January Update | Financially Fit 2016

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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.

financially fit 2016 January update

Goals Update

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.

I sold a few small, random things through the Wallapop app (a waffle maker and a stack of old kids books), but I also sold a sewing machine. I also sold a few books to a local used books store.

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!

Budget Notes

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!

Looking Ahead

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)

If you found this post helpful or encouraging in any way – please share! Pin! Tweet! Stumble! Like! 🙂 I’d love to have it posted on your social media of choice or sent directly to a loved one who is struggling to get out of debt!

financially fit 2016 January update

How was January for  you? Did you reach any goals?

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64 Comments

  1. I love this bit of insight into how you’re knocking back all of your debt! My big reason for starting to kick my blog into high gear is because I have a crazy amount of student loans (almost 60K) that I want to pay off asap. We’re pretty lucky that we don’t have a high car loan payment (we only have one new car and it’s down to 8K) so besides our mortgage, that’s all that we have jointly. I can’t wait to follow your journey to kicking your debt’s butt!
    Morgan @ Morgan Manages Mommyhood recently posted…Best of the Weekend: A Whole Lotta NothinMy Profile

    • Yes! The debt pay off motivates my blogging too! You’re doing awesome! You’ll get rid of your student loans in no time if you stay focused. Thanks for reading Morgan! 🙂

  2. I think you did great! You knocked almost $2,000 in debt. I think that is pretty awesome! Keep it up, you are doing great!
    Healing Mama recently posted…Friend Post Friday: Rambling Thoughts of A Mom on a JourneyMy Profile

  3. Wow, you are working hard! I think it’s great to be honest even when you don’t make your goal. I don’t read your blog because I think you’re perfect, but because we are both travelling down a debt payoff journey that is actually real and sometimes messy. It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one, and that even when we stumble we can keep marching towards the bigger goal.

    And like Healing Mama said, paying down $2,000 is nothing to sneeze at! That’s awesome! Keep kicking butt! 🙂
    Jamie @ Medium Sized Family recently posted…2 Week Meal Plan for Early FebruaryMy Profile

  4. Great update, even not meeting the goal you have made a huge dent! Ok you’ve got me convinced to try ibota. I signed up.
    Julie S recently posted…Valentine’s Day Gift Guide and GiveawayMy Profile

    • FINALLY! 😉 Ibotta is awesome. Don’t be discouraged after using it once or twice either, the rebates are always changing. I love it.

  5. I love reading this! After a recent separation, I’m just trying to figure out how to get my feet under me financially.
    Amanda recently posted…5 Ways to Sneak ‘Me Time’ in the Midst of MotheringMy Profile

    • I’m so sorry to hear that Amanda, check out Dave’s site and I’ll bet there is something there to help you. Best wishes! <3

  6. Thank you for sharing your story. I always feel so insecure about money and tend to ignore it. This helps me realize that if I don’t have a plan, I won’t make nay changes.
    Good luck and I can’t wait to see how you and your family make out.

  7. Congrats on all your hard work. I know it seems like it will take forever, but you will get there. We are now debt free except for our mortgage. Just keep up your steps and you’ll get there too.

  8. We had planned on paying off a few thousand dollars in credit debt (most of it wasn’t frivolous, just too many necessary expensive appliances that died in succession) before the next baby got here but then we hit some very unexpected issues. I’ve got my fingers crossed that we’ll be back on track by the middle of february
    Alecia @CSNY recently posted…Baked Mango Sriracha Chicken Wings with Ginger Lime Sour Cream SauceMy Profile

  9. I love Ibotta and its great that you are selling things that you are not using anymore. Have you considered downgrading your cars? We had to do that several years ago when our finances became too tight. I didn’t miss the cars at all and was glad for the extra money.
    Coralie recently posted…5 ways Financial Health can help you travelMy Profile

    • Hi Coralie, thanks for reading and thanks for the idea! We did go down to one car last year, but had to go back to two because my husband commutes a long distance to work.

  10. My husband and I keep saying we are going to have a budgeting meeting and then we don’t. We were ahead for a little bit an now we are behind again. 🙁

  11. Congrats on the progress! We’ve sold quite a bit of stuff through Craigslist and the like. As long as you’re careful it’s a pretty easy way to get rid of your stuff and make a bit of money in the process.
    Crystal recently posted…Valentine’s Groundhog Paper Bag PuppetMy Profile

  12. Congratulations on your debt payment, and your success selling things! I love consigning my daughter’s clothing – especially since she receives a lot as gifts, so it ends up being a money-maker. 🙂

    I binge-read DR’s books when I discovered him, and totally burned out. They all start to sound pretty similar…

    I’m still putting together my January goals update post, but overall I’d say I did okay with them.

  13. Oh honey your numbers are scaring me! Debt is hard to get out of. I guess you have to chip away at it little by little, without adding too much more, which is hard.

    When we were living in Australia, I couldn’t get work to save my life. Even getting a retail job (which I had done for 7 years in my 20s was impossible), and I even contemplated nude figure modeling for a college art class. Then I got a crap job, and got fired after 6 months when the owner realized that I was looking. I had never felt so low, so poor.

