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Posts tagged with: monthly budget

Weekly Update #4- Orlando Trip


Hey everybody!

I’m back from my visit with my sister and my nephew. I couldn’t be more stoked that I went. An amazing trip. I got to Orlando on Wednesday night/ Thursday morning at 12:30AM (just barely, though. I made my connecting flight by the skin of my teeth. 2 minutes later and they would have taken off without me.) Since my sis and her fiance are both Cast Members at Walt Disney World, we spent all of Thursday at Magic Kingdom with the baby. Friday was spent hanging out with my sister and other family that was visiting, while her fiance worked. Saturday was spent at Epcot and Animal Kingdom and I left very early Sunday morning.

Here’s a picture of me and baby on my favorite ride, Living with the Land, in Epcot:

Disney Pic


He was so amazing and seemed to love the rides we took him on (if sleeping on them means loving them, lol). The only ride he didn’t like was Haunted Mansion, which he just screamed and screamed and screamed on.

OK, so for the financial aspect of my journey, I had budgeted $200.00 (above the $70 I normally carry in cash) for the trip, but it ended up tallying $280.00, give or take. I took it all in cash and had too much change left over to count, I just threw it all in my change jar. I would have been pretty close if I had accounted for the $25 in baggage fees each way for my checked bag. Oh well, I’ll know better next time. The remaining $230.00 was spent mainly on food. I bought dinner on Wednesday (McDonald’s) when I arrived, snacks throughout Magic Kingdom on Thursday, dinner at Sweet Tomatoes Thursday night, dinner at Downtown Disney on Friday night and snacks throughout the day on Saturday. Given the fact we ate so much in Disney, the damage could have been much worse, but my sis gets a pretty nice Cast Member discount that could be used at each stop.

So, here’s what my budget looks like for February:

Weekly Update #4

I have yet to return the juicer (ugh), but I’ve vowed to do that sometime this week, hopefully as early as tonight. But thankfully, even though I spent a majority of week in Florida, I was still able to pay $497.85 on my student loans, which brings the tallies to:

Loan NameInterest RateOriginal Balance- May '09Current BalanceTotal Paid Off
Sallie Mae 015.25$27,837.24$24,462.48$3,374.76
Sallie Mae 024.75$22,197.02$19,189.15$3,007.87
Sallie Mae 037.75$20,692.10$655.99$20,036.11
Sallie Mae 045.75$10,350.18$7,723.61$2,226.57
Sallie Mae 055.25$6,096.03$5,356.99$739.04
Sallie Mae 06 & 074.75$6,415.09$0.00$6,415.09
Sallie Mae- DOE 015.25$5,000.00$0.00$5,000.00
Sallie Mae- DOE 025.25$3,000.00$0.00$3,000.00

My current slush fund balance didn’t change from the previous post:

Slush Fund= $2,577.57

For the following week, with V-day (Saturday) and my birthday (Sunday) coming up we have some plans for the weekend, but nothing that will cost a significant amount. I have some money budgeted and a pretty good plan for my V-day gift, but I can’t reveal how much and what I’m buying until next week (my GF reads this too, lol). How is everyone else going to spend their Valentine’s Day? Do you treat it like a holiday to celebrate your spouse, or do you see it as a “Hallmark Holiday”? Let me know in the comments! I know couples that do both. Some see it as a nice day to enjoy time together, and others just see it as another day.

Hope’s 2015 Monthly Budget


Seeing what my new monthly expenditures should be is a good start to formulating my debt payoff plan.  So without further ado, here’s my estimated budget for our month to month living as of today.

DescriptionMonthly Budget
Life Insurance$23
Auto/Rent Insurance$75
Car Expense (gas, maintenance)$300
BE - Cell Phone$230
BE - Home Internet $66
BE - Client Expenses$10
BE - Online Storage$10
Debt - Retail #2 CC$39
Debt - Car Loan$96
Debt - CC$109
Savings - Emergency Fund$100

Those labeled with BE are business expenses that I am able to write off on my taxes and are primarily used for business.

