Danielli's Money Saga Part the Second: Learning the Hard Way to Do Math


Calculator with documents

As you may have guessed from my debut post, I'm not the best at setting goals. In fact, it has been hard to live up to my goal of ... setting some goals.

To me, setting any kind of goal was always a double-edged sword. On the one hand, they're motivating. Nothing gets me more excited than dreaming about my future house, with bay windows and a treehouse out back for my 2.5 kids. On the other hand, goals are intimidating, serving as a reminder of how far behind I am and how much farther I need to go.

At that point, my optimism gets swallowed by how overwhelmed I feel. So I bail.

But not this time. I'm going to be more realistic. Sure, I can still think big. But I have to think small, too -— and I've been trying. To avoid setting myself up for failure, I've realized that I must aim for goals within my means. I want to pay off my debts ASAP, but the reality is that while my fiance is still looking for work, I am paying all our bills -— and can just cover the minimums on my cards and student loans (he doesn't have debt, thankfully).

The first step last month was to take a critical look at my financial situation, and write down all my expenses. Then I had to assess the whole picture, to see what goals are realistic for me right now.

Gross Income: $60,000

Monthly Take-Home Pay: $3,600

Regular Monthly Expenses (for me and my fiance):

  • Rent: $1,100
  • Phones: $90
  • Car Payment (mine): $336
  • Insurance: $90
  • Utilities: $150
  • Credit Cards: $306
  • Student Loans: $280
  • Cable/Internet: $99
  • Gym membership: $33

Variable Expenses:

  • Groceries: $350
  • Dog food and supplies: $125
  • Gas: $40
  • Prescriptions: $75

Total: $590

Upcoming Expenses: $200 (budgeted monthly and put into savings)

Total Spent Per Month: $3,274

Remaining: $326!

The $326 was the good news I wasn't expecting. I'm not as broke as I thought!

Two months ago, I would have considered that $326 "free for all" money, and I would have spent it all on happy hour drinks, dinners out, weekend trips, clothes for my English Bulldog.

Those days are gone now. I'm a gal with goals (ahem).

I really want to get out of debt and save some money, so I'm going to put $100 extra toward my credit cards and $100 into savings each month. My goals seem pretty small and insignificant, but I have to start somewhere. And this I think I can handle. I just have to keep reminding myself that these small moves add up. Even though I'm not making huge leaps, at least I'm still moving forward.

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