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#1 of 27 Old 04-20-2010, 10:56 PM - Thread Starter
 
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...to help trim our budget!

So, maybe I'm a little late, but I just picked up Dave Ramsey's "Total Money Makeover", and my husband has more-or-less agreed to give it a try. We don't have any credit card debt, but still owe about $1000 to the midwife, and have about $55,000 in school debt between the two of us. I'm at home with the little ones, and my husband makes about $3500 a month.

But I'm looking at our budget, and am not sure where any extra money is going to come from, to throw at our debt. We live a fairly frugal lifestyle: we have one car (11-year-old Corolla), we don't have cell phones or cable. We do have internet, but it's required for my husband's job (and his company pays half), and Netflix, but that comes out of my husband's allowance. Basically, the way finances have worked in our house is he earns the money, and I spend the money. As long as we have enough to eat out sometimes when he asks, my husband doesn't want to know how broke we are. He's a worrier, and he'd rather not worry about money. On payday, I sit down and pay every bill we have: mortgage and utilities, church and Compassion, school loans, medical bills, etc. I do a big grocery shopping at the beginning of the month, and then pick up things like milk and produce as needed throughout the month. But it's usually getting pretty dicey by the end of the month. Every month. And there's usually a really long list of things that are needed, but "will just have to wait until we can afford them". And, I swear, everything broke in my third trimester. The vacuum, the lawnmower, the blender, the furnace, hubby's glasses, the ceiling fan, two recliners, the computer chair, etc. We used our tax return to basically play catch-up for most of those things (I mean, seriously, it's pretty bad when I've been borrowing my mom's vacuum for six months now - it's good she's only two blocks from us, but I mean, really!)

We eat out about twice a month, and I cook from scratch most of the time. Food is where I feel we could trim a whole stinkin' lot, but...well, my husband is a meat-and-potatoes man, and seven years of trying new recipes has shown that I won't persuade him otherwise. He will not eat beans, and only occasionally eats rice, doesn't like Mexican or Italian (no tacos and very little pasta). Not to sound mean, but he's just downright picky. Often times, I end up eating differently than my husband and son, simply because I don't really like brats, Reubens, pot roast, or other "heavy" meals. I do attempt cooking from scratch as much as possible. I'm doing a small garden this year, but I think I'm the only one who will eat what grows in it. Oy, it sounds like I'm starting to rant...sorry!

Living in a small, college town, there aren't really opportunities for me to do childcare in my home (too many college students available), and we're just not willing to sacrifice me being home with the little ones, even if it means getting more financially stable. So, how do we pay off debt that is essentially equal to one year's salary that's already stretched thin for four people? How do we get started?
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#2 of 27 Old 04-21-2010, 02:03 AM
 
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Can you post your budget?




It sounds like groceries is where you already know you can trim so I would start there.

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#3 of 27 Old 04-21-2010, 08:41 AM
 
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Sounds like you are already very frugal. I would say food is the one thing where it's easy to save money (maybe not easy but doable). How much are you spending on groceries? Do you coupon? Do the grovery game or anything similar? For meat do you buy it on sale and stock up?

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#4 of 27 Old 04-21-2010, 10:53 AM
 
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While eating out twice a month doesn't sound like much, if you are spending $50 for the three of you to eat out, that's $100/month - easily a week or two of grocery money!

I think the very best thing you can do is track your expenses for a couple of months - not just bills, but every single penny you spend, whether it's for a candy bar at the gas station or a birthday card for Aunt Sue. You can use a spreadsheet or just write everything in a notebook. The more details you can include, the better (for example, split out actual food from things like toilet paper and shampoo, if you buy them all at the same store).

At the end of each month, put your spending into categories - food, household supplies, clothes, haircuts, entertainmen, gas, etc. You might be very surprised at how much you spend on things that seem insignificant!

If the chips are down, the buffalo is empty.

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#5 of 27 Old 04-21-2010, 10:59 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Oops - I meant to post our budget, but got distracted (children ate my brain).

