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Hope’s 2019 Fall Budget


This summer has been overwhelming for a number of reasons. While the work and financial front has been steady and growing, my personal life has been CRAZY with a capital C. I am so ready for the steadiness of the school year schedule. The calmness of having just two kids at home, and really only one I have to coordinate with, and the predictability of the events to come. That has not been the case this summer with so much change and upheaval.

The BAD community is obviously angry at me for purchasing a newer used car. That I am not surprised at. But the anger and the hatefulness spewed has been a bit much. I am not the only blogger who has does this kind of thing…even Beks latest update revealed how she and her husband back slid.

My decision to purchase the car was one I didn’t make lightly. Seriously, I had over 3 months without a car to think about what kind of car would be best for me, for Princess and for the life that is to come next. And while I had planned to wait until next May to make a purchase originally, the BAD comments on letting my son’s be more independent and not putting them (or my grandmother) on the hook for my decisions/driving were spot on.

A New Budget for the Fall

The good news is that I think you will see from this budget update why I felt like I could afford to make the purchase now, even though it did require a new debt.

But first, this is what I thought my summer budget would look -> HERE. Then I had my car wreck and revised my budget to THIS for the summer.

And then this is my new budget for the Fall.

Hope's Fall 2019 Monthly Budget

DescriptionMonthly Budget
My business covers expenses not listed here: internet access, health insurance, phone service and business travel and work expenses.
EF Savings + 10% of extra income$100
Household (hygiene, cleaning, etc.)$10
Auto - Gas$100
Auto/Rent Insurance$300
Utilities (gas, electric, water, trash)$185
Life Insurance$23 (paid quarterly)
Buffer - Savings
Kids Activities$50
Auto - Maintenance/Fees$30
Debt Payments - minimum payments
Car Payment$700
Student Loans$307
History Buff's Contribution($245)
Total Personal$2,993
Regular Income$3,850

The Details and the Changes

I think this budget is the biggest change of all previous budgets. Of course, there are lots of changes here at home too.

EF Savings

I’ve been putting $100 each month into my EF fund. In addition, as my income has grown, I have been putting 10% of each additional paycheck into my EF fund. And my plan is to continue that as my business continues to grow.


I actually think my grocery budget is going to be less than this, especially for the next couple of months. We used a good chunk of our cash budget last month to stock our freezers again. The local Quality Food had a Truck Sale and we stocked up with meat and frozen vegetables. But I didn’t want to under-budget and be stuck.


This is an estimate as I don’t know what the costs are going to be on a regular basis. But I am pretty confident we can get through each month with just 3 tanks of gas based on the current plan.

Buffer Categories

Each of the buffer categories feeds into a savings account. Most of the numbers have come down for one reason or another.

  • Kids Activities – no plans for this money at this point, but hindsight and the new school leads me to prepare for the just in case.
  • Gifts – this covers our Christmas and birthday presents. This number has not changed from the previous budgeted amount.
  • Clothing – this number has been cut in half. With Princess set for the school year with her school uniforms, it’s really just my needs as they arise (and I am not a clothes person at all) and then summer clothes for Princess and the occasional clothing item for one of the boys.
  • Travel – this number has been cut in half. With half of the $1,300 in American Airlines vouchers from our Texas trip, I covered our travel to Texas for Thanksgiving. And the remaining vouchers should more than cover any trips for Gymnast over the next year. I will still have to cover extraneous costs – food, lodging, etc. as needed so want to be prepared for that.
  • Auto – hopefully, with a newer car we won’t have to dip into this at all except for the regular maintenance. Oil changes, tire rotations…

I think most everything is pretty self explanatory. My Regular Income is contract work that provides a steady income stream and has been steady for several months now with no change in sight.

As for the question of health insurance, etc. as previously posted, my business covers my business expenses independently of my personal income. And this budget is my personal income only, and does not include my business.

What to Do with the Extra?

Right now, my budget is showing about $1,000 “extra” per month. I have several thoughts on this:

  1. I could take less income and put the money back into my business. This is a definite possibility as my business has been growing substantially over the last 6 months.
  2. I can build my EF substantially faster.
  3. I can help Sea Cadet with some of his medical bills. He is on a payment plan with each of them.
  4. I can pay off my two remaining debts much more quickly.

I have not decided on the best course of action. And it might be doing a combination of any or all of these options. For once, it is nice to have options.

I have tried to be very thorough with this budget and think of everything coming up in our lives through the end of the year. If I missed something, please bring it to my attention.


  • Reply Kay |

    $700 a month for a car payment is nuts. People aren’t upset that you bought an used car it’s the fact that you bought such an expensive one.

