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.

Hiking

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.

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 (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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The $120 Week Grocery Haul + Dinner Menu Plan for 2: M7W2-3

Groceries for 2 on $120 per week or less – an attempt to eat healthy and stay in budget.

Sometimes I will stretch what we have in available in the kitchen because I really don’t like to go grocery shopping every week. That usually means Brinner (breakfast for dinner). Which is fine for me as its my favorite meal.

I am also fighting acute bronchitis passed down from my child or  someone in the office. I thought I made it scot-free, but apparently it was incubating and now I am hacking a lung (sorry, I know, TMI). But this sore throat concoction is helping awesomely.

Stater Bros: $113.62

I know it doesn’t look like much, but I still have a lot of veggies and/or ingredients on hand. Or it looks like a lot of snack food. Child + summer. Plus I had to stock up on a few staples (dishwasher detergent, baking soda and I had to feed the cat or she would make sure my sleep was greatly disrupted ).

Stater Bros: $5.48

An Ingredient I forgot for the Macedonia Fruit Salad . Great potluck dish. Was perfect for the 4th of July BBQ.

Stater Bros: $11.84

[Chicken Dinner not shown]

And the dinner ends up providing 2-3 additional meals for us. 8 pieces of chicken goes a long way for us.

Weekly total spent: $130.94

In the change jar: $9.06

Monthly Grocery Budget Remaining: $208.03

Dinner Menu Plan

  • Salmon, brown rice and artichoke
  • Beef & Broccoli stir fry (child is cooking)
  • Tacos, Mexican rice, refried beans and mango slices
  • Fish tacos with cabbage, lime & crema; homemade salsa, Ranchero beans
  • Pizza and Spinach salad
  • Budget Bytes Chicken Yakisoba
  • Dal & brown rice; mango slices

^ The upside-down peach cake from last week was delicious! I highly recommend giving it a try. Serve it up with vanilla bean ice cream. Yum.

How was your week with grocery shopping?

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The $120 Week Grocery Haul + Dinner Menu Plan for 2: M7W1

Groceries for 2 on $120 per week or less – an attempt to eat healthy and stay in budget.

I totally and completely got this post idea from Frugal Stepping Stones. Check out her blog as she feeds a family of 5 on $150 per week!

And I am going to say it front – I FAILED to stay in budget this week. One should not start a budgeted grocery haul on a HOLIDAY weekend. Nor when trying out a New Store.

Trader Joes – $39.80

How did the ice cream end up in there? Trader Joe’s roasted corn is my fave thing. Adds an abundance of flavor when I make buddha bowls. And I use hummus or avocado in place of mayonnaise on my sandwiches.


They have the best mac ‘n cheese, too! DD and I will split one and serve it up with a big side salad or fruit.

WinCo – $101.20

I took the advice of many wealthy people I know and tried out WinCo for my grocery needs. I am in love with their bulk and produce section. Premium honey, pastas, spices, candy… all in bulk. I was majorly impressed.

But I am going to make some produce bags out of old linens I have, because I feel so guilty using all that plastic!


All the berries and beer is for the 4th of July food festivities (approx. $25). So if I took that out, I would have been right in budget. The honey and butter are stock up items. Next week’s budget is likely to be lower.

Let’s see if we can keep the budget in check at month’s end.

Weekly total spent: $141.00

In the change jar: ($21.00)

Monthly Grocery Budget Remaining: $339.00

Dinner Menu Plan

  • Sofritas, black beans, cilantro-lime rice
  • Salmon w/lemon-dill aioli , sesame spinach, brown rice
  • Steak & Veggies Foil Packets (red and yukon potatoes, roasted corn, mushrooms, red bell pepper, carrots), brown rice; Dessert: peach cake
  • Veggie Burgers w/rosemary-sea salt french fries or sweet potato fries
  • Brinner (breakfast for dinner)
  • Spaghetti w/Italian sausage, great big salad.
  • Chicken dinner of some sort.

Ideas for a delicious but simple chicken dinner? Please share.

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