The ins and outs

It’s mid-month, which is a good time to check in with what we get each month, and what we pay out, typically.

Income (monthly):

  • My job: $2330
  • My husband’s job: $3372
  • Total: $5702


  • Mortgage: $800 (technically $757, I always pay $800)
  • Car payment: $400 (technically like $399.99, I always pay $400)
  • Water: $65 typically
  • Electric: $25 (solar electricity is still new to us so I don’t know how this will shake out, month to month)
  • Internet: $49.95 (another benefit to living in a LCOL area, this seems to be lower than a lot of people pay)
  • Cell phones: $150 (that includes $45/month to pay off my husband’s phone)
  • Gas to heat the house: $85 (ranges from like $30-120)
  • Sewage: $80
  • Dance: $193
  • Gymnastics: $243
  • MIL taxes: $150
  • Music lessons: $240
  • Student loans: $700
  • Remittances: $300
  • YMCA: $70
  • Pediatric dentistry: $50
  • Orkin: $100
  • Lawn mower: $150
  • Old credit card: $450
  • Brain surgery: $54
  • Solar loans: $400
  • Basement loan: $150
  • Groceries and other: $2000
  • Gas/car expenses: $500
  • Other medical expenses: typically $200
  • Plane tickets for MIL: $200
  • Total: $7604.95

My paycheck is smaller than you (I) might expect (I make $55K a year! Shouldn’t I make like $4000 a month??) , because I take out for the flexible spending account for health ($250 a month), $150 a month for dependent care to cover Viv’s preschool, $500 a month for 401K and IRAs, and $300 a month for 529s. I also have life insurance for $15 a month and dental/vision for about $30 a month. I tried to increase my life insurance but they said no, because of my stupid brain tumor. That brain tumor was so fucking stupid. I also take out an additional $400 per month on taxes, beyond what is typical.

The reason I take out so much extra for taxes is that: ta da! We make a lot of extra money in our side gigs. Our W2 jobs bring in about $5700 after all is said and done, and we owe about $7600 each month. I have three main side gigs: one averages maybe $150 a month, one is about $700 a month, and one I expect to make a minimum of $1500; in the last year, there have only been two months where I made less than $2000 (never less than $1500, and one month, I made $5900). At the minimum, that brings our total to $8050 income each month, leaving us a little bit of wiggle room to pay for car emergencies, birthdays, gas to go see family, emergencies, summer trips, eating out occasionally, or (in theory!) to put stuff in savings. If I make more than $2000, which is typical, that gives us more wiggle room. There’s also a bit of wiggle room built into our grocery budget. When MIL isn’t with us, groceries are typically around $800 a month; when she is with us, they are more like $1200. That extra $800-1200 is there for birthday gifts, somebody needs socks, diapers, dog food, etc.

My husband also has side gigs, although not at the same regularity that I do – he often gets overtime at work, or works designing webpages, which for now means periods with no extra money, and then $3000 all at once, for example. He just had an interview for more regular freelance work, at a design company, for something like 10 hours a week – even if this one doesn’t work out, I expect that work to be more regular in the coming years.

We have a looooot of short-term debt which is shitty, but also awesome, because with vigilance, these expenses will go down over time (they already have, as we started really thinking about this maybe 6 months ago, and we’ve paid off a bunch of small debts, like another brain surgery bill, my husband’s dentistry (it was a lot), MIL’s CPAP machine). And while it’s possible groceries will go up, or gas, or remittances, most of the other stuff is going to stay the same. In 5 months, we will have $400 less in payments. By the time a year goes by, we’ll be down by about $650. In two years: almost $1200. I’m sure we will also add things there – medical bills, we will eventually need to replace the paid off car, but I expect the net “out” to go down and the net “in” to stay the same, or increase with raises, more freelance, etc. We have committed to not taking on any more consumer debt if we can help it, which means our bathroom floor might rot through, but…so it goes.

Here’s some other things that make this a little less dire – if we had to, we could stop paying MIL taxes (it’s complicated). We could drop the YMCA membership, and we are paying a bunch of the loans (especially the short-term loans) above the minimum to get rid of them quicker. If one of us were to lose a lot of income, our student loans would go down, because they are income-based. We are one month ahead on our mortgage. So things seem like they are up to the line, but we definitely have some space built into our current system.

So…could be worse. Could be better. Thank God for freelance? Thank God for freelance.

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