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Can you look at this budget please?

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 

Needing some input on this budget. We are way overspending every month and have eaten away at our savings (mostly unavoidable since my dad was really ill last month so we did a ton of traveling back and forth to where he lives, which cost $$$ but we are both okay with going into short term debt when family is ill and needs us). Our only debt right now is maybe $5000 total across 3 credit cards (about half of that will be paid off at the beginning of this month- but we've NEVER carried a balance on a credit card, this is the first time we haven't been able to pay it all off), dh's car and the house. Basically we went from me working somewhere between part time and full time to not working at all when the baby was born. It's cut out a large chunk of money, but we didn't cut out any spending to compensate.

 

Income-

DH's paychecks, after taxes, health insurance, FSA money, etc are taken out is around $1350 every other week (for budgeting purposes I just did $2700/month and on the 2 months where he gets 3 paychecks the money can go to things we haven't budgeted for).

I get approximately $350 in child support each month, with an extra $50 every month to try and pay off his arrears. So I just budgeted the $350 and when I do get the extra $50 it's going in our savings, which we depleted paying for ds's medical bills because my PITA ex refused to pay them (hence he went into arrears and they are now taking $50/month to try and pay them off).

 

Our total income to work with is $3050/month.

 

 

Expenses....

$770 house (this also includes home owners insurance)

$436 car

$175 electric

$148 cell phones (this is non-negotiable- we don't have house phones and dh uses his cell phone for work so we can't reduce the minutes or anything, otherwise we end up paying more for going over in minutes)

$73 cable

$60 water

$40 to the kids savings accounts ($20 in each kids account each month)

$27 gym membership (this is for dh, me and dh's dad)

$15 on dh's WoW game

 

There is also $325/year on DH's life insurance, $300/year for my life insurance and $250/year on car registration (though that will hopefully go down because dh plans on selling his "play" car).

 

So the monthly expenses that are automatically taken out of dh's bank account (all those listed above), plus the yearly expenses I listed above (divided by 12 months) is $1817/month.

 

Here's what I budgeted....

 

food/grocery- $400 (we had been spending around $600/month on grocery)

gas (both our cars)- $300 (and this will really be pushing the limit, not sure we can do this)

eating out- $70 (this is really going to be hard for us- we had been spending around $300/month on eating out!)

household (TP, soap, etc)- $30

medical- $20

clothing (mostly for the kids)- $20

entertainment- $20 (of which $8 is on netflix)

car/house maintenance- $40

travel- $100 (this will be really hard to stay in this limit because I have to travel back to Michigan every other month for ds's visitation, it's not an option. It costs around $100 in gas each time. If we have to get a hotel then that's around $50/night. Plus food on the way there and back)

legal fees- $75 (I currently owe around $600 to my lawyer, and it will continue building because she's still working on some stuff for me, but she'll let me pay it off little by little thankfully)

pool membership- $400/year, $34/month (I want to let this go for the year, dh refuses because he already made a verbal commitment to do it and he wants to honor it- it's in his parents neighborhood and they might help pay for it but we need to plan for them not to help just in case).

 

Total monthly budgeted money is $1109.

 

$1109 (budgeted money) plus $1817 (other monthly expenses) is $2926 total expenses. That leaves $126 wiggle room IF we can stick to our budget. And our budget doesn't include things like gifts (b-day/christmas), ds's field trips, etc.

 

Is it possible?

post #2 of 30

I don't know- I am awful with this... I don't think it works....I wonder if you can cut out cable?  We did for four years and it was ok.. after a few months we did not miss it. 

post #3 of 30
Thread Starter 

I've thought about the cable, but the internet is included in that and we HAVE to have the internet (for dh's work, otherwise he would have to go in to work on the other side of town 2-3 nights a week for his work calls with other countries). The gas alone for traveling all the way to the other side of town for work 2-3 nights a week would probably about equal the internet money (not to mention that would mean he would almost never be home and would miss out on seeing the kids most of the week). I think the actual cable (tv) is only an additional $15ish per month on top of the internet (but I'm not positive on that). So the internet and the cell phones are something we have to have for dh's work (I think they do reimburse dh some for the cell phones, but I don't know how that works).

post #4 of 30

I am sorry... I hate it when there is more month then money...

