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

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Ushering Out August: An 8 Out Of 10

August was almost exactly as I expected it would be: exceptionally busy, a little boring - yes, apparently you can be busy AND bored at the same time! - and tight on cash. The Kiddo started at his new school. (Verdict so far: he likes it. This is the first year he travels from class to class each hour, and I think he's relishing the independence and big kid-ness of it all.) Fortysomething launched into his new job. (Verdict so far: it's exhausting - he's a teacher, so no surprise there - but he loves it.) As for me, work alternated between slow as molasses and 200 miles per hour. There's really no in-between with my gig. 

August views
Outside of work insanity, I struggled a bit with boredom this month. I'm used to filling my thumb-twiddling time with going out to eat or activities that have an entrance fee. I'm still acclimating to evenings and weekends where we're just hanging out at home, taking walks, or making a mess in the kitchen. In August, I realized that my tendency (one shared by many people, I think) is to combat feelings of emotional discomfort by buying STUFF.

For me, it's not so much physical stuff. I've never been that into material possessions. Rather, I am obsessed with THINGS TO DO, which frequently require money, and I often judge myself based on how much I've done. I have serious FOMO when it comes to experiences. Yet... How often do we just sit and BE? Not often, if you're anything like me. I'm sensing this will be an area of growth throughout our debt reduction journey.

Bottom line? Not spending was harder than I expected. Aside from one impulsive restaurant meal, though (more details below), we managed to hold back.


Our complete budget is shown at the end of the post, for anyone wanting to compare our intentions with what actually happened.

Where we were right on the money: We came in at $36 under budget this month, despite our payday constraints. I credit this to careful planning and penny-pinching. Particularly rewarding: we filled up at the gas tank only once, spent little on the Very Expensive Feline, and paid far less for school supplies and new school clothes than I'd anticipated. The school clothes were a big win for me. Thanks to a combination of thrift shopping and Target deals, the growing-like-a-weed Kiddo snagged several almost-new shirts, new pants, and a new pair of shoes for less than $80. 

Where we went over: The only categories in which we overspent were Groceries (we exceeded by 77 cents... I'm not even going to go there, because this mama's tired and a 77 cent excess is close enough) and Unexpected Expenses. Our August unexpected expenses included medication for a cold that refused to let up, a doctor's office visit, and some cleaning supplies. But I can't blame the excess $12 on any of that. No... What happened was that we made a last-minute decision on a Saturday afternoon to walk downtown, grab veggie sushi at our favorite restaurant, and chase it all down with some coffee. I figured, Hey, we have all this money we haven't spent! Let's go have a good time! The sushi was well worth it. I don't regret that. The coffee was a total waste - overpriced and overrated. Lesson learned. 

This sushi was worth it.


We threw $1600 at debt this monthand reduced our debt load to $73,939. Nothing monumental, but hey, we stuck to the plan. If you're interested in the details, check out the link to The Current Debt at the top of the page.
SAVINGS: We budgeted $150 for savings but were able to ramp that up to $200 thanks to savings in other areas. The savings/emergency account now sits at $1298.

I'd give us an 8 out of 10 for August budgeting and finances. For the most part, we did what we said we were going to do and kept our eyes on the long-term prize. I think, though, that we need to be a little more realistic about going out to eat. I know a lot of frugal people eschew restaurants and kind of consider it a badge of honor, and for the most part I'm on board with that... It's all too easy to overspend when going out. But we enjoy having a meal together and eating food we normally don't make at home. We also enjoy not going bonkers. Perhaps we need to incorporate one restaurant meal a month into the budget.


Financial: Both Fortysomething and I have some side hustles lined up! My goal is to put everything I make into our savings account and set it aside for holiday air travel and gifts for family. Fortysomething's extra earnings will also go into savings, but we plan to use that to purchase new tires for our car, something we've put off for months. I also want to make a list of items that we need/want for the winter - like new boots and ice spikes for icy days - and start saving for those. You can find our current budget at the top of the page... or just click here.

Personal: I slowly ramped up my running in August, and I plan to continue doing so in September. Another goal: figure out how to juggle my day job and my side hustle without turning into the world's crankiest human being. Lastly, I'd like to find a hobby outside of work and running to which I can devote my energy and time.

My favorite park for running.

 August Budget: The Plan vs. Reality

State Farm
Student loans and credit cards
Thousand Trails
Gas in car
Netflix + Hulu
Sam School Clothes
School Supplies
Total Expenses


  1. Fantastic job with August! When we started renting vs owning a house I found I was doing the same thing with all the extra time. I would go to one grocery store on Saturday and then drive to another on Sunday just to waste time. Both of these trips always included breakfast out and sometimes lunch just to waste time. my DH works in TX and comes home for a weekend every 4-6 months and that when our expenses skyrocket but now,(that I am older), I have given myself permission to stay home and just putter,read or play IPad games all weekend long,(I still refuse to turn the TV on until 6pm). Am I bored? Pretty much! But I can take a nap both weekend days without guilt just to pass the time.

    1. I definitely think I need to give myself more time to putter and nap! I don't know why, but I feel all this pressure to go go go and do as much as possible during every free minute. I keep telling myself that a) nobody can do that and b) it's probably not healthy. ;-)

  2. You did fantastic in August! Great score on the kiddos clothes. Bargain hunting is a huge help when it comes to saving money. Have you thought about adding a little blow money to your budget? It doesn't need to be a lot but I think having a little "guilt-free spending money" is also important for the long run.

    1. This is a good idea! We've definitely thought of adding a little splurge money to the budget. In fact, we tried it a few months ago. Oddly, instead of keeping us on track, we ended up overspending (we apparently have no self-discipline). This time around, we'll wait until the end of the month, take out the unused Unexpected Expenses money in cash, and do something fun. Next month and November involve birthdays, so we'll incorporate birthday festivities into the budget.

  3. Great job on the budget last month! I would definitely add one restaurant meal a month. A little splurge now and then can help you from feeling too constricted.

  4. Thanks, Gary! :-) I agree with you on the restaurant meal. That sushi dinner was well worth it... Delicious, and we all enjoyed it (we'll just skip the coffee next time).

  5. Woo! Way to go. Sometimes just sticking to the plan and hitting the goals doesn't seem like the most exciting thing, but it's how stuff gets done!

  6. We're in our 19th month of not doing much outside the home, and I'm still bored! Honestly, the downtime really is nice, but I'm looking forward to building fun back into our budget. Even just doing one adventure each month would be a nice treat after paying off debt. Good work on the budget this month!

    1. Honestly, it's a relief to know that I am not the only one suffering from debt reduction-related boredom! Thanks, and good luck to you as well. We've got this!

  7. A $1600 debt reduction is nothing to sneeze at! Congrats on that and for keeping the impulse spending under control. Boring or not, you rocked it.

    1. Thanks so much! Yes, I feel like we were pretty dialed in, and that feels good now (in retrospect).

  8. Great work! I'm not only impressed by your $1,600 payment, I also admire your work to ramp up running. I need to do something similar. Side note: That sushi looks incredible! My husband is a vegetarian, and his options are usually more limited.

    1. I love running so much. I injured myself back in February (I'd convinced myself that the dangers of overtraining didn't apply to me...) and it's been a looooong road back. I went 45 minutes this past weekend, though, and had a 30 minute run yesterday. Progress!