How to Spend Money When You Should Be Paying Off Debt

I have a friend we’ll call June.  I want to slap June because she is being dumb with her money right now.  June doesn’t know I have a blog and am writing about her.

Here’s a little background on June.

June is a thirty-something married woman with no kids.  Her and her husband both work full-time.  Neither one makes very good money.  June has approximately $40k in student loans, a car loan, and now, very expensive medical bills.  She recently spent four days in the hospital coping with a mental health issue.  She’s told me she expects to pay $6k from this hospital stay.

For fun, June likes to listen to music.  She has loved going to concerts for years, but recently her devotion to one specific band will probably cause her to make very stupid financial decisions.  You see, said band just put out a record and is going on tour.  June intends to take time off of work and follow this band around the upper midwest, attending their concerts with another groupie that lives out-of-state.

I think this is insanely stupid, but I haven’t said anything to her about it.  I’ve only declined when she asked me if I’d like to go with her to the concert they’re performing in our state.

What would make her think this is a good idea?  Why isn’t she buckling down and paying off her debt?  Why isn’t she freaking out about the money she owes?

I have a hard time remembering that not everyone is frugal.  While I get great satisfaction from adding money to my IRA, other people would rather spend that money on other things.  I think Mr. Frugal Turtle and myself live in somewhat of a bubble.  While we are homebodies who have a great time by ourselves just watching movies and making delicious food at home, the majority of the rest of society lives very differently.

I guess I should be happy that she’s living the life she wants to.  She’s spending money on experiences instead of stuff.  But at the same time I want to scream at her, “Pay off your debts!!”

2015 Review

2015: A Year to Review

2015 was a pretty great year for me financially.  I made more in 2015 than I ever have.  Due to that, I was able to invest more than I ever have as well.

It was pretty decent health wise as well.  I started having back and leg pain due to the herniated disc back in November, but before that, nothing major happened, health wise, that really impacted my finances.

My expenses in 2015 were also pretty low, despite a pretty generous gift to my parents for their 55th wedding anniversary, and also a trip to the U.S. Virgin Islands.  I’m hoping I can duplicate 2015 for the next 10-15 years so I can reach Early Retirement!


In 2015 I took home $40,915.  This total includes the $18,000 that went directly to my 401K.  This was my best year ever!

I made about $5,000 more this year than last year.  This is due mostly to overtime.  My company had a record year in 2015, which translated to the employees working a lot of extra hours.

I’m not sure how I feel about this.

On one hand the money is nice, but on the other hand, people were threatening to quit, and moral was extremely low because nobody was getting any time off.

When people already work 12 hr days, adding an extra day or two on top of the normal four, is asking a lot. Asking employees to do that for months at a time can lead to very disgruntled employees.

I wish the company would just stick to 48 hr. weeks.  That seems to be the sweet spot that makes everyone happy.

Back in February I received a 3% raise, which is about normal for my employer.  There was a change in management and I have yet to receive a review with my new manager.  I should be getting my review and (hopefully) raise in February, since that is the month I started working there.  I’ll have worked there for five years come February.

I have mixed feelings about this….

Net Worth and Savings

I started 2015 with a net worth of $39,833.  Over the course of the year I maxed out my 401K and also my IRA.  On top of that I was able to put $4,080 into my online savings account.

I have two online savings accounts.  One is my emergency fund which has a little over $8,000.  The other savings account is earmarked for a new car, but I occasionally dip into it when I need it.

OK, I just checked the last time I withdrew money from that account and it was actually back in 2014!  I took out some money to max out my IRA for that year.

On January 1st my net worth was $68,842.  Obviously most of the gains on my net worth over the year was money that I put in to the accounts, but I did manage to gain $1,429 over what I contributed.  Unfortunately that gain has now disappeared thanks to markets dropping, but I digress.


My expenses in 2015 totaled $14,029.  A few things to note: 1. I only pay $400 in rent every month. 2. I carpool with my boyfriend to work and we usually take his car since it has fewer miles on it.  3. We don’t have kids.

The only one of these that will most likely change (very soon) is us carpooling together.  His hours are about to possibly change, so we won’t be on the same shift.

Also, I only go out to eat about once every couple of months.  The only type of food I find it worthwhile to go out to eat for is ethnic, usually Mexican or Indian since that’s what I love and I can never make it as good at home.  If anyone has any really good vegetarian Curry recipes, please point me in that direction!

I also wasn’t adding in medical insurance to my monthly expenses.  That is something that will be changing in 2016.  That will be a new category added to my expense report.  You can probably safely add on an extra $2,000 to my expenses if you want to include my medical insurance that I get through work.