    Out of this came a burst of creativity and a few other personal projects.

    Keep plugging away honey! You can do it.
    Lana recently posted…Experimental Media : week 2My Profile

  14. Erin,
    I’m so enjoying your series…”hang in there”, as my dad used to say…
    (And, btw, I’m sure your presence was valued as much as – or even moreso – than a present… How sweet that your giving heart wanted otherwise, tho…
    {{hugs}}
    Oh, and please do keep us updated with your journey this year on Coffee & Conversation!! <3
    Pat recently posted…Coffee & Conversation #79 – Your Voice, Your VoteMy Profile

  15. I think you are making some great progress. Just dont give up and you will surprise yourself on how much you can accomplish! I’m super impressed that you have received income from blogging already, which should only get better! You will be live the dream in no time … I hope anyway!
    Tori
    http://www.themamanurse.com
    Tori recently posted…Nurse Moms Are Kind of Big DealsMy Profile

  16. You’ve done great to knock $1950 off your debt for one month. I’m feeling very inspired after reading this! Keep up the excellent work in February 🙂
    Robyn recently posted…MOBILE PHONE DETOXMy Profile

  17. I was encouraged to read a realistic approach to getting out of debt! Hey, you paid off a good amount of debt this month, so that is awesome progress in my book! I found your site through With Grit and Grace.

  18. I think you did incredibly well getting rid of almost 2K worth of debt! My husband and I have been really struggling lately, and I’ve been trying to come up with a plan in knocking down the debt we have. It’s tough since he’s the only one working and I get a little here and there from blogging, but everything I make goes directly towards bills/rent.
    Katy recently posted…January 2016 EmptiesMy Profile

    • Thanks Katy <3 I'm so sorry you and your husband is struggling. Don't give up. I hope you'll keep following my debt pay off journey and hopefully get inspired! I'm off to check your blog out now. 🙂

      • I most definitely will keep following your journey! It’s a tough one for sure, so I need all the inspiration I can get.

        And thank you so much for checking out my blog too. It means alot 🙂

  19. Good for you. At least you’re realistic about not hitting your goals and not giving up when you didn’t. This battle is hard and everyone’s is different. Can’t wait to see your progress next month!

  20. You’ve made great progress keep going, don’t worry about doing things in a different order to what you originally thought.
    Rebecca Elizabeth recently posted…How to earn $500 in free gift cardsMy Profile

  21. That much onto the debt in one month is HUGE! With that kind of continued intensity, things will snowball and you’ll get there quicker than you realize now. Thanks for linking up at Frugal Friday! 🙂
    Ann recently posted…Meal Planning Do’s & Don’ts and Frugal Fridays #14My Profile

  22. I love seeing the progress that others are making! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  23. Good work;
    RAnn recently posted…Loyal3 LunchMy Profile

  24. I think you made great progress on eliminating your debt for the first month. I listen to Dave Ramsey (religiously) as well. His stories are great motivators.

  25. It’s great to hear you did so well in January Erin, don’t beat yourself up about not hitting your goal, it was very ambitious. As long as the needle is moving in the right direction, you’ll get there.

    Sally @ Life Loving
    #LifeLovingLinkie
    Life Loving recently posted…Exercises To Do At HomeMy Profile

  26. Good luck with the meal planning – it’s my most hated frugal chore. But it’s definitely financially worth it.
    Mel @ brokeGIRLrich recently posted…Financially Savvy Saturdays #128My Profile

  27. It’s great to see someone making forward progress to get on top of their debts. My husband and I never had large incomes, but we have always kept our debts down and paid every spare cent into our mortgage and savings. Living frugally means we are debt free in our 50’s and the added bonus is that both our adult children are good with budgeting and using their incomes wisely. Keep plugging away and you’ll get there! thanks for sharing at our #OTM link up ~ Leanne

  28. I love the family budget meeting! That is a great idea. Thanks for sharing with us!

  29. Erin, Paying off debt is such a struggle for everyone. I’m so happy to see you sharing your story and journey to being financially fit. I think you made some awesome progress and I can tell from the comments that you are getting encouragement and helping others. Thank you for sharing with us at Snickerdoodle Sunday!
    Laurie recently posted…Brag About It Link Party !! 2016-#6My Profile

  30. Good luck as you continuing reaching towards your financial goals! We are doing something like that, as well. And we’ll definitely be putting a good (read almost all) of Hun’s tax return towards our debt. After we tackle some of this throughout the year, we’re looking to not gather debt again 🙂

    • That’s my hope too Kendall! To not gather up more debt after all this hard work getting out of debt. Good luck to you and thanks for reading! 🙂

  31. Good on you! You’re doing well. I agree, talking money with your hubby can be hard sometimes! My parents and my inlaws have very different ways of using money (save up for something VS buy now and be in debt). These ideas have been taught to my husband and I meaning we can bash heads a bit. Slowly learning to find a halfway point. But it can be hard!

  32. Hi Erin – I just wanted you to know that your post will be one of my #OTM favourite picks and will feature next week – I love how you are making such positive moves to get on top of your finances 🙂
    Leanne@crestingthehill recently posted…enjoying a taste of Singapore for my 50thMy Profile

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