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March Finances and Goals

Last month, Hubby and I were very successful in paying down our debt. This was largely due to a big fat tax refund, and some yard sale income. We reduced our debt by more than $6,000 last month alone! We’re hoping to do well this month as well.

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March’s pay periods are from Feb 27- March 12, and March 13- March 31st. This second pay period is one of the longest this year, so our budget will be stretched a little more than normal. March is the second month in our snowball debt reduction! So far we’ve paid off $6,150.66!

Our total income this month (which does not include any extra money I make from various side ventures) is $3,519.

We have these bills (all amounts are rounded up to the nearest dollar):

  • Insurance (because of the pay periods, we’ll have two insurance bills:              $338.00
  • Internet                                                                                                                   $65.00
  • Cell Phones                                                                                                           $42.00
  • Disneyland Tickets                                                                                                $99.00
  • Netflix                                                                                                                     $8.00
  • Savings (We’ll have an extra $100 start up on a new CD)                                   $200.00
  • Citrus Lane                                                                                                            $17.00
  • Haircuts                                                                                                                 $50.00
  • TOTAL:                                                                                                                  $819.00

And these budgets:

  • Gas:                                                                                                                       $200.00
  • Food and Dining:                                                                                                   $500.00
  • Miscellaneous:                                                                                                       $100.00
  • TOTAL:                                                                                                                  $800.00

We Owe:

  • Credit Card #1:                                                                                                        $1,163.74
  • Credit Card #2:                                                                                                        $2,508.67
  • Car Loan:                                                                                                                 $9,975.51
  • Truck Loan:                                                                                                             $1,210.85
  • Line of Credit:                                                                                                           $499.65
  • Student Loan:                                                                                                          $9,000.00
  • TOTAL:                                                                                                                    $24,358.42

This month, our snowball payment plan looks like this. It includes $1000 from a maturing CD. Payments that are over the minimum are in bold:

  • Credit Card #1:                                                                                                        $25.00
  • Credit Card #2:                                                                                                        $51.00
  • Car Loan:                                                                                                                $321.66
  • Truck Loan (This will be paid off this month!!):                                                     $1,210.85
  • Line of Credit:                                                                                                          $192.34
  • Student Loan:                                                                                                           $100.00
  • TOTAL:                                                                                                                    $1,900.00

Goals

  • Pay off $2000 of debt. Our normal month-to-month debt payment is $900, and we have an extra $1,000 to put towards our debt from a maturing CD. I will have to make $100 from yard sales, side jobs, and Textbroker in order to meet this goal!
  • Pay off Hubby’s truck! It’ll be nice to have one vehicle’s title in hand.
  • Deal with our maturing CD. Last month, one of our goals was to come up with a plan for this money, and this month we’ll execute this plan. We have decided to take $100 and use it to open a new 1-year CD at 4% interest. This is the minimum amount allowed to open a CD. We will take $1000 and put it towards paying off debt, and any remaining money will go into our emergency account at 4% interest. We debated investing the entire amount, but saving money at +4% interest doesn’t make sense when we’re paying -14.5% interest on a loan.
  • Revise our debt payoff plan. Since Hubby might not be able to re-enlist, we want to have some savings built up for when he gets out, but we also want to have as little debt as possible. We’re going to compromise on this goal by continuing to snowball all our debt that has a higher interest rate than our holiday club savings account (+4%), then making minimum payments on the remaining debts with a lower than 4% interest rate and putting the money we were snowballing into savings. This way, our money will work for us. We will make one extra payment to each debt so we’re one month ahead, which looks better on a credit report. We’ll pay off the truck loan, line of credit, and both credit cards, but keep the student loan and car loan.
  • Review and adjust our retirement account. We have my husband’s TSA divided between C funds, I funds, and S funds. Our goal this month is to review how it’s doing and make adjustments as needed. We’re taking more risk now, and at age 30 we’ll start shifting to a more conservative portfolio.
  • Have two yard sales. I’m aiming to have one on March 1st and one on March 15th, since those are the weekends closest to payday. On base, selling secondhand items depends heavily on payday, because most people live paycheck to paycheck. I’m hoping to make at least $200 at each sale, and rid our house of some items we don’t want to move in the process.
  • Discuss our job options post-military. We’re getting very close to Hubby’s separation date, and we’re a little conflicted as to our future. We’ll sit down and have a good discussion about our options, and hopefully decide on career paths for Hubby and I.
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February Goal Recap

