Where I’m Starting From: Honey’s Story

Hello. I'm Honey Smith. I'm thrilled to be a part of the GRS community, though of course a little embarrassed that it's essentially as an object lesson to others of what not to do. However, I do hope that everyone on the site learns something along with me.

For those of you who are financially comfortable (or close to it), those lessons may be about empathy or discovering how a significant percentage of people in their 20s and 30s with lots of formal education are struggling in these days of student loans. For those of you living with student debt, hopefully we learn some ways to get back on track together.

Where I'm Starting From
As I mentioned in my previous post, my husband Jake and I owe a combined total of over $230,000 (about $100,000 apiece in student loans and $30,000 in credit card debt — I gave initial totals there but will provide a debt update in another post).

Many of the comments said that the information about our debts was meaningless without a list of our income/expenses. Since we're newly married, all the historical data I have easily available pertains to me. In addition, we haven't combined finances yet, and Jake started his business a year ago. This means that I'm still soliciting and compiling information about his situation that will be meaningful, and of course we know that the first couple of years of his new business are not indicative of how things were when he had a big firm job (or how we hope things will be once he grows his current business some more), so today's post will focus on my situation.

How I Budget
The Reckoning goes back to summer 2008, when we moved in together. I was reading GRS by this time as well, in addition to several other personal finance blogs. (I currently follow about 25 in this category.) While my student-self budget strategy was “don't spend a bunch of money on crap,” I quickly realized once I got my first “real” full-time job that I'd have to be more strategic and forward-thinking if I wanted to make any headway on my debts.

So, in addition to the Reckoning, I started a budget using an Excel document that I created and have since adapted to a Googledoc. I start a new document each year so I can track annual totals.

Here's how the Googledoc is organized:

  • Register Tab. This is where I keep track of the actual transactions in my checking account (since Mint and my bank's website don't make it possible to play with the numbers or track pending payments that haven't hit yet).
  • Credit Card Payoff Tab. This is where I list out finance charges, charges I make, and payments. This tab is there because the website for my card with the balance only shows one statement period at a time; now that I have Mint and can view total historical data at a glance, I may start using that for this purpose. As I've mentioned, I actually have three credit cards but only track one this way; one of the others has Jake's balance and he is just paying it off, not making additional charges, and the third card is for everyday purchases and is paid off in full every month. However, it's easy enough to create a tab showcasing multiple accounts if you have them.
  • Irregular Expenses Tab. This has columns for the annual amount of the expense, a column showing the annual amount divided by 12 (if I were to save on a per-month basis for irregular expenses, which I haven't been able to implement yet but hope to soon), and a column indicating what time of year the expense generally occurs in, if it's not monthly but is predictable. Both the annual and the “divided by 12” columns show the sum of irregular expenses for each category.
  • Monthly Budget/Paycheck Tabs. There is a tab for each month that shows when I get paid, what deductions come out of each paycheck (so I can see gross and net at a glance), and what my anticipated expenses are for each paycheck. As those expenses are taken care of, I highlight the cell so I can see what's left.

My Irregular Expenses
The list below are estimates based on last year's amounts. Unless otherwise noted, the amount listed reflects just my share — even for things like auto insurance that will be joint going forward, since we haven't combined finances yet and I also don't have all the data about his costs.

  • Auto insurance: $500 (twice a year, January and July)
  • Auto expenses (repair/maintenance): $250
  • Auto registration: $42
  • Hair care (service): $600
  • Hair care (product): $300
  • Gifts: $1000
  • Health care (copays, etc): $1000
  • Vet expenses (pets): $2300 Note: wow, I didn't remember we paid so much last year. This, however, is a joint expense so last year I would have paid half.
  • Mensa annual dues: $60
  • Sorority alum club annual dues: $55
  • AAA Plus annual dues: $95
  • Long term care insurance: $292
  • Total: $5344

On target so far this year: auto insurance, auto registration, hair care (service), hair care (product), gifts, health care, mensa and sorority dues, AAA dues, and long-term care insurance. Under target: auto repair/maintenance and vet expenses (as I recall all three animals had dentals last year), though obviously this can change at any time. No categories over target at this time.

My Regular Expenses
Like the irregular expenses, the amount listed reflects only my share for things, even if they are a joint expense. Accordingly, the pet, grocery, netflix, internet, rent, satellite cable, renter's insurance, and electricity categories should be doubled if you want to get an idea of our joint costs.

  • Gas, auto: $45
  • Pet expenses: $50
  • Grocery/household: $300
  • Cell phone: $68
  • Massage membership: $65
  • Netflix: $8
  • Internet: $32.50
  • Withdrawal/cash: $40
  • Life insurance/supplemental disability: $96
  • Rent: $488
  • Student loan 1: $387
  • Student loan 2: $80
  • Satellite TV: $37
  • Renter's insurance: $9
  • Electricity: fluctuates throughout the year, in summer $100
  • Total: $1805.50

My Income
With my salaried job, I net $2000 per month (after taxes, 403(b) contribution, health/vision/dental, supplemental short-term disability, and parking), so you can see that I end up with about $200 or so to put toward my credit card debt using my regular salary. However, while my regular expenses do come in just under my regular income, they don't get me very far towards debt repayment or leave anything over for irregular expenses. And you'll also notice that this budget doesn't include eating out, like, ever, or any other entertainment expenses outside of TV.

There are, of course, two months a year where I get a third paycheck, which isn't reflected here and which I usually bank for irregular expenses. Also not listed is irregular income from freelance work, our Amazon and Half.com stores (we're purging our Stuff), tax returns, and birthday/holiday gifts from my generous dad. In 2011 my irregular expenses were $5003 and my irregular income was $5450, for example.

However, while in the past things have worked out so I could cover everything, it's always been a near thing. A not-guaranteed thing that makes me very nervous. Especially since I suspect tax refunds will be a thing of the past now that Jake doesn't have automatic withholding and cash gifts from my dad will be a thing of the past now that I'm married.

Where Would You Start?
To me, the satellite television (for a small win, though I'd replace it with Hulu plus) and my hair service are obvious first targets. I had a haircut on Friday and called earlier in the week to change the cut-and-color to just a cut. This brought me from $150 or so for a cut-and-color to $62 for just the cut, so that is a good start (both totals include tip). I also recently discovered a new product routine that will shave some costs in that category, though those will take some time to manifest.

What else would you do? If this were your budget, where would you start to make imrovements? Are there any line-items that you'd like more information on (in the comments or another post)?

More about...Budgeting

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AC
AC
7 years ago

Some of the details are not quite clear to me. I also want to know how you get satellite TV for so cheap! I would definitely get rid of the massage service and talk to an independent insurance agent about cheaper car insurance. Also, the life insurance seems kind of high. You might want also want to shop around to see if you can cut that in half. Finally, have you looked into consolidating your student loans? That can save you a great deal as well if you can do that. All in all, that should put about another $300… Read more »

Tom
Tom
7 years ago
Reply to  AC

I second everything AC says. In fact, I would say drop life insurance all together. You didn’t mention dependents, and your husband has the ability to earn for himself, so essentially it’s like your playing the lottery for $96 a month.

TB at BlueCollarWorkman
TB at BlueCollarWorkman
7 years ago
Reply to  AC

Agree, the massage membership has got to go, that’s what a spouse is for, right?

Sheryl
Sheryl
7 years ago

The massage membership could go either way for me. If it’s with an RMT for legitimate health concerns, I’d say keep it as one massage a month can easily run $50 or more. If it’s not medically necessary I would definitely look at that as a place to cut back.

Honey Smith
Honey Smith
7 years ago
Reply to  AC

The satellite cable total is about $86, that is a joint expense so only half is reflected here. I have been trying to get him to cancel this FOREVER (it’s in his name), but so far no dice. I think I didn’t explain the auto insurance clearly – $500 is the total for the year, and so I pay $250 or so every six months. As far as I’m aware, that’s a great rate. My loans are consolidated (in fact, I just consolidated the smaller one into the bigger one, though I’m not sure when that’s going to go through).

Brenton
Brenton
7 years ago
Reply to  Honey Smith

Seems like the obvious answer would be to have the hubby pay the entire cable TV bill.

Pamela Jane
Pamela Jane
7 years ago
Reply to  Brenton

I recently cancelled my second phone-fax line with Verizon, saving about $27/mo, plus the cost of a new fax (ours broke) and cartridges for the fax, and got an on-line fax service for $90./year.

Kym
Kym
7 years ago
Reply to  Honey Smith

Honey-
One thing I do not see listed in your regular expenses is your credit card payments. That would be even more money going out of your pocket, correct? Someone commented last night that your expenses total around 106%, but I think that percentage should be even higher when including CC payments.

Lance @ Money Life and More
Lance @ Money Life and More
7 years ago

Congrats on getting started. I imagine you’ll get some comments on how you can cut things back even further by eliminating expenses that some see as outrageous considering your situation. Just keep in mind not everyone is in your shoes. My girlfriend has a ton of student debt too so I realize you still need to live a little. Sad thing is $200 extra a month won’t get your debt paid off any fast. Good job on landing the GRS staff writing gig and I’m sure you’re looking for some more side income as well. Best of luck and try… Read more »

ShackleMeNot
ShackleMeNot
7 years ago

Let’s do some math:

$200/mo = $2400/yr

$2400 * 5 years = $12,000

Yes, it’s only a dent, but it’s a DENT.

$1 put toward debt is one less dollar you owe. There is no trivial amount of money when you are serious about retiring debt.

David
David
7 years ago
Reply to  ShackleMeNot

Let’s do the REST of the math:

$230,000 / $2,400 a year ~ 95 years

95 years, at the current rate, to pay off all debt. While I agree you have to chip away at a mountain of debt, these numbers are clearly not going to work in her lifetime.