    • Reply Cwaltz |

      You don’t have a line item for Princess ‘ schooling. Next year you need to come with 2850 + $125 for the activities + any senior year expenses. A conservative $3600 for those things is a $300 line item each month. I suspect the numbers you have placed here will be revised. Things like utilities are usually higher heading into w inter, not lower but by all means you should try to lower bills.I

      As far as “extra” goes sock it away for now. At some point the hospital may allow Sea Cadet to come up with a lower adjustment to be rid of the bill. You can and should be prepared to help him with that decision. Everyone keeps worrying the economy will enter a recession and you have 1 month worth of income replacement if things go sideways, you probably need closer to 6.

    • Reply Hope |

      True. But to pay it off in 3 years, this is the payment I need to make. It’s not the required payment, but it is my goal and right now I feel comfortable with it.

  • Reply Jennifer |

    In my best Mom voice…..just because others have done the same thing does not make it okay

  • Reply Jessica |

    Except Beks successfully got out of debt twice and learned from her mistakes…so???

  • Reply Angie |

    I’m positive if Beks continued to write through her backslide she would get reamed just as bad as Hope. Maybe even more.

    We’re hard on you because it’s easy for us to see the big decisions that really steer you off course and we want to see you succeed. I’m still sad for you about the car. It was a poor decision. But it’s over now. I just really hope it works out for you and there are no accidents or life changes that negate the need for it. Doesn’t seeing your car as 1/3rd of your budget sting a little?

    I think your top priority should be paying back your Uncle. First step would be to get the car loan under the value of the car. Then in case there is a wreck your Uncle doesn’t get screwed. After that, I think you really need to start thinking about retirement. At this point I don’t expect the student loans to get paid in full and frankly I would focus on yourself rather than paying them off. If you end up having the money to pay them off later then great. But you really need a little retirement nest egg to start earning money for “old” Hope.

    Have you been filling out the forms for REPAYE forgiveness? You’d probably have about 5 years of payments by now (I believe if IBR calcs out $0 payments those count). Another 20 years and you’d get it forgiven just paying the taxes.

    If you’re actually sticking to the spending in this budget I have to commend you. The frivolous spending is so low! Great job.

  • Reply Cheryl |

    Are you saving for your daughter’s last year at school! I assume you are making more than what your budget shows because the business is paying for your phone service, internet, business expenses, and healthcare?

    • Reply Hope |

      That is correct. This $3,850 is my “take home pay” from the business and after taxes.
      But you and several other posters are right, I did not include savings toward Princess last year of school, which I’m sure will be more expensive because it will be her senior year.
      Off the top of my head, I would say, I want to stick to this budget through the end of the year…and then add savings for her next year of school beginning in January. But let me roll that around in my head a bit.

      • Reply Cwaltz |

        Keep in mind if you wait until January you’ll only have 8 months instead of 12 to save. A conservative $3600 over 8 months is $450 instead of $300 over 12. Additionally, you may need to increase the travel budget again as the year starts and the vouchers are used for Christmas holidays.

  • Reply Jen |

    Beks got out of debt, twice. You have yet to get out of debt for the first time. If she had been blogging during the backslide, people would have been just as hard on her. She learned from her mistakes, you appeared to have not.

    As for what you should do with the “extra” money: I would break it up into thirds. First third goes to paying off that car as fast as possible. Not just because you need to get out from under the debt, but because it’s family, and you pay family first. Second 33% you put into your EF. Third 33% you put in some kind of long term savings where you CANNOT touch it. You need to save for retirement. Social Security is not enough to live off once you cannot work, and that’s where you’re headed.

    • Reply Jen |

      I’m amending this. You need to divide it up 25%.

      25% each to: car repayment, EF, retirement, and savings for a more stable long-term housing plan.

    • Reply drmaddog |

      I do think there are a couple of things to point out about Beks.
      One, she was no longer blogging on a get out of debt blog when she went into deeper debt. And I don’t think the bloggers got paid to write back then either.

      Two, Beks herself said in her cameo, “Rather than do something silly like fix my car or buy a car we could actually afford, we bought a brand spankin’ new car. Then, because heck, we were already in debt, we just. kept. going.”

  • Reply Lisa M |

    Hope, I’m impressed you keep blogging for us with all of negative messages lately!

  • Reply SMS |

    Retirement of course is extremely important, but I’m most concerned about the low level of savings. If you have $1000 left over each month, I would put aside $300 for Princess’ senior year, $100 into a low-cost retirement fund of some kind and $600 into the EF in addition to the $100 you are putting in now. It’s great that you have the EF but your income is going to fluctuate, that’s just a given as a freelancer. I would aim for $9k or three months worth of expenses. You can do it!

