Home » The Road to Debt Free

October 2013 Recap

Submitted by on November 4, 2013 – 5:23 am 79 Comments

Well, we’ve just finished month ten of our road to debt free, and things are changing up again.  If you read my post last week, you know that we’re switching up our grocery buying again and purchasing more things in bulk, to increase our money savings.  This led to higher grocery expenses in October, but in the long run it should work out that we save much more money.  On the list of “big buys” this month?  4 25 lb. bags of flour, a 50-lb. bag of rice, LOTS of pasta, and a giant container of garlic powder.  🙂    We make most of our breads and baked goods from scratch, so all will be put to good use.  Entertainment funds were on the high side this month too, as we had some Halloween/Harvest Fest expenses.  We don’t celebrate Halloween in the traditional way (there’s no trick-or-treaters out in the boonies either), but instead, we let the kids dress up in non-scary costumes (made from stuff at home, of course), buy them each a bag of their fave candy to go in a big bowl, and purchase a new movie for us to watch together as a family (this year it was Monsters University, the prequel to Monsters Inc.  Super cute movie, by the way!).

Here are our October expenditure numbers:

Grocery:  $617.24 (remember, this is high due to our bulk shopping this month)

Gas for me:  $180.55.  Higher than I want it to be. 🙁  One of the reasons for this is that we had to wanted to make an extra trip to the cities to visit my dad in the hospital – he had hip replacement surgery.  Will do better for November.

Entertainment: $113.62.  Again, this was high, largely due to Halloween expenditures, but will be lower in November.

Electricity bill: $129.37.  Not terrible, given how cold it’s been.

Pet/Personal costs: $528.52  Much higher than our goal of $200.  Got the barn kitties neutered and vaccinated.

Medical: $130.62 .  Payments for our oldest daughter’s emergency surgery and concurring healing supplies.

Gifts: $212.36  Mom and stepdad’s 25th anniversary party, a new baby for our BFFs, a couple of birthdays, and a sympathy gift for a friend who lost her husband. 🙁

Clothing: $230.21 Yes, we bought clothes this month.  After putting away summer stuff and getting out winter stuff, we found that 3 of our 4 kids had outgrown all of their long pants, one outgrew his snow pants, and I also bought a couple of new things.  These were all necessity purchases – no “just for fun stuff here”.  We found super deals on almost everything.  For this amount of cash, I got: 5 pairs of jeans, 5 pairs of sweatpants for the kids, 2 pairs of snow pants, four pairs of pants for me (my current ones were literally falling apart), a t-shirt for me, a jacket for me.  So, a lot for the money.

Cell phone expenses: $52.32.  My pay-as-you-go phone died, so I got a new one.  We use this primarily for emergencies, or so that the kids have the ability to contact me when I’m out and Rick isn’t home.  Our total cell phone expenses for the year should still be under $200.

Car maintenance/repair: $727.29.  Rick’s truck needed new tires, and he did a radiator flush on his truck too.

Some of these expense areas were higher than I wanted them to be, but they were mostly good spending choices.

Now, onto the debt numbers.

We paid on the principal:

CC#1:  $70.92

CC#2: $197.54

CC#3: $48.00

Mortgage: $532.62

Total paid on debt principal: $849.08

We paid an extra $42 toward our credit card debt this month, and we hit another milestone: we passed the $2k mark on whittling away at our CC debt!  As of the end of October, we’ve paid down $2085.19 on our credit card debt.  It took us till May 1st to reach our first $1k, (we have a SUPER high DTI), then we fell backwards this summer, but kicked it the last couple of months and now are up to 2k.  Doesn’t seem like a lot to many of you, I’m sure, but for us it’s a huge victory.  Things are starting to snowball now, it seems, so I’m hoping that November and December will see bigger changes in that number too.  Then again, with the addition for November of a new fridge purchase, maybe not.  We’ll see.  We’ve still got to get the wood stove installed as well.

I just have to reiterate to our debt-paying-off readers here that it’s crucial to remember to focus on and congratulate yourself for every step toward victory, no matter how small.  We could easily get discouraged over the fact that after ten months of hard work, we’ve only dumped 2k of our credit card debt, but we’re choosing instead to focus on the fact that we are indeed moving closer toward financial freedom.  Each person/family’s own personal finance situation requires its own individual plan, and you need to do what’s right for you.  But the key is that you’re doing something, as opposed to nothing, to improve your financial life.


