Welcome to day 2! Money Monday, where I’m going to talk about… Money!
We both work full-time jobs, I work in retail management and he is a tradesman. My paychecks vary very little; his can swing from $600 take home to $2,000 take home. This makes budgeting difficult. In the summer we have plenty coming in, but the winter months get TIGHT. For the sake of actually constructing a budget, I’m going to run off his base pay for a 40 hour week, and my hourly rate for a 40 hour week. Our health insurance comes straight out of his check, along with taxes. I have life insurance taken out of mine, and taxes. So, after it is all said and done, the budget I’m working on will have us bringing home $1,010 a week. That is a minimum projection, there will be weeks we bring home more (which is truly where our savings and extra payments to reduce our credit utilization will come from) and on rare occasion there will be a week here and there when we bring home less. Hopefully we will be able to save enough from the weeks with “more” to not feel the strain when the weeks are “less.”
December’s Working Budget
These are rounded figures of what was going “out” in December; I used it to construct our proposed budget for 2017. I debated sharing true values for individual expenses, or if I should just say “$x,xxx in bills” but honestly I want this record to help monitor our successes and failures in adjusting our budget this year.
Obviously there was a lot of other spending, (groceries, household items, Christmas, etc.,) but the bills are what is here.
|DECEMBER 2016 TOTAL||$3,736|
We spent around $150-200 a week on groceries, as a general rule of thumb.
Our income for December was $6,845.
Trimming the Budget
About midway through the month I took it upon myself to start reducing our bills for the New Year. Our car insurance policy came up for renewal. We switched companies and went from $1,627 a year for car and renters insurance down to $1,369. Might not seem like much, but that means that our monthly payment went from $136 to $114! I also cancelled one of my monthly subscriptions, so that has dropped to $15 from $32. Total, I was able to save us $39 a month by just spending an hour making calls. That’s $468 a year!
Our vet plan (more on that another day) will be going down in January as well, it *should* drop from $90 to $60 a month. Another $30 a month, $360 a year, saved!
Card 5 was cancelled/paid off. It was a pre-paid credit line with a $1,000 limit and a balance of $578. That $422 difference is now in a savings account that we don’t have easy access to. I’m not sure if we will try to move those funds or not, and realize that we did “lose” money in closing it. We also saved money as the balance is no longer accruing interest charges, and that amount would have had to been paid off eventually as well as interest accrued. This also cut out an additional monthly payment, the minimum of which was $30.
Total amount shaved off monthly bills: $99. That’s $1,188 a year!
One of our credit cards has a partial balance that is coming due in January, if we don’t pay that balance, then the interest on the full purchase price will be added to that account. Yay for promotional offers… We bought an appliance with 6 months interest free and still owed $563 on that promotion as of mid December. We have since paid $50, but the remaining $513 is due by the 20th. Yikes. Once that is paid, then we have a second purchase on that card that we need to finish payments on before the interest free period is up. I have hope that that one will be easier, because starting in February if we make monthly payments of $193 it will be paid off a few weeks before it comes due verses making $50 payments each month and then having a chunk due the final month.
Hopefully that $99 I shaved off of other bills will make it easier to make those larger payments for the next couple months. If not, the satisfaction of finally owning my appliances, having 2 less credit card payments, and still having cut our monthly bills by $69 a month, should be enough.
2017 Proposed Budget
|CARD 5||Gone J|
|2017 Partial Month Total||$3,624|
Oh, you noticed that did you? Despite the fact that I’ve trimmed our budget, and this one is missing some of the categories (hold on a second, we will get there!) the difference isn’t that much. One reason, our rent went up $50. Unexpectedly. Good thing I started trimming when I did!
Ok, so here is the rest of it:
House hold stuff: $280
Also, since our electric bill fluctuates, we will be paying the $250 a month every month despite the actual cost. Whatever is left above our actual bill will go into the “bill pot” for months when the bill is over $250, which is the case for the bill due in January. Same for Gas/Car Stuff, the “extra” will go to cover tags, inspection, taxes, and repairs.
Now, for the card payments. We will be paying the $90 listed on card 1 for the next 6 months easily; it is the card with the highest balance. The other three I hope to have paid off much sooner.
With any luck, I will be able to construct a plan mid-year to pay off Card 1 by the end of 2018!
As far as actually paying bills this month, we are going to have to be very strict with ourselves. We both get paid every Friday, and I already have a list of every bill due each week for every week of the month. More on that method in our next Summary Sunday!
I know these first few posts don’t have much in the way of entertainment but I had to get everything out in the open so that I have something to build on and you have a point of reference for future posts.
It’s only the second day of the year and although it would be hard to lose motivation this early in the game, we had a morning that really helped fuel me into sitting down and writing out our budget. Several things happened that should have train wrecked not only our day, but possibly our week, and we made the most of it.
First, I accidentally made a double payment on an account yesterday. Oops. I was reading through statements, and one of our accounts said that the payment had not been received, I was sure that I had paid them all, but figured I may have missed one in the chaos of the holidays. So, I made a(n additional) payment of $25. I dropped off our rent check, and then went to work. When I got home, I was going over numbers etc and realized that I HAD made the first payment, just as I had suspected, but the holidays delayed it posting! I then sat down to crunch numbers and realized that that one little payment was going to put us at -$15 in our checking account after all the payments hit. Shoot. It’s a holiday weekend so the banks are closed!
Second, my car battery died.
Hard to buy a car battery with -$15, so I opened my wallet. I had $45 that I had received for Christmas, $98 for lunch, gas, and spending money for the week, and that was it. My husband was home and could see I was distraught. Not only was I trying to start the car to take the dogs to the vet, but I have 5 consecutive work days ahead of me.
I called the vet and told them that I would have to reschedule the girls’ vaccination appointments and they were very understanding. I told my husband that I needed to go to the bank and deposit some cash to cover a payment, and then go and price batteries. He jump started my car and rode into town with me. I put $50 in our account, bringing my cash down to $93.
We got to the car parts store and the clerk told us that a new battery would be $145. Much more than I had, but at this point I would have to have them jump-start my car just so I could leave. My husband pulled out his wallet and gave me $100 from his Christmas money, so we had $193! We got my new battery (ouch!) and headed on our way. He had something he needed to do for work, so we headed that way. He mentioned that he wanted to stop for lunch but that he wasn’t really hungry (silly haha). I stopped at a gas station and went in and got us each a candy bar and a soda. After the morning we had had we deserved a treat, and I wanted him to know that I appreciated him loaning me his Christmas money. My $48 became $40. After he finished up his stop for work, I popped into a discount grocery store. My lunch money had dwindled from about $70 to $15. So I bought a loaf of bread, lunch meat, some drinks, a couple frozen entrees, and a few other things. That $15 became a week’s worth of lunches and now I have $25 for gas for the week. Not much, but enough.
We had a great day together; it was like an impromptu date. Plus, it really helped cement why I want to do this.
Goal 3. $1,500 saved as an emergency fund
Goal 8. Positive balances in both our checking account and bill pot at the end of each month
Goal 9. That we have enough cash each week to maintain a pleasant lifestyle
(for complete list of goals, see yesterday’s post)
By accomplishing all 3 of these, this morning would have been a cake walk. Even if I had made the error that caused a double payment, the money would have been there to cover it, and with an emergency fund to cover a new battery we would have both been able to hang onto the cash that we had.
What a perfect reminder that all of this will come together in ways that I hadn’t expected to give outcomes I couldn’t have predicted!
Hope everyone’s second day of the New Year was wonderful. Join me tomorrow for our first Tasty Tuesday! Recipe included!