A couple of things to note:


-Water Bill: I am still estimating my monthly water bill.  I’ve only received two to date…one was $30 and one was $80.  I’m going with the higher number to be safe.

-Electric Bill: Same with electric, we didn’t turn on the heat until a week or so ago, so haven’t really gotten an accurate picture of what the electric bill will be here with heat/air running, so again going with a hopefully too high number to be on the safe side.

-Car Insurance: I don’t know what my new monthly bill will be, but anticipate it to be no more than $75, will know for sure next month. (I just cancelled the insurance on the van this week.)

-Storage: I had no choice but to get a storage unit, but luckily was able to get one here on property so the kids have access to their bikes and it’s easy for me to store stuff that we use every once in a while without it being prohibitive to get to it.  The twins are actually riding their bikes to work almost daily so I’m glad this worked out.

-Cell Phone: This bill is still higher than I’d like.  I’m working on getting the business discount and still wavering on dropping my ipad coverage.  I really do use it…but so this may be a change that happens this month.

-Car Expenses: I left this category as is.  Even though I know I am going to spend WAY less on gas now.  With it being an older car, I imagine there will be more maintenance required.  (Had to pull the hazard light button out with a knife yesterday.)  And if it’s not used, well, it can be savings towards my new to me car down the line, right?

-Kids: I used to have this broken up into spending monies, activities and education, but I’ve decided to lump it together because every month is different.  I really only pay education expenses three times a year for our homeschool co op (Sept and Jan) and when I pick out curriculum for the next year (May.) And with the twins working now, they don’t get as much money from me.  So I lowered the amount a bit and lumped it in.  Any not used is rolled into the next month as it will all be spent.

-Emergency Fund: Now that I don’t have my part time job funding this account, I’ve decided to add a small amount to my monthly budget to make sure it continues to grow.

Now for my income…my steady income is down due to the loss of child support monies for the time being. (For those that were following that, he has caught up on car payments, but no kid money to date.)  As you know, my monthly income from work (<=link to my “what I do” post on my personal blog) fluctuates.  I did however get a bump in my adoption subsidy payment of $40 per month – woohoo!  (This is state or federal, I’m not sure which, amount, I was surprised when it went up, but grateful.)

For budgeting, I decided to only count on the monies that are steady every month.  (Like Ashley’s husband, I have super good months too, and thankfully have never gone below this number in the past 6 years now.)  So here is where we are at on a typical month:

Extra Toward Debt$1417
Monthly Income$5247
Monthly Budget$3830

Wow, I really like that site!  $1,400 extra towards debt every month…and on a good month for work and/or when I get some child support…that number will only go up!


Next up…the Plan!



A New Budget – First Pass


I’ve put this off long enough, it’s time to come up with a new monthly budget for our new life and space.  Bear with me as I haven’t started receiving utility bills here yet so I’m not sure how they are going to run. I will tell you that we’ve had no A/C or heat running for the past month as it stays really warm in here with all the surrounding units running theirs constantly. Even now, the windows are open. So here’s my first pass at the new budget:

CategoryEstimated Monthly Total
Life Insurance$25
Auto/Renter's Insurance$150
Kids Misc - school, activities$275
Kid's "Allowance"$480
Car - Gas & Maintenance$350
Subtotal Personal$3457
Business Expenses
Phone Service$215
Subtotal Business$301
Total Monthly Expenses$3758

I did not include my debt in this budget as I really don’t have a plan in place for that yet. Since the house closed yestarday, I will start receiving the final bills from all the utilities and that will eat up a good chunk of any extra debt payments. I anticipate being able to get back on the debt payoff race in January once those extra utility accounts are closed out. Through today, I’ve paid these additional monthly bills on the old house:

Electric $196
Gas $57
Waster & Sewer $232 (this is a quarterly bill, so some is from when we actually lived there)
Trash $36 <- This is the final amount for this bill as I cancelled the service once all the renovation was complete. So I should have one more set of the top three of these to deal with in December and then I can officially close the chapter on that part of my life.

