Category Archives: Debt Progress Reports

My Life on a Budget: A Year in Review

 

Year in Review Sam EditionJust a little over a year ago Brittany 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 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, Brittany, 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

Year in Review Total Debts
In just one year I have cut the number of total debts I owe by 75%, went from having paid off one debt 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 $228.34 , and decreased my overall debt by over $18,000.

Income Distribution

From August 2013 to August 2014, my income was delegated into four different categories: debt payments, living expenses, flights (home and for trips) and savings. 42% of my income went towards my debt snowball, 43% was used for living expenses like rent and food, 7.5% went toward flights to visit family and friends, and the final 7.5% went into my savings account–which was primarily used for moving across the country.

Current Debt Comparatives YIR

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…

Fun Pics

And I did a little traveling too..

Travel Pics

The good, the bad, and the really really good

I would be lying 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 whined like a child when I had to miss friend’s weddings, wear running shoes that have holes in them, go hungry during happy hour, and had to start drinking water at the bar after I ran out of money (but felt pretty happy the next morning hangover free).

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.

Brittany lived on a budget the past year too! Check out how she fared by clicking the link: Brittany’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 Brittany and I!!

Follow us on FacebookPinterest, and Twitter!

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Sam

My Life on a Budget: A Year in Review

title pic

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…

travel2

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!!

Follow us on FacebookPinterest, and Twitter!

Follow on Bloglovin

 Brittany

Brittany’s August Debt Progress Report

The graph below summarizes my short term debt progress across all of my individual loans. The blue column represents my debt totals for individual loans as of August 1, 2014, and the green columns represent my debt totals for individual loans as of August 31, 2014. Looking at the debt progress in this format really emphasizes how paying more than the minimum has a HUGE impact on your debt decrease. My ACS Student Loan was my focal loan, and I completely paid it off by the end of August because I paid as much as I could above the minimum requirement. In contrast, loans I am currently paying only minimums on decreased by an average of just 1.4%.

Next month there will only be three loans to report on!!!

Next month there will only be three loans to report on!!!

The bar graph below represents the long term and short term progress I have made on my overall debt. The grey bar represents my original total debt amount, the blue bar is my total debt one month ago, and the green bar shows how much debt I have today. Sometimes it’s hard to feel like you are making progress when you look at your BIG number on a month-to-month basis, but looking back to the beginning can remind you how far you have come!

total debt progress

Having ONE TARGET LOAN will increase the rate at which you can pay off your debt and decrease the amount of money you will pay towards interest to help you become debt free sooner!

Because I was paying above the minimum monthly requirement on my focal loan, the percentage being paid towards interest was very small—only 3% of my total payment went towards accrued interest. In contrast, 38% of the total amount I put towards the loans I am making minimum payments on went towards interest!! You want to pay as much as possible toward the principal because that is what helps speed up the process of eliminating debt. The chart below gives you a visual representation of these numbers.

It might seem like cash flowing money right now is rough, but if you make minimum monthly payments until all of your debt is gone, you will end up paying MUCH MORE than your original loan amounts in the long run

It might seem like cash flowing money right now is rough, but if you make minimum monthly payments until all of your debt is gone, you will end up paying MUCH MORE than your original loan amounts in the long run

Tell your Income Where to Go

The pie chart below summarizes where I delegated my earned income during the month of August. Just over 51% of my earned income went toward debt—that includes my minimum monthly payments and extra cash flow. Just below 49% went toward my living expenses (food, rent, etc.), and no money was put into long-term savings this month.

pie chart

Roadblocks: I did some “back to school” aka “back to work” shopping that was a specialty category separate from my allotted spending money for the month, but I kept that expense fairly low (probably lower than the amount I used to allow myself for clothes alone each month…yikes). I also had a credit card bill that was higher than normal because I used it to purchase a couple of plane tickets to head back to the Midwest for a wedding midmonth. We actually had two weddings we wanted to go to in August, but budget and work schedules only allowed for us to attend one :(

August Dollar Hollaaas: No significant increases in income this month, and I am aware that it will probably be that way for the rest of the year…so I am mentally prepared!

Looking Ahead

Up until this point, I have been choosing my focal loan based on its size. In order to reach my short term goals of paying off individual debts quickly (thus reinforcing my efforts with something to celebrate a couple times a year), I have made the smallest loan my focal loan and thrown all extra cash at it at the end of each pay period. Starting in September, I am going to tackle my debt a little differently.

Because my car loan has a very low interest rate, 97% of my minimum monthly payment is going towards principal. In contrast, my Great Lakes Student Loan 3 has remained stagnate for a year, and this is because less than 20% of my minimum monthly payments have been going toward interest. When that happens on such a large loan, it becomes nearly impossible to stay afloat— and more importantly, impossible to get ahead. That is why I have decided to start tackling my largest debt now.

The most crucial piece of keeping momentum to paying off your debts is to find ways to stay motivated. I know that watching the most stubborn loan I have FINALLY start to decrease will be more motivating than anything else, including paying off my car.  Even better, my car debt will continue to decrease at a steady rate as I make only minimum payments—so I will have visible progress across two loans.

