The Debt Payoff Setback Blues

I am feeling so defeated. Somehow, my budget projection for the month grossly underestimated our credit card bill. I think I just forgot to update the current balance on the credit card in my accounting spreadsheet. Then I got the statement, and because of the billing cycle, TWO daycare payments are on the bill! That means that the $1000 student loan payment we were slated to make today isn’t going to happen.

And neither is the $3500 payment at the end of the month — looks like it will be a whopping $1000. <– that was sarcasm. And that’s only if we’re “lucky” and get paid for the product we sold last month. I guess we spent more last month than I thought. I am so incredibly bummed.

There is almost no way we are going to meet our goal of paying off two private student loans this year. Our current balance on the two loans is $22,174. To pay that off in 5 months means we would have to put $4,500 per month into those loans. Even though paying off one of the loans will free up almost $100 per month, that doesn’t come close to the $4,500 we would need to kill them both.

Nevertheless, any progress is progress. There are a few budget cuts and little money makers that I’ve been thinking about for a while. It’s probably time to pull the trigger, while I’m feeling so down in the dumps about our ability to make ends meet.

Budget Cuts:

  1. Change our cell phone service to Republic Wireless. Mr. Stapler is frustrated with his current phone and his contract is up. I’ve heard nothing but good things about Republic Wireless, and have been thinking about this one for a while. There are a bunch of reasons why we’re switching, but I’ll spare you the details until we test it out for ourselves and see if it’s all it’s cracked up to be. Savings: $50/month.
  2. Minimize commuting expenses by parking on the street. We shell out $450 a month on commuting! (parking, train, and gas) The only problem is my laziness in this hot, humid weather. I would have to leave my comfortably air conditioned office once or twice a day, walk to the car, and search for another spot because it’s a max of 2-4 hours per street (depends on the street). Seems pretty silly to pay an extra $100 a month just because I’m lazy, doesn’t it? Savings: $8.50/day; or approx. $102/mo.
  3. I need to pump up my tires, maybe our gas mileage will improve a little bit
  4. Slash the gift spending by planning ahead. In the past 2 months, 3 nieces and 3 nephews had birthdays and I didn’t plan well. I didn’t find them thoughtful gifts for less than our budgeted amount ($25), so I buckled down and bought gift cards for the 3 nieces — a total of $75 — and spent $10-20 on the nephews plus shipping! Thankfully, there is only one 1 nephew birthday left in the year, and then it’s Christmas. It’s time to start stalking my favorite couponing sites for deals on toys and time to pick up supplies for the kids’ ornaments. Savings: approx. $250. 
  5. Ratchet down the food spending. The past two months, our food spending has been out of control (see the chart below). I haven’t been couponing. I’ve been shopping at Trader Joe’s. We’ve been making multiple trips to the store in one week. And I have a watermelon problem. I wondered whether we should freeze grocery spending again, but with the third trimester and baby arriving over the next 6 months, I would prefer to amp up the couponing and build up our stockpile again. How can I build that stockpile and still cut down on grocery spending? I’m not sure. Should I switch to a cash system instead of using our credit cards? Savings: ???

TOTAL POTENTIAL SAVINGS: $152/month, $250 once. 

We need to cut down our spending, so I took a look at where our money was going.

 

PS: If you’re wondering about our transportation spending in May … we paid our auto insurance that month.

Ideas for Making a Little Extra Cash:

  1. Sell some clothes to ThredUp because my normal clothes (and pre-first-pregnancy clothes) aren’t going to fit for a while. I would sell to Twice again, but I want to test out ThredUp to see how it compares. Earn: $80? (I have a lot of clothes to get rid of).
  2. Sell my old Barbies and nice suits and dresses on eBay. I’m sure Dollar Flipper would be proud! Earn: $50.
  3. Submit all the medical receipts I haven’t yet submitted for Flex reimbursement. They have been piling up. Earn $300.
  4. Return clothing ordered in an attempt to find court-appropriate maternity wear. Get back approx. $200.
  5. Work my butt off freelancing. I have two motions to draft in the next 2 weeks, so they should keep me busy.
  6. Mr. Stapler has been working his tail off trying to get some offers for new employment and/or consulting gigs. We are really hoping that they pan out sometime soon.

TOTAL POTENTIAL EARNINGS: $630+

Any other suggestions?

4 thoughts on “The Debt Payoff Setback Blues

  1. That stinks! We made the switch to RW last year and love it. Even with all my eBay research out in the field, it doesn’t have any issues that my previous iPhone ATT had.

    For us, we use YNAB. Its a little restrictive at first as it makes you look at things prior to spending vs Mint which is too far after the fact for us. It really helped us get rid of my student loans, get a down payment for a house, and push up our emergency fund.

    It makes us look at credit cards differently too. It treats spending a dollar from a CC or cash or check all the same so when the bill comes, you just transfer to a CC like any other account!

    They have a lot of good info on their website!!

    Sorry for the novel but we really love YNAB…

    -Chris

    • I know you love YNAB, and you’re not alone. A lot of people do. It just seems to be a lot of work — as far as I know, it doesn’t update with bank balances or transactions automatically, right? So tracking grocery spending, etc., means I manually enter in each transaction?

  2. I’m concerned about your “park on the street” plan… especially the “go find another spot” part of it. You need to think about how your time is best spent. How much time will you spend (a.k.a. waste) leaving your office, walking to your car, driving around, finding new parking, and walking back to your office? Isn’t that time better spent as a billable hour? Maybe you could try to do that one or two days a week, rather than all week? You wouldn’t save as much money, but you could turn it into a profitable hour that offsets your parking spot.

    Good luck!

    • That’s a good point. I was hoping the walk would energize me a bit, but with the heat and humidity lately, I’ve only tried it once. Turns out, there’s only one block of 4-hour parking meters nearby, so to put in an entire 8-hour day, I would need to move my car TWICE! The “park on the street” plan is not working out so well. But at least I can say I gave it a shot.

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