This is the budget I try to work from:

$940 Mortgage (this includes taxes and insurance, and an extra $25 I've
been trying to pay on principle)
$200 The City (electric, water, sewer, trash/recycling)
(in the summer, this goes up to $230)
$70 Natural Gas (that's average - it's $10 in the summer, $130 in the winter,
and we keep the heat pretty low)
$90 Phone/Internet (employer pays $25 of the $50 internet bill,
and being in a small town, we don't have any other options for phone
carrier - their prices are much higher than where we used to live)
$50 Car insurance
$75 Church (wish this was higher, but it's better than a year ago!)
$45 Compassion
$15 Husband's monthly prescription
$20 Children's life insurance
$100 Midwife
$510 School Loans (neither of our parents helped with college, and we were
both kind of ignorant as to how much we'd have to pay back each
month - I wish now I'd gone to a cheaper college!)
*$50 Car Repairs
*$110 Gasoline (half of this is visiting grandparents once a month - they live
three hours away - but I want my children to grow up knowing their
grandparents)
*$80 Medical (this needs to be upped - our seven-month-old has eye
problems, is getting glasses and her constant appointments and lens
changes are going to eat this up very quickly)
*$40 Husband's allowance ($10 of that goes to Netflix)
*$40 My allowance (theoretical - I haven't actually taken that in several
years...)
*$20 Dog (this doesn't include food - it's just to cover Heartguard and vet
visits)
$20 Pictures for the great-grandparents (I try to keep them all informed this
way since most live too far away, and they aren't online at all)
*$30 Garage Sales
*$30 Clothing
*$30 Eating Out
$100 Bathroom supplies/OTC stuff (Prilosec, vitamins, toilet paper, and dog
food - they're all categorized together because it's all purchased at the
same store)
$100 Co-op order (this is our whole wheat flours, oats, yogurt, kefir, and a
few bathroom products - healthier stuff that isn't available in our small
town)
(it's usually less than this, but that's how much I try to leave for it)
$500 Groceries/Stuff that comes up (usually I spend about $300 at the
beginning of the month, restocking the pantry and freezer, then pick up
milk, produce, and bread as needed, plus sale items)

The ones with an astrik are supposed to be taken out in cash, stuffed in envelopes, and used as needed. That hasn't been happening, as we've had more medical bills than expected, we needed to fix the furnace, etc. So, we end up playing catch-up most of the time. Since we don't have the envelope of saved money for the vet visit or doctor co-pay or whatever, it comes out of other things, and then we don't have the money for the other envelopes - such a vicious cycle!

Getting $1000 in savings is going to take us a while. I'd much rather pay the midwife off first (we've been making regular payments but I feel bad that it's already been seven months and we still have so much left to pay). I know that meal planning would really help, but I just cannot do a whole month at once - I've tried several times, and I just can't stick with it. I can sometimes do a week at a time, and that really helps. But if I don't have a plan, it's just the "main meal" part (not very balanced, I know), and not so many sides, which means that we don't have leftovers for lunch the next day. If I'm more pulled together, then there's enough of the meat left for lunch the next day (my husband usually comes home for lunch).

I do tend to stock up on meat when it's on sale. And even when it's not, I figure that it's better to spend $7 on a pot roast, or even buy ribs, than to have my husband ask to eat out more often, which would cost more for the whole family to do so. If I haven't been cooking traditional meals, he gets that hankerin' to eat out a LOT more, and usually I cave in to him, because I feel bad saying "no" - I mean, he IS the one bringing in the money.

I know we can cut down on "little things" that don't seem to be a big deal - five or ten dollars here and there. It's small, but they do add up over a whole month.

I did much, much better at budgeting when he worked a job getting paid every two weeks - I had envelopes for each thing needed (with money in them, even!), and even if we were broke, payday wasn't that far away. And then we moved (used up all the envelope money for that), bought a house (turned out to be way more expensive than we realized, even though our monthly payment is the same as rent where we used to live - we forgot to factor in the higher utilities for an old farm house versus an apartment).

Oy - long post - sorry! Any input is greatly appreciated - thanks, mamas!
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#6 of 27 Old 04-21-2010, 11:23 AM
 
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I'd say you could definitely lower your food costs - the $300 shopping trip at the beginning of the month - I do that too, but mine is usually $150. Especially if you are buying bulk grains (co-op order) then I think you should try to lower that big grocery shopping trip - coupon, use sale flyers to stock up, etc. If you even lower that to $200 a month then that can get the midwife bill paid off in half the time. Once that is gone that $200/month can go to your EF which will be up to 1k in just 5 months...