  • Sorry to hear about your friend’s husband. I already downloaded Monsters University and my daughter really enjoyed it. 🙂

  • Keep chipping away, it can feel like slow going at the start, but every dollar you pay off is a dollar that isn’t accruing interest against you.

  • Great job on your huge debt payment! That’s the way it gets done!

  • Great work hitting that $2,000 mark Laurie! Those milestones can be great to hit, especially when you’re starting to see things snowball. I took our middle one to see Monsters University at the cheap theatre for his birthday a week or so ago – he LOVED it!

    • Laurie says:

      Thanks, John! The “milestone” thing has been huge in keeping us on track. Glad you guys were able to hit MU too. Cute movie, wasn’t it? I think we liked it just as much as the kids did. 🙂

  • Great job! Also a good reminder everyone is different when it comes to paying off debt. Your barn kitties is someone else’s fill in the blank.

    • Laurie says:

      Exactly, Kelly! We’d rather give up something else in order to be the ones to love and care for those beautiful babes. Each one has to make his/her own decision about how they are going to manage their money, don’t they?

  • Alexa says:

    Sorry to hear about your Dad hope he’s doing better. I hope your friend is doing better as well. Sounds like a tough month. You did it though! Congrats on getting past that 2k mark!

    • Laurie says:

      Thanks, Alexa! Dad is doing terrific, and we are going down to visit him at home again this week, hopefully. And our friend is plugging along as well as can be expected. Thanks for your well wishes – much appreciated!

  • catherine says:

    You guys are doing great Laurie. I think it’s a great idea to buy in bulk for some things. I really want a breadmaker (No way do I have time or patience to kneed it out by hand!) good luck with november!!

    • Laurie says:

      Thanks, Catherine! LOL, yeah, without a bread maker there’d be no way I’d be making it by hand. I can never get the yeast temp right, and so it never rises properly! I’m convinced I’ll never be able to cook it without that beloved bread maker. 🙂

  • I hope your Dad is doing better after his surgery. A manager at my work had this done recently, seems like it takes some time to recover from.

    • Laurie says:

      Thanks, DC! Yes, dad is doing well, although not as mobile as he’d like to be. He’s slated to get the other hip done after this. Ugh!

  • I am so pleased that you had your barn cats fixed. Many rural people don’t care about cat overpopulation because the foxes and coyotes will deal the problem. It would have been easy for you to leave the cats alone and put that money to one of your other expenses but you made the right choice.

    • Laurie says:

      Thanks, Jane. 🙂 We LOVE our barn kitties, and can’t imagine leaving them to be coyote dinner! We feel called to be a safe haven of sorts for certain unwanted animals (all of our animals were unwanted/couldn’t be cared for animals), so we trust in God to provide for optimum care for them, and He always does. 🙂

  • Well done on making such great progress on your debt! Hitting the $2K mark in terms of paying off is amazing. Yay! I loved your post last week about taking frugal to a whole new level and I actually bought a massive bag of pasta at the weekend as a start to bulk buying!

  • Brit says:

    Thank you for sharing your October Recap and grats on the $2,000 mark! Keep it up. October for us went eh.. I made some dumb mistakes but we will be ok for November. 🙂 I have not seen Monster U yet.

  • What a fun family tradition for Halloween. Great job staying positive and celebrating every victory!! Attitude really is everything when it comes to making financial strides.

  • Recognizing each victory, no matter how small is key to staying motivated. Congrats!

  • I’m so happy to hear that you crossed the $2k debt payoff figure, even as you’re dealing with some higher than normal expenses. That’s great to still make progress during those months. I agree that things seem to be snowballing and I think the wins will start to come in bunches now. Way to go. 🙂

  • Mackenzie says:

    Glad to hear your dad is doing better, Laurie 🙂

    Congrats on paying off such a big amount! Keep up the good work!!!

  • Congrats on hitting the $2k mark! That has to feel great! I hope your Dad is doing better, Laurie! Having lost my father 9 years ago, I would say that visiting him in the hospital was a must. My girls loved Monster University too. It was a really cute movie!