I hope someone has better suggestions for you- we are not making it either.

post #5 of 30
Thread Starter 

I am a substitute para (and I can do substitute teaching as well, after I turn in some paperwork). I am not opposed to working a half day here and there right now (ds will take a random bottle of breastmilk for dh), but the problem is that with dh's work schedule there's a limited time I have available to work (he could work from home and be with the baby Tuesday and Thursday afternoons or maybe some time on Fridays. There just isn't a lot of job openings that are during those times, ya know? I'm going to talk to a family friend who does some sort of transcription stuff from home and see what that entails. If I can do that while staying home with that baby that would work out well.

post #6 of 30

Sounds good- I clean houses- I don't know if that would work for you-but that could work during those hours.... I could point you in right direction to get started and you can make pretty good money- depending on where you live- 10-25 an hour.  I generally make 15 and work about 4 hours a day.

post #7 of 30
Thread Starter 
With the house cleaning- what happen if have to take, say, a month off? Dh travels for work so whatever I do has to be flexible because when he's gone I can't woh. For example, he'll be out of the country for 3 weeks in february. As much as this sucks for us, it's good for the budget because he won't be spending gas money, food money, etc (his work pays all travel related expenses). Lol!
post #8 of 30


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by StephandOwen View Post

 

 

Our total income to work with is $3050/month.

 

 

Expenses....

$770 house (this also includes home owners insurance)

does it include taxes?

 

$436 car

 

Car payments?  For one or two cars?  If it is for one car, I would sell that car and put the money into buying something cheaper.  Even if you could put 2000 into a car and then have 250 payments for a year or two. 

 

If it is for two cars, the payments are not unreasonable, but I (who have very similar income to you) would have difficulty swinging it.  

 

Have you thought of being a one car family?   It is not possible for everyone - but if you can swing it, it will cut your car expenses by almost half (and yours, including gas and maintenance, are at almost 800$)

 

 

$175 electric

 

Seems a little high - but doing things like weather caulking, turning down the water heater, making sure to turn off lights, only running full loads os dishes and laundry will save some money (not a lot, I am afraid - but 20$ is better in you pocket than theirs)

 

 

$148 cell phones (this is non-negotiable- we don't have house phones and dh uses his cell phone for work so we can't reduce the minutes or anything, otherwise we end up paying more for going over in minutes)

 

Seems very high to me.  I would run other scenarios.  I know you said this was non-negotiable, and I am not suggesting you get rid of the cell phones, just see what others plans are available.  When I first skimmed your post, cell phones are the first thing that jumped out at me as being too high.

 

 

$73 cable

 

You can go down to basic for lower, particularly seeing as you have netflicks.

 

$60 water

$40 to the kids savings accounts ($20 in each kids account each month)

$27 gym membership (this is for dh, me and dh's dad)

$15 on dh's WoW game

 

There is also $325/year on DH's life insurance, $300/year for my life insurance and $250/year on car registration (though that will hopefully go down because dh plans on selling his "play" car).

 

So the monthly expenses that are automatically taken out of dh's bank account (all those listed above), plus the yearly expenses I listed above (divided by 12 months) is $1817/month.

 

Here's what I budgeted....

 

food/grocery- $400 (we had been spending around $600/month on grocery)

seems low to me

 

gas (both our cars)- $300 (and this will really be pushing the limit, not sure we can do this)

eating out- $70 (this is really going to be hard for us- we had been spending around $300/month on eating out!)

also low - but maybe doable

 

household (TP, soap, etc)- $30

medical- $20

clothing (mostly for the kids)- $20

entertainment- $20 (of which $8 is on netflix)

seems low

 

car/house maintenance- $40

again - low

 

Do you have a budget for kid activities, birthdays and Xmas (or other seasonal holidays?)

 

travel- $100 (this will be really hard to stay in this limit because I have to travel back to Michigan every other month for ds's visitation, it's not an option. It costs around $100 in gas each time. If we have to get a hotel then that's around $50/night. Plus food on the way there and back)

legal fees- $75 (I currently owe around $600 to my lawyer, and it will continue building because she's still working on some stuff for me, but she'll let me pay it off little by little thankfully)

pool membership- $400/year, $34/month (I want to let this go for the year, dh refuses because he already made a verbal commitment to do it and he wants to honor it- it's in his parents neighborhood and they might help pay for it but we need to plan for them not to help just in case).