She needs to get this number (95 years) down, and the only way to get it down to a point where she’s debt free before she dies is to increase her income.

I’m guessing that they are betting on her husband’s business taking off.

Michelle
Michelle
7 years ago
Reply to  David

Honey certainly needs to budget more for debt repayment. However, it’s also important to remember that all federal student loans are forgiven after 25 years of repayment.

She’s still got a huge chunk of credit card debt, but at least the federal chunk of her student loans will go away after 25 years.

David
David
7 years ago
Reply to  David

Seriously?

Hell, in that case pay the absolute minimum and be off the hook after 25 years. Irresponsible? Yes. Smartest course? Indeed.

I used to be indifferent to those decrying student loans, because I thought it was the type of debt that couldn’t be written off (even after declaring bankruptcy), so your fellow citizens wouldn’t be stuck with the bill. But if this is the case, then I agree, stop giving out student loans!

jim
jim
7 years ago
Reply to  David

I would assume that a large chunk of her loans are not federal loans. But lets say all her loans are federal and she makes the monthly payments of $387 and $80 for the next 25 years. That would be about $140k total repayment on $100k in debt. So she’d be paying the $100k principal plus $40k over those 25 years. Thats really a good deal as far as interest but its not a free ride.

Honey Smith
Honey Smith
7 years ago
Reply to  David

All my loans are federal loans. He has some private loans because his graduate education was spread out over 3 years whereas mine was spread out over 8.

Michelle
Michelle
7 years ago
Reply to  David

Like it or not, Congress set up the Federal Student Loan program. They give out Grad PLUS loans with a 7.9% interest rate (ouch!), but provide the option of having it forgiven after 25 years. If you ask to have your loan balance forgiven, then it counts on your tax returns as income that year. Apparently Congress set up the student loan program this way because they were having trouble attracting qualified candidates for public sector jobs that require advanced degrees but pay next to nothing. (For example, public defenders only have an annual salary of 40K even though they… Read more »

Anne Cross
Anne Cross
7 years ago
Reply to  David

She must be doing Income Based Repayment to only be paying $460 per month towards $100k of loans. And if she’s making so little that her payment is so low, my guess is that she’s working for a non-profit or public sector job, which further means that if she stays at the same job for ten years and pays her IBR minimum, the remaining debt will be forgiven at the end of those ten years of payment. If it were me, I’d probably keep the massages and get rid of all tv and cellphone expenses, switch to free hulu and… Read more »

getagrip
getagrip
7 years ago

Trying to be tactful because we don’t, and don’t necessarily need to, know all the details. However areas I’d consider looking into: Not sure what long term care insurance really is here, not something you typically see for someone under 50 so isn’t clear to me why you are bothering with it. Life insurance/disability? Unless your health is bad it seems high. The only one you are beholden to is your partner and you don’t have to fund him for life. A term policy for someone in their twenties shouldn’t be all that much, half a million for $30-40 a… Read more »

nwsquid
nwsquid
7 years ago
Reply to  getagrip

Agree, LTC is a good product for someone trying to protect wealth already obtained. Since you are in debt (even excluding the student loan debt), you would be eligible for medicaid extremely quickly. Agree or disagree with the system, but if it is in place use it. Medicaid is free LTC insurance for people without assets, or put differently low or negative net worth. zanderinsurance.com for life insurance, I have 20 years of $750k level term for $35/month. That said, your husband should be more concerned about insurance for you (and vice versa). Life Insurance is for those left behind,… Read more »

jim
jim
7 years ago
Reply to  nwsquid

If I recall right, her husband makes about $90k a year. So she is not going to qualify for medicaid.

HazelStone
HazelStone
7 years ago
Reply to  nwsquid

Nwsquid, you are thinking of Workers Compensation insurance. That is what covers you if you are injured on the job and your employer is required to carry it. Short Term Disability covers you if you are sick (want to pay for eight weeks of medical leave and your share of the medical expenses straight out of pocket?). It pays if you get injured as well. Long Term Disability should be the priority of the two in my opinion. Once you’ve built a cash cushion, dropping Short Term Disability is understandable. Remember though that it takes a minimum of six months… Read more »

Ms. Rants
Ms. Rants
7 years ago
Reply to  nwsquid

Keep in mind that STD and LTD cover you if you’re unable to work, including at a desk job. I have seen desk workers be unable to work due to health problems, including myself. Also, STD can pay for maternity leave, and could be worth the cost if that is expected soon. Also, Medicaid is not available to everyone (in some states, only parents are eligible, in other states the income maximum is $5000 per year, etc.)

Jen from Boston
Jen from Boston
7 years ago
Reply to  getagrip

I agree about the Mensa & sorority memberships, although if they are useful for career networking then maybe they’re worth keeping. But, other than that, I don’t see them as being crucial. As for the life insurance and disability, I would still keep that insurance, but perhaps lower the payout for life insurance. My philosophy on life insurance is to get enough coverage so my family can bury me, and still make payments on my condo for a year while they work through their grief to figure out what to do with my stuff. So I’m insured for a year’s… Read more »

Honey Smith
Honey Smith
7 years ago
Reply to  getagrip

I will blog more about insurance in another post, but the short answer is that my mom died at age 46 of a disease that I stand a 50% chance of inheriting. She was considered medically disabled the last 15 years of her life and was quadriplegic the last 2 at least. I *could* just get term insurance to cover me until age 50 or something, but my grandfather (who also had this disease) lived a totally normal lifespan except he was in a nursing him the last 15 years of his life. In the event that happens to me,… Read more »

CLK
CLK
7 years ago
Reply to  Honey Smith

Honey,

You seem like you have thought everything through and are making plans based on the lifestyle you want to have given all the possible contingencies. I really respect that and hope for all the best for you. Good luck to you and I hope you keep posting.

Janette
Janette
7 years ago
Reply to  getagrip

You must have a wonderful insurance sales person. LTC Would you feel better off taking a test and finding out if you carry the gene? Keep the insurance until then? You already have life (which you pay WAY too much for) and disability. Vet cleaning teeth? Why is it that dogs lived long lives with chews and suddenly we HAD to clean their teeth? Cut it out. The dog is actually under loads of stress by sedating them enough to clean teeth. When you get rich and famous THEN you can contribute to your sorority and Mensa. Now I can… Read more »

Carla
Carla
7 years ago
Reply to  Janette

She explained the reason for the insurance in post #60

PK
PK
7 years ago
Reply to  Janette

Yes, it is stressful to a pet to go to the vet and have a dental cleaning. However, without dental cleanings, pets can develop a wide range of dental problems which can lead to life-threatening (and much more expensive to treat) conditions. Pets can get abscessed tooth, oral infections, and gum recession just like people can. Yes, dogs can live without them. However, it is healthier for the pet, and the pet is more comfortable, if you prevent those dental problems.

Stephen
Stephen
7 years ago

“And you’ll also notice that this budget doesn’t include eating out, like, ever, or any other entertainment expenses outside of TV.”

And yet
Pet expenses: $50 (Yes I have pets and yes I count them as discretionary spending)
Cell phone: $68 (Bill this high is part discretionary)
Massage membership: $65 (Unless there is a long term problem, it fits the same category)

Marisa
Marisa
7 years ago

I’d say cut any memberships that aren’t absolutely necessary, including Mensa and sorority alumni dues. If you don’t want to lose ties to your sorority completely, maybe contact them and volunteer to do some admin or newsletter writing in exchange for free or discounted dues. I’d also suggest that you call and see if you can renegotiate any of your monthly expenses that you can’t cut, including car insurance, tv, renter’s insurance (mine goes down every year I don’t have a claim) and internet. Also, $600 a month for groceries for 2 people seems kind of high–are there ways you… Read more »

Honey Smith
Honey Smith
7 years ago
Reply to  Marisa

I could spend less on groceries. Jake, my husband, will not (not *could* not, *will* not). He went over budget by almost $100 yesterday, though I made it clear before we went shopping the amount above which I could not afford to contribute.

Lindsey
Lindsey
7 years ago
Reply to  Honey Smith

Over by $100! Yikes! I don’t think I ever even spend $100 in one grocery visit! Does he read GRS? Maybe he should start…

Erin
Erin
7 years ago
Reply to  Honey Smith

Don’t *let* him shop! If you can help, do it yourself or find a cheaper alternative. We shop at Aldi (Trader Joe’s little sister) and probably save half on our grocery bill. They aren’t everywhere, but it makes a huge difference. Plus they don’t carry many of the luxury items so its easier not to splurge!

Audrey
Audrey
7 years ago
Reply to  Honey Smith

If he is unable to respect what you say you can not afford just because he’s going to buy what he wants, then perhaps it’s a good idea to not merge your finances. If you are repsonsible for your own money, at least you will always know you can pay the bills you are responsible for. You don’t want him draining the accounts because he does not have self-control when it comes to spending.

Lauren
Lauren
7 years ago
Reply to  Audrey

Or even aside from that, it will reduce the fights and nagging when you act in ways not in accordance with the other’s financial plan/values.

maria
maria
7 years ago
Reply to  Honey Smith

It seems like all you do is complain about your husbands bad spending habits.
Why did you marry him? Judging by your comments of him and how you don’t agree with ALOT of his financial way you two are obviously not in the least bit financially compatible.

Bryallen
Bryallen
7 years ago

Hi Honey, well done on your new GRS position! 🙂 I think your story will be more “how to get out of a lot of debt” rather than “avoid this happening to you”! First off, your car insurance is crazy expensive! Even as a teenager I didn’t pay that much! Have you looked at one of those price comparison websites? I would also use those for all your bills to try and find the best possible deal. Your phone bill is pretty high too. I used to pay a lot for mine as well and I know it’s easy to… Read more »

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
7 years ago

Welcome, Honey! I look forward to reading your posts.