Announcement

For more information on how to gain control of your finances check out our “Getting Started” page by clicking the link in the menu bar at the top of the page.

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 Brittany

Brittany’s July Debt Progress Report

The graph below summarizes my short term debt progress across all of my individual loans. The blue column represents my debt totals for individual loans as of July 1, 2014, and the green columns represent my debt totals for individual loans as of July 31, 2014. Looking at the debt progress in this format really emphasizes how paying more than the minimum has a HUGE impact on your debt decrease. My ACS Student Loan is my current focal loan, but during the month of July, I chose to put the majority of my remaining money at the end of the month into savings rather than towards debt. I didn’t make much progress across any of my individual loans because I only paid the minimum requirement.

individual loans

The bar graph below represents the long term and short term progress I have made on my overall debt. The grey bar represents my original total debt amount, the blue bar is my total debt one month ago, and the green bar shows how much debt I have today. Sometimes it’s hard to feel like you are making progress when you look at your BIG number on a month-to-month basis, but looking back to the beginning can remind you how far you have come!

total debt

Having ONE target loan will increase the rate at which you can pay off your debt and decrease the amount of money you will pay towards interest to help you become debt free sooner!

Because I have been paying above the minimum monthly requirement on my focal loan, the percentage being paid towards interest was less than 1% of my total payment this month! In contrast, 58% of the total amount I put towards the loans I am making minimum payments on went towards interest!! My largest loan is being paid off SO SLOWLY, and in July 100% of my monthly minimum went toward interest! You want to pay as much as possible toward the principal because that is what helps speed up the process of eliminating debt. The chart below gives you a visual representation of these numbers.

interest

It might seem like cash flowing money right now is rough, but if you make minimum monthly payments until all of your debt is gone, you will end up paying MUCH MORE than your original loan amounts in the long run.

Tell your Income Where to Go

The pie chart below summarizes where I delegated my earned income during the month of July. Only 21% of my earned income went towards debt—that includes my minimum monthly payments and extra cash flow, another 28% went towards my living expenses (food, rent, etc.), and a whooping 51% was put into my savings account.

pie chart

Roadblocks: The only “roadblock” I came across in July was putting money I really, really, REALLY wanted put towards my focal loan—so that I could completely pay it off—into my savings account instead for an upcoming expense. The good news is that the expense is something my fiancé and I are really, really, REALLY excited about; so in the end it all works out just fine, and more than likely my current focal loan will be gone by the end of August anyway J

July Dollar Holllaaas: July was exciting payment-wise because I received a slight increase in my paychecks to reflect the hours I worked beyond my contracted amount. I used the extra money to help me meet my short term goals more quickly.

I’m sure that you noticed Sam and I took a pretty substantial break over the past month. Big news, a lot of action, and a little bit of relaxation completely took over our summer, and we are excited to fill you in on what has been happening as we get back to work on Fun on a Budget :)

Over the next couple of weeks we will bring you up to speed on how we were able to tackle big life changes and adventures while staying (somewhat) on track this summer, and we will also take a look back at our year in review because Fun on a Budget has reached the ripe old age of 12 months. Happy stinkin’ Birthday to us!!!

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 Brittany

Sam’s June Debt Progress Report

For the next couple months I will be writing my progress reports a little differently. I am paying minimums or a little more than minimums while I save up for my move in July. Therefore, I will be reporting on my student loan progress as well as my moving “savings” progress.

The Debt

The table below summarizes my long term and short term debt progress. In the “Current Debt” column, my totals as of June 1, 2014 have been crossed out and replaced with my debt totals as of June 30, 2014.

Progress Report June Chart

During the month of June I paid a total of:

  • $52.34 toward principle
  • $370.76 toward interest

I currently owe:

  • $17,912.60 less than my original loan amounts
  • $86.29 less than I owed on June 1st

The Savings

The table below summarizes my moving fund progress. I provide information about my monthly savings goals as well as my actual amounts saved up to this point.

Progress Report June Savings Chart
Roadblocks: None this month!

May Dollar Hollaaaaas: Due to a trip in early June with family, I was able to decrease my spending money this month by half! I also have picked up a side job teaching swim lessons, allowing me to take out less spending money.

For more information on starting a personal budget, check out our Getting Started tab at the top of the page.

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Brittany’s June Debt Progress Report

The graph below summarizes my short term debt progress across all of my individual loans. The blue column represents my debt totals for individual loans as of June 1, 2014, and the green columns represent my debt totals for individual loans as of June 30, 2014. Looking at the debt progress in this format really emphasizes how paying more than the minimum has a HUGE impact on your debt decrease. My ACS Student Loan is my current focal loan, and in the month of June its total was nearly split in half by the end of the month, whereas loans I am paying minimums on only decreased by an average of 1%.

individual prgoress

The bar graph below represents the long term and short term progress I have made on my overall debt. The grey bar represents my original total debt amount, the blue bar is my total debt one month ago, and the green bar shows how much debt I have today. Sometimes it’s hard to feel like you are making progress when you look at your BIG number on a month-to-month basis, but looking back to the beginning can remind you how far you have come!

total progress

Having ONE target loan will increase the rate at which you can pay off your debt and decrease the amount of money you will pay towards interest to help you become debt free sooner!

