Budget

Creating a budget in 6 easy steps is the perfect way to know the ins and outs of your money. You will be able to see your income and expenses to know exactly where your money is going. A budget will keep you from wondering where your money went. A budget will also tell your money where to go. So, let’s dive in…

Step #1: Grab your desired tools to make your first budget. I recommend a pen, paper and a calculator – Or if you are fancy, feel free to create an excel spreadsheet and build in the necessary formulas or create a digital budget online with an app like Mint or EveryDollar.

However, I always recommend to manually write out your first budget because there is just something about putting pen to paper and making the necessary subtractions, additions, doodles, etc. This is how you really FEEL the numbers and the process.

Step #2: Start with A Goal! At the top of your sheet of paper/budget write out your goal for creating this budget.

Examples of Goals: Determine where every dollar of my income is going. Find any money leaks because I feel like I make enough money but still come up short before the end of the month. Determine how much I am actually spending on shopping, eating out, etc. Find an area I can cut back on so I can save more money, cash flow a vacation or pay more money toward my personal debt.

Now it is time for the numbers

written budget

Step #3 List out all of your Income (All sources: Paychecks, business income, side hustles, etc.)

If you have inconsistent income take the average of 3 months and use that as your income.

Example: In the last 3 months your income was: $2000 (month one), $1000 (month two) and $1500 (month three). To find the average you will add up all of the income and then divide by how many months there are. So, $4500 (sum of all numbers) / 3 (amount of numbers or months) = $1500. $1500 would be the average and therefore use that amount as your average monthly income to budget off of. If during the month you are budgeting for  your income is higher than your average then the additional income can be applied toward your goal or rolled into next month. This is great way to handle additional income since your income is inconsistent and you based your budget off of a lower number.

Step #4 List and add up all your monthly necessary expenses then subtract them from your income

Non-Discretionary expenses are the expenses that are absolutely due each month: Housing, Electricity, Water, Sewer, Trash, Insurance (life, car, medical, long term disability, etc. – if these aren’t deducted from your paycheck)

Other necessities to include:

Gas/fuel/ transportation costs

Childcare/Afterschool

Grocery/food

Pay your future self fund – because you need to save for your future self – so pay yourself just like you pay a bill

Debt Minimums: Credit Card(s)/Personal Loans/Car Loan/Student Loans/Medical debt, etc. (It would be great if this number was zero)

Stop here and see what you are left with…circle or highlight that amount

Take a moment and look at what amount of money you have left after covering your non-discretionary expenses because everything in the next step are expenses that are discretionary and are what you have control of. This is an area in your budget where you can possibly eliminate items or reduce amounts spent in this area.

Step #5 List and add up all of your discretionary expenses and then subtract them from the last number you calculated.

Discretionary expenses are flexible and sometimes optional. This is where you can find money to help you achieve your financial goals like growing your savings account, adding to retirement, putting more money toward debt, etc.

Entertainment categories like dining out

Gifts

Vacations

Personal care (hair care/styling, manicure, pedicure, waxing, grooming)

Clothes

Cable

Subscriptions and Memberships

Step #6 Clap for yourself because you have successfully created your very own budget.

Fingers crossed your budget ends in the “black” with a positive number meaning you have some money left over. If you end up in the “red” with a negative number then you have some more work to do. Time to think about… can you cut out an expense, cancel a subscription, reduce spending in a certain area, pick up overtime or pick up a side hustle to put you in the “black” because you don’t want to come up short.

“Tell Your Money Exactly Where to Go and You’ll Not Wonder Where It Went”

Conclusion:

Have a goal for your monthly budget then get to work by adding up your income and subtracting your expenses from your income.

Good News – you got a positive number so you have money left to attack your goal.

Bad News – you have a negative number so you will need to revisit your expenses and see where you can cut back because if you have a short fall, either something isn’t going to get paid or you may end up going into debt to make ends meet. Another awesome option is to make more money. Especially if you don’t want to cut back or you simply can’t cut back anymore so you will have to bring in more income to cover the gap.

And now the best part! Stick to the budget you created so you will know where your money is going and then start to smash your financial goals! I know the word budget has a negative connotation but it is truly the only way that you will know where all of your money is going.

Thank You and Please comment with your thoughts surrounding budgets. Do you create one? Why or Why not? Do you have any questions about making a budget?

 

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payoff

July 2018 Debt Payoff Report

At times July seemed to creep by and then BAM it was over! With July came the normal expenses but also a birthday and an anniversary gift but nothing too far fetched. I did say No to few things that if I wasn’t in debt, I would have definitely said Yes to. This month, I set a big goal – which was to pay off the remainder of Student Loan Group D! At the beginning of July the balance was $1447.83 and being the goal orientated person that I am, I set out to pay it off this month. I admit $1447.83 in a month would be a stretch but I was up to the challenge. A constant thought of mine is that each day, each payment, each month is just getting me closer to be Magical Land of Student Loan Debt Freedom!

