December 2016 Budget

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Are you ready for this?

We paid $5,000 of our student loan debt in one month.

That’s crazy even for us! We were able to do this for two reasons: the budget and some discipline.

UPDATE: As of August 31, 2017 Travis and I are STUDENT LOAN FREE! We paid off $77,646.54 in 23 months!

We never have the perfect budget. In the 14 months we’ve been doing this we’ve always had to tweak here and there to make it work but paying off our student loans is the priority and that puts all spending into perspective. Over the last

Over the last year we’ve built discipline, it didn’t happen overnight. (It didn’t even happen in the first 3 months.)

We went really ambitious last month because we are committed to having my student loan paid off by Christmas. That means December is going to be another $5,000 loan payment to finish it off.

(Spoiler alert, we did it!)

Real great timing right? But we’ve decided our goals are more important than Christmas crap and the best gift we can give each other is financial freedom.

I did surprising well staying within budget this month, we went over on eating out (like every month) but made up for it in spending less on groceries. I also budgeted $100 for Black Friday shopping and spent a whopping $43, $20 of which was online.

It wasn’t because I didn’t find things I liked, I did. But I’ve been more passionate lately about conscious consumption.

I want to make sure the items I purchase have purpose and are good for the environment.

To do this I ask “do I already have one?” “Can I have something better later if I pass on this?” and “Is this going to improve my life?”

So let’s dive into December’s budget. It’s going to look even slimmer than November’s:



You can also see we’re able to put $5K toward the loan because we have $7200 net coming in and we’ve spent time and attention to keeping our standard of living to $1200 per month.

You might think, “of course, they can do that with over 7 grand coming in.” But if you’re not in the same financial state as us (ie. taking extra jobs to boost our income) you can still examine your budget and make cuts.

When reading articles like this we click for the big numbers but the real advice is to think in percentages.

Making 5% changes every month can change your life. Every little move in the right direction is worth it. And don’t feel that just because your numbers can’t be as big as some random person’s with a blog on the internet that you can’t start right now. Everyone starts somewhere, so start where you are and nowhere else.


EveryDollar copied November’s budget to December and we tweaked accordingly. I’ve tried multiple budgeting apps and the manual entry of EveryDollar works best for us. If you like your transactions automatically updated I highly recommend Personal Capital. It has a beautiful mobile interface and people who use it regularly have nothing but good things to say.

While we’re not exchanging gifts (besides the cereal I’m wrapping and giving Trav for Christmas) we aren’t total Scrooges. Any gifts we do buy we’re buying with gift cards we already have. Hence no gift budget.

We cut eating out down to nothing this month. I already have it spent because we’re going out to a fancy [for us] dinner dessert when we pay off my loan. So stoked for that. And I have given myself a small personal fund because I’m going out of town for a wedding.

And here’s another kicker,

this is the last month I will pay on my student loan.

Did you just read that!? I just scheduled my second-to-last payment on my loan and the one after is going to be the whole shebang. I plan on recording it via Facebook Live so make sure you like my Facebook page to join in the celebration. I’m taking suggestions on how to celebrate. 😉

Paid off Debt

Paid off Debt

Jen Smith is a personal finance expert, founder of Modern Frugality and co-host of the Frugal Friends Podcast. Her work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Lifehacker, Money Magazine, U.S. News and World Report, Business Insider, and more. She’s passionate about helping people gain control of their spending.