Balancing frugality and reality, w/o guilt - long post alert - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 15 Old 11-11-2013, 11:34 AM - Thread Starter
 
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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!!


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#2 of 15 Old 11-11-2013, 12:24 PM
 
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First of all, you do have low expenses.  Congratulations to you for keeping your costs down.  :)

 

Can you cut back your cleaning lady's hours and cancel your gym membership?

 

If you did, you could put the money you saved from those two things (between $40 and $85, depending on how much you reduced your cleaning lady's hours) into an envelope for "unexpected" expenses.  It wouldn't prevent things from coming up, but it would mean that you had a little money set aside for that and you wouldn't have to feel guilty for not sticking to your budget.


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#3 of 15 Old 11-11-2013, 02:43 PM
 
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Are you sure you will all qualify for WIC and not just the child with special needs? I don't know, but we don't qualify and seem to have much less money than you.

 

I would cancel the cleaning lady. I don't know about the gym membership. It is good for you so that is great, but we can't afford one and I walk/run/do workouts in magazines that I get out of the library and feel like I get plenty of exercise. Between those two things, that would be a lot of money for unexpected expenses.

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#4 of 15 Old 11-11-2013, 03:32 PM
 
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Keep the gym membership. It is good for you health! Do not feel bad about WIC. Sepcial food is very $$ and you do pay taxes.

 

Cleaning Lady? I do not qulify for WIC and I work every extra hour I can every which way and I can't even dream of cleaning lady,

 

I clean myself.

 

Cut out the cleaning lady and onyl use her for few weeks after pregancy or ir you are sick.  You will have $ 70 extra every month.  Housework is like ahving an extra work out a day.

 

Lets face it, biggest expense is kids. Have an honest talk with yourself and you husbad. Can you affod more than 3 kids?

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#5 of 15 Old 11-11-2013, 05:45 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Cleaning lady has only come once due to getting so far behind on my part from taking care of 2 kids and having morning sickness. It would be super nice, obviously, to keep her but that $70 is hard to let go of for sure.

I was surprised we all qualified for WIC too. They assure me we are. We will see on Thursday I guess.

As far as more kids, oh ues we are done! We were 50/50 on having another, but definetely didnt think another pregnancy would come this soon!

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#6 of 15 Old 11-11-2013, 05:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Sorry, I forgot to say that we do have 6 months of savings too. But the things we run over on each month we dont deem emergency savings worthy.

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#7 of 15 Old 11-11-2013, 06:41 PM
 
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I think you're doing a great job with your budget! Do you shop second hand for clothes and such? That might help a bit. Also, will you guys qualify for Medicaid under the new health care system? If so, maybe your DH would be able to pocket what he has been spending on health insurance- I know it's a business expense for him, but it might save money if you do qualify for Medicaid. And I would say keep the gym membership and probably even the cleaning lady for sanity's sake (you're going to have 3 kids under 3, right?) Or perhaps you could offer to trade with your cleaning lady- or another person who can clean- maybe chicken, eggs, milk, produce, or a service you can offer (childcare? Or your husband's skills?- not sure what line of work he's in.) All of these are just ideas- it sounds to me like you're doing a great job keeping costs down and shouldn't feel guilty.

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#8 of 15 Old 11-11-2013, 06:42 PM
 
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I can really relate to your post.  We often get to the end of my dh's pay period and I rethink over the past 2 weeks and rethink what I spent money on and wonder if I should have made different decisions.  The tricky thing is at the time the decision felt right and I'm not frivolous with money.  I know I made the best decision at the time, but sometimes the last few days before his next paycheck is tricky. 

 

I think the guilt is not good and you should do whatever you can to rid yourself of it.  You are doing the best you can with what you have.  I think keeping yourself healthy and balanced is very important.  If having a cleaning lady and a gym membership does that then those are important to your family's well being.  If you or your dh feel out of balance physically (from lack of exercise) or mentally (from the stress of the mess) then it will be hard to take care of yourselves and your family.   

 

I wonder if changing the way you do your budget might help?  I know most people create their budget by category.  I have thought about creating a weekly budget.  For example, you said you have $1000 a month after the regular expenses for groceries, etc.  What about dividing that into $250 per week and thinking about your spending on more of a weekly basis.  So, you would only spend $250 each week on whatever comes up.  This way the final week of the month you would start out with $250 instead of having whatever is left over to try and stretch over the week.  Just a thought.  I haven't done this but I've been considering trying it. 


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#9 of 15 Old 11-11-2013, 07:45 PM
 
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 If you have 6 months worth of savings I'd say you are doing pretty good, and if you qualify for the WIC I think you should take it.

