Tag Archives: budget

Sam’s December and January Debt Progress Reports

Debt Icon

Monthly Progress on Individual Debts

The graph below summarizes my short term debt progress during the month of December and January.

  • The blue columns represent my debt totals for individual loans as of December 1, 2014.
  • The pink columns represent my debt totals for individual loans as of January 30, 2015 (two months of debt payoff).

Looking at the debt progress in this format really emphasizes how paying more than the minimum has a HUGE impact on your debt decrease. You can also see that the debts I made minimum payments on only decreased by a relatively small amount.

2015 Jan Progress Report Ind DebtsI made my minimum payment plus additional payment of $350 toward my principal balance in December and $350 in January (see how I did it at the bottom of the report!). This is a new habit and works best when I make my minimum payment as soon as I receive the statement. Most of my minimum payment went toward my principal balance because I had just paid my previous statement 4 days before (I used to wait until the due date to make a payment).

Total Debt Progress

2015 Jan Progress Report Total DebtPaying more than the minimum has made a significant impact toward decreasing my debt.

 Amount Applied towards interest

2015 Jan Progress Report InterestBecause I made two payments just a few days apart, there was not a lot of accrued interest. Typically, almost my entire minimum payment is applied toward interest.

2015 Jan Progress Report Total IncomeRoadblocks: Saving for wedding expenses and building my emergency fund to prepare for a one income household once I get married has stopped me from putting significant amounts of my paychecks toward debt.

December Dollar Hollaaas: My new side job/hobby has created extra income that is strictly dedicated as debt payoff money. $350 in December and $350 in January were applied toward my principal balance. Thank you Beachbody!

For more information on how to gain control of your finances check out our info on Getting Started by clicking the link in the menu bar at the top of the page. How do you stay motivated and track your debt progress? Do you have any tips that help you stay motivated when you aren’t able to put as much as you’d like towards debt because you have other looming expenses?

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*Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on brokeGIRLrich and Simple Cheap Mom*

Tax Time: Refund or No Refund?

Tax Refunds - Should you go BIG or Small

It’s hard to believe that taxes are due in just over a couple months! Last year we discussed our personal–and completely opposite–views and philosophies about tax returns and how much money we count on getting back from the government each year. Here we are one year later, and we both stand strong in our tax-filing approach:

Sam prefers to have more taken out of her paycheck thus receiving a bigger refund each year (find more about Sam’s tax preferences here) while Brittany prefers to walk the line of underpaying her taxes on a monthly basis so that her money is gaining interest in her bank account throughout the year. Read more about her style here.

We want to know what your views are on paying taxes and getting a tax refund each spring. In the great tax refund debate, do you go BIG or do you keep it small?!?!

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Follow on BloglovinSam & Brittany

This post can be found along with other great posts at Alex and Cassie’s Thrifty Thursday Link Up, Frugal Friday, and *Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on brokeGIRLrich and Invest with Vi*

Weekend Survival Guide for the Girl on a Budget

Issue 63

Every Monday we provide you with our past weekend’s agenda to show you how you can continue to do what you love on the weekend while using your common cents!

WSG icon template


Day 6 and 7 pic assI had an exceptionally exciting Friday night ending with an 8:30 bedtime. I enjoyed one drink at my typical Friday afternoon Happy Hour with co-workers, grilled chicken and veggies on the grill with my fiance, and watched a couple episodes of lost (fighting my drooping eyelids the entire time) before heading to bed.

Friday Spending Stats:

  • Happy Hour                                                                             $6.00
  • Dinner (grill at home)                                                             $0.00
  • Continuing my obsession with LOST                                     $0.00

Total Friday Spending: $6.00

Estimated Total Friday Savings: $10.00


WSG Saturday 1.23.15I enjoyed some more R & R, wedding planning, a few errands and a date night. I woke up late to a rainy morning and decided to enjoy some coffee and, of course, LOST while checking some items off my To Do list. I finally decided to pry my booty off the couch to finish my wedding registry at W & S and get my ring fixed. We had some leftovers but after spending most of the day at home (and on the couch), I was itching to get out for dinner. We decided to try a new pizza place and head home for some more LOST…exciting!

