Tag Archives: budget

April by the Numbers

Last month I commented that we were not going to keep the same pace – as we are running out of things to sell (true – we sold nothing this month).

Then I mentioned that we were really pumped because on the self-employed front, a large job that we’ve been waiting for closed. But we also had taxes coming.

Then our washer broke and we got a new one.

SO – how did it all play out for the numbers? Really well, actually. I’m totally stoked to report this month. So first the numbers, and then a little commentary.

The Numbers

Extra income: $0

Extra items we had to squeeze into the family budget:

A Washer – $467 (three cheers for Scratch & Dent stores!)

An MRI – $612 (Yeah for FSA/Insurance? Thankfully, the entire amount was not out-of-pocket. Still – this is a hefty unexpected amount.)

Had we not had a large job finish – we would have had to reach back to the emergency fund for these two items. Instead, we were able to cash flow them right into this month’s budget.

Extra Debt paid: (drum roll….) $6,338 (boom! that’s right. HVAC – Buh-bye!)

Total Debt paid in April: $6,818*

Since 1/1/2012 – Total Debt Paid off: $17, 459*

(If you’ve been following along at home, I had to update some of the old numbers. Did my math wrong in January, which threw everything else off)

Basically, April Rocked!

The Commentary
I must point credit where due. Yes, we work hard sticking to a budget, not spending, and forcing ourselves to send extra dollars to debt. BUT ultimately, it’s all due to the Grace of God. He is our provider. This is most obviously seen in the jobs that come in for my hubby (like the big one that allowed this month’s payoff). It’s seen a little more subtly in the fact that I even have a job (lest I forget that last year, I was unemployed for 9 months).

The overriding reason that we are even doing this debt goal in the first place is to be better stewards of our money. To be able to, eventually, give more away. Throughout this entire debt free process, we continue to tithe faithfully, as well as stay committed to a few individuals we’ve promised to support.

Believe you me, it’s always tempting to just skip tithing and throw it at debt. “I can pay you back God – when I am out of debt like you want me to be” (in the past as a single person, I’m embarrassed to admit I would occasionally fall into this false thinking).

Thankfully, this time around, we are doing this through the lens of truth, giving back to our Provider first and foremost, before the other dollars are dispersed in the budget, before the overflow going to debt.

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

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March by the Numbers

3 months in.

Extra debt paid off in March – chipping away at the HVAC – $2,293

I’m not sure we will be able to maintain this pace for all of 2012!  Not in regards to keeping our budget tight (that is a requirement) but more in terms of we are running out of things to sell. 🙂

Our extra income this month was very nice.

Craigslist Sales: $580

Refund from our old home loan Escrow: $842

Totaling $1,422 extra dollars of income.

We stayed in budget (actually were under) in the food department.  I’m convinced this will be the most difficult category to stay in bounds on.  It takes a lot of planning, knowing when we have dinners out coming up and setting aside the amount we’ll need. It takes away a lot of spontaneity, but so far, we are managing.

This month we were able to go out to eat with some family that were in town yesterday, and tonight, I’m going to a birthday party.  Here the last day of the month, and food money is available. It’s hard work for sure, but it feels great.

One other note – while doing all of this, we are also setting aside money for things like Christmas gifts, and car repairs.  We stick them in the savings account.  This morning I noticed a whopping $1.06 in interest!  Not a lot, but wow – it sure feels great to have interest working in our favor for once!

So the final numbers for the month:

Total Debt paid in March: $2,779*

Since 1/1/2012 – Total Debt Paid off: $10,641*

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

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February by the Numbers

2 months in. February was not nearly as good as January.

This month we paid off $100 extra– our very smallest medical bill.

Significantly less than the extra pay off last month.

