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New Second Income - Spending everything "Catching Up"

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

We have been a one-income family for a LONG time (years and years), and learned to live frugally within our means.  2 years ago my husband had to switch jobs where he is now getting less than half of what he did at his last job.  Needless to say, we have been in a huge financial crunch.  


I finally found a job that I *LOVE,* that fits with my family's dynamic and schedule, and that I can do while still helping my family with all the things we do to keep it frugal.  This hasn't quite doubled our income, but it has helped a LOT.  That said, we have spent the last 2 months of my income just catching up on past bills, etc.  


Now that we're caught up it feels like we have so many OTHER things to catch up on.  For example, I'm about to have a baby (my due date is one month from today).  I am having to get all of the cloth diapers we need for him, inserts, etc.  We are going the inexpensive route, and buying used, trading, and getting some cheap ones from China. We're trying to be frugal, but let's face it - it's another expense (I know it would be with disposables too, and that this comes out cheaper in the end).  We had been going to the food bank primarily, so now that we have funds to be able to get food, we're stocking up on things we haven't been able to have on hand in a long time, though we're still cooking as frugally as possible.  We have car repairs waiting for us to have the money to take care of and heaven knows how much that will cost. We're paying for car insurance again, now that we can afford it.  I don't even want to think about the onslaught of birthdays and holidays coming up between now and the end of the year and what that will mean financially, even though we have been planning as much as possible throughout the year and make what we can from scratch.


It always feels like there is something we have to do, and I want so much for us to start really seeing the effects of me working - a savings, possible investment, being able to get health insurance for the whole family (only a few of us are covered with low income insurance right now).  


I shouldn't be TOO surprised because we're still not making as much as we were when hubby was working his last job, even with hubby and me working a combined 5 jobs now.


Is anyone else facing this?  Any tips for how to get ahead?  

post #2 of 11

I feel you. It seems like I can survive on next to nothing and then when we get money it seems like the list of things to-do is never ending. Anyway, I don't have advice, just letting you know I feel ya. I'll be keeping an eye on this for suggestions.

post #3 of 11

back before I had kids I got caught up in the dot com burst and it would take me 4-6m to find a job, I'd work there 6-8 weeks before getting let go....rinse and repeat. I think that happened 4 or 5 times?


Everytime I started getting paychecks it was time to catch up on bills (I too didn't have ins for a long time, but lucky I didn't drive anywhere and they were less strict about it then) and put some food in the pantry (at one point the cat food was looking snackable) and all that stuff.

I remember being really thankful that I had a gift cert from a friend for bath and bodyworks because they carried shampoo and I couldn't afford to buy shampoo no matter how cheap!


Probably one of the reasons I have stockpiles of things like a depression era survivor!

not coupon crazy stockpile, but I generally have atleast 10 bottles of shampoo hidden away, and soap etc.



I think it's pretty normal to have those sorts of expenses to catch up on when you've been under financed for awhile, the trick is to not splurge and try and pull the reigns back after you get caught up. The added expense of the baby isn't helping a whole lot either I wager!


I went through a messy divorce which cost me around 30K in about 18m...all the while making 42k a year. I'm still baffled as to HOW I managed to keep food in our bellies during that time. the math doesnt add up!

Since that point i've had several raises, plus not having to shell out 3K every time I turn around....I've been living off about the same and probably a bit less than what my takehome was at 42K and I feel pretty darn comfortable.


I know it's easy tho, to spend when your income increases and you have no idea where your money goes!

I'd make a list of your catch up items and prioritize and figure out how much you can comfortably afford to spend every paycheck towards catching up. Once you are caught up you can decide what to do with that amount....save it for rainy day.....start using as part of your regular budget...


I know from exp it's like losing weight....it's easy to spend more, it's a lot harder to start spending less!


oh, and absolutely budget for cloth diapers!

if you have to - do prefolds and covers and such now until you can build up stash a bit. I know with my kids the idea of a one size diaper was great....but most of my pockets got pretty manky and elastic started to go....so I don't buy those "buy 18 for 3 years!" type costing charts. lol.

plus, my eldest would leak out of even a disposable at night, but I finally landed on solution of super heavy duty fitteds (nightlights, firefly sleep tight, SOS with extra doublers...etc) and wool covers lanolized to the point where they were sticky.

my younger son I stocked up on velcro pockets (for daycare) and snap pockets (for around the house) and a handful of fitteds and wool for weekends and nighttime....only to figure out that he'd leak out of wool and fitteds!

A super stuffed pocket however worked great on him...and would leak like crazy on eldest!


so as much fun as it was to collect fluff and all that when the baby was in utero and newly hatched, I definately needed to adjust with both kids once I got to know them :)


Put the word out on freecycle and such too, I was surprised how many moms used cloth that were not on bbs like mothering and diaperpin. I happened to post a twin bed for free and a young couple with twin boy and girl came by and noticed I had piles of clothes from my boys and old toys and cleaned me out. and were happy to have it. I guess they had lost jobs and moved in with parents etc. The kiddos were around 1.

The mom mentioned offhand they CDed while talking about clothes and I had a HUUUUGE storage tub full of cloth that I just didn't have the time or energy to list and try and sell (I stink at getting to PO and doing stuff in a timely manner. it's part of my charm!)....