The way I’m reading it, you and your husband spend $600 on groceries and household items? That was one area where I was really careful when I was paying off my student debt. I found the easiest way to trim the grocery budget was to cut back on meat. I would use recipes like stir fry, wraps and soups that used less meat per serving and ditched the meat altogether a few times a week. (Hooray for beans and lentils — and so many uses)

Honey Smith
Honey Smith
7 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

Thanks, Elizabeth! We are vegetarian. The grocery bill has been a point of contention between Jake and I for the last 4 years. He refuses to adopt any shopping habit except “buy whatever looks tasty.” He doesn’t look at prices. He doesn’t plan meals. When we go over budget, he says it’s because I set the budget too low.

In other words, argh.

Carol
Carol
7 years ago
Reply to  Honey Smith

Honey
$600 for 2 people for a vegetarian diet. THud. My suggestion is that YOU go shopping alone, with a list of items NEEDED for 2 weeks (staying out of stores=saving money on impulse buys) for menus that you preplan after taking inventory of what is on hand. This will immediately cut that bill at least in 1/2!

EMH
EMH
7 years ago
Reply to  Honey Smith

Why not take over the grocery shopping? That way, he can’t go over budget.

LauraElle
LauraElle
7 years ago
Reply to  EMH

^This.

I must ask, is your husband on board with getting out of debt? Above, you mentioned he refuses to get cheaper TV [or even cancel it to save money]. Now, he doesn’t look at prices and impulse buys the week’s food. Those two things would not be an issue if there were enough money.

I know you both haven’t combined finances, but are you both at least on the same page?

Jenna
Jenna
7 years ago
Reply to  EMH

These are both good points. Even though you are presenting just your expenses, you and your husband are now a team, and should be working together toward the same financial goals. One of the best things my husband and I did after getting married was sit down with a wealth adviser. It helped us lay out all our assets and debts so there were no surprises, and also got us on the same page in terms of financial goals. I highly recommend either finding an adviser, or even doing these exercises yourselves. That said, congrats on the GRS gig! I… Read more »

Honey Smith
Honey Smith
7 years ago
Reply to  EMH

Here’s an example: I went grocery shopping a week ago, and got enough food for 2 weeks. I spent $230 – deliberately under-spending so that he could have $70 in “mad money” to buy chips or whatever he wanted and didn’t feel like I was telling him he wasn’t allowed to buy stuff or have those things. Then, yesterday, he went out and spent $150, almost exclusively on processed junk food. So, that approach didn’t work. I’m open to others, but since I can’t physically stop him from going to the store and buying things, it’s going to remain an… Read more »

Nicky at Not My Mother
Nicky at Not My Mother
7 years ago
Reply to  EMH

I’m sorry Honey, but your DH does not sound like someone you should be merging finances with. There are all sorts of red flags there (he really needed $70 to spend on chips etc?) that if you ignore them you’re going to end up in a bad place. I ignored mine, and my ex left me $30k more in debt than when we started. You’re married and you’re sharing a life together but if he’s not on the same page as you financially your joint money will end up being spent his way and you’ll end up resenting him and… Read more »

maria
maria
7 years ago
Reply to  EMH

a comment was made by JD that Honey generates a lot of comments.
That my be true, however after reading this article and all the comments is generated I am already bored and still consider Honey and her husbands finances and possibly marriage a “train wreck” as others also suggested in the her reckoning article.
I hate to be so pessimistic, however I’m going with my gut on this one and my gut’s saying this isn’t going to be good.

amber
amber
7 years ago
Reply to  Honey Smith

Honey don’t feel too bad. My brother-in-law is exactly this way and has been for the whole 15 yrs of their marriage. He also loves tp entertain with meals for many guests.
pick your battles I guess, and food may not be one worth fighting.

jim
jim
7 years ago
Reply to  Honey Smith

“it’s going to remain an issue until he gets on board” Was your husband like this before you got married? Yes he was wasn’t he. So you just expect him to change to suit you. I wonder if he is thinking that its going to be an issue until you get on board his plan? Now if you were both dirt poor broke I’d say you’re absolutely right and he needs to cut spending. But you have a combined income of about $130k right? (based on previous comments you make ~$40k and he makes ~$90k). Your debt level is a… Read more »

Honey Smith
Honey Smith
7 years ago
Reply to  jim

He made $90K when he was working at a firm. Now he makes half that. But, in his head, he is still making $90K. I think that’s the lightbulb that has to go off before he will buckle down. I am hopeful he will, however. He was paying down debt like gangbusters at his old job, but after the second time he ended up in the hospital for stress-related stuff, we decided it wasn’t worth it.

jim
jim
7 years ago
Reply to  jim

OK thanks for the clarification on your husbands current income level. I was working with the impression he made $90k. It will be interesting to see how his income/expenses break down.

JoJo
JoJo
7 years ago
Reply to  jim

In all seriousness, you may want to budget for some couples counseling. You both are going to have trouble succeeding (and thriving!) until you get on the same page.

stellamarina
stellamarina
7 years ago
Reply to  jim

I think Honey and Hubby both have issues about living a lifestyle beyond their income. His might be food but hers is massages and hair care etc. Time to be humble and cut back on expenses so you can really get things paid off.Find some free treats to feel special.

Good article by the way. :0) Long time since we had so many comments pouring in.

Laura
Laura
7 years ago
Reply to  Honey Smith

As an aside to the current discussion, I would love to see one or more future posts that deal with the issue When Your Mate Is Not On Board With Debt Recovery/Frugal Spending (And Is Not Receptive to Change). This is one of my problems too, although DH knows it’s an issue and basically turned over the family finances to me to handle (including the grocery shopping) so we don’t starve or have the electricity shut off. To all those out there who say marriage is a partnership and your mate “should” be on board – yes, I know –… Read more »

Rob
Rob
7 years ago
Reply to  Honey Smith

“he refuses to adopt any shopping habit except buy whatever looks tasty. He doesn’t look at prices. He doesn’t plan meals.”

He has over 100k in student loans, in my book he lost the “privilege” to not care about costs. Not being on the same page with you is jeopardizing your married financial health. Check out Dave Ramsey’s book, “The Total Money Makeover” and his 9 week course Financial Peace University in your area, it’s a great combo of marriage counseling and financial bootcamp.

Oleron
Oleron
7 years ago
Reply to  Honey Smith

I believe you meant “between Jake and ME.” Argh, indeed. Drop the Mensa membership before you go to one of the meetings and exhibit the speech patterns of the ignorant.

Jacq
Jacq
7 years ago

If you can’t get paid more at another regular job, I would seriously consider getting a second job – the income from which goes straight to the CC.
What are your interest rates like on the debts?

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
7 years ago
Reply to  Jacq

A second job… you mean like becoming a staff writer on GRS? 😉

Jacq
Jacq
7 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

No Elizabeth, a job (or small business) that makes good money – not freelance writing. Although it’s fun and great as a low paid hobby, it’s not and never has been a lucrative field.

It’s an indulgence just as much as a massage membership is.

Jane
Jane
7 years ago
Reply to  Jacq

I wouldn’t say it is an indulgence if it is supplemental income. I mainly stay at home with the kids, but I take on small writing projects that I can do whenever and wherever. I figure I make between $20-$25 an hour doing this. While I won’t get rich this way, it does bring in about $400 more for us a month. This is pure gravy, since we don’t rely on it to pay the bills. And this is very flexible work, which is better in my circumstances than something that would pay more but require me to be somewhere… Read more »

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
7 years ago
Reply to  Jacq

Honey mentioned in the post that she has freelance income and she and her husband have a couple of online stores… in addition to her salaried position. I’m just wondering how many jobs people think she needs? Freelance writing is just a hobby for some, but it can earn some decent income if you’ve got the skills, reputation and willingness to chase after higher payer gigs. I know people who are quite successful writing for mainstream publications. I guess it all depends on what you think would be a good second job in comparison? I’m not trying to be rude… Read more »

Megan
Megan
7 years ago
Reply to  Jacq

Whatever. I’m like Jane – I’m a SAHM and I freelance on the side to help bring in some cash and pay down our debt. It’s not much, but guess what? My resume stays current, despite not being in a traditional office job for almost two years. I’m constantly networking to find that “next gig,” so that’s great, too. I am also keeping my skill set sharp and relevant. So, not only does freelancing help out my family (and make it more than just a hobby), but it helps ME down the road with future jobs. I just have a… Read more »

Honey Smith
Honey Smith
7 years ago
Reply to  Jacq

Ah, quarterly taxes will be addressed in our next installment!

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
7 years ago
Reply to  Jacq

@Megan and Jane – kudos! 🙂 I hope to be able to freelance or have a small business if I’m blessed with kids some day. It’s so important to keep networking and keep skills up to date.

