Time to revisit Operation Debt Butt-Kicking

As the wedding fast approaches (we’re at 40-some days and counting!!), and our dreams of having our own place again continue to swirl around – the finance notebook has had a very prominent spot in out lives.  I fell away from budgeting a little bit within the last few months while some of the injury stuff was going on, but I am now back to it, and am updating the binder a bit.  If you missed it, I wrote about my method and the notebook that I use back here.  It’s also needing a bit of an update as J and I are budgeting together now.  We haven’t joined accounts just  yet, but we know that is coming.

The basis of the Notebook still remains, sections have just been updated a bit.  Here’s where we stand:

Before the sections: Sheets with financial goals, honeymoon payments, big payments I know are coming, etc.
1- Debts: I have listed out each of my debts that I am working to pay off, and update it after each paycheck and bill pay session.  I also have a spot where I track how much I put towards debt each month, and fees that are charged.
2- Paychecks: Since each paycheck varies, I track the amount and how much income I made each month.
3- Budget: yep, you guessed it – the meat of the binder.
4- Spending Track: Oh, the wonderful task of tracking my spending each month.
5- Extra Income: Extra and unplanned income. Anything including sales from my Etsy store to rebates, and other items.
6- Yearly goals: My goals for 2014 (January-June and July-August) written out and tracked to see the progress.
7- Net Worth: I’ve always been interested in checking this, but hadn’t figured it until now.

I do my budgeting old school – pen and paper, and I have an excel spreadsheet that I also have set up.  It may seem a bit overkill, but it works for me.

In the excel sheet, I have a few different worksheets:

1- Yearly goals: My goals for 2014 (January-June and July-August) written out and tracked to see the progress.
2- Monthly Spent: tracking for monthly spending with graph that shows how much I put towards debt each month.
3- Monthly Budget: as it says..the budget.  The meat and potatoes of it all.
4- All Expense: Used to view expenses month to month, this helps with how much to budget for each section.
5- Overall Expense: Used to view our main fluctuating expenses each month, along with paychecks, side hustles, and debt payments.
6- Debt Payoff Projection: Tracking of our debt payoff, gives us a good idea of when we will be able to be debt-free.

I work on finances once a week, unless large purchases are made.  It’s quite a system, but it works for us.  Right now, the goal is to have all the honeymoon paid off by December, and all of my credit card debt paid off by next May when J graduates.  Then it is onto finding a place to live and really tackling his debt.

How do you budget/track your finances?

20 Ways I’ve Made Money

As I sit here re-working the budget because of altered pay due to worker’s comp, I started thinking of other ways I could supplement my income.  That then got me thinking of all of the different ways that I have made money throughout the years.

a)  Babysitting – I babysat for years starting at about 12.  I had a few regular families that I babysat for frequently.

b)  Garage sales – my mom and I do one every few years, usually when something is coming up that we need a little extra moolah for, or after a move.

c)  Puppet shows – my neighbor kids and I put together a puppet show when we were little and charged admission to the parents to watch.

d)  Dog sitting – I’ve watched a few neighbors’ dogs over the years.

e)  Chores at home – my parents paid us to do chores around the house when we were kids.

f)  Summer reading – my mom paid us a penny a page that we read during the summer.  There were a couple of summers that I made bank and read tons of books.

g)  Retail – I worked at an office supply store most of high school and some of college.

h)  Lab assistant – There were a few computer labs that I worked in while earning my bachelors degree at school.

i)  Party plan – I did a stint for a year with a party plan company.

j)  Mystery shopping – I did some mystery shopping during my first couple years out of college.  Needless to say, there weren’t many shops that made it incredibly worth it for me.

k)  Rebates/cash-back programs – Most online shopping I do is done through a few websites that I am able to earn cash back.

l)  Making things to sell – I have had a craft business since I was about 10 years old.  The items may have changed, but I’m still making and selling.  I have done both fairs and online sales.

m)  Collecting & recycling cans – I have been doing this for about four years now.  It’s not super lucrative, but has helped for paying off some debt.

n)  Ebay – I’ve sold my old things on Ebay, along with things I’ve bought to flip on Ebay.

o)  Amazon – When I have books that I am ready to get rid of, including text books, I head over to Amazon Marketplace and sell there.  I have sold quite a few, especially around the beginning of school semesters.

p)  Design services – I used to be a commercial Interior Designer, and provided some folks with help in their homes.  I did not ask for money, but was given money for my time.

q)  Hemming pants – I did some hemming for a co-worker in the past, and she paid me for the service.

r)  Photography – I don’t do too much, but I have done a bit of freelance photography.

s)  Clerical work – I did a bunch of clerical work for my mom when she was a teacher.  Everything from data entry to filing.  I also worked with her at a summer camp she put of for her students.

t)  Teaching dance – During my junior year of high school, I helped my dance teacher with a few of younger classes, my little kindergarten and first grade girls.

