When Danny and I lived in Utah, we would frequently go snow shoeing (in fact, he proposed to me snow shoeing on a hike where we had our first kiss 😉 ) Have you ever been snow shoeing before? Its a TON of fun but it also can be a ton of work, especially if the snow is really deep and powdery. Your feet sink in a ways and you have to really lift your legs up high to walk. Unless of course, you follow in the foot steps of the person ahead of you. Then snow shoeing is a LOT easier. I think finances and in particular, a budget is a lot like that. It is a lot easier if you have someone to follow. That’s why we started sharing exactly where our money goes each month in our “this is how much debt we currently have” series. (I couldn’t think of a better name). So, this is how much debt we currently have, and where the heck our money went for the month of April.
OUR CURRENT STUDENT LOAN BALANCE IS… $475K!
I realize that we still have more debt than most humans will see in a life time, but for us, it is SUPER exciting. It means that we have paid off about $170k of student loan debt, which is certainly worth celebrating. It also means that we are approaching the 1/3 of the way mark to being completely out of student loan debt.
I SO ENJOY hearing about YOUR progress. It’s encouraging to know that you are also paying off debt and working towards other financial goals. PLEASE let me know what you are working on and what successes or struggles you’ve been having lately in the comments below. For the past year, I’ve only been sharing our monthly debt and budget updates with our newsletter subscribers. But in a recent poll of what you want to see on this blog, you said you would like to see it here! So quarterly, I’ll be posting our student loan debt updates right here on the blog. But if you are interested in the monthly run down of our budget and debt updates and all the behind the scenes information, you can still subscribe to our newsletter here to get all that juicy info.
Here, I’ll be sharing our sources of income and then a break down of our spending for the month of April.
Sources of Income
One of the first things my husband and I agreed on when we started trying to dig ourselves out of student loan debt was the fact that we were going to need a big shovel. So, in addition to our day jobs, we do a variety of things to bring more income in to help us in our goal to aggressively pay off our student loan debt.
Dentist Income (Day Job)– Danny works full time at a dental practice here in Tulsa.
Attorney Income (Public)– I work full time for what feels like a part time salary for a job that I am PASSIONATE about as a public service attorney. 😉 I LOVE my job. Even though I knew I wanted to do public service when I graduated law school, I decided that Public Service Loan Forgiveness was not for me. And just so you know, there is absolutely NO judgment from me if you are going for PSLF- just make sure it is actually the right choice for YOU. (I have a post that you can read here to help you decide if PSLF is right for you).
Attorney Side Income (Contract Review)– In addition to my day job, I review contracts for individuals and businesses on the side.
Blog Income- My blog also brings in some extra cash each month to help us pay off even more debt. The blog is by far one of my favorite side hustles because it connects me with you. Nothing has been so encouraging in this journey paying off debt than connecting with others who are going through or have gone through the same thing, paying off big debt. (If you are interested in starting a blog, you can read about it here).
Student loan payment: $14,000. We recently refinanced Danny’s student loans and cut our interest rates almost in half. And, even though we had some financial set backs this month, we were still able to throw $14k at our student loan debt, thank goodness.
Emergency: $7284. We had the unfortunate experience of having to replace our entire HVAC this month. We knew when we purchased our house that we’d eventually have to update it so it wasn’t a huge surprise, and we had been saving money for it for a couple of years. It did not feel good to write a check this size. What can I say, you win some you lose some. We shopped around and I’m SO glad we did since the first rate we were given was more than $1500 higher than the price we paid, and also included some much needed insulation for our attic.
Mortgage, Taxes, Insurance: $1000 Even though we have student loan debt, we purchased a house. In the area we live, the cost of owning a home is relatively low compared to the cost of rent, which is relatively high. We used a physician’s loan so that we didn’t have to make a down payment. Recently, our property taxes DOUBLED and our monthly payment shot up from less than $890 per month to $1000. Ouch! Buying a home is a risk. Our original plan for our home was to rent it out after living in it for a couple of years. But, we have loved the location of our house and that has made us drag our feet in moving out. We also recently found out that property values in our area are sky rocketing, so there is also a chance that we will just sell when we are ready to move.
