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Old 10-02-2012, 10:48 AM   #1
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Another help me with my budget thread...

Okay, I've convinced my husband we can stop putting money into retirement and we'll be okay. I have a plan for getting out from under this debt we have accumulated recently (we had to hire a lawyer to deal with child support issues and medical bills) but I wanted to run it by all of you.

Mortgage: $1215
Groceries: $500-600. $500 is serious couponing and watching sales.
Gas: $250
Leased Van: $364
School loans: $55 (~$3,000) + $110 (~$10,000) + $135 (~$3,500) = $300 a month. There is still a $300/mo loan that's been in deferment for 3 years.
Phones: $161
Charity: $20
Credit Cards: $100 (~$1,900) + $86 (~$4,000)
Insurance: $136 (includes 2 cars, motorcycle, and house)
Netflix: $7
College Fund for DD1: $50
Savings: $100 (though this is only at $200 right now because we keep having to pull from it)

I'm hounding dh to refinance the house to try to lower it a touch. I can't do it b/c it isn't in my name. The groceries are about as low as I can get them without going all super processed stuff. We are gluten, dairy, nut and banana free, so the cost of getting the substitutes we need brings up the price considerably. Both cars get about 24mpg and I don't drive excessive amounts, especially since the van is on a lease. The second car can't fit all of us in it, and costs maybe $30 a month for insurance and that's it.

The cell phones are 4 lines total, one being for my dad, and one for my daughter who splits time with her dad who does not have a house phone. She needs to be under my plan because there was some broken trust a couple years ago with her phone usage when it was under a family member's plan. Also, dh's work pays a portion of the phone bill. I plan on cutting my line's data plan down by $10 a month (the lowest option). All utilities are as low as we can get them (gas, water, electric, internet is paid by dh's employer).

Currently we have about $50 surplus a month and that goes to groceries most times because it is hard for me to keep it within the $500 I have budgeted. We will need to start paying $125 a month for DD1's braces come December, and the $300/mo student loan will come out of forbearance. Once we start getting child support, we will need to start paying for DD1's individual lessons for fencing, which is $150 every two months. If I asked to cancel this, the coach would do it for free and I would feel really terrible. This is DD1's #1 goal and aspiration right now. She looks forward to going to fencing 4 days a week, so I don't want to take this from her, plus we only drive her two days, and I may be able to get that down to one day with carpooling.

Here's my plan:
- Dh stops contributing to 401K - this frees up about $400 a month
- We will start getting $300 a month in child support
- I was planning on putting the $55/mo and $110/mo student loan in deferment, at least for 6 months so I can focus on paying other things
- Start paying off the smaller credit card, about $500/mo, then focus on the next credit card, then the school loans starting with the smallest.

It still feels like it is going to take forever to pay this all down and dh is nervous about not saving for retirement for a full 2 years.

Any advice? Does my plan look okay? I've looked at how to cut costs a million times and there just isn't anything significant.

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Old 10-02-2012, 11:23 AM   #2
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Re: Another help me with my budget thread...

My question is does your husband's employer match any of his 401K contributions? If they do, I would really try to continue contributing up to the amount that the employer matches.
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Old 10-02-2012, 11:28 AM   #3
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Re: Another help me with my budget thread...

Can you combine the student loans? Usually if you're trying to get rid of debt it's better not to, but in this case, I think you might be better off doing the 30 year plan and then paying more on them as you pay off the rest of your debt, so snowballing it later, basically. At least you would be paying something on all of them, rather than juggling which ones you're paying.

I do question the grocery bill a bit - could you go meatless once or twice a week to save money or at least get yourselves on budget? Something like soup, black bean taco salad, black bean patties, lentil curry, falafel, etc? We are egg free and I have many allergies, not to mention we eat mostly organic so I understand having to get what you can to feed the family, but there are still many great options for cheaper I've found.

It might just be me, but I'm not sure where the $150 for lessons and $125 for braces is going to come from... not if you're paying $500 on the credit card? You could probably hustle and get that card paid down before January, but you are still short money for both lessons and braces.
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Old 10-02-2012, 01:10 PM   #4
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Re: Another help me with my budget thread...

Quote:
My question is does your husband's employer match any of his 401K contributions? If they do, I would really try to continue contributing up to the amount that the employer matches.
They do match. They contribute 6% of his salary. I think that's 3% matching and 3% automatic. We put in 8% currently out of the paycheck.

Quote:
Can you combine the student loans? Usually if you're trying to get rid of debt it's better not to, but in this case, I think you might be better off doing the 30 year plan and then paying more on them as you pay off the rest of your debt, so snowballing it later, basically. At least you would be paying something on all of them, rather than juggling which ones you're paying.
The $10k student loan is at 2.x% interest, so that one could only go up in the interest rate. The one where we pay $135 a month is my husband's student loan under his dad's name. Is it even possible to combine those? What's left is the $4k one and the $30k (actually that's $23k and $7 with one company), so it feels like it would be more harm than good to wrap those two together. Maybe I'm wrong?

