September 2017 Expense Report [Month 9]

Screenshot 2017-10-12 at 8.42.11 AM

September 7 – October 4th

A girl from a group I belong to sent a shout-out that she needed friends to help her fill a group campsite in the Eastern Sierras during the holiday weekend. Five hiking friends went to the rescue. We all didn’t know each other, but it was a blast!

shadow lake hike

In the three days and two locations I completed 15-miles. I didn’t make it as far as I would have liked, but I was still proud of myself considering I was not conditioned for this (but determined).

So I was going to head up the following weekend to conquer what I did not but it snowed major!

twin lakes credit @VisitMammoth

Credit: @VisitMammoth

(different lake, same area)

Oh money…

Camping was $8 for the 3 days + gas + PB jelly sandwiches and 1 breakfast burrito.

Regular living expenses we were out of budget $243.56 for the month of September. This was due to a celebratory dinner and paying an old FSA claim that was denied.

The emotional trip booking set us back $490.60 in non-refundable deposits. And it was money that could have helped us pay debt down.

The overspending total amount will be subtracted from October’s budget and the budgeted categories adjusted with zero sum. Going to be a tight October.

Debt was accrued by way of more dental bills. Described below. Grrr.

Analysis: Expenses

Item Amount Notes
Rent/Utility Share $1,747.46
Food & Dining $705.79 Bit higher due to camping trip & celebratory dinner
Auto Payment $333.26
Auto Gas $166.02 Bit higher due to camping/road trip
Mobile $84.72
Internet $69.99
Utilities $12.49
Household Supplies $71.13
Shopping $44.87
Clothing $31.54
Sporting Goods $12.73
Books $8.69
Electronic & Software $1.99
Travel $490.60 non-refundable deposits for a Salem vacation (I didn’t take)
Entertainment $130.14
Movies & DVD $26.97
Charity $20.00
Cash & ATM $20.00
Dental/Health Bill $184.06  *FSA payback + bill
C. Loan $556.00

Not shown: annual expenses like the auto insurance. I put away a set amount per month in a separate account to cover annual expenses. Then those funds get transferred into my regular checking acct when payment is due.

Travel: fortunately I was able to gift $80 event tickets to a friend. I am glad they were able to be used. Because of the holiday booking, 1-night’s stay was deemed a non-refundable deposit.

Auto Loan

stupid debt auto loan sep 2017

Starting Auto Loan Debt: $3,999.84
Ending Auto Loan Debt: $3673.00

Regular payment $333.26
Total towards car this month: $333.26

This is just not going to get paid off in November as I had hoped (due to the new dental bill(s)). The budget for the next few months were adjusted (especially with the SL payments starting) and the car paid off when I can.

Combined Debt

stupid debt combined debt sept 2017

Starting Total Debt: $68,177.20
Ending Total Debt: $69,365.00

Wrong way! For the 2nd consecutive month. I am very dismayed with the new dental debt. I could have and should have waited for the last bit of work to be done until the funds were available again from my FSA. I am so mad at myself.

But as I see it the dentist is like a medical doctor. If they say it needs to be done, then it needs to be done. Now I have come to the conclusion that dentists are in between being necessary and major salepersons. Final outcome: my teeth look great!

From now on I should have no more problems for years. Just get the normal cleaning as scheduled.

I can’t read this. It is from a pokemon thread. Guessing it is okay. sorry if its not. credit:

Dental debt accrued from last month and this month: tune of $3,141 @ 0% APR (Dec & Oct due dates). Grrrr.

(karma for even thinking about taking a transcontinental vacation?)

October Outlook:

October will be about putting along trying to stay in budget. Will be challenging as it will be a tight month due to subtracting the overspending from the income available.

I admit I am a bit bummed out with the additional dental debt. The other debt I came to terms with it. Lesson learned.

I will keep trying. Maybe add small self-challenges to keep up the determination. Maybe find a side hustle.

Three things I need to do:

  1. Stop accruing new debt,
  2. Make more money, and/or
  3. Reduce expenses

One day the scale shall tip in my favor. Any frugal challenges you are working on this month?

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August 2017 Expense Report [Month 8]

August Expenses 2017 Stupid Debt
July 27 – August 23

August got crazy, y’all. Just a bunch of things happened all at once. And when that happens I tend to exceed the budget limits. Yup, that is what happened here. But there was one gem of activity that happened in this month. An awesome road trip to the Grand Canyon!

