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Added to $20 Challenge

April 12th, 2007 at 08:53 am

Over the last week, I've walked 20 miles -- adding $20 to my $20 challenge.

Another week to go!

Tax Refund, $20 Savings Challenge and Another Student Loan

February 11th, 2007 at 05:33 pm

Got my federal refund and paid off my second smallest student loan! Another small, but important milestone. Guess I get to update my totals. February is looking like a great debt month -- maybe I should enjoy tax time more often.

Updates on $20 savings challenge:
$2 for Walking and Eating Healthy today
$100 from the tax refund

Also got ahead on some school work this weekend.

Time to set some new financial goals!
1. Keep grocery spending below $200 a month, including dog food, cleaning supplies and toiletries.
2. Get my entire debt down to

Lots More Money for $20 Challenge and 1st Student Loan Paid Off

February 10th, 2007 at 01:49 pm

Well, the $20 Challenge has really worked well to motivate me towards saving a lot more money. I planned on using rebates that I got from Riteaid, Walgreens and so forth towards the grocery bill. However, since my grocery bill is below $250.. and probably down to $225 this month even buying the extra things that are either free or money making after rebate, I'm putting any money into my $20 savings challenge.

So from January Riteaid is $17.97
Savings from State Tax Refund $24.53

(This is 10%, the extra is going towards either tuition payments, to prevent new debt or paying off existing student loans. I can't wait until the federal refund check. Yes, I know we shouldn't be getting "this much back," but as I already have more deductions that just the two of us... school expenses, contributions to IRAs, and mortgage interest are huge helps and nowadays the majority of our expenses)

So far in February I got one of my student loans paid off! I'm pretty amazed, that we are down to one income, maxing out the 401k, paying for most of the future tuition/books/etc out of that income and paying off student loans and the house. (There's no credit card and no car loans or other debt). On top of that, my emergency fund/saving challenge money is actually starting to build up. In a couple more months, I might be able to start contributing to our Roth IRA again.

Unexpected bonus of saving money! and a January update

February 5th, 2007 at 03:13 pm

Well, Definately have the grocery/dining out bill below $200 monthly now with no problems and stocking up. Rebates/coupons have been great. I don't want to go any lower, although we probably could. I feel if I can save more money, I will probably use it to buy fish or fresh (vs frozen) veggies more often.

For the good news, since I haven't been eating out and have been exercising (sporadically), I've lost 10 pounds in the last 2 months. Most of this I think comes from just not eating out. Smile This was an unexpected *bonus* as I'm not dieting or trying to lose weight. So cheaper and losing weight. I think I can deal with this.

January totals including Savings Challenge and Debt is updated.

Making a lot of progress!

December 31st, 2006 at 04:41 pm

December has been an interesting month. DH has really been trying to help by working extra whenever he could. It really paid off. In the past two months we've:
(1) Paid for my winter and spring sessions of school without using any more student loans
(2) Reduced our grocery bill down to $275.20 last month. Still have a little ways to go. I think we can get it down to $200.
(3) Made progress on our debt (We have a mortgage and my student loans -- no credit cards or car loans):
Mortgage down from 96,111 (Nov 1st) to 95,083
Student loans down from 36,850 (Nov 1st) to 35,961.
(4) Started rebuilding our emergency fund up to $450.
(5) Limited "errands" and nonessential gas/automobile trips to once every two weeks or hiking on weekends (a necessary sanity).

For January, I am going to try to:
(1) add $100 to our emergency fund.
(2) Reduce our grocery bill some more
(3) Budget some money for "fun" expenses. The last two months we haven't spent anything. It helped a little to bring down what we owe, but we each need some money for "spending."
(4) Say no to anything people want us to "do." There's always a charity "event" at school or people wanting to "get together." I don't enjoy these and it's really just not worth my time or money.
(5) Try to find some additional ways to cut expenses. This is really getting hard to do. I feel like we are almost down to the barest essentials. I can't turn down the thermostat any lower. I'm going to try to see if there's any more ways we can "insulate" the house. There's really no way to cut: auto expenses, pet expenses.

November's Tally and December's Goals

December 9th, 2006 at 02:55 pm

I managed to exceed 2/3 of my goals for November, but not the third one.

Our total for groceries/eating out/quick stops went down to $303.42, a savings of $149.88 this month! I made some of the cheaper, easier recipies posted on the boards a couple of times a week and cut down on eating out. I can still cut down more on eating out and get this total down lower in December.

For the second goal of paying off $150 towards the student loans -- I managed to pay off a little over $700, bringing our totals down to:
Student Loans: 36,144.13
Mortgage 95602.39

For our third goal, saving $150 -- I used the extra money towards the school loans, as I just couldn't see paying the extra interest, but I really do need to get an emergency fund set up again.

So for December, my new goals are:
(1): To decrease our grocery budget to atleast $275
(2): To pay cash for my winter semester of school (trying to avoid additional student loans)
(3): To save $50 in an "emergency" fund.
(4): To pay off an additional $300 in student loans.

The Sad Truth and a Lot of Hope

November 5th, 2006 at 02:30 pm

Thanks everyone for the welcome, it's encouraging! Smile Someone mentioned getting used to living on one income -- that is actually where I am hoping to head in order to be able to live some of our dreams (more later in this entry).

I sat down this morning and added up how much we owe:
Student Loans 36,850
Mortgage 96,111

The sad part is our mortgage is currently 40% of our take home pay (from 20% earlier). I thought about refinancing, but it's really not worth it, since we are able to handle the mortgage (it's a 15 year mortgage) and cover all of our living expenses.

The good news is no credit card debt and no auto loans. I've also found a few ways to decrease our spending, so for the next month, I am going to focus on:
Not eating out, especially because I really like to cook.
Saving $150 in our emergency fund.
Paying off $150 of student loans.

As I mentioned earlier, I am hoping to use the extra money from my future job to fund my big goals in life:
To travel
To have our current house paid off within 5 years
To move to a more rural area (always a dream of mine to live somewhere I was surrounded by trees and could have a large garden)
To help fund and participate (timewise) in an organization that will help individuals achieve thier life dreams