Category Archives: by the numbers

May by the Numbers

May was my first month entirely unemployed, though I did receive unemployment benefits. Thankfully, my husband’s work has improved considerably in the last few months.

And, believe it or not, we made a little progress on our debt – even if by accident.

First, we traded in a huge stack of old DVDs (movies and TV series we no longer wanted) to a local shop that buys used media.

So extra income for the month: $71

I’ve been putting in my student loan payment manually for the that last few months. That is to say, when we got so far ahead, they removed the auto payment feature, so I had to remember to pay each month. For some reason, this month, the auto payment was reinstated, AFTER I’d already payed for May. Meaning, we paid twice this month on my student loan.

Extra Debt paid: $211

Total Debt paid in May: $461

Total Debt Paid Since Jan 2013: $1,426
(This does not count the money we’ve been putting into The Crisis Fund. We’ll total up that amount when we put it to debt after the baby comes and all medical expenses are covered)

Since 1/1/2012 – Total Debt Paid off: $32,444*

*For the purpose of Baby step 2 we are not factoring in our home mortgage

****UPDATE: I was just re-reading this (in Feb 2016) and realized I never said way back then, I was laid off in April of 2013. I never did go back to work. At the time, no one hires a woman who is 6 months pregnant and then I became a stay at home mom.

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Still Pushing the Boulder Down Hill (AKA April by the Numbers)

As you know, our debt snowball is on pause. A status it has maintained since November. In the meantime, as we build up our crisis fund with extra money, we still pay our minimums. And just because I like round numbers, I’m actually paying 4 dollars more on something each month just because it makes it a nice number ending in a 5 instead of a 1.

Even with very slow momentum, this boulder of debt is still rolling down hill.  It makes the pushing feel just a little lighter each month.

We have around $14,500 left. Since December, that means we’ve chipped away another $1,000. EVEN in a time of slower income. It’s the little victories that keep us excited and motivated.

If we maintain this really small 4 dollars extra a month (which we won’t — we’ll dump in a lot at some point hopefully this year) but even that small amount, added to last year’s work, all of our debt would be gone, March 2019.

My student loan, when consolidated in 2008, was set for 20 years. So – even this would be 9 years early!  CRAZY. 

In the battle against debt, math can sometimes be very discouraging. But when you start pushing that boulder just a little harder, and the down hill momentum works in your favor, Math becomes your greatest friend and encourager.

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March by the Numbers

Basically the same news as before (debt snowball on pause due to slow work & baby on the way) – with some improvement for the self-employed one of the family.  Work has been picking up a bit – so that’s really helpful. We anticipate adding to the “crisis fund” at a slightly higher rate.

Our little guy appears to be healthy as far as any one can tell at this point – so we are very thankful for that.

We are a little over halfway from his arrival, so we’ve been deep in the throws of preparing for a baby in the house while staying as cost conscious as possible.

One of the common questions people ask is what theme the nursery will be. Our answer… Ah? Mustard yellow walls with a twin bed & desk?  We aren’t “themeing” anything really. Not painting. Not really buying new, fancy furniture. Our changing table will be the desk that is in there now. We added a bit of additional shelving in the closet for better organization of new baby stuff – but that’s about it.  We went with generic blue, green, and random animals in the things that we registered for – so – that’s our theme? I guess if you can call it that.

Mostly, as I mentioned last month, I’ve been hitting up a few consignment sales. It really helps to be in a large place like DFW where the suburbs support multiple sales.  Check out these numbers…. Money spent at consignment sales: $135

Approximate amount if all items were purchased new: $466

Some of the items that we purchased:

  • Assortment of bottles
  • ‘Snap & Go’ type caddy/stroller
  • Bathtub
  • A few additional needed clothing items for me
  • SwaddleMes
  • Highchair
  • Nursing Pillow
  • A couple small toys/books
  • Towels

And last, but most certainly not least, we have a wonderful community of family and friends who have given us so many helpful and much-needed items.  Just a few of the items are listed here. Some are straight up baby gifts, and some are “hand-me-downs” from those who have gone before us on the adventure of having kids.

  • Crib & Mattress
  • Pack & play
  • Bassinet
  • Bouncy Seat
  • Car mirror
  • Breast Pump
  • Mobile
  • Towels & wash cloths
  • Glider chair & footstool
  • Bumboo seat
  • A tub of Maternity Clothes
  • Books – Educational and Product research/money-saving tips

So yes – as you can see – we are doing our best to be frugal; to not give in to the culture & emotions of … got to have the biggest and best, nicest nursery with name brand, new everything.  We are so thankful that our family and friends are helping us so much.