Saturday Spending Stats:

  • Morning R & R                                                         $0.00
  • Wedding Registry                                                    $0.00
  • Dinner                                                                      $43.00 (for both of us)
  • Nightlife                                                                   $0.00

Total Saturday Spending: $43.00

Estimated Total Saturday Saving: $30.00


WSG Sunday 1.23.15Meal Prep Sunday! Today is my catch-up-with-as-much-as-possible-before-the-week-starts day. AM dog walk and run, phone meeting with a new coach on my team, breakfast, meal prep, laundry, miscellaneous to do list items, and blogging took up most of my time on Sunday. Enjoyed a meal of leftovers from the previous week and guess what?! Some more LOST!

Sunday Spending Stats:

  • Meals                                                             $0.00
  • Sunday Stuff                                                  $0.00

Total Sunday Spending: $0.00

Estimated Total Sunday Savings: $30.00

Total Estimated Weekend Spending: $49.00

Total Estimated Weekend Savings: $70.00

I enjoyed some much needed R & R after visitors, two weeks of holiday travel chaos, more visitors, an out of town wedding, and a crazy couple of weeks at work…phew! What positive changes have you been making to keep your budget on track on the weekends?!

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Healthy Habits could Help your Budget


In general, I like to think that I make an effort to live a lifestyle that is filled with mostly healthy habits. I like to be comfortably active—which to me means enjoying a peaceful jog on a Saturday morning, sun salutating my way through some relaxing yoga, or playing a semi-competitive tennis match. There is no sprinting or “maxing out” included in my workout game. My typical diet consists of mostly healthy foods (God bless that 80-20 mantra), and I make a conscious effort to keep my mind in a healthy, calm state.

Recently I have taken my typical, healthy habits and kicked them up a notch, and what I noticed—aside from me wanting to eat brownies so badly that I second guess the decision of walking past fallen pieces that are laying on the floor without eating them—is that my day to day budget has fattened up a bit. I mean, thank goodness, right? Whenever I am venturing outside of my comfort zone in the world of diet or fitness, aka not eating dessert every day, in order to achieve a long-term goal that is awesome but very abstract and seems like an empty promise in the beginning, I am glad to take any silver lining I can get!

It’s an everyday battle to eat really healthy and exercise , but knowing that my healthy habits are benefiting my budget and bank account in addition to my body is the motivation I need to help me go that extra mile…when what my belly is begging me to do is eat that extra cupcake!

1. Healthy Smoothie Habit: I can’t get my smoothie from a drive through and know exactly what is in it, so I’m forced to make it at home. I get home from work, put my veggies and fruit in my bullet, blend, and drink that down. Now I have a healthy ritual that also saves me money.smoothie habit

2. Regular Workouts: Workouts are good for your body, but Dang! That is a time consuming process. Get into workout clothes, do workout, cool down/stretch, shower, wet hair problems…When all is said and done, I’ve used up at least an hour of time during which I could have been out spending money.

3. Alcohol Abstinence: Refraining from alcohol during this time frame has probably had the biggest impact on my overall health. I sleep better, keep a routine, my skin looks better, and I’m less bloated. To top it all off, I’m not spending money on overpriced drinks!

4. Sound Sleep and Lots of It: When I’m exercising and eating well, I not only sleep better but am able to maintain a consistent sleep pattern as well. Plus, I need that extra sleep to help my body recover from my own personal version of hell—leg days.  More sleepy time means fewer opportunities for exhaustion-induced mindless spending.

sleepy time

5. Packing Lunch: When you are hard core watching every bite you put in your mouth, the very idea of trying to navigate a restaurant menu or convenience store while in a pinch over your lunch break is too overwhelming to take on. I’d much rather throw some tuna and an apple in a lunch box and call it a day. Clearly, I lead a glamorous life.

6. Drinking Water: If I’m hitting my daily water-chugging goals, there is little room for any other beverages, and that means I have ended my 3 o’clock dates with the Diet Coke vending machine at work.

7. Social Activities: Most healthy social engagements also fall into the low-cost category, so that has been double fist-pumping victory for me lately—Here’s to you hiking, biking, going on walks, and having a picnic.


That 1-2 punch of knowing that I’m helping my body and my bank account when I walk past vending machines, skip that second beer, or hit the sack early really helps me stay on track with my healthy habits. Does anyone else feel the same way, or am I really stretching (pun alert!) to find reasons to stay on that healthy bandwagon? In addition to monetary accomplishments, what else motivates you to stay on track?

