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Am I ever glad that 2016 is over!  Those last few weeks were absolutely brutal!

Now that things have settled down between the flood and the death in our family, I feel like I can finally get past just surviving, and can start thriving!  As part of thriving, I have been rereading several of the wonderful comments from readers and I am readjusting my plans in regards to budgeting, savings and debt reduction.

I am starting from square one.

As a result of all that we have been through the last few weeks, our savings have been  nearly demolished, so I am going to go back to basics in many ways.    I think this will also help hubby have a better idea of where the money really goes, and I am hoping it will also help me with the emotional aspect of spending.  My goals for January include:

–Tracking every penny spent this month in order to create an accurate budget.  Luckily, our credit union just rolled out a free money tracking and budgeting program for members, so hopefully it will be relatively painless.

–Find ways to increase income

–Decrease outgoing costs

–Pay for an upcoming trip for a wedding with “found” money…or stay home!  I already got a start on this by selling a rocking chair we no longer used on a facebook  classifieds site.

The thing that is still up in the air is how I should tackle the dwindling emergency fund.   We have $200 a month transferred to savings automatically by hubby’s employer.   Should I just let that accumulate naturally over time or should I push to get an emergency fund built before tackling the debt head on?    What are your thoughts?


I’ll be back!


I just wanted to post a super quick note…I have not forgotten about blogging here!  Shortly after the flood in our basement we had a family emergency occur that we are still dealing with.   This has meant that overnight our household grew by six kids!  Things have been crazy!!!   I will have a post up soon!


Debt Payment – Processing


Hi all!

I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays : )

I’m just peeking in quickly today to say that my December debt payment post is…”processing.”

I made a very large payment scheduled on 12/23 and, I suppose due to the holidays, it still shows as Processing on Navient’s website. It has not yet posted. Soooooo, I’m holding off any my debt update post until the payment officially goes through. I just wanted to let you know what’s up since I’d alluded to an exciting debt update (and said it would be up yesterday). I’m still waiting.

I hope everyone is doing well! Happy birthday shout-out to Hope, too! I’ll be back soon! : )


Whoops! and side hustles.


We have had a disaster hit our lives in the past week!   It all started with being fast asleep until our sweet dog jumped on our bed and wanted to snuggle.  The problem was that she was  soaking wet and smelled of raw sewage.  You can imagine the excitement waking up to that brought!

After investigating, we discovered that our sewer backed up into our basement due to some construction that was happening on our street.   The good news is that our basement is unfinished so the clean up has been simpler than it would have been otherwise.  The bad news is that we have to pay a $500  deductible for our home insurance policy. The hubby also missed a couple days of work without pay because he had no accrued paid time off left for 2016 (I hate “use it or lose it” policies!).   Luckily, this is something that we can pay for without incurring more debt, but it also means we will be meeting minimums only this month unless we can do some side hustling.

This Thursday evening, I meet with a woman who is offering me a small side job that may result in an extra $400.00 or so a month.  On top of this the lady that I typically babysit for is going back to work after a layoff, and that should be adding another few hundred a month to our income.   The catch is that both of these are things that won’t actually leave us cash in hand until January.   Our community has a very active classifieds facebook group, so I am going to do some decluttering and hope to sell a few items that we no longer use. Hubby also might be able to pick up some overtime at work.   My hope is that with all of these side hustles, that we might be able to still make the $500 extra debt payment.   Any other suggestions?


The Savings


I received several questions about the $200 budget item towards savings that I listed in my last post.    The answer is a bit complicated.   We currently have have several savings accounts that are for irregular expenses…with the idea that we could also use those accounts as an emergency fund in a true emergency.   These funds are currently auto-drafted into the savings accounts every payday.  Each category receives $20 a month added to it.  However, the original thought was that some categories are close to being “fully funded” and then that money could be reallocated to other categories until they need “refilled”.    Here’s how I have things divided:

Work expenses100.03
Home improvements133.00
Irregular expenses (auto registration/costco/ AAA)39.53
Yard/garden/pest control70.00

Total: $802.58

In explanation:

  • The work expenses category covers things like continuing education, licensing and replacement items for Hubby’s work.  Once we reach $500 this will be considered fully funded.
  • Home improvements will never be considered fully funded.
  • The Fun/holiday fund covers everything from fireworks on the fourth of July, extra grocery expenses for Christmas baking, campground fees, and the occasional movie date night.This will be considered fully funded at $100 while we are still reducing debt
  • Gifts are a hard one.  I will have to think about what I would consider fully funded.
  • Clothing I will consider fully funded at $100, mostly because we do not have expensive clothing needs.
  • Whereas we have an older dog and an older cat that at some point in the future will need a greater amount of vet care, I would not consider this fully funded until we reached $1000
  • The replacements category is actually very new to our budgeting, inspired by needing to finance a fridge when ours died.  This is meant to be money for when an appliance dies, or a new mattress etc. is needed.  I am not sure where I would consider this fully funded, most likely at $1000+
  • The auto category is pretty self explanatory.  We currently own one vehicle out right and have a loan on our second.   These funds are used for maintenance and hopefully will eventually grow enough that we can replace a vehicle by paying cash.
  • The Annual expenses category covers things like AAA and costco memberships, and car registration.  I would like to grow this to be able to pay for six months of auto insurance at a time in order to receive the prepay discounts.
  • The final category is yard/garden.  I LOVE veggie gardening.  We just moved into our home last summer, so this will cover soil amendments, hardscaping, seeds and repairing the disaster of a sprinkler system that currently exists.   It also covers pest control to come out four times a year to treat for voles and the giant wolf spiders that we get here.  After this coming summer, the amount going into this account should be able to be reduced significantly as some of the much need landscaping is completed.

