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Elizabeth’s Debt Story Part 2: Spending

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Hello again! Thank you for the lovely welcome, and I appreciate your tips for my spreadsheets! I am taking the advice of the commenter who advised to budget for my bi-weekly paycheck as two checks a month, and then when I have the third check, I can use that where it’s needed! Let’s dive into the spending!

Before we get into the nitty gritty, I’ll let you know my budget weaknesses. 

  1. My pets. I have a senior cat with diabetes who I’ve had for 14 years. This has translated into me becoming extremely frugal, buying insulin and supplies on the black market (sourced on Craigslist). Spending for supplies runs ~$20 on syringes and ~$15 on insulin a month (purchased twice a year in bulk), and then under $40 on cat food (he can only eat canned, but I managed to find a deal with a group of people buying wholesale!). Next is my 90lb labrador-cross, age five, and she is my sun and my moon. I have insurance for her at $58 a month. I got that insurance a little late in her life and I still believe it’s necessary because I can’t afford an emergency. I feed her raw food because she has allergies and prescription vet food is a fortune. My vet supports her current diet, and I buy it all at the Chinese supermarket. There are always chicken legs for $0.79 a lb, and I can get dirt cheap chicken feet, pig liver, cow heart, etc… all things very healthy for my dog and considerably cheaper than commercial food! She gets whole eggs, berries, the odd roasted sweet potato, but mostly cheap meat and offal. I feed her for less than $60 a month. For those not keeping track, that’s $80 for the cat and $120 for the dog per month. They were my reason for getting out of bed for a long time and I consider them a mental health expense! Would I get new pets if these ones passed on today? NO. I learned my lesson. I need to save money.
  2. Seeing my family. I am the eldest sibling in a large, tight-knit family. My family is spread out all over, with the closest members two hours away. It’s the reason I have a car, as they live in areas I can’t get to by transit.
  3. Food and wine. There is no excuse for this, and I simply need to rein it in. Food is not a reward. I love to cook and entertain, and my friends can bring the prime rib over if they want me to cook it! 

I truly am open to your feedback, and I won’t be defensive about the above items. 

My Spending 

I took the advice of some commenters and set up YNAB (You Need a Budget). As a result, I’m faced with the stunning reality of my impulse transactions! It’s kind of a pain to do this mid-paycheck, but I’m working on it. This process has resulted in me opening a ticket with their support, because once again TD and Capital One accounts are having issues syncing (I’ve been down this road with YNAB before. Mint.com always just works but I find it more difficult to budget with – anyone else?). I’ll post some screenshots from Mint and YNAB as soon as I get one of these services working the way I’d like it to, hopefully within a few days. In the meantime, here are the raw numbers: 

Elizabeth Spending

Here’s a photo of my pup after a swim at the family cottage last week, for no other reason other than this post is too much text and dogs are cute.

Rose dog


Cash is King

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The credit card is on ICE…literally. Put up, out of reach…and detached from all online payment methods…for now. We have no travel plans until late June, and our town in tiny. So I’m not worried about not having it.

That bulls eye I mentioned when I mentioned my last debt pay off, it’s all I see when I think of it!

The Plan

Cash, cash or not at all. I’ve divided our monthly expenses into weeks. And I’m pulling out that much cash every week.

This weekly amount includes our:

  • Groceries – $125
  • Entertainment – $50
  • Household – $2.50
  • Gas – $20 (I’ve decided to give each twin $20 every other week for 1) my use of their car and 2) the gas they use when they drive Princess somewhere. I think this is more than far since nothing is more then 3 miles away.)

To make it easier on ATM withdrawals, I’m taking out $200 per week. I’ve let the kids know of this plan…we can use this money however we wish, but when it’s gone, it’s gone. Until the following Monday.

I decided on Mondays so that the kids start planning ahead at least a little bit…ie think about what we want to do this coming weekend, meal plan for the week, etc.

Caveat: This is one caveat to the $200 per week. Princess birthday is in May. I have a little extra budgeted that week for a family meal out and her birthday present, so I will also pull that extra out for that week.

Goal

By doing this, my goal is to not overspend at all…

And when we come to the end of each week, I will review income vs outgoing and put any extra toward the credit card debt. My income continues to vary greatly depending on what projects I pick up, etc. so I am hoping that this will expedite the pay off process.

Wish us luck. I haven’t done a cash system in a very long time. And today is the first day! But I think it will be good for us. And there’s something very empowering about pulling cash out…