August Budget Update


The month of August has gone pretty well budget-wise. Although we still had a couple overages, they were tiny in comparison to last month’s overage (due to the $1600 root canal the husband needed). If you want a reminder, see my budget posts for July and August here.

Place  August Budget August Actual
Rent  1055 1055
Electricity  251 251
Water  65 54
Natural gas  17 17
Sprint (2 lines) 115 115
Cable/Internet  100 35
Car Insurance 104 104
Health Insurance 350 350
Trash  35 35
Gym  0 0
Debt 2609 2610
Miscellaneous  300 339
Groceries  400 337
Baby Purchases  2000 1889
Gasoline  100 102
Saving for Irregular Expenses  440 440
Total Budgeted  8136 7733

 In terms of the overages, we were a little over in the miscellaneous category (which consists of entertainment, eating out, personal maintenance, and other). The overage was due to eating out (budgeted $100, actual $123) and “other” (budgeted $150, actual $208), but some of the overage was off-set by being under in the other two categories (entertainment budgeted $20, actual $3; and personal maintenance budgeted $30, actual $5). In general, I think this is the closest I’ve come to the budgeted amount in the miscellaneous category since I started blogging. I’ll call that a “win.”

If you recall, we had $8322 to budget for the month of August, so this leaves us with money leftover. The plan was to apply extra funds toward an additional car payment. Ultimately, though, I’ve decided to save the extra money and put it toward our September funds.

Why, you ask?

Weeeeellllllll, August turned out to be a bit of a dud in terms of our income. I knew this would be the case for me (remember, I didn’t draw a single paycheck from University A this month due to the schedule of payment). But the big surprise was that husband’s income was pretty crappy this month, too (despite working a LOT). Thus is the life of a small business owner. Some of the reason for hubby’s lower-than-expected income was that he had to do some warranty work, for which he still pays his employees, and pays for replacement parts, but he does not earn any money from the job. Additionally, he’s waiting on a paycheck that was supposed to come through this month, but won’t end up making it to his bank account until September (it was supposed to be deposited on Friday, but now looks like – due to the holiday weekend – he won’t get the money until Tuesday). And, finally,  he’d had a huge commercial job that was supposed to be in August that just kept getting pushed back and back and back. This happens a lot when dealing with corporations (as opposed to home-owners. Hubby is licensed to do wood flooring for both residential and commercial, so he deals with both). Commercial properties tend to net more money, but they can be a whole lot more hassle, too. Hopefully that job will come through in September.

Soooooo, yes. I’ll share the details about our September budget plans tomorrow morning. But suffice it to say, we will need the leftover money from this month to be applied to next month (remember we’re living on last month’s income, so the money we made this month will actually be used for expenses occurring in September).

This is a major bummer. I was secretly hoping to get the car paid off between December and January. To do so, we’d have to be paying $3,000/month between August and then (plus a snowflake payment here or there). Well, only $1500 ended up going toward the car in August, and its looking like even less will be applied toward the car next month. So we can kiss that Christmas time-frame goodbye.

Instead of lingering on the disappointment, I want to look at the positive side of things. We are still doing really well financially and have been ever since I started blogging here! We’ve vastly reduced the interest rate on the car loan (from 7.75% to 2.49%), and have been making big dents in the balance. We’ve got a good sized emergency fund that has been able to buffer us from life’s happenings (like all of last month’s unexpected expenses) so we are no longer in danger of having to use credit if anything unanticipated arises. It feels great to no longer use credit cards as a means of survival (literally – several years ago I had to rely on credit cards to pay our rent one month, not to mention groceries and gasoline).

