Welcome to my newest series! The Budget Diaries pays homage to some of my favorite blog post series, the Money Diaries of Refinery29 and Cosmopolitan Magazine. In this series, I’ll be interviewing fellow bloggers about their budgeting habits, giving us a small peek into their financial lives.
This week’s guest is Simone Dennis, a personal finance blogger at The Slim Fit Wallet who managed to crush her $80,000 debt in only 3 years.
Hi Simone, thank you for agreeing to this interview! Will you tell us a bit about yourself?
Thank you for this opportunity. I am a young professional, who lives in Baltimore and works for the federal government. A year ago, I became completely debt free when I paid off $80,000 in three years. I share my story to inspire others to pay off their debt on my blog – theslimfitwallet.com.
When I’m not working or blogging, I enjoy learning about my city through food. Being a foodie in a city known for crab cakes can be expensive. But that does not hinder my happiness like it did when I was in debt. I’ve learned how to have an enjoyable life and still attain my money goals. The secret is that I prioritized becoming debt free and saving for an emergency fund. With a strong financial foundation in place, I have more flexibility to finance the things I enjoy.
Food is life, definitely! Do you keep a consistent budget? How did you start budgeting?
Yes, I keep a consistent budget. I started budgeting when I decided to pay off all my debt in 2014. At the starting line, I owed $65,000 in student loans, had $14,000 left on my car loan and had to contend with another $1,000 in medical bills. I was so unhappy being in debt that I decided to prioritize paying it off first and paused my other goals. Specifically, while I was in debt, I budgeted about 55%-65% of my income towards debt repayment. See more of the actual numbers from my budget to become debt free.
After that, I saved 3 to 6 months of expenses in an emergency fund. Now that I have a solid financial foundation, I use a less intense budget. One that allows me to enjoy more of life’s pleasures and still accomplish other money goals.
I think that’s awesome. How much is your typical weekly budget?
I typically create a monthly budget using the 40/30/30 rule of thumb for my take home pay. I spend 40% of my income on household essentials like rent, utilities, food, transportation, and giving. About 30% of my income goes to investing. The remaining 30%, I dedicate for lifestyle spending on travel, shopping, hobbies or entertainment.
Note: I enroll in automatic deductions for my 401(k) contributions and healthcare costs, which are not part of my 40/30/30 budgeting of take home pay.
I see. What’s a typical week of expenses for you?
During the work week, I try to avoid spending. When I do spend on work days, it’s usually for food (if I don’t meal prep for the week). One the weekends, I spend on entertainment, exercise, shopping, and personal grooming. I try to keep these costs in check by finding discounts, buying secondhand (if applicable), or doing without.
Great tips! What do you think is the hardest thing about budgeting?
The hardest part about budgeting is staying accountable. That is, sticking to a budget after creating it. On payday, making balance transfers to separate accounts for necessities, savings, and lifestyle spending based on the 40/30/30 principle helps me to stay on track. Where possible I have automatic bill pay set-up for recurring expenses in the necessities account. This overall automation helps me to stay accountable and fight the temptation to deviate from my financial plan.
Automatic payments are truly a life-saver. What advice can you give to anyone who’s interested in budgeting?
Take advice from someone who accomplished the same goal you are pursuing. Find a personal finance influencer or role model who accomplished the same money goal through budgeting and study their approach. Apply the principals that worked for them to your situation. Start slowly at first and build up your intensity as you begin to experience wins. If you struggle at any point learn from those mistakes and adjust accordingly.
I agree 100%! Anything else to say to our dear readers?
I gained the most success with budgeting when I prioritized my money goals and focused on one at a time. If you’ve been struggling to accomplish your goals, consider focusing on one at a time. Use the success of that win to fuel your desire to accomplish the next one.
Thank you so much, Simone and may you always lead a financially free life!
Answering these questions was a pleasure. Thank you for the opportunity. Hope your readers smash all their money goals!
Follow Simone in her adventures at The Slim Fit Wallet:
If you want to check out the other posts in this series, take a look at this link right here.
Have something to share? If you’d like to be a part of this series, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org! I’m looking forward to having you here!