What are some different ways you have made money in your lifetime?


Five Great Dates on a Budget {Winter Edition}

imageAs everyone knows, date nights are needed for couples to keep their connection strong and the spark alive. Date nights do not have to be big events or expensive nights.   If you are like J and I, you are probably trying to decide what your next date night is going to be.  We don’t get to do them as much as we would like to, and always feel a wee bit challenged to find activities that are budget-friendly.

Here are five budget-friendly date ideas for the winter:

  1. Go tubing at the local ski or sledding hill.  Don’t forget to cuddle near the bonfire with your cup of hot chocolate.
  2. Head to the mall for a bit of window shopping.  Chat about your dream house and how you would decorate it. Or an outfit you would pick out for a night on the town.
  3. Find a course and play a round of mini golf.  Some places even have galactic mini golf, how fun!
  4. Put out a blanket and have a picnic in front of the fire, whether it be in the fireplace or on tv.
  5. Head to the local art museum.  Many museums offer free admission days, or request a small donation for entry.

What is one of your favorite budget-friendly winter dates?

Operation Debt Butt-Kicking in full gear

The end of the year is already almost here.  With that comes re-evaluating and re-vamping, the making of lists and goals.  One of my biggest goals, in fact, #1 on my 2014 goal list, is to pay off the remainder of my credit card debt.  Thankfully, I was able to tackle and release the shackles of my student loan debt (with the help from my parents) at the end of this year.

As I’ve discussed previously, my amount of debt has unfortunately put up a few road blocks in J and I being able to purchase a home.  We moved in with my parents May 2012 when our lease was up on our apartment, while I was searching for a job, and to help by being additional caregivers for Grandma.  We thought we would live there for about a year or so.  We are coming up on 1 year and 8 months.  Don’t get me wrong, we are very thankful that they have given us a place to stay, but we are ready for our own place again.

I have been going over my finances lately, and have been reviewing my payments and debt amounts.  I wanted to get a hardened potential Debt-Free date down.  I reworked different payment scenarios, and reworked the amounts to see which scenario was most plausible and realistic.  I have also been working to set money aside for various things while paying off debt.  I felt like I was spinning my wheels and not making very much progress.  As usual, there are always many avenues to put your money, but not enough money to put it to each one while still paying down debt at the rate I’d like to.  There’s the emergency fund, wedding fund, honeymoon fund, and house fund; each having their own “goal” amounts I would love to stash in each.

I’ve decided to finish completely funding my emergency fund with part of my bonus I received from work, and throwing the rest at debt.  I figured the emergency fund was the most important at this time to have fully funded.  That will finally be one fund that I have reached my goal in, and I can focus a little more on debt.  I have budgeted out three months (when my emergency fund would have finally been filled to my goal), so the amounts allotted for my emergency fund will go to debt those months.  I have also instated the Debt Snowball theory that Dave Ramsey promotes.  The credit cards have also been taken out of my wallet and set in the drawer.  I am going to be focusing on using just cash (and debit card as needed-which essentially plays out as cash).

Looking at my scenarios, I should be debt-free by the beginning of January 2015.  Goodness, I look at that and think a whole year from now?  I’m hoping I will be able to throw extra to the debt each month with my side hustles, that amount hasn’t been factored in as of yet.  Oh debt, I will release from your chains yet!

Debt Round-Up

It’s about that time to do a little debt review around here.  Recently, I had the honor of guest posting over at Girl Meets Debt as part of her Debt Confessions Series.  Hop on over to check it out if you didn’t get a chance!

Since 2013 is almost over, I wanted to revisit my goals for this year, along with progress on Operation Debt Butt-Kicking.

My goals for 2013 were (along with the progress on these goals as of 12/1/13):

1- Save $1,000 to my Emergency Fund – 45% saved

2- Pay off loan from M&D Bank (aka Mom & Dad)Done!

3- Have my debt card debt paid 50% down – 9% paid off

4- Earn $1500 in OT payDone!

5- Save $500 to our Wedding Fund – 71% saved

Unfortunately, I have not made as much progress on these as I had hoped, a few unexpected expenses came up throughout the last few months that have put a damper on things.  I have thankfully had quite a bit of extra income come in from a couple side hustles that I have going on at the moment.  My Etsy store has been picking up a bit with the holidays, along with my scarves that I have in a local shop.  Any money made from each of those venues have gone directly to Operation Debt Butt-Kicking, no looking back, do not stop at GO.  In November alone, I put an extra $600 over my planned amount from the side hustles.  Hopefully even more in December!