At the start of this month, I wrote a post about our finances and goals, with the aim of keeping our family accountable for paying back our debt. Here’s a look back at how we did:

Goals

  • File our taxes and put the refund towards our highest interest debt.  We filed, and got back around $5730. We put $5000 of that into our highest interest rate debt (the truck payment), and kept $700 as fun money. The extra $30 went into our emergency account, which earns us 4% interest.
  • Come up with a plan for our maturing CD. Our 3% interest CD matures early in March, and we needed a plan for the money. Unfortunately, we were not able to roll it over into another CD to avoid capital gains taxes, so it will be deposited into our savings account. We have decided to take $100 of it to start a new 4% CD, put $1000 towards our debts (highest interest rate first!), and put anything that’s left over into our emergency account at 4% interest.
  • Reduce our debt by either $1000 or $6000. Each month we budget $900 worth of debt reduction income, and my goal this month was to pay off an extra $100 worth of debt, plus our tax refund if it came in on time. In February, we paid off $6,150.66. We blew past our goal by $150.66!
  • Remain in the green this month. We stayed in the green, but ended the month with $0 in our main checking and savings accounts (I do not count our emergency account as a savings account). We would have gone into the red if I had not made an extra $160 towards the end of the month from selling items on Bookoo. If we had any money left in our accounts the day before payday, I would put it towards our highest interest rate debt (even if it was only 50 cents!)

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We completed all our goals this month! I’m proud of us. Hopefully we can do this well next month. One step at a time, that’s all it is!

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20 Chore Tuesday- Write A Letter to your Congressman

If you’ve been following the news, you might know that the government is considering cutting certain military benefits. Since we rely heavily on said benefits to keep our budget in check, I’m going to be writing a letter to my congressman. Since I’m a resident of Wyoming, chances are actually pretty high my Congresspeople will read my letters. After all, even if literally every resident wrote to them in one month, they would only get half a million letters, out of which they might read 100. Those are pretty good odds.

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  1. Write a letter to Senator Enzi
  2. Do our budget for March
  3. Clean the stove
  4. Clean off the kitchen table. Again.
  5. Fold the load of laundry that’s in the dryer.
  6. Put away said folded laundry.
  7. Clear off the stair landing. Stuff accumulates here and it really bothers me.
  8. Empty the diswasher after a load is run.
  9. Do another load of dishes
  10. Empty the dishwasher again
  11. Clear out the hallway to the laundry room.
  12. Clean Little Man’s high chair

Completed. Gold stars all around!

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  1. I mailed my old student flute, which I recently sold on eBay. I loved it, but since I have a beautiful open hole flute, this one was just sitting gathering dust. I’m very happy to have less stuff and more money!
  2. I stuffed the cloth diapers I washed last night. Washing diapers at night is cheaper than washing them during the day, because electric is cheaper at night. I usually put in a load right before I take Little Man up for a bath, then hang them up right before Hubby and I go up to bed. Doing things that way means A) I don’t have dirty diapers sitting overnight, B) I always have dry diapers in the morning, and C) The diapers don’t sit overnight and get smelly.
  3. I wrote a letter to Senator Barrasso explaining why the commissary benefit is worth preserving.
  4. I visited Victoria’s Secret and bought two pairs of panties. I used two coupons I got in the mail the other day; one was for a free pair of panties, and the other was for $10 off a purchase (with no minimum purchase price!). I spent 54 cents on $22.40 worth of panties!
  5. I cleaned my kitchen counters. They were covered in crumbs and something sticky, and now they’re spah-kling, dah-ling.
  6. I did a load of dishes. I’ll end up doing a second one later tonight.
  7. I vacuumed the laundry room, including the dryer hose that goes outside. I’m not sure how much lint I sucked up, but there were some very satisfying noises coming from my vacuum, so I’m guessing a lot!
  8. I made dinner. We were supposed to have chili, but I didn’t get around to starting it on time, so we ended up eating Italian style pasta (pasta with butter, zucchini, tomatoes, chickpeas, and celery). It was delicious, and my husband even stopped complaining about the lack of meat after he tasted it!
  9. Rounded up all the stray dishes in the house and put them in the sink, with the intention of running them through the dishwasher.
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Flying with a Baby (Commercially)

