Currently on the chopping block is the first of two private Sallie Mae student loans. We've been whittling away at the original $7,000 balance since February. The current balance is $990. We had about a $650 snowball to throw at it in November, and figured it would be paid off by December or January at the latest. I sat down to do the budget and realized just how close we really were to paying it off. I usually think of our budget as pretty bare-bones, so I really didn't think we could come up with $300+ to pay it off this month. But out of sheer curiosity, I decided to just see what would happen if I cut $10 out of this category, and $20 out of that category, without really getting radical. Suddenly, the amount that we needed started to look feasible. So I got a little bit more radical. I cut out all of our spending money, cut the grocery budget down, etc.
$10 off my YMCA dues (I had upgraded a while back so I could take group ex classes at other branches, but I've only used the upgrade once in a month)
$20 for clothing (leaving $0 for this month--we should be fine with what we've got)
$15 for haircuts (Michael just got one, and I can do without)
$40 for all of my spending money
$20 for half of Michael's spending money
$50 from car maintenance (leaving $50)
$15 from school supplies/lunches (we should already have enough in the envelope to cover November, but if not, ds can skip the one day a week that he buys lunch and take his lunch that day)
$30 from Christmas sinking fund
$20 from Thanksgiving dinner budget (leaving $60)
$55 off of a big purchase that the husband is making this month that he over-budgeted for
$30 off the grocery budget
And all of a sudden we only needed about $60 to pay it off in November!
So I cleaned out my couch coushions, change jar, car, and a couple of old purses and found $12.50. Michael did jury duty and netted $5 after parking/lunch. So now I only needed $47.50. I did a pinecone survey and was down to $44.50. I realized we had come in under budget on our November electric bill by $10, so now I only needed $34.50. I asked Michael if he could pick up another after school shift, which he was able to do, and now we were down to $14.50. I finalized the budget for October and saw that we were underbudget for gas by $15.94, and we were there!!
Now, that is a bare-bones budget! No money for clothing, spending money, haircuts, school supplies/lunches, or any extras. I dropped the grocery budget to $140 for each half of the month, but I found out that my life insurance application was approved, so we may have another $15 bill to add to the budget in a couple of weeks. That may have to come from the grocery budget. We're still going to be saving $120 for Christmas.
It will be a huge challenge to stay totally focused and disciplined in order to pay this debt off in November! If all goes as planned, I'll send off that payment on/around November 15.