I was very pessimistic about our finances but now that November is closed, I am thrilled to have put away what I consider a decent amount of money. BEF is up to $535, and our savings "buckets" (savings that are intended for specific purposes, like heating oil or medical or airfare to visit my parents) are also getting decently funded. Once those savings buckets are in really good shape, we should have more to put away toward the unspecified EF. Some of the savings buckets might technically be the EF, such as the medical (goal is to save $1000, the max deductible for one person - would mean medical expenses would not likely have to touch the EF at all) or the auto (goal is to save $500 which should cover basic maintenance and repairs). Also, some buckets might even give us cash back later, for example when we pay our property tax and if anything is left over, we can put that money in the EF or toward our mortgage or something. Anyway, it will take a long time but surely within a year we will have built up enough cushion again that we should be able to cover all the usual stuff without affecting much of anything.
I also paid $21 extra to the mortgage, which is a measly amount but I'm happy. I intend to send at least that much extra every month. Previously we committed to paying down the student loan but I ulitmately felt that the amount of time we'd have to have no cushion for (3.5 years) is too risky, and the end result would simply be that we're off the hook for a $165 monthly payment, which is not nothing but isn't going to really change our lives. The rate is, what, 2%? Lest I sound like I'm fine being in debt, I'm not, I think I am just going to refocus on our savings and then maybe the mortgage next - not that we can pay off our mortgage anytime soon but we can save soooo much more money over the life of the mortgage by sending a little extra to that. Whereas the same effort for the student loans gains us very little.
Onward and upward to December! December is a 3 paycheck month for us! But unfortunately some of that extra is already earmarked toward some stuff like paying the balance of our CSA ($300) - that reminds me, I need to add a savings bucket for the CSA so we're already setting aside money for the next season and don't have to feel the pinch at the end like we are now.