It was so much fun and completely & totally frugal. Win-win! The Grand Canyon is a mind trip to see in person. The landscape is so magnificently grand that it looks like a painting up close. Sedona was the same way. Jaw dropping. And Montezuma’s Castle… how did they build such structures within the side of the wall?!

I saw lots of Elk and heard one, too. It freaked me out and sounds nothing like you would think it does. I would call it a techno-honking of the forest. I hiked. I also saw jack rabbits hop powerfully across the landscape and ground hogs peeking out from their holes in the ground. I watched the birds playing in bat boxes. Watched lightening bolt across the sky. Made friends with a cat. Saw lily pads in the forest and intact fossils that were a gazillion years old. Ate wonderfully delicious food with a garden variety. Had a wonderful time conversing with friends. Saw American Indian pictographs, learned in-depth information about the Grand Canyon and heard awesome stories about cave explorations. I took a 100-million pictures. For five days I had so much fun with my friends. And all of it was done spending a bit over $200. :)


Analysis: Expenses

Item Amount Notes
Rent/Utility Share $1,744.10
Utilities $78.51
Internet $69.99
Hulu/Netflix $23.98
Mobile $42.36
Household Supplies $116.37 I think part of this belongs in Travel preparation…
Groceries $443.24
Food, Misc. & Coffee $365.45 OMG! Food expenses got out of hand this month.
Auto Payment $334
Auto Gas $176.25
Travel AZ 2017 $209.82 Amazing 5 day trip! Includes food, gas and souvenirs.
Electronic & Software $154.10  Replaced Hard drive
Shopping, other $16.15
Personal Care $79.02 Not budgeted
Pets $15.07
Fees & Charges $15 Skipped a C. Loan payment and threw it into savings & snowball
Misc. Expenses $298.60 Both of my really good friends have birthdays in the same month. $150 over-budget.
Gifts $106.19 One with a landmark year. $60 over budget.

Not shown: annual expenses like DMV, education payments and excursion payments. I put away a set amount per month in a separate account to cover annual expenses like auto insurance, education, etc…. Then those funds get transferred into my regular checking acct when payment is due.

Food, Misc. & Coffee: There was just a lot going on. And when it bustles and matters are going all different direction, I tend to throw up my hands up and let the finances go with regards to my food expenses. Convenience at a major price.

Electronics & Software: In being a sole provider with limited funds has made me quite the renaissance woman. I’ve learned to replace broken cellphone parts and replace computer parts when they crash. It can save a lot of money, but time & patience are major skills to have when fixing technology.

Personal Care: Not budgeted. The rare occurrence of getting a good haircut. It sets a good foundation for future at-home trims. It was very much worth it (but I should have saved up for it).

Misc. Expenses and Gift: My friends… the amount of money I knew was going to be spent was weighing on me. They both have expensive taste. The gifts were not the problems, it was the restaurants of choice (food + cocktail). At one place, I covered dinner for 3 (me, my adorable responsibility plus friend). We did split one of the plates. And in most cases, it also includes the unwritten protocol of chipping in to cover a birthday friend’s bill.  This was true for 1.

I don’t completely mind that this was an expensive month for their birthdays. It won’t be like this every year. But I just wish it didn’t take place in the same month that everything else went on (new dental bill, crashing hard drive, travel…). I really couldn’t afford the celebrations in such fashion. But I could not and for the most part did not want to say “no”. Perhaps better planning on my part. Do you every struggle with situations like this?

Thank you to a reader’s advice on how to avoid this expense in the future. Next time, if the expensive restaurant dinner party celebration is not in the budget, I am saying “no” to the invite but will ask the birthday girl & a couple friends over for a future (frugal) dinner date at my house for a delicious home cooked meal and cocktails.

Fees & Charges: I skipped a payment with my C. Loan to put the money into my EF. Not having enough funds in there makes me nervous. The fact that I skipped a payment (in good faith) is a red flag to me. So I redid the budget to increase annual funds and give myself room on lean categories to help offset the ‘throw my hands’ up moments. But it does decrease my snowball amount (will discuss at bottom of post).

Cost saving initiatives:

  • I will earmark my roadtrip travel to AZ as a cost saving initiative as I had a place to stay, many of the delicious meals cooked at home by another and my friends had passes to the parks. I have never seen the Grand Canyon or Sedona in person. This trip was quite a treat. Amazing to see both locations in-person. Even better when your friends are extremely knowledgeable about the area, the landscape, and the climates. It was an awesome trip!
  • Packed dunch (lunch+dinner) and took friends to the beach. Relaxing and re-centering.

