My Life on a Budget: A Year in Review

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Just a little over a year ago Sam and I decided to start Fun on a Budget Blog to document the outcome of 20-somethings trying to live well on a budget. We wanted to share our financial battles and triumphs as we fought the good fight against our debts and gave our best effort to keep living lives that kept us happy and excited to get out of bed each morning.  We had a few different purposes in starting the Fun on a Budget:

First, we wanted to support other people that were in the same situation as us. Debt is one of those topics that most people are ashamed to talk about, so we knew that there were probably many silent sufferers out there that could use some help.

Second, we wanted to learn more about how to be better with money…and we have learned A LOT!! A huge amount of research and many conversations happen each time we prepare for a post, and from those actions new knowledge is gained.

Finally, Fun on a Budget Blog was a way to stay motivated to keep our focus and momentum strong because after all, paying off debt can be a long term and difficult goal to achieve. Fun on a Budget Blog has 100% fulfilled its role in being a tremendous motivator for staying focused on our end game of getting debt paid off as quickly as possible. Every month we sit down and write up an entire report about how much debt we’ve ditched or how much money we saved, and this gives us the opportunity to reflect on what we are doing well and what we need to start doing a little bit better. Don’t get me wrong, I do hope that people like our budget blog, and I hope that if some Googler stumbles upon it (probably on the 5th page of search term results, haha), that it will help him in some way—but at the end of the day, if I it’s just me, Sam, and our moms reading the darn thing, we are okay with that. We’re okay with it because we truly enjoy not just living on a budget, but writing about it.

So, here we are one year later, and it just wouldn’t be right not to reflect on how being on a budget has impacted our lives, right? I must say that I originally assumed I would post about how my budget has impacted my debt only, but once I started taking a deeper look at all that has happened (or not happened) and changed over this past year, I realized that the debt numbers are only half of it :)

Debt by Numbers: How Being on a Budget for a Year has Impacted my Debt

Debt by the Numbers-Comparison

In just one year I have cut the number of total debts I owe in half, went from having paid off zero debts to having three fully paid loans under my belt, decreased nearly all of my debts to less than the original amount I was loaned (interest is the WORST), reduced my minimum monthly payments by over $200.00, and decreased my overall debt by nearly $25,000.

Income distribution

From August 2013 to August 2014, my income was delegated into three different categories: debt payments, living expenses, and savings. Just over half of my income went towards my debt snowball, 37% was used for living expenses like rent and food, and the final 11% went into my savings account–which was primarily used for Christmas shopping and wedding savings.

Ind. loan progress

The chart above gives a more detailed look of how being on a budget can have a significant and positive impact on getting rid of your debt.

 Yeah, Yeah, Yeah…So you paid off a lot of debt, but what else have you done??

Well, you might be surprised :)

One of the most rude frequently heard comments that comes out of someone’s mouth when he/she learns I believe in sticking to a budget is “Oh, I couldn’t put myself on a budget because I still want to do things.”  Give me a break…I was on a budget from August 2013 – August 2014, and I did A LOT of “things”.

During my first year on a budget I…

what i did 2

what i did list

And I did a little traveling too…

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travel list

The good, the bad, and the really really good

I would be a big, fat, dirty liar if I ended this post with my fabulous traveling pictures and told everyone that being on a budget is all rainbows and ice cream cones all the time. It’s not. You aren’t idiots, and you already knew that.  I hopped on the waaambulance a handful of times during my first year on a budget, for a variety of different reasons—missing the bridal shower and bachelorette of a bestie, missing the wedding of another, keeping my own wedding small, and no longer being Anthropologie’s #1 customer—are a few that really got under my skin and left me flustered for days.

When you are on a budget you cannot do 100% of the things you want to do, buy 100% of the things you want to buy, or travel to 100% of the places you want to travel. You must pick and choose, but whenever I feel down about being on a budget, I remind myself that one of the most important and impacting choices I made in this past year was to LIVE on a BUDGET. Because that choice brings good things to me now—like paying off debt quickly and never bouncing checks—and will bring really-really good things to me in the not-so-far-future—like being able to save for retirement and use money to travel and celebrate in the present —the blips of “bad” that I’m experiencing just don’t seem so bad. :)

Sam lived on a budget this past year too! See how she fared by clicking the link: Sam’s life on a Budget: A Year in Review

For more information about transitioning to life on a budget click on our “Getting Started” link in the menu bar at the top of the page, and get your free printable budget by visiting our “Materials” page.  We have a couple of options for you there.

But enough about me…I want to hear about your experiences on a budget–what works and doesn’t work? What are the best and worst parts of holding yourself accountable with money? Follow the “Reply” link at the top of this post to share your thoughts with me and Sam!!

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 Brittany

2 thoughts on “My Life on a Budget: A Year in Review

    1. Brittany Post author

      Thanks Wendy!! I wish I would’ve figured it out sooner 😉
      I just checked out collegecheese and it’s super-cute —such a great idea, and the name kicks A!

      Reply

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