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Motivated and Brutal


I know many of the BAD readers would say it’s time, or even way past time. But as I committed to #nospendjanuary like never before yesterday, I went over the forecasted spending for the next four months with a fine tooth comb.

The Chopping Block

I am committed to cutting any “fat” out of my budget, both personal and professional. And 3 2 things immediately ended up on the chopping block.

  • Netflix is gone again. I renewed it sometime this fall and it was included in our Entertainment line item of our budget at $11 a month. It is no more. We don’t have cable or Hulu, but we do have high speed internet. So we are now to Amazon Prime for “TV” type entertainment now.
  • Skype minute subscription is gone. This is a business expense. I pay for a Skype number for my business and this fall I did need to use that line to make phone calls and receive phone calls. But at this time, I do not need it. It was $9 per quarter for unlimited minutes. It is gone effective immediately. I still have my number as it is an annual cost, and I can use it via the web, just can’t have the calls forwarded to my cell phone or call landlines from it now.
  • Adobe Creative Cloud was almost gone. This is a business expense. I have used Adobe for years and years and I love their tools. But at $20 per month for the subscription to the software I needed, I decided I could cut it and make due with other software. But when I logged on to cancel it, found out that because of my “deal” I would incur a early termination fee. Have decided to hold off for now, but may revisit this in the future.

I am still looking for other costs I can cut. They will most likely be from the business side since our personal budget is pretty lean and tight based on past spending and predicted needs. But even freeing up this $20 this month, $60 over the next quarter feels like a baby step in the right direction.

I do really like the idea of being debt free in 2021!


  • Reply Cheryl |

    If you are using Amazon Prime you are paying for that or for shows to watch each month right?

    • Reply jj |

      I think some are free, and some can be rented. Also, anyone with good Internet can download/stream stuff without really needing Prime or Netflix.

    • Reply Jen |

      Prime has a selection of shows and movies that can be watched for free. It’s kind of a weird selection, and I wouldn’t use it as my sole streaming service..I’d use Hulu if anything. In fact, I think Prime has gotten to the tipping point where it’s not worth the cost.

      -The streaming offerings aren’t that great. Most selections are found on other cheaper services, or free.

      -The music streaming you can easily get for free with Pandora or Spotify.

      -A ton of people don’t live close enough to a major city to take advantage of some of the offerings (Whole Foods discounts, food delivery, 2hr delivery, etc).

      -Prime pantry prices are no better than major grocery stores, IME.

      -The free book selection offered is pitiful.

      Unless you’re making a bunch of orders in a year that you NEED to receive in 2 days, I don’t see how Prime is worth it any more. I’d have cancelled mine, but I missed the auto-renewal date.

      • Reply Laura |

        I agree. The free TV and movie part isn’t that great compared to Netflix or Hulu. How often do you really need something in 2 days? Plan ahead and buy enough at once to get free shipping.

      • Reply Hope |

        I kind of agree especially with 1) Walmart offering free shipping and 2) the price hike.
        But I do enjoy the Prime video selections. (We don’t use the books or music.)
        With all four of my kids using the free shipping (they use their own money for the purchases,) I am keeping it for now. But I may consider cancelling it next fall when I’m due for renewal again.

        • Reply Jen |

          I guess if it’s your one entertainment service and you genuinely like the content, might as well stick with it. The most basic Netflix and Hulu options aren’t much cheaper, they’re $96/yr compared to $120.

          Though with your kids being enrolled in college classes, I’d investigate the option of doing a student Prime account (must have an .edu mail account). Have one of the kids sign up for it, but you pay it. After a 6-month free trial period a Prime Student account is $60/yr for the duration of their schooling as compared to the regular $120. The benefits are exactly the same as a regular Prime account.

  • Reply jj |

    Every little bit helps. I wish you well. I thought I could come here and read all the posts, but honestly the comments are so bitter, and don’t encourage you or many of the other posters whatsoever. I am sending good vibes that you can get debt free in 2021!

  • Reply Walnut |

    Cell phone! Cell phone! Cell phone! I’m sure it’s buried in your business expenses, but maybe this year is the year you ditch Verizon and switch over to a lower cost carrier that is still operating on the most reliable network in your area?

    • Reply Hope |

      My cell phone bill is indeed a business expense. And no, after doing some research on other providers in this area, there is just no comparable service. And my business is HEAVILY reliant on my phone and continuous service. (The twins are paying their own bills and purchasing their own hardware.)

