snowflake”) that you can pay additionally will help that much. (Again, I see that Walmart is a high interest card.)

    When you’ve paid off Walmart, you begin paying $50.00 per month + the $25.00 per month that you had been paying to Belk, making your monthly Belk payment be $75.00 per month. See how this works? Your rate of pay off begins to increase as you go along . . .

    Now mind you, this system works **ONLY** if you STOP ADDING TO THE DEBT!! You *MUST* stop using the credit cards,–and I mean **COMPLETELY STOP!!**

    Keep in mind that whenever you use a credit card, **YOU ARE BORROWING MONEY!!** Furthermore, it is money that must be paid back! Too few people think of it that way. Is it *really* worth borrowing money and paying 25% interest to buy that cute little sweater or blouse (or whatever it was you bought at those stores) –right now? Because let me tell you, even if you bought the item at a great “sale” price, you end up paying FAR MORE than if you’d paid full price in the first place–which you wouldn’t have done.

    Hang in there, Marie.

    You and your hubby can do this!

    • Reply Margann34 |

      Good point Janie B! It’s not that Marie is incapable, it’s that she has not chosen to do so. Though it may be more difficult for Marie especially if this is emotional spending or if she gets some sort of “high” from buying stuff. I personally HATE spending money. Sometimes I tend to the other extreme and don’t want to buy stuff I actually need. Which can also be unhealthy!

    • Reply Marie |

      Thanks for your encouragement. Yes, this is what I plan on doing. All credit cards are closed.

  • Reply Lizzy |

    I have tablets that I run with my home Internet, and pay 35 per month for a Virgin mobile cell plan. Perhaps, when the tablets are paid, you can switch to a much cheaper plan.

    Good luck

  • Reply Julie |

    I give you a lot of kiddos for laying it all out there. Many people are very hard on bloggers on this site. I think you definitely can do this and still get the house if you get creative and only buy necessities. More than likely renting would be more than that 800 house payment your paying depending on where you live. Cell phone bill is huge for my family as well we have 5 lines due to my husbands job and having a large family. Companies get you with all the device payments. I would focus on the higher interest credit cards before the device payments personally. Good luck! I am rooting for you.

  • Reply anon |

    Is the various $25 payments required or is that what you choose to pay? I don’t understand how you can have a $1200 deficit/month and still make the payments.

    Can you break down the food/gas money a little more? Even if you only cut $100 from it, you would be able to knock out so many of those annoying smaller debts and get some momentum going.

  • Reply Carina |

    Oh gosh this makes my stomach hurt. Start working on those credit cards asap, the interest rates are robbing you entirely. But most importantly, don’t use them again and don’t sign up for anymore. You definitely aren’t in a good situation to buy a home. You have a major mess to clean up first. Renting may be expensive, but home repairs can be a lot more expensive and you don’t have the cash to cover expenses as such. If you think renting is throwing your money away, then you should think the same of all those credit cards. You can do this, just get intense and serious about it and stick to it.

  • Reply Katie |

    A few things really stand out to me. Verizon and the food/gas category. Obviously, you know you need to get the cell phone bill down. Good job on working on it, but keep pressing Verizon, over and over. The food & gas is high. How long are your commutes? Is there an opportunity to carpool with someone? Public transportation? Can you go to a one vehicle family? You’ve got almost twice as much in vehicle loans than your annual take-home income. Also, maybe on the food have a no-spend week each month as a start. I do this, and it helps me clean out the pantry and become a bit creative. I think you may need to sit down with a nonprofit devoted to credit counseling and helping people get out of debt to see if they can also offer some suggestions and solutions. This is just not sustainable.

  • Reply Suzanne |

    I think that you are going to have to sell your cars and buy cheaper second hand ones. This should lower your payments quite a bit.

  • Reply drmaddog2020 |

    Heavens. Thank you for the honesty. This reminds me of my own parents who would refinance their credit cards into the mortgage and then six months later would have every one maxed back out. When they divorced and sold that house after living there over 20 years, they still owed as much as they had when they bought it. So sad and dreary and hopeless it must feel for you.

    That said, I would recommend selling absolutely anything you can to pay down those smaller high interest cards. After that, I think you are going to have to make some major, hard decisions if you are going to fix this. Cutting $10 from that bill and $20 from another bill is going to be a glacial pace and you will waste so much energy and money in interest doing so.

