I’m super excited this month because I created a new expense tracking spreadsheet that is helping me more than ever be accountable with spending. I can’t wait to share this FREE BUDGET SPREADSHEET with others to use for themselves!
Previously, I used the Mint app and it helped me for a lonnnng time to know WHERE my money was going. However, I found myself still struggling with LIMITING where it was going.
why is it important to limit your spending?.. and Who needs a free budget SPREADSHEET?
Well, if you’re like me, you might have a mountain of some sort of debt. For me, it is student loan debt. And the thought of having that debt, WEIGHS ON MY MIND EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. So instead of JUST paying the monthly payment, I want to pay MORE than that so I can pay it off FASTER.
That is why this SPREADSHEET I created to help me track my expenses is so important. It allows me to VISUALIZE what I’m spending and how much extra money I have left over to put towards debt and help me meet my goals.
I’M A visual learner….I HAVE TO SEE IT TO BELIEVE IT.
It’s crazy how a SPREADSHEET can make me feel so EMPOWERED.
Like I have so much more CONTROL over my spending decisions and my life in general.
Before, I would try to keep a running total in my head. NOW, I open my google sheets app on my phone right after a purchase, input the amount, and visualize what I have left for the month.
Back in November, I discussed Budgeting Tips for Beginners to help you create your first budget and it gave an example of my budget from a “bird’s eye view”. The spreadsheet I created looks at the nitty gritty. It tracks expenses for each budget item.
Create Your Budget FIRST
**Important to Note** – my budget might look a little different than yours as my husband and I keep things separately. You can see that I don’t have a housing or utilities expense as he pays those. I have been paying the phone bill up until this month when he took that over.
My husband isn’t “all in” at the idea of paying extra on debt yet. So, I decided that asking him to pay for another bill and me pay the extra on debt might work better for us.
**Also Important to note** – I am an independent consultant Dietitian and my income is VARIABLE.
My income changes every week and therefore every month because I work different hours and get paid different hourly rates. I also travel and am paid mileage.
Therefore, I take my income info from a different spreadsheet and input in into FREE BUDGET SPREADSHEET. It helps me know what I have leftover at the end of the month to apply towards debt or save & invest.
How I Figured how much extra I need to spend towards debt to reach my goal
I used the Loan Calc app to input my loan $ amount, interest rate, and the length of time that I wanted to pay my loans off in. This is the closest I could find as a website loan calculator. I chose one that will let you break it down into months which is important if you want to be exact with goal setting.
The Tricky Part…
I’m already paying $892 towards student loans. That is my minimum per month.
$470 goes to a local bank where I have one student loan and $422 goes to Navient where I have my federal loans (the ones I’m trying to pay off since they have a higher interest rate). So the $1661.68 includes the $422.
Therefore, if I want to hit my goal I need to pay an additional $1240/month on top of the $892 I already pay for a total of $2132.
YOU MIGHT BE WONDERING HOW i CHOSE WHICH LOAN TO PAY OFF FIRST…
*Disclaimer* – I am not a financial professional. You may want to talk to a financial professional before deciding which loans you want to pay off first.
Originally, I chose my federal student loans to pay off first for a couple reasons:
(1) They have the highest interest rates.
Interest rates on my 3 federally held student loans were: 5.59-5.75% versus my local bank student loan being at 4% and my car loan at 3.75%.
(2) I do not qualify for any Public Service Student Loan Forgiveness.
You can read more about this at the link above to see if you qualify. If you work in certain jobs and have certain types of loans, you may.
(3) Two Words. DEBT SNOWBALL.
Debt snowball means you pay the smallest debt with the highest interest rate off first. Then you can use the cash flow from that debt to help pay off the next one. I chose debt snowball versus debt avalanche because the debt was comprised of 3 smaller loans so it would help give me motivation each time I paid one off.
And I need that motivation to keep pushing forward and continue paying on my debt.
Debt Snowball Example #1:
I have a car loan for $7,100 at 3.75% interest and 4 student loans:
- 1 – $38,500 at 4%, 1 – $7,099 at 5.59%, 1 – $8,590 at 5.59%, 1 – $14,908 at 5.75%
The most logical choice of these 5 for debt snowball is to choose the $7,099 student loan at 5.59% interest to pay off first. After it is paid off, I can use the $100/month that was costing me to apply towards the next smallest debt.
Debt Snowball Example #2:
You know that car loan I mentioned before? Well, I’m trying to sell that car for retail value and drive my husband’s “work car” for at least 6 months. I guess those husband’s are helpful sometimes ;).
If I’m able to sell it, that will lend me $420 more per month to throw at my debt. In 6 months, that will add up to roughly $3500, which means I could meet my payoff goal 2 months faster then I had originally planned.
Debt Snowball Versus Debt Avalanche
I chose debt snowball because I need motivation to get through this. I come from a long line of spenders and it is sometimes easy for me to slip back into that consumerism mentality.
If you’re trying to decide which way to go and motivation isn’t a factor for you, check out this awesome debt snowball vs debt avalanche calculator. I entered my loan information and it said I would save $20 by choosing debt avalanche, but, I wouldn’t save any time! Therefore, debt snowball is still the best choice.
(4) Increase cash flow for child #2
We are planning to have child #2 in the next 2 years. I want to free up cash flow from one of these loans so I can work less days per week to spend time with my kids.
My local student bank loan is $38,500 and my federally held student loans are $31,500 so I chose the lesser of the two here.
Refinancing federally held student loan debt
Originally, I did not want to refinance my student loans at a lower interest rate because there are MULTIPLE BENEFITS to keeping them at a federal institution.
- tax deductions on student loan interest
- income driven repayment plans
- PSLF (as mentioned before)
- just to name a few…
WHEN THE UNEXPECTED HAPPENS…
However, since I had a plan in place to pay these babies off, I figured, why not refinance them to my local bank where I know I can pay 4% interest? I actually figured the extra amount I needed to pay based on 4% interest. (because I know the president of the bank and I knew he could refinance these for me at that rate)
Little did I know…. hours before I was set to sign my refinance loan on Friday, March 13th, President Trump announced that he would be waiving interest on federally held student loans.
“Well that was unexpected! Sure glad I didn’t refinance my loans yet…” was the thought that came to my mind…
Since FREE interest is even better than 4%, I decided at that point to hold off refinancing my federal loans. Instead, I’ll continue paying the minimum amount on them. I’ll instead pay extra on my student loan at the bank that will NEVER have FREE interest.
Yes it is a larger loan and I won’t be able to get those quick, small wins. However, it may save more money in the long run.
And as I continue to get my husband on board with our financial goals, it will be easier to stay motivated.
I can always go ahead and refinance my federal student loans once this whole situation has blown over. If that is the best option.
Moral of the story
Personal finance is such a fluid journey. It isn’t a one size fits all approach and sometimes you have to roll with the punches.
It’s HUGE help to know where my money is going, that way in times of crisis, you can see where you might be able to cut down on expenses.
Start your path to paying off debt in 2020 and get your FREE BUDGET SPREADSHEET Template HERE Today!