January 2017: Credit Card Float

I participated in an Uber Frugal Month Challenge this month, but my normal spending is so low, it made little difference. Actually I had a lot of nonrecurring expenses and my spending was, for me, wildly high.

In fact, according to YNAB, I am now entirely out of money and then some. I don’t mean that I spent more than I made. I mean I spent more than I have.

I only know this because YNAB told me. See, I still have lots of money in my checking account. I just don’t have enough to simultaneously pay all my credit cards down to 0. I am reasonably optimistic that I will be able to pay them by the end of the month; if not, I will carry a balance on my lowest-rate card.

What happened? Well, I paid off my lawyer. They sent a bill for $4400. I said, “Didn’t you say there was a discount if I paid in full?” They said, “Do you have three thousand? We take Visa and Mastercard.” I could carry that bill on my MasterCard for a long time before the eleven-point-something-percent interest would come anywhere near the $1400 discount, but I do not expect to carry it long at all.

My car also cost me more than usual this month. Read on for the full breakdown.

Income

FSA reimbursement: $240

Wages: $1224.92 (Low because of not picking up extra hours around the holidays)

Support: $748.87

Interest: 78¢

Cash gift: $20

Trivia earnings: $70

Money I raided from my HSA: $1203.91 (I submitted medical bills that I had long since paid out of pocket to access funds to pay my lawyer with)

Total income: $3508.48

Expenses

Rent and included utilities: $1070.77

Laundry: $40

XCel (electric): $25.41

Ting: $26.75

Internet: $9.95

ATM fees: $6.99 (reimbursed by my credit union next month)

Legal bill, blog hosting, a few other things: $3048.50

Groceries: $360.85 (OUCH! But includes $55 Costco renewal.)

Auto maintenance: $96.87 (I now own a charger capable of starting a car without another car. Y’know, in case your kids leave the dome light on and your battery runs dead and you are blocked in by other cars and have to walk to AutoZone in the snow to buy something to solve this problem.)

Gas: $44.15

Annual vehicle tax/registration: $145.64

Parking: $1

Boys’ allowance: $5.46 (I appear to have shorted them)

Boys’ clothes: $12 (winter gloves for Big Brother)

Daycare: $247 (I had to buy a daycare package to use up FSA dollars)

Boys’ health and dental: $168.61 (still paying off Big Brother’s tongue)

Restaurants: $33.46 (includes 1 special occasion lunch and Big Brother’s birthday dinner at Chipotle)

Coffee shops and snacks: $27.19 (OK, OK, maybe not uber-frugal, but includes some lovely social outings)

Frippery: $18.45

Clothes for me: $67.51 (needed black pants to wear for subbing and a thing to keep my ears warm)

Kindle book not available at library: $3.22

Birthday presents for Big Brother: $30.99 (also used credit card points)

Used cell phone and accessories: $135.16 (Yes, I just repaired the old one, and it broke again, and sometimes that’s how it goes. Got a Galaxy S5 from Craigslist for $110.)

Travel: $136.62 (Includes ticket to Las Vegas for May and Lyft home from airport)

Total Spending: $5772.26

Shortfall: $2262.78

Analysis

Well, of course that sucks. No one likes to come up that short. But let’s look on the bright side: I was able to pay a three thousand dollar bill almost completely out of savings. Yes, I am now quite tapped out and have exhausted resources that I can’t use again this year (like my HSA), but how many people can’t cover that kind of bill at all? Because I had money from last month budgeted for the legal bill, the actual shortfall was $250.08. That’s how much more I spent than my liquid resources.

Other reasons for optimism: I have been working like a crazy woman this month, getting lots of library hours, and should get good paychecks in February. AND I have applied for a program (CICP, Colorado Indigent Care Program) that would reduce Big Brother’s hospital bill. I should qualify, so fingers crossed.

I’ve been reading this book The Unbanking of America: How the New Middle Class SurvivesWhile the point is to learn more about poverty and middle-class financial insecurity, I’m also finding that it makes me, well, feel pretty good about myself. Sometimes I have savings! I understand my bank account and never accrue fees! That already puts me way above average. Seems like I should be able to hang in there for a while longer.

How was your January?

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About frugalparagon

I'm a part-time librarian and mom to two small boys. I blog about striving for the long-term goal of financial independence while running a tight ship at home.

2 responses to “January 2017: Credit Card Float”

  1. Mom FP says :

    And Mom FP did offer to pay for that Las Vegas ticket and forgot!

  2. Moonwaves says :

    When all’s said anddone, that’s really pretty impressive. Well done! Especially for the way you rolled with the punches, had some savings to deal with the emergencies and, most important, kept right on going. I have some debt again since moving last year but am focusing on trying to save a baby emergency fund first. It really does make a difference in how you’re able to react to the unexpected.

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