Drumroll please…

It pains me to write this but I didn’t pay the targeted Student Loan Group off. The goal was big and ultimately proved to be a little too big. However, I did pay off $1200 of that balance and I am definitely proud of that. Which leaves me approximately $247.83 away from paying off Group D and I will pay that off on August 9, 2018 – first thing in the morning, as soon as the direct deposit hits my account!

Just Say No

There was only one big thing that I said No to this month and it was that one of my friends renewed her wedding vows in Jamaica and yes, I wanted to go but said No. Last year the planning started and initially I said Yes to the trip.  There was a payment plan available and an all inclusive trip to Jamaica with friends sounded awesome but I just knew that each of those payments could go towards my loans so ultimately we decided to not take the trip. I also said No to a few things that I wanted out of Target because I didn’t truly need any of those items so they stayed in the store. Honestly, I know I could have said No to more things in July (like eating out) which would have possibly allowed me to pay off Group D but no need to beat myself up about it now.

I have found that saying No is getting easier and easier when the event or item is taking away from my goals.  I also know that saying No is a short term sacrifice for the long term success that I am setting myself up for. Of course, I am not perfect. True friends and family understand why I am saying No. Since, I am weighed down with $47,000 in student loan debt and I want to get out of it as soon as possible, I have to say NO sometimes now so I can say YES to more things later.

Debt Recap

Currently I only have Student Loans (no car loan/no revolving credit card debt, but we do have a mortgage) – 6 loans to be exact and at one point I had 10. The snowball method is the current strategy for paying off my student loans.  I pay the minimum required payment on my student loans via monthly auto debit and then throw all remaining money on the student loan with the lowest balance. This plan will continue until I get down to the last two loan groups. Then I will have one loan with a 2.125% percentage rate and one with a 6.3% percentage rate.  At that point, I will pay off the 6.3% interest rate loan first and then the 2.125% interest rate loan, even though the balance will be lower on the 2.125% loan. Therefore, the last two loans will be paid off using the avalanche method. The avalanche method is where you pay off the debt with the highest interest rate first. This will save me some money on interest.

How do I pay on a specific loan group?

When making monthly payments on my student loans, I pay the extra money by group and my servicer is Nelnet. Nelnet provides an option to pay by group. Of course, any accrued interest would be paid first and the remainder will go toward the loan’s principal. Sometimes I make large payments, usually around payday and other times I make small random snowflake payments. July payments looked like this:

5th $30.00

12th $500.00

16th $21.57

20th $15.40

27th $586.36

28th $279.27 (Standard monthly payment – not included in payoff total)

31st $46.67

 

2018 Numbers and Progress YTD:

January – $2450.00 – Last Credit Card Payoff!

February – $900 .00– Paid off Student Loan Group G. YAY!

March -$126.00 – Cash flowed a beach house rental for April, purchased spring/summer items and cash flowed some other expenses that came up. Honestly, just did a lot of spending this month.

April -$899.00- I planned to pay $1000 but I didn’t fully submit the payment so it was added to May’s payoff amount.

May – $2000.00 – This payment put me under the $50,000 mark! It was great to see $49K….

June – $1175.12 – I set a goal to pay off $1350.00 and honestly, I am a little disappointed that I did not meet that goal. Even though, I was only off by $174.88, I was still off! But now I am super focused to meet my goal for July – which will include the payoff of a loan group so there will be strict budgeting for July and saying, “No” to more events and non-essential shopping. However, I am a real believer of making  short-term sacrifices now for long term successes in the future.

July – $1200 – I set a goal to pay off $1447.83 – Which would have paid off Group D and it was a stretch but I wanted to try. Group D will definitely get paid off in August.

The numbers reflected show payments made above the minimum payment required to show actual debt reduction.

Sugar and Money for the Month of July

Sugar for the Month- Moments with my family. We purchased a membership to our local zoo so we started taking advantage of the membership immediately. We enjoyed watching, “Lion King” at the zoo’s amphitheater and also visited the zoo on a separate day to see all the animals. I went to a comedy show with my Mom and cousin AND my husband and I squeezed in 2 date nights! July was filled with great experiences.

Money for the Month – Paid off $1200 and even cashed in some coins to help with my debt payoff. I attempted to sell some children’s items to a local store but the offer was to low to accept.

Now Let’s Imagine… What could I have done with $1200 if it didn’t go toward debt…

Sugar – A Vacation! There is no doubt about it, we would have loved to take a vacation during the month of July.

Money – Continue funding the imaginary Roth IRA that I would have opened in May. I could add $1200 to it and I would only be $1125 away from the 2018 contribution limit of $5500.00.

In Conclusion:

For the month of July, I paid off $1200 from my student loans. I am currently targeting Group D which now has a balance of $247.83. My current total balance on my student loans is now $47,278.

As always the goal is to be as transparent as possible without disclosing our income. After all, it’s not how much money you make but how much you save, spend, give and invest.

A Question for you and Thanks!

Do you have Student Loan Debt? If so, how much and do you have a plan in place to pay it off?

Thank you so much for reading and all of your support!

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