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#7 of 27 Old 04-21-2010, 11:46 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Carhootel, so you think it'd be okay to pay off the midwife first, instead of the emergency fund? We're not paying any interest or anything, but it's a pretty small business she's running, and I think the sooner the better, especially if we'd like to use her in the future...
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#8 of 27 Old 04-21-2010, 01:32 PM
 
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Only my op here, but could you cut your MW payments in half for a few months just too build up some savings? As another Mama said definatley track every penny you spend for a few months to make sure your numbers match your projected budget. Could you try doing grocery shopping, a big trip, twice a month instead of once? That way you can meal plan (much easier to do a 1 or 2 week plan than 4. E-mealz does a week at a time meal plans, but there are always 2 weeks posted. I hear it is a big money saver.

Vicki- Homeschooling Mama to 4 girls
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#9 of 27 Old 04-21-2010, 02:20 PM
 
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Starting in July you should qualify for the income based repayment plan through the federal government. Based on your income you would probably be able to negotiate a lower payment amount; after 25 years the remaining debt is forgiven. If student loans are your main debt, I wouldn't worry about hurrying to pay them off. As long as you're not in default, you're fine.

I would call and ask for a forbearance - you can get a lot of them - and then in July apply for the IBR program. Google IBR for more info. Also, do you plan to return to work in the future? If so, I might try deferring until you're back at work and have more income.
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#10 of 27 Old 04-21-2010, 02:40 PM
 
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yeah, i was looking at this thinking, "you just need a chunk of cash to catch up and get stable, and then you'll be okay." getting a forebearance seems like a really good idea. i think you can request it based on "financial hardship" and if you have to give more of a reason, you can say medical bills and reduced income due to birth of a child.

let's say you decided to ask for a 6-month forebearance. in the first two months, you would pay off the midwife ($200 from your regular monthly payments and $800 from student loan payments) and still have $200 - let's say that $200 is just to play catch up on other little things. in months 3 and 4 you create your $1000 EF. in months 5 and 6 you put the student loan payments toward things that make your life easier and/or keep your monthly expenses down for the next year - a CSA share (or save until the right time of year to purchase one), bulk meat purchase, comprehensive car tune-up, whatever. then you're in a good position to return to your previous budget. oh yeah, and after those inital two months, you put the $100 MW payment into savings to cover the stuff that comes up - the medical bills, the car/home maintenance, etc, along wtih anything else you can save.

that's one way to look at things, getting that $3000 to catch up (by taking a 6-month forebearance from all student loan repayment).

another post coming up.
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#11 of 27 Old 04-21-2010, 02:49 PM
 
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Dave Ramsey says that life insurance for kids is a waste. Life insurance is to replace income in the event that a wage earner dies. That's not the case for kids.

What's this $45 Compassion thing?

$20 for the pictures for the relatives seems kinda high. I mean, how many pictures do you have to send a month? I get pictures for very little at Walgreen's. What do you have - Walmart?

Cut the eating out. $30

I'd cut your DH's allowance by some, too. What does he use it for, other than the movie subscription?

Apply for the student loan forebearance.

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#12 of 27 Old 04-21-2010, 03:06 PM
 
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I would eliminate the food co-op, scrutinize the grocery bill and eliminate snack foods or convenience items. I would definitely eliminate the clothing, garage sale, eating out categories for at least the next few months. The income based loan repayment calculator is very helpful and it might make a significant difference for your budget. Do you think you might save more if you didn't do a huge trip at the beginning of the month? $50/wk on produce/bread/milk seems like quite a lot.