    Move to a smaller place. You wont need as much space anyway once your excess belongings are gone. If you have kids still living with you, get some bunk beds and they can share a room. And the cars, oh the cars! Those are about half your debt! If you didn’t have those, your state wouldn’t be as dire. Do you know anyone, anyone at all who could take one off your hands either by buying or assuming the loan, at work at church family, anyone? If not, then you are going to have to spend every hour you have using it to make money – get a paper route, deliver pizza, drive for Uber – and listen to the radio or podcasts for entertainement. every free hour you BOTH have has to be put towards increasing income. I think your easy times are over for a while. Best of luck and I’ll be reading.

  • Reply Angel |

    Okay, so you made so dumb decisions. Everyone has. The time for beating yourself up is done and guess what? Doesn’t make anything better anyway. So let’s move on to cleaning the mess.

    1. Get an emergency fund. You are a flat tire away from disaster. Before you even look at this mess, build up a fund to keep you from using any of this debt when the emergency happens. And with no savings, needing new shoes becomes an emergency. So focus on building that. Dave Ramsey says 1000, but it’s whatever you can come up with fast, something is better than nothing.

    2. Sell every tablet. Now. Take all the money and pay off the Verizon fee. It may be only enough to cover one tablet but that’s one bill you aren’t paying then. Then you cancel the service. You may still be paying for tablets you don’t have anymore. No different than paying credit cards.

    3. Sell the cars. Both of them. Find a beater for 2k. You are probably upside down on the cars, so talk to your bank or credit union about getting a personal loan for the difference. Better to have to pay off 20k in a personal loan than the 60k you have.

    4. No, you can’t buy a house. Time to shelve that goal.

    Now, if any of this stuff sounds unreasonable or you “can’t” do it, then ask yourself how serious you really are about getting out of debt. Because this is not a money problem, this is a lifestyle issue. This requires inside work far more than financial work. And it can be done.

    For the record I’m a single parent with about the same income as you two and getting out of my own dumb. It’s doable. But if you aren’t willing to sell some major stuff first and living like you are broke (cuz you ARE), you aren’t ready for that internal work.

    Best of luck!

    • Reply Angel |

      BTW notice the one thing I didn’t address was income. Income is not always within your control and if you just make this about income you won’t get anywhere. I gave you things you can do tomorrow that ARE within your control and test your resolve to really get out of this.

      Again it can be done. Currently paying off 60k. But you have to be willing to make a life altering change to have a life altering consequence.

  • Reply Janie B. |

    OK, Marie: Here’s something that just jumped out at me! (Why I didn’t notice it before, I don’t know . . . )

    Anyway, here it is: You absolutely, positively, **MUST** begin paying more than $25.00 per month to that Amazon credit card.

    The interest alone on that card, given the amount that you owe, is **$25.80!!**

    So, that means that when you pay only $25.00 per month on that card, you are going 80 cents **DEEPER** into debt!!

    The **only** way out is to pay **MORE** each and every month until it’s gone.

    Once it is gone, you automatically will have an entire $25.00 **extra** to throw at your next bill (Walmart)–which given the size of it, is costing you $41.19 per month just in interest alone!! Paying $50.00 per month will let you gain just a “smidgen” of progress there. Until then, you are “going into the hole” big time, on it!

    The sooner that you can get rid of the bills with the **killer** interest rates, the better!!

    • Reply Joe |

      Don’t want to be the nitpicker here, and I certainly agree that some of these smaller balances with terrible interest rates should be paid off ASAP, but the math here is quite off: That 26% interest rate is per year, so every month it is about $2.10 in interest or so on that $98 balance, not $25/month in interest. So even paying $25/month will knock it out in a few months.

  • Reply drmaddog2020 |

    Another suggestion, which you may have already tried. Call every credit card you have and (kindly and respectfully) BEG and PLEAD for lower rates. if you are very clear with them that are in way over your head and you are serious about eliminating debt but the interest rates are choking you, they may be willing to work with you.Even if some of these rates dropped to 10-12%, that is better than what you are paying now. They may require the account be closed, but you said you had already done that. It can’t hurt to ask. If they say no, wait a few days and try again with a different rep. Your husband can certainly help with this task too, if you think he is up to it and will be successful. This isn’t all your mess to clean up, and he can be uncomfortable too.

  • Reply Jasmine |

    I’d also look at your food budget. First, track your spending and spilt gas and food. Second, do a pantry challenge. With the money that you save, you could have enough to kickstart your debt payoff by getting rid of one or two of those cards.