I’m a private pilot. I can fly an airplane on my own, and even with that fact, I sometimes choose to fly commercially. I’ve flown commercially twice with my son, when he was about 9 months old, from Southern California alllllll the way to Long Island, New York, and again when he was 17 months old, from Southern California to Indiana and back. Here’s what I learned, from before we took off to when we landed. Ready?

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At Home:

  1. Pack smart. You’ll need one bag for you and your baby, full of your clothes, extra diapers, toys, bibs, and whatever you think you’ll need at your destination. If you’re going somewhere warm, remember a swim diaper for your little one. The important message here is to only have one bag to check. Make sure it has wheels, a lock, and no tears. Then CHECK THAT SUCKER. Cough up the extra money, and save yourself a huge headache.
  2. Bring a backpack full of snacks, diapers, toys, a blanket, a sippy cup, and single serve formula packets if you need them. Bring a book for yourself, too. Pack as many snacks and diapers as you think you’ll need, then add more. I really like those pouch purees, like the ones from Happy Tot and Plum Organics. I also like the yogurt melts they make, Cherrios, fruits, and a PB and J.
  3. Buy your baby their own seat. If they’re young enough they haven’t realized they control their limbs, you can probably hold them, but once they start getting wiggly, just cough up the extra bucks. Buy a seat for your little wiggler, and bring your carseat.
  4. Try to book your seats in the back back of the plane. It’s a little bit bumpy, but you’re right next to the bathrooms, and watching the stewardesses is free baby entertainment!
  5. If you can’t get seats together, don’t panic. When you get to the airport, talk to the person behind the desk about changing your seat. Let them know you couldn’t book two together and you’re travelling with an infant.
  6. On the subject of carseats: make sure yours is approved by the FAA. Most are, but check the sticker on the side. There should be a little airplane that says something like “This restraint has been approved for use in aircraft by the FAA.” If it’s not, buy one that is. You’ll need it as your child grows. Also, measure it to make sure it’ll fit in the seat.

At the Airport:

  1. Check your roller bag. Do NOT check your carseat, stroller, or backpack. You’ll need some extra time to check the bag, so keep that in mind.
  2. Wear your baby in a carrier, and use an umbrella stroller to hold your carseat and backpack.
  3. Going through security is going to take a lot longer. If you have open puree pouches, you’ll need to have them tested. Breastmilk and formula bottles that are premade will have to be tested as well. Unopened puree pouches have to be removed from your bag and put through the xray machine, so pack them in a gallon size bag. The stroller has to be folded and put through the xray machine, and the carseat does too. You may have to take your child out of the carrier, or you may not- it seems to depend on the airport. For the love of all that is holy- if your child wears shoes, make sure they have velcro. Take your sweater off before you get to the security line, and pull out your laptop. You sometimes have to remove baby’s sweater, but this seems to depend on the airport and that particular TSA agent.
  4. The TSA agents SHOULD allow you to go through the regular metal detector, but if they try to send you through the spinny huge one, ask to go through the metal detector and a patdown. It’s easier, and there’s no chance of whatever radiation those things let off hurting your little one.
  5. When you get to the gate, let your baby crawl or walk around. I know, the floor is gross… but trust me, let them get their wiggles out NOW. Just sanitize their hands after you pick them up.
  6. Buy fruit, water, or milk before you get on the plane. The plane may or may not have milk, so if you need it, buy it.
  7. There are two schools of though on when to load. First is the thought that you should load first, when they announce family boarding. This means you can get everything situated, packed away, and installed before everyone else starts shooting glares at you for holding up the plane. It also means more time you spend with your baby in a small, enclosed area with limited entertainment. The second school states you should load last, and let your kids run around until the last possible second. This means less time in the limited area, but you’ll have to hurry to get everything put away. I would say to think about how your kid does with small areas. If you decide to load first, refrain from buckling your kid up until the stewardess starts glaring at you and telling you, “Ma’am, your child needs to be buckled up now”