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This post is partying with Sarah Titus and Frugal Friday Link Up,  Thrifty Thursday at Living Well Spending Less, and *Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on brokeGIRLrich and Autoimmune-Protocolling Around the World*

Weekend Survival Guide for the Girl on a Budget

Issue 59

Every Monday we provide you with our past weekend’s agenda to show you how you can continue to do what you love on the weekend while using your common cents.12.8 Cover


My ideal Friday evening consists of happy hour, dinner at home, and a night on the couch with James…and that’s EXACTLY what happened! One drink at the bar kept the tab down, an easy pre-planned breakfast-for-dinner made it easy to stay away from the restaurants, and after a long week that couch was calling my name!

12.8 FridayFriday Spending Stats:

  • Scrambled eggs & coffee at home                                       $0.00
  • Packed a lunch to eat at work                                              $0.00
  • One drink at HH                                                                    $7.00
  • Dinner at home                                                                     $0.00
  • Nightlife/Entertainment                                                       $0.00

Total Friday Spending: $7.00

         Estimated Total Friday Savings: $47.00


Saturday morning run, Shakeology for breakfast, coffee, and going through my budget (every week I update my budget to stay on track) kept me busy Saturday morning. Decorating for Christmas was on my mind so I stopped at the one and only Family Dollar to look for some cute but inexpensive options. They had so many cute things! I could have bought 15 different $5-$10 decorations, but I stuck with just ONE that I needed. I enjoyed a couple hours at the pool to spruce up my tan before diving into decorating. The rest of the evening consisted of decorating the courtyard, dinner at home (leftovers), putt putt (brought our own wine in a thermos), ice cream, and a movie at home on netflix. Another wild night for us 😉

12.8 GolfSaturday Spending Stats:

  • Shakeology & Coffee                                                      $0.00
  • Family Dollar                                                                  $4.00
  • Pool Time                                                                        $0.00
  • Decorating                                                                      $0.00
  • Dinner at Home                                                              $0.00
  • Putt Putt                                                                          $22 (for both of us)
  • Ice Cream                                                                        $7.00 (for both of us)
  • Movie at home                                                                $0.00 (Netflix)

Total Saturday Spending: $33.00

Estimated Total Saturday Savings: $55.00


Sunday was full of “weekend stuff” – cleaning, laundry, meal plan & prep. Meal planning is really important to me because it helps me stick to my grocery shopping budget and nutrition plan by preparing all meals throughout the week ahead of time. This makes a big difference when you’re driving home hungry from work and want to stop at Chipotle or just go out to eat. Saves money and calories! I kept a running tab of everything that I was putting in my cart to make sure I stuck to my grocery budget…even had to put a few things back!

12.8 SaturdaySunday Spending Stats:

  • Breakfast/Coffee                                                                                 $0.00
  • Meal Plan & Prep for Week                                                                $0.00
  • Grocery Shopping                                                                              $75 (grocery money)
  • Boring Weekend Stuff (cleaning, laundry, more decorating)           $0.00
  • Dinner at home                                                                                  $0.00

Total Sunday Spending: $0.00

Estimated Total Sunday Savings: $25.00

Total Estimated Weekend Spending: $40.00

Total Estimated Weekend Savings: $127.00

It was nice to spend a relaxing weekend at home getting things done around the house, decorating, and catching up on Beachbody posts and challengers. It feels good to start the week with a  whole list of “to dos” behind you :-)

Christmas is only a few weeks away! Has your weekend spending been impacted by the pending holiday spending?!

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10 Reasons I’m Thankful for my Budget

This holiday season I’ve reflected on many things that I am grateful for, and at first glance a significant amount seemed to be completely unrelated to money. However, when I look a little closer and peel back a layer of the onion that is my life, I see that being on a budget has impacted all areas by really putting a spotlight on what I value most and pushing all the other distractions into the shadows (where they belong).

When you are forced to prioritize your life because you’ve decided to purposefully live on a budget, you start to see things you didn’t see before, increase the magnitude with which you appreciate all that is around you, and learn a whole lot about personal growth. It’s inevitable. My budget has freed me from preoccupations with material items and the opinions of others, and now I have the energy and openness to be Super Duper Supremely GRATEFUL for the best things in life.

Muchas gracias, Budget.  You deserve it.


A night spent grilling out and chatting about life with Sam is supreme quality for me and it’s FREE! For Miles, her dog, it may have felt like torture.

