December 2020 Budget Forecast / November 2020 Budget Review

November wasn’t terrible. To the numbers…

November 2020 Budget Review

This overage is a bit deceptive as it was actually “planned” spending on Christmas gifts. While I could have waited until December so that I didn’t have to count the “overage” in November, it made more sense to save money on some Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals instead. As of December 2nd, I only have two more relatively inexpensive gifts to purchase and then I’m all set for gift giving. While I resisted doing it at the outset of my debt repayment journey, next year, I may finally commit to creating sinking funds.

One change that did materialize in November was my expectation that my part-time paychecks would be much smaller now that I am no longer picking up extra shifts at other sites, and just working hours at my current site. I shared that I needed to do this to avoid additional “costs,” and I am disappointed to see that my monthly part-time income has declined from about $500.00 when I started to now less than $400.00. As I have shared previously, my employer really seems to like me and has reached out to reassure me that the renovations at the site will be completed by New Years day and that my hours should return to what they were. I still don’t know…

When I was in graduate school, I was working for a company that was paying me a miserable wage for what was expected (and they were super smug about it) and I finally decided I was finished and my time and skills were worth more. A very short time later, a new opportunity came along that paid me twice as much. While it was likely just coincidence, I think there is something to be said about appropriately valuing your time and making space for the market to respond…with help from a good gig search of course. I think it might be time for me to do that here.

December 2020 Budget Forecast

So the exciting news I shared on December 1st is that I made my three (3) month emergency fund goal of $5,000.00 and will return to aggressive debt repayment this Friday, with my first part-time paycheck for December! However, I know most eagle-eyed readers will immediately look at that “food, dining, gas, and miscellaneous” budget and say, “What?” Yea, I know. So this month is one of those months where I “know” there is “income” coming in from some other places as a result of some contract work and gifts (December is my birthday month). Additionally, I have quite a bit of time off this month that I will likely spend at my parents’ home where I will have to fight my mother’s inclinations to overfeed me. For that reason, I’m not really worried about overspending this month.

November 2020 Budget Forecast / October 2020 Budget Review

I overspent in my October 2020 budget by $454.68. There. I said it.

Let’s get to why I am not freaking out as badly as I might during any other month…

October 2020 Budget Review

YIKES! What the heck happened? I was so excited as I was creating this budget that I put a note for myself at the bottom of the budget! I had crushed it in September and then…this. October was one of those months where a lot of things (some predictable, some unpredictable but preventable) came together in a way that was financially costly. Like, locking my keys in my car and having to call a locksmith to get them out at 11:00PM at night 😳 I also got sick (Not COVID-19; I think we forget that there are still other viruses and bugs out there waiting to prey on our immune systems) and began ordering take-out soup and comfort food. I was bad. And the social-political tension in the United States didn’t help. (I work in a student affairs role and have to provide support to students who are stressed out, anxious, and experiencing mental health concerns. It can generally be a bit draining and this significantly increased over the past few months.) Over the last two weeks or so I had a low level of anxiety about work and all that is happening in the U.S. Unfortunately, food is my crutch. Working on that.

This should be freaking me out. I should be ashamed AND worried about no longer being able to meet my early December goal for a three (3) month emergency fund ($5,000.00). But…I’m not really worried. Why?

November 2020 Budget Forecast

I worked hard in October. And while this isn’t an excuse to blow my budget, it does mean that some of that hard work is paying off in November and cushioning the impact of my overspending…

1) I picked up shifts at my regular part time gig – I blogged about that in a post on the cost of earning more. Overall, the extra shifts I worked over these ten days resulted in approximately ~$181.94 in additional income. (That is not net income and does not include the increased fuel costs).

2) Activity referee – As I mentioned previously, I sometimes serve as a referee for an activity that has transitioned successfully into the virtual space. While this does mean the number of opportunities for refereeing are more limited, and I am now competing against a larger and more qualified pool of candidates for gigs; ultimately, when I do find a gig, they are still pretty lucrative. This month, I got paid for work done primarily in October and I was paid $300.00.