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On the Airplane

  1. Nurse during takeoff, or give baby a sippy cup or bottle. If you have a toddler, consider those gummy fruit snacks. I know they’re full of crap, but they’ll keep your baby from screaming because their ears hurt. One pack won’t kill them.
  2. Keep the window open for a while to give baby a view, but close it when they lose interest and turn off the lights. Keep it dark, and baby might fall asleep.
  3. Keep baby buckled up as much as possible. It’s safer, and babies seem to understand that car seat time means sitting still.
  4. If your child has a lovie (a stuffed animal, soft blanket, or random scrap of fabric), make sure they have it with them in the car seat. It’ll go a long way to keeping them from crying because of scary noises.
  5. Change diapers a little more often than you normally would. Sitting down makes baby more aware that they’re wet, which is not a good thing. I imagine it feels gross. Change that baby!
  6. When you land and the captain turns off the seatbelt sign, unbuckle the baby ASAP. Plan on being the very last person off the airplane, because remember that trip up the aisle with the huge carseat, hitting innocent bystanders in the shoulder? You can avoid that. Check under the seats for escaped toys, and put baby back in the carrier at the very last second.

The most important thing to remember is just to stay calm. You can always ask the flight attendants for help, they’re more than willing when they see you have a baby and a bunch of stuff. It’s not a huge deal to fly with a baby, you just have to plan a little bit more and possibly relax your cleanliness and diet standards in the interest of keeping your sanity.

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When Frugality Means Spending

Since my son is an only child, we don’t get to hang out with many babies. Our neighbors all have kids, but they’re older and don’t want to play with a baby, or younger and don’t even crawl yet. At our last checkup, our pediatrician expressed some concern for LM’s social development, and thus Kidsville came into our lives.

Kidsville is one of those playgyms. It’s completely baby-proof, and you kind of just walk in, put your kid down, and let them run wild until they have a melt down or fall asleep on the foam ramp (ahem). We’ve been playing $10 per visit, and have only been three times before the checkup. However, we recently decided to cough up the money for a 6-month membership. With our military discount and the new member special they were running, our total came to about $130 for 6 months of unlimited play, a free class, and a $50 coupon for a birthday party. If we go 13 times, we’ll break even. If we go 14 times, the membership will start to pay for itself.

Disneyland

Disneyland is another expense we don’t HAVE to have, but really really like. Since we are living in Southern California, Disneyland is 1 hour away, and an annual pass is $600 or so. We love Disneyland, and decided early on that it’s worth getting annual passes in order to save some bucks on visits. If we visit 5 times, we broke even (factoring in free parking with an annual pass vs. $16 per car without).

We also splurge on quality. I recently spent $900 on a Lightspeed Zulu headset, which seems like a huge sum. However, I’ll likely have this headset until I die, which will save me money in the long run when I don’t have to buy a new $200 headset every few years. Plus, it’s got amazing sound quality, it’s lightweight, and it keeps me safer in the air because I can hear my fellow pilots.

Sure, you can go through your life not spending any money and only buying the cheapest of the cheap, but you have to ask yourself if it’ll cost you more in the long run.

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Stretching Your Dollar with Coupons

Watching shows like Extreme Couponing gives a lot of people a false picture of couponers. We’re not all crazy, we don’t all have a million rolls of TP and cat food but no cat, and we don’t all walk away with a huge cart full of stuff for nothing at all. I am a conservative couponer, but I manage to save $15-$20 every time I go shopping. Here’s how:

