It’s been nearly two years since we have been sharing our personal finances with all of you! It really has helped keep us accountable, motivated and (more or less) organized (more on that below). We have sixteen months remaining until the date we plan to be done with this debt! We can do this!
During August, we put $1,469 toward our student loans. July’s income was lower than usual, and so is our payoff. We actually made the payments on two different parts of our debt. We paid an initial $1,000 at the beginning of the month toward the 0% APR balance transfer that we’re using to save money on interest.
At the end of the month, we had our budget meeting and found $469 left from July’s income after all our expenses. We paid that $469 to the loan servicer against one of the remaining loans. Since our 0% balance transfer rate is good through March 2016, and the balance is already down to $3,736 we’ll let it sit awhile and work on the loans that are still accruing interest.
We also had a small payment from SmarterBucks credited toward the student loans. When a payment comes from SmarterBucks, it is divided equally between all of your student loans.
If the numbers in the graphic look off compared with last month, here’s the long explanation of why, just for the record. Feel free to skip past this if you’re not a numbers nerd.
Back when I started tracking and publishing our debt repayment progress reports (nearly two years ago!), I wasn’t consistent in how I reported our numbers for “Debt Paid” and “Debt Remaining.” We make two payments toward debt each month: a beginning-of-the-month payment and an end-of-the-month payment (this post explains it in detail). At our monthly budget planning meeting, which is usually the last day of the month, we make an end-of-the-month payment for the month that’s ending, then set the budget for the next month and make the beginning-of-the-month payment for the new month.
Up until now, the “Debt Paid” number I was reporting included both of those payments (i.e. end of August and beginning of September), but the “Debt Remaining” number came directly from the loan servicer web site, which did not yet reflect the payments made just a few minutes before.
So the two figures have always been honest numbers, but they didn’t quite go together. Each month I was frustrated with that inconsistency. Each month I struggled to remember how to report it consistently because it was so counter intuitive. I just kept perpetuating the inconsistency rather than explain it and fix it.
Well I’m ready to stop the craziness. From now on the “Debt Paid” and “Debt Remaining” numbers will each include the payments from the beginning and end of the month I’m reporting on, but not the first-of-the-month payment for the next month. In our August 31 budget planning meeting, we made and end-of-the-month payment of $469 for August, and a first-of-the-month payment for September, but only the August payments are included in the Paid and Remaining figures.
Our total net income for August was $8,359. That is almost double our July income! Since we live on last month’s income, this is income that we haven’t touched yet. We will budget and spend it in September. Between a high income and our September no-spend month our debt payoff for September should be pretty nice!
Attorney Income– $6,178 August was a good month for commission! Now that Mr. SixFigureUnder makes straight commission, his income fluctuates. July was a lower month and August was a higher month.
My Income– $2,181 August is my highest month of blog income thus far, though several months have been pretty close to the $2,000 mark. A lot of the variance is just a matter of the timing of receiving payments. This figure already has blogging expenses taken out, but not taxes. My husband and I file jointly, so his withholding takes care of my tax liability and I don’t have to file quarterly estimated taxes. A wee bit of this is Etsy income that slipped in before I put my shop on vacation (so I can finish my ebook).
If you’re interested in more details of my blogging income, as well as other tips and resources, you can sign up for my Behind-the-Scenes Blogging emails. Since most of my readers aren’t bloggers, I’ve decided to share my blogging details (income breakdown, blogging tips, answers to your burning blogging questions, etc) via email instead of here.
We use YNAB (YouNeedABudget) for our budgeting and absolutely adore it. Each month we budget down to zero using last month’s income. Our spending in August came from the income we earned in July. In addition to the debt payment above, here’s how we spent money in August:
Other Giving– $20 Other charitable donations this month.
Mortgage/Rent– $0 My in-laws’ basement may not be the coolest of accommodations, but living there sure helps us get out of debt faster. It was completely their idea to let us live in their unfinished basement while we pay off this debt. We are super grateful.
Internet– $70 We are still loving our unlimited internet! It’s wonderful not having to budget my bandwidth anymore! My in-laws take care of all the other utilities, so this is the only utility we pay and we pay it with a smile.