The above totals are mine and mine alone.  I do live with Mr. Frugal Turtle, but we keep our finances separate as of right now. Luckily, he’s pretty frugal, so we get along extremely well.  There is no need to keep a spread sheet proving that I’ve paid for stuff or what I owe him.  We have a common goal: Early Retirement.  As of right now I don’t intend to stop working until we both agree that, combined, we’re financially ready for retirement.  We’re a team, through and through.


January Net Worth

I can’t believe we’re already well into January.  It’s crazy how time flies!

My back is still slowly getting better.  I’m down to seeing my Chiropractor once a week, but I’m definately still doing my exercises and stretches, and also using my inversion table every day.  I just got a $300 bill from my Chiropractor for all the $30 co-pays that I never paid for each visit.  Oh, the joys of medical bills.  I’m sure I’ll be getting more bills in the mail from the MRI and also my Medical Clinic visit.  At least I seem to be managing work alright, and hopefully won’t be missing any more due to my back.

My net worth on January 1st, 2016 was $68,826.50.  Sadly, it’s down quite a bit from that already this month due to the down markets.  I don’t think my February Net Worth update will be any better.  As much as I hate seeing my Net Worth trend downward, I need to keep reminding myself that it’s because of the markets, and not anything that I am doing wrong.  I just need to keep buying more shares while they are on sale.  

I’m really happy that it’s a new year because I can contribute to my IRA again!  Yay!  I was able to transfer $530.00 to Vanguard last Friday when I received my first paycheck of the new year.  I’m not sure if I’ll be able to contribute that much again for awhile due to my medical bills, but here’s hoping!  Last month I was able to add $1,009.72 to my 401k and savings account.  Lower than normal due to  lower income and higher expenses.  

December Income

I earned $2,292.59 last month with $916 of that going into my 401k.  That total was a lot lower last month due to time off for my back and also having a week off for the Holidays. My job is my only source of income.  

December Expenses

Rent $400
Netflix $8.54
Co-Pay for Clinic Visit $30
Prescriptions (for back) $10.45
Inversion Table $212.68
Car Insurance $300.4
Groceries $142.09
Household Items $104.53
Clothes (includes X-Mas Gift) $22.12
Gas $41.85
Cell Phone $38.45
Hair Cut $35.5
Coffee $1.59
Parents Xmas Gift $100
Checking Account Fee $3.95

Total expenses=$1,452.15

It was definately an expensive month.  My car insurance is due in January, so I just paid it all in December.  I bought an inversion table to help with my herniated disc.  Plus, Christmas.  I also spent more on gas for my car this month.  Usually I ride with Mr. Frugal Turtle to work, but ever since I injured my back and I wasn’t sure if I could stay for the whole shift, we’ve just been driving seperate.  I’m happy to say that I think we can drive together again starting this week.  I stayed the whole shift every day last week, and I keep getting better every day.  Baby steps, but there is noticeable (to me) improvement.

Last month was just depressing what with my back problems and not working was much.  I’ve been very focused on my back and getting better, and even though I still experience pain and tingling I just need to remind myself that I am slowly and surely getting better.  Pretty soon this will all be a bad memory.

Back Pain and Finances: How Paying to Manage My Back Pain Has Impacted My Finances

I Hate Back Pain!

It’s been a frustrating month, financially and physically.  My expenses are a lot higher than normal due to my medical issue.  Plus, I haven’t earned as much because I’ve had to miss a lot of work, so once you factor in my expenses and my earnings for the month, my savings rate is going to be abysmal.

Earlier this month I had an MRI and the report showed a herniated disc between L5 and S1.  That is the source of my sometimes crippling pain down my right leg.

I used up some vacation earlier this month and took a week off.  Not because I wanted to, but because I literally couldn’t walk without limping and practically crying out in pain.

Going to the Chiropractor Helps

I’ve been seeing my chiropractor every week and doing stretches every day.  I spent a little over $200 on an inversion table, which helps eliminate the pain, at least temporarily.

Ugh!  Back pain is sooo frustrating!!  Because of the holidays, my employer shut down  for the past week.  I go back to work Sunday night.

This past week I really stepped up the stretching and light exercises in the hopes that maybe I’ll be better by the time I have to go back to work.  I’m scared right now, because I still constantly have pain going down my right leg… and I’m not doing anything strenuous.

Because of my back pain, I’m worried I’m going to be unable to do my job.  I’m on my feet, mostly walking or standing, for twelve hours.  Four nights a week.

