Part of the problem with keeping up with financial planning is just, the planning.  There are a lot of moving pieces to account for, not to mention simply the money moving around that needs to be tracked.  It’s easy to get lost in forest of day-to-day tracking and day-to-day planning, and forget to focus on the big picture.

For us, that big picture is getting out of debt as quickly as possible.  I’ve read various pieces about being able to grow wealth more quickly using various tax strategies (particularly useful now that the spouse has a retirement account), but the plain fact is that as long as we are working to pay someone else’s bills, no amount of wealth is going to make us feel wealthy.  So we want the debt gone.

On an everyday basis, we’re tracking spending and trying to stay within budget (although that doesn’t always work), and I sit down and go through the budget every Saturday and analyze it for overages and places where we could trim.  That’s allowed us to save a significant amount of money in our eating out budget line.  We still do go out, but it’s about half of what it used to be.

At the end of the day though, we need to remember there is a reason why we’re trying to cut the expenses out.  It’s not an abstract exercise or a sociological test.  We’re attempting to get the debt paid down as quickly as we possibly can.

To that end, the spouse and I had a bit of a chat on Sunday.  We’re moving November 1 to…somewhere…that’s still in process, but our hope is we’ll be able to sell the truck and I’ll be able to walk or bike to work, saving at least $100 in fuel every month (if not more), and his commute won’t be so long.  We’ll also be spending the next several months increasing our savings and getting used to having $270 taken out automatically for savings instead of just $100.  By January or February, we’re going to start paying $4,000 per month to the student debt, which will bring down the repayment timeline to around 9 years, and save a significant amount of interest.

Basically, we’re looking to streamline the budget process.  For all the fancy gadgets I have to track all our income and expenses, it basically comes down to the following priorities:

  1. Pay the rent.
  2. Pay the student loan debt.
  3. Save.
  4. Buy food and sundries.

If we can stick with those very simple, straightforward priorities, we’ll be in a better place.