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#13 of 27 Old 04-21-2010, 03:09 PM
 
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here is the DR style trimming/tweaking of the budget (without taking that student loan forebearance):

Quote:
Originally Posted by greenbeanmama View Post
This is the budget I try to work from:

$940 Mortgage (this includes taxes and insurance, and an extra $25 I've
been trying to pay on principle) stop paying the extra $25
$200 The City (electric, water, sewer, trash/recycling)
(in the summer, this goes up to $230) see if you can reduce this by unplugging things rather than just switching them off, using task lighting instead of lighting the whole room, if it's yellow let it mellow, etc. can you save money by getting a smaller trash can and recycling more, or is that a flat rate?
$70 Natural Gas (that's average - it's $10 in the summer, $130 in the winter,
and we keep the heat pretty low) do you "winterize" by caulking, putting up plastic, etc? that costs a little but does ultimately save money.
$90 Phone/Internet (employer pays $25 of the $50 internet bill,
and being in a small town, we don't have any other options for phone
carrier - their prices are much higher than where we used to live) so do you really pay $65 after the employer's contribution, or is phone/internet a total of $115? can you get vonage for $15 a month instead of $40 for phone? can you call the internet provider and tell them you're thinking of canceling because it's so expensive, to see if they'll cut you a deal?
$50 Car insurance
$75 Church (wish this was higher, but it's better than a year ago!) true DR style would cut this out temporarily.
$45 Compassion what's that?
$15 Husband's monthly prescription
$20 Children's life insurance cancel
$100 Midwife
$510 School Loans (neither of our parents helped with college, and we were
both kind of ignorant as to how much we'd have to pay back each
month - I wish now I'd gone to a cheaper college!) check into lower monthly payments, if not now, then in july for sure
*$50 Car Repairs
*$110 Gasoline (half of this is visiting grandparents once a month - they live
three hours away - but I want my children to grow up knowing their
grandparents) so you spend $55 a month visiting grandparents? i'd ask if they're willing to split this or to come to you every other month. just explain that you're paying off medical bills and need to cut expenses wherever possible.
*$80 Medical (this needs to be upped - our seven-month-old has eye
problems, is getting glasses and her constant appointments and lens
changes are going to eat this up very quickly)
*$40 Husband's allowance ($10 of that goes to Netflix)
*$40 My allowance (theoretical - I haven't actually taken that in several
years...) then where is it going?
*$20 Dog (this doesn't include food - it's just to cover Heartguard and vet
visits)
$20 Pictures for the great-grandparents (I try to keep them all informed this
way since most live too far away, and they aren't online at all) you can cut this down to $5 and still be able to send a few photos and a nice note updating them. really.
*$30 Garage Sales is this for necessities or for fun? if fun (or both) then maybe consider that you do get some allowance. i pretty much use all of my allowance thrifting, and don't really care that i'm buying useful items for the home/family. it's entertainment for me.
*$30 Clothing for you, baby, dh? clothing is a necessity, but look really closely at these purchases and whether they're truly necessary.
*$30 Eating Out i suspect this is higher, and that's why the money isn't making it to the envelopes. just a hunch, maybe i'm wrong.
$100 Bathroom supplies/OTC stuff (Prilosec, vitamins, toilet paper, and dog
food - they're all categorized together because it's all purchased at the
same store) does this also include diapers and wipes or are you doing cloth? do you do coupons?
$100 Co-op order (this is our whole wheat flours, oats, yogurt, kefir, and a
few bathroom products - healthier stuff that isn't available in our small
town)
(it's usually less than this, but that's how much I try to leave for it)
$500 Groceries/Stuff that comes up (usually I spend about $300 at the
beginning of the month, restocking the pantry and freezer, then pick up
milk, produce, and bread as needed, plus sale items) a total of $600 for groceries plus $100 for other essentials (which many people consider 'groceries') is reasonable, but if you're not making ends meet and trying to trim spending in order to pay off those bills, this area can definitely be cut. like you said, mr. meat-and-potatoes isn't helping your grocery budget. it's a matter of whether it's important enough to him. if paying off these bills isn't high on his priority list and he wants to keep eating the way he currently is, then it's probably worth compromising to maintain marital peace. however, if the bills do stress him out to the point that he is burying his head in the sand and asking to know nothing about the finances, that's putting an unfair burden on you. if he wants you to be solely responsible and bear all that weight then he needs to play by your rules, imo, including accepting the fact that there are going to be some "meatless" days. there are definitely some other types of meals he might like better than italian and mexican, though. what about pancakes or waffles with peanut butter and granola on them to get the protein in. what about soup with bread and butter?
it's easy to cut $100-$150, and there is the potential to cut more like $400 depending how hardcore you want to get and how much cooperation you have from dh. it depends on what your priorities and values are.

