February 2014 Budget & Goals

February 10, 2014


The first thing you’re going to notice about this post is that my budget isn’t actually included in it; that’s partially because I’ve had to change it numerous times already this month, but it’s also because I’m starting to feel a little apprehensive about posting my numbers here. Let me explain why.

In my opinion, one of the biggest reasons people don’t like to talk about money and/or their personal financial situation is because they fear being judged by others. I’ve laid my numbers out for all to see for so many months now, in hopes that doing so would help others feel more comfortable talking about their own. But the number of anonymous comments and judgmental emails I’ve received lately has made me question whether or not I should continue to be so honest about what I do with my money.

Don’t get me wrong – I love when people ask questions about my budget. How are my groceries so cheap? That’s easy to answer (and they’re not cheap in my opinion, hehe). Why is my Internet bill so low? I’m on a promotion with TELUS that’s set to expire any day now. And a couple weeks ago, I straight up just asked you all for advice on what I should do with the very little amount of money I’ll be able to save these next few months. I seriously love talking numbers and getting your input!

But I don’t love receiving comments and emails from people who are judgmental about my decisions. This is what makes personal finance so personal: everyone’s budgets look different. We all live in different cities for different reasons, we all value spending money on different things… and I don’t believe there’s any one right way to manage our finances. You have to do whatever helps you live your best life; one where you can live comfortably, save what you can afford to save and enjoy what’s leftover in whatever way you please.

Comments and emails like the ones I’ve been receiving lately are only validating other people’s concerns – that we should be scared to talk about money because people will judge us – and I refuse to accept that. I have always wanted Blonde on a Budget to be a safe place for us to talk about our financial situations. I value the conversations we have here. I love that sharing my numbers leads to other people sharing theirs with me (and other readers), and that we always share our highs and lows, celebrate our successes and cheer each other on.

So, despite what a few people think about what I do with my finances, I won’t stop sharing my budgets. For February, I think I’ll just wait until the end of the month to post my final numbers. And I’ll post them each month going forward, like none of this happened. I want to continue to keep our conversations going, as I can only hope that some of you value them as much as I do. With time, I hope we can all have a part in taking some of the taboo out of the topic of money… because the more we talk about it, and share both our failures and successes, the more we can learn from one another – it should be that easy.

Goals for this month:

  • Celebrate Baby Sis’ 20th birthday!
  • Help host a bridal shower! And finish planning the bachelorette party!
  • File my taxes
  • Nix my daily chocolate habit that formed at Christmas (seriously…)
  • Finally buy/hang some shelves in my bathroom

What do you have planned for this month?

  • Mandy R February 10, 2014 at 4:38 am

    I have never reached out to you before, but I have been an avid reader of your blog for the past couple of months. This post bugged me when I read that people were being rude in terms of your budget. I’m glad you called them out, but don’t let them stop you from your ultimate goal, because I assure you that you are reaching people who appreciate your posts. I’m already 30 and I came across your blog when I was researching ways to get out of debt. The similarities between your past debt (and unfortunately my current), plus our life goals are uncanny – even though I live in Washington D.C. I enjoy reading your weekly posts and if anything, it helps remind me that my goal can be met. Keep doing what you do!

    • Cait Flanders February 10, 2014 at 5:29 am

      So nice to receive a comment from you, Mandy! And don’t worry, I won’t let anyone’s words stop me from spending money the way I want to and/or going after my goals. Honestly, the comments themselves don’t really bother me… I truly just hate that it validates other people’s concerns about why they don’t want to talk about money. I want to talk about it openly all day, every day! Good luck with your current debt load and all of your goals.

  • Michelle February 10, 2014 at 4:44 am

    Sounds like you have a fun month planned :) I also have to nix my chocolate habit. Last week, I bought a whole pound of chocolate bark and I’m really regretting it now!

    That really stinks about the anonymous comments and rude emails that you are getting. I’m glad that you will continue to share your budgets :)

    • Cait Flanders February 10, 2014 at 5:30 am

      Haha, is the whole pound gone? …you don’t have to answer that. (I wouldn’t have any left.)

      And thanks, Michelle. :)

      • Trista February 10, 2014 at 5:44 am

        Saturday is half-price chocolate day. This may not be a good week to try and sotp. :)

        • Cait Flanders February 10, 2014 at 5:59 am

          Hahaha, oh my gosh, you’re right!