Jacq
Jacq
7 years ago
Reply to  Jacq

How many jobs? As many as it takes to bring her income up to at least $50k/year with the potential of higher income – or whatever she needs to earn to pay off those student loans and CC’s in 10 years or less (preferably less since if she continues on this path she will never be able to save enough to be able to have a family – if that’s what she wants – she is 33 y.o. after all) – and maybe enough to be a SAHM and make some income on the side like you ladies are doing.… Read more »

Jessica
Jessica
7 years ago

Satellite and netflix? Why? $600 per year on your hair? I cut everyone’s hair in my house and we aren’t picky about shampoo. You cell phone bill is too high. Get on a family plan and your share would go down by half. What are you doing with your $40 in cash? And if your half of the food is $300, then the two of you spend twice as much as my family of 4 with two cats on food/household items. My weekly budget is $75 for everything. Cat food and litter, toiletries, hygiene, diapers, wipes, and food for 2… Read more »

SweetCoffee
SweetCoffee
7 years ago
Reply to  Jessica

Jessica, I seriously want to know how you do a $75/week grocery budget! I’ve been somewhat successful with an $80/week budget for a family of 3, but some weeks it’s such a stretch. The more I micro-manage my purchases, as in I think of everything I’m going to purchase and their cost in advance, the better I’m able to get through the week. But sometimes I can’t predict everything– is there such a thing as an Emergency Groceries Fund you can tap when you run out of milk mid-week so you don’t have to stress? Or does one just put… Read more »

Jessica
Jessica
7 years ago
Reply to  SweetCoffee

I use some coupons but not a ton. I match sales with coupons I do have, check what I already have in my 2 months of food storage and go from there. Once a year I buy a 1/4 cow from my uncle who raises grassfed organic beef for $2.50 / # hanging weight. That is included in my food budget. I buy at the lowest price, enough to get me until the next super sale on that type of item. So if I see that canned tomatoes are on sale for $.50 per can, I get enough to last… Read more »

SweetCoffee
SweetCoffee
7 years ago
Reply to  Jessica

What a big help! Thank you for the tips Jessica. In fact, I’m going to print out your recommendations and work on the areas where I could make some real impact. A few questions regarding sale chicken: what cuts do you buy and do you freeze them? If you freeze, how do you thaw them (day before in fridge)? Isn’t chicken already previously frozen before you purchase it? If so do you find that it makes the chicken dry to refreeze/thaw? Up till now I’ve avoided buying sale meats because I don’t “get” how to make using them somewhat easy,… Read more »

victoria
victoria
7 years ago
Reply to  Jessica

@SweetCoffee (#347) I can’t speak to getting my grocery bill quite that low, but I can definitely speak to handling poultry! Normally I either get whole chickens, dark meat bone-in pieces, or sometimes just necks and backs (for making stock). We get all our meat from local farmers, so it generally has not been frozen beforehand. You can freeze a chicken whole with pretty much no problems, but unless I intend to roast it that way I generally prefer to cut it up into pieces first. (This Alton Brown method is the best explanation I’ve seen: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dbc1aW5C1W0 ). If you… Read more »

eec
eec
7 years ago
Reply to  Jessica

Jessica:

I’m curious too! How do you do it? I just spent $80+ at the grocery store yesterday to feed 2 people for the week. I am pregnant and plan on breastfeeding. My $80 covered TP and food..no pet supplies, etc (1 dog and 1 cat).

Carol
Carol
7 years ago
Reply to  eec

Some key questions:
-where are you shopping?
-what are you buying (raw ingredients vs processed and/or convenience items)?
-are you brand loyal? use coupons? buy what is on sale and plan meals around that vs the other, much more expensive alternative: decide you want X regardless of how much it costs and buy that vs the 99/lb chicken legs on sale this week?
-do you cook from scratch?
-any vegetarian meals?

HTH

William
William
7 years ago

Honey, Glad to have you posting. I really enjoyed your previous posts. I, also, have student debt. About half your $100,000. And yet, I pay 50% more than you. Are you on the 30 year plan? Until you are out of debt, you should consider cutting the satellite TV, massage, mensa, long-term care insurance, hair care, etc. My fiance gets her haircut once a quarter or so. Total yearly cost is less than $100. Mine gets cut every couple of months, total year cost is around $120. If you cut all of those, you’ll have more than enough. You can… Read more »

Amy
Amy
7 years ago
Reply to  William

I agree with William! Seems like a lot of wants are needs here. If you can’t bear to part with your massages and hair care – consider using schools – Ogle and Paul MItchell are two beauty schools that I know of – they both offer full hair services at pennies on the dollar as compared to regular places. You’ll get a great cut and color, as instructors have the final say in everything the student does. You just have to schedule in advance, as they are ALWAYS full! Same for massages – try a school. Usually you can get… Read more »

Honey Smith
Honey Smith
7 years ago
Reply to  Amy

Thanks! Now that the wedding’s past, I agree about getting my hair cut less frequently and not doing color anymore. So instead of $150×4=$600 annually, I can cut it back to $62×4=$248 annually. I also agree my cell phone bill is insane. I get analysis paralysis whenever I think about switching, though. I’ll have to look and see how many more months are in my contract before I can switch, and get on one of the cheapie no-contract plans when this one is up. I do attend some sorority and Mensa events, and the main reason I keep those (especially… Read more »

William
William
7 years ago
Reply to  Honey Smith

Honey: For the phone, look into Virgin Mobile. $35/month, and you can get a good smart phone for $200. Pays for itself in 6 months.

… Except for me, as Virgin Mobile doesn’t have signal in my place. Working on that.

Renee
Renee
7 years ago
Reply to  Honey Smith

Honey, why don’t you just colour your own hair? No need to not be the shade you want/like. I stopped ‘paying for colour’ 2 years ago (on the advice of my sister, who was SHOCKED to hear how much I was paying) and just use Nice N’ Easy brand, which I will only buy on sale – under $8.00. When I find a good sale, and use coupons, I often pay only $5. a box and will buy about 3. I set aside one evening to colour, and give myself a facial too, to make it a bit special. Maybe… Read more »

Jennifer Jassawalla
Jennifer Jassawalla
7 years ago
Reply to  Honey Smith

Hey Honey Smith, I quit cable recently and now I watch tv online, when I really want to. I am a huge HBO fan and watch a lot of shows on there, so it was tough for me to get rid of that. My work around for not having hbo is that my friends that have HBO can login through http://www.hbogo.com and watch hbo online (instantly). So, they let me have their login info, so I can watch the shows I love for free. I am loving saving the $40 bucks per month. My next goal is to move into… Read more »

Jane
Jane
7 years ago
Reply to  Honey Smith

Jennifer – You do realize that what you are doing is somewhat unethical, right? It’s not just friendly sharing. From HBO’s perspective, it’s stealing. I’m not one to cast stones, especially because I am the same person that said we were likely to download the next season of Game of Thrones, but at least I feel bad about it. Based on your post, you don’t seem to notice the ethical gray area you are currently in to save money. I see your dilemma, but might I suggest a penance of sorts for your “sins”? We are buying the DVDs of… Read more »

Rose
Rose
7 years ago
Reply to  Honey Smith

Jane- penance? For watching shows? That her friends have given her permission to? No thanks.

CA
CA
7 years ago
Reply to  Honey Smith

Yes, it’s called copyright infringement, and it’s illegal and wrong.

Jane
Jane
7 years ago
Reply to  Honey Smith

Yes, Rose, penance. I am using the word tongue in cheek, but I think it gets the point across. For my actions, I usually tend to apply the categorical imperative. “Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law.” My question would be – what if almost everyone just borrowed their friends’ HBO logins? Well, the simple fact is that these favorite shows would cease to be made. HBO would go out of business. You are not entitled to watch television. It is not your god given right… Read more »

Cindy
Cindy
7 years ago

I would look for a beauty school in the area for hair cuts,etc.
I go to one nearby and a full highlight and cut is $50!
A haircut cost just $12.
The. Services are provided by students who attend the school.
I go there 4 times a year along with m teenage daughters and save a ton!

Moneybin
Moneybin
7 years ago

I’d definetly cut the massage membership, if it’s not because of seriois health issues ofcourse. Cut the phone bill! And as you say, who needs satellite tv, there are so many more useful things to do. And $ 1000 for gifts every year? you shouldn’t buy gifts until you’re out of cc debt. And you say it yourself, the hair care expenses is crazy, can probably be cut A LOT!

Most important, rembember that cutting a lot of small expenses matters when you add them up.

Honey Smith
Honey Smith
7 years ago
Reply to  Moneybin

My massage membership has cut in half the number of times I’ve thrown my back out since starting a desk job. It may not save me a lot of money, but it’s saved me some trips to the urgent care. I may get to the point where I have to cancel it, but I’m not there yet.

LauraElle
LauraElle
7 years ago
Reply to  Honey Smith

If your massages are medically indicated, see if your insurance will cover part of them.

Also, do you exercise at all- even sit ups and a yoga DVD would strengthen your core enough to keep your back in alignment.

Vanessa
Vanessa
7 years ago
Reply to  Honey Smith

Are you able to stand for long periods of time? Maybe converting your work area so you could stand could help?

Heather
Heather
7 years ago
Reply to  Honey Smith

Hi Honey! It’s nice to have a local on GRS 🙂 I’m not sure how many massages you’re getting with your membership, so this may or may not be a good deal. Have you heard of the Arizona School of Massage Therapy (ASMT) in Tempe? The students there give massages at the clinic every Sat & Sun from 8am-5:30pm, and they are very reasonable – $25 for a 50-minute massage. The wait can be long (it’s first come first served, no appts). They frequently have 2-for-1 weekends too, so you can go with a friend and get 1/2 off (pay… Read more »

Janet
Janet
7 years ago
Reply to  Honey Smith

Honey, this doesn’t specifically apply to the massage item, but I just wanted to toss something out since we are all giving suggestions on what to cut from your budget. Right now it may just seem like a whole lot of self-denial but you will probably find that a lot of things you replace your luxuries with (e.g., a prepaid cell phone or hair color at home) are actually just fine, and perhaps even preferable to the higher-cost options. The great thing about this is that when you have paid off all of your debt, you may realize you want… Read more »

Robyn
Robyn
7 years ago
Reply to  Honey Smith

I’m not sure if someone else mentioned it, but for a medical copay at my chiropractor’s office, I also get a massage. You may want to look into it as more chiro’s are offering the service because the massage helps relax the muscles for adjustments. I also ordered a sit-stand desk for about $500. I’m hoping it helps with the backaches.

Cath
Cath
7 years ago
Reply to  Honey Smith

Even if you can’t get massages approved for medical reasons (it ain’t easy) you could probably find a massage therapy school in the area. Or at least go a little longer between visits, watch for groupons, etc.

