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Posts tagged with: budgeting

Ashley’s January Debt Update

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I pre-wrote and scheduled a couple of posts for today because I’ll be doing my campus interview all day (my itinerary is from 9am-7pm)!!! I probably won’t have a chance to respond to any comments until tonight or tomorrow so I just wanted to give you a heads up on that. Please send me some good vibes, positive thoughts/energy, prayers, good juju, whatever works for you! I am trying to come off as confident (but not cocky), enthusiastic and likable (but not desperate), professional, and articulate. Remember – I’ve kinda got all my eggs in one basket on this one, so it feels like a BIG day for me! Wish me luck!!!

The numbers are in and here’s how my debt has been shaping up this month…

PlaceCurrent BalanceAPRLast Payment MadeLast Payment Date (original debt, March 2014)
Capital One CC-17.9%-Paid off in March ($413)
Mattress Firm-0%-Paid off in May ($1381)
Wells Fargo CC-13.65%-Paid off in May ($7697)
BoA CC-7.24%-Paid off in June ($2220)
License Fees$22082.5%250January ($5808)
PenFed Car Loan$159782.49%1000January ($24040)
Navient - Federal Student Loans$44448.25%16January ($4687)
Navient - Dept of Ed$722318.25-6.55%260January ($69191)
ACS Student Loans$210407.24%77December ($21035)
Medical Bills$64110%75January ($9000)
Totals$122,312 (Last month = 123,667)Total: $1,678Starting Debt = $145,472

Maybe it’s just because we’ve reached the 10-month mark so some of the newness and excitement has started to rub off a bit, but I’m just not as enthusiastic about my progress as I was early on in the debt-repayment process.

On one hand, we put over $1,600 toward debt this month! That’s great, right?!

On the other hand, my student loan balances went up. Again. (my minimum payments don’t cover the interest, so the balance keeps slooooowly growing).

And my total debt ($122,000+) is still so out-of-control. I cannot WAIT for the day that I break the $100,000 barrier and dip into the $99,999s.

Hubs ended up making an extra debt payment toward his license fees at the end of last month. So if you were to compare the balance this month to the one from last month, that’s why there’s a discrepancy (the table says $250 was applied this month, which is true, but hubs had made a payment of just over $250 at the end of last month, too, so it’s gone down by $500 compared to last month’s beginning balance).

Can I make a little confession that will become pretty apparent anyway real soon (when we talk about how the budget went this month)???

I ended up going a bit over on a couple categories this month. I think some of the holiday-spending spilled over into January and I was just a little too loosey-goosey on my spending. Nothing crazy or extravagant. Mostly just up to my old tricks again….spending too much on groceries and crap that we don’t really need because its oh-so-easy for me to justify grocery purchases as a necessity, even if they aren’t.

Anyway, my plan at the beginning of the month was to pay extra toward my student loans (above the minimums) so I could pay the interest in full and not have a growing balance. *Sigh* Having gone over on my grocery budget (by a lot, I should add), I re-allocated those funds to cover my frivolous food expenses and, alas, the student loan balances continue to grow. Very discouraging.

I will do better next month!

Another confession, since we’re on that train now…

Hubs and I have fallen off the wagon with our monthly finance talks, too.

For long time readers, you’ll know that hubs and I have a unique financial relationship (I talked about it here when I first started blogging). Some of it is changing (e.g., we’re adding each other to all of our accounts this month), but one of the big things is that I’ve always been the one to sit down and actually pay the bills. When I first started blogging we started loosely following a Dave Ramsey-esque type program where hubs and I would have a monthly budget discussion to decide exactly how to allocate that months’ funds.

Over the holidays we’ve sort of slipped back into our old patterns where hubs has simply given me money and I’ve put it where I think it should go. To be clear, I really am doing what I believe to be best with the money (in terms of debt allocations, etc.), but I do think it’s important for hubs to actually be in on these decisions rather than simply letting me handle the funds how I see fit. Things seemed to be moving faster and progress seemed to be better when we were working together. So that’s coming back at the end of this month as we discuss our plans for February.

Hopefully in the coming months we’ll see some stronger progress!

How’ve you been doing with your debt payments? How do you and your significant other handle finances/bills/etc?


