Budget Series: How we “found” $190/month in our budget

Get out of Debt on a low income

Earlier in this series, I shared our super tight budget, with what seemed like no wiggle room.  Today, I want to share how we juggled the numbers to create an “extra” $190/month to pay down debt.

Here is our new budget:

Total Monthly Income (after tithes, offerings, and required payroll deductions): $2,013

Voluntary Payroll Deductions (money we never see)
Dental Insurance: $38.30

Monthly Bills:
Mortgage: $569
Auto Insurance: $118
Electric: $175
Water: $30
Direct TV: $65
House Phone: $15.41
Cellphones: $35
Student Loan #1: $290 ($190/month extra)
Student Loan #2: $192

Flexible Spending (Cash Envelopes):
Groceries/personal needs/cleaning supplies: $200
Gas: $135
Misc. Repairs and Household needs: $40
Spending Money (eating out, clothing, entertainment, etc.) $105

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Where the extra money is coming from:

Deferred Comp 457: $100/month

After we really looked at the numbers, we found that we could potentially get out of debt (including our mortgage!) in about 7 years.  So, we made the decision to use this $100/month toward the get-out-of debt plan rather than retirement.  I know financial advisors would probably advise against this, but it’s what we thought would be best for our current situation. 

Mortgage: $22
We had been paying $22 extra on our mortgage, so we decided to add that to the amount we were paying on our smallest debt, again, to speed up the “snowball” process.

Auto Insurance: $39
Our insurance kept increasing, so we changed it.  We went to a local independent agent, who can quote rates and sell policies for several different companies.  The agent we worked with was really helpful and willing to run the numbers for us to get the price and coverage we were looking for.  We increased our deductible from $500 to $750, opted for electronic billing, and paid 6 months at a time instead of monthly (our previous provider didn’t offer those options and discounts).  We also decreased coverage on my husband’s truck, which he rarely drives, from full coverage to the state minimum.  With these changes, our insurance decreased from $157/mo. to $118/mo.

Gas $15
We tightened up our driving even more and allotted a little less for gas. 

Spending Money $15
We deducted a little bit more from our spending budget.  It might seem “luxurious” to have $105/mo. in spending money, but I’ll tell you it goes a lot faster than you might think, and includes ALL the extra things we purchase like gifts, clothing, eating out, entertainment, etc.

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I realize that not everyone will be willing or able to make the same budget cuts we’ve made, but I pray these ideas will get you started and help you find ways to cut back even if it doesn’t seem possible.  Always remember that the nickels and dimes add up (in spending and savings)!  Even if you can just cut back a few dollars in each area of your budget, those dollars add up.  Paying only $25/month extra on our $65,000/30 year mortgage was going to save us 5 years and over $10,000 in interest! 

Again, if I were counseling someone else, the satellite would be the first thing to go, but sometimes you have to make compromises to keep everyone on board with the budget concept, and not feel too deprived :)

Also, as some of you know, my family is in the process of moving.  This has put a major kink in our get-out-of-debt plans, which I’ll share more about next week…including how we “found” even more money in our budget as we have to pay our mortgage here on top of living expenses in our new home.

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Other topics in this series:

~Debt Discouragement
~Why Debt-free? (What the Bible says about debt)
~Our Budget (Frugality is necessary)

~Frugal Living (The Grocery Budget)
-Poor is in the attitude, not the bank account.
~Frugal Living (Saving on other expenses)
~Create Your Own Budget
~Are coupons necessary for a tight budget?

~Our Debt Free Plan:  How we “found” $190/month to pay toward debt.

(Disclaimer: I am NOT a financial advisor. I am just a mom with a family living on a single income and I want to encourage others that it is possible to live on a tight budget and still have your needs met and be content…and get out of debt! I really hope that our personal budget information will help someone.)

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