Side Hustle Income

Achievement is my get fit side hustle. You earn $10 for every 10,000 points earned in walking, tracking meals (link MFP), etc… It will take a while to earn $10, but it is working with keeping me accountable in tracking my meals and increasing my steps. I really would like to keep up the walking exercise.

PS – if you sign up, I earn points, you earn points for joining, we all (you and me) earn points!

There is a side hustle in the works. I won’t post it just yet as it is still being negotiated.

Auto Loan

Aug Auto Loan Stupid Debt

Starting Auto Loan Debt: $4,572.61

Ending Auto Loan Debt: $3,999.84

Snowball: $246

Regular payment $334

Total towards car this month: $570

I was not planning to snowball any amount this month because of high expenses. But I had to tip the number below the $4K mark as it was just screaming to be done.

PS – me not snowballing is another red flag that expenses are getting a big out of hand. But I have my plan to get back on track. All will work out!

Combined Debts

combined debts stupid debt aug 2017

Starting Total Debt: $67,110.57

Ending Total Debt: $68,177.20

So sad… there is a new color on the chart and it make the graph trend the wrong way. It was an unplanned dental expenses. I had already used up my FSA earlier this year. Least it is on a 0% interest for 6 months.

So I increased my annual expenses in my budget. If I don’t use that particular annual expense next year, then it will go in the EF bucket.

September Outlook

Staying in budget is a skill I am always trying to perfect. And even more trying to stay positive when things get busy. I recently noticed that my ‘tude was off kilter because I was feeling “restricted”. I put that in quotes because really am not “restricted” in a way to biatch about. I make a solid wage and have so many things to be grateful for. My career and where I chose to live provides the first two layers of Maslow’s triangle for my family in a manner that I wanted. And that means a lot to me, it’s important. So needing to live leaner in other areas is my choice. Acceptance, ‘tude replaced with gratitude.  :)

Upcoming Big expenses: There is one potential with landmark status. A mini road trip. I want to make it frugal. It can be done as I have done before. Although I don’t have friends to bunk with in this other place. But I do have a tent and car.

Financial Decisions: My goal is to pay off auto loan by Nov. as SL payments begin.

But now that I revised the budget, where the snowball went from $775 to $310, annual expenses went from $200/m to $400/m and lean categories were increased a little… I am not sure if I am going to squash the auto loan by November or go by the new plan.

With the new plan, my debt reduction calculator shows the car paid off in August 2018 (bleck)… (thinking out loud right now), but I will have a tax return and potential side income. So in reality, the payoff would occur in February.

There is also a couple of things I need to cover in the next few months. This minor setback could work out for the best. But I do very much dislike saying that my car loan may not be paid of by November.

And just because I allotted more in the lean categories doesn’t mean I need to spend it. If I don’t spend it, then it will be routed to the auto loan.

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July 2017 Expense Report [Month 7]

July 2017 Stupid Debt Expense Report
June 29 – July 26

I have come to the conclusion that my life during debt repayment is Boring! I know we still partake in activities. But they are far and few in between now and methodically thought out (like our annual summer festival and a concert in Fall). Other than that,  most of the fun consists of cleaning house, maintaining my house plants, cooking up new meals, taking walks around the neighborhood, reading books, wasting time on the Internet and playing video games. Being a homebody. Not much to write about there.

However, I am trying to hike more again. So it’s likely you will see tidbits of that. Like the one below. Got a couple girlfriends together and tried out this new-to-us 7-mile trail in the mountains.

I stayed fueled with nuts & dried cranberries, a PB&J, and lots of water. Next time I will start freezing coconut water (electrolyte) and add that to my H2O bladder when my fave margarita chews are not available.


It has been a while since I’ve hiked. So it took some effort. But was great we pushed through and made it to the end and back! Of course it helped knowing that beer & pizza were going to consumed when we finished. I seriously need to put more time into hiking again.

Analysis: Expenses

Item Amount Notes
Mortgage/Rent $1,722 rent + utility share
Auto Payment $334
C. Loan $556
Food & Dining (All) $407.36 when the norm of food + household = $600. did okay this month keeping it down. (pat on back)
Auto Gas $176.25
Auto Service & Parts $27.24 windshield wipers in the summer. of course the rain stopped after I put on the new wiper blades. but I was due for new ones anyway.
Auto Parking $15.00  Beach
Mobile $84.72  for 2
Internet $69.99
Utilities $73.60
Household Supplies $88.62
Shopping $4.15
Electronic & Software $4.22 once a very expensive video game.
Misc. Shopping $1.62
Cash & ATM $103.00 planned. annual entertainment event spending.
Entertainment $18.00 Infrequent trip to the movies. Baby Driver. Meh.
Hulu/Netflix $23.98
Gifts $20.00
Health Co-Pay $20.00
Pets $15.00
Business Services $4.82

Not shown: sinking fund expenses like DMV, education payments and excursion payments. I put away a set amount per month in a separate account to cover annual expenses like auto insurance, education, etc…. Then those funds get transferred into my regular checking acct when payment is due. That is why you see travel in the graph but not in the table.