1) Increased Quality Interactions  Because I’m spending less money on things to use and events to go to, much more of my time is spent doing simple things to interact with others. When you only have each other (and sometimes one person’s cute little baby or lovable dog) to entertain you, your own personalities and best qualities have a chance to step up to the plate and make life fun.

2) Decreased Fear of Rejection By nature, I am not the world’s biggest fan of being told no or feeling like I’m inconveniencing others. It’s been a lifelong battle to put myself out there to face the possibility of rejection. A not so wise college friend (who was referring to asking a car rental company to let a group of 23 year old spring breakers rent vans to reach their destination) once uttered a phrase that I replay in my mind to this day when I consider not asking for something I want

“What’s the worst they can do? Say no and laugh in your face?”

That actually is the worst they can do, and really—that’s not so bad. When you are on a budget people are constantly teasing you or reminding you that you can’t do something with them because you “have no money” (which is false, but whatever, people are good at hearing what they want to hear) and this helps thicken your skin and decrease your concern with what other people think of you. If asking for a better deal, decreased price, more product for the price that is being charged is received with a laugh in my face and the big N-O, I can handle it. And if it’s not–score!

3) I’m less wasteful I’m convinced that the footprint I’m leaving behind has become much shallower since I’ve been on a budget. I’ve developed a strong aversion to wasting anything—printing paper, food, gas, paper towels, electricity, water—you name it, I’m trying hard not to waste it. It’s helping my wallet, but it’s good for our planet too.

Little things like my better half taking the time to make me a Saturday breakfast and me taking the time to follow with clean up are actually "big things" to me

Little things like my better half taking the time to make me a Saturday breakfast and me taking the time to follow with clean up are actually “big things” to me

4) “Little Things” become “Big Things” You know the saying, “It’s important to enjoy the little things in life,” but I think that being on a budget has shifted my perspective because those little things carry more weight now. Why shouldn’t they? It’s mega important to say something kind to a person you care about (or a person you don’t), go out of your way to help someone (even if it is just taking out the trash), or simply appreciate a day filled with nice weather. The previously conceived “little things” now make a BIG, fat positive impact on my day :)

5) Control over “Big Life” Stuff  Knowledge is power. Because I know where I stand monetarily each day, I no longer make monetary decisions that will put me in a position that takes away my own personal sense of control. I remember the feelings of complete helplessness I felt a few years ago when my car broke down and I was left with $600 for a down payment to replace it. I had no idea how to make a well-informed and responsible decision in that realm, and it scared me something real good. Never again my friends, never again.


This picture was taken basically in the backyard of our $30 bungalow. Sure, we got the key from a sketchy convenience store below, but I’m still here to tell about it. Nothing beats falling asleep to the waves and drinking coconut water from coconuts you knocked down and chopped open yourselves on your practically private backyard beach.

6) Unique Travel Experiences Because money is an object, I travel differently now. Yes, I have missed out on many 5 star hotels, day trips to the spa, room service orders, fancy rental cars, and all inclusive resorts. Luckily I have gotten to stay in a $30 per night bungalow right on a white Costa Rican beach, spent my days hiking alongside waterfalls, eaten $5 local favorite meals, ridden the metro/bus solo, and spent my nights in the homes of residents in my travel destination and broadened my knowledge of their culture and lifestyle.

7) A Tangible Future Planning for the future is much simpler when I have an awareness of my capabilities. Knowing how much I can afford, the timeline for saving, when a big payment is looming, or when I can make a big life move/expense creates a vision for goals with a clear path. There are fewer questions of “if “and “when” because I know where I am right now, and what I need to do to get to get where I want to go.

8) Less Stress Before I get paid, I look at where I will be spending my money. For recurring payments, I plan for exact amounts and for special occasions I budget a reasonable estimate. I never have to worry about whether or not I will run out of money in order to pay for life’s expenses. Simply put: Because I plan how to spend my money, I don’t have to stress about spending too much money.

Taking advantage of perfect running weather instead of taking advantage of the flavor of the day helps me stay healthier and save money or spending opportunities with others.

Taking advantage of perfect running weather instead of taking advantage of the flavor of the day helps me stay healthier and save money for spending opportunities with others.

