I've spent a lot of time in the last couple of weeks revamping our budget. We're also in the midst of changing banks to save on user fees.
When all is said an done, we'll have 3 accounts :
- 1 for day-to-day expenses (groceries, gas, etc)
- 1 for monthly bills (rent, phone, loans, car, insurance, etc)
- 1 for savings
Starting this month, we're going to put just $5 per month into savings. It doesn't sound like much, I admit, but it's more than we've ever done before.
Our monthly bills are all accounted for, as are groceries (at $250 / month for a family of 4+), and some gas.
I've put in some of our other known expenses that are coming up - getting a washing machine (yes, it sounds like a luxury, but not when you think of the logisitcs of trying to drag 3 children to the laundromat several times per week), Christmas, a new car seat (we might need two, but I REALLY hope not !), DH's licence next June, and stickers.
So, barring any unforseen things - like extended ilness or a strike or lay-off, car repairs, or anyone dying or getting married in the family, we're going to squeek by at least for the next 18 months.
There is NO extra money for anything (including baby and children's clothes - those will have to come out of the grocery budget) but our major expenses are covered.
Oh - and in the new year, I have made accomodations for a slightly higher grocery budget (as the 2 biggest "extra" expenses - the washing machine and car seat will already have been paid for) and for more money to go to savings - up to $100/month starting in the spring of 2007.
We're still YEARS away from being out of debt, but knowing that there will be SOMETHING in savings, and that our bills are able to be paid on time is a HGUE relief for us right now.
I think I'm going to have nightmares of numbers dancing in my head now !
I just got off the phone with the student loan centre at Royal Bank - I've requested 2 applications - 1 is a basic "revision of terms" which will prolong the pay-ing off time, but at a lower monthly amount. The other is an application for "interest only" payments, which is only good for 6 out of every 12 months.
I should get them in about 2 weeks, and be able to look them over to see how they would affect my payments, now that I've gotten my loan back to "in good standing" after being in a kind of pre-collections agency place for the last several months.
Our combined income is just over $2500 per month.
Our steady bills (before gas, groceries or laundry) are just over $2000 per month.
Really, there is very little room to play there.