Cleaning Up the Budget- Part 2

Yikes, I wanted to get this post up sooner but such is life! Excuses, excuses, but we’ve been busy with a recent wedding weekend, transitioning back to work full-time, a health insurance change, IEP meetings, and the 3rd Birthday, and start of preschool for Benjamin! Holy crimers as my Gramps would say. We have been busy.

Anyways, as I shared on my last post, “Cleaning up the Budget” Part 1, we celebrated paying off the smaller of my 2 school loans. This was one of a few “Little Victories” we celebrated since taking this deep dive into our finances. Recently, Matt and I took 5 minutes to reflect on what we’ve accomplished in the past 3 months. Hopefully our “Little Victories” may provide some actionable tips for you too.

In no particular order...

Our Little Victories”:

  1. Spreadsheet. More or less, we knew these numbers in our head but spelling it out line by line was ugly and eye opening. I listed each outstanding loan we had; the interest on it, the monthly payment, and pay off date. First, panic ensued. Next, we took action and made a plan for what to tackle first. We first eliminated all extras. Goodbye Spotify subscription. We also put ALL standing bills on “auto-pay” and got onto budget plans with our Oil and Electricity companies to have the same payment each month. This helps a lot for budgeting purposes.

  2. Simplify. We consolidated our Bank Accounts. For all intents and purposes, we now have one “working horse”- our joint Checking Account. No more individual “side” accounts. Hello, transparency. Along with this, I also made a document of every account username and password. This was time consuming but I’m glad we have everything easily accessible now. #adulting

  3. Bye to Credit Cards. We paid off 4 personal credit cards totaling $7,656. This was a huge psychological win for us. It took a few paycheck cycles and scrimping and saving to do so, but we did it. Too often we were in swipe mode, “oh we will pay this later” mode. I cannot tell you how freeing it is to only pay for today and tomorrow’s bills, and no longer yesterday’s. Perhaps, there is a time and place to get savvy with redeeming travel points etc. but until you can pay off your card in full every month, we gladly retired them for now. During this most recent wedding weekend away, we paid for everything in cash (via debit card), and that felt really good for a change.

  4. Joined YNAB, an online budgeting software. Out of everything here, this is likely the most valuable for the long term. My previous post is all about “why” YNAB. We took advantage of their free classes too. Plus, YNAB makes budgeting FUN! I genuinely look forward to payday so I can allocate where the money is going in the honey pots. It’s like playing Monopoly in real life. Last weekend at Home Depot our new dryer vent kit and ash vacuum came out of our Home Maintenance fund. It makes your money very palpable so you know exactly how everything is coming out. I can’t recommend it enough and I plan on being a lifelong user. I also joined their Facebook group which is an active resource to bounce questions off people. YNAB caught wind of my last blog post and we are possibly planning on doing a Q&A over on their blog, I will keep you posted! YNAB offers a free 30 day trial. If you do end up joining through this link, you will get another month free.

  5. PD, “Personal Development”. There is so much free content out there. I rented Dave Ramsey’s book “Total Money Makeover” from the library. I really enjoy the “Choose FI” podcast. I have learned SO much on my daily commutes in/out of Boston thanks to this one podcast. Things like tax optimization, low cost index fund investing, the 4% rule, food budget tips, etc. I highly recommend starting with Episode 21, the Pillars of FI. We also rented the Big Short one night and I learned more about the 2008 financial crisis and housing market than I ever knew. Our little smartphones are walking libraries, use them wisely, after all, we pay for them! ;)

  6. Snowball. As I mentioned, paying off the smaller of my 2 school loans allowed me to take Loan #1 payment of $210 to “snowball” into Loan #2’s payment increasing my monthly payment from $300 to $510. This has shortened my pay off due date by a few YEARS. Once Loan #2 is paid off we will do this same technique towards our car loan, then Matt’s school loans, and so forth. Google Dave Ramsey’s snowball method.

  7. Full-time. I went back to work full time at the Brigham. I began contributing back into my TSA/Roth accounts. I also re-engaged with my Beautycounter business (direct retail for a safe skincare company) which provides us an additional way to save for Benjamin’s future. Plus, as a nurse I couldn’t feel stronger about the bigger mission of educating others about using safer products. After all, that’s what this entire blog is about- cleaning up areas of my life, everything from food to skincare to now finances.

  8. Matt’s new job began at Granite Financial Partners. He is the Senior Advisor and Chief Compliance Officer. Matt will be providing hands-on financial advisory services to individuals and families, developing comprehensive plans and investment strategies while ensuring all regulatory requirements are fulfilled. To read his full biography, including cameos of me and Benjamin, click here. Proud of you honey!

  9. Document your own Little Victories. We added ours to that original Spreadsheet. See below. It makes it real and keeps up the momentum. Encourage each other. Plan for *and budget* for a celebratory dinner. After all, it’s not about deprivation as it is about intentionality. We are hoping to finally go to Yvonne’s in Boston. I am looking forward to this because it will be well deserved.

  10. Get Started. We took one baby step, which led to another, which led to this post. Start today by doing ONE thing from above. I’d love to hear about it!

Lastly, if you found this at all helpful, please subscribe at the bottom of this screen.

It helps me keep this afloat and I greatly appreciate it. xoxo, Steph