      • Michelle February 10, 2014 at 9:07 am

        Haha about half is gone. We made chocolate covered strawberries last night. At least I was half-healthy with that snack LOL

  • Alicia @ Financial Diffraction February 10, 2014 at 4:59 am

    Thankfully, I’ve avoided the rude emails/anonymous comments directed towards me so far. I like being able to share actual numbers now (I used to be terrified of the idea), but my site doesn’t have near the exposure and traffic BoaB does. If it ever does, I think a few creepers would crawl out of the woodwork and have some nasty things to say. It’s one of the unfortunate downsides of being a popular site.

    My post today is actually about how Gail’s fans want Victoria Ryce back on Tuesday’s Other Voices, and how that didn’t feel so great when I read those comments asking for her back to essentially replace me. I understood the rationale (totally different audience than my posts) but still stung a little that I’m not what they want.

    • Cait Flanders February 10, 2014 at 5:51 am

      I just read that. It’s crazy to think how quickly a loyal following can build up, eh? That being said, I think what you’ve been writing there is great… so please don’t take it to heart. <3

      • Alicia February 10, 2014 at 6:37 am

        Thanks, Cait. It doesn’t bother me any more – Friday, I was a little touchy about it, but I’m long over it now :) Honestly, I think GVO is getting my prime posts compare to my own site. Haha.

  • Jess February 10, 2014 at 5:00 am

    That’s so sad that people will judge about money.
    It’s the last taboo, we should talk openly about it.

    My parents went through huge financial termoil and I believe that if that had been more open about it with the rest of the family they would have gotten support to help them.

    I love your budgets! I just started filling mine out like yours. I had a different one before but it was not as easy to read.

    I have a question. What do you do when you are sticking to your budget in your categories but then a bunch of stuff comes up (yearly insurance, school fees, etc) where would these come out in your budget if they are surprises or you just totally forgot about the check you wrote 6 month ago (guilty)

    Thanks for all the advice!

    • Cait Flanders February 10, 2014 at 5:57 am

      Good question! For starters, I usually pay insurance policies on a monthly basis; there’s a premium that comes with that, but it’s rare for me to have the cash saved up so I can pay for those types of things in one lump sum. (Especially in Vancouver, where all my insurance policies have basically doubled from when I was living in Victoria!)

      With that being said, if I did want to save up for them, I would simply take the amount I assumed those things would cost (plus add 15-20% for good measure), divide the total by 12 and make it a monthly savings goal. I also budget for a bit less than I actually take home, and keep a cushion in my chequing account for any small, expected expenses.

  • Trista February 10, 2014 at 5:36 am

    Hi Cait,

    I’m sorry that you are getting negative comments. But I’m sure the positive ones you get greatly outweigh the negative. There are a lot of us who turn to you for advice and support so your efforts are worthwhile.

    You asked about my sudden job change and I didn’t get back to you about it. I’m sorry about that. I just haven’t had much time to spend online lately. My internet has been down at home and I’ve been much busier at work with the change.

    Basically I got a call on a Thursday from my old boss stating that there was an job opportunity that I would be perfect for in another area of our division. I work in a very large and diverse area dealing with all matters HR related. I was in client services and I’m now with learning and development. The job was as the database administrator and registrar for the learning and development courses offered for the provincial government. She asked if I was interested and to forward her my resume. The next morning I got a call from the director and I met with her that afternoon. By Wednesday I was at my new position. I’ve now got a week and a half under my belt.

    The new position is challenging and busy. It requires someone who is highly organized and there is a lot of responsibility. That is exactly the change I needed. It’s currently just a temporary assignment and I will be back at my old job in June. But it is expected that I could be here much longer. It was a small increase in pay but I would have taken it at the same level of pay as it is a good move for me professionally and personally. I wasn’t feeling challenged at my previous job so that was hurting my job satisfaction.

    I’m still waiting for my raise from November and now I’ll have my increase from this position. So I still don’t know what this years budget will be based on. I’m looking forward to the retro once it comes through as it will be going straight in to savings. I’m hoping to get things back on track this month. I did mention I was struggling last month.

    Oh, also I got back my first mid-term in my university course. I got a 87%. I thought I did a little better but I am pleased. It’s been a long time since I’ve been in school.

