MONEY TALK: MARCH DEBT DIARY

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Two money talks this month because having a baby sets you back a bit.

So March was baby month! We had family staying with us for about 3 weeks to help us manage everything which was super helpful. We also were able to put more money into our credit card now that we’re getting a handle on everything which is super exciting. I’m hoping we can put more and more into our credit card each month to get that paid off at least by the end of the year.

As we continue on our debt-free journey, I’m starting to think we may be a little closer to paying everything off in five years rather than three, but I have a pan for April to try and see if we can get back on track for our 3 year goal instead!

So, extra expenses were a bit hefty this month.

We spent about $750 on one time expenses and here’s why:

  1. WE’RE OFFICIALLY TEXANS | Yes, we got all our registrations and IDs and everything this month to make us officially texans! But registering a car is not cheap so it was close to $250 to get everything we needed officially transferred to Texas stuff.

  2. CLOTH DIAPERS | Yes, I’m attempting cloth diapers with this second boy. I’m hoping to save lots with this method, though we’re waiting until he’s a little bit bigger to officially start him on cloth diapers. But, all in all it was a little over $250 to get all of the stuff we needed.

  3. SUBSCRIPTIONS | We have a few subscriptions we’re signed up to and I include that, along with little odds and ends home goods to our one time expenses even though some of them occur every month. So this month we got our toilet paper subscription from Who Gives A Crap and we also got our cleaning supplies from Gove Collective.

One thing I would love is for these extra expenses each month to go down significantly if not go away altogether. We’re still settling into our home and kids will always add some kind of expense, but I’m going to be working to make these purchases a little more spars so we can add more to our debt.

MARCH FINANCIAL OVERVIEW

Made - 4015.83

Spent - 3128.73

one time expenses - 737.82

rent - 

groceries - 490.60

restaurants/coffee/fast food - 222.41

gas - 52.50

loans - 647.44

debt - 600

bills -  377.96

So our food gets better each month, though in February we were still finishing off our meal plan subscriptions and in March we did have family contributing to paying for food costs, so I think April will be our official look at what our food costs will be like from here on out. I’m still working to bring that down, but I’m also trying to not be too stingy since it is food after all.

I was able to put $600 into the credit card this month which was a goal of mine. Again, I think it’s totally possible for us to do more each month and I’m going to be looking into where we can move money around to make that happen.

GOING INTO APRIL

Now that we’re settled into our new home, town, and baby; I want to put my focus pretty heavily into debt, and with that I’m going to try and create a realistic budget to stick to. I’ve spent the beginning of this year trying to get an understanding of where our money goes, and while I don’t think all of our spending is completely irresponsible, I do think we are a little to quick to buy things for convenience or simply just for fun when we really don’t need to.

So in April I’m going to make a budget that is modest but not too restrictive so I can keep better track of where our money is going BEFORE we spend it.


MONEY TALK: FEBRUARY DEBT DIARY

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I’d say February was our last month of really settling in and getting caught up after the move. That, and getting a handle on our finances. We had a hiccup in my two checking accounts strategy, but that simply made me even more in-tune with our money, what we owe, and when everything is due.

I wound up adding amounts owed into our calendar so I can see an overview of what we owe and when. With that, whenever I add money to our secondary checking (which is dedicated to bills, loans, debt, and rent), I can go ahead and pay everything that is due in that pay period so I don’t have to worry about bills until the next pay period. It’s helped a lot in not having to worry or stress about what is due when and it also helps prevent unexpected withdrawals (which is what we had to deal with in February).

So for February, we wound up having about $600 in one time expenses and here’s the overview:

  1. CRIB MATTRESS | We had a fun thing happen in February. Oliver started taking his diaper off pretty much every time we put him down for a nap or bed. Since he’s not potty trained, he peed quite a bit in his crib. So, even though we stayed on top of clean up, we had to replace his mattress. We spent close $100 between the mattress and a new waterproof mattress cover. Super fun.