9) I’m Healthier Every dollar counts, but so does every hour of sleep and every piece of food you put into that beautiful machine otherwise known as your body. Because my “entertainment” money is a set number, unhealthy options like staying out late for drinks, ice cream shop stops, and convenient drive-thru foods take the backseat to healthier options that are more important to me. Now I save my money for opportunities to enjoy experiences or gifts with my friends and family whereas before I was more likely to indulge in several unhealthy solo spending adventures.

10) A Credible Excuse for Avoidance Sometimes people ask you to do things that you really do not want to do, and then you accept the invitations only to kick yourself in the tush later because you just wasted your time and money on something you don’t prioritize.  Why do that? If I tell people, “Thanks for invitation but that activity is not within my budget”, it’s easier for them to accept my decline because they know that it’s not because of my feelings towards them, it’s because of my own beliefs and preferences when it comes to spending money.

To all my friends out there: It’s not you, it’s me my budget.


If the thought of living life on a budget and devising a plan for gaining control of your finances makes you choke on that turkey leg,  check out our Getting Started page by clicking the link in the menu bar at the top of the page and be sure to check  Sam’s latest post 7 Days to a  Simple Debt Payoff Plan if being in debt has your overwhelmed.


Check out our post and other awesome financial insights on the Saturday Link Up!

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving celebrating all the things you are grateful for with the people you love most! Does anybody have exciting plans?

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Weekend Survival Guide for the Girl on a Budget

Issue 57

Every Monday we provide you with our past weekend’s agenda to show you how you can continue to do what you love on the weekend while using your common cents.


I was so excited to leave work and drive to Orlando to see Brittany! She flew to Orlando to attend a conference so we were able to make it a friend’s trip too! I was soooo hungry driving to Orlando, but between the 21 day fix and my budget, I decided to skip a snack and wait until dinner. We were both tired after long days so we had a little pre dinner coffee in the room and then split an appetizer and sandwich at dinner…delicious! We stopped at Walgreens on the way home to grab a small snack and some $4.00 wine :-)

Brittany Visit Friday picFriday Spending Stats:

  • Car Snack                                                      $0.00 (skipped and waited until I arrived)
  • Coffee                                                            $0.00 (made in hotel room)
  • Cream & sugar for coffee                             $0.00 (snatched some extras from food court)
  • Dinner                                                           $15.00
  • Drinks & Dessert                                           $7.00

 Total Spent on Friday: $22.00

Estimated Total Friday Savings: $23.00


Saturday started off by me sleeping in while Brittany attended the conference in the morning. I picked her up and we decided to wait until we got to my house to eat but I was feeling a little sleepy so I had to stop make a quick pit stop for a coffee at Dunkin. We enjoyed an easy lunch at my house followed by a nice, long, much needed nap. We sat around and enjoyed some girl talk while grilling out and drinking some wine. It was the perfect night to just sit around, eat some healthy home cooked food, and catch up!

Brittany Visit Saturday picSaturday Spending Stats:

  • Breakfast                                                       $0.00 (skipped)
  • Coffee @ Dunkin Donuts                              $2.00
  • Lunch                                                             $0.00
  • Dinner                                                            $0.00
  • Drinks                                                             $8.00

Total Saturday Spending: $10.00

Estimated Saturday Savings: $32.00


Today was the day to experience it all! We started with “yoga fix” followed by our Shakeology and some coffee on the couch. Once we had our caffeine kick, we packed a picnic and some drinks for our day at the beach. We started off our adventure with some kayaking (and some shark watching) which was a great way to experience the water and outdoors! After kayaking we were ready for lunch so we headed to the beach for some good food and people watching. Finishing off our weekend trip was a delicious 21 day fix approved dinner at home and catching up on reality TV.

Brittany Visit Sunday picSunday Spending Stats:

  • Breakfast                                                                            $0.00 (Shakeology at home)
  • Coffee                                                                                  $0.00 at home
  • Kayaking                                                                             $26.50
  • Beach                                                                                  $0.00 (picnic lunch and drinks)
  • Dinner                                                                                 $0.00 (at home)

Total Sunday Spending: $26.50

Estimated Total Sunday Savings: $27.00

Total Estimated Weekend SPENDING:             $59.00

Total Estimated Weekend SAVINGS:           $82.00

I was so excited to show Brittany my new home and experience some of the fun activities around Florida. We were so caught up in hanging out and talking about each others lives that we didn’t have to spend money to make it fun. How did you make your budget work for your life this weekend?

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