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Hope’s Monthly Budget – Fall and Winter, 2017


This is my current monthly budget. A debt update is coming up next. I think most of this is self-explanatory, but I’ve added a few notes below.


Personal Expenses Business Expenses Summary
Allowance 400 Adobe 30 Total Personal 3634
Auto – Gas/Main 250 Cell Phones 286 Total Business 509
Auto/Rent Ins 315 Dropbox (annual – Oct) 8 Total Debt Payment 1920
Clothing (bi-annual) 150 Internet 77 Total Monthly Costs 6063
Electric 150 Microsoft (annual – Jan) 8
Groceries/Eating Out 600 Misc 100 Income
Gymnastics 350 Total Business 509 1099 3200
Health Ins 305 W-2 3462
Life Ins (annual – Dec) 21 Debt Payments
Rent 650 Car Payment 400 Total Income 6662
Spending 200 CC 100
Water/Gas/Trash 75 Computer Equipment 85 Savings Goals
Spanish 160 Other 500 Emergency Savings Goal 700
Amazon Prime (annual) 8 Self Lender (Christmas) 97 Couch
Student Loan 307
Summer Camp/Activities 375
Universal 56 Total Savings Goals 700
Total Personal 3634 Total Debt Payment 1920 Total Extra Income -101.0


Monthly Expenses – These are our day to day living expenses. Many have some flex money built in, specifically gymnastics which typically runs $240 per month. I added the extra money to cover the competition costs that must be paid during competition season (Nov-Apr.) I don’t know how much they will be with our new gym, last year I paid $600 in meet fees. Spanish is new. I’ve hired a online tutor to work Princess and Gymnast 1 hour a week, this was our first week.

Business Expenses – I’ve added my regular business expenses including our cell phones, internet and so on because I thought my budget would look funny with out these important expenses. (These are associated with my contract work.)

Debt Payments – I have another post on this category coming this week. I am grateful that a lot of this debt is chosen – summer camps and activities, Universal and a Self Lender loan (a chosen debt in an attempt to help repair my credit) versus stupid decisions or debt hoisted upon me by other’s decisions.

Income – I continue to work three jobs regularly, and have recently picked up a couple of new smaller contracts so we will see how they work out. The kids are starting to ask when I will cut down on my work hours. But I am not there yet.

Savings Goals – My emergency savings is still my #1 goal. But I am starting to think of other “things” I would like, specifically a couch. I’ve put it on the budget as a holding place, but I am not actively pursuing it at this time. In my head, I’m thinking next summer for a couch.


I am in the negative as far as this budget goes. Reality is that I spend quite a bit less than this on a regular basis, but there are certainly months where it is more. I feel like this is a true representation of where my money goes on a monthly basis.

My FSA, vision and dental insurance and 401K deductions all come out of W-2 income. I have consulted with an accountant and for this year, I am in a good place tax wise due to the Adoption Tax Credit. I will have to adjust my tax rate for next year.

Talking to Friends About Money


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)?

An “I Don’t Wanna” Kinda Day


It’s Saturday morning and I woke up today not wanting to think or worry about money anymore…like EVER.  I want to just have a day of finance free thinking.  That should be easy enough it seems but my error is that I want to then turn it into a spending frenzy kind of day!  I truly have an urge to go shop and I do not need a thing.  I could certainly create some need but it would be a total creation.  So, instead of surfing some shopping websites on the internet…I’m writing on the blog.

Insert pleasant hold music here.

I want to write a whole bunch of words that encourage me to be strong and sit still and not cave…but they aren’t coming to me.  Instead the words that are screaming in my head are all about those great outlet stores in between San Antonio and Austin.  Then my brain says if I am that far north I might as well hit IKEA.  I need to visit the parents in New Braunfels and I should take them some of this food I just got but I want to stop and get them something random too!

So welcome to my brain this morning…I wonder which part of it will win.  The smart gal who has kicked debt’s a** over the last year…or the brat who just wants a fix.

