Quarterly Debt Update and Momentum Month Reflections

Our very first Momentum Month is over, and I am doing some self-reflections on how it went, as well as rolling it into a quarterly debt update.  I will be honest in sharing with you that I am disappointed with the final numbers, but in that disappointment there were many lessons learned, and I want to share them.

What went well?

  •  I managed to cut our grocery bill from $150 down to $120 for three weeks.  This saved us $90 for the month.
  • Our cash-back apps saved us a ton this month, and I cashed out a total of $173!  I also earned an additional 20,000 PC Optimum points on my final grocery shop of the month, leaving me $20 to cash out next week.
  • My husband ended up working a bunch of unexpected overtime, which helped to mitigate the fact that I wasn’t able to pick up shifts.

What didn’t go well? (so many things!)

  • I was only able to pick up 4 hours in the clinic, instead of the three shifts I was hoping for.  It just didn’t work between daycare and the swim lessons I had signed the kids up for.
  • Un-budgeted expenses, to the tune of $320.30.
  • Our tax return, although submitted a month ago, is still not here!
  • Online sales bombed hard this month, and that isn’t typically how that goes.
  • I didn’t anticipate how much of my time the kid’s lessons would take these past two weeks.  We were all so exhausted that it slowed my side hustles to a screeching halt.
  • I was unable to fully replace a shop using Cash-back apps and points.

What did we learn?

3 pay period months DO NOT mean that you have one full check for debt!

I was under the false premise that I would have a full paycheck extra to be working with, but that is not the case.  As it is for the rest of the year, you still have bills to pay for each two week period.  So, our last check of the month went to pay all the bills that are due in the first half of next month, plus refill our cash envelopes.

I follow debtkickinmom on Instagram and Youtube (because I am pretty sure she is my spirit animal) and she put out the perfect response to this, so here it is:

Umm, yep… makes total sense, wish I would have thought of it!  So hopefully you can learn that lesson from the both of us, and not going into your 3 pay-period month thinking you will have more to work with than you do.

All this hard work might not be seen until April.

What I learned the hard way this month, is that finances take awhile to be a true refection of what is actually going on.  So what you do with your finances, will show up one to two months in the future.  This month I was reminded that the true status of our debt after Matt’s accident, didn’t really start to reveal itself fully until a few months after we both had started working again. Inversely, our hard work this month should be reflected more clearly in April and May.

Our normal grocery budget of $150/week is perfect.

If you are following me on facebook or instagram, you will have seen that I upped our grocery budget back up to $150/week.  $120 is NOT enough for us!  I have our groceries pretty much down to an art form now; its this perfect balance of being a challenge, and yet, being enough.  My husband has requested that I NEVER, NEVER, NEVER change it again!  LOL.

I make no promises babe…

The cash back from all my points and apps shouldn’t replace a shop.

This month was revealing in the way that I have been using cash back.  I find that it is better suited to allowing me to snag great stockpile and pantry items when they are on a good deal.  This way, my weekly grocery budget doesn’t change much, but I can buy a larger amount of something when the price is right.  This is especially true for things like fresh chicken, when I see it, I want to be able to buy $50 worth and not dip too deeply into my normal weekly budget to do it.

I am too ambitious in my goal setting…

Goal setting is something new to me, and something that clearly needs some tweaking.  I need to find the balance between being challenging, but also being achievable.  I have a tendency to shoot for the stars, and then being upset when I miss it.  I’m working on this.

Roll with the punches.

Personal finance is this big, beautiful, fluid thing.  Life challenges come and go, and we need to be able to adapt when they do.  With those things come expenses we didn’t see coming, and its okay to just roll with them.

I am really proud of myself this month.  I have this tendency to want to put every extra penny we have towards our debt, and leave no wiggle room at all for life.  This month, I paid only the minimums on everything, so that we could refill our emergency fund.  I hate putting money in our emergency fund, but its necessary.  The whole reason we aren’t making more progress is because I prioritize debt over our emergency fund every single month, and when life hits we aren’t prepared.

I didn’t do that this month, and holy can I ever feel the difference! I believe Dave Ramsey calls this the “Murphy Repellent,” and I am happy to see it nearly topped up again.

Will we do it again?

Absolutely we will!

What will we change?

  • Set fewer, more realistic goals.
  • Use our cash back apps to help keep the grocery budget within reason.  Maybe only decrease it by $20/shop and use cash back to bring us up to $150/week.
  • We will not attempt to replace a shop completely.  It really is not happening.
  • We will again attempt “all the things” selling, side hustle, extra shifts, decreased restaurant budget… ect.

The final numbers are in! We paid:

We paid a total of $477.32 to debt repayments for March.  I have to remind myself that we actually paid a good deal more than that towards debt because we pay both the Van and house payments biweekly.  So if I include those, we paid $3, 267 on top of the $477.32, which starts looking more impressive.

We also took our savings from zero up to $800, which has been a long time coming.

Over 50% of our income this month went to debt and savings, and I refuse to beat myself up about that.  That’s pretty dang awesome!

January and February saw our debt load go up by $600 (because Nikky doesn’t like to put money in the emergency fund…).  We still have a bit to go before we are back to where we were at the end of December, but I am confident that April will see us back on track.

How did you guys make out this month?  Did it go according to plan?  Or did life hit you with come curveballs?  Let me know in the comments below ๐Ÿ™‚

 

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  1. I felt like it was Dave Ramsey ish when you said you paid your emergency fund! I just found your blog and my wife and I have been trying to beat back our debt and figure out how to eat for less for the last two years and just losing every single month. We finally started using the EveryDollar tool several months ago and setting realistic goals is a huge part of it!
    I am encouraged by your progress! You two can do it and youโ€™re not in it alone

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      Thank you for the encouragement Nathan! We are following Dave’s baby steps as we are paying things off. I feel like it helps to have a clear plan of attack, and the baby steps make it really easy. Good luck with your debt repayment as well ๐Ÿ™‚

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