Happy, happy New Year!
With the new fiscal start, together we evaluated our budget and made some adjustments = added monthly sinking funds to our envelope system. Here are the changes we made:
- Extra mortgage payment: We received our new monthly mortgage payment via SEFCU reflecting the expected 2018 taxes and you’ve guessed it, there was an increase. Using some extra money I had saved (and had leftover) for home owners insurance, I deposited that money into our escrow account to lower the monthly payment as much as we could. In result, our monthly payment increased by only $12.76. Fully acknowledging we aren’t in Baby Step 6, we decided to make an extra mortgage payment each month. We took our monthly principle payment and multiplied it by 10% = $50.23 = how much we’ll be paying toward principle each month on top of our regular payment. That amount x 12 comes out to be more than one full payment each year. That small payment alone will shave off 7-8 years off of our mortgage!
- Haircuts: The beau gets these on the regular and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t save for them.
- Christmas / Gifts: We know of at least one couple getting married this year and two babies due. And birthdays. And Christmas. To be proactive, we are setting aside a chunk of cash each month to easily participate in those life celebrations with ease.
- Trash: We’ve had this envelope the last couple of months but made an increase because the City of Troy just announced an increase in fees. Do I want to pay more? No. But this is what budgeting is for – reading everyone’s panic online over $160 is sad.
- Auto Insurance: Luckily when we changed carriers, we lowered our monthly cost. We are saving $24/month.
- Cell phones: I mentioned this last month but figured I’d give an update because I have a realistic number in savings = $34.09 per month! Boom!
- Spotify: I saw someone on IG share that she only pays $4.99 / month for Spotify; apparently you can save cash if you’re a student! The beau IS a student this semester thru a local community college buuuuuuut they denied his request. Boo! I’m going to look into this a little more to see if I could save an additional $5 / month.
Yes, setting money aside each month does lower the total amount we can deposit toward debt, but when an invoice or life event happens, we don’t have to feel guilty about spending cash. Leading up to this month, I’m pretty sure the beau felt guilty every time he would have to get his hair cut; he tried to push them out as long as possible. Heck, his hair was the longest it’s ever been! It’s hilarious really, but I’m learning I need to tone it back a little and not be so controlling of the cash. Personal growth, it’s happening. But Dunkin’ Donuts every day, that’s NOT happening.
Because we intended on having a dry January (no alcohol), we spent our eating out/alcohol budget on a nice dinner out, our first two week tastings at Nine Pin, and bulk items for our pantry. These items included a 12 pound bag of basmati rice, multiple curry seasoning packets, flour for homemade bread, nooch, vital wheat gluten for homemade seitan, popcorn, lentils, and protein powder.
For Christmas we had received a number of gift cards – seriously, gift cards paying for groceries are the absolute best. I’m all for not having the pressure of buying at Christmas but if your family doesn’t want to give it up and still wants to buy for you, ask for grocery gift cards. Ahhh! We budget $65 on cat food and litter each month, in January we spent $22. FYI at Benson’s you can sign up for their FREE rewards program: for every $200 you spend, they give you a $10 gift card. It takes us a couple of months to hit that amount but it is money we were going to spend anyway, why not get rewarded? AND I checked on Chewy and other online pet food suppliers, they have the lowest price for Dave’s canned cat food. Win! I suppose while I’m on the topic I can add in a mini rant: just because we’re on a budget doesn’t mean we are going to buy the cheapest cat food on the market. I’m in a budgeting FB group and I cringe each time someone compromises in order to save a buck – you’re going to be paying for sick costs later at the vet! That’s not fair to your pet either – get them the best you can afford. <3
Back to gift cards: we also received two gift cards to Trader Joe’s! For some reason I always want to hoard them, I guess I think I’m going to have a rough month in the future even though it has never happened? This month, I spent them! Because of these, we had about $180 leftover in our grocery envelope! I bought more bulk items for our pantry, we ate out to celebrate my birthday, we had Chinese takeout one evening, we each enjoyed a beer at Rare Form and the beau had a breakfast or two out of the house. We have $12 rolling over from January into February, whoop!
This month I also decided to roll up all of the change in our change jars = $93! Golly, that was a heavy box to carry into the bank. I spent $86 of this on yarn during a 50% off sale at a local yarn shop, The Spinning Room. One of my Board trustees is part owner and I’m so happy she randomly shared this sale at our last meeting! I got enough yarn to last me years! The beau took the remaining cash and ate breakfast out – he sure loves breakfast at diners. Now that we’re using cash on the regular, I’m hoping the change jar fills up faster this year! And yes, I spent most of it because most of it was my change… the beau keeps his for iced tea at DD 🙂
Now for the good stuff, the numbers! This month our debt was reduced by $3,191.29! We’ve now officially paid of $19,382.55 or 21.76% in five months! We’re officially under $70k, with a balance of $69,692.90! So many !!! but I’m too excited to hold it in. Ha! We are SO SO close from paying off the beau’s car in full, that WILL happen in February and we’ll start tackling student loans from then on.
A statistic that I did this month and love and would like to share: 57% of January’s take home pay was deposited toward debt this month. 57! That’s more than half! That means we paid our mortgage, put food on the table, had gas in our cars, kept the lights on and the heat set at 66 on just 43% of our monthly income. You know what that means? We are living below our means. That is the key to living with more. Can you imagine what we are going to do with 57% of our income each month when this debt is gone? Our take home pay / salary will literally double! Hello bi-annual vacations! Hello retirement funds! Hello opportunity to give back to our community! Hello eating out more! It’s funny, my attitude has shifted as I’m no longer wanting to buy stuff, I’m wanting to do more.
To get us through the month, I continued to meal plan and shop only by what was on my list. I wasn’t very adventurous in regards to trying out new recipes other than trying to master a loaf of bread. And I must toot my own horn because I’m getting pretty good thanks to this library book. The first two weeks were the same meals, and then the last two weeks were the same; always makes shopping that much easier. We didn’t cash flow many random expenses this month other than a birthday gift, AAA for the year (one vehicle only) and a frame for a print I got for Christmas.
It was a great month with some fun budgeted in! We have big goals for February… can’t wait to crush more debt!