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  1. Subscribe to a paper. I actually subscribe to two- UT San Diego and LA Times. These two get different inserts, so I wind up with 2-4 different coupon inserts every week. You don’t need to get multiple copies of one paper, unless having multiples of coupons makes your skirt fly up, in which case go for it. Subscribing ensures you get a copy each week, instead of going somewhere on Sunday to buy a copy and finding they are sold out.
  2. Consider buying inserts. Some websites sell inserts from areas with a high cost of living. These areas (generally Southern California and New York City) have higher value coupons than more rural areas. I don’t do this because I live in Southern California, so the coupons I get are about as high value as they come.
  3. Clip all the coupons you’ll use. I keep my critera very broad and have no brand loyalty- Instead of saying, “I’ll cut out all Pantene coupons” , I say “I’ll cut out all shampoo coupons”. I generally don’t clip medication coupons, razor coupons (we use One Dollar Shave Club instead), or processed food coupons.
  4. Put them in your coupon binder. I use a three ring binder with baseball card organizers, separated into five categories: food, household (cleaners, laundry soap, dishsoap), pet stuff, baby stuff, and health and beauty. I used to have a cheap coupon organizer from the dollar store, but it took a lot longer to go through my coupons at the store that way. Keep your binder updated- generally, Sunday morning is a good time to clip your coupons and throw out expired ones.
  5. Choose your stores. I shop at four different stores: the Commissary, Target, Trader Joe’s, and Costco.The Commissary takes manufacturer’s coupons, Target will stack manufacturer’s coupons and Target coupons (plus Cartwheel), and Trader Joe’s and Costco don’t take coupons at all. Shopping at four different stores for things allows me to maximize my savings, despite having to drive. We always lump errands, so Costco (which is the farthest away) is not visited nearly as often as the Commissary.
  6. Know what to buy at each store. I buy bread, milk, and some produce at Trader Joe’s. Their bread is delicious, their milk is the cheapest around, and some of their produce is cheap and worth buying. Costco is for spices, yeast, and applesauce. We used to buy yogurt here, but since Little Man developed an allergy to berries, he can only eat 1/3 of the package, so it’s not worth it anymore. I go to Target for things that I have Target coupons for, which is generally shampoo, conditioner, laundry soap, diapers, baby wipes, and dish soap. At Target, you can use three discounts on one item: a manufacturer’s coupon, a Target coupon, and Cartwheel. This can lead to big savings. I also do our WIC shopping at Target- I feel like people are judging me less when I use WIC checks there than if I use them at the Commissary or another grocery store. Everything else, I get at the Commissary.
  7. Shop backwards. I always start in the Clearance Corner, or on the outskirts of the store where clearance endcaps are. That way, I can pick up items on my list on clearance instead of having to backtrack to put items back.

I don’t stockpile. I know several girls who do, and if you do, more power to ya. However, as a military wife, I feel that the uncertainty of this lifestyle isn’t conducive to having hundreds of cans and boxes in a closet. Plus, have you seen on base housing? There’s no storage for a stockpile. I keep one extra bottle of toiletries and cleaning supplies on hand, more so I don’t have to go buy dish soap at night because I ran out than anything. There are a few exceptions to this rule- I stockpile Tide, which I use to wash diapers, and if I find a killer deal on something that I have multiple coupons for, I’ll buy as many as I have the coupons for.

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It’s Tax Refund Time!

It’s tax refund time! We’re getting a nice chunk of money back this year thanks to college and our son, combined with being in a very low tax bracket. Total, we got back around $5,730. How did we spend our tax refund?

ford-f150-1We took $5000 and put it towards paying off my husband’s truck.We bought this truck because my mom moved out, taking her truck with her. I wasn’t willing to get up at 4am twice a week to drive Hubby to work just so I could have a life outside of the house, so vehicle #2 entered our life. It’s a four door, which was my only requirement for a second vehicle, and it has a fancy lift kit on the front. Apparently it’s desirable. I just find it makes it harder to get in and out of the car at 5 months pregnant.

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We put $30 into our 4% interest earning savings account. It’s not very much, but we wanted to focus mostly on paying off debt, and I like working with big, round numbers instead of little, fiddly numbers.

