A Story About Paying Off Debt and the Obstacles Along the Way

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Adjusting The Budget For Summer + Covid Times

Back in February, I shared that I'm trying a new, seasonal approach to budgeting based on our distinct spending habits throughout the year: Boring Season (January - April), when our earnings roughly equal our spending; Bonus Season (May - August), when our income exceeds expenses, thanks in large part to Fortysomething's bonuses; and Celebration Season (September - December), when we budget to accommodate two birthdays, two major holidays, and an anniversary.

I'm not sure this framework will hold up during Covid Times. First of all, we have yet to hear about bonuses, and we expect that even if they do materialize, they'll be a fraction of what they were last year. Second, my institution is now actively discussing furloughs, pay cuts, and layoffs, so will I even have a job by the end of the summer? And if I do, what will my paycheck look like? Third, I don't know what's going to happen with Fortysomething's job, either. 

But I'm making a budget anyway based on the information we have right now. We'll adjust later if we have to.

A few things to note:

(1) Our income has changed now that the Kiddo and I are on Fortysomething's health insurance plan. The damage is not as bad as I'd anticipated because the premiums are a pre-tax deduction. But still, there's less coming in. (I don't explicitly include the health insurance premium in the budget because it comes straight out of the paycheck. I also don't include retirement contributions. Yup, we're still making them.)

(2) Our rent has decreased by $50/month.

(3) We've made some adjustments to our electric bill and subscriptions. We try to limit A/C use, but we know we'll be turning it on periodically now that the weather's getting warmer (I have terrible allergies, so simply opening up the windows for some free cool air isn't always an option). $250/month is probably an overestimate, but I'm leaving some wiggle room there. We've also signed up for a few more subscriptions (e.g., Hulu, Kindle Unlimited) because we're spending more time at home.

(4) The new monthly payment for the refinanced student loan is $366. We'd like to pay more than this, but for now, we'll go with the minimum. We're prioritizing saving over debt repayment.

(5) Although we anticipate bringing in some additional money over the summer, it's hard to know how much that will be. That's why I've put a zero in the "Savings" line below. Fortysomething should (???) receive some sort of bonus at some point this summer. Furthermore, he'll be earning some extra cash through his contract gig. We plan to funnel almost all of the extra earnings into our emergency fund, with the exception of a few treats here and there.

A bit of good news for us: We were able to contribute to the emergency fund in May because our loan refinance meant that we didn't owe anything this month. Payments start back up in June.

What about you? Have you had to make any budgetary adjustments lately? How has Covid affected how you spend and save your money?

May - August Monthly Budget:



  1. Some days I feel completely unable to plan ahead or budget in any sensible way, and it's really frustrating. I've had double line items in the budget sheet for JB's education for months because will we have daycare? Will it be safe? Or will we just need to keep paying their teacher for lessons?

    I JUST realized that it's May and our home insurance was due *facepalm*. I'm working on a new budgeting spreadsheet this year so it's not totally complete, I am going to get to work filling it out some more, now.

  2. I haven't quite got a handle on what June, July, and August will look like yet. I do know our electric will creep up with the AC and groceries are likely going to continue to be a roller coaster ride.

    Since *all this* started, we beefed up our grocery category and household/home repair category. Plus, we're giving more each month and trying to purposefully order takeout.

    I definitely need to think about what I expect the next month or two to look like.

  3. I changed jobs for the better right before this happened, yet at the same time my budgeting ability went a bit haywire. We are spending almost nothing on transportation and a bit more on groceries with my son home, but the grocery bills are not spread out like we need them to be so we are all over the place. I can track expenses and anticipate each month, but we can't seem to address our debt at the magnitude I hoped. I also have severe cognitive dissonance and survivor guilt watching so many people in America descending into cruel debt of the kind we can finally, if modestly, address.

    1. I was so happy to hear about your new job. How is it?

      I think survivor guilt is a totally normal reaction. I'm feeling it, too. Sigh. I still haven't wrapped my head around just how bad all of this really is.

  4. I'm sorry you both are dealing with work uncertainty, with some higher insurance premiums, to boot. Glad to hear the rent went down a bit though. Yay?

    Our budget's very different now that we cook all our meals and there's no daycare. Good for the bottom line, very, very hard on us work-wise & psychologically. But less spending. Yay?

    I hope all the work stuff falls into place & that you all get some good bonuses as a surprise. Fingers crossed, friend.

  5. Agree that it's hard to project for the summer given the pandemic. On our end, all of our income streams are economy-dependent -- rental real estate, vacation real estate, consulting, paper assets. I'm focusing on the consulting b/c that feels most under my control -- developing new services, reaching out even more to my contacts. Everything else we'll be tracking and holding reserves for.

  6. I keep hoping things will get better. But as each day goes by it looks like things are starting to head backwards again. I hope y'all are doing well this summer and that the bonuses will come through for you!

  7. I must say that I am not planning anything until the New Year ... One thing I’ve found is that having that well stocked emergency fund removes a lot of the worries that other people presumably have. We don’t have to worry about how to pay the bills or buy food etc if for whatever reason I stop getting paid, and it means we can remain calmer and not as stressed about the situation, financially at least.