Saturday, December 4, 2010

Day 51 - A Slight Problem

November 4, 2010

Ok, so this is officially our first rough period. Due to some unexpected expenses in the last part of November of about $1,000 (vets can be expensive!!), we have way less money to cover our bills than we originally thought. Another issues that adds to the problem is that about 90% of our bills are due during the first half of the month. Since I get paid on the 15th and last day of every month, the first part of the month is always tight. During the last part of the month, we have to make sure to have enough money left over to be able to cover all the bills due after the 1st. But an unexpected expense can easily wreck this plan.

So what do we do? This is really a time to see our creativity shine as we try to come up with some extra money (and also spend less).  Based on our checking account balances and upcoming expenses through the 15th (car insurance, gas, pet supplies, dr. visits), we have about $75 dollars remaining for food and general supplies - yikes!! The easy way out would be to just take some extra money from Mike's paycheck this month and put less towards extra debt payments. But we are determined to stick to our plan.  Here are some of our solutions:
  • Score! I found a $100 AmEx gift card I got a few months ago from work. Look through your important documents for those gift cards you threw in there a while ago.
  • Protein-packed vegetarian stir-fry: Your favorite beans and vegetables all stir-fried together with soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar and chili garlic sauce. Substitute quinoa (high in protein) for rice and you have a very healthy, inexpensive and filling meal. Make it in bulk and you can survive on it for quite a few days (we just did).
  • Christmas parties! We've got three coming up and they all involve free food and drinks. We are all of the sudden very social people.
  • PB&J: Come on, nobody is too good to survive on this standby in a time of need.
  • Sell stuff: This is Mike's solution - we've got a great desk chair going up on craigslist soon and a shelf we got as a gift that will be returned to Target very soon.
We are very optimistic that we can get through the next week and a half. Netflix was our best friend last night (along with a nice bottle of wine we received as a gift) and tonight is Balboa Park December Nights - a free Christmas celebration in San Diego which includes free access to all museums in Balboa Park. So despite our limited funds we are still able to have a good time.

What can we do better? We really need to spend more time working on our monthly budgets. To date it has been more of a back of the envelope event, but I feel an Excel spreadsheet approaching quickly.
What are we doing well? Communicating and keeping our cool. Mike and I are in this together and haven't let emotions get in the way when it comes to stressful financial situations. I hope we can keep this up!
Takeaways: Although we really enjoy going out on the weekends for a nice dinner and a comedy show/play/movie/dessert, I realize that you can still have fun on a smaller budget than you think. Netflix is a lifesaver (We LOVE Dexter) and free events are all over the place, especially this holiday season.

Keeping my eyes on the prize - this will be all worth it in about 314 days.

Stay tuned,
Sarah
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