Seems high to me.  Do you use both the pool and gym?  if you feel bound to see it out, do it (but not at the expense of anyone eating) - but drop one next year.  

 

Total monthly budgeted money is $1109.

 

$1109 (budgeted money) plus $1817 (other monthly expenses) is $2926 total expenses. That leaves $126 wiggle room IF we can stick to our budget. And our budget doesn't include things like gifts (b-day/christmas), ds's field trips, etc.

 

Is it possible?



 


Edited by purslaine - 1/30/12 at 6:32am
post #9 of 30

Have you looked into other cell phone plans?  Dh and I have saved a ton of money these last few years by going to a prepaid cell phone plan with Verizon.  Previously we were spending $80 per month for our 2 phone plan.  Now Dh loads his phone with $100 worth of minutes once per year.  I use mine more so I will probably be looking at $150 this year.  It is WAY less than were spending and now we don't have an obligation to pay Verizon every month.  We discovered if you load on larger amounts at a time the minutes last longer.  If you only add on $20 they last 30 days but if you add on $100 worth they last a year.  Since I am paying for my minutes I am more conscious about how I use my phone and wait to make some calls until I am at home. 

 

I know you may be in a contract right now so you may have to wait some time before you can do this, but every little savings helps.  It may even be worth breaking the contract once you see what you can save. 

 

I agree with previous poster about considering being a 1 car family if that is possible, even for just a little while while you get your finances in a more comfortable situation.  Could dh take the bus to work?  Or carpool with someone?  Bike if it isn't too far?  Or consider trading one car in for something way less expensive like a motor scooter for him to take to work...if the weather is cooperative where you live. 

 

I know it is stressful to make a budget that you already think may not work in a few different areas.  It might be less stressful if you can change some other things so you trip every other month is paid for and your grocery budget can come up a bit to make day to day life easier.  If you are eating out less then feasibly your grocery budget would need to come UP from the $600 it was at, not down.  I would give this a lot of thought!  I find daily stress is MUCH less when I can easily feed my family and have options in the fridge.  It makes going without cable or a 2nd car worth it. 

 

Those are my thoughts for now.  Remember, you are not alone.  Many of us are struggling with the same situation you are.  These conversations are helpful for all of us.  :)  Hugs to you Mama!

 

 

post #10 of 30

Another thought... when our family switched over to eating out less, I realized how important meal planning is as well as having lots of simple foods in the fridge.  I try to always have a big bowl of salad washed and cut up for a quick side dish..l can just put it on the table with a few dressings at the last minute or we can easily have taco salads or chef salads...everyone can make their own and I just put out what veggies, meats and cheeses we have on hand.  Prepping dinner in the mornings and doing some meal planning each week is a big help.  While I'm making dinner sometimes I'll make an easy soup for the next day. 

post #11 of 30

Its tight, and some of the items you have budgeted for you have disclaimers, knowing that that amount will be hard to stick too...setting yourself up to break it.

 

I would drop the 40 dollars a month to the kids account for the time being ...budget is tight, why are they getting this? ... put this in your account. Cable, drop. Netflix and the basic channels are good enough. Look for a different internet service. A better phone deal. Does your electric fluctuate by season?  Water, is that monthly or quarterly? (Mine is about 50 dollars quarterly)

 

My philosophy ... if you find you are constantly writing checks or paying bills, get rid of some (even if you can easily afford them) ... years ago, I dropped cable because I got "bored" of paying an x amount of bills per month :). I don't have a cell phone because I really don't want to be giving my money to another thing...I'd rather save it for travel.  List your priorities, compare them to your budget and what you are paying out and see how they line up.

 

Simplify the monthly expenses and categorize some as bi-annual to be covered by that third check twice a year (such as clothes, pool membership, insurance, etc)

 

If you get a tax return, pay off the lawyer fee or the CC and put aside a chunk for emergencies - free up some of those monthly expenses. 

 

 

post #12 of 30

That's really not a lot of wiggle room and you can be easily surprised by how much you put out monthly on things that pop up.

