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Preparing for a No Spend Month


I have decided to make October a No Spend Month. I’m already talking it over with the kids. Hoping to make it a goal driven game of sorts as they are very much bought in to saving money these days on wants over needs.

There are several reasons for this No Spend Month:

  1. We are planning to drive to Texas for the week of Thanksgiving, all 5 of us. And I need to create a bigger buffer to afford that trip. Even though I do not have to take off work, it will cost me more than a regular week. (History Buff will be coming to GA from VA to drive with us. We will be spending the week at my parents I think I wrote about this back in June when I committed to it. But with my mom’s health declining, my dad is trying to get all us kids and grandkids there for a last family photo.)
  2. The kids time-consuming sports will end. School football and volleyball will be over the first week, so practices, games and nightly carpool commitments will end. So other than a weekly trip to gymnastics, we will be home all the time which makes it much easier to not spend.
  3. While we do get food stamps this month, it will be the last. So I want to make them stretch as far as possible. I believe I can make the groceries we have plus one more good shopping trip last through the month of October with just a small budget to replace perishables.

Planning Ahead

When I’ve done No Spend months or weeks in the past, they’ve been kind of last minute things. This time, I’m planning for it. And I’m hoping this planning will help us do even better than we have in the past.

These are the things I’ve thought through so far:

  1. Personal hygiene – making sure the littles and I have what we need to get through a month. Gymnast is currently out of deodorant and I’m about to be.
  2. Sundries – I need to stock up on some laundry detergent and purchase a back up bottle of dish soap. I’m watching the weekly news ads for specials on this in hopes of keeping the cost as low as possible. Our toilet paper will be restocked on Sept. 12 (subscribe and ship from Amazon every quarter.) Other than that, I think we are all set in this area.
  3. Food – we will be able to use food stamps, but my goal is to shop at the end of September based on a meal plan of what we currently have in the house and buy as little as possible. It would be great to get to the end of October, rather beginning of November and still have food stamps. We are now halfway through this month and still have over 1/2 of August’s resources available. My goal is to clear the deep freezer and pantry over the next 6 weeks.
  4. Gas – with very little driving needed in October, I think we will almost be able to cut my weekly gas budget in half. Woot, woot! That will really help with the extra driving we will be doing in November to go to Texas.
  5. Change in the Weather? We’ve spent this week cleaning out closets and checking on what people need as far as cooler weather clothes. Everyone has everything that NEED, not saying there are no wants, but I do not anticipate needing to purchase anything for October clothes-wise even if the cooler temperatures appear.

Saving for Trip vs Paying Off Debt

The real challenge is going to be balancing saving for the Texas trip and putting all my extra monies toward debt. We should start having significantly more “extra” monies in October as 1) we cut our spending even further and 2) my work continues to increase.

It has been a lot of fun to start paying extra on debts. It feels really good to see those numbers dropping and even better that I’m not having to stress over every single payment.

My thought is that I need to create a budget for the trip or savings goal. And then once I hit that, put any extra towards extra debt payments. Thoughts? What have I missed in planning for a very serious No Spend Month?

Spring Break (+ Feb. Debt Update)


Hi All!

Last year, my first year back to full-time work, my Spring Break happened to align with my kids’ Spring Break. I remember at the time colleagues mentioning how lucky that was and to appreciate it. So it was no real surprise when this year rolled around and, looking at our academic calendars, I realized our Spring Breaks did not align. Bugger!

But, I think we’re also making the best out of having separate Spring Breaks! This week is my school’s Spring Break (and hubs’ Spring Break as well). I’ll be back in Texas for a couple days to deal with some dad-related issues. But otherwise, hubs and I are looking forward to doing some serious manual labor out in our backyard. When we bought the house, it had nothing but chest-high weeds all through the back. We mowed them all down, but have done very little since then. Hubs has a friend who owns a landscape company and came over to take a look at our yard and offer some practical suggestions in terms of plants, placement, etc. So for the cost of some plants + weed killer + some hard work and elbow-grease, we’re hoping to get our backyard into a more presentable condition. We’ve allotted $200 to the project. It would be a project the girls could help us with…but will probably be easier without the interference, er, “help.” And I like that the couple days I’ll be gone are on days that they’re already in school. Makes it a bit easier for the hubs and makes me feel less guilt about being away (quick Dad update for those who have been following along and are interested – skip this part if you’re only here for the financial -my Dad, who has frontotemporal dementia, continues to decline. His speech is almost gone at this point and he lives in a constant state of agitation, presumably from the confusion and frustration associated with what’s happening to him. He’s been living in an independent living facility but we’ve been touring several assisted living and dedicated memory-care places. It’s a tough move to make but it’s coming up probably sooner rather than later so we’re trying to research and prepare accordingly. Being that the purpose of my trip is for things related to his care, my sister and I decided he would cover the cost of my airfare – something he would have done in the past if he had the mental capacity. I’ll be staying with my mom so I’ll have free lodging, and will only be paying my meals out of pocket which should be minimal. I’ll be there not quite 3 days.)

