Budget Series: Squeezing out an extra $440/month!!!

Get out of Debt on a low income


Back in May, I shared our super tight budget. I was discouraged about debt, thinking we couldn’t possibly get out of debt sooner than the twenty-year plan we were on (student loans and mortgage). I had a revelation that led to crunching the numbers and “finding” an extra $190/month toward debt reduction. This was HUGE! With that plan, we were going to get out of debt, mortgage included, in around 7 years or so.

Sometimes life happens in the midst of our well-laid plans.

Our family is about to move across the state—tomorrow. In the midst of the stress, to-do list, and emotions, it is also wreaking havoc with our finances.

  1. We drained our savings account paying the deposit and first month rent for a house.
  2. We’re facing many extra expenses—deposits, U-Haul rental, travel expenses, etc. However, it has been awesome to see how God has provided in the midst of these potentially budget-breaking expenses.
  3. Until we sell our (old/current) home, we will be paying all of our regular monthly expenses, plus rent at our new home.

So, here is yet another version of our budget, in which we crunch the numbers to create $425/month to pay our rent, and $15/month for garbage pick-up (we usually pay this a year at a time with our tax return, which is why it wasn’t in our budget before).

Total Monthly Income (after tithes, offerings, and required payroll deductions): $2,068

Voluntary Payroll Deductions:
Dental Insurance: $38.30

Monthly Bills:
Mortgage: $569
Rent: $425
Trash Pick-up: $15

Auto Insurance: $118
Electric: $125*
Water: $30
Direct TV: $0*
House Phone: $0
Cellphones: $35
Student Loan #1: $100*
Student Loan #2: $192

Flexible Spending (Cash Envelopes):
Groceries/personal needs/cleaning supplies: $200
Gas: $100*
Misc. Repairs and Household needs: $40
Spending Money $80*


Where the money is coming from:

Electric, $50
This is an estimate, but we will be on city electric, which is usually significantly less expensive than the rural electric cooperative we currently have.

House Phone, $15
We disconnected our landline.

Direct TV, $65
Several steps here. We cut off service to a second TV, saving $6/month. While doing that, I asked about other savings, and they offered me an $8/month credit for 6 months. I called back later and received $5/month credit for 6 months. I would encourage you to call periodically and see if there are any specials or savings available. These credits will save us a total of $78 over 6 months, and the phone calls took only a few minutes of my time.

However, my current Direct TV budget is $0. I recently discovered the option to suspend satellite service. Direct TV offers this for up to 6 months in a 12-month timeframe, and there is no charge. (They do require that you be up to date on your bill). We are under contract, so this is giving us a much needed financial break.

Giving, $55
Our family supports two overseas ministries—World Vision, and Christian Flights International (a local ministry with which I travelled to Haiti on a mission trip in college). Since we are in survival mode, we made the difficult decision to put this giving on hold temporarily until we sell our house.

Student Loan #1, $190
We squeezed out an extra $190/month to pay toward debt reduction, but now it will help us with monthly expenses. It’s not ideal, but it’s nice to have that money already freed up, and for now, we’ll pay the minimum on our loans.

Gas, $35
We’re going to have to limit driving more than ever, but we’ll make it work.

Spending, $25
I reduced our spending money to $80. Again, “spending money” for us includes everything from gifts, clothing, entertainment, eating out, and anything else that comes outside our other categories. It is not “splurge” money. In reality, we have little to no splurge money, but we’re okay with that, because what we do have is the means to pay our bills and support our family, and for that, we’re thankful.


A few months ago, it seemed impossible to find extra money to put toward debt reduction (or anything else). Now we are somehow able to pay an additional $440/month! I have shared our budget cuts to encourage you that maybe, just maybe, there are some things that you could do as well, in order to pay down debt, or even just make ends meet.

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