"It Ain't About the Money…"

"Seems like everybody's got a price
I wonder how they sleep at night
When the sale comes first and the truth comes second, 
just stop for a minute and smile.
Everybody look to the left
Everybody look to the right
Can you feel that? Yeah? We're paying with love tonight."

Anybody else excited about Pitch Perfect 2 coming out in theaters this weekend? :)

Anyway, it's that time of month again when I update you all on my finances… Bleh. Thanks as always for keeping me on the straight and narrow, but I will completely understand if you'd rather watch Pitch Perfect for the bazilyionth time. It's required preparation for Friday, right? ;)

Here's what Justin and I did right this past month:
Stuck to our budget! –– Well close enough… We were within $600 of our strict, tight budget. And technically, since our budget is only about half of Justin's take-home pay (and none of mine!), I'm going to consider that a win! It's the least we've ever spent in a month in the entire time that we've been married!
• $12.29 in interest earned this month! Woot! (I'll take what I can get!)
Refinanced a student loan with Earnest, a company that is designed to work with recent graduates and take into consideration the school graduated from, current employer, and perceived employment/wage growth along with credit score to determine your eligibility. Doing this one little thing brought our interest payments down from 10.5% per year on a huge personal (student) loan to 3.22%! That is a HUGE difference! It will save Justin and me a few thousand a year!
We paid off one of my student loans! The company (FirstMark) was being a pain and not notifying me when I had a payment due. Then they would proceed to contact my co-signers (rather than me) and complain about my lack of payment. (Seriously?!) Of course I always had the money to pay it and paid it as soon as my co-signers contacted me, but it was beyond irritating. I'm so glad to be done with them!

A few graphs that make me happy:

Net Income – Last year we had a few occasions where we spent more than we made. The past 12 months seem to have us in a position where we are consistently making more than we spend. YAY!

green = this year; yellow = last

Spending – This graph compares this years spending to last. I love that my husband and I are spending less this year than we did last. Don't get me wrong – I wouldn't take back any time I spent with friends/family, the peace and quiet of living in my ideal home in the city, or any of the time I spent traveling! It's just nice knowing that Justin and I seem to have more control over our budget and money this year. We are focusing on paying down debt. Plus, it's a personal goal of mine to always spend less than I did the year before and less than I did the month before. (A success for April but we aren't off to a good start this month…)

Sidenote: Justin and I have spent $31,000 less this year than last! Kudos to us!

Debts – This graph looks a bit crazy, but I wanted to show in a very real way how much more control Justin and I seem to have had over our finances this year. If you'll notice (and it is probably pretty hard to tell without good x and y axis labels), Justin and I were doing OK last year getting our finances down (with a few bumps along the way) until February 2014. All of a sudden we were forced to move, Justin needed a new vehicle, and we went to Europe. We didn't truly regain control of our finances again until July 2014, which is actually pretty easy to see in the graph. I just think it's interesting how an emotional roller coaster (and series of events) can keep you in debt for longer than you expect, plan, or hope. Of course, I also want to show that once you gain control of your debt, it's possible to slowly work it out of your life. Justin and I still (even after a few years of working on it!) owe a house in student loan debt! (And we don't even own a house!) It's miserable! But I'm glad to see it working it's way down. Hopefully with our new Earnest loan, we will be able to pick up our pace…

Sidenote to all of you college hopefuls out there: Sometimes going to college isn't worth the debt attached. You ARE NOT guaranteed a job upon graduation and, in that particular situation, your life is not necessarily better because of college. Furthermore, any debt (even in student loans) should not be considered "good debt". There is never any "good debt". #soapbox #petpeeve 

Finally, here's where Justin and I need to improve:
Lower Spending –– We did absolutely fantastic in April, but we could have done better. If we had spent $500 less, we would have met our target budget. Our target budget should be all we need to spend to survive. I don't want to raise the budgeted numbers just because we aren't meeting our goals. Our goals should be difficult to reach … That's what makes them goals. *shrugs* I'm sorry that I say this every month. :-/
Pay off more debt. –– This goes right along with lowering spending. The less we spend overall, the more debt we can pay down … which means our loans will be paid off faster. Unfortunately, the projected payoff date has been moved to February 2020 (from November 2019). I'm hoping this is a result of Mint being confused about what loans are paid off and that the date will be moved forward again once the dust settles…
Save more. –– We have two 0% interest credit cards. Justin has decided that perhaps instead of continuing to work on paying down the debt on those cards that perhaps he should put the money into a savings account and use the savings account to pay off the cards when the 0% interest ends so that we accrue interest on the money that would be used toward paying down those cards. I'm all for it, but it will definitely change the way we do finances in the coming month…
Sell items. –– We have so many things we could list on eBay to make money to pay off our debt. We just have to do it!

And the bad news?

I need new tires. And my back struts (on my car) need to be fixed. I'm thinking May will be a bad month (in expenditure) for us. Perhaps June will be better…?!

How are you doing on finances? Good? Bad? So-so? Have you taken the time to look at them this month? And (the most important question of all) are you ready for Pitch Perfect 2? :)

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