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

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Hard Week; Budget Adjustments

A note on this past week: It was tough. Like many of you, I was left reeling by the shooting in Las Vegas. I didn't know anyone who was killed or injured, but the senselessness and horror of what the killer did and our inability to get a handle on gun violence in this country have left me feeling depressed. Getting through the last few days has been like running through taffy: I'm defeated and exhausted. Based on what I saw from you guys via Twitter, I'm not alone. These are difficult times (understatement), and I know many of us are mentally exhausted. Let's take care of ourselves and each other, okay? And let's do what we can, whenever we can, to make the world a better place.

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Moving on to much more mundane things, our financial situation and budget changed a bit this month. Here's why:
  • Fortysomething's health insurance kicked in at his new job. His employer covers his health insurance almost entirely, and thus, I was able to take him off of my insurance. Our total monthly premium dropped by a little over 1/3. Savings!...
The Very Expensive Feline loves savings.
  • ...But. My employer started putting 11.5% of my pay into the state retirement fund. Don't get me wrong: I know this is a good thing in the long run, especially because I get an employer match (although the big caveat here is that I only get this match if I stick with the organization for 25 years, which seems like a stretch, so...) That deduction leaves a big dent in my weekly paycheck, something we definitely feel given the high cost of living around here. Even with the offset in health insurance savings, my take-home pay is still about $140 less per month. 
VEF pondering budgetary changes. She's thinking real hard.
  • We increased our weekly food budget from $150 to $175. The Kiddo is like a bottomless food vacuum. He eats everything, and then he's still hungry. He and Fortysomething lobbied for $25 more per week in the grocery department, and because this whole debt reduction thing will only work if everyone is on board and satiated, I agreed. I'm okay with it as long as we eat all of the food we buy. If there's food waste, it's back to the old budget (says the stern money dictator).

  • We created an "Other" line item in our budget. I got tired of trying (and generally failing) to anticipate every one-time expense at the beginning of each month, so this time around, I allocated $450 to  a general fund that should cover all of our October extras: household items, birthday dinner, new jacket for the Kiddo, etc. I'll need to be careful, though, because my tendency when I have wiggle room is to spend more than I anticipated.
Sometime in the next week, I'll try to do a "How'd We Do" post for September... but frankly, we totally blew the budget and I'm not exactly champing at the bit to give all the details. 

Disease Called Debt


  1. Hopping over from Financially Savvy Saturdays ... beautiful cats :) Great news on that insurance front ... we are currently paying for our own and can I just tell you, $12,000 annual in premiums and we each have a $6,000 deductible ... how in the heck can I justify that? I can't but it needs to be there so ugh. Tempted to tell Hubby to go get a job at Starbucks or something (he's retired) to just float the insurance costs and get that benefit back!

    1. I totally sympathize. I have pre-existing conditions so I appreciate that aspect of Obamacare - being able to get insurance w/o my employer if it comes to that - but I recently checked the Marketplace and the premiums were sooooo high. Our insurance system is not working well. Surely there must be a way to create a system that supports people both physically and financially!

  2. Sorry you had a rough month, financially and otherwise. But sometimes those blown months teach us things for the future. We've found having a big "other" category to become very hard to keep in line. Instead, we budget things like gifts and household items for the year, then divide by 12 for the monthly budget. Our actual "other" category has less than $20/month in it. BTW, VEF may be VE, but she sure is cute!

    1. Thank you! Yes, we'll see how that "Other" category goes this month. If it doesn't work, we'll try something else.

      And it's a darn good thing she's cute... Not only is she expensive, she also loves to party half the night!

  3. Our state pension only returns 4%. Even with the match, I'm less than thrilled with the compulsory contributions.

    Love the added slush fund. Definitely still have to keep tabs, but it's something that's helped me so much with those extra things I don't think to budget for.

    Also, I'm with you on moving through Taffy. Love that description--accurate and one I haven't heard before somehow

    1. Thank you! Yes, I feel totally conflicted about the compulsory retirement fund. What annoys me the most is that I have no say in how that money is managed. Plus, the likelihood that I'll stay with this employer for 25 years is slim at best.

      Here's hoping the slush fund works the way it's supposed to and that we don't go overboard with spending! I'm keeping close tabs.