The week before Christmas break I was only able to work part of my shift every day.  I had to leave after 8-10 hours.  The pain was just to unbearable.  Ibuprofin can only take so much of the pain away.

Luckily, I have a boss who is understanding, and so leaving work early wasn’t a problem.  But for how long can a boss be understanding when an employee is having to leave work every day?

Will I Be Able to Keep Working?

I’m worried right now.  I’m not sure what my life is going to be like in six months.  Will I have to use up all my vacation right away because I can’t work?  Take a leave of absence?  Go on disability?  Will I even have a job? Continue reading “Back Pain and Finances: How Paying to Manage My Back Pain Has Impacted My Finances”

December Net Worth

This year has gone by way to fast!  Where does the time go?  I can’t believe it’s almost Christmas.  We had the first snowstorm of the season here in Minnesota, and Mr. Frugal Turtle and I ended up in the ditch on the way to work.  He was going around a curve, or at least, trying to go around a curve, but the car wouldn’t turn and in the ditch we went.  Luckily I have AAA, so a tow truck showed up an hour later to pull us out.  We were both ok, but the car wasn’t so lucky.  It lost a small  part of the bumper.

I’ve had AAA for about four years now, and this is the first time I’ve had to use it.  Sometimes I wonder if it’s a waste of money, but since my car is 15 years old, having it gives me a little peace of mind.  Luckily I have the number programmed into my cell phone, because I didn’t have the card on me.  Whenever Mr. Frugal Turtle drives us to work, I leave my wallet at home since I don’t need anything in it.  The woman that I talked to was very friendly and made sure to check if we were ok.  She was able to pull up my information without the card number.  It just feels good knowing I have a number I can always call for help whenever I have car trouble.

Thanksgiving weekend was very busy, again.  Mr. Frugal Turtle and I celebrated three different Thanksgivings between Thursday and Friday.  So. Much. Food.  I’m very thankful for being able to spend time with family, though.  It’s nice when everyone’s together.

I avoid Black Friday shopping like the plague.  This year was no different.  I saved so much money on Black Friday…because I didn’t spend anything!  We draw names in my family, so honestly, I don’t have that many presents to get for people.  I get a present for the person I drew in the name draw, my niece (who’s seven), and my parents.  Last year Mr. Frugal Turtle and I did not get each other presents, and it was nice and not stressful at all.  We haven’t really talked about it, but I hope that’s what we do again this year.

Unfortunately, I might have some medical bills coming up soon.  I’m not sure what I did, but the weekend before Thanksgiving my right leg started tingling and I had severe pain radiating down the whole leg.  I’ve been seeing a chiropractor and he’s pretty sure I have Piriformis Syndrome.  The Piriformis is a muscle deep in your butt that is right next to the sciatic nerve.  That muscle can irritate the nerve causing numbness, tingling and severe pain down your leg.  I thought it was getting better, but it just flared up really bad last night, and now I’m scared I’m going to need more agressive treatments than Chiropractic care.  I’ve missed two days of work total since it started.  I’m really hoping I don’t miss too much more.  I can’t get Financially Independent if I don’t work!  As of right now, I haven’t received any medical bills for the Chiropractic care, so that helped with keeping my November expenses in check.  I’m not sure what my expenses are going to look like next month though!

December Net Worth

As of December 1st, 2015, my Net Worth is $68,842.  Will the New Year bring 70K???  Here’s hoping!  My networth includes my 401k, IRA, and savings account.  I was able to add $2,414.80 to my 401k and savings account this month.

November Income

My net income for November was $3,226.46.  This includes my 401k contributions.  My job is my only source of income.  I don’t have any side hustles or real estate.

November Expenses

I spent $786.17 in November.  That’s pretty good!  Here is what I spent my money on.

Item Cost
Rent $400
Groceries $199.07
Gas $59.83
Netflix $8.54
Gift Certificates $49
Cell Phone $38.45
Christmas Gift $15.08
Movie and snacks $12.25
Checking account fee $3.95

We did spend a little over $100 for groceries at Sam’s Club, but Mr. Frugal Turtle picked up that tab, so that’s not included in the groceries total.  We also did go out to eat once during the month at our favorite Indian restaurant where we get a ton of food for about $35.00.  Mr. Frugal Turtle picked up that tab as well.  What a guy!  The gift certificates that I spent $49 on were discounted gift certificates to that same Indian restaurant and the expensive mostly local, mostly organic co-op grocery store that I frequent.  I’m always looking for easy ways to save a few bucks!

I doubt my December expenses will be this low.  Between buying Christmas presents and any upcoming medical bills, I forsee my expenses being over $1000.  Oh well.  You win some, you lose some, right?