    I’m hoping to be a little more present on your blog now. Sorry for my absence. :)

    • Cait Flanders February 10, 2014 at 6:03 am

      The positive comments absolutely do outweigh the negative comments! They just make me a little sad, of course.

      Sounds like the career move has been great for you, so far! Even if it is just a temporary assignment for now, I know from the experiences of others that those can lead to full-time jobs or other opportunities. I’m like you in that I love being challenged at work. Without the challenge, what are we working towards and how are we growing?

      Congrats on the mid-term grade! And always great to see you over here. :)

  • Dayle February 10, 2014 at 5:38 am

    Hey Cait :)

    Not nice to hear about some rude comments coming in…and kudos to you for sticking with what you want and believe in! I also love talking about money, but I agree, it is unfortunate it is still considered so taboo. New friend loves talking about money too…and has said that he often has to stop himself because people don’t like that, but he’s loving that he can talk about it at length with me, and he said he’s already taken some ideas from me that he wants to put into practice (such as increasing mortgage payments).

    As for February… Well, we painted my bathroom this weekend. It was fun and turned out really nicely… best part, it was HIS idea!! I took a vacation day this coming Friday, and even though I’m not big on Valentine’s Day, we’re going to spend the day hanging out watching Breaking Bad and making dinner together. Saturday I’m having a “tea party” with my girlfriends and Sunday I’m taking my Grandparents out for lunch. Beyond this weekend, I don’t have too much planned!

    Take care and have a great week!

    • Cait Flanders February 10, 2014 at 6:08 am

      I love that your new friend enjoys talking about money with you! And that he’s taken some ideas from you, as well. Communication + being able to talk about money = two very healthy parts of a relationship, so I’m really happy to hear that you have both. :)

      I’m usually pretty anti-Valentine’s Day too, but your day sounds nice. Food and TV? Yep, I could get on board with that, haha. And the rest of your weekend plans sound great. Enjoy the short workweek / upcoming long weekend!

  • kat. February 10, 2014 at 6:44 am

    i feel like the unfriendly comments/emails thing has been going around on a couple of blogs that i read and it just makes me sad. sad for you that you have to take that kind of abuse, but also sad for them that they obviously have personal issues (and probably personal finance issues) that they can’t deal with in any way other than being cruel to others.

    it sounds like you have a fun month coming up! don’t let the haters get you down. :)

    • Cait Flanders February 10, 2014 at 5:59 pm

      They don’t get me down at all! The bigger picture of it all is what bugs me. Thanks, Kat :)

  • Stacey Anderson February 10, 2014 at 7:31 am

    I’m really sorry to hear about the rude emails and comments you’ve been receiving. People are a lot braver when hiding behind a computer. I’m glad that you’re not going to stop sharing your monthly budgets, because those are some of my favorite posts!!

    • Cait Flanders February 10, 2014 at 6:00 pm

      Thanks, Stacey. :)

  • Dear Debt February 10, 2014 at 7:34 am

    Don’t let the rude people get to you! I know it’s easier said than done. That just means you’ve made it and must be really popular now ;) I’m glad you will still share with us, and keep an open conversation. I look forward to reading about it!

    • Cait Flanders February 10, 2014 at 6:00 pm

      Thanks, M!

  • Bridget February 10, 2014 at 7:51 am

    The main reason I stopped sharing budgets is because I stopped making them haha.

    jk but seriously, it is annoying to always be judged by your spending — and as you know me, I wasn’t always spending where I “should have”.

    At this point I just don’t want to deal with other people’s negativity around the issue. “why did you spend $30 on dinner out when you have a $10,000 tuition bill coming up?” because I was hungry ok.

    Props to you for being brave enough to bare it all!

    • Cait Flanders February 10, 2014 at 6:01 pm

      Hey, I still don’t always spend where “I should”… but it’s my money, and I don’t have any debt, so the only person I need to be accountable to is myself!

  • Cashville Skyline February 10, 2014 at 7:55 am

    Sorry that you’ve been receiving rude comments! Thanks for having the courage to speak out against it. Our personal finance blogs should absolutely be a safe place to candidly share budgets, net worths, etc. Mean comments are usually the result of jealousy!