Along with the credit card debt, the student loan amounts have greatly decreased!  With the help of mom & dad, which I don’t know what I would do without their help!  We are working to get those paid off as soon as possible.  We are getting so close I can almost taste it!

After doing a little payment projection, I should be debt-free in February 2015!  That date seems so far away, but considering it is almost 2014, it really isn’t that far.  I would love to see all of my debt paid off before January 2015 though, so that will be my target date.  Debt-Free by December 31, 2014!

Trying to get ahead.

Evening all!  I first want to say thank you to all veterans and those currently serving our country.  To those who have put their lives on the line for the protection of this country.  We owe them all we are, all we have.  I especially want to thank my grandpas (watching down from above), my uncles, my aunt, friends, and last but certainly not least – my fiance!

I decided to sit down and take a look at my notebook this weekend to see how I was doing with finances.  I could feel things were still a bit tight, but aren’t they always when you’re trying to pay off the mountain of debt?  I have been seriously tracking things in my notebook since mid-June.  It was hard to see once I opened to the different sections that I haven’t made as much progress as I had hoped.  The debt isn’t as low as I’d hoped, savings is about where it was – just divided a bit differently.  I have had some extra income coming in, but I don’t feel like it’s made enough difference.

Have you ever felt like you worked your tail off only to end up where you began?

I know it doesn’t help that it is the holiday season, and I took on a fitness challenge (x’s 2) while trying to pay off the debt, but that’s how life works, isn’t it?  You try, and plan, and work to get ahead to only feel like you’re treading water.  Granted, money has been moving a bit differently, and I have cut some of the major non-needed spenders out.

I thought I had already done this, but in re-evaluating, it seems not as much as I should.  It is time to buckle down.  Fill my Esty shop, post things on sale sites, no trips to the vending machines or cafeteria.  I’m not talking go to the extreme, I’m talking rework it a bit to move the flow of money, increase the income, decrease the debt.  Even more so than is currently being done.

At times like this, I enjoy reading personal finance blogs to see if any of them spark something in me, something I may not have tried yet.  But today, nothing. 

I also went to my budget spreadsheet and did a little figuring to find my debt-free date.  A bit sobering itself, right there.  If all goes as planned, I’m looking at February 2015.  That is, another 15 months being bogged down by the chains of debt.  I can’t wait for the day that those chains will be broken and gone!  When I can finally set the credit cards aside and not look at them or think about them for another debt payment.

Will the real budget please stand up?

Operation Debt Payoff is now in overdrive!  With the recent proposal and 9-months to plan a wedding, Lovie and I are pushing hard to kick our debts before the big day arrives.  That means 9-months to greatly decrease around $28,000 in debt on my plate (this includes both student loans and consumer debt).  Lovie and I have each have our own plans in action to drop our individual debt, then we’ll attack whatever is leftover once the big day comes.

With this big push also comes the time that I am starting my new updated monthly budgets.  Great timing for them to fall together!  I can update it as needed with this little shift in priorities just before the beginning of the new month.

After tracking my spending for the last two months, I have a much better idea of what to budget for each category, and where I wasn’t budgeting quite enough.  October was apparently a month when a lot of things needed to be replaced at once.  Looking back, it was also the time when I started my fitness challenge, Lovie and I needed new gym shoes, and I have been working to eat a whole lot healthier.  (Sidenote – I’ve lost almost 10 inches already in 2 weeks!  2 weeks left and I think I may hit my goal of 20 inches total!)  A positive though, I cut my spending at Caribou by 66%!

Emergency Fund  $100.00  $100.00
Wedding Fund  $102.00  $102.00
Storage  $144.00  $144.00
Insurance  $100.00  $100.00
Car Repairs  $50.00  $50.00
Gas  $250.00  $250.00
Phone  $109.00  $109.00
Groceries  $100.00  $100.00
Food/Restaurant  $100.00  $100.00
Caribou  $40.00  $40.00
Household  $50.00  $50.00
Personal/Clothes  $50.00  $50.00
Massages  $110.00  $110.00
Kitty  $20.00  $20.00
Gifts  $75.00  $75.00
Business  $50.00  $50.00
Entertainment  $20.00  $20.00
Card A  $800.00  $800.00
Card B  $380.00  $380.00

And now I wait for the first of the month!  I hope I’m not the only one to say this, but I get a little stupid excited for budgets!  Watch me go!

If you haven’t worked with a budget before, they can be a bit intimidating.  Blonde on a Budget has a great explanation of how to start planning out and working with a budget.  Hop on over here to check up on it.