Obviously, If I wanted to keep putting money into these categories until they were all fully funded, I would be saving forever, and that would impact my debt payoff.   I am currently leaning towards continuing to save in them at my current speed until I reach a total of $2000 across all the accounts.   At that point I would simply add to the accounts if I had used the funds.

What do you think?  Am I making a mistake by combining my savings categories and emergency fund?  Is there something I should be saving for that I am not?






The Budget


I have to apologize for not getting this post up sooner, we had a stomach bug ravage the house, and I have been behind ever since!

I have told you about our debt here and now it’s time to reveal our budget!  Honestly, I really don’t know how doable this budget is.  I know that we typically eat out a ton, but I am planning to cut that out completely for budget and health reasons.   I also have cut back on what we typically spend on groceries.  I think with some careful planning I can make that one work.    This projected income also does not reflect what we save in the 401k or HSA every month.

Projected income:  3800.00


December budget 
Electricity (equal payment) 192.00
Natural Gas (equal payment plan)44.00
Amy student loan
(income based)
Hubby student loan (income based)25.00
Amy Student loans (income based)187.00
Hubby student loans (income based)124.00
Big credit card (27%)150.00
small credit card (7%)75.00
Appliance card (0%)175.00
auto insurance150.00
Auto loan141.00
Personal spending (split between Hubby and I)80.00

If my math is right, that gives us about $700 to put into debt this month…..except for the fact that we are not done Christmas shopping!  I think that we should be able to finish all the holiday shopping for about $200, which leaves us with some money to put towards debt.

After the Christmas season (possibly before), I will be looking into cheaper phone and internet plans as well as cheaper auto insurance.   Thoughts?



The Debt


(*Update*  I just updated this post with a few more exact balances and interest rates)

First off, I want to thank everyone for the warm welcomes that they have given me! I really do appreciate having someone in my corner cheering me on!

It’s time for the nitty gritty details of our debt and I can honestly say that I am embarrassed about admitting how much debt we have, however, I am even more embarrassed to admit that I had NO idea how much we had until I started adding this up! In fact, I still don’t have an exact amount because I am waiting for a few statements to come in. I am going to include a rough estimate until I get final numbers, just so that we can have an idea of where I am at. I will then update the info!

CC#1 $43.30 (this will be payed off on Friday!)

CC#2 (7.24% interest) $ 2,999.84

CC#3 (27% interest ouch!) $4,833.17

Auto loan (6.99% interest) $5,695.29

Appliance loan (0% until Oct 2017) $2,072.79

Student loans-Amy (5.8% average interest) $34,392.19

Student loans-Hubby (5.7%  average Interest) $18,060.61

Student loans-Amy (3.25% Interest) $1,800.00 (estimate)

Student Loans-Hubby (4.725% average Interest) $3,111.46


Wow. That is a lot of debt.  I really had no idea that we were carrying such a high debt load. This doesn’t even include the mortgage! I can’t describe the emotions that I am feeling right now as I look at that number.  Overwhelmed, shamed, sadness, frustration…they are all emotions that are fluttering about.

Here are the details on what each debt is about:

CC#1: This is a credit card that I have been working on paying off for the last couple months. I thought about leaving it off the list since it will be paid off on Friday and the balance is so small, but I decided that total honesty was required. If I start fudging numbers..it would be easier to continue doing so, which contributed to me getting here in the first place!

CC#2: This is a credit card through our credit union. I have no idea what we used it for.

CC#3: This is a credit card that we got because “the rewards are so great”…and they would have been if we had used the card responsibly! We used this card for some home improvements and fertility treatments.  We have already paid off a ton of this debt.

Auto Loan: This is for an older Prius that the hubby uses to commute.

Appliance Loan: This is the debt that I want to tackle first. Simply because it annoys me! We bought a used fridge a year ago trying to save money….but when it suddenly died we decided to finance a new one so we didn’t end up going through the same hassle.

Student loans: The first two loans with the large balance are federal loans from both hubby and I, while the second two with small balances are state level loans for the both of us. The student loans are lower on my priority list to pay off because we are on income based repayments and have been for a several years.  However, we are also paying the most interest on them because the balances are so high, so perhaps I should reconsider that.  What do you think?

When you started working on your debt did you know how bad it was, or were you surprised like me?