    • Cait Flanders February 10, 2014 at 6:02 pm

      I don’t know about jealousy, but certainly everyone has their own opinions – and that’s ok. But it’s one thing to ask questions and quite another to be rude. Thanks for your comment. :)

  • Linette February 10, 2014 at 8:17 am

    Sigh…I knew it would be just a matter of time before people started sending cruel and judgmental comments. It’s so easy to hide behind a cloak of anonymity, isn’t it? Try not to be discouraged, and remember how many more fans you have than haters.

    • Cait Flanders February 10, 2014 at 6:03 pm

      It’s all good. Thanks, Linette!

  • Jordann February 10, 2014 at 8:20 am

    Haters, they suck. I’ve noticed an increase in snark on my blog too in the past month or so. I think it’s completely unnecessary and these people should learn to politely point out any discrepancies they notice. This is an open community, behave yourself!

    Good for you for continuing to share your budgets. For the record, I think your spending is pretty reasonable.

    • Cait Flanders February 10, 2014 at 6:03 pm

      Thanks, Jordann. Right back at ya. :)

  • Rob February 10, 2014 at 8:26 am

    Hi Cait! I agree with the others – just ignore the “armchair quarterbacks” and their critical picky emails.

    Here’s a suggestion that might work and still accomplish your blog’s goals.
    Rather than post exact numbers in your monthly budgets and actuals, instead at each month end just post percentages. For example, taking your Jan. 2014 numbers for groceries, you would post it this way:

    Groceries –
    budget: 6.25% (which is $200.00 out of your total budget of $3200.00)
    actual: 6.95% (which is $228.62 out of your total actual of $3288.43)
    variance – budget vs actual: 14.32%
    (which is your actual $28.62 over your budgeted $200.00)

    That way the message still gets across as to:
    (1) how you plan to prioritize the allocation of your money (budget %),
    (2) how successful you met your allocation priorities (actual %), and
    (3) how successful you were in the actual staying within budget (variance %).

    No one needs to really know your personal details, as to exact $$$ spent, but rather how well you have been allocating your money. Just a suggestion, my friend.

    As for this month’s plans, well my wife’s mom (who lives with us) is turning 94 so that’s a party to be planned. Other than that, just watching the Winter Olympics from Russia on tv and shoveling snow (ad nauseam – lol)

    • Cait Flanders February 10, 2014 at 6:05 pm

      I have thought of doing percentages before… but, truthfully, I’m ok with sharing the numbers! And at this point, what’s the difference really? Everyone knows I budget for $3,200, so they could do the math if they really wanted to. ;)

      Anyway, still something I may consider in the future.

      I don’t have cable, so have only streamed the Olympics a couple times now. Which events have you enjoyed so far?

      • Rob February 10, 2014 at 6:53 pm

        I understand but note thought that the variance %’s especially provide a pretty graphic measurement on how well you are budgeting in each category.

        I enjoyed the Freestyle Skiing Ladies’ Moguls where the gold and silver were won by the Canadian Dufour-Lapointe sisters.

        • Cait Flanders February 10, 2014 at 7:28 pm

          I wish I’d seen that!

  • Nadia February 10, 2014 at 8:38 am

    Hi Cait!

    Sorry to hear about the trolls coming out but I guess that by dumping on you it makes them feel better about themselves. Good for you for being able to ignore them! My plans for the week are to watch as much Olympics as I can and to hopefully get the Christmas tree down. Yes it’s late but my boyfriend has loved having the extra light in the dark month of January.

    • Cait Flanders February 10, 2014 at 6:06 pm

      Aww, that’s cute, Nadia! Enjoy your week… even with a little less light in the house. :)

  • Amy February 10, 2014 at 8:44 am

    I always thought it was strange people were so closed off to what they earn, what they spend and how they manage their money. I appreciate your budgets because it gives a great look at what percentages of my salary I should consider moving to an emergency fund. Perhaps use percentages instead of dollars to quiet people down.

    My parents never told me what they make – neither did my grandparents….so how am I supposed to know if I have a good paying job or not? Once I actually emailed 4 people in the same job as me in 3 different cities across the country I listed exactly what I made a month and asked if this was similar to them. I was wondering if I was making a proper amount and asked them to reply, they didn’t have to list their pay as I did but could reply with “it’s fair” or “It’s less than I make” or “that’s more than I make”. Only 1 responded with “contact your HR manager.” I found this very frustrating. We had the same job with the same organization in cities the same size.

