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Lately I’ve tossed around the idea of stopping my monthly budget posts. It feels so discouraging because we’re not making the type of progress I’m used to making (in 2015 I paid off $14,000 of debt by myself) and honestly, it’s embarrassing to admit things are tight here. But then I got an email from a reader who said how much my posts inspire her. And that’s why I keep writing. Whether or not people make fun of me behind my back (that’s always a worry of mine since I have been officially diagnosed with social anxiety), I’ve got to keep on chugging and hope I can help someone else by sharing my story.
This month was a hard one, a very hard one. Between $600 car repairs, car registration fees that we had forgotten about (that were overdue), buying Christmas presents, and a visit to the ER (which was thankfully covered by Tricare, but my prescriptions were not since I had to go off-post for them since the on-post pharmacies were closed for Christmas weekend), we definitely felt the pinch. To be totally transparent, I cried about this quite a bit because there just isn’t enough money coming in and I’m just ready to be out of debt. As much as we hate going this route, Andy and I have been considering PCSing early (ideally, to a bigger base) to help out on the job front. I do have a part-time seasonal job that will last until the end of April, so I am hoping to work as many hours as possible to bring in some extra cash.
There was some good news in there, though. The car registration fee for Andy’s truck was only $25 and they waived the late fee since he is active duty military. My co-pays on my prescriptions were only $12 total, and I had a Walmart gift card plus $3 cash in my wallet, so I didn’t need to swipe my credit card or re-adjust my budget to pay for my medicine. The heat had been out in Andy’s truck, but thankfully it is working again by just adding coolant to the engine. I’m also participating in the Growella challenge to save $75 a week for 8 weeks– if I complete this goal, they will give me $600 to match the $600 I save. This is the perfect boost for our emergency fund!
Overall, I’m trying not to worry about finances, because I know God is in control, but it’s still hard for me to not be financially contributing in the way I want to.
December Income- $3,661.97
We live off last month’s income. For an explanation of why we do this, check out this post.
Andy’s December Paycheck- $3,661.97
This is Andy’s net (take-home) pay. 10% of his paycheck is automatically deducted for his TSP (retirement fund.) This post explains why my husband and I are comfortable sharing our salary information on my blog.
Andy’s TDY pay- $600.40
Andy’s pay for his TDY came in, and it could not have arrived at a better time! We cash-flowed all of Andy’s TDY expenses last month, so this is just extra for our emergency fund. Which will probably be spent on my car repairs. Sigh.
We believe that “our” money is not ours, but God’s, so we give a 10% tithe on Andy’s paycheck. Read our thoughts on tithing here.
We bought the welcome snacks for church one morning. I also have a sponsor child, Veronica Sarah, through Compassion International, to whom I gave a monthly donation. We bought a tire for someone we know that couldn’t afford one (and had been driving on a spare for hundreds of miles.) We left the remainder of our tithe money in the budget so we can do something really awesome for someone in need. We’re not sure what exactly it will be yet, but we can’t wait!
Total Spent- $138.80
Rolling over to next month- $74.20
This includes our rent/utilities, cell phones, internet, renter’s insurance, Amazon Prime and Netflix.
These bills are pretty consistent month-to-month. Since in the civilian world you’d have to pay out of pocket for rent and utilities, we calculate that in here as well. Our utilities are included in our rent, since we live on post, and we typically use less than the allotted amount of energy so we typically get a small refund each month. The Army is (finally) deducting Andy’s BAH from his paycheck starting in January which is one less headache for me to worry about. Also, our BAH went up, which is great news, but since we live on-post it doesn’t really matter because Housing will take the full allowance. (Unfortunately, BAH for Knox is still really low compared to the market so most families live on post.) We got an Amazon Prime account, which I love for the two-day free shipping– if the Radcliff Walmart doesn’t have what I need and I’m not planning a trip to E-town anytime soon, I can just order it from Amazon. We’re also taking advantage of their movies/tv shows and Kindle library.
Total Spent- $1,147.91
This includes groceries, fast-food meals, household items like toilet paper, and home improvement.
We spent less in this category than normal because we have a fully stocked pantry and want to eat as much of it up as we can before our potential PCS. Also, we started grocery shopping at Aldi’s and so far I really like it! Since I’m usually in Elizabethtown once a week or so, I will try to stock up on the basics at Aldi’s. For the things that just taste better brand-name, I’ll still go to the commissary for those.
Total Spent- $249.19
This includes my dental insurance, chiropractor visits, and any over-the-counter medicines.
I went to the ER in Louisville on Christmas Adam (the day before Christmas Eve) which thankfully was covered by Tricare, since the Fort Knox ER permanently closed in August. However, since we were picking up my prescriptions on Christmas Eve, the on-post pharmacies were both closed until Tuesday so I had to get them filled at Walmart. Thankfully, I found about $10 on a Walmart gift card in my wallet, and had $3 cash so I didn’t need to adjust my budget. I still have $65 in the budget for my next chiropractor visit.