  • Reply Janet |

    Beks would have been reamed just as hard had she been blogging through her second round of debt. Are you going to tell us more about the car? What year? Seems to be a heavily avoided question. And why so new? I drive a 2005 Honda and it’s VERY reliable. You could have gone with an older used car and still had reliability (2010, 2014, etc…)

    Also healthcare. Is it health insurance? Christian ministry? Or medicaid? I realize it’s a “business expense”…

    • Reply Nan |

      I am wondering about that health insurance business cost too?? I’m on Medicare with a supplement and it still costs just me $300 a month. Is princess on the plan? It seems you make too much for Medicaid if you are reporting your income and with ACA your income is still high and your deductible would likely not be low.

      • Reply Cheryl |

        I am paying close to $700.00 per month for healthcare for myself and my son. I have a good plan, two times of breast cancer, I need good coverage. My dh is on Medicare and his supplement is $81.00 per month and Medicare out of his check. I think it is around $200.00.

  • Reply Laura |

    I wouldn’t wait until January to start saving for Princess’ school, start now. I realize health insurance is a business cost but what about medical bills? Surely you have a deductible, co-pay, prescriptions, something? Where does that come from?
    As far as extras, after you start saving for Princess’ school I would split it evenly between emergency fund and extra debt payments.

  • Reply Kmcm |

    I’d put any extra towards savings right now. Do you have savings other than the $3500 EF? I think you’ve lost clients suddenly in the past and you need to be prepared in case it happens again. I’d prioritize Princess’s next year of school within those savings so you don’t have to have her change schools for her senior year.

  • Reply Laura |

    No entertainment or meals out budget? Not that I think you should be spending much on either of those things but I’m sure you will, so best to have a plan.

    • Reply Hope |

      We really don’t do much for entertainment…other than at home with board games, scrapbooking and so on. That’s been one of the easiest cuts.
      I guess our trips are really all the entertainment we are interested in at this point. (Princess does go out with friends occasionally.)
      And if we do go out, which we do on occasion…it’s on the cheap and comes out of our grocery budget. I’ve mentioned our local coffee shop where we can get a bowl of yummy and filling soup for $2.50. History Buff goes out the most, but he uses his own money.

  • Reply Deb |


    I would not want to see you assist Sea Cadet with his debts. You bought a new to you vehicle, have student loan dept, and tax time will be here before you know it. Please put some of the additional money you have left in the budget for the student loan or put it in your savings account.


  • Reply Janie B. |

    I have to respectfully disagree with Angie.

    I really don’t understand this mindset that so many people seem to have that student loans need not be paid!!

    It is a debt you incurred, and just like with any other debt, you should pay it off just as quickly as possible. It is an obligation.

    • Reply Cheryl |

      I agree. Why many think just because it is hard they should get an out. I’m not saying Hope is but a few posters have mentioned it before.

    • Reply Angie |

      Morally, sure pay the student loans. But realistically? I’m guessing Hope is early-mid 40’s with zero or very minimal saved for retirement. She’s single, with dependents, and no one else to share retirement with. The govt isn’t going to miss 30k of student loan payments. Take care of yourself first. Pay the minimums as required and apply the excess to retirement savings before paying down those loans.

      The sooner anyone can get a little bit in retirement it will grow itself. Once you get to age 50 or 55 its near impossible to save for retirement in any real amount because you lost all of the years of accumulating gains. You need those years, especially if you’re not substantially increasing your income in your later years to be able to save more.

      Her interest rate on the loans is so low. It would be mathematically better to save the money rather than aggressively pay down the loans. Assuming she could throw away the passwords and access to the 401k/IRA and never touch it. She could also use this to reduce her business income and save some more on taxes. She probably qualifies for the Saver’s credit too and can get1k/year for free.

      I can pay off my student loans. But I don’t because of the interest rate. By dramatically slowing down my loan payments to the minimums I’ve been able to save/earn 25k+. They’ll get paid eventually. So, I respectfully disagree, it’s not as simple as you borrowed it pay it back ASAP. My net worth thanks me.

      • Reply Cheryl |

        I am not sure when you took out loans but now the students can only borrow so much and then me the parent must sign and take out parent plus loan. They got smart, kids aren’t paying back the money they borrowed so the loan company goes after the parent

        • Reply Angie |

          It’s been 10+ years but I didn’t think anyone is forced to take Parent PLUS loans. I took out private student loans for what I needed above the fed maximum. I could be out of touch though. Anyway, I’m not advocating to just disappear and stop paying the loans all together. But pay the minimums based on the plan you’re on and direct the rest of your money wisely.