Next week is our girls’ Spring Break. In the future, I hope that we can plan family vacations (or even staycations) during Spring Break week, but with our looming tax debt ahead, that’s certainly not in the cards this year. Instead, we’re lucky to be able to hodgepodge together some childcare without having to pay extra to a babysitter. Hubs has class Mon/Wed (but is available other days) and I teach on Tues/Thurs (but am available other days), so between us, we’ll be able to always have one parent home with the kiddos.

I’m still on operation minimal-spending, too. It’s not a complete spending freeze because we still have to purchase essentials like food, fuel, etc. But I have been extra mindful about every dollar being spent. As an example, one of my daughters lost her water bottle for the second time this school year. Last time, I just jumped on Amazon and bought her a new one. This time around, I’m making her take my water bottle as a back-up. I explained that we can’t just get something new every time we lose our old item. It’s been a nice lesson in natural consequences and how its important to keep track of our things. It’s a bit of a punishment because my water bottle isn’t a nice or “cool” as the kid version, but at least it’s an adequate replacement so she’s not going without one. I’m really trying to scrimp and save and see if we can pay our full tax debt ourselves rather than relying on borrowing. I really want it PAID IN FULL by the deadline. I did talk to my sister, however, and if I need to borrow money from my dad it would be an option available to us. I really want to avoid this. It’s such “messy” terrain and I just don’t like the feeling. But I would be able to save the interest + penalties associated with an IRS payment plan. Something to think about, should it come to that (I still don’t have exact figures from our accountant).

In the meantime, I want to share my February 2017 Debt Update. As mentioned in a previous post, the debt payment was less than my originally intended $3,000 payment because I decided to just pay debt minimums toward my student loans so I can try to save up the extra money to put toward our IRS debt. Here you go:

PlaceCurrent BalanceAPRLast Payment MadeLast Payment Date Original debt, March 2014
Navient - Federal 2 (unsubsidized)$11,1055.8034February82433 (all school loans, combined)
Navient - Federal 3 (subsidized)$86085.8025February
Navient - 2 (subsidized)$84966.5533February
Navient - 7 (subsidized)$71976.5529February
Navient - 8 (subsidized)$63726.5525February
Navient - 9 (subsidized)$84976.5534February
Navient - 10 (unsubsidized)$98056.5519February
Balance Transfer Student Loan #2$14000% (through Sept 2017)$800February$7650
Balance Transfer Student Loan #3$45940% (through October 2018)$0N/A
Medical Bills$43700% (must be paid by April)$1216February$9000
Balance Transfer student loan #1$00% -Paid off in March 2016$5937
PenFed Car Loan$02.49%-Paid off in January 2016$24040
License Fees$02.5%-Paid off in April 2015$5808
BoA CC$07.24%-Paid off in June 2014$2220
Mattress Firm$00%-Paid off in May 2014$1381
Wells Fargo CC$013.65%-Paid off in May 2014$7697
Capital One CC$017.9%-Paid off in March 2014$413
Totals$70,444 (Jan balance = 72,560)$2215Starting Debt = $145,472

This month (March), I’m putting less toward the balance transfer card – only $400 instead of the $800 I gave in February. I do NOT want to add “IRS” to the debt spreadsheet, so I’m just stockpiling money in hopes we can pay them their money and not move backward in our debt progression. That will mean lower debt payments for the next couple months (March & April). Even small progress is moving in the right direction.

Have you had any financial set-backs lately?