Something you might want to try is looking at your expenses from an annual point of view, and then divide it up over the 12 months to see what the average should be and what is really left over. This can include everyone's birthdays, christmas, expected vehicle and home maintenance, bulk food buys, family trips... there are some things that will only come up once or twice a year but you know they will come, so it helps to be prepared.

If you don't already buy things in bulk or in co-ops that might help with costs for your dry groceries, and maybe find a few new ways to stretch some of your meals. You may also be able to find ways to cut a few of your costs, such as paying your car insurance in one lump sum, or something like that.


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#10 of 15 Old 11-11-2013, 10:39 PM
 
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It is up to you. You have a very tight budget. The only place I see where you can cut is your cleaning lady.  after morning sickness is over or after you had a baby you can live wihout a cleaning lady if saving money is important to you. Or, enjoy the cleaning lady and stop feeling guilty.

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#11 of 15 Old 11-12-2013, 01:45 PM
 
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Again, it is great that you have low expenses and plan to stay that way!

 

But if it were me, I would cut out:

 

$200/month total to our girls savings accounts

 

$100/month to church

 

$40/month gym membership

 

$70/month cleaning lady

 

That would cover a lot of your groceries and misc. items and then you would not dip in to your 6 months of savings.

 

Revisit these items in a couple of years.

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#12 of 15 Old 11-14-2013, 12:09 PM
 
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If you qualify for the WIC, take it without the guilt.

 

Try cutting down other expenses - say a $100 a month and put it towards savings. Keep your six months savings fund for extreme emergencies and build another emergency fund - for small emergencies like unexpected doctor visit / car-truck maintenance / house maintenance etc. Keep it in a different account and use it for expenses that are needs but not emergency enough to touch the 6 months fund.

 

I am going through severe morning sickness and I think a cleaning lady for $70 a month is good to include in the budget, esp with 2 other kids in the picture...I'd also keep  the gym if you use it atleast 15-20 times a month. Cut the expense somewhere else.


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#13 of 15 Old 11-16-2013, 06:35 PM
 
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Originally Posted by gitanamama View Post

I think you're doing a great job with your budget! Do you shop second hand for clothes and such? That might help a bit. Also, will you guys qualify for Medicaid under the new health care system? If so, maybe your DH would be able to pocket what he has been spending on health insurance- I know it's a business expense for him, but it might save money if you do qualify for Medicaid. And I would say keep the gym membership and probably even the cleaning lady for sanity's sake (you're going to have 3 kids under 3, right?) Or perhaps you could offer to trade with your cleaning lady- or another person who can clean- maybe chicken, eggs, milk, produce, or a service you can offer (childcare? Or your husband's skills?- not sure what line of work he's in.) All of these are just ideas- it sounds to me like you're doing a great job keeping costs down and shouldn't feel guilty.

Agreed! Keep the cleaning lady, momma. That help can be invaluable and a sanity saver!

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#14 of 15 Old 11-23-2013, 03:00 PM
 
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Personally, after eliminating some unnecessary spending, such as decorations and reducing gift budgets, I would look at the mortgage, the girls' savings, and the church donations.  I would do those before cutting out the gym memberships and the housekeeper, because those help make the life of a mom a saner one.  Do you have homeowner's insurance rolled into your mortgage?  We do, and reevaluating our policy saved us a lot of money.  Have you refinanced recently, and are you going to hang onto your home for 5years or more?  Refinancing (even though rates are rising) is still an excellent option, if you haven't already used this option.  Reevaluating car insurance: if your vehicle is older, it might be prudent to reduce coverage.  Raising deductibles slightly can also reduce insurance rates.

 

Do NOT feel guilty about WIC.  WIC is available to people far above the income level that qualifies people for other food assistance.  It is enormously helpful for that income range that is between needing assistance and being financially able to cover typical expenses.  It is one of the few programs that covers this difficult gap, so don't feel guilty in the least.

 

It is impossible to predict repairs for vehicles, house and appliances, etc., extra dental bills, and all that.  The best you can do is budget money into savings.  It is incredibly annoying.  My husband's truck is a necessary work expense, but paying for the new engine was just about the most obnoxious thing we've ever paid for.  Luckily it was tax deductible.  Speaking of-- I hope you and your husband are taking advantage of every write off you can get for his business.

 

I'm not good at figuring all this out myself.  I have 2 or 3 good months in which I think "Alright!  I've got this!"  Then the next month is brutal.


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#15 of 15 Old 12-19-2013, 09:17 PM
 
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I'd cut out church, gym, cleaning and life insurance. I've never paid to any of those things in my entire life and can't imagine that I ever will.


Traditional & nutrient-dense foods/Weston A. Price Foundation advocate, Reiki II practitioner, EFT practitioner, past life & life between lives Hypnotherapist practitioner. Home birth with DD 2007 = never vaccinated, breastfed 3 years

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