And since I was working crazy hours with kids in daycare I had a TON of really cute pockets and inserts and all that.....they went home with about 3 full garbage bags of clothes, another 2 of toys, and atleast 2 full of cloth diapers. filled the whole darn truck!


You might also hit up sewingmamas forum. I post there now and again, and there are quite a lot of moms who make CDs....you can probably get some serious deals on mom made diapers, and maybe even get some testers for cheap/free.

There are some seriously talented ladies there....I sew about once or twice a year and feel like a chinese sweatshop (last time I sewed i made 8 sets of jammies, 12 long sleeved shirts, 10 short sleeved shirts and 8 boxers for the 2 boys). If I had more free time...heck, any free time....I probably would love to sew for someone else :)

despite my crazy schedule I sewed pjs for a friends kid, a ton of nighties for my niece, and my xmas gifts for my nieces and nephews last year. And I have a request to make OBV pillowcases for my nieces I need to get on ASAP!


I bought some fishsticks patterns and i'm ACHING to sew teeny tiny things, but by the time I got around to it and finished whatever baby they were intended for would be walking! lol....

I suspect i'm not the only one with older kids that wouldn't love to sew for a baby....point being :)

post #4 of 11

It's easier-said-than-done for all us, but I think budgeting for savings is important.  Put that money away FIRST, if you can.  

post #5 of 11

I agree with A&A. If you wait until you have "extra" money to save, you won't ever have it.


Do you use direct deposit? I put some money from every paycheck into the savings account. If DH or I get a raise, I increase the savings amount by the amount of the raise - we were already used to living on the previous amount.


It's there if you need it, but it takes a little extra effort - and if it's not in the checkbook balance, it's "out of sight, out of mind".


A trick that my Mom used was to hide money from herself. If she deposited $500 in the checking account, she would write it in as $450, for example - so when she looked at the balance, she wasn't tempted to spend it, but she had a cushion. She did keep track of it elsewhere (otherwise it would be impossible to balance the check book!)  But that was before the days of direct deposit, so putting money in a savings account wasn't as convenient as it is now.

post #6 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thank you all for your responses!  I think part of the problem is that a lot of things that get in the way of us having a savings *YET* are things that we would use the savings FOR, for example, car repairs.  I have a goal of starting to save after the first of the year, when I will have fully recovered from having the baby, be back to work full time, and things won't be quite so crazy with holidays and birthdays as well.  Plus, the first of the year is a good "start over" time that we can plan for and set aside with new goals.

post #7 of 11

That's a good plan - good luck!


Twice you've mentioned holidays and birthdays - I strongly recommend that you set a limit to gift spending, and stick to it! Gift buying can get out of hand quickly, and undo all the good that you have set in place already.

post #8 of 11

That is really frustrating..I have had a few times when we have been done with a big bill (loan, car payment, etc.) and looked forward to that "extra" money, only to find ourselves wondering a few months later what on earth happened to it!


If -no when!- I get caught up again, I plan to automatically put money in savings every month, even if it is just 50 bucks.  Maybe you can do this as well, and just don't count that savings money as being available at all, use the rest of it to play catch up. 


Congrats on the baby and on the new job and getting caught up again on bills :)

post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 
The reason I have mentioned birthdays twice is that we have 13 birthdays in the next 2 months - all the people that are close with us. We hand make most of our gifts but with the baby coming any day I am trying to be realistic about what I can accomplish. We don't spend a lot on people (usually no more than $10-20) but I do want to acknowledge their birthdays with a gift from our family. It is a lot of planning, and we have been working on it for most of the year. My daughter also has her birthday party the week after thanksgiving so we have to plan for that, though again we do most things from scratch. It is just a crazy time of year for us.

Christmas is nuts too because now that we live back in our hometown we have lots of family and friends that we celebrate with. They all give gifts and we feel awkward if we don't reciprocate in some way. Again we usually make things but I am going to be recovering from birth, working a job full time, and taking care of my busy family (including a newborn, 7 year old daughter, and 11 yo with severe special needs). Time is at a premium.

I do thrift shop for gifts when I can and will do some baked gifts as well. I've been canning all summer for gifts and have been saving up things I find for everyone all year. Because I didn't start work until just over 2 mos ago we didn't have much budget before that for even thrifting, so again things are crunched.

Hubby and I are not getting anything for each other- just the kids (and probably not much for the baby, who won't know any different).
post #10 of 11
Thread Starter 
Also- I did call and cancel our home phone line and was able to get a $73 credit applied to our bill for next month's Internet so there is a big savings. smile.gif we will need it since I won't be working for several weeks when i have the baby.
post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 

I did want to update that after doing inventory of our birthday-situation we are MUCH closer to being done with needing to get birthday gifts.  All that is left is one little boy (who we are planning to get a $5 shirt for, and some thrift-store books), hubby, and my best friend.  Out of 13 birthdays, that's pretty good!!!  :)  That takes away a lot of financial pressure, and even more so, the pressure for planning it all and making sure we have thought of everyone, etc. 


This season is NUTS.  After Christmas we wind up with no birthdays except mine and my SIL's until June, and usually we just do dinner for me and SIL.


On another note, so far this month, we've also paid down an additional $60 on a debt that is costing us a lot in interest.  I'm  hoping to have it paid off by January!  Wahoo for progress!

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