  2. RENT ISSUE | So here’s what I was talking about before. We paid our rent for February at the end of January. Then, it took about 7 days to process out of our account. But, on the day our money was going to finally process over to our landlord, our auto insurance (which is an automatic payment I totally forgot about) made us about $10 short which created a whole thing where we had to get a cashier’s check for rent and another for bounced check fees plus we had a bounced check fee for our bank and our bank is online so we had to order cashier’s checks and do expedited shipping. You guys, it was a mess and extremely embarrassing.
    Long story short, that added over $100 in extra fees to get everything taken care of and taken care of quickly.

    Again though, it taught me that I need to keep better track of our bills and when they’re due (especially with our automatic payments, like auto insurance).

  3. GUESTS | Part of our baby prep was getting a space ready for relatives to stay with us over the span of about 3 weeks. Bedding, towels, stuff like that. Nothing too exciting.

  4. KID’S CLOTHES | We have a bunch of big kid clothes that we saved from our toddler, but we’ve shared a lot of our baby clothes so we got a few little baby clothes for Charlie. We also got our toddler some more pants and a sweatshirt since he was starting to grow out of some things.

  5. SICKNESS | At the end of the month, my husband got the flu and I went overboard on getting whatever I could to get him better especially since we were on baby watch and I really wanted him at the hospital when Charlie was born. Plus I needed stuff to disinfect the house since we were expecting guests very soon. And then of course I needed some things to help keep Ollie and I healthy.

Otherwise, I feel like we did pretty good this month. We got caught up on all of the money we spent on moving and with our tax refund we decided to pay off a few small thing (move-out fees from our last place and Ian’s laptop) as well as put some money away for some traveling that we’ll be doing to visit family this year.

FEBRUARY FINANCIAL OVERVIEW

Made - 4573.17

Spent - 5059.23

one time expenses - 595.72

rent - 2015.64

groceries - 531.63

restaurants/coffee/fast food - 318.70

gas - 57.95

loans - 912.44

debt - 155

bills -  471.95

Last month I made a goal to keep a good eye on our food spending. We did a little better. I’d say we saved about $100 compared to last month.

I did have one more meal plan subscription to pay for and then we went to cooking at home more and making our own meal plans. I shopped as budget as possible and did my best to not eat fast-food too much.

We also technically paid rent twice this month, once at the beginning of the month for February and once at the end of the month for March so our final amount spent had about $1000 extra that carried over from January to pay for rent.

All in all, besides the whole rent situation, I was pretty happy with how our finances looked in February.

GOING INTO MARCH

My biggest goal for March is to start putting more money into our debt to try and expedite that process. I’m hoping to put about $300 per pay period into the credit card to start. By April, I’d love to almost double that!

MONEY TALK: JANUARY DEBT DIARY

MONEY TALK: JANUARY DEBT DIARY - This Wild Home

January has been a crazy month. We moved, somewhat unexpectedly, which added a lot of expenses we wouldn’t normally have. But even in the craziness, I was able to get a good idea of where the bulk of our money is going on an average week which was my big financial goal for this month.

We wound up spending close to $1000 on extra expenses from the move. I wish I could say every single purchase was 100% necessary. I can at least say that every purchase was at least 60% necessary. In the name of comfort and ease, there were a few changes we knew we would need to make in our new place and we figured tacking all of our home purchases on at the beginning made the most sense.

Our main home purchases included:

  1. WASHER + DRYER | This was one of those things you don’t really expect to have to buy when you’re renting, especially for an apartment so I’m sad to say we had to charge this one to the credit card. We got the cheapest we could but we also looked at it as an investment since we can now take these bad boys anywhere. We looked into apartments that had washers and dryers that came with the unit, but that doesn’t seem to be the trend here in Amarillo. Of course, there’s always a laundromat or finding a place with a laundry facility. But I’ll be honest, with two little kids, I know I’ll never do laundry unless I can walk to it within my own home. Plus, when you think about the long term cost, it’s definitely better just having our own.

  2. DESK | We didn’t go all out and get something extravagant, but we definitely learned we needed a designated work space for Ian. Our last apartment was our first experience having all of us home all of the time. Ian got a position that is a work from home position. We thought we could get away with having him work at the dining table but very quickly learned we would need a desk because the dining table is used too often through the day and it’s not quite big enough for all of us to fit while Ian is working. So there you have it, a desk was purchased.

