Month 3 – Spending Outta Control

Well, we fell off the bandwagon.

monthly spending update

We didn’t make much progress this month due to a few factors:

  • A trip to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, FL  (Great trip, huge nerds)
  • Booking hotels for friends weddings on Priceline ($600)
  • Car Insurance for the next 6 months ($750)
  • Excessive Food & Dining Spending due to travel/weekend activities

Oops.  It’s just a major bummer since last month we were *ahead* of our goals. Now, we put ourselves in a situation where we need to payoff nearly $9000 in debt next month to stay on track – yikes!

My New Years Resolution – No Travel

The biggest obstacle to our debt payoff goal this month was travel. We always try to save money when we travel.  We use miles and points for 90% of our flights and hotels. We use coupon codes, Priceline, and shop around for discounts when we can’t use points.  For our latest trip to Universal Studios, we even received discounted tickets to the park since we were going with our friend who is an NBC employee.  Despite all of our attempts to save money on travel, we still ended up spending major moolah due to eating out and other costs.

In 2012, I received the Southwest Companion Pass which allowed Mr. Debt Albatross to travel with me on any Southwest flight for free for two years.  I learned travel hacking skills on blogs such as boardingarea.com and even attended Frequent Traveler University to learn tips. I learned about gift card churning, manufactured spending, mattress running, credit card bonuses, online shopping and cash back portals. With a little bit of effort, we earned hundreds of thousands of airline miles and hotel points in a very short time frame. Thus, we traveled almost every few months during those two years (with points and miles) but still spent more money that we needed to spend between eating out, resort fees, airport parking, rental cars, etc.

While I don’t regret those trips, I know that avoiding travel is best for my wallet in the short term. For this reason, my New Years’ Resolution for the past two years has been to NOT Travel. I made it decently far this year – late March – but then I got the itch and the Orlando trip happened.

We have some weddings coming up where we need to travel but besides those occasions, we are not traveling.  Let’s hope I stay strong in this goal – this is a hard one for me.

Month 3 Spending Struggles

As mentioned above, it wasn’t a great month for our spending.

Category Spending
Home $2,673
Food & Dining $1,233
Travel $774
Auto & Transport $1,494
Bills & Utilities $627
Pets $315
Uncategorized $257
Health & Fitness $158
Education (Loans) $369
Gifts & Donations $75
Total $7,974

On the Bright Side – Our Income is Increasing

My annual raise kicked in April 15th which was nice. I also received a verbal job offer for an internal promotion!  This promotion would mean greater responsibility, more money, and the possibility to relocate to an area with a lower cost of living. I took a lesson from Sheryl Sandberg and am now waiting to hear back tomorrow on my negotiated offer.  Don’t be afraid to #Ask4More, Ladies!

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Month 2 Kicking @$$

I can almost say bye-bye to my student loans this month.  Due to a hearty bonus and some other factors that worked in my favor, I was able to pay nearly $17k towards my student loan debt.  I have a little over $1400 dollars remaining – and it feels GOOD.

 

2015 Debt Albatross – Debt Payoff Progress

Month 2 spending update

 

Our discretionary spending increased a little bit this month. We spent significantly more on travel, arts & entertainment, and pets compared to last month.  We’ll have to cut back next month to make up for it.

 

Month 2 Spending

Education $17,392
Home $2,890
Food & Dining $1,048
Bills & Utilities $549
Auto & Transport $695
Arts & Entertainment $196
Travel $489
Shopping $74
Pets $202
Other $232
Total* $7,095

*excludes extra student loan payment

 

The past two months were easier on us due to sizable tax returns and bonus. Staying on track to meet the year-end goal is going to be very difficult going forward.  We need to pay nearly $8k per month through year-end and we’re not bringing home that much per month after taxes. We need to find a way to increase our income.  The side hustle with AirBNB and VRBO didn’t pan out.  I received inquiries but not serious offers.  We need to make some moves, and fast.

Month 1 Goal Exceeded

I am happy to announce that Mr. Debt Albatross and I exceeded the $8,800 payoff goal that we set for our first month.  In total, we paid $9,405 towards our debt!

What helped us:

  • A nice tax return
  • Keeping to our $110/week grocery budget
  • The pup getting kicked out of doggy day care (poor pup!)
  • Filling up our cars at the same time so we can both use our acquired fuel points
  • Self control

What hurt us:

  • The $675 vehicle registration fee for the new car I bought last year
  • A $68 interest charge on my credit card and the $63 I spent on tax filing
  • The $113 bi-weekly charge for home cleaning services
  • Our restaurant spending

We decreased our total spending from previous months but we still haven’t cut spending enough to meet our year-end goal.  We still spend an exuberant amount of money on bills and utilities and we haven’t cut out some unnecessary luxuries including restaurants and home cleaning services. We did use gift cards when we went out to eat but that didn’t cut out the cost completely.

Month 1 Spending
Home $3,303.28
Auto & Transport $1,279.68
Food & Dining $652.18
Bills & Utilities $582.36
Pets $171.11
Fees & Charges $68.34
Taxes $62.60
Shopping $41.00
Personal Care $21.50
Other $377.00

Although we are not “hardcore” yet, we did change our mindset which in itself is encouraging.  On a few occasions, we turned down plans with friends or suggested less costly alternatives. We stopped ourselves from buying some unnecessary items.  We made dinner every week night and I stopped buying lunch at work, introducing major cost savings but also improving our health and nutrition. Overall, it was a successful first month. It’s inspiring to see our total debt go down and encouraging to know that we are nearly 10% closer to our goal.