While some of the additional income was used to payoff my spending from October, and pad my November FDGM budget, most of the additional income went towards my emergency fund as planned. In fact, because of the additional November income, I now expect to have my emergency fund completely funded on December 1st when I get paid by University B, AND to still have a few dollars to restart aggressive debt repayment. I KNOW!

Part of me is like, you could have been done even faster if you had been more careful and disciplined in October. The other part of me is like, my debt repayment journey will be long. I will undoubtedly fall short sometimes. It seems like the most important thing is not to lose sight of the end-goal and to keep going.

P.S. Sorry it’s late Ellen 😓 I didn’t have it in me to write on election day. Hello to all my new visitors 👋🏿

October 2020 Budget Forecast

So…I have been hemming and hawing about it for some time, but despite tepid concerns of over-posting, over sharing, and mild embarrassment, I am going to post my budget again. You’ll remember I posted my budget once back in March and then promptly never did it again. However, a thought I had after my most recent post, “Income Update/Am I saving enough?” is that my debt repayment progress, savings goals, etc. don’t really make sense if you (the reader) don’t have some idea of the context in which I am making those decisions. Okay. Enough preamble. To the numbers…

For the most part, my budget is pretty self explanatory. Today, when I paid my bills, for the first time I noticed that I had one less payee or account to log into this month as a result of paying off Private Student Loan 1. It was a good feeling.

The (*) – My federal student loans were in a deferment on an income-based-repayment plan that generally requires renewal each December. My income relative to my student loan balanced meant that my required payment was $0.00. On March 13, 2020, the interest rate abatement and temporary deferment on all federal student loans superseded this, which was continued by the CARES Act and another subsequent Executive Order. While I had initially expected my income to increase this year, and possibly render me no longer eligible for my current payment under the income-based-repayment plan, because University B froze all bonuses, merit increases, and cost of living adjustments through September of 2021, I may still be eligible.

The (**) – This amount reflects the increase from additional responsibilities at University B.

Paycheck from University B – This is a net amount after taxes and other deductions like health insurance, dental, and 401K. I currently contribute 2% of my income to receive an 8% match from University B. This is pretty awesome, BUT you have to stick around for three years to keep the match. Given my current salary, and that my second anniversary will occur prior to the end of the salary freeze (which means no increase prior to my third anniversary) I can’t say with absolute certainty that I will make it to three years. However, like many things, that is a post for another day.

Food, dining, gas, and miscellaneous – I know this amount is going to seem woefully low to some folks. It’s not a ton and I won’t be able to keep it that low forever, but while the pandemic continues to severely limit social engagements, I work from home, and I remain single, I might as well dig deep.

Debt Repayment – All of this means that my allocation for EXTRA money towards student loan debt repayment is now $1,429.85. (This is in addition to the $657.31 I already make in minimum payments.) Well, for now, that is the amount I am contributing to my three month emergency fund. Whether or not I push the increase of $129.85 to savings/investment come January remains to be seen. As of today, the poll results from my question as to what I should do with the additional amount is currently 60% in favor of saving/investing and 40% in favor of putting it towards student loan debt repayment. I have to admit that I was a bit surprised. Although, I probably shouldn’t have been. This is the internet and there are bound to be significant differences of perspective on this issue. On that note, if you haven’t already voted, but feel strongly one way or another as to what I should do, you can vote on the poll here or leave me a comment.


April 2020 Budget Forecast / March 2020 Budget Review

Budgeting in the era of COVID-19… Some things have changed, some things are very much the same.

Okay, let’s get to the numbers…

Below is my reconciled March budget with the “budgeted” column being my expected income and expenses and the “actual” column being my actual income and expenses. I guess perhaps I should change the “budgeted” column to “expected” for conceptual symmetry…

In my original March 2020 Budget Forecast post, I broke down my budget so below I will only review the changes…

– I receive my state income tax refund of $197.00. This amount accounts for the “Emergency Fund Deposit” that appears in the last row. While any extra income is usually shuffled towards debt, I withdrew $500.00 in November to cover my insurance deductible and I’m just getting around to back-filling it (I know…I know, I should have done this sooner).