Even in spite of my tremendous amount of student loan debt (and our other debts that we’re whittling away at), I feel like we’ve come so far and we’re in such a good financial position to continue kicking some debt-booty.

This minor monetary set-back won’t hinder my determination or resolve. We’ll still kill this car loan. I’m just as motivated as ever!

How did you do with your August budget? Have any set backs this month?

A New Budget – Hope


To make it easier for find the history here, I am starting this with links to my original money posts:

The Nuts and Bolts detailed my monthly budget. That’s changed.

Hump Day is Hope Day gave a pretty thorough explanation of my debt as I started this journey at BAD and my plan of action for tackling it. Then I updated my debt numbers as I evaluate a new plan.

I Got a New Job details how I started a part time job in order to increase my income and expedite this pay off journey. Still going strong though I have cut down to 8 hours per week for the summer.

Then, I wrote about how I have decided to change my plan of action after evaluating comments from the BAD community and looking at my near future (next couple of years) and housing situation.

So here we are, summer plans are in full affect and we have already returned from our first of two long road trips planned for this summer.  This week all four kids are involved in FREE activities: vacation Bible school for the little ones and robotics camp for the twins.  Not only are the twins volunteering their time running this robotics camp but it will fulfill their fundraising obligation for their competitive team next fall.

So let’s start with the new budget numbers:


Rent 1325
Groceries 600
Utilities – Gas, electric, water & sewage 350
Life Ins 23
Auto & Renter’s Insurance 150
Netflix 8
Verizon 211
Internet 57
Dropbox 10
Car Expenses 300
Kids Activities 100
Kids School 175
Landscaping 120
Kids Spending 240
Total Monthly Budget 3669
Student Loans 0
Car Loan – NV 696
Line of Credit 218
Retail Card 99
Credit Card 150
Joint Account 0
Car Loan – Honda 0
Total Minimum Payment 1163
Total Monthly Output 4832

You’ll notice some changes between my initial budget and this one. I’m just going to point out a couple:

  1. I am no longer paying my ex-husband’s life insurance so that bill got cut in half.  Granted it’s just 20-something dollars, but every little bit helps, right?
  2. The item that once was kid’s allowance is now kid’s spending money.  They must now earn it with work around the house, outside of their family chores so that may flux a bit.
  3. As you’ve seen with my kids’ activities/school, that money is collected from month to month and then spent when needed.

One last note, I have decided to take the BAD community’s advice on our landscaping line item at the end of this summer. With all the travel already planned it just not practical right now.  So this will 1) give me time to research the tools we need and 2) save the money to purchase them.  Any suggestions on lawn equipment would be greatly appreciated…remember I am not mechanical so we really need to start off with something that doesn’t need work to work.  We have about 1/2 acre to maintain every week and a HOA who will make sure it is done every week so I’ve got to get mentally prepared to make that happen.

Note: I’m still working on my debt pay off plan and should have that up next week along with estimated pay off dates.

Ashley’s May Budget Update


Ashley’s May Budget Update

I recently gave a debt update so I won’t rehash those details here. Instead, let’s talk about how we did on our budget for the month of May.

Item Budgeted Actual
Rent $1055 $1055
Electricity $100 $79
Water bill $75 $57
Gas bill $75 $18
Sprint (2 lines) $150 $115
Cable/Internet $85 $85
Car Insurance $90 $90
Health Insurance $350 $350
Waste Management $35 $35
Debt $1500  $5453
Miscellaneous $250  $425
Groceries $380 $406
Baby Purchases $600 $500
Gasoline $100 $109
Savings for Irregular Purchases $190 $190
Total: $5035  $8967


So let’s talk about this stuff…..

Rent is “set.”

Our electric bill was within budget, but I already got the bill for this month and its over $100. It surprised me how much it jumped, but I think its only going to continue to rise across the summer months. I’m going to alter the budget for the summer months, increasing the amount allocated toward electricity to $150, and decreasing the amount allocated toward gas to $25 (same dollar amount, overall, but redistributing the funds away from gas and toward electric).

