Monthly Money Check: Penny Tries To Keep Expenses Under $2,000 in April 2017. She Ends Up Saying “Blerg!”

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Dear Rich,

It’s the beginning of the month, so time to review my expenses. I like doing this. I used to do it only at the end of the year, but I am enjoying the frequency of this month to month stuff.

I’m going to keep my categories as they are for this year, but next year I might consolidate all of the “House” categories. As an explanation for you now, in case you wondered, here are the differences as I perceive them: House Supplies are things that get used up (things like toilet paper, contact solution, etc.). House Repairs are things that get repaired (duh). And House Stuff are things used for The House that don’t necessarily get used up (things like furniture, fabric, tiller rental, etc.). Does that all make sense? For some reason, I like differentiating them since those differences matter to me, but I will probably consolidate next year for simplicity’s sake.

Anyway, back to the report. Once again, we are all probably waiting with bated breath to see if I can get our expenses under $2,000 (before student loans), so let’s see how I did:

Click on image to enlarge.

As you can see, if we subtract the student loan amount ($6,000), our regular expenses came to  $2,048.46. So, we didn’t make it under the $2,000 yet again! Blerg!

It’s all these school fees that keep popping up that keep getting us. Every month, there’s been something. This month, it’s a supply fee for the private high school that we’re enrolling my oldest in. But, the thing is, we don’t even totally know if she’s going there yet because we haven’t gotten our financial aid and scholarship amount back yet!

I wish I wasn’t so picky about schools and could be happy just sending her to the local (and free!) public high school. No, I take that back… what I wish is that public schools would provide a better education for our children. It’s the educational systems that needs to step up, I don’t need to step down. As you know, I’ve never been a fan of the cookie-cutter manufacturing plant that is the public school system… but enough of this rant, on with the show!

You can see that we put a larger amount toward student loans this month. This is because we got our tax refund, so we put $5,000 from that toward the loans. We’ll put another $5,000 (hopefully, if these private school bills for my kids don’t keep adding up on us!) after we get our property tax refund later this year. As you know, it’s all part of my plan to pay off our ginormous amount of student loans debt in ten years.

Here’s something new that I did for you. Since you talk a lot about your net worth and whatnot, I thought I’d show you what I’m worth. Take a look:

As you can see, our saving grace comes from the equity we have in our house. To get to that $125,000 amount, I averaged what it was worth on our property tax statement and Zillow ($214,000), and then I subtracted what we owe ($89,000). So, we’re sitting on a pretty penny here. We bought the house as a foreclosure in a good neighborhood, which, apparently, is a very good thing to do (although we didn’t even know it at the time.) Sure, you might think it’s a good idea to sell, take the money, and pay off our loans, but I told you what I thought of that idea already.

And, with that $5,000 payment, just look at our student loans going down. We’re getting there.

Here is what our spending looked like this month compared with the rest of the year:

Click on image to enlarge.

For these first four months, I am averaging around $2,800 in ordinary expenses a month. Yikes! If we keep this up, we’ll be around $34,000 for the year, and that is too much if I want to have enough money to stick to my student loan repayment plan. Last year we were at $32,000, and that included a vacation. Double blerg.

Here’s hoping I make it under $2,000 next month.



P.S. I just noticed that I put the CD player under House Supplies, when it should have probably gone under House Stuff. And garden seeds, even though they “get used up”, I put them under House Stuff, because I put all the garden stuff under House Stuff. As you can see, this is not a perfect system.

10 Replies to “Monthly Money Check: Penny Tries To Keep Expenses Under $2,000 in April 2017. She Ends Up Saying “Blerg!””

  1. If your income is gradually going up, wouldn’t that also allow you to put more toward the loans? After all these months I still don’t understand the income side of the equation. Either way, big kudos to you for keeping expenses so low and making HUGE progress on your loans this year. Think, when they are paid off, that $5000 would just go to savings. What would you spend on if you didn’t have the loans?
    Rich @ recently posted…Rich’s Financial Origin Story: From Farm Boy To Theology Student To High Income ProfessionalMy Profile

    1. Rich, I’ve explained this to you already in my post about taxes (… Even though we’re making more money, we’ll be getting less in food support and in tax refund money. So, until we have an income over $65,000 (which is $25,000 away, BTW, so it’s not going to happen anytime soon), we’ll just be breaking even with what we’re getting in food support / tax refunds now. What don’t you understand?

      I can’t even think of what I would spend extra money on, I feel so far away from getting these loans paid off.
      Penny @ recently posted…Monthly Money Check: Penny Tries To Keep Expenses Under $2,000 in April 2017. She Ends Up Saying “Blerg!”My Profile

      1. Sorry! I think I mean what is your monthly income? You’ve probably told me this already, something like you take pay from the business when you need it.

        It’s just hard for me to picture in my mind — when you pay these expenses and your family checking account gets down to, say $1,000, is that when you transfer money in?

        My experience is we just get paid every 2 weeks so it’s a constant flow of cash, in and out.
        Rich @ recently posted…Rich Explains Why High Income Earners Feel Woozy At Tax Time. He Pays 9 Times More in Taxes Than Penny.My Profile

        1. Well, since both my husband has his own businesses, we don’t really have a set income or something that gets paid every two weeks like you do. And, with a business, there are ups and downs with income and expenses. Take last month, for instance… once a year, he has to pay over a thousand dollars for malpractice insurance. So, his net for last month is lower than most months.

          I guess the best way to figure our monthly or bi-monthly income would be to take his yearly income and divide it by 12. That equals $3,333. If he got paid every two weeks, like you do, that would be around $1,666.

          We don’t pay ourselves like that, however. Basically, I just tell him to move money from the business account to our personal account whenever our checking account gets low, like you said.
          Penny @ recently posted…Monthly Money Check: Penny Tries To Keep Expenses Under $2,000 in April 2017. She Ends Up Saying “Blerg!”My Profile

  2. Thanks for the update Penny and big props for making major progress every month on your student loans.

    Please don’t take this the wrong way, but how do you reconcile giving significant money to your church and other charities but not spending any of your earned income on Food/Groceries? I think I remember you saying that you get assistance for your groceries.

    Maybe I am too much of an engineer and too focused on efficiency, but it seems to me that in the grand cosmic scheme of things, it would be more efficient to first take care of yourselves and then give what you can to charity. It’s almost like you are transferring money from tax payers pockets to your church. Hopefully the church and charities you support efficiently use donations to support other needy people with little overhead, but it can’t be as efficient as using your own money for food and allowing those assistance funds percolate to other folks.

    After reading my question above… I feel like a jerk and almost deleted the whole thing, but I know you and Rich are really trying to talk about stuff like this honestly. I am also always interested broadening and challenging my viewpoint.

    1. Thanks for your question, Rich. Don’t feel bad about asking it. I’ve been asking myself the same thing for awhile now. It is quite a paradox, I know.

      Here is a link where I address pretty much everything you’re asking (I think):

      And here is more about why I choose to give, specifically, despite being on food support:

      Hope that helps!
      Penny @ recently posted…Monthly Money Check: Rich Explains How He Meets Financial Goals Without A Budget — April 2017My Profile

  3. Hey Mr. Z — I had asked this question, I think, in my post asking if rich people were selfish materialistic hedonists:

    It kicked off a discussion where Penny explained why she gives even though she takes some assistance. I responded to that with my Squirrel Story. Anyway, I encourage you to look back at that string of posts! –R
    Rich @ recently posted…Monthly Money Check: Rich Explains How He Meets Financial Goals Without A Budget — April 2017My Profile

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