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Avoiding Debt With Budgeting- December Budget Example

Our credit counseling belief is that learning to budget will never fail you! That’s one reason the Talking Cents Blog loves teaching all about budgeting. We explore how a budget can affect real life. Given the expenses, December looks to be another tough month for anyone. The Median weekly earnings of the nation’s 122.1 million full-time wage and salary workers were $1,118 in the third quarter of 2023 (not seasonally adjusted), the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in October 2023.  This means a monthly salary is roughly around $4400.

Check out ACCC's December budget example

Check out ACCC’s December budget example.

December Budget Example & How to Avoid Debt

For the purpose of this activity we will assume that there is only once wage earner in this family of three. Given their tight household financial situation they took some preventative measures to control their spending and prepare for holidays.

  • A spending freeze was instituted. They spent less in several spending categories, like Household Items, which we will adjust for December’s budget.
  • A job has been landed for Partner #2, but they start January 1st.
  • Couple decided to make DIY Christmas presents to save money.
  • They cancelled cable to save money.
  • Utilities will start to go up with the colder weather.

While Partner #2 will be gainfully employed soon, December’s budget will still suffer from another month of lost income. In these times, it’s so easy for credit cards to be used to maintain standard of living. People will use their credit cards to eat out, buy clothing, go see movies, groceries, home goods, etc. It seems like a good solution to get through the tough times, right?

Well, if we could predict the future, then yes, it would work out. However, things change! What if the job offer fell through? Or the car broke down? If you don’t have enough income to cover your credit card bill at the end of the month, then you can’t actually afford it. This is even more true when you are bringing in less income than usual.

December Budget Example

Take a look at the December budget example to see how this family can balance another month with less income.

INCOME

  • Salary 1: $4400
  • Salary 2: $0
  • Income from selling unused household goods: $300

TOTAL: $4700

MONTHLY LIVING EXPENSES

  • Groceries: $600 (down from $800 for savings and Christmas gifts)
  • Household Items: $75 (down from $100)
  • Clothing: $0
  • Cellphones (2 phones): $120
  • Internet & Cable: $120 (down from $180)
  • Rent: $1,650
  • Electric: $200(increase from $160)
  • Gas: $100(increase from $75)
  • Trash: $10
  • Auto Maintenance: $80
  • Auto Insurance (2 cars): $225
  • Health & Dental Insurance: $350
  • Entertainment: $0 (help cover loss of income)
  • Netflix/Hulu: $25
  • Gym Membership: $60
  • Student Loan Payment: $425
  • Auto Loan Payment: $225
  • Vacation Fund: $0 (help cover loss of income)
  • Pet Care: $75 (down from $100)
  • Credit Card Debt Payment: $200 (smaller payment to help cover the loss of income)
  • Savings & Investments: $0 (help cover loss of income)
  • DIY Christmas Gifts: $130
  • TOTAL: -$4470

$4700- $4470= $230 Extra for the month

This means that if this family stick with their budget without any distractions they have a little money left that they probably can put towards ther savings or credit card debt settlement. Identifying and prioritizing the budget item that needs more attention becomes easier if you are aware of your financial picture before hand. While unexpected costs may come along, and may even be unavoidable you are more or less prepared to face the financial strains in difficult times.

How to Avoid Credit Card Debt

Finally, a budget is a great way to track and direct your money to avoid credit card debt. Another financial practice is to have a quick emergency fund of $1,000 and a larger emergency fund of 3-6 months of necessity coverage. That $1,000 can cover an immediate bigger need that is a one time situation. The larger 3-6 month emergency fund would be used for scenarios such as a job loss or medical emergency. While they don’t currently have an emergency fund, they do save money. It won’t be too hard to shift some money towards an emergency fund once their debt is paid off in a few months time. More on this later.

If you’re struggling to pay off debt, ACCC can help. Schedule a free credit counseling session with us today. 

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