SFtDoD – February 2018

Here we are at the third month of our ongoing series Swimming From the Depths of Debt (SFtDoD). Last month, in SFtDoD – January 2018, Ms. H and Mr. T did not go further into debt, but still have a long way to go. How did they do in February?

Income Statement – February 2018
Income Estimated Actual
Ms. H (Barista) $173 $172
Ms. H (Hostess) $322 $379
Mr. T (Donuts) $834 $833
Mr. T (Dishwasher) $554 $518
Mr. T (Nursing Home) $139 $0
Ms. O (Rent) $275 $275
Cash Back $7 $7
Total Income $2304 $2184
Fixed Expenses
Rent $925 $925
Electricity $140 $0
Mobile Phone $118 $238
Auto Insurance $89 $95
Internet $50 $50
Prescription $43 $43
Variable Expenses
Gas $244 $244
Gasoline & Misc. Auto $220 $157
Groceries $400 $282
Restaurants $0 $37
Shopping $75 $73
Total Expenses $2304 $2144
Net Gain or Loss $0 $40

Since we were a couple of weeks into February when Ms. H and I spoke about their budget, we had a pretty clear idea about how the month would turn out. This made it easy to create a Dave Ramsey style zero-based budget by giving every dollar a name.

They did not go into debt despite the fact that they were $120 short of their planned income. This was due to Mr. T not getting the planned job at the Nursing Home. He’s back to one job, but that is better than no job. He also did not bring in quite as much as planned from washing dishes.


Now about those expenses. You will notice they did not pay their electric bill. Ms. H said she paid it, but that it came out of her account after the first of March. This is fortunate because they did not have the money to pay for it, but unfortunate because now they have double the electricity to pay in March. I asked Ms. H about the variable gas bill and she said she called them and they put her on a plan. They were behind paying the bill, but will now pay a fixed amount of $149 per month. There were also two months of phone charges during the month to catch up on her past due bill.

They planned on increased gasoline charges with extra jobs, but since the extra jobs did not pan out, the gasoline charges were lower. There were several restaurant charges, which normally I would harp on, but since they were well under their planned grocery expenses, I let it go. I did say they need to cook all their food. She asked about doing something like Hello Fresh or Blue Apron, but I told her she has no business paying $8.99 or $9.99 per meal, which at only two meals per day would increase their grocery budget to between $500 and $600 per month. She agreed to stick with grocery shopping and making food at home.

March 2018 Planning

Despite their decreased income, their expenses were even lower, which enabled them to finish the month with an extra $40. Now, however, is when the tears began to flow as we discussed her March budget. Let me lay it out and then I will explain further.

Income Statement – March 2018 Budget
Ms. H (Hostess) $280
Ms. H (Postmates) $0
Mr. T (Dishwasher) $1120
Ms. O (Rent) $275
Total Income $1675
Fixed Expenses
Rent $925
Electricity $284
Gas $149
Mobile Phone $106
Auto Insurance $95
Internet $50
Prescription $43
Variable Expenses
Gasoline $190
Groceries $350
Shopping $50
Total Expenses $2242
Net Gain or Loss ($567)


Are you shaking your head, yet? I know I am. Let’s begin with the good news. Ms. H called her mobile phone provider and removed the insurance on the phone reducing the bill to $106 per month. I asked her about getting a pay-as-you-go phone, but she is under contract. Now let’s discuss the less than fortunate news.

Ms. H should work more. The problem is that Baby E is due at the end of this month. Through all the tears, Ms. H said she would begin driving Postmates deliveries for extra cash. This is a good idea, but there is no estimate on how much income she could bring in. I explained that this is not sustainable in the near term and the only solution is that Mr. T needs to get another job AND KEEP IT. They are $425 short for the month and their expenses are almost entirely fixed. The reason it shows that they are $567 short is due to the electricity bill from last month going through on March 2nd. That makes it $284 instead of $142.

While explaining this shortfall to Ms. H, I told her they have to figure something out soon because each time their bank account gets hit with an overdraft charge it puts them $28 farther behind. I know this because last year her account was hit with overdraft fees a dozen times. That was when Dr. SoS and I began to suspect she needed a Mr. SoS intervention to stop the leak. It sure would be nice to have the money she paid the bank last year. The lesson in this kids is to budget, track your expenses, spend less than you earn, and do not stretch yourself too thin with your expenses. Oh, and keep your job(s) and do not quit until you start a better one.

Please keep this young couple in your thoughts so they can keep swimming. Thanks!

Mr. SoS


  1. you never seem to get hit with those fees once you are established and could afford a little oops every once in awhile. it’s always when you don’t have 2 nickels to rub together. i can’t believe how much rent and utilities cost these days. i wish them the best as always.

    1. Thanks Freddy. I have her set up in Mint so we can track her budget. I just checked and she has enough for her rent for the month. That is the biggest expense. She just needs to get back to work or he needs to get a second or third job to get their income up. The other thing they really need to do is find a place with cheaper rent. Perhaps when her lease is up in several months we will see if she can move to a less expensive location. The good thing with flat-rate utilities is that they help you manage your budget because the payment is the same every month. The bad thing is that you cannot take advantage of lower rates periodically throughout the year. Although, you also do not have to worry about really high bills other times of the year, so I guess it works out.

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