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We broke up the remaining $700 into two chunks, so we each got $350 of fun money. On our new debt busting budget, we don’t have extra money for fun activities outside of my coffee date once a week and our dinner out once a week, so we do feel that using part of our tax refund for fun is a good thing. If we got less of a tax refund, we probably wouldn’t do this. I used my chunk to buy these two carriers- the first is a Little Frog Pyrope wrap, which will be my very first wrap. The second is a Toddler Tula in Wave. These two came out to be somewhere around $250 total, which may seem like a lot for those of you who don’t babywear, but it’s worth every penny to me. With these two and our secondhand, much loved Ergo, we should be able to carry both babies at once, either one on each parent or both on one parent. This means A) I don’t have to worry about where Little Man is while I get the baby out of the car/ into the car/ into the shopping cart/ etc, B) That we all get some snuggle time, C) that we don’t need to buy a double stroller, and D) that we don’t need to figure out a way to make said double stroller fit in my little tiny car. We’ll have enough space issues.

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Hubby used his $350 to buy all sorts of accessories for his Traxxas truck, which was his Christmas present. It was expensive, but it gets him out of the house, and he usually takes Philip with him to watch, so I can get WORK DONE for 20 minutes at a time (until the battery dies). I treasure those 20 minutes, and usually use them to drink a hot cup of tea and do some tidying up. It’s amazing. Anyways, at this point he’s replaced almost all the parts with “indestructible” metal parts, so we don’t have to keep putting money into replacing bits that he breaks. I think it’s money well spent.

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Trimming The Fat (From Our Monthly Bills)

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Hubby and I have made a major decision. We’re sick of being in debt. We have about $30,000 in debt right now, and it’s seriously bumming us out. As a means of reducing this debt significantly by  the  end of the year, I recently went through our budget and trimmed the fat. Trips to Dunkin Donuts multiple times a week? Chopped. Extra nice toiletries? Gone. Monthly waxing? Bye bye!

However, I struggled a bit with our “set” expenses. By set expenses, I mean things that are billed monthly. T.V, phone, internet, etc. In the end, though, we reduced our “set” expenses by more than $240 a month! How did we do it? Let’s see!

  • T.V: This one we did a long time ago. When my husband deployed, I canceled our cable service and got a Netflix plan with one D.V.D at a time and unlimited streaming. This saved us $50 a month, and we haven’t missed cable once. I take that back, actually- my husband briefly suggested it might be nice to watch the Olympics, but someone else was quick to point out that even cable customers have to pay extra for that channel. We pared this down further by cutting out the DVD plan for Netflix, and now we pay $8 a month and are quite happy (and saving an extra $8 a month)! Total savings: $58 a month
  • Internet: We have the second tier internet our provider offers. At one point we were paying $65 a month for it, but I called Cox and nicely explained that we were looking into switching companies. I was offered an introductory rate of $35 a month, which was locked in for 2 years! Savings: $30 a month!
  • Citrus Lane: This is by no means a necessary expense, but I like getting mail, Little Man likes getting mail, and it’s a nice little treat for us as we get through our debt. I did go to cancel this, but was offered 3 months at $15/month instead of $21/month, so we’ll keep getting this for now. Savings: $6/ month
  • Cell Phones: This one I’m proud of. Hubby’s phone plan was up in November, but mine wasn’t up until November of this year. We used to have Verizon, and had the cheapest smartphone plan they offered. The cancellation fee was $300 for my line. We switched to Republic Wireless, which costs $19/month for unlimited everything, plus $99 each for the phones. It was cheaper for us to pay the cancellation fee, buy my new phone, and pay for the remaining service I would have had with Verizon than it was for me to keep Verizon. It wasn’t a little price difference either- we’re talking $400 over the course of the year. Shop around for your phone- and keep in mind that a non-traditional plan might be your best choice.
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February Finances and Goals

This is my first finance post, and I’m super excited to start this journey. I’m ready to be out from under this debt, and I’m excited to see our debt reduced.

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February’s pay periods are from Jan 30-Feb 12, and Feb 13-Feb 27. This is our first month of our snowball debt reduction!

Our total income this month (which does not include extra money I make from selling curb finds) is $2,749.