    I sat my younger cousin down and showed her my pay cheque (which she thought was SO much money) I then gave her a calculator and piece of paper and went through all my bills. At the end she realized it was -500 and she asked what I was going to do. I then pulled out my second job’s pay cheque which left me +0.48 for the month. She still to this day remembers that and she’s about to finish university and start working. No one had done this for me, my mom raised me to pay my bills on time, but never told me how much things are.
    You are providing lessons none of us got from our parents.

    I’m sorry you have received criticism about how you spend your money, but in the few months I have been reading these posts you multiple times mention that budgets change and that each person will have different amounts. Focus on the positive ones and try to delete and ignore the negative ones. :D

    • Cait Flanders February 10, 2014 at 6:33 pm

      I think it’s great you had the courage to ask other people about their salaries – and that you showed your cousin how paycheques and expenses really work. What an eye-opening experience that must’ve been for her! Seriously, that’s one of the best lessons I’ve heard in a while. Please know you made a difference in her life. :)

    • Kirsten February 12, 2014 at 7:14 pm

      I totally agree, Amy! It’s frustrating to wonder how your salary compares to others in the industry. Is what I make fair? Am I being ripped off? How can I find out? I work in an industry that is notoriously low-paying, but I’m very curious as to whether others in my industry have the same definition of “low.”

      A word of advice for anyone reading this, though, NEVER EVER try to find out your coworkers’ salaries. What if you find out your idiot coworker makes $5,ooo/year more than you, or your lazy boss makes 5x your salary? You won’t be able to change it, and you’ll be angry and bitter. Not worth it!

  • kelly February 10, 2014 at 8:51 am

    wow….i cant believe people have to be jerks…WHY????? Is it a jealous thing? I mean sure we would ALL love to be debt free and never EVER have to worry about a money situation…but what is it about people who feel they can tear down someone….i just don’t understand…I am glad you have thick skin…I dont know if i could do that without being mean back…they dont have any right to say such things… ok…it didnt even happen to me and i am getting worked up..UGH!
    The plans we have going this week are to celebrate my 12yr old birthday…WAH!!! MY BABY…and try and keep the family healthy…i dont know if its the snow and cold weather snap that Missouri is having here but this weather is getting OLD quickly!! BRING ON THE SUNSHINE/WARMTH!!

    • Cait Flanders February 10, 2014 at 6:36 pm

      I think it doesn’t bother me because a) I’m pretty self-aware when it comes to my spending, so it’d be hard for someone to tell me something I didn’t already know… and b) I’m ok with my current situation. Anyway, it’s all good – really. And I’m going to keep talking about the numbers, whether everyone agrees with them or not.

      I hear you about the warm weather!

  • Ines February 10, 2014 at 8:57 am

    Hi Cait,

    Just a quick line to say thank you for sharing your numbers with us. I never comment on your blog (or anyone else’s) but I definitely gathered strenght to get out of debt from you. Seeing your numbers was only a small part of it, of course, but it’s nice to see someone not be shy about their values, and gives the rest of us something to compare to/ think about. You know, it’s always easy to think “she probably makes a lot more money than I do” or “her rent is probably a lot lower” but when you seen numbers, you have to stop and re-evaluate!

    Anyway, thank you so much!

    • Cait Flanders February 10, 2014 at 6:38 pm

      Thank YOU for taking the time to comment, Ines! It’s all too easy to compare our own situations with those of others… but, at the end of the day, all that matters is that we do what’s best for ourselves with the money that we have. Have a great week :)

  • Marg S February 10, 2014 at 9:07 am

    Adding my $0.02 – but before I do a minor vent – and boy do I feel old when I say this. Where did the cents symbol go that used to be on all the typewriters and I’m pretty sure older pc keyboards? I know I know – there’s some magical Bill Gates Microsoft key combo I could use but it used to be right there above the numbers – insert bad word. :o)

    Where was I? Oh ya – haters and trolls suck. I know you aren’t supposed to feed them but I really want to ask them: “do you HONESTLY have nothing better to do with your life? Wait – I don’t think I want the answer to that – and by the way your mom’s calling you. Your PB&J with the crusts cut off is ready”.

    I also want to say thanks for posting your budgets. I’ve used the same spreadsheet style forever for my budgets and because of you I tweaked and improved it.