          To sum it up my advice would be:
          1. Pay down the car now, enough to be under the KBB trade-in value. Why? In case of an accident. Don’t burn bridges with family members.
          2. Pay the minimum payment on the student loan. Make sure this at least covers the interest. Do not pay extra payments or defer the loan anymore!
          2a (ideal) Calculate what the student loan payment would be for a standard 10, 15, or 20 year payoff and pay that. Whatever timeline you feel comfortable with based on your age.
          3. Beef up emergency savings to a 3-6 month e-fund. Consider funding an IRA with a portion of your emergency savings (don’t invest it yet or at least choose something stable). This will make it harder to touch so you’ll only use it for true emergencies. There is no penalty to withdraw your contributions to an IRA. If you end up not using it your money will be in tax-advantaged account.
          4. Use excess beyond that to fund retirement (401k or IRA). This will likely get you a tax credit (free money), lower your AGI (potentially getting you lower ACA rates), and savings on your taxes. Long term your money will grow at a higher rate than interest on your student loan.

  • Reply Alexandria |

    I don’t think there’s ever been a BAD blogger with any sense on the car front.

    This reminds me. I made a comment to Ashley re: insane car debt and she replied proudly that the car was used. You know, because we presumed the $30k car purchase or whatever was new. Ugh. Point completely missed. Spent way too much on a car, don’t care if it’s new or used.

    This is exactly the same. Way too much to spend on a car, given the situation. For reference, we’ve never borrowed for a car and are nearing $1 mil in assets. I would not spend that much on a car. May sound extreme to some, but this is a blog about getting out of debt. Either you triple or quadruple your income, or you buy significantly less expensive cars. I personally choose the latter.

    By itself, it’s just, “so what else is new.” People deep in debt spend too much on cars, and they think it’s a necessity. & water is wet. I think what is extra upsetting about this situation is teaching this to your daughter. Starting her out with a giant car payment is not doing her any favors. & I have a new teen driver. The insurance will be absolutely insane on that car when you add your daughter. That was my first thought when I read about the new car.

    I know relative meant well with this “gift”, but they completely missed the mark.

    • Reply Joe |

      This comment is so spot on. I believe all 4 bloggers (including Ashley and Hope) that started back then had terrible car loans (with respect to their financial situations). The level of deep denial on the comments they got back then was palpable. Over time, it seemed like lessons had been learned. But not so much, apparently!

      It’s the most basic concept— most people who are in good shape financially get there because they make financially efficient spending choices over long periods of time. That means not taking the huge depreciation hit on new/newish cars, not paying credit card interest rates EVER, eating in, etc.

      • Reply Kmcm |

        Well, to be fair, it’s kind of a vicious cycle of poverty. You grow up with loans and high interest rates being the norm, so you “learn” those bad practices, so your credit is shot, so you get lousy interest rates, so you never get out of debt, so you ruin credit further, etc., etc. You’d really need strong discipline to stay the course and get out of the bad credit death spiral.

  • Reply Jay Pearce |

    Its not a matter of paying them or not. If you don’t pay them, they just keeping growing the interest. Eventually they will garnish your wages. If you want to make minimum payments in the “hopes” that someday mr.. generous government will magically take them away keep dreaming. The IBR thing is a joke. If you end up making more money down the road your payment will go up. You will probably end up paying as much or more on that type of plan.

    • Reply Jen |

      They will also garnish your Social Security and take any tax return refunds. Which makes the dual-edged sword of “have no real savings” and “not paying student loans” doubly terrifying. If you still have student loans when you start claiming SS benefits, they can garnish all but $750/mo.

      • Reply Jen |

        *But I think at this point, her emphasis needs to be on socking away money. She needs to keep paying on her loans, but I think it’s more important right now that she get pretty substantial savings (some of it locked away where she can’t touch it). Paying ahead on those loans isn’t going to help her if in 6 months her landlord sells the house, or she loses some clients.

  • Reply Georgia Girl |

    I don’t see any pet care items on your budget. How do you feed and care for your dogs?

    • Reply anonymous |

      I believe she has said before that she fosters the dogs, so all the costs are probably covered by the rescue agency.

      • Reply Hope |

        That is correct…we have all special needs dogs and have been fostering for almost 2 years. All costs are covered by the shelter.

  • Reply Cwaltz |

    In the interest of positives I am happy to see you have diligently added to your savings and now have at least one month worth of savings. I a m a big fan of having savings so you do not need to go further into debt when life invariably happens.I hope in the future when you give monthly debt updates that you include your savings updates.

    By the way, something to consider, while your $700 car payment will have you finishing the car loan in around 30 months, your student loan payment as it is presently set is a loan that will take 9 years to pay off. I do agree with the idea of trying to pay the car loan down to below the Kelly blue book as quickly as possible but since the interest values are so close you might want to(once you are no closer to the actual car value) reconsider the plan and plug your numbers into a debt calculator to pay them both off in 5-6 years. You definitely want to figure out how to retire that debt ASAP particularly if you want to fulfill your dreams of home ownership and or traveling.

  • Reply Roxana |

    I would divide the money like this: 500 for student loans, 200 for business, 300 for your son. If your business will grow, put the extra iin the EF.

So, what do you think ?