I am looking for advice or BTDT stories, I guess.
I feel like I am constantly tweeking our budget because I keep thinking, "Oh we should be able to live on $xxx/month." and then if we end up needing something that month (which it seems like something comes up every month) then I feel guilty because I should have planned better, or I should've sacrificed something so that we could have saved money here or there. I just constantly feeling like since I am the one who manages our money and spending that I am constantly being more materialistic than I should and totally screwing up our money. I think the problem is that I really don't know what is realistic on what we should be able to live on every month and how much money is reasonable to spend on extras each month.
I'm going to divulge more info about our finances than I would typically like to but I feel like it would help with any advice I may be given.
There is 4 of us and one on the way. We have a almost 3 year old, a 6 month old with special medical needs, and I am pregnant. DH runs his own business/works for himself and I stay at home. We are considered low income but we have crazy low expenses, I think anyway. DH's business pays for our cell phones, internet, and part of our mortgage, and our health insurance; they are all tax write offs for his business. We have one personal car, paid for and in good condition, DH has a truck for his business but we don't drive it for personal use because it is so expensive to put diesel in it.
So our expenses are:
Under $1,000/month mortgage
Up to $250/month electric
About $300/month in car and life insurance, and mutual funds
$200/month total to our girls savings accounts
$100/month to church
$40/month gym membership
$70/month cleaning lady - I know this isn't a need, but it helps sooooo much right now.
That leaves us with about $1,000/month for any other expenses. Most of this goes to groceries, gas, feed for our chickens and 2 dogs, butchering fees for our chickens 1x a year, clothes, random house hold expenses, birthday/holiday decorations/presents/etc., and anything else we may need or want. DH plays softball in the Spring but that never really costs us anything because they get some sponsorship money from local businesses, and my hobbies are going to the gym when I can and knitting here and there. We are in a unique spot with groceries. My IL's are dairy farmers and we get unlimited free raw milk to drink and a lot of free ground beef when they have a cow butchered, we have eggs and chicken meat from our own chickens almost year round, we garden and are finishing putting up our greenhouse that we can start using this early Spring. So food is not a huge expense. My youngest just started on WIC for her special needs and a special formula that she needs which is crazy expensive. We use cloth diapers most of the time. The WIC office says that me and my older daughter also qualify for WIC because of income and the number of people in our family. We are suppose to go sign up and what not later this week.
Ugh, sorry this is so long! I am just being plagued by guilt. I feel like we really have low expenses, especially once me and my 2 kids will be on WIC, and since we have no debt except for our car that we should be throwing money at our mortgage. I feel guilty for taking WIC because I don't know how much of a true NEED need it is. But then I think, "Well, we do pay our taxes too and if it would help we should take it." On the other hand, I am sick of always have a handful of things we are out of or need on our shopping list that are going to have to wait a month or two or telling myself we don't need to have all the normal holiday things but then feeling bad that my family is not getting the holiday that I hoped we would have.
I know I need to get over my guilt but I would like to put our budget together and then be able to leave it alone for a couple of years, not constantly changing it but I think I could be doing a better job.
Thanks to those read all through this post!!