Republic Wireless Cell Phones– $22 We both have smartphones through Republic Wireless (you can read my review here). With tax, each phone with unlimited talk, text and WiFi data is around $11. I recently wrote an updated review Republic Wireless: A Year Later.
Health Insurance– $152 Our insurance went down slightly because our subsidy went up when our family size increased in April. I’m sure we’ll end up paying more when it’s all evened out at tax time because we expect to make more money than we did last year.
Car Insurance– $209 This is more than double our normal car insurance. This month we insured three vehicles (we still have our old van). This includes July and August insurance for the new van.
Renters Insurance– $14 We also have our renters insurance through USAA. It doesn’t cost much and it’s really great to have when you need it.
Food– $284 I was extra careful not to go over our $300 budget for groceries this month. I like to challenge myself to keep strictly to the grocery budget in the month before and after a no-spend month. The funny thing was that we only spent $34 for most of the month, with the other $250 spent during a long-awaited shopping trip just at the end. It’s a long way in to town, so grocery shopping just kept being put off. We certainly didn’t starve though!
Gas– $390 You can see by our low gas budget that we didn’t do a lot of extra driving. This is one of the lowest gas months we’ve had! If you’re new here, my husband commutes and hour+ to work (but we’ve got free housing, so we come out ahead). Part of the low month is timing (both of us had to fill up on September 1st) and part is that gas is going down! It’s $2.75 here now!
Fun– $0 It’s not that we didn’t have fun… we just didn’t do anything the cost money. We do lots of free family activities.
Clothing– $13 I wrote about how we don’t do a whole new “school wardrobe,” but I did find some clearance summer clothing near the end of the month. I bought some things for my kids for next summer.
Household– $109 This category was higher than normal this month. One of our kitchen lights (a flourescent light) is nearly dead. We are fed up with buying $16 bulbs for it, so we bought an LED fixture at Home Depot to replace it. We bought one earlier this year for under the stairs and love it! I ordered a berry screen for my food strainer, which should expedite blackberry processing. In the next couple of weeks I’ll be making a year’s worth of blackberry jam (and taking back lots of space in my freezer!). We also bought the school supplies that the teachers requested, which were actually very minimal. I learned that Ticonderoga pencils are all the rage among teachers. We also bought toothpaste, sandwich bags, and uninteresting things like that.
Gifts– $33 We had two birthdays this month (including mine!). Our older son turned six. We got him a few things and made cupcakes to bring to his class at school. His favorite gift was a slingshot. Daddy made him one in the past, but it had since broken. We couldn’t beat the price and quality of this one. Don’t worry– he knows that it is a weapon and that if he ever even pretends or threatens a person with it he loses it forever. We also went to a wedding reception. We got them our favorite food storage containers. Boring? Probably. Practical? Yes!
Kids Activities– $75 Our daughter is doing cross country. This is the first organized sport any of our kids has done. She is super excited.
The Rest of the New Van– $483 This is the rest of the cost of our new-to-us van. Since we’re a month ahead, we financed the van through two month’s of our budget (last month we paid the bigger chunk of $1,600). You can see the #2 idea in this post to get a better idea of what I mean.
Car Repair– $275 My husband’s car needed two new tires. He also has an oil leak, so he purchased a few quarts of oil to add to the car. The leak is in a hard-to-reach area, so the estimate for fixing it is as high as the actual value of the car. For now, we’ll just put occasional quarts of oil in.
Law Practice– $91 In addition to my husband’s law practice management software, he also got a bluetooth headset so he can make client calls in the car during his commute. We talk all the time when he’s in the car, but he just puts his phone on speaker and sticks it in the visor. The bluetooth makes the calls clear enough to talk over client matters while he spends a few hours on the road.
College Savings– $100 We contribute $25 per month per kid to 529 accounts. More on our decision to start saving for college in this post.
The Money Minute video contest voting was extended to this Friday, so if you’ve got a second, I’d love it if you’d pop over and click the thumbs up to vote for me! You still should be able to vote once a day.
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I’ll fill you in! I made my first-ever blog video last month for the #MoneyMinute contest. I didn’t hold anything back– I’m in costume and singing about something dear to my heart that you’ve heard me mention many times.
How did your finances go in August?
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