Water budget stays as-is.

Gas budget decreases to $25/month (see above).

Sprint budget will decrease to $115. I’m a little disappointed because I jumped through some hoops to lower this bill and was told it was lowered to $100….but then taxes and fees get added on and the final amount was actually $115. Still lower than the old bill, but not by as much as I’d hoped.

Cable/internet stays as-is.

Car insurance stays as-is.

Health insurance stays as-is.

Waste management (trash) stays as-is.

Debt. Can we get a moment of silence in appreciation of the DISGUSTING amount of money applied toward debt during the month of May? I mean….seriously. I looked at our monthly income for the past year, and the amount we paid toward debt was more than our TOTAL MONTHLY INCOME for the following months: January 2013, March – April 2013, June – July 2013, and Sept 2013 through Feb 2014. Insane.

In terms of miscellaneous and groceries, I went “over budget” in both of these areas (mostly because of my one day falling off the wagon). I’m going to give it one more month trying to stay within these budgeted amounts. If I fail again (what will be the third month in a row), then I may bump my grocery budget back up to $400. I’m really trying to stick to $380 or below!

This is the first month in a long time I went over on gasoline (but not by much). I don’t do a lot of driving so this doesn’t concern me too much, and the amount budgeted ($100) will stay the same.

In regard to savings for irregular purchases, I’m going to increase this a little. After our discussions about dental health, I think I need to start setting aside a little more money for upcoming dental visits for the husband. As a reminder, we have been saving $190/month:

  • $40 for semi-annual fees (car title/registration fees)
  • $50 for car maintenance (oil changes, saving extra for any necessary repairs and for potential new-to-us used truck fund for husband….probably won’t be needed until winter).
  • $50 for dental/vision….will increase to $125/month
  • $25 for travel and Christmas
  • $25 for 3-6 month expenses

My plan is to increase this amount from $190/mont to $265/month (an extra $75/month for dental).


Finally,  let’s break apart the “debt” figure to see why this is so high!

First, let me give an update on the snowflake payments I made from our April surplus (note, these funds are NOT included in the May figures because this money is from April surplus funds).

At the end of the month, we had $3197 leftover.

After talking to the husband we allocated the funds as such:

  • $1,000 toward our 3-6 month savings (I know readers have disliked this in the past, but husband is really pro-savings so this was a compromise, rather than allocating all toward debt).
  • $1560 toward Wells Fargo
  • $181 toward Mattress Firm (paid off account)
  • $460 toward back taxes. I never mentioned it, but similar to Steph, we pay estimated quarterly taxes. Key word being “estimated.” We weren’t too far off, but we did owe a little money, so we paid toward taxes out of the surplus.

Note…I realize this actually totals to $3201 (not $3197), and I never accounted for this $4 overage anywhere in our budget. Soooo, yeah. I wasn’t worried about it since its only $4. Not a big deal.

Here are our May debt payments:

  • Wells Fargo = $4140 (that’s an $800 “regular” payment + a $3340 “I cant take it anymore, must pay this off” payment).
  • Sallie Mae Federal (8.25% APR) student loan = 62
  • Carmax car loan = $470
  • Bank of America = $35
  • ACS Student loan = $25
  • License Fees = $55
  • Medical Debt = $666 (<yikes!)

A little update on the medical debt drama. I have now established payment plans for 3 separate entities at $25, $50, and $75 respectively (amounting to $150/month).