    • Laurie says:

      Thanks so much Shannon. I was feeling a bit guilty about spending that money, but I certainly don’t now. I know how very special your dad is to you, and how very much you must miss him. Yeah, Monsters University was super cute, and it makes us laugh. Well worth the expense there too. 🙂

  • Congrats on a great month of debt repayment Laurie! The Frugal Farmer Family is doing something good about their debt! 🙂

  • Sicorra says:

    Great job on re-organizing your grocery spending Laurie! We have been doing that too. It does cost more upfront, obviously, but it will pay off later. We also fill up our freezer with deals on chicken and beef. And like you, we love making our own bread. One is on the go this morning actually. I like making banana bread and lemon loafs too and freezing portions for later. Again, it all adds up and before you know it you are spending lots less on groceries each month.

    • Laurie says:

      We freeze lots of banana bread, etc., too, Sicorra! It makes for a quick and easy lunch, and those overripe bananas don’t go to waste. Thanks for the encouragement, friend. 🙂

  • Yay for buying things in bulk! It saves so much money in the long run. I love to hit the clearance lane at the grocery store and really stock up

    • Laurie says:

      We are just realizing that! We need to do more scouring of the clearance lane at the grocery store. There’s got to be good deals there too.

  • Make sure you don’t compare yourself to others Laurie. Your debt repayment is doing well and you are the only one that needs to be happy about the numbers. The only thing you should worry about is if you are making headway and you certainly are. As long as the debt numbers are dropping, then you are doing it right.

    • Laurie says:

      Thanks so much, Grayson. Yes, the comparison thing is a constant battle for us, and we have to work hard to remember that it’s our goal and our life, and that we need to give ourselves a pat on a back for every step in the right direction. Difficult to do, but it is possible!

  • Even the little victories are important Laurie. Nice job! BTW, we love Monsters U!

  • The fact that you can still whittle into your CC debt with all of those extra expenditures is pretty impressive – just think how much you’ll be able to pay in months where they don’t occur. Keep the ball rolling baby!

  • Micro says:

    You bought 100 lbs of flour! O.o Wow, I’d be interested to hear how long that lasts you. I know a single 25 lb bag took me longer than a year to finally get through. Of course, I’m not feeding a family either so that helps. Just make sure to keep that flour sealed away so bugs don’t go feasting on your stash.

    • Laurie says:

      LOL, yeah, with 6 of us, I’m sure we’ll go through it. 🙂 And we’ve got the food grade buckets and the oxygen absorbers too – woohoo!

  • I love your final line in this post- it is so true that it really matters the most that you are moving forward and feeling good about it. You just can’t compare yourself to others in this regard. Congrats on your accomplishments.

  • anna says:

    Awesome job with the debt repayment this month, Laurie!! I am so impressed, as well, with your food budget. That’s one of the areas we’re focusing on reducing, so perhaps bulk is something we’ll adopt. Glad you had a fun Halloween, I want to see Monsters University! If you liked the first one, Despicable Me 2 was pretty darn cute, as well. 🙂

    • Laurie says:

      We haven’t seen either of the Despicable movies – we’ll have to look into that! Yeah, the bulk shopping in a family of two can be a win or a lose, depending on what you eat. I know most people say though, that for personal items like toilet paper, the bulk stores are a huge win. Thanks, Anna!

  • I don’t think you should feel bad about visiting your dad or neutering you barn cats. It’s too bad there isn’t a low cost or free program. We have one here and it’s awesome. $2K is nothing to sneeze at. It takes lots of momentum to get the ball rolling, but once you do, you’ll feel everything kick into gear.

    • Laurie says:

      We do have a couple of low cost programs here but the income threshold is super low, like 30k a year or something. Yeah, hitting that 2k mark was really monumental, at least for me. It proved to me that we can keep going. 🙂

  • Thanks for sharing your budget Laurie. I know that’s not always easy. We have equally high expenses but in totally different areas. I need to start posting my budget results so I can be more accountable.

    • Laurie says:

      Yeah, it feels a bit like I’m sitting outside in my underwear sometimes,:-) but I know it really helps us to be accountable and to keep our spending reigned in. As difficult as it can be, it’s a big part of our success.