  • Reply Cwaltz |

    I don’t know how realistic it is but I would cut entertainment to $50 a month. The library can provide free reading. In the spring you can go to the park. Most town calendar of events have cheap and low cost things for residents. A movie through Redbox is $2. Lower ing that would get you $100 a month. I would also cut the grocery by $100 and have my 2 adult males contribute $25 every 2 weeks to the grocery budget. That would get you to $200(and it would ensure they understand how much a gallon of milk or a loaf of bread costs) Most of your budget though was pretty lean and did not appear to leave much room for error. If I could I would rewrite your budget to include a saving line item of $50 a month. It would get you $600 a year you could use to pad your emergency fund or pay down debt. I see this post talks about what you are removing however, you need to add a line item as well for Texas travel. Your last trip ran you $1700. You would be looking at $400 per month added to the budget to pay for a similar trip in April. Even with the budget changes I am suggesting you will likely be looking at $200 to $250 from debt pay down going to more important to you family time( and I say that to you with no judgment, you have every right to decide to delay paying g down debt to spend time with loved ones and make memories). You also should look at your budget with a critical eye and realistically decide whether $50 a month will cover Princess’ extracurricular. My rule when I make a budget is better to guess too high and put the extra to debt than too low and be scrambling around for the change jar that goes towards debt freedom to cover the overages caused by making my assumptions unrealistically low. Anyway good luck with your rewrite.

  • Reply Laura |

    Have you actually looked at previous spending to see what a realistic budget for you is? Debt free by 2021 is a lofty and admirable goal but from your last few budget updates I don’t think you have that much to throw at debt every month. You also have expenses you didn’t budget for, like your trips. I track all of my family’s spending and my husband and I just looked at our average spending by category for last year and tweaked our budget for 2019. I would like to be able to budget less for things like doctor bills and put that money elsewhere but that would not be realistic, realistically our family averages X amount per month in medical bills and it needs to be budgeted for. Same for things like pet expenses and utilities. I worry you will set goals that aren’t attainable and then be discouraged when you can’t meet them. I do like your attitude here in looking at what to cut. I sincerely wish you luck in 2019 and hope you are able to knock a good part of your debt out.

    • Reply Hope |

      Yes, this year’s budget is based on actual numbers. I tracked every penny spent this past year especially after reading Your Money or Your Life last fall. While my categories are general, the numbers are very real based on last years spending and the change in children in the home.

  • Reply jj |

    How telling that none of y’all have commented on Hope’s blog that chronicles just how much she went through, before getting back to where she is now. Hope and her family were in seriously dire straits, which even with good decisions would have made eliminating debt pretty difficult. I understand that you’re trying to help her and give good advice, but some of your comments are just hateful, and it’s sad.

    • Reply Jessica |

      Jj, with all due respect – you said on another post that you’re new to the blog. So unless you’ve gone and read every single post and the corresponding comments, then you couldn’t possibly understand. 99% of Hope’s circumstances have come about by her own doing. Not one of us is perfect and I know I myself have also landed in debt because of my own mistakes and choices. But again, Hope’s situations were because of choices she made and how she choose to live to life. It has nothing to do with people being “mean” to her

      • Reply jj |

        Sorry that I have sympathy for someone who ended up poor and on food stamps. SO when you made mistakes did you appreciate people dissing you when you tried to make changes and began to do better or did you want positive, not mean hearted encouragement?

        Many of you all just seem negative.

    • Reply Kathy |

      jj – I agree with Jessica. Many of us have followed Hope and the others for YEARS. You do not understand.

    • Reply Walnut |

      Many of us comment hear because we care about Hope and want to continue encouraging her to make great personal finance decisions.

      Are we a little blunt at time? Yes. But I’m also ready for more straightforward conversation in this world rather than softening our words and being afraid to say what needs to be said.

      I agree Hope has come along way and she is getting really close to knocking out a lot of debt- especially emotionally loaded debts like collection accounts.

      • Reply jj |

        I think people don’t realize how blunt they are sometimes, that’s my issue. I agree we cannot sugarcoat things, but at the same time the way people speak to her and the other posters via the comments is really rude in my opinion.

        I understand everyone wants to help, but are the people giving advice to her putting their lives out there for everyone to judge them and comment on their choices/decisions? She is learning about managing money better, and honesty is good – but some of it is just so harsh.