it also depends on where your money is really going, versus the budget you try to live by. i mean, if you add up all the money that is supposed to go into envelopes, it's $450. i know some of that really is going where it's supposed to (like gas, medical bills, hub's allowance) but that's only half of it! you have to figure out what you really spend, and where and why.

i totally get what you're saying about having a big expense come up (like a vet visit or car repair) and you don't have the money saved up in an envelope, so all that month's "flexible" money goes to that bill instead of into the categories, so the cycle continues. that's why i like the idea of a reprieve from student loan payments so you can catch up on everything, knock out that mw payment, and establish the habit of funding those categories and leaving the money alone until needed.

good luck!
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#14 of 27 Old 04-21-2010, 03:14 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tradd View Post
Dave Ramsey says that life insurance for kids is a waste. Life insurance is to replace income in the event that a wage earner dies. That's not the case for kids.

What's this $45 Compassion thing?

$20 for the pictures for the relatives seems kinda high. I mean, how many pictures do you have to send a month? I get pictures for very little at Walgreen's. What do you have - Walmart?

Cut the eating out. $30

I'd cut your DH's allowance by some, too. What does he use it for, other than the movie subscription?

Apply for the student loan forebearance.
I agree, also while it may not be popular cut the church donations. Thats an extra $70/month or $840 year to pay something.

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#15 of 27 Old 04-21-2010, 03:14 PM
 
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wait, do you only have an infant? if so, i think $600/month for groceries is pretty high.
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#16 of 27 Old 04-21-2010, 04:30 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Yup, my first thought was $25 extra from the house payment.

The city owns the power plant, so we end up paying more than other towns in the area; it's also a flat rate for trash/recycling. Yes, my husband calls me the power nazi - I do unplug what I can, and we have energy efficient light bulbs. We cover our windows in winter with plastic, and have insulated where we can (one of the fun little "quirks" that we found out AFTER we bought the house was that there is no insulation in the kitchen/laundry room floor, and no access point [it used to be a porch] - we've gotten a few estimates at getting insulation, for about $800, but some of that would be reimbursed by the gas company...). I did some caulking last summer after a free energy audit - we really need to replace some of the windows, but again, that will have to wait. ) I'm glad you're suggesting things I already do - it means I'm at least on the right track, right?

Phone/internet: My husband's employer pays $100 every four months (directly to us - the last two reimbursements went to the midwife). We've looked into Mediacom, which is our only other option for internet, but since we don't want cable, it would actually cost us more to go that route (if we got a "packaged" deal it would be about what we're paying now, but not include phone).

We support a child through Compassion International - so, charity giving.

The $20 for pictures is for three or four pictures printed out at our local photography store (it's about 25 cents per photo, I try to include two of each child, or one of each and a combined one of them), either a card or copies of a letter printed at the library (we don't own a printer), and stamps to mail them to seven grandparents/great grandparents. Yeah, it's probably closer to fifteen bucks, but when the envelope system works, the rest goes for Christmas cards and stamps.

The fact that we go visit grandparents monthly, and they don't come here, is a source of contention that I've learned doesn't change when it's discussed. And, actually, they've just gone through a bankruptcy for a business failure (still frustrated that they offer us financial advice often...grrr). But honestly, it's a neat place for the kiddos - they have horses, chickens, goats, etc and my son simply adores visiting them whenever we go. I've been trying to space the visits a little, like every five weeks instead of four. If we did every six weeks and took a three-day weekend, that might work....