Movies: we heard how this was such a good movie. Then I saw a clip where Jamie Foxx was talking how the shots fired went with the music. So it put a different spin on the movie. And I love Kevin Spacey. But overall, I could have really waited for this movie to hit the Net.

Internet: still too high per month in exchange for what I get, but I don’t have other choices in my area.

Utilities: I am afraid for the next bill. I have tried to keep the AC use down, but I don’t think it is going to well.

Household Supplies: this is always my problem area. One of these days maybe I will get it under control. But we use everything up that we buy there. So that is a good thing.

Cost saving initiatives:

  • Made limeade: 1 : 1/2 parts lime to sugar. I like less sugar than that, but that is the norm ratio. Anyway, microwave juice + sugar so all the sugar is dissolved in (my Southern friend taught me to cook in the sugar. The result is delicious doing it this way). Then add to pitcher. Fill rest of the way with water.
  • I took those rinds and chopped them up tiny, stuck them in the freezer and use them a freshener for the garbage disposal. I know they say not to use rinds in the garbage disposal, but I’ve done it for year. So do it at your own risk.
  • I have been bringing meals to work more often again, keeping the work meal costs under control.


Achievement is my get fit side hustle. You earn $10 for every 10,000 points earned in walking, tracking meals (link MFP), etc… It will take a while to earn $10, but it is working with keeping me accountable in tracking my meals and increasing my steps. I really would like to keep up the walking exercise (especially after my depressing cholesterol results).

PS – if you sign up, I earn points, you earn points for joining, we all (you and me) earn points!

Auto Loan

stupid debt auto loan EOM july

Starting Auto Loan Debt: $5,673.56

Ending Auto Loan Debt: $4,572.61

Snowball: $775

Regular payment $334.

Total towards car this month: $ 1,109

I love being able to snowball as much. When I started becoming interested in PF a few years ago, I was strapped to my paycheck. So to be able to snowball as much due to increase in salary and reducing my expenses is proof things can get better.

And I am soooo close to paying it off!


Combined Debts

EOM july stupid combined debts

Starting Total Debt: $68,559.00

Ending Total Debt: $67,110.57

Every so slowly it trends down…

August Outlook

Murphy hit. Dental work. the next couple efforts in snowballing will be to pay down the bill and zero it out. I would have used my EF, but of course, I used it last month with the auto tire emergency.

Summers are sticky magnets for increased expenses. Unfortunately, that makes for unexciting monthly updates when I cannot snowball. In reality I should save up another $1K after I pay off the bill.  But my annual expense account is kind of my buffer if I really need it.

I am just happy that I am not accruing anymore debt beyond my means (i.e., making the graph go up). I attribute you this to finally making the choice to do things right, great effort, and a bit of luck.

In August, I also want to get back on the bandwagon with meal prep. It tastes a whole lot better, it great for saving money and I don’t end up with the stress of what to eat. I am thinking dal & brown rice and beans and veggies. Side of fruit – whatever the store has in season.

Not sure if I am going to keep doing the grocery budget posts. While I love the food voyeurism both ways, it’s a lot of effort to produce when all I want to do is put the groceries away and be done. Or all I want to do is snack, put away and be done… ;)

We didn’t grocery shop for week 4. It was a bit of eat at home, grab cheap fast food, and be fed by others (like all you can eat Japanese buffet paid for not-by-me). Our pickings at home are scarce (according to the child). I need to go food shopping!

But am thinking about starting an at home side hustle. Might as well see if my homebody keep-costs-low efforts can make me some money. Time to whip out my sewing machine. So that may take part in my posts.

And I will post the food prep if it happens. What do you food prep?


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June 2017 Expense Report [Month 6]

June 2017 Expense Report

June 1 – June 28

June was a bloom when it came to expenses as you will read below. Summers are always more expensive for this household. I think my life just thaws out to the sun and movement thus ensues.