We have these bills (all amounts are rounded up to the nearest dollar):

  • Insurance (This includes both cars and life)                   $178.00
  • Truck Registration                                                           $45.00
  • Internet                                                                             $65.00 (this is a little higher than most months, but we had to get a replacement box)
  • Cell Phones                                                                     $42.00
  • Disneyland Tickets                                                          $99.00
  • Netflix                                                                               $8.00
  • Savings                                                                            $100.00
  • Citrus Lane                                                                      $17.00
  • Haircuts                                                                           $40.00
  • TOTAL:                                                                           $594.00

And these budgets (notice I use very broad categories… more on that later)

  • Gas                                                                                   $300.00
  • Food and Dining                                                               $400.00
  • Miscellaneous (Literally everything else)                          $200.00
  • TOTAL:                                                                             $900.00

We Owe:

  • Credit Card #1                                               $1188.74
  • Credit Card #2                                               $2516.92
  • Car Loan                                                        $10281.11
  • Truck Loan                                                     $6882.45
  • Line of Credit                                                  $466.48
  • Student Loan                                                  $9000.00 (Payments on this don’t start until March)
  • TOTAL:                                                          $30,335.70 (Ouch)

This month, our snowball payment plan looks like this:

  • Credit Card #1                                                $25.00
  • Credit Card #2                                                $44.00
  • Car Loan                                                         $321.66
  • Truck Loan                                                      $459.34
  • Line of Credit                                                   $50.00
  • Student Loan                                                   $0.00 (Like I said, payments on this don’t start until March)
  • Total:                                                               $900.00

The debt with the highest interest, in our case, is our truck loan, at a whopping 14.25% (I’m very embarrassed about that one). Following the interest snowball, we’re flinging all our extra money towards whittling away that debt first. Every other debt is currently getting the minimum payment. Once our truck is paid off, we’ll take all the money we were putting towards paying off the truck and put it towards the next highest interest debt, which is our line of credit.

Goals

  • File our taxes and put the refund towards our highest interest debt. Our taxes are filed, and we’ll be getting back around $5700. We’re planning on keeping the $700 as fun money (we’ll each get $350 to play with), and using the $5000 to pay down our truck loan. This will bring the amount we owe on the truck to less than $1500, and will reduce the amount of time we’ll be paying off our debt by almost 8 months! Woohoo!
  • Come up with a plan for our maturing CD. We have a CD that will be maturing in March, and we need to decide what to do with it. We’re debating between rolling it over into another 1-year CD at 3% interest, investing it in one of the companies we already own stock with, investing it with a company we don’t currently hold any stock with, and using part of it to pay off some of the truck. I think we’ll probably use at least half of it as a principal only truck payment, but what to do with that other half?
  • Reduce our debt by either $1,000 or $6,000. This depends largely on when our refund check comes in. Either way, it’ll also require me to make an extra $100 by selling curb finds, writing articles on Textbroker, and doing odd jobs.
  • Remain in the green this month! One thing I like about Mint is that it tells you if you’re staying within budget each month using colors. Basic, easy peasy colors. If you’re green, you’re good to go! If you’re red, you f$*&ed up somewhere and need to make some extra moolah. My goal is to stay green this month.
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A Shift In Focus

I’ve mentioned our debt before, but until recently it hasn’t been a huge factor in our lives. However, my mother recently moved out, taking her truck with her, and we decided to add another car to our household so we wouldn’t have a transportation issue. We now have a lot more debt than we did previously. With a second baby on the way and my husband’s EAS looming, we’re ready to do something about this debt.

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I think public accountability will do a lot to help keep me on track with our budget, so twice a month I’ll be posting about our budget and our debt. I’m hoping this will help me stay on track, and inspire anyone who reads this who is under similar debt pressures.

In our household, I control the finances. Hubby is not a fan of math, finances, or saving money, so for us it made sense for me to control everything. This also makes it easier when Hubby deploys, since I’m not suddenly burdened with a bunch more financial tasks.

We use Mint.com to keep track of our finances, since it consolidates everything onto one page. I much prefer this one stop shopping approach to money.

We will be using the snowball debt reduction technique to reduce our debt, but instead of eliminating our debts based on size, we’ll be going in order of interest rate. I get unreasonably excited about seeing our debt go down to the next lowest thousand bracket (say from $10,xxx to $9,xxx), so I don’t feel like I need the thrill of a quick win to stay on board. We’ll save a lot of money in interest by using this method.