    If you spend 800/ month and don’t really have much of a pantry, then learn to get smarter about your cooking.

    I don’t know the portion you’re paying for gas, but if you could get that 800 down to 500, that’d free up 300/ month.

    I also think you need to think through and decide an action plan. Are you going to focus on the credit cards or emergency fund? Personally, I’d knock out at least Amazon and Wal-Mart for a quick adrenaline high and then go half and half to build your EF.

    Try not to think about this in terms of what you’re giving up, but what you’re getting. You seem to be an emotional spender… try to get that same high by paying off your cards. Every one gone gets a happy dance, and a cut up the card party.

    I wish you luck on this long road ahead!

  • Reply Walnut |

    Guess what? September is the start of your “no spend” month. I suggest keeping a log of every penny of utility, gas, minimal grocery, etc spend and share it with us here to keep you accountable. I promise that after having all of us pick apart you purchases, you’ll not want to spend anything.

  • Reply Janie B. |


    Thank you, Joe, for the correction!!

    I’m glad that the scenario isn’t as dire as I was painting it.

    (You can see that I’ve never carried any credit card debt! LOL!!)

    In my own defense, though, I’ve known of people who have made payments on loans–especially student loans–that didn’t even cover the interest charges; then, they couldn’t understand why the balance owed kept growing.

  • Reply Laura |

    Could you transfer the balances on some of the higher interest credit cards to some of the lower interest credit cards?

  • Reply Emily N. |

    I think it will be helpful for you to track food and gas separately. There’s a good chance you may not be able to bring gas spending down much, but I bet you can lower your food costs. I don’t know what your eating habits and cooking skills are, but the website Budget Bytes is a great sources for tasty, easy, low-cost receipes.

  • Reply dh |

    I admire your honesty but I don’t see how you can get any traction when you’re still in the hole every month. Just not possible.

    You need to sell at least one vehicle, if not both.

    Good luck.

  • Reply Mary |

    Wow, like what others have previously mentioned I would try selling one of your cars. Actually, I would sell one and trade in the other for a cheaper car if that is even possible to do. It sounds like you and your husband work fairly close to each other so carpooling could be an option.

    I would also try holding a garage sale for several weekends and purge. Maybe getting a part-time job either for you or your husband as well.

    I do hope that you blogging on this site will help you change your family’s financial situation. Hopefully, it will be a good platform for change and for a positive future.

    Good luck and stay positive on the start of your journey!

  • Reply Katie |

    I just want to also mention that you may need to take a deep breath and promise to tackle maybe 2-4 debt-reducing/income producing tasks per week. You have a marathon ahead of you, and if you read through the archives, you will see how sometimes other bloggers got burned out, discouraged, or had slip ups. This is can be overwhelming, and the way to make it and change your behavior is going to be incremental. I’d recommend one task to reduce debt (like making calls about the cell phone bill, or lowering interest rates on those cards) one to increase income (start purging stuff on craigslist or a FB sale site) every week.

  • Reply Wren |

    First, huge kudos to you for putting it all out there, and owning up to a huge amount. Keep doing that. Be honest with yourself, work on yourself, and you will succeed. Don’t expect it to be fast, but it will happen. You can do this. 🙂

    I’m really, REALLY going to STRONGLY suggest you don’t cancel any of your insurance (the AFLAC and cancer coverage). Yes, it would free up some money, but since you seem to be very tight with income and expenses, should something happen, at least AFLAC gets you some money to help with expenses. Totally anecdotal, but I had a friend who, after going through a bout with cancer, didn’t want to sign up for AFLAC, as it might somehow trigger another bout (you know, why rock the boat when all is going good). She didn’t sign up, and still ended up going through another round, without that little extra help. It may not fully replace your income, but it can help. I’m just saying. (no, not an AFLAC salesperson, just really believe in the Boy Scout motto #alwaysbeprepared)

  • Reply Brit |

    Good for you guys! We’re in the same boat, trying to pay off debt so we can have more money to save and enjoy life. I’m definitely going to follow your journey. It always help to have someone trying to achieve a similar goal — extra motivation! 🙂

  • Reply Angie |

    I’m curious as to what the personal loans and 401k loans were for. More spending/debt consolidation?

    • Reply Marie |

      yes. money was short, and I got the 401k loans to bridge the gap. the credit union loan was for credit card consolidation

  • Reply Rosalind |

    So you consolidated your credit cards with a loan…then opened MORE credit cards?

    Get a grip, lady.

So, what do you think ?