Food, dining, gas, and miscellaneous (FDGM)
– There was an overspend here which accounts for the $107.71 overspend you see in red at the bottom. In the comments of my March 2020 Budget Forecast folks mentioned that they thought my budget was pretty bare bones and left little room for flexibility. That is…correct. However, the overspend here was not on essential items and really just happened because I turned cooking into “entertainment” during COVID-19, got my father’s watches fixed (he earns far more than I do and could afford to get them fixed himself but it would take him forever to get it done), and because the spring pollen and construction around my building had my car looking really raggedy.

Onto April!

Income – I believe my income increased because the university stopped billing me for my university gym membership as the facilities are no longer accessible.

Unplanned Spending from March 2020 – Obviously, the unplanned spending from March had to be paid. Ultimately, I had to decrease my student loan payment by $100.00. (The other $7.71 was covered by the increased income).

Food, dining, gas, and miscellaneous – I know! I know! I really did listen to your thoughts and comments and I know this budget seems awfully slender. However, I think I will actually make it this month because 1) I am working like home like millions of other fortunate Americans so I don’t have transportation costs except the occasional trip to the grocery story. However, gas is currently ridiculous cheap and I still have a little over a half a tank left from March. 2) Now that I know I am working from home, I took time to do some meal planning. I have also done some self-care work to address my overeating. 3) Because of social distancing, the need for miscellaneous spending as a result of spending time with friends or out and about drops significantly. 4) I am using this time to force myself to use up some of my stashed goods and de-clutter. Like the million bottles of lotions, soaps, toothpastes, and half rolls of toilet paper I have saved because I might be able to use them “some day.”

Because I know there are folks who are concerned I’m not eating enough (I am so appreciative of your concern), I am planning to do an update post later today to show you an example of my super cheap and healthy dinners.

Okay, I know some folks aren’t going to be happy with this budget and I LOVE and appreciate that. If you think I should make changes, let me know exactly what you think I should do. Should I be pulling away money from debt repayment? Beefing up my emergency fund beyond $1000.00?

March 2020 Budget Forecast

I promised I would start doing these post once a month at the beginning of the year but exposing your actual spending seems…hard. However, I realized, one more thing to make me accountable is probably for the best, AND February was a pretty decent month so relatively low embarrassment, so I might as well start now and force myself to stick to it.

Here is a screenshot of the budget I set up in Excel for March 2020. These are my actual numbers, so at some point I might freakout about this level of transparency and take this down. For now…

Some explanations…

Note: I get paid once a month, on the first of the month.

The (*) – My Federal Student Loans are currently in a deferment that will end in December. This is why it would be really great to get rid of Private Loans 1 & 2 this year because it would allow me to reallocate those minimum payments to my Federal Loans once they come out of deferment which would mean my minimum payment amount wouldn’t really change that much.

The (**) – I realized I don’t really use my Kindle Unlimited because of their current content, so I cancelled the service. After a Prime card credit I had, the remaining balance due was $1.05.

Paycheck from University B – This is a net amount after taxes and other deductions like health insurance, dental, and 401K.

Food, dining, gas, and miscellaneous – This amount is about $100.00 higher than it usually is due to the activity referee side money. However, I am still trying to spend as if I only have $222.55. At the end of the month I would hope to be able to push another $100.00 towards my student loan. But I have been too aggressive in the past, small things have come up, and then I have had to rely on credit cards to cover the difference. My goal is to try and leave a bit of a buffer in much checking account vs. my budget so that doesn’t happen. Also, I drive my car for work a lot this months as it is a peak time for my office at work. Unfortunately, this eats into my gas money which is also budgeted here. In May after the semester is over, I will get a reimbursement check from the University but until then my work travel chips away at my budget each month.

Any thoughts?