Mid Year Budget Check Up

I was inspired by a virtual friend’s budget check up to see how my own budget was stacking up to its planned intentions. Would it cause me to gasp? Where am I falling short? Do I need to update my budget to accommodate expenses better?

I was not actually planning to gasp. But see that yellow ($823.94 per month x 6)… ya, it surprised me too! What was all this miscellaneous nonsense?

I know some other areas are above the line, too. But does not cause alarm as I know it to be related to significant events that should not reoccur. 

Misc Expenses in 6 months time

  • Travel ($1,200) on a wonderful last minute trip I decided to take. No regrets. It was a lot of fun and nice to get away from the day in, day out. I met some really fun peeps. This also includes a couple near local trips, too.
  • Then there was Moving ($1,700) costs. Basically it turns out to equal the amount saved if I would have stayed in my place for 6 more months.
  • Then the cat is eating all her fur off. We finally took her to the Vet ($330) to find out the Super Bloom is causing itchy allergies. Gave her a steroid shot but its a short term solution. Not much else I can do.
  • Spending ($575) on various stuff (electronic, books, hobby, business, etc…)
  • Cash & ATM ($674) *shrugs*
  • Then Fees & Charges ($403) I’d rather not discuss (grumble).

There was money coming in to cover all these expenses. So the expenses are not out of my means. But all of them are out of the normal, except the Vet. It is probable that the Cash & ATM and Spending Misc. are most likely related to moving and/or travel.

After ruling what the normal expenses were, I have decided to add two more categories to the budget spreadsheet:

  • Vet – $30/m
  • Misc/Misc. Shopping/Cash & ATM – $200/m… maybe $150/m. Really I would like to keep it at $0, but that doesn’t seem realistic.

Leaving me with approx. $125/per month that I will use to snowball my debt.

Have you done a 6 month check up to your budget? If so, I hope you will share the outcome!


May 2017 Expense Report [Month 5]

EOM May 2017 Stupid Debt

April 20 – May 31

Moving: last month I had the predicament of the rent being raised and being ousted out of my place. In order to stay in budget I moved the family.

But money just goes everywhere during a move! I found a place, signed a lease, packed & moved all in 5 days! Then there is unpacking stuff from a bigger place into a smaller place. Oh, but the fun doesn’t end there. Bees were discovered at our new place (after we moved in). And they found a way into our house from the roof to the wall vent. Eek! The little buggers don’t want to leave. The bee guy has been out a couple times to do his job. It’s been almost 3 weeks and the problem is just about to be resolved.

Money: I tried to man the ship. Guide it by balancing categories when deficits came up. Creating a zero-based budget. Then I got word a tuition refund check was due my way from a long, long time ago. So I allowed myself to get a little lax, but it was actually a blessing in timing because it covered all my moving costs (and more).

Home Phone: I got the Obi200 connected to have free home phone service with a Google Voice phone number. I know many people don’t use a home phone much anymore, but sometimes its the only way I can get a hold of my child. The set up was easy but there were some kinks to work out. I will explain more in a separate post after the frustration of unpacking and bee removal calms down.