Holly
Holly
7 years ago
Reply to  Cath

If Honey has a high-deductible insurance plan, maybe she can sign up for an HSA (health savings account). All she would need is a note from her doctor stating that the massages are medically necessary and then the massages and any other medical expenses she and her husband incur can be exempt from federal tax in April (not sure about state tax).

cathleen
cathleen
7 years ago
Reply to  Honey Smith

This may not work for you but you might be able to look into a standing adjustable desk.
I have one and I stand about half the day. (I had back surgery about 15 years ago.)

I actually lost 10 lbs in about a month just from standing at my desk!
My company paid for it for health reasons.

And my derriere isn’t getting wider!

Katie
Katie
7 years ago

I’m surprised at the student loan debt. I have similar student loans and pay 3 times that amount on a standard ten year repayment plan. Can you elaborate a bit on those? Is it just a great deal on interest rates combined with a slow repayment plan?

Jennifer Gwennifer
Jennifer Gwennifer
7 years ago
Reply to  Katie

It’s possible that she is part of the Income-Based Repayment program if they are federal loans.

Honey Smith
Honey Smith
7 years ago
Reply to  Katie

I’m on the 30-year repayment plan. Currently it’s the graduated plan, but I will probably switch to IBR before the end of the year.

Carol
Carol
7 years ago
Reply to  Honey Smith

Never heard of a 30 year student loan plan. Back in my day, you had 10 years once you were out of school full-time. You’ve signed yourself up for a mortgage, in essence. Yikes.

Jane
Jane
7 years ago
Reply to  Carol

A mortgage that doesn’t appreciate in traditional terms. And a mortgage that has no concrete property or land attached to it that you can sell to get out from under it. I truly feel for those that have taken on so much student debt. And it’s not going to be forgiven, nor will rules change for it to be dispensed with bankruptcy. So many are stuck. I just hope that as more people like Honey tell their story that future students will not make the same mistake. And perhaps parents will exert more influence on their children to avoid this… Read more »

Andy Hough
Andy Hough
7 years ago
Reply to  Carol

I’m on the IBR plan. It is like a mortgage except my payments are currently $0 a month and it will be forgiven after 25 years.

Jane
Jane
7 years ago
Reply to  Carol

Andy – huh? Are you currently unemployed? If not, how are you able to pay nothing? And if you pay nothing for 25 years, in essence your loans were just completely forgiven.

I would like more precise information on how IBR works. Call me crazy, but I think those who took out excessive loans should at least be paying something towards them every month. I would say $50 minimum. And if you say that’s too high, you better not have a cell phone or cable or any other non-necessity.

Lee
Lee
7 years ago
Reply to  Carol

Agreed Jane. I paid $70k in loans back myself… I borrowed it, I owe it. No one can make you take out a student loan, you CHOOSE to. Therefore, it is money that you need to pay back. Andy is cheating other students out of the opportunity to borrow at a fair rate and is stealing from the university/government/and whomever else loaned money expecting to be repaid.

Katie
Katie
7 years ago
Reply to  Carol

Lee, that’s idiotic. If your lender sets terms of the loan that make repayment contingent on your income, than that lender is betting that you’ll make enough to repay them under that scheme. It’s not Andy’s fault the lender lost that bet.

mrs bkwrm
mrs bkwrm
7 years ago
Reply to  Carol

Income Based Repayment is paid at a rate of 15% of one’s income that is above 150% of the federal poverty line by family size. It is forgiven after twenty-five years. The amount forgiven will be considered income for that year and taxed accordingly. Or at least that is how I understand the program. The debt can be forgiven sooner if you work in certain public/community service positions.

jen_alluisi
jen_alluisi
7 years ago

Welcome Honey! And hello from a fellow M. 🙂 I have to agree with some of the other commenters that the things that really stood out to me were your car insurance (holy moly! We pay about $600 a YEAR for TWO cars! Definitely shop that around!), long term care insurance (just not necessary at your age), the hair care (ask your salon about seeing a junior stylist for cheaper, or switch to a cheaper salon, and nix the fancy hair care products) and the massage membership (I’m not really sure what this is, but it definitely sounds like a… Read more »

Pamela
Pamela
7 years ago

Hi, Honey. I need to second, third, and 200th what everyone said about your massage membership. They are certainly nice to get, but it’s $15 less than what you’re paying for student loan #2. Why not cut those out and put it towards your student loans? Also, the hair care service at $600? If you color it, you could do it at home. Or you could get it cut a little less often. Or get a lower-maintenance style. Or use a less expensive salon. $62 is still a lot of money for a haircut, IMO. If you had no debt… Read more »

Liz
Liz
7 years ago
Reply to  Pamela

If the self-maintenance are really important to you, look into whether there’s an Aveda Institute or other reputable training school near you – the appointments take a little longer, but it won’t cost as much and the students are supervised, so if you don’t like what’s happening to your hair, someone will step in to correct it. You might also want to see if there’s a massage school near you; they also have discounted rates for sessions performed by students in training.

Arlington
Arlington
7 years ago
Reply to  Liz

I have been going to a hair school for haircuts for about 5 years. Haircuts are $18, and the students do an excellent job. They don’t let them loose on the public until they know what they are doing. They do take about 90 minutes which is a bit longer, but it is worth it. While I could afford full priced cuts, I can’t stomach paying full price when I know I can pay so much less at the school.

Emily
Emily
7 years ago

It’s really about what’s important to you: your appearance and relaxation or getting rid of your debt. If you decide that getting rid of that debt is the real importance, $200 every month isn’t going to make THAT big of a dent. Heck, even dropping the massage, and annual dues isn’t going to help pay it down quickly. I would very seriously look into a part time job. Deliver pizzas, waitress, find a store you won’t be tempted to spend your whole paycheck at and cashier, mow lawns, babysit, pet sit, etc. Take all that income and put it directly… Read more »

ShackleMeNot
ShackleMeNot
7 years ago

You are living beyond your means. You don’t want your lifestyle to be impacted, but it really needs to be for you to get out of debt.

Get a second job. Stop buying stuff. Cut your expenses to the bone (Mensa? oh, irony).

Get aggressive with changing your lifestyle or you will be asking these same questions 5 years from now.

Holly@ClubThrifty.com
7 years ago
Reply to  ShackleMeNot

I 100% agree. It’s hard for me to take someone seriously when they are $230,000 in debt and have a massage membership.

I still can’t figure out how Honey is supposedly “getting rich slowly…”

chacha1
chacha1
7 years ago

This all came up before. Getting out of debt is a necessary first step to getting rich slowly. J.D. did it, I did it, a bunch of us did it.

Honey’s addressed the massage question already and I for one am satisfied that if it is a positive for her health, it’s a necessary expense. The hair care, not so much (when I got serious about my debt, I started cutting & coloring my own), but given her family’s health profile, let’s give her a pass on the massage.

jazzycat
jazzycat
7 years ago

judgemental much? If you read Honey’s responses you would know why she has the massage membership.

Holly@ClubThrifty
7 years ago

Sorry, but I disagree. I have had two spinal fusions so I know back pain. My husband gives me massages every single day. I also have an office job where I sit at a desk in front of a computer. I traded in my chair for an ergonomic one, moved my phone, and practice meditation to alleviate stress and reduce my back pain. Maybe Honey’s husband could learn the art of massage? I truly think that Honey needs some tough love. She needs to evaluate each and every penny she is spending. She needs to stop making excuses and rationalizing… Read more »

Sam
Sam
7 years ago

On the irregular expenses, I would get rid of the membership fees. Next, I would trim gifts, you and your hubby probably should put any gift money between the two of you towards debt. I would try to get that number down to to maybe $200 a year. Next, your pet expenses are super high. I’ve got a dog myself so I know how expensive they can be but is there a way to trim those expenses, what is that going for? Your regular expenses seem pretty normal and under control except the massage membership. Do you have credit card… Read more »

Christine, Random Hangers blog
Christine, Random Hangers blog
7 years ago
Reply to  Sam

I agree about the regional differences. We’re in Central Florida, paying $1200 for our two cars, and whenever I call around to find lower rates, I’m *literally* laughed at (we’re able to get such “low” rates through a partnership my employer has with the insurance company). And if their cars are newer (which I seem to recall they are?), their insurance will automatically be higher.

Leigh
Leigh
7 years ago

It also depends on age. I’m paying $1400/year for one new car. I live in the city and I’m under 25. I’ve shopped around and the next cheapest was $1900/year.

jim
jim
7 years ago

Yes insurance rates do vary a lot based on state and specific location. The averages vary from a low of $510 in North Dakota to a high of $1100 in New Jersey. They are in Arizona where rates average $837 which makes it #14th most expensive state. (the numbers are from 2009 so a touch old)

Plus of course it varies a lot depending on the vehicle and level of coverage. I could go get a $200-$300 policy for my Toyota with no comprehensive and minimal liability. But with comprehensive and higher liability I pay $600. If i dove a Lexus it would probably be $900.

Pamela
Pamela
7 years ago

Unless you have grey hair the hair coloring can go. Someday you will wish you had your natural color back when it is replaced by grey. To grow out the color get occasional highlights to camouflage the regrowth until it is gone. I also agree that you could get a lower maintenance style and go longer in between cuts. Longer hair does not need to be cut as often as short styles

Lmoot
Lmoot
7 years ago
Reply to  Pamela

I agree! I’m in my late 20’s (with a couple grey hairs) and I decided a few years ago to enjoy my natural color while it lasts! Because I’ve also been growing my hair long I only need to get my hair trimmed and shaped (which for me means maintaining the layers)once/ year. I spend about $30/ year at the salon and do microtrims myself at home. I am jealous about the massage membership and didn’t even know such a thing exists. I consider it a thankful luxury for the 1 – 2 massages I get each year. Wish I… Read more »

Honey Smith
Honey Smith
7 years ago
Reply to  Pamela

I don’t get highlights, the color I was getting was exclusively to cover the gray. But, I’m going to cut that expense anyway.