You're right that more goes to eating out than I budget for. If I cook foods my husband readily eats at home, it ups the food budget some, but ultimately lowers the overall cost since he won't ask to eat out as much. I'm not sure he'd agree to give up ALL eating out - I think the best I can hope for is to hand him the envelope at the beginning of the month and make sure he's in charge of it. That way, I won't have to be the meanie, saying no, and he can control when we eat out. I think it would also help if I quite baking so much - I have a habit of making cookies, cakes, bars, etc - stuff that is really not good for us, and isn't necessary either. I'm trying to find healthier snacks (air-popped popcorn, banana/pumpkin/zucchini muffins, etc), and I tend to eat a ton of fruit. On a side note, where is the line between healthier, more expensive food versus cheaper food? Like, I use all butter instead of margarine, and coconut oil is more expensive still. I don't buy organic usually, but if the price is similar to what I'd pay in the grocery store, I will get something from the co-op that is organic. (To the poster who said to cut out the co-op - whole wheat flour is MUCH cheaper that way than at the grocery store in town, as is yogurt and a few other things - we really don't have selection in town at all, so prices are pretty high for that kind of stuff (if it's available at all), and it's not worth a 75-minute trip into the closest city to stock up on these things).

We have a three-year-old and a baby. And, honestly, I also cook some for my mom and sister, who live in town and are pretty financially strapped (my father left, and took just about everything, so I try to help out where I can...)

This may sound like a silly question, but where do I get coupons? We get the free shopper weekly that has sale prices in it, but the few times I have coupons, it's for name-brand things that I wouldn't normally buy. Where can I find coupons for stuff I'd actually use?

We cloth diaper about 90% of the time. The sposies we use are bought with the bathroom/OTC money (half of it usually goes to Prilosec and dog food)

For the IBR, does that include private loans? I read that it doesn't include Parent PLUS loans (not applicable), but some of the loans were private instead of government-based. Do these qualify?

Garage sales are mainly for clothing, so some of the clothing budget goes there too. Both my son and husband are really hard on clothes. We don't buy much new, and honestly, most of the clothing budget covers shoes for my husband (he has huge feet, so finding shoes is a challenge, and they're not cheap).

My husband's allowance usually goes to computer games, or he'll save for upgrades (what can I say? He's a geek at heart). He'll spend some on snacks (chips, etc that I don't buy). He's been saving some for a new computer chair as well.

Meals: we often do pancakes/waffles for breakfast - not sure he'd go for that for dinner. But we're entering smoothie weather! Sometimes I can get by with smoothies and toast for dinner in the summer. Maybe make that a weekly occurance? He also loves pizza, and the amount of meat on that is relatively low. I could probably convince him to do pizza weekly. Besides chicken noodle, what hearty soups are there? I've tried a few, and he's not wild on them, but he loves chicken noodle (and I can stretch one chicken to last for two dinners and two lunches that way). Instead of meat and potatoes, I could try potatoes and meat - switch around the quantities, so that he's still getting the meat, just more of the less expensive options that go with it. I could try it for a while, and see how long it takes him to mention it...

So, what I'm gathering is that we can cut a bit here and there, and it'll add up in the end, right? I do start the month with writing down every purchase. It tends to fizzle half-way through. So, basically, I need to work on eliminating little things, working with a smaller food budget, saying no to eating out more than what's allotted, and talk to the loan people in July. Okay. I can handle that plan of action. Thanks ladies!
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#17 of 27 Old 04-21-2010, 05:27 PM
 
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You need to cancel the 'sponsor a child'. How can you sponsor a child when you are struggling to feed your own? That just does not make logical sense.

Again you can not afford the church donation. Pick it back up when you are in a better place financially. If you need to donate something, make it $5, but you can not afford $70.

Cut the pictures and cards. That $20 month again does not make sense. Send pics at 'easter' time, and 'christmas' time. If you want to include a pic when you send 'b'day' type cards fine but monthly NOPE. you cant afford it. If you email pics to other family members great, they can show them off when/if those w/o internet visit etc. You just can not afford the $20 a month for pics.

If you are spending $55 to visit out of town relatives then that $$ comes from your 'fun' money. That is not a seperate line item on the budget. Im sorry but you need to be hard core. Visiting relatives is not a need, its a want. You have $40 a month fun money use that to visit grandma.

IMO baking cookies etc is fine. Baking supplies are not that much $ and its much cheaper then buying something premade.

Coupons come in the sunday paper weekly. If you match the coupon with a sale you can pretty much get items for free.

Why are you paying for prilosec? if you have digestive issues you should be able to get an RX for much less $$ then paying for OTC meds. This may take some time and working with your DR or getting a referral to a gastro-interologist but eventually your medical insurance should cover an RX. Priolosec is mega $$, even the generic.