Because I am paying above the minimum monthly requirement on my focal loan, the percentage being paid towards interest actually dipped to 0.4% of my total payment this month! In contrast, 40% of the total amount I put towards the loans I am making minimum payments on went towards interest!! My largest loan is being paid off SO SLOWLY because 86% of my monthly minimum is going toward interest! You want to pay as much as possible toward the principal because that is what helps speed up the process of eliminating debt. The chart below gives you a visual representation of these numbers.

interest comparison

It might seem like cash flowing money right now is rough, but if you make minimum monthly payments until all of your debt is gone, you will end up paying MUCH MORE than your original loan amounts in the long run.

Tell your Income Where to Go

The pie chart below summarizes where I delegated my earned income during the month of June. Fifty percent of my earned income went towards debt—that includes my minimum monthly payments and extra cash flow—and the other 50% went towards my living expenses (food, rent, etc.). I did not delegate any money to long term or short term savings this month.

pie chart

Roadblocks: I experienced a couple of roadblocks during the month of June. The first was that I have SO MUCH free time since the school year ended, and this has really increased the temptations and opportunities to spend more money. Sticking to my bi-weekly allotted cash amount has been more difficult than it was when 8-10 hours of my day were consumed by work. I’m not complaining too much though 😉

The second roadblock I faced was a credit card payment that was about double what I typically pay each month. I had been ordering bridesmaids dresses from companies that offer free returns so that I can try them on, make a judgment, and send them back to get refunded and pretend like the whole thing never happened. It was an excellent plan until it my payment was refunded AFTER I had received my monthly statement. In other words, by the time my credit card payment was due; my current balance was LESS than original statement of money owed for my previous month’s purchases. I always pay the full statement amount because paying interest on a credit card is a complete waste of money. Instead of calling the company and trying to get my refund applied to the previous month’s statement (the statement whose payment was due), I just paid the whole thing off at once knowing that I will have little to nothing to pay in July and won’t have to waste any of my time dealing with the credit card company or worry about potentially earning interest. A roadblock for now, but I know that it will put me a little bit ahead in July.

June Dollar Holllaas: Other than my regular paycheck, there were no dollar hollaaas in June. I think I may be hollering a bit louder on payday though—does that count? 😉

Looking Forward: My goal is to have my ACS Student Loan completely paid off by the end of July. Because I can see my next smallest loan—my car loan—decreasing each month I feel pretty good about it, and I have decided to tackle my biggest loan (and biggest headache) as soon as the ACS is wiped from my slate. After nearly a year of minimum payments that $21,000 loan has only decreased by about $500, and it is MAKING ME FURIOUS. It’s time to grab a life vest and save myself from drowning in those Great Lakes….too much? I’m sorry, I couldn’t help myself.

For more information about how to start making progress on getting out of debt or gaining control of your finances, check out our Getting Started tab at the top of our page.

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 Brittany

Sam’s May Debt Progress Report

For the next couple months I will be writing my progress reports a little differently. I am paying minimums or a little more than minimums while I save up for my move in July. Therefore, I will be reporting on my student loan progress as well as my moving “savings” progress.

The Debt

The table below summarizes my long term and short term debt progress. In the “Current Debt” column, my totals as of May 1, 2014 have been crossed out and replaced with my debt totals as of May 31, 2014.

May 2014 Progress Report Chart

During the month of May I paid a total of:

  • $149.53 toward principle.
  • $273.57 toward interest.

I currently owe:

  • $17,826.31 less than my original loan amounts
  • $97.49 MORE than I owed on May 1st

I can’t give a full explanation of WHY my current balance is higher than last month’s balance (partly because I don’t yet understand all of the details), but what I do know is that most loan companies make it VERY difficult for people to pay extra on their loans, thus keeping them in debt. That is likely why my additional payments seem to have been applied towards interest, and conveniently, there was not and still isn’t an online option to pay extra towards principle.

Applying extra payments towards interest enables the loan companies to make more money off your debt because you will have it for a longer period of time which also means you will accrue and pay them more interest. Therefore, they attempt to convince people that paying extra towards interest is as good as paying towards principle, and will also help you to pay less in the long run. They might even go so far to tell you that’ is the only option. If you don’t pay toward the principle, you’re actually paying interest that you may never actually accrue. Clear as mud, right? I wonder why these loan companies make this so difficulty to explain and understand….

The Savings

The table below summarizes my moving fund progress. I provide information about my monthly savings goals as well as my actual amounts saved up to this point.

May 2014 Savings Progress Chart

Roadblocks: I had a wedding in early May that I used extra spending money for and bought a flight to Florida to look for houses. Those extra expenses prevented me from meeting my savings goal in May.

May Dollar Hollaaaaas: Because we found the most amazing place in Florida, I ended up having to spend a significant amount less on a security deposit and fees from my moving fund in May, leaving me feeling more at ease with my lack to save up enough in May.

For more information on starting a personal budget, check out our Getting Started tab at the top of the page.

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Follow on Bloglovin Sam