Analysis: Expenses

  • Home – $4945.32 (services, improvement, and furnishings are unplanned expenses)
    • Rent – $3652.95 – just paid rent for May, decided to move, paid rent + security deposit on new place. waiting for rent + deposit in former place to be returned.
    • Home Services – $628.08 – Movers + Tip $458, App fee $40, Hauling some furniture to dump $126.96
    • Home Improvement – $466.21 – just stuff (I don’t even remember half the stuff. but stuff like new vacuum belts, bathroom rack, trash bags, boxes, etc…). I still need more stuff but have put a stop to the spending until cash is in hand.
    • Home Insurance – $130 – annual expense. planned/saved up for.
    • Furnishings – $68.08 – something from Ikea. now what was it…
  • Food & Dining – $1270.01 (over-budget $270)
    • Groceries – $551.53
    • Household Supplies – $88.45
    • Restaurants – $280.47 – moving causes expenses to awry.
    • Fast Food – $160.56 – moving. awry.
    • Coffee Shops – $134.00 – went on a road trip. Starbucks was the stop place.
    • Alcohol & Bars – $55.00
  • Shopping – $550.12 – all totally unplanned for. except the last one. but 
    • Clothing – $407.39 – I seriously needed clothes
    • Gift/Charity – $121.28 – child’s birthday
    • Hobbies – $13.31
    • Shopping Misc. – $3.16
    • Books – $2.99
    • Electronic & Software – $1.99
  • Travel – $500 – excursion payment
  • Bills & Utilities – $379.18
    • Internet/Ph/Cable – $217.83 – last months/this months. planned. in budget. I cancelled cable and phone services. Internet will now run me around $65/m.
    • Mobile Phone – $137.68 – last months/part of this months. planned. in budget
    • Utilities – $23.67 – I didn’t seem to have an electric payment. I better make sure of that!
  • Auto & Transport
    • Auto Gas – $290.70 – $16.80 left over from budget. And that included a last minute unplanned road trip to SF for my aunt’s 70th birthday party. It was a blast!
    • Payment – $334 – fixed and in budget
  • Cash & ATM – $103.00
  • Entertainment – $91.20 – Netlix/Hulu $23.98 and the rest was unplanned movie goings and rentals.
  • Pet – $61.54 – fancy litter box and food stuff from name brand place.
  • Health & Fitness – $40.00 – dental bill that wasn’t paid by my FSA
  • Fees & Charges – $13.00 – ATM charge (to be reimbursed) and credit report unfreeze so I could move
  • Business Services – $11.87
  • C. Loan Payment – $555.39 – fixed and in budget

Total Expenses: $8,217.95

Cost saving initiatives:

I don’t think there was any this month. Stress will do that.


  • Salary (3 paycheck month)$7,615.86
  • Tuition Refund Check: $1780.92
  • Summer Savings cashed out: $216.00
  • ATM Fee Refund: $3.00
  • Fee Refund: $37.99
  • Amazon affiliate income earned: $11.81

Auto Loan

Auto Loan EOM May 2017

It’s getting there….


Starting Auto Loan Debt: $6,528.41

Ending Auto Loan Debt: $5,999.05

Snowball: $181 because I had to push it under the $6K line

Regular payment $334.

Total towards car this month: $515

Initially I had a bigger snowball set for May. But I updated the spreadsheet to make sure I have the funds in place for some annual expenses coming up (car registration, education, etc…). So the bigger snowball payments will happen in autumn. But all is still on schedule to have paid off by November!

Combined Debts

Combined Debts EOM May 2017

Starting Total Debt: $69,964.86

Ending Total Debt: $69,214.00

The Student Loan interest just won’t let me squash down the debt number as quickly as I would like. Speaking of SL interest. I just received notice that the interest accrued during my forbearance will equal about $2,700. Unfortunately, I will not be paying this before capitalization takes place. Unless the money faeries send more blessings my way.

I realize if I didn’t have the excursion fund than I could pay off the SL interest. But that is not going to change. So I would need to come up with an extra $600/m to pay down the interest before its capitalized on.

It’s a race to November to pay off the car and possibly the SL interest.

Rice & Beans or Ramen everyday?

I could probably do it. But my child would not go for this. Hmmmm….

Here’s the budget for June. I cannot see where I could cut $600 out. Ideas for cutting out or making more?

June Budget 2017 stupid debt


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A Predicament to my Budget

I knew this was coming sometime. I was just hoping it was going to happen a year and a half from now. The timing is just off for it to happen right now. I need to move.

The first 3 years of rent rates were affordable with minimal rent increases. Then the place was bought by corporate. They turned on the hot water with the rates the last couple of years.

Now they want to gentrify the place. Guess who is in an older abode? Moi & Co. I have been here half a decade. It’s walls contains many a life experiences. Some so dear to my heart that I am having a difficult time thinking about parting ways with the place. But I don’t have a choice to stay.

The business is reducing my leasing time and increasing my rent to where I personally will be hitting my cap in ability to pay. They want me out so they can renovate the place. They could not come up with a solution to keep its current tenants in and renovate at the same time. Or so they say. But I guess it doesn’t matter. I can’t afford it anymore. :(

To Stay in the Guidelines

Sentiments aside, the real issue is staying within my budget. Lower the expenses, faster I can pay off this debt. In deciding how much rent I can afford, the general guidelines say rent should be 30% of your income. Net or Gross? I think gross is great when a landlord is figuring out how much a tenant can afford. But as a tenant, I think budgeting net is a good compass to one’s level ability to pay rent (especially as a single parent).