Jean
Jean
7 years ago
Reply to  Honey Smith

Color your hair at home. Not only is it cheaper, but you can do it whenever you have time, as opposed to making time for it. I can multi-task, too, doing other things while it’s processing. My hair color is on sale this week, and there are coupons in the Sunday paper which will make it $4.00/box, and I get plenty of compliments on my hair color. I splurge on shampoo for color-treated hair which makes the color last longer. Something to consider…

PawPrint
PawPrint
7 years ago
Reply to  Honey Smith

Grey is the new. . .okay, I don’t know what it is, but I’m too cheap (and lazy) to color so I’ve been going natural forever. It’s just so much hassle, and the older you get the fakier it looks, IMHO. But if you’re going to do it, I agree that a box or a beauty school is your best option.

Martha
Martha
7 years ago
Reply to  PawPrint

I definitely agree with going natural. I went gray really early and colored my hair for years. Now I have let it go natural and have gotten quite a few unsolicited compliments from friends and strangers. Where I live there is an Aveda Institute where you can get great student haircuts for $15. That there may be an option similar to that wherever Honey lives.

Oleron
Oleron
7 years ago
Reply to  Honey Smith

Use henna. It comes in at least 6 shades, including “neutral.” My natural hair color is medium brown, sort of a dark honey color. When some of it started turning grey, I started using henna that’s one shade lighter than my natural color. It looks as if I had a very expensive “weaving” job, as it leaves a light brown/dark golden color on the grey hairs. Lasts at least two months. This works best if you let your “processed” hair grow out first. Additional bonus, it’s also a health treatment. Makes your hair feel thicker and look shinier. One small… Read more »

Carla
Carla
7 years ago
Reply to  Oleron

I use henna on my hair and its not for the faint of heart. I use BAQ (body art quality) henna only. True henna is *only* red, real henna doesn’t come in other “colors” unless there’s other elements added to it. If your natural hair is dark brown/black, you can do a two step henna/indigo process, etc. Once you use henna, especially non-BAQ henna, its difficult if not harmful for the hair if you go back.

I say Honey, do a LOT of research if you decide to take the henna plunge.

Oleron
Oleron
7 years ago
Reply to  Oleron

Carla, You’re making this waaaaaaaay more complicated than it is in fact. I buy organic henna at Whole Foods. Have been using it for many years, with great success. I did let my processed hair grow out completely before I started using henna. Honey says she has shoulder length hair. She hasn’t said how much gray (grey?) hair she has, but, short of a genetic tendency to becoming Completely Grey At Thirty, she can probably stand to let it grow out without too much embarrassment. She works at a university; I’m not buying her initial assertion that The Hair Thing… Read more »

Carla
Carla
7 years ago
Reply to  Oleron

Oleron, you’re indeed lucky to have great skin. I’ve have had acne for over 20 years of my life and its getting worse each year for me again. I do spend money taking care of my skin, co-payments at the dermatologist, facials at a really good local esthetician school (at a fraction of the cost at a spa) and so on. That’s the way it is. No, you can’t completely cover a zit with makeup but trust me, I look 10000X worse without. About the henna, there is a learning curve for sure. I have super thick, curly hair so… Read more »

DB
DB
7 years ago
Reply to  Oleron

This might sound crazy – but I have had acne for 20 years (since I was a teenager) – and it finally cleared up this year because I stopped eating sugar! When I lapse though and have dessert – within the next day or so my acne comes back. I am not saying this is going to be the case for everyone but I was certainly astonished to discover this – you might want to try it.

Carla
Carla
7 years ago
Reply to  Oleron

DB, I’ve been sugar free for years. I’m also dairy, gluten, (and other potential allergens) free. I still have acne, LOL. Its time for me to bring out the big guns, Accutane. I’ve been avoiding taking it for years and don’t want to take such a powerful drug, but I’m left with no other choice for clearing up my skin.

Amy
Amy
7 years ago
Reply to  Pamela

At age 45, I stopped coloring my hair completely in 2010 because it was getting too hard to cover the gray! I went from red to my now natural colors, which are dark brown, white, silver, and gray. The grow out period took 11 months and it was pretty awful. But, it was simply the BEST decision I’ve ever made about my hair. I also get many many compliments about it and women saying that they wish they had the guts to have natural hair. My hairdresser said he has maybe one other client with natural hair! Anyway, just showing… Read more »

Carol
Carol
7 years ago

I also see alot of “wants” vs needs. If you are serious about getting this situation under control ASAP, it’s time for some serious consideration of what you view as needs. You have financial obligations to pay off, so you have to sacrifice in other areas or you will never make a dent in it. Assuming that some day you would like to purchase real estate, have a family,it’s imperative to eliminate this debt both to qualify for a loan for real estate as well as to leave options, once you start a family. Some initial thoughts: -$600/2 people is… Read more »

Jenne
Jenne
7 years ago
Reply to  Carol

Before dropping AAA in favor of ‘duplicate’ coverage from your insurance, etc. read the fine print carefully. Make sure your other coverage is real towing, etc. coverage and not something that only applies during business hours, nonweekend, etc. and that it covers what AAA covers. On the other hand, if you do have two newish cars and don’t travel much, you may not need AAA. AAA is best for towing and other big-ticket things. It’s hard to transition certain things– like food costs, hair care, cable, memberships. Every time you cut one thing, commit to putting that money in emergency… Read more »

CR
CR
7 years ago

Things to reduce: – Auto insurance: $500 (twice a year, January and July) – Gifts: $1000 [explain to your family that you’re going to have to be slim on gifts because of your $200k+ loan debt] – Health care (copays, etc): $1000 [make sure this is absolutely necessary, I don’t know how you can spend $1000 just for you in copays unless you’re going to 12 doctors each month] – Vet expenses (pets): $2300 Note: wow, I didn’t remember we paid so much last year. This, however, is a joint expense so last year I would have paid half. [what… Read more »

Helen
Helen
7 years ago

I would definitely see how you could cut down on your hair care expenses! Right now I am lucky in that I receive haircuts for tip only (so $5 every six weeks or so) but once that ends next year I will go to Great Clips where is is $15 with tip, and I can stretch it to every 8 weeks as I have long hair that doesn’t need too many trims. I see these as a “want” and am unsure why you would spend that much on cut, color & product when you want to get out of debt.… Read more »

Ryan
Ryan
7 years ago

I agree with most everyone else that has posted here. If you are serious about getting out of debt and starting to build wealth (I’m assuming you are because you are posting) you need to re-prioritize your life and your budget. There are quite a few budget items that need to be nixed: – Mensa Dues – Sorority Dues – AAA Dues – Long Term Care Insurance (You don’t need this until you are 50+ Years old!) – Massage Membership (Are you getting these because of stress? Reduce the debt to reduce the stress!) – Netflix – Life Insurance (No… Read more »

Lolo
Lolo
7 years ago
Reply to  Ryan

In complete agreement. You need to go basic . . . seriously basic. I got out of school with roughly the same debt, but making twice as much as you and I do not have any of those expenses. My husband cuts my hair. I stopped coloring. I cut out my automatic life insurance through work since we didn’t have any dependents. We just started back up with netflix, but don’t go out to the movies or concerts (unless its free). One and a half years later, I’ve managed to put almost a $40K dent into those loans. You have… Read more »

Tyler Karaszewski
Tyler Karaszewski
7 years ago

If you manage to bump your debt payments up from $200 to $1000 per month, and your interest rates are 0, then it will only take you 19 years to pay off your debt. You need to make more money.

Tip for young people: don’t take out $100k in student loans for a degree that’s going to leave you making $15/hr, you’ll never get out from under them. Pick a more lucrative field and/or a less expensive school.

LA
LA
7 years ago

Tyler makes a great point. Cutting expenses is great, but this debt load at this salary will take forever to pay off. You really need to make more money. Is it possible to attain a higher paying job with your current employer? I’m not sure how demanding your current job is, but can you pick up a second job? Your time is valuable, so I would make sure your second (or third) job pays you enough to make it worthwhile.

Honey Smith
Honey Smith
7 years ago
Reply to  LA

I’m going to stay with my current employer at least until I’m vested in my match at the five-year mark. I do apply for higher-paying jobs at my current employer, though. I have had some interviews, but no offers so far.

Kimberly
Kimberly
7 years ago
Reply to  Honey Smith

How much longer do you have to wait for the match, and how much is it? Run the numbers. You may net more $$ finding a better paying job now than waiting around being underpaid for the vesting period.

Helen
Helen
7 years ago
Reply to  Honey Smith

There’s always the public service option. I had a lucrative (but very boring) career that made my student loans seem like pennies! Got laid off, became a teacher and Obama (bless his heart for this, divisive politics aside) started this program. 10 years of service and have your federal loans paid off. I’m on track to have 20-30K forgiven, plus I like my job a whole lot more! Always an option…

Eileen
Eileen
7 years ago
Reply to  Honey Smith

All comes down to dollars/cents. A new job with more money can counter balance what you stand to gain with the rest of your vesting. Don’t limit yourself and do the math. The math won’t lie.

Honey Smith
Honey Smith
7 years ago
Reply to  Honey Smith

One more year until I get the match, and it will be $13,000 or so.

