Progress Report: Month 1

We operate our household budget and financial planning on a “fiscal month” system where we plan from paycheck to paycheck. For May, this meant April 28th to May 25th. Overall, I am very pleased with the progress made. Here’s how it all shook out:

  • Starting Cash: $200
  • Starting Debt: $88,713
  • Income: $5,711
  • Expenses (Including regular loan payments): $4,208
  • Debt Paid Down (Excluding Interest): $2,166
  • Money Wasted to Loan Interest: $185
  • Ending Debt: $86,547
  • Ending Cash: $200
  • Total Assets: $46,554
  • Total Liabilities: $86,547
  • Net Worth: -$39,993

Predicted student debt at the end of May 2014 (i.e. delta to goal): $17,977

Assessment of Cost and Revenue

I’m going to asses how I did with both income and expenditures in terms of wins and losses this month. Essentially, this is my way of tracking the initiatives I put into action at the beginning of April. Progress to date is shown in the spreadsheet below. Click once to open the spreadsheet, once to zoom in. The Green and Red highlighted cells depict a win or loss, respectively.

























Cell Phone Sales: LOSS – This month I spent $1,915 on inventory, $94 on shipping costs and made $2,958 in sales. This works out to a profit of $949. I sold 15 cell phones which works out to an average profit of $63.24 per unit. Although May far surpassed any previous month in terms of profit, I was still $51 short of the $1,000/mo goal. For May and June I am ignoring Self-Employment taxes in order to contribute more towards the high-interest Civic loan. Once the loan is out of the picture, I will retroactively set aside the money for taxes.

Music Gigs: WIN – I had already anticipated receiving $150 to play bass for a local percussion concert. What I didn’t expect was getting $50 for a volunteer concert with my regular group, the Lone Star Wind Orchestra.

Other: WIN – Rachel got some birthday cash, and I was surprised to be compensated by our region for hosting the UIL Middle School Band contest. I hope this trend of stumbling upon random money continues in the future!











Cell Phone: LOSS – We budgeted $64/mo and shelling out $102 for two new phones killed the monthly balance sheet. Although it was a big unplanned expense, it will ultimately allow for big-time savings in the long run.

Electricity: LOSS – We budgeted $74/mo and came in at $79. The $74 is based on an average year’s spending, so I can expect this to fluctuate upwards a little as we approach the summer’s a/c costs.

Water: WIN – We budgeted $58/mo and spent $56. If we manage to stay below average every month, those savings will add up!

Groceries: WIN – We budgeted $470/mo and comfortably weighed in at $441. This is a big improvement over the $500+ that Rachel and I managed to spend when we were first married.

Misc: LOSS – We budgeted $200/mo which is what we’ve been trending at, but we overspent by $7. The only frivolous expense was a pair of tuxedo suspenders at the Men’s Wearhouse for $38. It was something that I had really been needing, but instead of planning ahead and getting a pair on Amazon for $10-$20, I waited until the day before my high school’s spring concert and left myself no other option. However, it happened to be during a “Buy one get one free” sale, so now I have an extra $38 pair of suspenders I’m trying to sell to make up for this blunder.

Fuel: WIN – We budgeted $257 and came in at $253. I am really looking forward to how much we save in this category after the move in July.

Eating Out: LOSS – I’ll take the blame for this one. When planning for the month, I didn’t figure tip into the cost of Rachel’s birthday dinner at Tokyo One. On top of that, I went out for lunch at work once and Rachel and I grabbed some Sonic on the way to my Lone Star Wind Orchestra concert in Dallas. I think that we’ll be able to maintain a sub-$50 balance from here on out.

Bicycle: LOSS/WIN – This was a loss in the short-term, but a win in the long-term. I budgeted $200/mo for 3 months to find a good bike for $600 or less. I found a heck of a deal this month and had to take advantage of it. The cost of the bicycle plus new tubes and  a tune up was $245. This frees up $355 in my budget for June and July!

Apartment Application Fees: LOSS – You would think that after four years in four different rental units I would remember all the upfront costs of applying for an apartment. This complex happened to charge more fees than I’ve ever paid before for a total hit of $185. It is for times like this that I keep a lot of extra cash in my ING savings accounts. Something always gets overlooked when planning.

All other expenses were fixed monthly payments that remained constant in May.

June Outlook

Revenue Challenge: The biggest challenge for next month will be raising the $3,200 we will need to eliminate the Honda Civic loan once and for all. Rachel has a regular babysitting job already set up with one of the families at her child-care center for a predicted $1,000 gain. Other parents have said they might be calling her at some point in the summer, which would be a bonus. I’ve also challenged myself to make $3,000 selling phones and $150 with a music gig or two. I am excited to get this weight off our shoulders and to free up $182/mo in car payments that will start off a monthly debt snowball payment. When we accomplish this goal, we will reward ourselves with the purchase of a new puppy!

Cost Challenge: In June Rachel and I will travel to Galveston for our 1st anniversary. This will be a much needed vacation, we just need to be careful to keep it as low-cost as possible. I really should have set up an ING account for travel expenses, but it was something I overlooked. I also noticed in a recent mailing that Allstate is going to bump my rental insurance rate by more than $30 this year. I’m going to have to see if I can talk them into lowering this back down. Rental insurance is something that I haven’t thought about since last July when I first got it, so I had not budgeted accordingly and am going to take a hit of $140-$170. Lastly, I need to get the new cell phone plan up and running to start reaping the benefits of the lower rates.

Final Thoughts

Barring the known out-of-budget expenses, my hope for June is to meet all of the revenue and expense goals that we have set for ourselves. We’ll need to bust our butts, but I think it can be done. Also, I’m always looking for new ways to cut costs without drastically affecting our lifestyle. I discovered a fantastic blog that has brilliant ways to just that and have been reading every post since the blog was formed. Check it out at

Here’s the full 24-month outlook:


5 thoughts on “Progress Report: Month 1

  1. Came across your blog from NMHD, great progress this month, good job! In a previous post you mentioned your wife babysits. Maybe she could find more clients by listing her services on I don’t know much about that site but it looks like she has lots of experience which should be helpful.

    • She actually was able to get some reoccurring jobs taking care of the children she was with all school year. Thanks for the link, but it looks like she’s pretty booked up!

  2. I know your faith is important to you but is there any way you can cut the tithe a bit and maybe volunteer at your church in its place? I like that you were inspired by NMHD but remember he made lots of drastic cuts to his spending and I don’t feel like you are making that many. Can you cut eating out? NMHD didn’t for 7 months.

    • Great points, however some things I value higher than getting out of debt. Charitable giving is and never will be convenient, and unless it is made a priority from the start, it’s hard to justify the funds later on. Also, you’re absolutely right about the drastic cuts. I’m trying to find ways to cut down every month, and I know there’s a lot of waste still happening. The dynamic of making decisions with another person who isn’t as much of a tightwad as myself involves compromises that sometimes trades penny-pinching for comfort. The challenge is to achieve my goals while fulfilling her needs as well.

  3. Thanks for responding, great point about the difficulty of making financial decisions with a partner. NMHD was definitely lucky in that regard. Looking forward to a future post.

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