Gross: $91,000 ÷ 40 = $2275

Net: $65,000 ÷ 40 = $1,625

As you can see, my current rate of $1715 is somewhere in between that. Personally, it’s a lot of money. And my monthly budget shows 30% gross rent payment would not in my (debtor’s) situation Because if I factor in the new rate, I am left with a deficit (see below):

Budget stupid debt

see the red. that was caused by the “new rate”. right now my current budget leaves me $6 left over.

But technically, I need to factor out the debt payments and 3rd paychecks when calculating the 30% rule.

Note: I don’t count in any 3rd-paychecks into the equation (there are 2). Which keeps me safe, allows room for error, and/or gives me snowballs to use.

Gross: $91,000 – $12,000 (annual debt payments) – $4,600 (3rds) = $1,860

Net: $65,000 – $12000 – $4,600 = $1,210

In this case, 30% based on gross could be adequate in this case, but net would be optimal.

By downsizing our quarters:

New Rate Stupid Debt

yes, it hurts knowing I pay $1,000/m in debt.

The new rate would leave me a tiny bit of wiggle room.

The current rate had me reduce the family’s clothing expenses to $0.  The new rate would allow me to put the $50 clothing expense back into the monthly budget. It would be a nice expense category to have back.

As a SIK (single income with kid(s)), an approximate range of $200/m makes a world of difference. And talk about parental guilt, that having debt is causing us the need to downsize. Debt Sucks. Stupid debt.

Overall, I will be looking at this as a challenge (because change is hard). A fun challenge towards becoming debt free. It’s team in training for tiny house living. The amount of money saved will really not be conducive in accelerating my debt payments,  but it will keep us in budget.  That’s key, right? And while this move is temporarily… temporary usually is longer than planned. So staying organized and spending more time outdoors will be key. Okay, I am off to finalize the details and play with the furniture layout of the new place. Thanks for listening to me rant and sort things out in my head.

April 2017 Expense Report [Month 4]

Analysis: Expenses

  • Rent – $1767.95 – Fixed and in Budget. Actually a little less this month due to overpaying previous months. Balanced out.
  • Personal Allowance – $40 – Fixed and in budget. I actually still have $9 and some change. but I am just going to carry it over to avoid from needing to deposit in the bank.
  • Food & Dining – $664.13 – overall the budget is $650/m. grrrr, my spreadsheet had a discrepancy in a cell formula, so I spent a little more than planned. Cell formula fixed and the budget was zero balanced from other categories.
    • Groceries – $524.49 – included a Costco stock-up. Toilet Paper for life. Laundry stuff too. Clean smelling clothes for daaaayyyyysssss! 
    • Restaurants – $8.90 – cursed! A Friend pulled me a long for a last minute lunch run. I caved. And it wasn’t all that good. boo!
    • Coffee – $35.00 – 1x weekly mom-child time. actually reduced this by $15 this month.
    • Juice/Smoothies – $10.08 – after dental care treat
    • Fast Food – $65.23 – again, beginning of the month stuff. quickly put a stop to this. last two weeks were a $0.
    • Work lunches – $20.43 – this act started up in the beginning of the month. I put an end to that.
  • Auto & Transport 
    • Payment $334 – fixed and in budget
    • Gas $143.34 – trying to drive as little as possible. we had an trip to the family’s for Easter, but other than that I was able to keep it on the low from the budgeted $205/m.
  • Shopping
    • Household – $0
    • Books – $4.99
    • Gift/Hobby – $10.97 – was supposed to be paid with personal allowance but my child borrowed my cash. I didn’t get it back in time needed for purchase of the gift.
    • Electronics & Software – $1.99 – fixed and in budget
    • Pet Care – $11.84 – My cat had OCD about cleaning herself. So much she has licked away all the hair from her stomach and part of her underarm. Poor thing is going to look like a Sphinx soon. But now she is doing it so much that its breaking skin.I was recommended to use this Dr. Gold’s anti-spray with low doses of hydrocortisone, corticosteroid, and lidocaine. Not hearing her lick every 5 minutes is a blessing! And to say she is feeling better. I am looking forward to seeing her hair grow back in!Tip: spray 2-3 times into your clean hand and rub it onto the cat. Spraying directly on the cat can lead to gnarly scratches.