Do you remember all the drama I was having with our insurance company and the Mayo Clinic? Well finally I received a response…..the insurance agent we had spoken with (who said a flat rate of $100 would be applied toward the bill) was wrong. That’s only for out-of-network hospital stays. Ours was an out-of-network consultation. No money is granted for that. So after literally 5 months of back-and-forth, we were left empty handed. I called Mayo Clinic and asked if they would give me a reduced bill if I paid in full. They could do 10% (I pressed for more, but no luck), so I whipped out my debit card and paid off the entirety of the $516 bill. This was certainly rash and probably not in our best financial interest since this debt is interest-free and I could have applied that money toward our Bank of America credit card. But I was so exasperated and irritated with all the time and energy I’ve spent on this bill that I just couldn’t take it and I wanted it out of my life forever. Would I do it again? I don’t know….I’d probably put the money toward BoA. Did it feel good in the moment? You betcha!

So there’s that.

Future debt payments will be as follows:

  • Sallie Mae Federal Loans (8.25%) = 62
  • Carmax = 470….PenFed = 400 (after just refinancing we have a new lienholder and a lower monthly payment)
  • Bank of America =  1005 (snowballing payments: $800 from WF, $100 from Mattress Firm, $35 from BoA, and 70 from the car refinance since our payments are now lower)
  • ACS Student Loan = 25
  • License fees = 55
  • Medial Debt = 150

Total debt payments = $1697/month

And any surplus will be allocated toward BoA. My goal is to eradicate it THIS MONTH (June) so I’m hoping for some leftover funds at the end of the month to do so. You can see all my revised financial goals here.

This has turned out to be incredibly long so I’ll cut myself off here. Back this afternoon with an update on our income for the month of May.

Hope you all have a great Monday!!!

Any suggestions or advice for my current debt-reduction plans? Any areas where you see room for improvement?

Revised Budget


With new tax adjustments on my paycheck my take home pay is $2930 every two weeks.  I have consistently made at least $200 in Pampered Chef commission bringing my total net pay $6,060.00.

Here is what I pay that is NOT debt related:

Rent:  $1075

Insurance (car and rental): $80

Orthodontist: $65

Verizon: $100

Piano: $90

Life Ins (this is a separate policy from what I have through work): $30

Utilities: $75

Water: $40

Afterschool Care: $190

Netflix/Hulu: $20

Gym:  $25

TOTAL of known monthly expenses:  $1790


Groceries:  $300

Gas:  $100

Dogs: $50

Entertainment: $50

Drycleaning: $25

Kids School Fees/Supplies: $25

Health/Beauty (hair, skin, etc) $30

Additional Items Total: $530



My minimum payments on the remaining debt total $1,100.  This leaves me an extra $2,590 to put toward debt each month!  I look at that number and I am amazed!  I have had to make some very uncomfortable and humbling decisions over the last 8 months but to see that number and know what it means makes it all worth it.  Wow.  I’ll pay off that villain Bank of America in the  month of May (I’ll be about $165 short for a total payoff but I am hoping for some found money that month either via PC or taking more kids’ clothing to the resale shop…something…) and then that whopping $520 can be sent to the card with the $12,770 balance making a huge dent in that one.  I should be able to knock that out in 4 months.  At that point a full $3,680 will go toward the final $19,000 signature loan.  Can you believe it?!

I’m more comfortable with my budget now b/c I’ve paid attention to what I spend on these categories and for the last few months this has worked.  Budgeting is such a fluid thing and the danger for someone like me is that when things go off track I want to go completely off track and give up.  That isn’t how this can ever work and when I think about that I get tired.  Then I remember that with each passing day I am simplifying my life and if my income maintains (and hopefully increases) this will get easier SO LONG AS I keep my focus.  Whew.  It’s daunting to think about but I am in such a better place that I was a year ago.

Using some debt payoff calculators, I’m looking at roughly 6-8 months to be debt free.  I think I’m gonna cry.  No, really…and I am not a crier!  I am holding my breath though as I type that out because if I have learned nothing else from this journey I have learned that having a plan doesn’t always mean much.  Life comes at you non-stop with the unexpected.  I am very proud that I once predicted (when I was married) that we’d be debt free by December 2013.  If things go really well I might very well be finishing before that date!