  • We’ve been doing some grocery bulk purchasing as well, in an effort to get our costs down. I have especially been a sucker for those “buy 2, get a $10 gift card” specials at Target. I think I hit up 3 of those last week!

  • Congratulations on kicking $2k worth of debt, Laurie! That is AWESOME. I think you are doing an excellent job of balancing your everyday life expenses and debt repayment 🙂

    • Laurie says:

      Thanks, Kali! We are working at it. Sometimes the pile seems huge, but we try and brush those thoughts aside and focus on the successes.

  • I’m still working on controlling our grocery costs better. It’s been the toughest line item in our lives. Buying in bulk is the way to go. We’re trying to examine our grocery list for things that are stupidly expensive and just replace those specific items with bulk so we’re being somewhat strategic about it. Good luck!

  • Great job!!! I love the debt freedom jar! 🙂

  • It’s so true, Laurie, everyone’s situation is different and I think you should be very proud for making any extra payment towards your debt. Every extra payment is a small victory! I hope November will be a less expensive month for you!

    • Laurie says:

      Thanks, Eva – I really appreciate your support. 🙂 Yes, we’re working on cutting costs down for November. We’ll see how it goes.

  • Congrats on hitting the $2k mark!! That has to feel pretty darn good! It’s great that you neutered your barn cats. I remember when my parents had our barn cats neutered they made the mistake of telling the vets that our cats were fairly tame. To me, yes. To strangers, uh, not so much. I think all the vet techs ended up with a ton of scratches. 🙂

    I’m pretty happy with how I’ve cut back on my grocery bill. I just used to buy whatever I wanted and ended up throwing out quite a bit of food, which I am ashamed to admit. Meal planning has been a big help. I like to buy some things in bulk but I have to be careful that I don’t overboard, given my tendency to not use everything I buy! Homemade bread is the best. I used to have some fear around using yeast but I’ve had pretty good luck with it recently. I particularly like making homemade pizza because pizza is yummy! 🙂

    • Laurie says:

      Thanks, Tanya! What a story about your barn cats! Ours are pretty tame with the vet techs too – lots of holding by 4 kids helps. 🙂 Interesting info about your grocery bill, especially the yeast. I’ve not conquered the use of yeast yet, except in the bread maker, and it just occurred to me after reading your comment that I could take the bread dough out before it cooks and make pizza dough – woohoo! FYI, I’m making your corn/bacon recipe for Thanksgiving – yea!

  • One step at a time is the best way Laurie. Good to hear you managed to fit in some fun with a great movie as well

  • Looks like you’re doing wonderfully in getting your debt paid down. As you well know, consistency is the key and while it may not feel like the numbers are going down, they certainly are in the long run 🙂

    All that being said, the best thing you all did was to buy that huge container of garlic powder…I love garlic and I’m sure you did see any Vampires hanging around on Halloween?! 🙂

    Take care Laurie and all the best.


  • I think you’re making amazing progress. I really need to be better about cooking at home. I made two meals this week on Sunday that I’ll be eating the rest of the week and I’m pretty pleased with myself. Each meal we eat at home means money we save on takeout.

    • Laurie says:

      That’s awesome, KK! I really would like to be better about cooking ahead. I did make a few days worth of burritos for the freezer for Rick to take to work, though. It’s a start. 🙂

  • Hi Laurie,
    Good progress on your debt journey, I know it’s personal to put it out there. 2K is still a great pay off.

  • Matt Becker says:

    I love your message at the end here Laurie. You guys are making progress, and that’s what really matters. It’s so easy to get discouraged and STOP making progress, but that’s so self-defeating. Keep your eyes on the prize and keep celebrating those small steps. $2k paid off is certainly something to be proud of.

  • It seems that indeed your budget was affected by the seasonal and some unexpected expenses, but just like you said all the money that you spent was money spent smartly, so in the end it’s all good. All that buying in bulk will surely matter a lot in the upcoming months, when your grocery budget will be extremely low. Keep up the great work!

    • Laurie says:

      Thanks, C! Yeah, we’re excited about this bulk buying stuff. We’ve got enough flour to make bread and baked goods for a year – woohoo!

  • Incredible progress! Great job on chipping away at the CC debt – it’ll be gone soon and it’ll feel AMAZING – trust me 🙂