    • Cait Flanders February 10, 2014 at 6:39 pm

      Marg, this comment made me laugh so many times. And then smile. Thank you. :)

  • Girl Meets Debt February 10, 2014 at 9:21 am

    I just *knew* you wouldn’t stop posting your numbers Cait! Because you are strong and so inspirational to so many people trying to get a handle on their finances. I know all about creepy judgemental comments/emails since I’ve been getting a lot lately too but I’m not as nice as you. ;)

    • Cait Flanders February 10, 2014 at 6:40 pm

      Well, we can ignore them together then!

  • Retired by 40 February 10, 2014 at 9:38 am

    Great goals! Seriously, you know that you’re doing something right when the nasty comments start coming! Keep doing what you’re doing. I, for one, love what you are doing here :-)

    • Cait Flanders February 10, 2014 at 6:40 pm


  • Daisy February 10, 2014 at 10:41 am

    People are such assholes on the internet. Don’t get me wrong, I can be pretty judgemental, but it’s not like you are spending $600/month on clothes and putting it all on a credit card. I can’t imagine caring enough about how another person spends their money that I would feel compelled to email them with my negativity.

    • Cait Flanders February 10, 2014 at 6:41 pm

      Haha, yea… I don’t know. I guess I understand that’s the risk you run when you put anything on the Internet. But still! Who really cares what I do with my money!? The only person I need to be accountable to is myself.

  • Mary J February 10, 2014 at 10:44 am

    Hi my friend from Canada, keep posting your numbers night and day. If it helps you from going into debt, then post your numbers. We have around the world this insidious drug called debt that all of us including nations need to pay off and live within our means. I know that my country sure could use Debtors Anonymous. I was in debt to about $33,000 while living overseas in the Marshall Islands and I was on vacation one year visiting friends when I had a aha moment. I was shopping in Walmart and the total was for $600.00 and I paid by credit card. I had a list but I also just shopped until the total was $600. I was asked myself what did the hell I just do. It opened me up to questions about my financial habits and what I saw I did not like. I had already paid off my debts before, school loans, car and $800 in credit card debt. I left my friends and went back to Hawaii to fly back to Kwajalein where I lived and worked for 22 years. I went to the Honolulu Bookstore and purchased new books by the box. I decided to pick up a book or two to read on the flight before I checked out and I picked out, Carol Keefe’s book, “How to Get Everything You Want With The Money Your Already Have. I would usually read for a few hours and then sleep for a few hours (flight was 6 hours). I read the book the entire flight and I realized that I did not have to spend my money on credit card payments. I could pay cash. Carol Keefe’s book can be purchased on Amazon.com. Another book that helped me change my life was Mary Hunt’s book, “The Cheapskate Monthly Money Makeover. I started a Freedom Account that was for me a saving account that I could put money in to save things, I also used the envelop system starting with a plain envelop and putting a dollar in it. I saved over a $1000 for a car, house and furniture and I used that money recently to help me pay bills when I lost my job overseas due to complications from a operation I had in Dec 2009. Tell your friends not to have a Gastric Bypass Sleeve Operation ever. You could die. Keep putting your money in envelops, saving banks, savings accounts or checking account or investment accounts. Take it one day at a time and if it helps you to post your numbers each month or several times each month, do so if that helps your program. Don’t Debt One Day At A Time. Those people who sent those emails might be reaching out but don’t know how to ask for help. Smile and walk your own way and rejoice that you can be debt free one day at a time. Our addiction to debt and credit cards is a lot harder to learn from. Alcohol, drugs and other things you can quit and stay away from but money is something we use each and everyday. We need to learn that money is a tool and we need to use that tool for our betterment- saving our money, paying off our debts to anyone we owe them to including family and friends. food, shelter and water. I also know that debt can sneak up on us like it did me when I lost my job and could not work. Because of my savings, I was able to get apartment and buy some furniture and other things. Which was stupid. I went nuts buying furniture. I was very foolish due to me living overseas in a room that was furnished with furniture by the US Army. Some of it was not too bad at all. I had the chance to enjoy both apartments I have lived in Pocatello Id but now I realized that I don’t need all this room or things I own with God. I don’t need them or want them. How refreshing it is to feel that way to now want whatever you have and I could have a patio sale this month or next and sell some furniture, clothes, books and etc and pay down my debt. Your most important relationship in your life should be with God, then your family and your friends and then your job and then your things. Don’t put off your life. Enjoy the things you can do even if it is to walk down the street and enjoy the day. Take time for yourself. Read at least 10 minutes for yourself anything you want. You will find that you will enjoy your life more and get along with others more if you just take 10 minutes for you and remember one thing: Keep posting your numbers. You are helping other people. If other people don’t get it, it is their problem, not yours. You can only work on you.

