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Ashley’s October 2015 Budget Update

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October was a good month for income and debt payments. Check it out: 

PlaceAmount Spent
Rent1200
Electricity269
Water53
Natural gas36
Cell Phones (2 lines)89
Cable/Internet90
Car Insurance117
Trash35
Preschool956
Gift-Giving54
Personal Maintenance91
Restaurants158
Groceries695
Gasoline89
Household Goods69
Clothing85
Toddler purchases102
Rainy Day Savings1650
Savings Goals600
Debt Payments5513
Total Budgeted$11,951

Comments:

Electricity:  After a long, steady rise in electricity costs over the course of the extended Tucson summer, I’m thrilled that this is our last month of super high bills! I already got our November bill and its dropped back into the $100’s (albeit, the high $100’s), and I expect this will continue to decrease as we’ve finally been getting some cooler weather in our area.

Personal Maintenance: Usually this category has almost no spending, but I happened to run out of eye cream and face lotion at the same time this month, which accounted for over $50 of this month’s personal maintenance expenditures. This figure also includes the cost of hair dye (I’m still dying and cutting my own hair), and a couple yoga classes I took this month. Since face cream and lotion tends to last a long time, I expect this category’s spending to drop back lower again in the coming months (though I’ve been playing around with the idea of getting a massage once we’re consumer debt-free in the New Year sometime).

Food Expenses:  I’m struggling again with costs of food. Whenever things get stressful or busy I tend to overspend on groceries and eating out. It takes some of the pressure off me to come up with detailed grocery lists, food plans, etc. and takes less time since I can also eliminate food prep when I buy things already prepared (or mostly prepared, like buying a rotisserie chicken and just whip up a couple quick sides for it). At the time of purchase I somehow justify food expenses as necessary so I rarely feel bad about it, but once the month is over it’s a whole other story. To see we spent nearly $900 on food this month makes me sick! When I was working from home part-time our grocery budget was $400/month and eating out budget was $100/month. I’ve hit nearly double that this month and it really makes me stop and take pause to evaluate my goals and spending. At the time it always feels good to pick up food (again – its quick, easy, and takes the stress out of the dinner-time rush). But then I see the numbers and know that these dollars are competing for a job. They can go to pay down debt or to buy extra food. If I can take the time to menu plan and food prep a bit more regularly I know I can get this category of spending way down. Things are still a bit crazy around here (and likely will be until December) so I’m just trying to balance it all. My goal is to get my food spending in check, but I’m going to allow myself a little bit of grace, too. We’ll see how November goes.

Household Goods:  This includes a Costco haul of paper goods (e.g., toilet paper, paper towels), and some plants, pots, and potting soil. I have a notoriously black thumb (but I want to get better!) Somehow, by the grace of God, I’ve managed to keep a basil plant alive for so long that its now absolutely a basil BUSH! Same thing with a chive plant. The girls originally grew chives from seeds at their old preschool (the JCC) over the summer. After sprouting they brought the plants home and I’d transported to a pot. These things are growing like weeds!!! It’s incredible what a little sunshine and regular watering will do ; )  Anyway, I was inspired by these two successes to add to our little potted garden (everything is potted, rather than in the ground, since we rent and I don’t want to rip up or change any of our landlord’s landscaping). So I bought a couple new pots and plants. Fingers crossed they work out – I’ve now got some lettuce, rosemary, and some pretty flowers. We’ll see how they go!

Toddler Purchases:  This includes some new winter coats, tights, shoes, water bottles, and a kid alarm clock. I don’t really know how to document it (I’ve only been reporting money spent in this category, rather than savings), but I also set aside some money for the kids’ Christmas presents. To keep things simple I’ll keep reporting on the actual dollars spent but just be aware that I’m setting a little bit aside (in October and November) to try to ease the financial burden a bit when December rolls around. We’re still undecided on Christmas presents, but I was hoping to upgrade the girls (now 3.5 years old) to “big girl” beds. They’re still currently in cribs with the side removed (so it looks like a daybed), but they’re getting tall enough that I’d like to transition them to twin or full-sized beds. Hubs thinks that should wait until they turn 4. So, I don’t know. But either way I want to be prepared so we’ve stashed a little bit of extra cash to be used for Christmas.

Rainy Day Savings:  Our savings funds are still very much lacking, but we were able to put a little into savings this month in all of our rainy day funds. This figure includes:

  • EF (3-6 months expenses): $500
  • Car repairs: $150
  • Girls’ birthday savings: $50
  • Travel/Christmas: $100
  • Health/dental/vision: $500 (though, note, $205 was removed from this account for some of hubs’ ongoing dental work)
  • Annual fees: $150
  • Pet Expenses: $100 (though we withdrew $65 to buy some pet steps). Our dog is getting woefully old and is having a very tough time getting onto our bed at night – yes, he sleeps with us. He’s a large dog and my fear is that he’ll throw his back out one night trying to get onto or off of the bed. I know these steps are a bit spendy, but I really believe it’s a medical necessity for our dog so he doesn’t hurt himself and, although cheaper options were available, they were designed for small dogs. We needed something that could accommodate a nearly 100 lb animal and is tall enough to reach our very high bed. Hopefully this $65 charge helps bypass potentially much larger vet bills if he were to hurt himself and require an emergency vet visit.
  • Girls college savings: $100. This was a bit of a mess-up. When I set up the 529 plan for the girls I did so at the very beginning of October. I’d funded them with $25, each ($50 total) and set up a recurring payment of $25 each every month, with the transfer occurring on the 15th. I’d meant to start the transfers in November but messed up and it started in October. In the future we’ll be saving $50/month into 529s (that’s $25 each), but this month we got double-dinged.