I’ll report back…



This weekend we celebrated the end of DD’s basketball season.  The girls had no wins out of their 14 games but had a genuinely good time.  Every time we have one of these celebrations I reflect on what we are teaching this next generation of kids about rewards and incentives because, yes, every girl gets a trophy.  I try to find a way to give my kids the lesson that life isn’t all about winning.  You will lose in this life and you will win in this life and sometimes you won’t get a trophy.  You should always do your best even if you aren’t guaranteed a big party at the end.  Doing our best is what we are called to do, period. These parties send me into soapbox moments with the kids although I have recently been better about finding the balance and not overdosing them on this kind of info.

Now when I visit with them, I am sure to draw connections to finances because I know part of the reason I got to the bad money place I am in is because I had a reward based mentality for myself and couldn’t delay the gratification when it came to spending.  Interesting when you think about the fact that I had no issue delaying the reward of earning my degrees and even in my late teens I had this strong work ethic with my studies that I wish I had a shred of regarding money.  Study hard, work hard and you get the benefit…later.  But with money I never had that same attitude.  With money it was always “spend what you want now, don’t wait for the reward because you DESERVE this.”  I want my kids to have more balance in the money realm and know that the better choice is to try to spend less, save and enjoy the benefits later. 

And that concludes your overdose of food for thought for today!

Weekend Money Saving


Wow!  It is Sunday night and I spent all of $5 from my spending money for the entire weekend.  I bought one cucumber martini while out celebrating a friend’s birthday and otherwise it was a spend free weekend!  Then late tonight I went to the grocery store and bought everything needed for 5 meals and 5 lunches (for 3) for $60.   That is about $2.00 per person, per meal for those of you calculating.  And it is all real food.

My kids are with their dad this coming week.   This will be my first week alone but the kids’ schedules always result in my seeing them each day.  Their dad and I shuttle them from place to place and then on his weeks, they spend the night with him.  This weekend was another reminder of why I am so thankful that I have a great friendship with their dad.  So much tension is gone now and we are able to do what we do so well–parent our kids.  I did not realize how difficult that had become as I was draining myself trying to keep things afloat here.

Although it was his weekend, we enjoyed DD’s volleyball game together and then I took the kids to see the counselor Steve and I had been seeing for quite some time.  She visited with each child about 45 minutes and then went over things with me individually.  The great news is the kids are “stable” in their dad and I.  Even with all of this chaos, their dad and I have been a constant and the counselor really emphasized just how well we are doing at being divorced.  The kids told her separately that they are thankful we are friends and get along.  They have friends that do not have that situation.  I firmly believe we do this as well as we do because we got out of the marriage before any bitterness took root.  I also know that we are better parents because we are divorced.  I do things that I would not have done (good things) had we stayed married and vice versa.  My son often tells stories he hears from friends about fighting married parents and he’s very aware of the unique divorce situation he comes from.  I am a firm believer that you cannot stay together “for the kids” because no matter how well you think you are doing that, the kids know.  Likewise, we all owe it to our kids to be divorced well and while it is never easy (trust me, I am thankful for text messages and emails b/c my ex-husband and I often get many of our issues resolved via those means!) I consider it my duty.  The counselor will work with each kiddo for a few sessions to work on specific issues resulting from my marriage to Steve.  With my son it is about missing his step brother and struggling with guilt about experiencing relief.  There may have been no good way to handle that separation but I”m pretty sure the way it was done was one of the worst options.   For my daughter, she will get help with some expressed conflict over the situation.  She is acutely aware that the situation was not good but still naturally misses her stepdad and stepbrother.  That’s a HUGE life lesson for her and one we could all benefit from.  I am slowly, slowly seeing the silver lining.

My posts will continue to be less than in the past for the foreseeable future.  A big reason for that is much of my life right now is about getting through the logistics of the separation and divorce.  I find myself wanting to share so much about what is going on but I will not.   My reasons for that are twofold:  A) it isn’t a divorce blog and B) I won’t spend another ounce of energy on that situation.

Thank you again for so many great posts.  I do read them all and wish I could respond but I don’t have it in the tank right now.  Just know that many times I am in desperate need of a little push to get me through and your comments come in just when I need them.  For those of you who have expressed concern about the cost of a contentious divorce, rest assured there is nothing to fight over.  The marriage was brief and there was always a measure of holding back that kept our finances pretty distinct and separate.