    • Cait Flanders February 10, 2014 at 6:51 pm

      Lots of great advice in your comment – and I always appreciate the book recommendations. Thanks, Mary!

  • Paul @paul_gagliardi February 10, 2014 at 10:56 am

    Great post Cait! Only focus on all the positive support and keep doing what you’re doing.

    And that chocolate habit happens after every Chrtistmas! ;)

    • Cait Flanders February 10, 2014 at 6:49 pm

      Haha, but it has to stop! Christmas was sooo long ago!

  • Mary J February 10, 2014 at 11:16 am

    This note is to Mandy R since she is living in Washington DC the capital of my country and the biggest source of debtors and fools the world has ever seen. I discovered Debtors Anonymous many years ago. If you can go to a DA meeting in the surrounding areas if your can. You can go to DA website and they have the locations of meetings around the country. I also wish the members of Congress, the President and his cabinet would also go to DA meetings, It might help them to come up with a budget and pay down our debt so that this President does not bankrupt our country. I don’t know what the problem with Washington is but as soon as you are elected and cross the state line into the District of Columbia, our representatives lose whatever common sense they have. I don’t know if it is the water, the air, booze or drugs or whatever. I hope that it is not the chocolate. Please pray for our country and others like us in debt to find a program that can help us live one day at a time.

    • Mandy R February 10, 2014 at 12:52 pm

      Thanks for the tip Mary J! Who knows what causes the craziness of this city… I hope it’s not the chocolate either. That’s why I actually choose to live outside in VA … but work in DC. :)

  • Mary J February 10, 2014 at 11:32 am

    I have a lot to common on today so let me say this, if your credit card is asking for a minimum payment due such as a $100 and if you could manage to pay $150.00, do so each month and you will see your balance go down. When you get your credit card statements, get a notebook and list the charges of each credit card you have and list the payments on each sheet of paper the day you paid them as you do each purchase date and items you bought. Also List PD and the date you mailed your credit card payment and you will see that over time you have paid off countless things and it was make you feel better when you see it in your hand. Once that bill is paid off, go to the next bill and add that $150 to the next bill plus whatever you were paying on the bill before. List all your charges for the 2nd debt and payments and do for the 2nd bill as you did for the first and when you add the money from the first payment to second payment, you will see the payment pay off more and more and soon that payment is paid off sooner. Then go on to your 3rd debt and so on. Think about what you need to save for also and do so if you need to save. Divide the original payment in half after paying and put 1/2 of payment to debt repayment and the other to your savings plan whatever it could be.

  • Holly February 10, 2014 at 5:22 pm

    i’m so inspired to see how you can turn a negative into a positive. go girl!!

    • Cait Flanders February 10, 2014 at 6:52 pm

      Thanks, hun!

  • Cinnamon February 10, 2014 at 7:11 pm

    Hi Cait,

    long time reader here, it bugged me that you get judgmental emails from readers. I’ve followed your budgeting template and it has been my most effective budgeting tool ever. Keep writing! Thank you!

    • Cait Flanders February 12, 2014 at 6:14 pm

      That’s so great to hear, Cinnamon! Thanks :)

  • Alyssa P February 10, 2014 at 7:12 pm

    Judgmental comments say far more about the person making them than the person they’re aimed at!

    I just want to say thank you for posting your budget and totals each month. I’m slowly starting to work myself out of my debt, and I read blogs like yours for inspiration and motivation!

    • Cait Flanders February 12, 2014 at 6:15 pm

      Thanks for your comment, Alyssa. Good luck in your debt repayment journey!

  • Charlene February 11, 2014 at 7:08 am

    I have been a follower for quite some time and I appreciate your posts, you keep things real. The ups and downs of trying to keep on track financially and that is why I continue to follow. Keep up the great work and posts!

