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Posts tagged with: spending less

Talking to Friends About Money

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Today I wanted to talk about something a little taboo (I guess we’ll just keep with the theme, since today’s mid-day post was a bit taboo, also).

Do you ever talk with your friends about money? Not just casual mentions of money, but deeper conversations about budgeting, debt payments, financial goals, etc?

Confession: when I first started blogging here I hadn’t ever talked about money (on a deeper level) with any of my friends, ever! It made for a challenging transition from my old spending habits to my newer (more frugal) ones.

Eventually I slowly started talking a little bit about how I’ve been working to pay down our debts. One of my friends, in particular, has been really kind about my debt reduction mission. She still doesn’t know specifics (exact figures of debt versus monthly payments, etc. etc.), but she knows that I’ve become much more money-conscious (side note: she’s actually made innocent comments occasionally about how “tight” money is right now in our household. LOL! If she only knew the truth = that we spend $2,000/month on DEBT!!!).

This friend and I used to get together nearly once a week for lunch or a happy hour and, instead, we now get together to do a little 3-mile walk/jog on a popular jogging trail here in Tucson. I love it because I’m able to get some exercise and some girl talk all at once, and to do so for 100% free!

But still….no one knows the extent of our debt situation, nor the sacrifices we’ve made to really try to chip away at our debt.

I have a different friend that I was chatting with the other day. She and her husband were preparing their taxes and realized that last year they’d had a dramatic income boost – 33% over the previous year. The scary part is that she said she has absolutely NO IDEA where the money has gone. They still have the same living arrangements (same modest apartment, same old car, no new baby, same basic “stuff”), so it’s not like their expenses have gone up. Just…the money has disappeared.

To be totally fair, she recognized that her spending has gotten a little “willy-nilly” lately (e.g., extra Starbucks runs, more dining out), and my friend is one of the most generous people ever so she spent a TON at Christmas (I don’t want to give her financial specifics, but when she told me the amount she’d spent on family I was SHOCKED!) I’m sure she’s equally as generous throughout the year with other occasions (birthdays, showers, etc.)

So after hearing all this, where does the conversation go from there? I know my friend has some debt (student loans at a minimum, though I don’t know specifics about other consumer-related debts), and I want her to win with money! I wanted to tell her all about what I’ve been doing, to encourage her to examine her spending, make a budget, try to cut back, etc. etc. etc. Only…I didn’t feel comfortable to do so completely unsolicited.

I did mention that I’d been working really hard this last year to pay off debts by really trying to stick to a budget (hoping this would open the door for more questions), but the conversation just kind of ended there. She picked up with a different topic.

So what would you do? Do you talk to friends about money? Would you ever do so unsolicited, or simply wait to be asked? It feels like a weird topic (kind of like trying to push your religion on a friend), but I’ve just felt so thrilled with my progress this past year and I really WANT my friend to do well financially, too! Especially with their big income boost, they deserve some financial wins, you know? But it’s definitely still so taboo.

How do you feel about the topic?
Would you talk to your friend(s) about money? Would you try to encourage them to get on a budget, or just let them see how you live your life (with the hopes that one day they ask about your success)?


Planned November Budget

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This was another “meh” month with our income. We live on last month’s income and last month we only made a combined total of $5805 (after taxes). I added an extra $50 to our income (with money leftover from October’s budget), which leaves us with a total income of $5855 to work with.

I have to admit, when I sat down to make the budget for this month I was a little bummed.

In my “prototype” budget I had my car debt payment set at $3,000. Ha! We didn’t even break the $6,000 mark for income, so paying $3,000 to a single bill is not happening. We just literally don’t have enough. Instead, I had to lower my payment to only a mere $745. That’s it. I played and played with the numbers, trying to get my debt payments higher but I think that in lean months such as these, the #1 MOST important goal is this: Don’t add new debt!!! So instead of having my budget set up with overages in various categories, I had to lower my debt payments so as to keep things at- or under-budget. I’m still making larger than minimum payments, so I’m making progress. It just feels a little “blah” to pay so little in terms of the “extra” toward debt. I just have to remind myself that every bit helps! Relentless forward progress!!! (<<<a favorite running saying that I think applies here, too)

Here’s our planned November budget:

PlacePlanned Budget
Rent1055
Electricity170
Water60
Natural gas20
Sprint (2 lines)115
Cable/Internet100
Car Insurance56
Health Insurance350
Trash35
Debt1498
Miscellaneous300
Groceries400
Baby Purchases1100
Gasoline100
Saving for Irregular Expenses495
Total Budgeted5854

 

I owe you all a full debt update (maybe next week? Those take me the longest to prepare), but here’s a little breakdown of what’s being paid toward each debt:

  • Medical Bill 1 = $25
  • Medical Bill 2 = $50
  • Medical Bill 3 = $75
  • License Fees = $250
  • Car Payment = $745
  • Student Loan 1 = $77
  • Student Loan 2 = $260
  • Student Loan 3 = $16

Total Debt Payment = $1498

 

Now I’ve got some questions for you all regarding my savings.

First, to give you some background, when I first started blogging here (back in March 2014), I had slashed my savings way down to $190/month. Then, slowly, across the course of the past 9 months my savings have crept back up. I realized my semi-annual savings were too low (I’d forgotten about some of my semi-annual payments, and I added a new one – our renter’s insurance); I also increased the amount saved toward several categories (car maintenance, dental/vision, vet care) in response to the fact that we have upcoming needs in these areas and I felt it would be prudent to plan for those in advance rather than being surprised by the big bills when they pop up.

So what started as only $190 in monthly savings has slowly crept up to $495 in monthly savings.

On the whole, I feel good about my savings categories. I feel like this is money we will certainly need for expenses in the future and instead of not having a plan for how to pay for them, we’ll have money already set aside.

That being said, this is a very lean month. December will probably be quite lean as well. Plus, I have some potentially large expenses coming up. I’ll need to have money set aside to buy a couple nice interview outfits and some travel expenses for the month of December.

With all of this being said, what do you all think about me setting aside my “savings” money for these other purposes? I could split it roughly in half, putting $250 toward planned December travel expenses (which should cover about half the total expenses – see here), and $245 toward funds to-be-used on a nice interview outfit or two (I have to admit I have NO IDEA how much I’ll need for my interview clothes).

For reference sake, here’s how I currently have my savings categorized:

  • Semi-Annual Bills = $100
  • Car Maintenance = $100
  • Dental/Vision/Health = $125
  • Travel/Christmas = $25
  • 3-6 Months Expenses = $25
  • Dog/Vet Care = $10
  • Girls’ Birthday Savings = $10
  • Roth IRA = $100

I know it’s a slippery slope to stop contributing to these savings permanently (i.e., I KNOW the semi-annual bills are going to happen, so it’s unwise not to prepare for them), but do you think it would be prudent to stop the contributions for a single month so I can use this money toward these other things (i.e., interview clothes and travel expenses)? If not, from where should I draw this money? Contribute less toward debt payments? Try to sell more things? Something else?

I appreciate any and all tips or suggestions. Thanks!


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