 

If you are at all like my family while we were going through eating out withdrawl, we would stop and spend $15 here or there at Subway just because it got a little later for dinner and $15 isn't all that much. Once. But the third, fourth and fifth time a month adds up! So watch that, DH and I have gotten ourselves into numerous tight spots that way.

 

Personally, I'd cut out cable for an undetermined amount of time. I'd not put money into the kids accounts for six months and re-evaluate at that time. You can drop your electric bill down by doing things like hang drying clothes (although that's not necessarily an option this time of year! I can usually get it in from April to October-ish depending on weather.), lowering/raising the temp of your house, unplugging unused electronics, etc. Making your own household cleaners will save you a ton of money. All you need is borax, washing soda, fels naptha, white vinegar, baking soda. All cost less than $4 for the big box and last several months. 

 

Do your kids need new clothes monthly? I'd personally cut that out of the budget and put the odd pair of jeans or jammies in with the pop up amount. Only buy something if your kiddo actually *needs* it. 

 

Your car maintenence amount seems very low. How often do you need an oil change in each car? Those are fifty bucks a pop, unless you do them yourself. 

 

I'm not sure how much you are paying monthly for home and auto insurance, but you should call and find out if there are any discounts your are applicable for that you don't have. Shop around, you might be surprised. If you combine your all of your policies within one company (inc life), you should be able to get several discounts. See if any tickets have fallen off your license. 

 

Honestly, I'd drop either the pool or gym membership. I don't see a need for both.

 

Drop the $20 entertainment fund down to just $8 for netflix. 

 

Use your tax return (if possible) to pay off the lawyer fee, pool membership or even an insurance policy for as long as possible so its not a monthly thing.

 

I also noticed that you added qualifiers to your several items budget. IMO, you are kind of setting yourself up to not stay within the budget. Over budget for somethings and cut some other things out. Budget $150 a month for travel instead of $100, then you may have leftover money rather than not enough. Same with food.

 

Meal planning is essential to staying within a budget. My grocery bills dropped by about $150 when I started meal planning. Plus I know what I have on hand and what I can make. Its so much simpler!

 

I don't think you need to do all of this. I think just cutting a couple of things here and there and over budgeting for somethings will help you along. Over all, I *do* think you can do it the way you have it laid out, I just think it won't be easy.

post #13 of 30

I think you DH needs to lobby for a work paid cell phone.  Maybe say I need this lots of my calls, minutes, data are work driven and it is not fair that I have to pay for them myself.  If he doesn't get the response you want he should stop taking the evening calls.  I also wonder if that got him a smart phone if you could then live with out internet (have a laptop or tablet and use WIFI)

post #14 of 30

I'm with mnnice on getting your DH's work to pay for his cell. 

 

Also- If the car payment is for 1 car, I'd suggest selling it and buying something $2,000-3,000. An old Honda or Toyota would be good. If it's for 2 cars, maybe this could still apply. DH and I both drive oldish but reliable cars w/o a payment and it is such a relief! Maybe sell a car and survive on 1 car for a while while saving the payment $ for a new (to you) car. 

 

I'd cut the cable and get Internet alone. We have ATT U-verse and it's only $25/month for 12 mbps. And that's WITHOUT cable or a landline plus we're in a rural area. Call around, you should be abel to do better on this. 

 

Stop paying into the kids' savings accounts. 

 

Plan your meals 1-2 weeks in advance so you won't be stressed and tempted to eat out. In the summer, buy all you can in bulk or through farmers on Craigslist and freeze it. We're still living off our summer stash and it's so nice to be able to use our grocery $ to stock up on meat for the freezer instead of normal groceries. 

 

Pool membership should go definitely. Explain things sincerely and people should understand. Most of us have been in your shoes somewhere along the way and I know I'd understand!

 

 

I sure hope you are able to figure something out. Stressing about $ is not fun at all. I hate it. greensad.gif Hope you are able to get things to a better place soon!

 

post #15 of 30
Thread Starter 
Thanks so much for the thoughts! I'm on my phone so can't quote but i'll try to answer everything.

Yes, the house payment includes taxes.

The car payment is 1 car (mine has been paid off for years). Dh is close to paying his off (he has a high payment because he wants to pay it off quickly.... When he bought the car I was working). It wouldn't make sense for him to sell it now, so close to paying it off. He does have a play car (2 door sports car) that he's going to sell this spring.