    • Cait Flanders February 12, 2014 at 6:15 pm

      Thanks, Charlene. :)

  • Angelina February 11, 2014 at 12:03 pm

    I have never never left a comment on any blogs, but I discover PF blogs through you a month ago and I have been an avid reader ever since. I read your whole blog in one night! I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your blog, and I am sure I am not the only one put there who does but who never leaves a message usually ;) I am also sure we must outnumber peoples who have rude comments! ax

    • Cait Flanders February 12, 2014 at 6:16 pm

      In one night!? That’s so crazy and cool! And I’m absolutely certain that’s true, Angelina. Thanks :)

  • Mackenzie February 11, 2014 at 2:06 pm

    I’m sorry that people are being so mean to you! I love your blog Cait, and you just keep doing what you’re doing :)

    • Cait Flanders February 12, 2014 at 6:16 pm

      Thanks, M!

  • GirlinaTrenchCoat February 11, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    Hi Cait,

    I’ve followed your blog for months now and was inspired by you and a couple of other PF bloggers to start my own (currently in stealth mode) blog. I’m sad to hear you’ve received those negative messages from other readers because you are right, personal finances are personal!

    I’ve long thought that we should take the taboo out of money talk, but I’ve never quite had the courage to be as open with my numbers for exactly the reason you described in this post.

    Please continue to post your numbers, it makes everything more real and down-to-earth, and gives the shy ones (ahem me) some confidence that someday we’ll come out of hiding as well!

    • Cait Flanders February 12, 2014 at 6:19 pm

      Oh, that’s so exciting you’re writing a blog now! And it’s totally ok to keep it private. For the first few months, all I did was write weekly spending reports – they’re so boring to look back at now, but they served their purpose. Good luck :)

  • Kirstie February 11, 2014 at 6:15 pm

    I just discovered your blog a few weeks ago, amidst a semi-panic with my finances, and I find your posts SO helpful and inspiring. Don’t let the naysayers get to you – there may be a couple doubters out there, but you’ve inspired so many more.

    • Cait Flanders February 12, 2014 at 6:19 pm

      Thanks, Kirstie. :)

  • Colleen February 12, 2014 at 7:27 am

    Oh Cait, you have no debt, you’re saving a ton and you have great/fun life (I hope!) and a super cool blog. :) Any animosity coming your way is definitely coming from jealousy. Some people just don’t know how to be.

    • Cait Flanders February 12, 2014 at 6:20 pm

      This is true. Thank you, dear. :)

  • Stranded Rocks February 12, 2014 at 8:54 am

    Hi Cait,

    Just read this and I wanted to give you my support and to continue posting your numbers. Don’t get stuck on those random negative and judgmental comments because this is the internet and keyboard warriors come out in full force. I know ignoring criticism is easier said than done but as you pointed out, personal budgets are “personal”.

    • Cait Flanders February 12, 2014 at 6:20 pm

      They sure are! Thanks :)

  • Shannon February 12, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    I’ve been reading your blog for a few months now, but have never commented. I love your blog, Cait! You’ve inspired me to get serious about my debt, and set financial goals for myself. I was raised in a family that was used to buying now and paying later, and for the first time in my life, I’ve realized how great it feels to save for something, or even to have money sitting in the bank. Thanks to you, I have a plan to become debt free, and it feels fabulous. Keep doing what you’re doing, you’re great!

    • Cait Flanders February 12, 2014 at 6:25 pm

      What a wonderful comment, Shannon. And I’m so excited you have a plan to become debt-free! Good luck :)

  • Cait Flanders February 12, 2014 at 6:15 pm

    Thanks, hun! xo

  • Teresa February 14, 2014 at 1:47 am

    This month I have managed to pay off 3 big bills! :) getting to the nitty gritty of debt repayment is tough. But your blog is helping to keep me on track and looking at the overall picture. Thank you!

  • Lea February 18, 2014 at 5:21 pm

    I love reading your blog, and I find your budget posts so helpful! I have my masters degree from a private university that left me with over 40k debt, your blogs are a huge part of me getting my finances back in order. Keep going and try to ignore the negative comments. I wanted to send some encouragement your way as I have been reading your blog for the past year and a half and have never commented.

  • Mary J January 23, 2015 at 8:53 pm

    Hi Cait, I have not heard from you in a while and I moved from a apartment to a 1 bdrm house and lowered my rent. How are you and your family doing? I paid off 2 debts but got myself back in debt with one of my credit cards and so I have to reset my date and do my numbers and write them down. Have a great day.