Tag Archives: savings

Weekend Survival Guide for Girl on a Budget

Issue 61

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!12.22.14 Weekend Logo Pic


Begin our travels home for Christmas break! Our ultimate goal on Friday was to make it to James’ mom’s house which was about a 12-13 hours drive. We made a pitstop to pick up a third golden retriever on the way :-) Splitting meals, packing snacks, and bringing water bottles helped keep food costs low.

12.22.14 Snack WeekendFriday Spending Stats:

  • Coffee (lots of it)                                          $10.00 (for both of us)
  • Breakfast at Chik-fil-A                                 $5.00 (for both of us)
  • Snacks from home                                      $0.00
  • Lunch-split Subway sub                             $6.00
  • Dinner at James’ mom’s home                   $0.00

Total Friday Spending: $21.00

Estimated Total Friday Savings: $10.00


Insanity max:30, quality time with family, and a delicious dinner helped up recover from a long drive and prepare for another one :-) My future MIL spoiled us by taking us to an AMAZING restaurant with fresh food and interesting flavor combinations…yum!

12.22.14 5 Dogs WeekendSaturday Spending Stats:

$0.00 thanks to our amazing host (aka “mom”)

Total Saturday Spending: $0.00


Another travel day to visit my family for Christmas. Even less spent on meals and carried our snacks with us. We even got lost and took a scenic detour through DC!

12.22.14 Sleeping Dog Weekend

The amazing standing dog! 11 hours in the car without laying down!

Sunday Spending Stats:

  • Coffee                                                                       $10.00 (what can I say, we love coffee!)
  • Breakfast                                                                  $0.00
  • Snacks                                                                      $0.00
  • Dinner at home with my family                              $0.00 thanks to our hosts/parents

Total Sunday Spending: $10.00

Estimated Total Sunday Savings: $10.00

Total Estimated Weekend Spending: $31.00

Total Estimated Weekend Savings: $20.00

Our coffee addiction (also known as “stay-awake-and-focus-on-driving-for-24-hours-total) contributed to most of our spending over our trip…I have to say…I’m totally OK with that :-) What do you just HAVE to splurge on when you travel?

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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!!

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Weekend Survival Guide for the Girl on a Budget

Issue 47

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.


Barstools.imageFriday, I went on a grocery run immediately after work to get some essentials that would last us through the weekend. I have learned that 4:00 PM on Friday is the golden time for me to go grocery shopping because everybody else thinks it’s a horrible idea. For dinner later that night my fiancé and I enjoyed leftover pizza from our favorite local pizza joint and a couple of beers while we fulfilled our current addiction of binge watching LOST on Netflix—currently halfway through season 3 so no spoilers, please!!! The night was capped with a walk down the street to snatch up a couple of barstools from a neighborhood home that had left them at the end of their driveway for bulk item pick up. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, right? Maybe I should add “after some serious TLC in the form of sanding and staining or painting” to the end of that proverb to make it a little more accurate.

Friday Spending Stats:

  • Grocery store                                                               $24.00
  • Leftover Pizza & Beer for dinner + Netflix                    $0.00
  • “New” Barstools                                                             $0.00

Total Spent on Friday:   $24.00

Estimated Total Friday Savings:   $80.00



saturday dinner.image

photo credit: www.smittenkitchen.com

Saturday morning I woke up bright and early to upload the Saturday Morning Hustle and inhale some oatmeal before heading to volunteer as a “direction giver” (a title I just made up to describe my job of making sure 5th and 6th graders turn at the right spot when they reach an intersection during their race) at a junior high cross country meet. I easily worked in some lunges and running intervals during lulls in the race—so BAM! My workout was completed before 9 AM and for FREE! I spent most of Saturday afternoon prepping and cooking a super unhealthy salad (bacon’s a vegetable, right?), and super delicious dessert to take to a friend’s for dinner that night. After getting home around 10:30 PM, I was too tired to watch the football game I had DVR’d during dinner, so I hit the hay and stayed away from all social media.

Saturday Spending Stats:

  • Cross Country Meet & Interval Workout                   $0.00
  • Dinner at our Friend’s                                                $0.00
  • Husker Football (DVR’d  because of dinner)             $0.00

Total Spent on Saturday:      $0.00

Estimated Total Saturday Savings:      $45.00



smashburger.imageOn Sunday I woke up earlier than my better half and started watching the football game I’d recorded the night before—I’m sure he appreciated that by the time he crawled out of bed and joined me he only had to watch one quarter, but I’ll just keep pretending he loves watching. I cooked up a brunch of (too many cups) coffee and some cheesy scrambled eggs to eat as I watched from the comfort of my own couch.  Following a quick catnap and some boring wedding to-do’s, I went to watch the most handsome man on the planet’s weekly soccer game. While there, I worked on my tan and did some MAJOR catch-up chatting with my lovely Samantha. There is not much I love more than multitasking! By the time the game was over, my stomach was growling, so we hit up SmashBurger on our way home. As you can tell by the photo above, I was not messing around. You can go out to eat while on a budget without feeling guilty or like a failure—it’s usually pretty simple to find little ways to cut unnecessary costs. The sun really took it out of me, so after getting home, I finished up some blog work and hit the hay–bidding farewell to my three favorite days of the week.