New Numbers for June 2012!


I am so excited to report that we managed to get our emergency savings right back to the amount we started with at the beginning of May!  Given the hurdles that the month presented–my excel error and the big chunk that had to go to childcare–I am feeling good about that!

The debt paydown numbers are still pretty small–but no new debt is no small feat!  I’ve also managed to save near $150 of the $400 “cash” over the last two weeks!  I MUST confess though that I succumbed to Whataburger today!  So, I COULD have $166 saved…but that cost me $16 for 3 of us.  Ask me tomorrow if I regret it because as of right now…it was worth it!  :-\   I might turn around and send my $150 savings to that small $162 card but then again I like having the little set aside growing.

I also want to tell you that tomorrow I will be making a $1,600 payment to the card with the $2422 balance!  WOW!  This is so exciting!  For at least the last 2 years as I hid in shame about my debt I never thought I’d pay more than the minimums….for the rest of my life.  It was in that darkness and shame that I found new ways to use credit to just continue to mask the issue…to get the quick fix.  I know that sounds dramatic, but what a huge weight off of my shoulders to have the money to pay well over half of a credit card balance! 

Thank you for joining me in now 3 months on this blog journey.  I definitely feel like we have turned a corner and in many ways I envision myself peeking around a corner and instead of seeing a train coming at me…I see wide open spaces with room to run!  Room to breathe!  What a wonderful feeling to build upon in the months to come!

My weekly budget


The budget talks with my husband have been resolved via a compromise.  As of June 1, we are adding a separate grocery budget of $125 per week (remember we had been taking our grocery money out of the $200 spending) and then each keeping our respective $200.  This effectively increases weekly spending money by about $50-$60.  I still wanted to push for more cut backs but the warning signs of jumping off the debt payoff ship were evident so this is a good compromise. I anticipate with time we will add more budget line items like kids, clothing, gas, fitness, etc….but this is where we are now.

The discussion about budgets did, however, prompt me to write out how I plan to spend my $200.  I got a free app “budget envelopes” and have created virtual envelopes to track how my $200 is spent.  For this week I am still buying 1/2 of the groceries with this money.  Thankfully it is a small grocery need week with lots of meals already available at home and with the kids at lots of events where meals are provided!  My $200 is broken down like this: 

$25 to clothing

$30 to kids

$50 to the van (gas and hopefully building up an account for oil changes and the like)

$10 to dry cleaning (so that I can get about $30 done per month and rollover the rest)

$25 to yoga (saving toward buying a package so I save more per class)

$60 leftover for groceries and “spend.”  My plan is to reduce that spend money each week as I get better at this.  

As of today, I have spent $0 of the clothing money, $15 for the kids ($5 to a scout event, $10 for two birthday gifts for parties), $40 on gas, $46.00 of the cash (of which $37.50 has been groceries), $0 of the dry cleaning and $0 of the yoga money.That’s $101 and have $99 remaining.  Of that $99, there is only $14.00 remaning in the “spend” column.  I really should not need more than $14 for things but my goodness does seeing only $14 there make you stop and think!  I REALLY want to have at least $90 remaining on Friday!  That would be so cool to go into the next week with that rollover fund starting! 

Another benefit I noted–yesterday I had to come up to the office for about 3 hours.  I brought 7-year-old DD with me and as we left the house she was suddenly hungry.  I DID remember to bring snacks but noted that this is a withdrawal process for DD and so…I agreed to stop for a snack and then as I drove to the office, she was in charge of inputting the deduction for that snack!  When she saw the spending money go from $18 to $14 she didn’t think much….until we were returning home and again she wanted to stop!  I reminded her of our budget line and she quickly said “we have snacks right here…we should just go home.”  She didn’t like it but WOW what a moment!!!  I must employ this method with the older ones ASAP just so they get the “hands on” part of it.  Although I recognize they won’t be nearly as cooperative or excited as she was about the whole thing!

So this is my newest addition to the process.  Steve isn’t biting on this one but he says he does have part of his $200 set aside.  I think giving each of us total control over the $200 is reasonable although I still don’t think it necessary.   Time will tell.