Total Spent- $0.00
Rolling over to next month- $65.00
This includes gasoline, car insurance, car repairs, AAA membership, and car taxes.
The brakes in my car went totally out, and I mean totally. They were squeaking for a while, and I naively thought I could put it off until our tax returns came in in the spring, but I nearly had a wreck because my brakes went out. I took it to the shop the next day and walked out nearly $600 poorer. I definitely cried over that, because all the money we have saved for Vermont is now totally gone 🙁 Also, the mechanics at the on-post auto shop discovered the front sway bars bushings and links are out in my car as well, which is what happened to Andy’s truck back in May and cost $1,500 to repair. The heat was out in Andy’s truck, but thankfully it only took a couple bottles of coolant to get it working again!
Total Spent- $616.70
This includes new uniforms, college classes, haircuts, and everybody’s favorite– mandatory “fun” events.
Andy had his hair cut twice this month, but otherwise nothing to note. We’re still saving up for new uniform pieces that will be required in October 2017.
Total Spent- $22.30
Rolling over to next month- $72.27
This includes anything related to Bailey’s work and education.
Nothing happening here! 🙁
Total Spent- $0.00
This includes any and all Gracie and Lily-related expenses.
We bought Lily some dog food from Aldi’s. We also bought the pets their Christmas gifts the day after Christmas, but I used my Walmart gift cards from my family to buy them.
Total Spent- $20.83
This is for any date-night related expenses, including activities and eating out.
We only went on 2 date nights this month, once to Pizza King in Indiana and another to dinner at Qdoba before seeing the new Star Wars movie. Oh, and we also rented a Redbox movie with a coupon code.
Total Spent- $56.81
This is for Andy and Bailey’s individual fun money allowances. They each get $100 can spend them however they please or roll it over to the next month.
I bought Christmas gifts for my Bible study gift exchange and both of my sisters. (I had a gift card to Amazon that I earned through Swagbucks so I used it on Andy’s gift!) I also wanted to finally finish framing photos from our engagement/wedding/honeymoon so I used my fun money for that. And I also used it for mailing Christmas cards! Andy disagrees that I shouldn’t have to use my fun money to pay for house things, but I digress. Andy used his money for lots of stops at Burger King or the shopette for pogie bait (snacks) as well as my Christmas gift.
Bailey’s Total Spent- $93.48
Bailey’s Rolling over to next month- $8.22
Andy’s Total Spent- $113.36
Andy’s Rolling over to next month- $12.42
Like most military families, we’re on the move every 2-4 years, so we try to save in advance for these moves.
There’s about a 50/50 shot we’ll be PCSing sometime next year, but we just can’t swing saving extra money for this move. Andy mentioned something about if you do a DITY move, you can get a percentage paid ahead of time so we will try to do that if we do end up moving. If all else fails, we have our emergency fund to help out. I know the Government Travel Card is an option, but we prefer to pay ourselves and then get reimbursed if at all possible so we can earn travel points on the purchases.
Total Spent- $0.00
We’re hoping to go on vacation soon (no clue when), so we wanted to start saving towards it now.
Since our Vermont trip had to be canceled due to financial emergencies, we went on an overnight excursion to Bardstown, KY. Surprisingly we were right on budget… I mean, within $1.20 of my original estimate!
Total Spent- $201.20
We’re working to pay off our debts, so I decided to list these with more detail than our other budget categories.
Discover Card- $68.00
This is for the minimum payment on my Discover card. Next month, this will go down another $2!
Student Loan- $72.54
This is for the minimum payment on my student loans.
Personal (Wedding) Loan- $230.39
This is for the minimum payment on my personal loan, which we used for the wedding.
Debt Snowball- $58.00
This is for any payments above our minimum payments.
We allotted $58 extra towards debt repayment on our Discover card. It’s not much, but it’s something! We’re hoping to pay off our Discover card by our first anniversary or at the very least, the end of 2017.
Total Spent- $428.93
Andy and I keep a $1,000 emergency fund in our savings account to cover any major unexpected expenses that we can’t cash-flow in our monthly budget.
I added Andy’s TDY pay to our emergency savings since we will need it. We’re hoping to boost this account to $2,000-$2,500 since I would feel more secure in case of future emergencies. Had we not used our Vermont vacation money for the mattress and brake repairs, the emergency fund would be totally wiped out with no money to pay for the sway bar repairs in my car.
Rolling over for future- $1,600.82
I’m participating in the second round of the Growella Games. They challenged me to save $75 a week for 8 weeks, and by the end of the challenge in February I will have saved $600; if I save the $600, they will match it! It’s been a little tricky to save so much money since our budget is so tight, but Andy has been totally on board with this. It’s been a fun challenge to save this money.
Rolling over to future- $150.00
How was your December budget?