  3. RUG | For under the dining table. We moved from a full on laminate apartment to a full on carpet apartment. Given that we have a toddler and a baby on the way who will both eat very messily for the unforeseeable future, we decided it would be best to get a small rug for under the table because, in the long run, having a rug to cover the carpet in the dining space would save us from having to pay to replace the whole carpet if any stains or spills occur in our time here.

  4. VACUUM | We wound up getting a robot vacuum. It wasn’t a super fancy one. I found one that was about the same price as a regular vacuum and thought, “Hey, I need a vacuum anyway. Why not get one that does the work for me?” We only had a broom before which was fine to sweep a rug and laminate floors with, but for a whole apartment of carpet I knew I needed a little help.

  5. HUMIDIFIERS | The climate we moved to is much more dry than anywhere we’ve ever lived. That, along with the colder weather and a need for a heater 24/7 left us all with dry skin and bloody noses. So we got some little humidifiers to run at night in each of our rooms.

  6. EXTRAS | You know, move in fees, storage solutions, command strips and hooks, a plant or two because we had the room and I found a fiddle leaf fig tree for $16. There weren’t too many extra things we needed but I’m sure they added up more than I really know. There were definitely many trips to Target.

All in all, I don’t think we went crazy on home purchases. I tried to be as resourceful as possible and turn to what we already had before buying something new, but with a new home comes new necessities.

Other one-time expenses:

The second thing that added to our one time purchases was my birthday. I kept the budget low. My actual birthday was 4 days after our move so I just wanted to sit at home and hang out with my boys. My husband had a small budget for some decorations (because decorating the dining room for each other is a tradition) and I got Chinese food and watched movie. I was gifted some birthday money and I used that for a sweater and shirt from Target along with my official tea set up to get started on one of my new year intentions. I’m happy to say my tea pot and the tea I bought is getting used daily!

Otherwise, a lot of money was spent on fast-food, gas to get here, and restocking our fridge.

JANUARY FINANCIAL OVERVIEW

CHECKING

Made - 4612.21

Spent - 4346.1

  • one-time expenses (not including washer + dryer) - 968.5

  • rent - 999

  • groceries - 710.83

  • restaurants/coffee/fast food - 247.23

  • debt - 906.44

  • bills - 361.34

  • hobbies - 35.4

So this month my only real focus was simply getting a good look at what’s coming in and what’s going out. I knew we wouldn’t have a lot of wiggle room for adding more to debt this month, but a big part of being able to pay off debt is knowing how much you really have and where you can make cuts.

Obviously, there’s a big chunk from this past month that was just extra expenses that we won’t normally have now that we’re settled in which is a good feeling.

WHERE WE’RE OVER SPENDING:

Our food expenses. They may look a little worse simply because of all the eating out we did while transitioning from one home to another, but about half way through this month our spending regulated and I got a good look at what it looks like on an average week.

Just to give a little insight on an average two weeks:

  • groceries - 402.11

  • fast food/restaurants/coffee - 97.5

  • bills - 227.32 (power/internet/spotify)

  • loans/debt - 394.43

  • hobbies - 35.4

  • kids - 

  • home goods - 156.23

You guys. That’s an average of $500 every two weeks on food alone which is way too much for 2 adults and 1 baby.

So I did some digging. The nice thing about some of these order online places is that you get an electronic receipt, and since I never take paper receipts, this made it so I could go back and get a good look at what I was actually buying.

I think the kicker was our meal plan subscription. We signed up a few months ago to help with meal planning and found a fairly inexpensive service that we really love using, but at $40 a week for only 3 of our meals, we found that it’s just not practical right now. Besides that, there are definitely places in our groceries that we can cut back on. Namely fancy beer and those snacks that you buy on a whim because you really need to eat a whole birthday cake right now.

DEBT

While we did pay our minimums on everything, we weren’t able to make too many strides this month. After purchasing a few baby things in February I’m hoping to start putting more into the credit card!

GOING INTO FEBRUARY

Our plan for this month is pretty simple. The main focus is to cut our spending a little bit. We do need to buy a few little things to get ready for our son who will be born early March and we have some things to prepare for guests coming in town.

Otherwise, I’m going to keep doing my weekly reports for our bills. But I’m also going to start doing weekly reports on food and groceries specifically to really get a good idea of what we’re buying and what we may be able to cut back on.