Tyler Karaszewski
Tyler Karaszewski
7 years ago
Reply to  Honey Smith

That’s not a clear win in my mind. Say you found a job *tomorrow* that paid $13k more than your current job. You should absolutely switch jobs, you’ll have made up the losses by the time you’d even get around to vesting. Considering that your current pay is pretty poor (it’s what, about $30k/year gross? That’s not a lot. If you moved from $30k/year to $45k/year, you’d basically just be getting up to near average), you have a lot of room to move up. Say you even found a job that pays only $5k more than your current job: you’d… Read more »

JakeG
JakeG
7 years ago
Reply to  Honey Smith

Honey… appreciate the honesty with which you write, I, along with a lot of the other GRS readers certainly wish you luck, and your goal, while difficult, is obtainable. You mention sticking with your job to get your match, which you estimate at 13,000 ish. If this is an “all or nothing” vesting schedule, it seems to imply that you are putting away moderate amounts of money towards a 401k/403b. If it is a graduated vesting schedule (i.e. 20% per year), then it implies you have a very significant amount stowed away and are redirecting a significant portion of your… Read more »

Honey Smith
Honey Smith
7 years ago
Reply to  Honey Smith

I contribute 7% of my pre-tax salary. Participation in a retirement plan is mandatory at my employer.

Eileen
Eileen
7 years ago

I’m a little confused about using a CC for purchases while you are also trying to pay down debt. It seems to me that a much better practice would be to use a debit card that is tied directly to your checking account and leave the balance on the card alone except to pay it off. Too easy to fudge around with what you are actually paying down. There are lots of “nice things” here. The haircare cost/product seems outrageous to me (yes I know everyone likes nice things). Massages are wonderful. I get one maybe once a year because… Read more »

Sam
Sam
7 years ago
Reply to  Eileen

Agree, when we were paying off our unsecured debt, $55,000, the first thing we did was get rid of all the credit cards (except one which we use for travel or business expenses only) and only used debit.

In my opinion, by only spending current dollars you slowly change your mind set towards money.

Nicole
Nicole
7 years ago
Reply to  Eileen

Credit card use in my mind should be directly related to your discipline in terms of how much you put on it and if you can afford to pay it off in full each month. This is something I’ve come to over the past few years – I, too, used to rely on a debit card rather than a credit card. But my brother suggested to me that perhaps this wasn’t the best deal, and he’s right – I now put every cent I can on my credit card. I do this because they give me rewards. Good ones. And… Read more »

Pattie, RN
Pattie, RN
7 years ago
Reply to  Nicole

I really don’t think that Honey and Hubby are withing a million miles of being able to use a credit card the way you do!! They already owe 2.5 times their combined gross salaries, Hubby sees NO problem at all, and Honey does not seem to SEE how incredibly BROKE they are, spending silly amounts on expensive lifestyle choices. I hope I am wrong, but I have seen this movie before. It ends in some combination of bankruptcy, divorce, crappy apartments and no children…or worse, single parenting. The size of the debt is crazee-scary, but Hubby spending like a drunken… Read more »

Jen2
Jen2
7 years ago

Hmm, if you are paying only $488 for your half of the rent, I’m guessing that you don’t live in one of the most expensive car insurance areas. Unless you’re in the assigned risk pool I think that you can do better. Perhaps getting a family policy for the two of you instead of each having your own could save a lot in that area. I also think you should cut down on your haircare and massages. Those seem like luxuries that you cannot afford. You need to find ways to put more than $200 per month toward debt. Also,… Read more »

Mara
Mara
7 years ago

Oh, wow, I feel for you. Your initial post outlining your debt made me nervous. However, I do commend you and your husband for taking the steps towards debt freedom. That said, I also would like to commend you for being open and vulnerable in sharing not only your debt but also your personal expenses. As you know, some people can get pretty judgmental and rude. But hey, you’ll grow thick skin and you will conquer this financial mountain! While our situation is different, I was able to cut down a lot of expenses and pay my debts using Dave… Read more »

Jenna R.
Jenna R.
7 years ago
Reply to  Mara

I agree with some of your suggestions, Mara but feel you went way too far with the recommendation of getting rid of pets. I doubt Honey would even consider doing that but getting rid of pets is a last resort as it is not likely they will be taken in by a loving family but sit in a cage for a few months before being put down. I would get rid of the junk food buying husband first…just kidding! When my man and I started on our debt reduction journey, there were and still are things that neither of us… Read more »

Nihongo Dame Desu
Nihongo Dame Desu
7 years ago

I’d drop the Mensa membership. What do you get out of that, other than bragging rights? Unless you are actively involved in the community and it is therefore a source of entertainment (making it cheap at $60/yr), it seems like something that can go. You can certainly rejoin some years down the road, but for now, that seems like a frivolous expense (says a lapsed Mensa member herself). Similarly, I think the sorority dues would likely be an obvious cut as well. Have you looked into a nearby beauty school for haircare? $60 for a haircut is far more than… Read more »

Laura
Laura
7 years ago

Where I would cut expenses may not work for you, but here goes. I agree with others that unless you are active in your memberships, they should be dropped at this time. (Exception: AAA.) Long-term care insurance: great idea when you’re over 50, not so necessary when you’re under 40, unless you anticipate hereditary health issues such as early-onset Alzheimer’s. I would drop it. Hair care: this depends. I keep my hair short so I spend about $20 every six weeks for a basic cut. However, I’m white, and I know African-Americans have to spend more time and money on… Read more »

Holly@ClubThrifty
7 years ago

So…..you wanted expensive college degrees that you couldn’t afford. You got them anyways. Now that you are drowning in debt, you want massages, $600 per year haircare, and Mensa memberships. You can’t afford any of it but you are doing it anyways.

The prevailing pattern here is that you want what you cannot afford. You find a way to prolong your lifestyle at the cost of long term financial stability. You make excuses and rationalize your behavior.

Interesting? Yes. Getting rich slowly? No.

Kristin S
Kristin S
7 years ago

Soooo this is really judgmental and not helpful. Instead of insulting Honey (and others in this situation) maybe you could offer some advice. If she works to pay off her debt, she will be getting rich slowly…and becoming a staff writer gives her just a bit more to put towards paying off the debt.

Holly@ClubThrifty
7 years ago
Reply to  Kristin S

Advice? She is the “staff writer.” Shouldn’t she be in a position to be giving out advice?

Here’s my advice:

Stop spending money on anything other than absolute necessities- food, shelter, transportation, and insurance. You’re broke.

Kristin S
Kristin S
7 years ago

Wow – isn’t that the point of this site, to help people get out of debt? Just because you are there already, doesn’t mean that everyone else is too and can see things as clearly as you do. The fact that she is posting where she is means that she is working on getting out of debt (just not in the way that you think she should). Life is not always black and white – and some decisions seem much harder to those people who haven’t yet had their rock bottom epiphany. Try to remember that you were once in… Read more »

Holly@ClubThrifty.com
7 years ago

Have you read all of Honey’s posts? I have read all of them- the one about her wedding where she put it on her credit card (while already being over 200K in debt), the one where she talked about “the reckoning” and made excuse after excuse for her problems. Now she has written this story which is basically a compliation of all the excuses that I have read already. I have the right to have an opinion just like you do. Yes, my opinion is harsh but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t how I truly feel. I think that… Read more »

SweetCoffee
SweetCoffee
7 years ago
Reply to  Kristin S

As someone who has made some similar choices to Honey, I saw Holly’s comments as right on, with a solid dose of tough love, etc. I am solid enough in my GRS journey to admit that: I too have “[made] excuses and rationalize[d] [my] behavior.” I read this statement as advice to stop making excuses and rationalizing my behavior. In fact, even though I’ve made a heap of progress on understanding my finances, I appreciate a reminder to watch out for “excuses and rationalizing” (lifestyle creep!). I’m guessing Honey is strong enough (or soon will be) to decide how to… Read more »

Jane
Jane
7 years ago

I’m honestly shocked by how little you are paying per month towards your students loans. I was paying that 10 years ago, and I only had $16,000 in debt. That amount is ridiculously low in light of the amount of debt you have. You must accelerate that. I repeat – you MUST. Else you will be strapped with your debt for decades and decades. It is simply untenable. Frankly, this post depresses me. I appreciate that Honey came here to learn. Really she should thank her lucky stars that she got this writing gig. Not only is she going to… Read more »

Laura
Laura
7 years ago
Reply to  Jane

I don’t think those who have already paid off debt and already have a frugality mindset may learn much from Honey, except perhaps gratitude that they didn’t have to learn what they know the hard way, and a chance to work through any judgmentalism about how others should be. I am interested in Honey and what she is learning and how her mindset changes over time because I share some of her issues. Fortunately not over $200K in student loan debt, but $13K credit card debt that is proving stubborn to erase, a mate who isn’t on board (because he… Read more »

Becka
Becka
7 years ago

I understand that there is a distinct unfairness in which women in certain professional positions are essentially required to spend a kind of ridiculous amount of money on beauty upkeep, and that Honey may not be able to cut those expenses as much as we’d like to suggest. But I don’t understand what we’re supposed to learn from someone who’s basically throwing pebbles trying to chip away at her mountain of debt, and isn’t thinking, “hey, maybe I should scale back the $1700 I’m spending each year on hair and massages.” Mensa’s a pretty small expense in the big picture,… Read more »

ShackleMeNot
ShackleMeNot
7 years ago
Reply to  Becka

It isn’t the dollar amount of the money she spends…

It’s the MINDSET!

Honey Smith
Honey Smith
7 years ago
Reply to  Becka

You know, this made me realize there was a math error – the $1000 in medical expenses for the year INCLUDES massage, since it is what stopped me from throwing my back out every couple months. If I exclude the $780 that is massage, then my copays and etc. for the year are about $220, which alters my bottom line considerably.

Trina
Trina
7 years ago
Reply to  Becka

I couldn’t agree more. This woman is 33 years old! She’s not a kid, and she needs to grow up. I don’t live this kind of lifestyle and my partner and I make 50% more than she and her husband do and have no debt — not even a mortgage or car loans. But, then again, we are 40-year-old “millionaire next door types,” and would never dream of spending this kind of money with that debt load. She seems totally out of touch with reality.