Sunday Spending Stats:

  • Husker Football (DVR’d game on my couch)               $0.00
  • Cheesy Breakfast Scramble                                        $0.00
  • Afternoon Entertainment (soccer game)                    $0.00
  • Dinner at SmashBurger                                               $8.00

Total Spent on Sunday:      $8.00

Estimated Total Sunday Savings:   $27.00

Total Estimated Weekend SPENDING:  $32.00

Total Estimated Weekend SAVINGS:  $152.00

I hope everyone had a nice weekend and survived the first day back on the grind :) If you want to make the dessert I made on Saturday you can find the recipe at Smitten Kitchen–I would highly recommend it!!

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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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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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Saving for Retirement? What’s your Style?

What is your Saver Style, and more importantly how will that affect your future?

Take this short quiz to find out–Write your answers on a piece of paper and add up your total at the end to find out if you are a Super Saver or if you’re a Super Spender!

1. I have a 401k through my job and an IRA.
a. I have no idea what you’re talking about.
b. I put 1% in my 401k.
c. I am working to allot 4% of my annual income (my company matches) and put my annual allowance into my IRA.

2. I have long term and short term goals that tell me exactly how much I need to put into savings per month and how much I’d like to have saved in 10 years.
a. I’m too young to need a savings account.
b. I’ll start worrying about that in 5 years.
c. Millionaire by retirement!

3. When I have leftover money at the end of the month, I put a portion of it in my savings account.
a. What money leftover?
b. If there’s money left at the end of the month, I’ll put some of it in my savings account.
c. 10-15% of my annual income goes toward retirement!

4. When I hear people talk about savings, I feel…
a. Bored.
b. Interested but clueless.
c. Like I’m on track.

5. When I think about a savings account, I want to drink…
a. A magic potion that will create a savings account for me when I retire.
b. A bottle of wine (or two).
c. A pot of coffee – let’s start this thing now!

If you answered mostly A’s: Don’t worry…you’re not alone! So many young, single women are just starting jobs and trying to stand on their own two feet. No matter what your current income, you’ll eventually need to start saving for the future. What better time to learn than now?! Once you increase your knowledge about savings plans, it may be more attainable than you think! Congratulations for getting out of debt or never having debt at this point in your life!

Crippled Chart
If you answered mostly B’s: It’s crossed your mind but you’re not sure where to go from here. Do some research about pre-tax retirement investments to get knowledgeable and excited about your financial future! Congratulations for getting out of debt or never having debt at this point in your life! All you have to focus on now is saving to be a millionaire in your 80’s!

Motivated without a Map chart

If you answered mostly C’s: You’re totally on track to having the most amazing and care-free retirement of all time! Continue reading up on ways to invest and stay strong on your current path. Congratulations for getting out of debt or never having debt at this point in your life!

Super Saver Chart*These are ONLY amounts saved from your 401k and does not include other possible investments. The recommended percentage of your income to contribute toward retirement is 15%. These amounts are calculated based on the average household income in the US ($50,000) and a typical percentage contributed annually (4% that you contribute and 4% that your employer matches). What to do with the other 11% that you should contribute toward retirement? Look for our “Retirement Investment Options” post coming soon.

What it all means: Notice that starting 10 years earlier can earn you $436,483 more! I am aware that there are SEVERAL factors to contribute to starting your savings plan later in life and contributing less than 4% of your annual income. The main point of this post is to show you that, if you have the capability of beginning a savings account sooner rather than later, it will pay off BIG in the end!

Tax Tip: The amount of money taken out for taxes from your lump sum depend on the tax bracket you’re in when you need that money for retirement. For example, when you retire and no longer have an income from a job, your tax bracket may be significantly lower than when you are working and contributing toward your 401k.

401k: A contribution plan where an employee can make contributions from his or her paycheck either before or after-tax, depending on the options offered in the plan.

Roth IRA: An individual retirement account allowing a person to set aside after-tax income up to a specified amount each year (currently $5,500 annually). Both earnings on the account and withdrawals after age 59½ are tax-free.
*There are other types of IRA’s that allow a variety of annual contribution levels and options.

Retirement Meme


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

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