Savings Goals:  This category is $500 toward my cruise 2016 savings and $100 toward a 2015 Roth IRA. I’m pretty excited about the cruise. It’s not until April and our next installment isn’t due until February but I officially have enough money in the bank now to pay for the full cruise. I’m going to continue saving monthly because I want to make sure we have enough for excursions, souvenirs, tips, any hidden fees, etc. I just really want to make sure we pay for this trip 100% in cash so I’d much rather have money leftover afterward than end up having to spend on a credit card. But with still another 5 months between now and our sail date, I think this fund will be more than maxed out by the time this much anticipated vacation rolls around (we’ve been planning and saving for it since February!)

And if you want a detailed debt update, check out here. Exciting stuff!

I’m a little nervous going into the month of November whether we’ll be able to meet our goals. Hubs had a big job last week that got pushed back due to a materials problem (wrong color wood). The new materials are supposed to be in tomorrow and he’d be starting the job on Wednesday…..only our girls’ preschool is closed Wednesday-Friday this week and I have to work so hubs is going to have to stay home with the kids. Then hubs’ mom comes to town Saturday through Tuesday to visit. We’re super excited about it, but that’s more time hubs will be taking off. So we’re not starting off on a good foot in terms of his income (which is really going to be the primary determining factor in whether we meet our financial goals). Things change all the time so I’m just crossing my fingers and sending up a silent prayer that everything works out in the end.

In the meantime, bring on the cooler weather! It’s about time Fall rolls around (and sorry to those of you already experiencing nightly freezes and bone-chilling weather!)


Ashley’s October 2015 Debt Update

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I don’t know if I’ve ever been more excited to share a debt update with you guys! Check this out:

PlaceCurrent BalanceAPRLast Payment MadeLast Payment DateOriginal debt, March 2014
Capital One CC-17.9%-Paid off in March 2014$413
Mattress Firm-0%-Paid off in May 2014$1381
Wells Fargo CC-13.65%-Paid off in May 2014$7697
BoA CC-7.24%-Paid off in June 2014$2220
License Fees-2.5%-Paid off in April 2015$5808
Navient - Federal Student Loan$156926.55%-8.25%$332October$17507
ACS Student Loans$86336.55%$20October$8215
Navient - Dept of Education student loans$662796.55%$636October$63254
PenFed Car Loan$69512.49%$3800October$24040
Balance Transfer student loan (Former Navient 1-01)$35120% (through April 2016)$700October$5937
Medical Bills$59860%$25October$9000
Totals$107,053 (Sept balance = 112,171)$5513Starting Debt = $145,472

First, let’s have a moment of silence to appreciate and fully take in the mammoth-sized debt payment this month! $5513 was put toward debt this month!

This is one of the largest debt payment months we’ve ever had, only rivaled by a few months around summer 2014 where our income really skyrocketed for a minute (before crashing down for awhile in 2015. The joys of a variable income).

You’ll see 2 higher payments, specifically:

  • $3,800 went toward the car loan this month! This is insane!! We’ve had months this year where we’ve made less than this, total! We’re very thankful to have had a good month and be able to really knock the car loan debt in the mouth!
  • Over $1,500 went toward student loans this month! This is WAY higher than my monthly minimums. But because my minimum payments don’t even cover my interest I’ve been trying to pay extra so I can continue reducing the principal. Also, I made a large payment toward Navient loan 1-06 this month to pay it off in full (Note, this figure also includes my payment to the balance transfer loan, which was originally a student loan).

Perhaps equally as exciting as this month’s stellar payments, I had a realization as I made October’s debt table.

If we’re able to continue making our expected debt payments (which is really contingent upon hubs’ income the next couple months), we will officially dip below the $100,000-mark in December!

That means in December we will simultaneously be reaching 3 insane milestones:

  1. We will officially pay off our car loan. This will make us consumer debt-freeeeeee!!!!!!
  2. We will have reached out 2015 financial goal of paying $30,000 toward debt this year.
  3. After nearly 2 hard years of chipping away at our debts, we will have finally rounded the corner and officially owe less than $100,000!!!! 

I want to pinch myself! Only 2 months ago I was admitting defeat on my 2015 goals and now (eeek – fingers crossed!!!) we could be reporting some huge accomplishments in the next 2 months! How quickly the tide can change. I only hope and pray things remain on the ups!!