Budgeting

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As I mentioned before, I analyzed all my spending from 2014 and have made some budgetary changes to reflect real-life spending. The biggest of these changes is that I’ve added additional budget categories (instead of lumping things together as “miscellaneous”), and I’m allowing for more fluidity; meaning the same budget categories won’t be present every month.

Just so we’re all on the same page, this is a work in progress. I’m still tinkering and figuring out how to do this correctly. I would imagine it will probably take a few months for me to really get a hang of it and to anticipate a month’s needs.

So, that being said, I’ve decided I’m going to do away with providing a “planned budget” for the month and, instead, will only provide summaries of the my spending once a month is complete. I’ll still be doing monthly planning, but because things are going to be more fluid, it will be difficult for me to allocate every dollar to a category at the beginning of the month when I don’t know for sure what expenses are going to pop up. To account for this, I’m budgeting every dollar that I KNOW has a job already (i.e., rent, water, electricity), and trying to anticipate some one-time expenses, but then I’m leaving a good chunk of money (what used to be my “miscellaneous” budget) in the bank and will allocate it as expenses pop up. Make sense? I decided to do this because it doesn’t make sense to me to give you all the boring stripped down numbers at the beginning of every month (rent, utilities, food), because they’ll always be fairly consistent. Instead, I’m only going to provide a spending overview once the month is done. Sound fair?

That being said, I owe you a budget update from the month of December!

December was a bit of a “wonky” month, so it’s a bit unique compared to other months. We had a couple really large expenses ($1600 root canal & $1100 car maintenance). We’ve been living on last month’s income for several months, but with $6550 to spend for the month and well over that amount in expenses, I ended up having to use all of last months income, plus dip into some income from the current month in order to cover all of our expenses.

Here’s what I did:

$6550 = last month’s income

$225 = Christmas money (from my savings account)

$1100 = from current month’s income to cover car repairs

$1600 = from current month’s income to cover dental work

= $9475 for spending in December

 

Place Planned Budget Actual Spent
Rent 1055 1055
Electricity 170 164
Water 60 56
Natural gas 20 23
Sprint (2 lines) 115 114
Cable/Internet 100 100
Car Insurance 56 46
Health Insurance 350 380
Trash 35 35
Debt 2078 2078
Miscellaneous 300 3361
Groceries 400 371
Baby Purchases 1200 1092
Gasoline 100 103
Saving for Irregular Expenses 495 495
Total Budgeted 6534 9473

 

After adding in the above funds, we were barely able to cover our expenses for the month. Why so high?

  1. Turns out our health insurance is rising after all. In honesty, I have no idea why it’s higher this month (I need to call and find out). I received notice that our monthly premiums would raise to $400/month for the 2015 year. Still much, much lower than other insurance plans I’d priced, but a $50/month hike from what it used to be.
  2. Christmas & Travel-related spending. Our actual travel expenses were pretty low, and we tried to keep gift-giving reasonable, but it did cost additional money outside of our regular budget.

Here’s how the miscellaneous category broke down:

  • Entertainment: Budgeted = $20, Actual = $21
  • Eating Out: Budgeted = $100, Actual = $61
  • Personal Maintenance: Budgeted = $30, Actual = $10
  • Other: Budgeted = $300, Actual = $3270

But if you take the “other” category ($3270) and subtract the dental work ($1600), car maintenance ($1100), and hotel from traveling to Austin ($140), you’re left with only $430 spent for everything else (including all the “regular” stuff that falls under this category in addition to all Christmas-related spending). Still a bit high, but not as bad once you realize that the overage is mostly due to those two really high bills this month (dental + car maintenance).

So there you go. And then, just to contradict myself, let me tell you about a couple of expenses that I’m planning for the month of January….

First, hubs and I are both getting our wills done! 2015 = year of becoming an adult, remember??

Also, I’m going to try to keep the costs low-low-low, but I have a couple gift-giving expenses to budget for. One friend got married, 3 family members have birthdays (including my step-dad’s big 60th birthday), and a baby shower (I’ve already got the gift for this, but need to mail it). Haven’t decided if the dental stuff (exams & x-rays) is going to happen this month or next month. Guess we’ll see how it goes!

Are you implementing any big budgetary changes for 2015?