In June my husband's student loans will no longer be in forbearance. We have one more year that we can put them off if necessary. He owes $60,000 and his payment will be about $320.00.
In October my student loans (about $10,000) will also come out of deferment. I can also defer another year. Payment will be around $100.
Right now we're making it. Just. I can pay every bill we have on time. I can make minimum payments on my credit cards.
We're making it. We can go out to eat about once a month and afford Netflix. We each have $20.00 a month we can use to buy little things for ourselves or maybe visit a Starbucks.
We're making it. Because we're ignoring a lot of things we need.
I have a spreadsheet with our budget. It has tabs for each month. I have month-specific expenses and income in one section and then regular expenses and income in another. This allows me to mark what's been paid, what's been scheduled to be paid (we use BOA's Bill Pay feature), how much is budgeted vs. how much is spent, and so forth.
One category is FSA. That stands for "Freedom Savings Account". In this account I (need to) put money for all the things that are occasional expenses. An example would be our yearly HOA fee, renewing my license, getting our teeth cleaned, car repairs, etc.
I need to put at least $236.00 in a month just to cover the bare basics of "we're SOL if we don't pay this". In order to hit all the necessities I need $475. In order to meet other goals, such as vacations, I need even more.
I've been putting in exactly $0. There's no room.
And it's frustrating. I've cut down my expenses tremendously but something always comes up. When business slowed and I decided to be a mostly stay at home mom I canceled my disability insurance. We canceled AT&T and went with Net10. I found a much cheaper web host for my business website. We used our tax credit to pay off the car loan. I started using coupons. And on, and on. And still we're not doing better than making it.
What happens with the water heater (original with the 1987 house) gives up the ghost? Or when the A/C (10 years old, horrible efficiency rating, and no longer serviceable) stops working? We're screwed.
And when the student loans can't be put off anymore?
I can make all of $75 more room in the budget by cutting out every nonessential we have.
We'll be making hard choices. Hard, hard choices.
We talked a lot and decided that it's silly to spend the next year struggling and stressed when we're going to end up filing bankruptcy at that point anyway.
If we file bankruptcy now we'll have a year to get caught up and put some money in the bank. We'll be able to pay off hubby's student loans in the next ten years. We'll be able to get our teeth cleaned and cavities filled and replace the water heater.