In addition to this pay off (and part of the reason this month is small), we finally closed on our Re-finance. In order to finalize the closing, we had to bring $2,300 to Closing.  (And there you have it – the extra “supposed to be used for debt” money.)  Not even sure if this is pro or anti Financial Peace instructions.  It was either use the money toward current debt while rolling the same amount into a new home loan or doing what we did, keep the loan a little smaller, but delay on paying down debt this month. :-/

Some other numbers for the month:

$70 in Extra Income from Gifts

$197 in Cash Back for our Costco Card — Full disclosure, we used this to stock up on non perishable products that we will use all year-long – so this one didn’t turn around and go toward debt.

Totaling $267 extra dollars of income.

Finally – I have to admit our set backs as well. We went over on our food bill.  Between the Superbowl and Valentines day – we cut it too close right at the end.  This month will be better.

Total Debt paid in Feb: $586*

Since 1/1/2012 – Total Debt Paid off: $7,862*

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

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Hello 2012. Goodbye Debt.

Yes – it’s been a while. We’ve been busy in part, starting in on the entire point of this post.

For 2012 – we are getting out of debt.  Everything but the house. How are we going to do this?

1. Go through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University — I made a request late last year via facebook if anyone had an unused kit they could lend us. Turns out a very kind friend gave us their old textbook & cds. The kit was practically brand new – several pieces still wrapped in plastic.  Yesterday, we started out strong, listening to the first 3 lessons, so we are in the middle of putting together our monthly budget

2. Make a budget and stick to it — (something we are learning from FPU) We’ve always been good about not spending money we don’t have on a regular basis (our debt is typical student loans, along with medical bills and one HVAC system), but we don’t have a written monthly plan. This step is tricky since the one member of the household is self-employed. It’s tough to try and write down hard numbers (which are still kind of based on estimates). The goal, plan for lower than expected. If we continue to live below our means, see it spelled out as such on paper, we’ll have a much easier time directing everything above the expected amount as available to use in our debt snowball.

4. Use the debt snowball — We are planning to pay off several smaller items right away, leaving one Large Student loan. Because the other debts will be gone, what we would have used for those monthly payments can now all be used against the one remaining loan.  Can you imagine paying 3 times the monthly minimum on something?  Just think – the extra amount (equal to 2 addition monthly minimums) will all go DIRECTLY TO PRINCIPLE.  Sweet! This is the key.  By knocking out chunks of the principle, the payments pick up speed each month, with less and less going to interest, and more and more going to principle. Ultimately knocking out the debt much quicker and saving us thousands in what would have been interest through the years if we just stuck to the minimum.

5. Continue to sell unneeded / unused possessions on Craigslist — The last portion of 2011 saw us raising around $430 from selling items on craigslist.  The plan is to use this extra money to toss into the debt snowball – for even more principle deduction.  (as part of this same plan – really any extra, unexpected money will be used the same – even some of our cash Christmas presents. It may be “boring” but ultimately, it’s a fantastic Christmas present. Think of all the future stress that will be eliminated.  Thanks to all of our loved ones who inadvertently helped us with this cause!)

6. Food, Envelops, and Emeals — We are going to continue using emeals (Highly Recommend them! Save money & time planning out your meals – Check it out Here).  Even when we are busy, three planned meals a week saves us time and money. Plus, we are going to work on using a cash / envelop system to buy all groceries and when we eat out (or order in).  It’s a proven method to make you keenly aware of how much you spend on food – which in turn will help us make wiser choices.  Keeping in mind, every dollar we can cut from the food bill moves over in the budget to chip way at debt.

So there you go. That’s the plan.  By the way, it’s not a resolution, it’s a goal. Something we started working on ending off 2011 and we are making great strides as we start out 2012.

And you know what – I’ll allow for a bit of realism to creep in that says “you never know what unexpected events are going to happen in 2012.  Some of that “extra debt snowball” might realistically be needed to pay for other items in order to prevent accruing new debt. So – don’t be too disappointed if some of your debt carries over to 2013.”

Yep – I know.  But even if that ends up being the case:

1. We didn’t go into new debt to pay for unexpected events & 2. We still made SIGNIFICANT forward movement. That momentum will be so empowering and encouraging.

I’ll keep you posted on how it’s going.

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