    • Reply Cwaltz |

      Your comment is pretty assuming and rude itself. Many commenters like myself have been here while Hope was going through much of her journey and have commented while the journey was occurring. You’d know that if instead of assuming things you actually read from 2014 where her journey began and looked at the comments. What you see as “hateful” are people trying to get Hope commit to a n actual realisti c budget instead of a feast or famine approach to debt. There were circumstances Hope could not control but that could have been planned for and some of us are advocating that Hope consider that. It does her absolutely no good to plug $2000 into a debt calculator for each month if sh e does not take into consideration things like family trips in the actual budget. Hope has come a long way in that she does have an emergency fund. She is anticipating that work could slow down or that she might need to have money to cover something not covered in her general budget. However, her budget stil! In my opinion skimps on things that Hope actually spends on. It’s okay to have a $1700 trip in 4 months but your budget should reflect you saving for that. Right now I am cringing at car maintenance being $30. Why? That $300 in annual savings will be annihilated if Hope needs to replace her tires. While she would have emergency savings to cover the cost something like replacement should be anticipated and in my world would be a line ite m. My experience has been when you don’t plan or don’t plan well the universe has a way of knocking you back on your heels. Oddly enough, it’s been Hope’s experience too and yet her budget still struggles to reflect that in my opinion. If it seems “mean” for me to tell Hope she should plan for car replacement, so be it. However, this is a debt blog and the one way you can avoid a car payment or MORE DEBT is anticipating that you will need cash to pay for a vehicle. I’d rather Hope think me mean than watch her go back into debt because she did not plan on the car actually having an expiration date and instead was throwing all her money into debt repayment as if it were a sprint instead of a marathon. Debt is a cycle. In order to stop it you have to anticipate needs and balance wants all within the confines of what the market is willing to pay you for your skills. Some people never are able to figure out the delicate balancing act. Most of us post not because we wish to see Hope in that group but because we wish to see her out of it.

      • Reply jj |

        She can definitely take the mean comments in stride (and I know she does, cause most of them are just harsh, in my eyes) And I am glad you’re trying to ensure she does better, as everyone is, but the comments are just almost too blunt for me, I feel bad for her.

        My comment is just in the vein that everyone else has been commenting, just it’s towards everyone else not Hope as it usually is. Like I said, if everyone else has struggled, would they have appreciated people speaking to them in this manner, in these tones if they had shared their debt and bad choices? But I know I haven’t been here long enough, so all I see is a fresh perspective. Like I said, it would be nice if people even acknowledge on her post that she has made some changes, good and or bad ya know?

  • Reply jj |

    Thanks for an engaging discussion and the responses! I understand I am new to the blog, but all the responses showed me that she has come a long way. And I stand by what I said, it would have been nice for regular commenters to go and post words of encouragement on her post in which she reflects on what she has gone through.

    • Reply Walnut |

      I think you need to read more posts, jj. Lots of us offer encouragement along with constructive suggestions. Lots of us commenters have been been around a long time (back to the Tricia days) and many of us have been or are in debt as well. I have plenty of experience to draw on when encouraging Hope to stay focused on a single debt instead of an extra $100 to this one and $50 to that one. I also know how much better she will sleep at night when she tucks an extra $500 or $1000 to her emergency fund because I know the sense of relief I still feel when I tuck money into savings.

      • Reply jj |

        I was reading some older stuff, but I find it tough to navigate the older posts/how to find them. But I know you offer a lot of good constructive criticism, I just found this particular post with its comments way harsh. I do hope she makes it out of debt, and thanks to her I am trying a low spend January (I already spent, hence the “low” haha)

        • Reply Laura |

          JJ, the best way to understand Hope’s history is to click on the hyperlinked name Hope under the title of a post. This will pull up all of her posts in chronological order. Scroll to the bottom and go back to the oldest page (largest number) and read from there.

          Yes, Hope is no longer homeless but the rosy picture she paints in the most recent post doesn’t really reflect her full history or current situation. She fails to mention things like impulse purchasing new computers for the whole family, spending hundreds of dollars on a revision of credit score scam, paying a total of $0 towards her student loans in the last 4 (or more) years, having her children move in and out due to personal and likely financial stresses, and more.

          Yes our comments may be blunt, but they’re realistic and they’re for the benefit of her family and children.

  • Reply Megan |

    I wanted to share a little money saving tip I started using for Netflix just yesterday. I search for discounted gift cards whenever I need to make a purchase, and I have saved up to 40% on places like Autozone, CVS, Ulta, Applebees, and more. It occurred to me yesterday to see if there were any out there for my streaming services and I was psyched to find 50% off gift cards on eBay! I purchased a $30 Netflix gift card for $14.99. I messaged the seller and let them know I didn’t need the physical card, so they responded back with the code # and I entered it into my Netflix account and applied it immediately.

    It’s great that you’re cutting expenses! If you decide to activate Netflix again I’d definitely Google “Discounted Netflix giftcards” to see if there are any available at that time, because it seems like there are plenty out there. $66/year is a little easier to handle than $132!

So, what do you think ?