With our schedules and where his work is compared to ds's school and home it's not possible to be a 1 car family. Dh is going to try and carpool with his dad more (they work at the same company and we live just 5 minutes from them) to save on gas. Right now dh fills his tank once a week and I average 3 fill ups every month.

Not sure what to do about electric. Tv/lights/etc aren't on during the day (i'm alone with baby and don't turn them on). We only run full loads in dishwasher/laundry. We do use a dryer. Not really anywhere to hang dry them here.

I'll have dh look into the cell phones again and see if we can cut something out without impacting his job. They do reimburse him some for the cell phone and i'm not sure if that's reflected in the budget I put up.

I'll look into the cable too. Like I said, the internet is a must with dh's work though.

Food budget is so low, for now at least, because we actually have a ton of food in the house (a freezer in the garage full as well as the freezer attached to the fridge full, plus a full pantry). A low food budget will force me to actually cook that food instead of buying more food. Lol! We started packing dh's lunch- he had been spending $10-15 daily for lunch.

Electric is about the same every month, a little lower in spring and fall.

Water is monthly.
post #16 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by StephandOwen View Post


The car payment is 1 car (mine has been paid off for years). Dh is close to paying his off (he has a high payment because he wants to pay it off quickly.... When he bought the car I was working). It wouldn't make sense for him to sell it now, so close to paying it off. He does have a play car (2 door sports car) that he's going to sell this spring.
 


then there are two options:

 

1:  refinance car to have more cash flow.  I would only do this if I had to.

 

2.  Suck it up (said nicely) until the car is paid off.

 

I would start with less cable, and perhaps forgoing the kids bank accounts until the car is paid off.  I would ask DP to look at different cell phone plans, but I would look myself.  Sometimes we find stuff our partners do not see, and this bill is affecting all of you.   Lastly, I would consider axing the swim fee.

post #17 of 30
Thread Starter 

Another minute to add more....

 

The money in the kids accounts really mean a lot to dh. I think he will drop just about everything else before he drops that. I don't necessarily agree with it, but it's just a difference in how we were raised (his parents had an account when he was a kid that they deposited money in, my parents did not.... he was an only child and I was one of 5 growing up!).

 

I used to be really good at meal planning. I've fallen off that wagon but will get back on after dh's trip for work next month.

 

I told dh I think the pool membership needs to go. We'll see what he says about that.

 

I think I got everything, if not please let me know!

 

And thanks again for the great ideas!

post #18 of 30

Hi Steph!!

 

I think your medical is too low.  You have the baby and Owen's 'stuff'.  No way are you going to stay with in $20/month.  Sorry hun, that one isn't realistic.   Does the gym have a pool? I  know O loves the pool (unless that has changed?).  I think you need to keep something that works for O and really makes him happy.  Maybe drop the gym during pool season?

 

Can you start couponing again- I bet if you tried you can get that grocery bill down.  You can eat out, but again use COUPONS.

 

Meal planning and coupons... thats your answer.!

post #19 of 30
Thread Starter 

I should clarify on the medical.... we use the fsa card to pay medical bills (and cross our fingers and pray that it gets us through the year). The money on the fsa card is taken out of dh's paycheck automatically (pre-tax). We actually spend around $200-400 every month on medical, depending on therapies and doctors appointments. The medical categpry in the budget would include meds not on fsa card, bandaids, vitamins, etc.

 

The gym does not have a pool (the gym we used to go to that does have a pool is $76/month with a $100 joining fee). The pool is in dh's parents neighborhood (so only open Memorial Day-Labor Day).

 

I have restarted couponing thumb.gif

post #20 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by StephandOwen View Post

Another minute to add more....

 

The money in the kids accounts really mean a lot to dh. I think he will drop just about everything else before he drops that. I don't necessarily agree with it, but it's just a difference in how we were raised (his parents had an account when he was a kid that they deposited money in, my parents did not.... he was an only child and I was one of 5 growing up!).

 



Why exactly does your husband feel the need to put money in your children's bank accounts even though you can't really afford it right now? The children are still being taken care of without them having their own bank accounts.

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