Welcome to the first monthly update to my Financially Fit 2016 plan! If you’re reading my blog for the first time you might want to start by reading this post: How I’m Getting Financially Fit in 2016! Today I’m sharing the progress I made in January.
Did I reach Goal #1, which I hoped to complete by the end of January 2016? The short answer is no. 🙁
If you read my financial fitness plan, you know that my #1 goal for 2016 was to save up a $1,000 baby emergency fund. However, as I shared in Why My Financial Plan is Going to FAIL, my husband didn’t agree with my plan. Instead, we agreed to tackle our medical debt first, as part of a debt snowball.
Our smallest debt was actually at a balance of $978 at the end of December, so I mentally shifted gears and made eliminating that debt my January goal. Did I reach my new goal? Sadly, no. We did throw a great deal of extra money at the debt and knock the balance way down (keep reading to find out the numbers!). But I can’t help feeling disappointed. I wish I was kicking off 2016 by saying I slayed my first goal! And since I shared so openly about my goals on this blog, I worry that I am letting people down. But this is real life. Things don’t work out perfectly, every goal isn’t reached on time. Life is messy.
Action Steps Update
Make more money: I did a pretty great job here, in terms of both work and selling stuff, but I still need to do much much more in the months to come. Not including selling things, I earned $219.12 in January 2016 (from social media marketing and virtual assistant work).
Stick to a tight budget & use a price book: We did really well! We went over in a few budget categories, but were able to even things out by being under in other categories. I used my price book and was really conscious of every dollar we spent and made good choices.
Have regular family budget meetings: This was a great success! It’s hard to talk about money! It’s stressful! Especially when you and your spouse don’t always agree. I committed to discussing money with my husband weekly (updates on where we are, and reminding ourselves of our goals), and we stuck to it! There was still some tension and a few bad days, but overall it was a wonderful improvement!
Continue my financial education: I have been reading The Total Money Makeover and am almost halfway through. I need to prioritize reading more. The kids make it difficult, so I need to squeeze it in before bed or early in the morning. I have been listening to podcasts when we are in the car, almost exclusively the Dave Ramsey show so far. The podcasts and book keep me motivated and I’m learning a lot, but I’m also getting a little burnt out on Dave. 😉 I’ll switch things up in the month ahead.
The Numbers Update*
*as of 1/29/2016
Enough talk already! Let’s see the numbers! Here we go …
Consumer Debt (4 credit cards & cell phones) $15,285.01
Medical Debt (hospital, OB and neonatologists) $7,407.14
Car Loan/Lease (one of each) $48,397.86
Total Debt $71,090.01
Savings: $0 (still $0, which still worries me).
Progress? We have $1,925 LESS DEBT than we did one month ago in December 2015! Even though it is far below the target of $6,084.58 per month in debt pay off, it is still excellent progress in my book! I’m very pleased and I’m going to hang on to this good feeling as we move forward!
Where Did the Extra Money Come From?
You might be wondering where I found the extra money to throw at our debt (I would be!).
It was from a couple different places. A large chunk was residual income from a career my husband had before we met (and before he was homeless). A portion was unspent Christmas money (gifts). We could have gone crazy after a rough Christmas, but instead we enjoyed a little and then sent the rest towards debt. Another big chunk came from selling things! I sold through apps/online and in local consignment shops.
I took loads of clothes (an entire maternity wardrobe and some regular clothes I can’t wear anymore due to weight gain), and a few household items to one consignment shop in town. I even dropped off my CALIA purse, because even though I loved it, I wasn’t using it very often! A second consignment shop just for kids items took a ton of my baby boy clothes. I saved everything from my first son, and now that my second son is almost one year old, we had so many items we were done using! I’m actually STILL dropping loads of stuff off (the blizzard really slowed me down!).
I had some big ticket baby items that I took very good care of despite using them for two babies, and those sold quickly! They included a moby wrap, an Ergo baby carrier, and Fisher Price bouncy seat.
We have been trying to sell two big items on Craigslist (a TV and a power reclining couch), but aren’t having any luck! Our price might be a little high so I am lowering it each time I re-post.
$56 came from the Ibotta app! That blows my mind. It is a FREE app, which takes minutes for me to use when grocery shopping, and I cashed out $56 to send to my debt! Hello! That’s free money! I will be using this app all year and sending the earnings to my debt. This is my referral link, click it and sign up! When you verify your first rebate (within 2 weeks of signing up) you will get $10 and I will get $5! That’s a win win and just part of why I think you are CRAZY if you’re not using this app!
We had one major unexpected expense in January – new work shoes for my husband. I’m proud to say this $190 expense will NOT be carried forward as debt into February. I was able to shift around money in the budget to cover the cost. And in an exciting turn of events, my husband actually got a promotion and raise (effective March 1) the first day he wore his new shoes to work! 🙂
Our second, less major, unexpected expense was a space heater. We have a baby, and this is our first winter in our new house. We felt his room was getting far too cold at night so this was a much needed purchase, and we don’t regret it at all!
We also made difficult sacrifices. A special family member had a birthday and we celebrated by just being present, instead of giving a present. That was tough. My heart hurts thinking about it. My hope is to get into a better situation financially and make up for it next year!
I’m very happy with our progress so far, but February will be a difficult month. I still have not increased my personal income as much as I need to. My husband’s job involves commission and February is one of the worst months of the year in terms of sales. The budget will be very tight, and we will be relying on credit as our expenses will exceed our income. Despite this, I’m staying positive! Our debt will continue to go down, I will continue selling stuff like crazy and looking for more income earning opportunities, and my husbands income will increase in March.
We will file our taxes as soon as possible (waiting on a few forms). The plan for a refund is to pay off as much debt as possible – hopefully negotiating down the balances of our medical debt.
I will meal plan more in February (I just started the last week of January), and will also work to control my stress/emotional eating that drives up our grocery budget.
If you’d like to help in a small way, consider signing up for Ibotta through my referral link! Or use my Amazon link the next time you need to shop there, I’ll earn a small commission at no extra cost to you! I also recommend you sign up for Swagbucks and Ebates while you’re at it! Swagbucks is a great way to earn giftcards, and Ebates let’s you earn money back shopping online. You can also check out my Hire Me page if you could benefit from my virtual assistant services – especially if you’re a fellow blogger!
(Stay at home yogi is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com)
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