March was a great month for us thanks to our tax refund and a bit of side money we made. Here’s how the month broke down:
Debt repaid: $250 automatic student loan payment + $420 extra student loan payment = $670 towards loans. We set up an automatic payment plan for our Stafford and Graduate Plus student loans in February so that at the very least we’re contributing $250 a month towards the interest that’s been accumulating. This month I learned that our payments won’t be going to the principal until we get rid of our interest, which is a bummer since paying towards the principal would result in a slower rate of interest accumulation, but I’m glad that we have managed to pay off $1700 in the past 3 months!
Savings: $240 short term savings for quarterly fees we both pay + $300 leftover at the end of the month + $175 toward our travel fund +$1178 due to our tax refund) + $100 at beginning of the month to regular savings = $1993! Nearly $2,000 was put away thanks to our tax refund and our new savings strategy. Our tax refund was a great boon and is currently sitting in our savings account. We still haven’t figured out what we want to do with it, but I think investing part or all of it would be a wise choice. Last month we came up with a plan to streamline our savings and debt repayment, and decided to go with the 60-40 rule for our “leftover money”. Sixty percent of what is left over at the end of the month is going to go towards debt repayment, while the remaining forty percent is going to go towards savings or investing. The savings may be contributions to our stock portfolio, a Roth IRA, or our travel fund. Hopefully I’ll be getting some reimbursements back for travel that should total close to $300, and since that money has already been accounted for, we’ll probably put that amount towards debt repayment considering our savings was so great this month.
Extra money made: $60 from blood donation. I work at a research institute that is always in need of donation from healthy volunteers, which is great for me since that translates to a little bit of extra money in my pocket every month or so. This month we used the $60 to cover the cost of our backpacking expenses.
Groceries: $403.05 – so close to my target of $400! I’ve realized that TJ’s is so much more expensive than Safeway, so we’ll be hopefully bringing this number down in April. This total also includes backpacking foods that we took on our trip.
In March I met with a TIAA-CREF advisor and decided that a Roth IRA is the best thing for us to open right now if we want to start up any retirement savings. I learned that we can use that money towards buying our first home (up to $10,000), as long term savings, or a college fund for our future monsters, and could contribute as little as $100 per month. I still want to look into it some more, but I think this is a great option for us and would give us a much better return than our Capital One savings accounts.
Looking forward to April
This month we have to pay tuition (which is why I save $240 every month so that we can pay our quarterly fees without busting our budget), and will be traveling down to Portland for a friend’s nursing school graduation. In addition to our immediate travel plans, we are also making plans for a wedding we’re going to on the East coast in October, a one-year anniversary trip to Yellowstone, and a potential trip to Texas in the next few months. The wedding will be covered by airline miles, and we’re splitting a hotel room with my in-laws, so I hope that this trip will be relatively inexpensive. We also scored $300 worth of airline vouchers from United back in December, and will be using those for our Texas trip if we decide to go. Aside from the freebies, our travel fund is at my target goal, and will allow us to keep up with our savings and debt repayment despite the trips we want to take.
How did March turn out for you? What are you doing with your tax refund?