Preschool: $478.44 Through my day job, I have the option of participating in a FSA. This is also known as a dependent care flex plan. $416.66 of my income each month goes into my FSA tax free which covers a little less than half of M’s preschool. We could most definitely choose a cheaper preschool, but child care is one of the only things I don’t look for the cheapest deal on. If your employer offers a dependent care flex plan like this, that is almost always a better deal than taking the child care credit during tax season.
Electricity: $54.59 We earned a free wifi thermostat and get a discount on our electric bill in the summer months for participating in PSO’s Power Hours. Basically, we let them turn up our thermostat four degrees during the hottest times of day in the summer, and they give us a discount on our bill (in addition to the fact that it’d be cheaper to not run the air conditioning as high). They aren’t even paying me to tell you about it, it’s just a great deal and benefits the environment so I’m sharing 😉
Trash & Water: $76.18
Internet: $50 Does anyone have an internet company that is not a huge jerk? I feel like there should be a LOT more regulation on these companies. We routinely have our bill hiked up. And I routinely call and threaten to cancel. And they routinely offer me either the same rate I was paying previously or something better if I can find another company who will give us a better deal. WHY DO WE HAVE TO PLAY THESE GAMES. Anyway, for the next year, our rate is $50 per month.
Health Insurance: $0 My employer covers 100% of our health insurance <3 which has been the greatest gift. Just wanted to let you know I didn’t forget about this expense as you are creating your own budget and tracking your spending.
Car and Insurance: $116.66 We use Esurance for our car insurance for the simple reason that it was our cheapest option. We pay semi annually to get the best rate, but divide the costs up over the year for budgeting purposes. So, if you have an annual or semi annual event that you have to pay, all you do is add up your total cost for the year and divide it by 12 months. For example, this month our bi monthly insurance payment of $700 was due. We paid it, but for purposes of our budget, we spread that payment out over the course of a year (so, since its bi-monthly, 700 x 2 = 1400. Then 1400/12 for 12 months of the year is about $116.66
Food & Household Items: $479 This is by far the hardest part of my budget! It’s SO hard to not overspend on easy convenience foods and loveable house hold items. We budget for $400, so we’ll do better next month. We bought a lot of unnecessary snacks for our road trip.
Gas: $85.94 We took a little road trip this month (you can still do fun things when you are deeply in debt) and we still were WAY under our goal of our $200 gas budget this month! I’ve calculated it and I believe biking to work saves me about $6 per day. That’s not a ton of money, but if I bike every day it means we save about $120 a month, or roughly $1400 per year. That’s a good chunk of change!
Fun: $275 We ate out more than we should have, mostly due to our road trip. We also stayed at the Great Wolf Lodge one night which ate a huge chunk of our fun budget, but M sure had a blast!
Retirement: $165 My employer does a match for my retirement plan. If I put in a small percentage of my pay check, my employer will put in twice as much as me (with some caveats)! This has been a really easy way to save without any scrounging around since I never expected to see the additional money anyway. It’s like trading $165 for more than $500 each month.
Vacation Sinking Fund: $200 Danny and I both consider vacations and travel a priority, well above having a big house or a lot of things. When we decided that we were going to pay off our student loan debt, we also agreed that we would still make travel and or vacation a priority, as much as possible. No, we don’t take any crazy elaborate vacations. But we do sneak a way a few times a year, on a tight budget, for some good old fashioned family bonding.
Tithing, taxes, and charitable giving were big additional expenses that we had this month. What we typically don’t share (at least yet anyway) is tithing that we pay to our church, taxes, and other charitable giving.
What about YOU?
How did your debt repayment and or budgeting go in March?
What financial goals are you working on?
Do you have questions about how we budget? I’m happy to answer them in the comments.
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