Analysis: Expenses

Item Amount Notes
Mortgage/Rent $1,645
Furnishings $491.81  Bought a couch
Household Supplies $108.91  Need to get this down!
Clothing $105.84 No more shopping this year! K?!
Food & Dining $876.38 $226.38 out of budget :-(
Auto Payment $334.00
Auto Service $629.96 New tires. There was a huge gash in my tire! Eek!
Auto Gas $175.99 Under budget
Excursion $500
Mobile Phones $90.02
Utilities $78.53
Internet $48.15
Vet $206
Cash & ATM $149
Personal Care $81.51
Music $41  Half to be reimbursed
Movies/Netflix/Hulu $25.94
Dental $14.60
C. Loan $556.00

Furnishings: Needed a place to sit. IKEA discontinued the Karlstad couch last year. I was able to buy it was on clearance.

Household Supplies: Part of this is pricey OTC medicine. Children are spreading a nasty cough & cold like wildfire. It caught up with my child. Sleep? What is it? Her nighttime cough is driving me crazy. I know it’s driving her batty.

Clothing: A triggered splurged happen due to a family member coming to town. I fortunately was able to return most of it. I also needed an outfit for work. I now own a nice pair of slacks.

Food & Dining: Over-budget due to the fumes of moving and our daycation to the beach. We had a nice meal and wonderful bonding day there. The full return of my deposit allowed us to splurge.

Auto Services: I put $1,000 in my emergency fund. Took a roadtrip with DD to the beach. Came back to find out that weekend my back tire was ready to blow! Apparently I put 65K miles on my 45K mileage tires.

beach day

I get my car checked up and serviced like clockwork. I am upset because the mechanic should have caught that my tread was low during my last oil change. Someone clearly was watching over us on our long car ride. So thankful we are safe. I now have pretty shiny tires on my car to last me 65,000 miles more (my car is currently at 98,000 miles. *smile*). EF depleted to $360.

Vet: Tell my cat to stop cleaning off all her fur! The prednisone shot has already worn off and she is back to cleaning off more fur. Boo! My cat has such a pretty coat of under belly fur when its there. I am hoping her allergies will.just.go.away. I can hope!

Cost saving initiatives:

I’m at a loss for any cost saving initiatives. The raucous of moving, family coming to town, DD on summer break, the cat off to the vet… throws my whole schedule off. And that equals spending (but still within my net pay amount). My intentions for July are to cinch the saddle tight. Oh! I just remembered and signed up for Frugalwoods Uber Frugal July. Wanna frugal along?


  • Salary: $4,822.35
  • Deposit Return: $2,271.66
  • Amazon Affiliate Income $13.25

Auto Loan

EOM June Auto Loan

Woohoo! Look at that downward slope!

Starting Auto Loan Debt: $5,999.05

Ending Auto Loan Debt: $5,673.56

Snowball: No snowballs this month because I decided to fill the Emergency Fund. We see how that went! Right back into the car. Glad the money was available to cover that expense!

Regular payment $334.

Total towards car this month: $334

Combined Debts

EOM June Combined debts

Starting Total Debt: $69,214.00

Ending Total Debt: $68,559.00

Nothing exciting in terms of debt repayment this month.

July Outlook

For July, I am moving the budget around again. Some of the excursion is being paid by a 3rd party now. This will allow me to pay off the Student Loan interest before it capitalizes in October and still pay my car off by November.

But here is the catch: I need to stay on serious budget for the next 4-5 months with some trimmings! I recently watched the video, “If I Woke Up In Debt” by Mike & Lauren. A thought experiment about how they would reduce the time it took to pay off debt if they had any. I much enjoyed it. So of course, I had to play with my Vertex42 Debt Reduction Calculator (scroll to the bottom of that page for link) to see how I could throw the Thor Axe towards my debt.

Here is what I came up with that denotes uncomfortableness to abide but believe it can be done (hopefully, I will be the one to do it):

I shall: reduce coffee/fast food/food misc.: to $15 every other week or $7.50 week (savings: $90/m)
I shall: spend no more than $120/w on groceries
I shall: reduce my spending on household supplies to $25 every other week or $12.50/wk (savings: $50/m)
I shall: have no more Personal Allowance (savings: $40/m)
I shall: Pack ALL meals for work and outings
I shall: Buy NO more clothes! (savings: $50/m)
I shall: Not buy miscellaneous (savings: $150/m)

I know there is bound to be some expenses that go out of intent. So the miscellaneous will probably be made “I shall: spend no more than $50/m on miscellaneous”.

You will all hold me accountable to this, right? :)

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