Would one new sturdy pair of shoes last your DH longer than buying used? Same with your DS, would buying quality new last longer than buying new? My DS was hard on stuff and I found that a stride rite outlet was my best friend when he was little. Just something to think about.

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#18 of 27 Old 04-21-2010, 06:52 PM
 
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Does your DH have the option of a Flexible Spending Account at work for medical expenses? The money put in a FSA is pre-tax, and covers not just office visits and prescriptions, but OTC meds, dental, and glasses.

Can you change the deductible on your car or homewoners insurance to lower your premium?

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#19 of 27 Old 04-21-2010, 07:40 PM
 
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I agree cut the "sponsor a child" and tithing. Temporarily till you build up some savings. I am all for giving and helping others, but you need to build yourself a cushion first!
Not sure what part of the country you are in, but $500 does seem high for 2 adults and a little one. We spend about $700-$750 for a family of 6 our youngest is 4. I think my bill is high and am working on trimming it!

Vicki- Homeschooling Mama to 4 girls
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#20 of 27 Old 04-21-2010, 09:36 PM
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You asked if you should pay off the midwife first then do the 1000 ef second. Do you have any savings at all? How would you swing something going wrong in the house, car or medical issue? I'm a big fan of the emergency fund first. Come on over to the DR thread, we're a supportive bunch.
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#21 of 27 Old 04-22-2010, 12:37 PM
 
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i don't know the answer about ibr and private loans, but it sounds like you should look into consolidating your student loans. that in itself can lower the monthly payments. i would also seek a temporary hardship forbearance at least on your student loans (if your dh doesn't want to do that with his).

yes, you definitely are on the right track. you are frugal. but cutting a bit here and a bit there does add up quickly. you could easily find $100 a month to put into savings (or pay off your mw faster and then put $200 a month into savings).

for more food ideas, i think pizza is a great one. i'm vegetarian and i've noticed that when we order pizza at the office, i have to fight the meat-eaters off of my pizza (which may be cheese, "veggie", green & black olives, pineapple & jalapeno, etc - it doesn't matter, they always want my freaking pizza!). so you can get away with just a little meat or possibly no meat on the pizza.

soups (keep in mind i make all of these without meat, but in most cases, people do use a little meat, or chicken/beef broth, or a bone to flavor it):
potato soup
split pea
chicken wild rice
i know he doesn't like beans, but lentil stew is so freaking yummy, has he tried it?
minestrone
vegetable soup - i often put barley in, but are you GF? or was that another thread? anyway you can use any grain, or pasta, or potatoes or whatever to make it heartier
black-eyed peas with onions, peppers and canned crushed tomatoes
black bean & corn chili, with sour cream & fresh cilantro on top

it's definitely smoothie season - if you put nut butter on the toast, that makes it a teeny bit more satisfying.

will he eat egg-based meals without meat? like egg salad sandwiches, quiche, omelets?

you said he doesn't like mexican & italian. what about middle-eastern, north african, indian, thai? there are a lot of meals that can be satisfying meat-free or with very little meat (and simple to cook).

ultimately, it is cheaper to have meals everyone likes at home, if it keeps you from going to a restaurant. i agree with that. but there still may be room for improvement or he may learn to really like some new foods that use less meat or no meat. ooh, one other thing i think is really satisfying . . . hearty veggies like sweet potatoes or squash. if you're going to serve something that stretches the meat, having a side like that can help the meal be more filling.
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#22 of 27 Old 04-24-2010, 01:06 PM
 
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Consolidate your student loans with the fed gov't. It's super easy to do and will qualify you for ibr, income contingent and forbearance. I bet you can forebear for a year and catch up and after that drastically lower your monthly payment. DO NOT DEFAULT on your student loans; but as long as you don't do that, then student loans are one debt that I don't worry about b/c of income contingent and forebearance options. If you are lower-income or broke then it's better to pay the income contingent and then get it discharged after 25 years then kill yourself trying to pay if off fast. Also, with IBR, if you work for a non-profit or city entity then you can pay income based for 10 years and get the remainder discharged. This might be something to look into when you go back to work.
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#23 of 27 Old 04-24-2010, 05:30 PM
 
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NAK

You asked where you can find coupons: They are usually in the Sunday paper in inserts, you can also find them online. Here is one site:

www.coupon.com

Just as a warning, it takes awhile to start saving money by couponing. You need to build up a stash but once you do you save a ton. Also for coupons, they are best to use when there is a sale on the product, that is when you really start saving. This is my favorite coupon blog:

http://moneysavingmom.com/

If you search it there are tons of posts about sales, cheap cooking, coupons etc.