      Update: ugh, my furry child is moving away from her stomach (stuff works), but is instead taking out her leg hair. Prozac next?! Or another furry child to keep each other busy.

    • Shipping – $22.75 – Child’s penpal
    • Misc – $3.23
  • Bills & Utilities
    • Cellular – $90.02 – fixed and in budget
    • Internet/Cable/Phone – $109.15 – fixed and in budget
    • Electric & Gas – $51.10 – under budget $13.90
  • Charity – $25.00 – to help support the White Helmets. Because the whole situation is just heartbreaking and soul crushing.
  • CC Payment – $7.50 – trailing. balance $0.
  • C. Loan Payment – $555.39 – fixed and in budget
  • Annual/Sinking Funds – $104.00 – fixed and in budget

Cost saving initiatives:

  • Continue to pack my lunch and snacks for work. The latest work meal was blackened talapia, rice and sauteed spinach (consumed 3 to 4 times a week)
  • Still making free espresso or London fogs at work.
  • Friends asked me last minute to go out to eat. Ah! Not when I am on a tight budget. But instead of saying “no” (because one still needs a social life for good health), I scoped out the menu online before hand. Finding that a big proportioned side salad ($5.95) and a pint of beer ($5.95) would have me spending minimally.  I also ate a small bite at home prior to going. Lucked out, they bought be dinner because I had paid the tab back in the day. #win
  • The child and I get to Sbux once a week for breakfast. It’s a great time for some one-on-one conversation. Now I eat breakfast at home before we go and I went from ordering the specialty coffee down to a regular java. And I don’t miss the pricey drinks at all. If I want to get really crazy I add a couple shots of flavored syrup. I can’t say it brings the expenses down much because sometimes the child’s BFF joins us. But still saves us approx $10-$15/month #win
  • Started washing out the plastic tubs from food products to reuse. Will be great for packing work lunches or potluck to go containers. Not sure why I have not started doing this earlier. #environmentalWin
  • Bought local concert tickets months ago via use of the summer fund. Decided not to go. Sold the tickets for $15 more than I paid. Threw it in the snowball of my auto payment.
  • Said “no” to really good tacos for lunch like a zillion times. One day the electricity was out at work for 1.5 hours during lunch time and my food was frozen. It was tough to say “no”!
  • Ordered my Obi (Wan Kenobi) to establish my home phone with free service (Google Voice)
  • I’m reading a lot more. Currently reading: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
  • Since I do take my child to Sbux one time a week, I might as well try to save some money. They had a promotion running where you buy a gift card for a friend (the child) and get $5 GC for your self. I missed being on of the 45,000 purchases. #fail


  • Salary$5,633.39
  • Amazon affiliate income earned: $4.06 (thank you!) – not counted in total salary as funds are deposited until they reach a set minimum amount.


Cruuuuussssshhhh It!

Starting Auto Loan Debt: $7,651.08

Ending Auto Loan Debt: $6,528.41

Snowball $151.08 + $60 + $300 + $80 + $16 + $157 + $35= $799.08

Regular payment $334.

Total towards car this month: $1,133.08

The bank employees viewing my account are probably like, “WTF with all the transfers?!”
Okay, maybe they are not. But I’m like, “OMG! This is cool!”

But going forward, I don’t anticipate such vigor. It will be approx. $400/m snowballs + a 3rd paycheck will have me on schedule to pay this off by November. Although, I see the balance… – $400… I would need to come up with $128.41 to tip it under the $6K line. Haha. We’ll see. I don’t know if I can pull it off.

Starting Total Debt: $71,313.09

Ending Total Debt: $69,964.86

The debt total was just teetering on the $70K line. I had to find a way to tip it over. Throwing whatever money I could find within reason. I don’t feel like I have missed out on too much. Maybe I’ve just learned to balance things better? Dunno.

Please let things continue to go smoothly.