Trina
Trina
7 years ago
Reply to  Trina

Sorry — I just saw on page two of the comments that she charged part of her wedding on her credit card. I’m speechless. Why is GRS giving her a forum for this nonsense??

graduate.living
graduate.living
7 years ago

As someone who is also paying off student loans with the very, very, very little income I have, I’m excited to follow your journey! Here are my two cents on your situation, although not two situations are different and I don’t know much about your area’s cost-of-living. I think I’m going to agree with many above commenters that hair-care upkeep is really expensive. If you go from a cut-and-color to just a cut and style (which you said was $62) and you only go every three months, that saves you almost $100; consider buying hair care products in bulk (you… Read more »

Honey Smith
Honey Smith
7 years ago

The next post will be about Jake’s income and expenses. So far he’s on board in theory (he agrees debt is bad) but it’s yet to translate to change on his part. There are lots of good suggestions here, and I hope to think of a way to approach this will him that leads to action.

Nicole
Nicole
7 years ago
Reply to  Honey Smith

I’d really encourage you to look at some changes with your husband where food is concerned – it doesn’t have to be all or nothing, but it can definitely a huge chunk that you can change. I have many friends who wander around the kitchen trying to decide what to eat, or make that night, and end up wasting a lot of food and eating a lot of junk. For my husband and I (we’re newlyweds too – just hit 6 months! so we’re still figuring this out as well), we’ve found that it’s not just a moneysaver to plan… Read more »

Jen H
Jen H
7 years ago

I think you’d be better served putting things into ‘Wants’ and ‘Needs’: Needs: – Auto insurance – shop this. If you qualify for USAA, they are fantastic, and roadside assistance is $4/month. Kill the AAA. – Auto expenses (repair/maintenance): ok – Auto registration: ok – Health care (copays, etc): This is just your copays? That seems…excessive. Do you have any control over getting this down? – Renter’s insurance: Smart and a good rate. (Again, USAA also covers this, if you are eligible) – Electricity: Seems reasonable – Gas, auto: Looks good. – Grocery/household: $300 per person? Halve it, and you… Read more »

SB @One Cent at a Time
SB @One Cent at a Time
7 years ago

I’d say your expenses are very minimal and whatever scope there were people have identified already. At this point just concentrate on generating extra income. GRS side gig would help you and if possible get some more staff writing position.

Mrs PoP
Mrs PoP
7 years ago

How about cutting all hair Cut and color expenses? Grow your hair out for a couple I years and donate it to locks of love. They don’t accept color treated hair, so you have a great ‘feel-good’ reason to save a big hunk of change there.

Also, I’m surprised you list life and supplemental disability as expenses. Does your employer not offer these at all? It’s worth checking as you might already have at least some coverage. Also, how much life insurance do you need if you don’t have any dependents?

Kate
Kate
7 years ago

When I was in a similar situation, I would think the following all the time: “Is this hour of my life saving me money, making me money, or costing me money?” Then I started changing what I chose to do with my time in order to stick with the first two categories as much as possible. Of all the options available, making more money is definitely where you want to put your focus!

Joe @ Retire By 40
Joe @ Retire By 40
7 years ago

Holy crap! That’s a lot of debt. When you owe that much money, you need to batten down the hatches and cut out as much expense as you can. You can try to get a side job. That will help you cut expense and increase income. With less time to watch TV, you won’t need satellite or cable. Good luck!

EMH
EMH
7 years ago

My suggestions:

Reduce your food budget.

http://thirtyaweek.wordpress.com/

http://www.thesimpledollar.com/2010/10/21/20-favorite-dirt-cheap-meals/

http://www.allyou.com/food/supercheap-meals/cheap-recipes-00411000070180/

Increase your income.

http://www.timeout.com/newyork/things-to-do/50-ways-to-make-money

Enroll in Upromise to help with the student loans.

Reduce your hair budget. Go to cheaper salons, find a beauty school, etc.

Best of luck!

Jessica
Jessica
7 years ago

I was in a similar situation as you a few years ago and the only solution I saw (and continue to see) is Tyler’s. He’s often more blunt than I would be, but what he says is true – you need to make more money. In the short term I would commit to living bare bones until the credit cards are paid off. Paying off $30,000 is achieveable with a Dave Ramsey type plan of no spending, extreme frugality and it would give you a mental boost to see those gone. No massages, no fancy hair products, no cable/satellite until… Read more »

Sam
Sam
7 years ago
Reply to  Jessica

We did the same, killed $55,000 in unsecured debt in just over a year working Dave Ramsey’s plan. But I think that level of intensity is hard when you see years and years of debt ahead of you.

But, it might be worth it for them to at least do a year of Dave Ramsey beans and rice, rice and beans and killing at much debt as they can and then moderate it after a year or so.

Jessica
Jessica
7 years ago
Reply to  Sam

Sam, I completely agree that level of intensity is impossible for most people (me included) to maintain long term. I think it works for credit cards but for longer term debt like student loans and mortgages, few can keep it up. I like Dave Ramsey but when I read stories like Honey’s I realize that frugality only gets you so far. I really think he needs to update his book with some information on increasing income. I know for a lot of people that topic seems used car salesman like but in some cases – like Honey’s – it is… Read more »

kate
kate
7 years ago

I’m not going to pile on with what everyone else has said regarding the $1700 per year you are spending on hair care and massage. That should be pretty obvious. Your gift budget is very high. How many doctor’s appts do you have per year that you are paying $1000 in copays? I think I spent half that last year for all my medical expenses including my one permanent prescription and a new pair of eyeglasses. If you can’t reduce those costs you may want to see if your employer offers a healthcare spending account where you can contribute pre-tax… Read more »

Jennifer Gwennifer
Jennifer Gwennifer
7 years ago

I’d love to see a post later on in the process about how they are combining their finances, consolidating their expenses, insurances, etc. (to whatever level they decide) and how this changes their debt repayment strategy – whether its easier or harder.

Stacy
Stacy
7 years ago

The massage could very well be for a health issue. I get a massage once a month because of nerve impingement. Maybe your doctor could refer you to a massage therapist at a physical therapist’s office. That way it would be just a co-pay for you. Since I maxed out my PT visits on my insurance, I go to a lady who does massages independently and offers a discounted “punch card”, so the massages are $45 each. So, a good therapist who works independently might be cheaper than one of the chains offering the memberships. To reduce your grocery bill,… Read more »

Liz
Liz
7 years ago

Congratulations and welcome, Honey! Looking forward to reading your stuff.

Brandy
Brandy
7 years ago

You said you are taking home about $2000/month. That is not a lot of money for all the extra’s you have. Here are some suggestions: 1. I am an alum of a sorority and I understand wanting to pay your alum dues, but in both my husband’s and my case, you are still an alum without paying the dues. Don’t send them money until you are out of debt. This might make you feel guilty, but do it anyway 🙂 2. You have satellite tv, netflix, and the internet. I am not going to suggest that you stop paying for… Read more »

Christine, Random Hangers blog
Christine, Random Hangers blog
7 years ago

Honey, I applaud you for putting your finances out there for all to see. It seems pretty clear that if you want to make a dent in your debt, you’ll have to cut some things out. But make sure you don’t get so overwhelmed by all the helpful suggestions people are giving that you make decisions that don’t work for you. I’ve had too many friends cut things TO THE BONE, and, just like a diet, they end up bingeing down the line. As JD constantly mentions, make sure you’re practicing conscious spending: if you want to keep the massages,… Read more »

Honey Smith
Honey Smith
7 years ago

Thanks, Christine! I will not end up doing what everyone suggests (although some of that is because people are suggesting exact opposite things!) but I am getting some good ideas to go forward with. And while I agree with those commenters who say that I’m not one to be giving financial advice at this stage, other commenters have said that they also have lots of student loan debt and are struggling to find ways to deal with it. So I’m not the only one being “helped” here, there are lots of other folks who now have access to advice they… Read more »

Anita
Anita
7 years ago

I have not read previous comments, so forgive me if this is a repeat of what others have written. Here’s what I would consider unnecessary expenses that you need to cut: – Haircare and hair product. I get that haircuts are expensive, but get them less frequently, and either stop coloring your hair or color it at home. If you get expensive straightening or perms, just do it yourself. It’s not hard, I blow out my curly hair every other day. Hair products – you really don’t need to buy salon products, they are no different than drugstore products, I… Read more »

Mike B.
Mike B.
7 years ago

First, thanks for your courage in putting your budget out for public review. That takes a thick skin, though I think you’ll get (and have gotten) lots of solid feedback from doing it. Others have picked on the stuff that seems extravagant, so I’ll leave those for things a little more mundane. $68/month for your cell phone? We pay around $120/month for four phones, and could go cheaper if we went with prepaid and were intentional about using VoIP more often. Could you save money on a family plan? Pre-paid? Does Jake’s business cause him to be home and he… Read more »

Anita
Anita
7 years ago

Oh, and I didn’t see the massage membership. That is a luxury and needs to go.

Andrew
Andrew
7 years ago

Boy, did this post bring the smug, self-satisfied scolds out from behind the woodwork!

Eileen
Eileen
7 years ago
Reply to  Andrew

There have been some harsh responses to Honey’s posts, I’ll agree. But I’ll admit I’m really confused. People took the time to spell out what has real potential for cuts and thus far, the hair products/services look to be the only potential. If her spouse is “refusing” to cut their TV bill and their grocery bill, and the rest (massages, memberships, insurance) are not going to be cut — what is there to discuss? I know her posts have created traffic and comments, so I presume that was a consideration into her being a regular contributor, but I have to… Read more »

Megan
Megan
7 years ago
Reply to  Eileen

I kinda feel this way, too. We’re getting one side of the story as it is, and it’s just…it feels uncomfortable.

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