This is my favorite book on how to lower your grocery budget, it's helped us save a ton.

A way you might be able to save on eating out is to learn how to make the dishes you and your husband order when you go out that has saved us a ton of money.

One other thought I had was about pictures, could you e-mail them to relatives, that could save you a lot. If you don't have a digital camera, the library might have a scanner you could scan them into.

Stay-at-home Mama to my fabulous DD (10/08)  and DS (9/12) and wife to my just-as-fabulous DH

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#24 of 27 Old 04-24-2010, 11:48 PM
 
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the way I get photos to my mom (laziness/inablilty to actually get to the post office with the kids here not really lack of money!) is to upload them to walgreens. She/I have an account there, I upload them, she has them printed and picks them up. But really I could have them printed and all she would have to do is pick them up. I'm not sure at what point you pay for them but at whatever point-it's like 25-30 cents a photo. Walmart, costco and a variety of other places do this-you just designate the pick up place. Would something like that work for you?
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#25 of 27 Old 04-25-2010, 08:45 AM
 
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Seems as if you got some great suggestions. Certainly go for the student loan forbearance and I would cut the sponsorship of the child for a while and at least reduce the church donation and eliminate the extra on the mortgage. That would free up more money to pay of the midwife quickly and get you back on track. Learning to eat and shop even more frugally will take you some time so everyone can adjust. Try making stews and gradually reducing the meat in them. I would gently and creatively force the bean issue over time. They are not only cheaper than meat, but have fiber and are much lower in fat. Maybe you could make a stew with beans and meat and just make sure that your dh gets more of the meat in his serving. And hey, I always figure that when you have kids, making cookies and other baked goods is not only a frugal snack but keeps everybody happen and entertained for a while in the kitchen. And you could reduce the amount of pictures and extend it to every other month and there is a bit more savings. If you get a forebearance on your student loan, pay off your midwife and get a bit of $ in the bank, you could probably get that insulation taken care of before winter and that will help there as well.

As far as garage sales, it is easy to blow too much. Keep a list of what you are looking for and don't buy anything else. I have also found that garage sale clothes are often not the best deal because if I can't try something on first, I don't really know if I like it or will actually wear it. Kids clothes are different, though. Both of my kids happpily wore 100% yard sales clothes for years . DD is 11 and now needs a few new things. But even with kids yard sale clothes, possible to get too many. Keep an inventory and know what is needed so you don't go over.

Also, maybe you could find a way to cash in on the college town thing? Do laundry for a couple of students or something like that? Check out the dumpsters at the end of the semester and collect stuff you could sell on-line or at a yard sale?

You can totally do this. It is really a question of being extra frugal for 6 months or so to catch up and get ahead. Convince your husband it isn't forever and do it on a month to month basis.

PS I would try to get some $$ in the bank as well as pay of the mid-wife during your "super frugal" time. It really is imperative. Maybe get the forebearance and keep her payments the same and just get your baby emergency fund.
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#26 of 27 Old 04-25-2010, 10:10 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greenbeanmama View Post
This may sound like a silly question, but where do I get coupons? We get the free shopper weekly that has sale prices in it, but the few times I have coupons, it's for name-brand things that I wouldn't normally buy. Where can I find coupons for stuff I'd actually use?
Sometimes if you call the manufacturer and say how much you love the product they will send you coupons.

Mama to 14yo, 9yo, 7yo, and babe born 9/2012
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#27 of 27 Old 04-26-2010, 07:52 PM
 
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Do you have prescription coverage with your health insurance plan?
Instead of paying OTC for Prilosec, see if you can get a RX for it and then just pay the $3.00 co-pay and have it delivered monthly through "wal-mart" pharmacy...Please no flames.

Summer: crafty mama to 2 little girls and wife to Bob
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