November Progress to Goals

The results for November are in and it looks like a pretty successful month. Despite the purchase of a new box spring, a couple of sweaters to brace for the colder weather, and our part of the Thanksgiving potluck, we still managed to keep our absolute expenses under 60% and our flex expenses around 11%.

november-expenses

November was a great month for income. We earned more than $800 in side hustles, without putting forth a huge amount of effort. We sold a few items from our tech decluttering project, we cashed out a few unwanted gift cards at CardPool, and we spent just 2 afternoons doing some merchandising jobs. We put ALL of our side hustle income into savings AND…wait for it…

We paid off another student loan!

This is me paying off my 2nd student loan of the year. Woohoo!!
This is me paying off my 2nd student loan of the year. Woohoo!!

We paid the smallest of my student loans off in May and made a promise to have the 2nd smallest paid off by November. I missed my deadline by a day but the check went in the mail this morning. Our goal is to pay off the next two loans in 2017 and spend all of 2018 aggressively tackling the big one. After reading a post last week called How I Crushed My Five-Figure Student Debt on a $25k Salary, I took a look at Public Service Loan Forgiveness. I’ve been working full-time for a non-profit for the past 6 years but have only been paying on my student loans for 4. To qualify, I’d have to remain in full-time employment with a non-profit for the next 6 years. While this is a great option for some, it wasn’t a good fit for me. Like the author of the post, I’d rather be frugal and self-sacrificing and kick the debt to the curb as quickly as possible.

November was also the final month of our current budget before we transition to a new income and expense structure. For the past 11 months we’ve made an attempt to live on 50% of our income while allocating the remainder to savings and travel. Overall, we didn’t do too bad. Over the 11 month period, we managed to keep our living expenses (or absolute expenses) around 56% of our income. This allowed us to save 25% and put 9% toward travel. Our flex expenses were larger than we anticipated but included two big purchases for my mom earlier in the year – a new washer and gravel for the driveway.

annual-spending

I’m pretty happy with the results of our experiment. Since January, we’ve had a net income of approximately $35,200. From that we paid off $4,020 in student loans, saved $8,800, gave $1,700 to help others in need, and spent just a little under $3,200 visiting 10 states (including our new home state of TN). Not a bad year for two minimalists who started out with no particular goal in mind except just to see if we could do it. Living on less has taught us a lot though and I plan to reflect on those lessons in another post sometime soon.

Today we started our un-jobbing adventure (and the launch of my self-imposed ban on visiting retail stores for the month). The new job is no different than the old one, except that I’m wearing only one hat now…and working a lot less. I have only 13 work days scheduled for this month (yay!). This will be the first time in a very long time that I’ve had so many unscripted days to look forward to. What will we do with all that time? Don’t worry, we have a few ideas…but you’ll have to stay tuned to find out what they are 🙂

September Progress to Goals

September was our first month in the new apartment – our first month to incorporate the 39% increase in rent into our budget. I was pretty hopeful that we’d find a way to stay on task with our savings goals despite the higher rent but I had no idea just how well this month actually went until I sat down tonight with my spreadsheet. Take a look:

september-expenses

We came really close to keeping our absolute expenses at 50% and we managed to put 35% of this month’s income into savings. We didn’t do anything extraordinary as far as reducing expenses goes. In fact, we dined out four times this month (a highly unusual occurrence for us) and we spent about $100 helping my niece get set up in her new place. We also decided to add Hulu back into our entertainment line-up. They were offering $5.99/month for a year and well, we wanted to watch season 1 of Blindspot.

I think the biggest contributing factor was that our income was up quite a bit. We got our full deposit back from the old apartment and had almost $700 in side-hustle income. We also opened a new bank account (specifically to use as a travel savings account) and earned a $300 bonus for meeting their conditions.

Speaking of travel…

Tomorrow we leave for our trip to New York and Washington, DC. I’m pretty excited. It’s been a while since we’ve been on a long vacation and this one will be a 9-day immersion into history, letterboxes, cityscapes, and fall colors. I’m not sure how much time I’ll spend online (hopefully very little) but we will be posting on-the-go to our Facebook and Instagram pages. We invite you to follow along.