Thursday, February 19, 2015

Februarys Are For Budget Planning

Now don't ask me why, but for some reason, February is the month that I get on us about our budget.  It is the first month after all the holidays and birthdays and gives me a real slap in the face about our money situation.

Money is stressful.  I don't care who you are, money is stressful.  I have always been in charge of our finances since we became a "we" and moved in together in 2011.  Ryan, self-admittedly, is not good with money, in the sense that he doesn't realize when he is getting low on it and doesn't stress about it.  I, am self-admittedly, a little obsessed with money, in the sense that I stress over every detail of it and freak out each and every month.

I have tried to come up with a way to help myself out this year so that I don't get so stressed and upset about our money situation.

Going into our marriage we had debt.  Ryan had built up a bit himself and I had a credit card that I would love to use when it wasn't maxed out - don't get scared for me just yet, it only has a $500 limit - which I know is still a lot, but at least it wasn't thousands of dollars.  Anyways, we got married, Ryan went overseas and I was left at home to save money and pay off our debt.  I kicked our budget's ASS and got rid of all of our debt and managed to get us a gorgeous savings account.  We managed to pay for our wedding and honeymoon all in cash and still had some left over.  We did well and lived a great life.

When we bought our house we only had our two vehicle loans to pay each month.  Although I was still stressing about money, we were rolling in the dough - if only it could have stayed that way.

We got excited.  We bought a boat - well we are paying the bank for a boat now.  We bought a new couch - the first piece of brand new furniture either of us ever bought for our home.  We got a credit card.  We had a baby.

Now, we are five and a half months into life as a family of 3 and expenses are not going down, they are just increasing.  February Budgeting has been in full force.

Here are some ways that I manage to stay sane in our goal of becoming debt free - once again.

I'm a bit crazy and have created a spreadsheet.  On said excel spreadsheet is a tab for each bill we have.  I have a total of 22 tabs - this sounds like a lot but it includes everything like utilities, mortgage, insurances, etc.  On each tab I have it labeled for the business, the link to the website, username, password, account #, due date, interest %, minimum payment, date paid, amount paid and remaining balance.  Each tab has a whole bunch of numbers on it, but in the end it is our life, in bills, in one spot.  I have an "overview" tab at the beginning that shows our monthly income, all bills with minimum payments totaled, bills in interest % ranking order and miscellaneous items that aren't included in the bills section.  I need this.  This is a great way for me to have everything in one spot and be able to show my hubs what is exactly going on.

I still use and I love it!  I have revised our budgets a bit and still work on it weekly.  I love that it uses pie charts and line graphs.  I am a total admin and love all things excel and charts!

Like I mentioned above, our spreadsheet has our bills listed in highest to lowest interest rate and this helps me prioritize our bills.  Of course our main bills - mortgage, utilities and groceries - come first, but after those are paid we still have the rest of those pesky ones.  I have made a goal for us to be "debt" free by the end of 2015.  I want to have no debt except for our house and possibly the cars and boat.  I know that still sounds like a lot of debt, but if we only have those 4 payments per month we will be saving an average of $500/month!  That's huge!

We love to eat out as much as the next person but living 20 minutes from the closest "chain" restaurant also makes it expensive in gas terms.  We are cutting back on spending money by eating in more.  I have gotten us on a schedule of eating out MAX twice a week, including the weekends.  This is huge for us and I have already noticed a difference.  Of course, there are those nights when you just have to eat out, and I make those okay as long as they don't get out of hand.


We are going to achieve our goal of becoming debt free by starting at the top of our interest rate list and working our way down.  We will pay minimum payments to all debts except for the highest one and put as much as possible each month towards it.  We will then work our way down and never decrease the amount of money we are paying until all of our debt is gone.

For Example:
Loan A minimum payment is $25.00.  Loan B minimum payment is $25.00.  We will pay $100.00 to Loan A and only pay $25.00 to Loan B until all of Loan A is gone.  Once Loan A is gone, we will then pay $125.00 to Loan B.  We aren't out any more money than we normally are, but now are paying off Loan B a lot faster then if we were just paying the minimum payment.

We are still in Month 1 of this new process and I hope it works.  I plan on doing a budget update in the next couple of months once we see a difference in our debt.
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