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Originally Posted by smores View Post
I do question the grocery bill a bit - could you go meatless once or twice a week to save money or at least get yourselves on budget? Something like soup, black bean taco salad, black bean patties, lentil curry, falafel, etc? We are egg free and I have many allergies, not to mention we eat mostly organic so I understand having to get what you can to feed the family, but there are still many great options for cheaper I've found.
We actually do eat vegetarian at least one a week, usually 2-3 times. I'm trying to get us to weekday vegetarians, and at least once every 1-2 weeks we have rice and beans... The cheapest meal ever. We eat zabihah/kosher meat for religious reasons, so it never goes on sale.

My husband eats a lot... my grocery bill doubled when we got married, and I had myself and my then 9 year old daughter I was feeding. He's not overweight at all, so I hesitate to tell him to eat less because then he'd end up underweight. The grocery bill went up again when my daughter started getting homeschooled, so the meals came home. I barely ever buy chips or other useless food, but we do get ice cream once or twice a month.

I should say the grocery bill also includes shampoo, soap, paper products, cleaning supplies... anything the grocery store carries. These items I coupon quite a bit to get the best price. The food part is where I have a hard time keeping up with coupons, plus the time I put into it is challenging. It's been on and off for a while.

Quote:
It might just be me, but I'm not sure where the $150 for lessons and $125 for braces is going to come from... not if you're paying $500 on the credit card? You could probably hustle and get that card paid down before January, but you are still short money for both lessons and braces.
The child support (we don't get this currently. We are waiting for the judge to sign and send it back) plus the extra money from not contributing to retirement adds up to an extra $700 a month, then if I defer the couple student loans I could free up another $165.

Hope that makes a bit more sense.
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Old 10-02-2012, 01:18 PM   #5
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Re: Another help me with my budget thread...

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Originally Posted by UmmKira View Post
The child support (we don't get this currently. We are waiting for the judge to sign and send it back) plus the extra money from not contributing to retirement adds up to an extra $700 a month, then if I defer the couple student loans I could free up another $165.

Hope that makes a bit more sense.
So, you defer the student loans, get child support and and you have $865 extra. Except you said you want to pay $500/month towards the credit card, which really leaves just $365 extra. And then the $300/month loan coming out of deferment leaves $65, so then you're in the hole $135/month with $75/month in lessons and $125/month in braces. Do I have that right?
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Old 10-02-2012, 01:22 PM   #6
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Re: Another help me with my budget thread...

What I'm really trying to say is that you can only afford to pay $350 or so at a time on the credit card, and even then, I don't see that gifts or clothes purchases are budgeted, so you may not even have that extra $150/month to pay onto the card.

If your student loans are federal loans, you need to look at the calculator (just google it) for combining and seeing what your options are. Even if an interest rate goes up on one, it still makes your debt load right now easier to manage. If, God forbid, something were to happen, you would have a really tight budget.
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Old 10-02-2012, 01:41 PM   #7
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Re: Another help me with my budget thread...

Quote:
Originally Posted by smores View Post
So, you defer the student loans, get child support and and you have $865 extra. Except you said you want to pay $500/month towards the credit card, which really leaves just $365 extra. And then the $300/month loan coming out of deferment leaves $65, so then you're in the hole $135/month with $75/month in lessons and $125/month in braces. Do I have that right?
Mm, yes, you're close. We already pay $100/mo on the card, so it is extra $400. You're right, we would need to cut that down.

I forgot to include we have $100/mo misc. money which goes for clothing, household stuff (new hose, leaf bags, etc), anything not otherwise counted for.

I'll check out the calculator and see what it says for the student loans.
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Old 10-02-2012, 02:10 PM   #8
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Re: Another help me with my budget thread...

Find your last grocery receipt and type it in here I bet we can help you find cheaper alternatives. Also have you tried finding a butcher for your specific meat type? It can be cheaper to buy an entire cow and have it killed than to buy from the store.
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Old 10-02-2012, 02:11 PM   #9
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Re: Another help me with my budget thread...

Also, isn't retirement contribution stuff pre-tax? You probably won't have the whole 400 brought home every month.
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Old 10-02-2012, 05:56 PM   #10
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Re: Another help me with my budget thread...

Your grocery bill seems very reasonable given the diet you are eating. More than reasonable, actually...I am impressed! My DH also eats more than twice what I do, and somehow our 7 and 5 year olds eat as much as him, too. It is a priority to eat whole foods and it sounds like that is what you do.

I am suprised by your insurance bill--is that per month? We pay $80/month for a combined plan on 3 vehicles, a $400k house, a personal liability plan, and an umbrella policy. Check around for unneeded coverage and better rates.

The other thing that jumps out at me is that leased van. I do not know a ton about leses, but they seem like bad news from what I hear. Unless your siggy has not been updated or something, it looks like all you need is a 5-seater car, not a van. Cars are generally half the price of vans. Two ultra-narrow Radian carseats and you will have plenty of room backseat for your older daughter as well.
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