When I listen to the Dave Ramsey show – there seems to be a lot of  individuals who did not have supportive friends and family. They had people in their lives that thought they were foolish or a bit nuts to be working to be completely debt free. We are thankful to report that is not the case with us.  Everyone has been more than supportive of our long-term financial goals.

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February by the Numbers

And, not much to report.

Baby is still on its way. Hubby’s work is still slow. Debt Snowball is still on pause.

However – I did a bit of math the last few weeks and was amazed at – with slower work, the payroll tax holiday ending and my insurance premiums going up – how much less in income we take home each month than a mere 6 months ago.  This realization (along with news headlines this week pointing out that across the country, income has dropped significantly) – I was so thankful that we started getting out of debt last year.

I think we have somewhere around $500 LESS a month in payments because of all the items we finished paying off.  So not only did we save a ton of money (on interest that we won’t be changed), we created a decent bit of margin in our monthly budget. That is really helping us get through our current drop in income.

[March sneak peek… Might be ‘Consignment by the Numbers’  🙂 ]

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January by the Numbers

Not a lot to report.  Still slow work. Still expecting a baby in July. So… no debt snowball progress.

We were able to add a bit to our crisis fund.  My job does reviews and possible raises at the anniversary date of your start date.  My anniversary date was in October, but my review and all of the paperwork was not done until this month.  Unbeknownst to me – the company gives you back pay from the point of your anniversary if you get a raise.  So we were thankful for a bit extra in our check. ESPECIALLY because the payroll tax holiday ended and more taxes are taken out of my check.

One particular set of numbers I thought I would highlight is my student loan. Because we paid such a large portion off early over the last twelve months, technically speaking, my next payment isn’t due until 11/14/2017. Of course, we are still paying the minimum payment during this debt snowball pause so we don’t lose all the extra ground we gained (and tack on more interest).

Also – on the saving money front – we are so encouraged about how much one can NOT buy name brand when prepping for a new arrival.  I’m planning to attend two consignment sales (yeah for First Time Mom Presales!).

We are also very blessed and thankful for an entire tub of maternity clothes from family. I honestly don’t think I’ll need to buy much clothes for myself.

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A Debt Snowball Setback

So… in November I posted about how we were putting the debt snowball on hold due to a slower than expected fall. This was, and is still true.

However – we also had a second reason – which we could not share at the time… and while it’s a debt snowball setback – it’s also terrific news.

We’re expecting a baby!

Due this summer – so our debt payoff is on hold – but we couldn’t be more overjoyed.

And we are so thankful for all the hard work we put in last year.  Baby will be born into a family that is only a few more payoffs from being debt free!

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December by the Numbers

To start with – no new progress was made on debt this month. We are still putting the debt snowball on hold due to lower than expected income.  We are adding to our “crisis fund” which we hope will we will convert into debt pay-off one day.

One specific number I thought I could highlight from this month was our Vacation Fund.  We planned since May to go to Washington State to have Christmas with my family. Every month, we put aside money for the vacation. From this fund, we paid for our plane tickets, our rental car, and all of our on trip expenses and purchases. We still worked to be frugal on the trip, not spending excessive amounts. We are pleased to report we were at least $600 UNDER budget.  SWEET! Because you know what that means… the extra $600 goes into the Crisis Fund.

Since I don’ t have any other numbers to report, I thought I’d do a quick summary of 2012 by the numbers.

This year, we sold items on CraigsList, re-purposed gift cards, and turned coins into the bank in order to drum up some extra income. We also had several items come up that we had to figure out how to cash-flow. We cash-flowed enough money to cover a Garage Reno, an MRI, a Washer, a mattress set, and the closing costs on our home refinance. And of course, squeezed every cent we could find out of the budget for extra debt payments.

Extra income for 2012: $2,121

Cash-flowed in 2012: $6,181

Over and above debt payments for 2012: $27,304

Total Debt paid in 2012: $31,018

Amount of Debt left – Aiming to be paid off in 2013.  Approximately $15,500

I look at those numbers and I think wow. You mean… we put enough toward debt to pay for a new car?

I find it SO encouraging. No, we don’t have that money to use now – but yes, we are avoiding even MORE than that in would-be-interest.  And once all the debt is gone, we have already established really great financial habits which will help us reach goals like paying cash for a car a lot quicker than we ever thought we could.

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