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Thread: Where to even begin?
08-17-2007, 03:00 AM #1
Where to even begin?
Other than to stop spending, that is a given.
I am just sick over this. I need to have a talk with DH about just how miserable our financial health is right now. I have done this to us and need to have some plans to discuss with him.
fixed debts, minimum balance 8/07
mtg $1,497.10 $180,000.00
cc $145.00 $6,490.00
cc $192.00 $5,588.00
cc $45.00 $2,213.00
cc $202.00 $10,782.00
cc $88.00 $3,250.00
cc $10.00 $400.00
cc $30.00 $600.00
cc $80.00 $1,500.00
cc $11.00 $421.00
loc $145.00 $7,500.00
his car $382.00 $18,000.00
total mo & bal.$2,827.10 $236,744.00
auto ins. $140.00
cell $60.00 (contract)
cable/net/phone $190.00 (we -must- keep high speed for DH work, school)
power , approx $220.00
DH commuting costs $400.00
food $700.00 ? Includes diapers/wipes, etc
gas $300.00 ? Personal use, not commuting
entertainment $250.00 ? Dining out, movies, books
medical $100.00 ? Rx and co-pays, etc
misc fund $0.00 ? 100/mo Memberships, Bdays, Tag renewals, etc
emergency fund $0.00 ? 100+/mo Medical, Auto repairs, Home repairs
long term savings $0.00 ? 100+/mo Long-term
monthly variable outlay $2,380.00 without misc or savings?!
Mo. net $4,891.42
I am now faced with the first of not making the min. pymts by juggling the bills, paying mtg and car right before late fee vs. due date. I just listed the double stroller, extra crib bedding set, misc. diaper bags, etc on craigslist to try to meet the payments this time, but that is only a short fix. I was hopeful that once we caught-up it would be ok, but that is not the case.
I am an at-home mother, just pulled oldest out of school to homeschool/online program due to his adhd and behavior problems. My other two are not of school age yet. I quit work when the second was a baby since I had to miss so much time for child illness, daycare closures, etc and my job was less crucial to the family. My husband is in IT, a manager, always on-call and has a long commute. We have no family in the immediate area for childwatch, etc. I'm not sure how to make more $, so I have to decide what to do with the $ we have.
CCCS? Will this allow us to keep his corporate American Express? It is crucial for his traveling.
Sell house? Value was $240k, in 2005, but comparable on our street is listed at $219 and not getting any attention. We could rent a much smaller place for approx. the same, a little less maybe, but save almost $400.mo on my husband's gas consumption (we have not even factored wear/tear on vehicle @ 100 miles a day, 2.5-3 hours in traffic).
????? Any advice is greatly appreciated. We are not extravagent people, but we have some bad spending habits (way too many dinners out, even fast food adds up for 5 people). It's 2 am now and I am going to try to sleep some.
- 08-17-2007, 04:05 AM #2
- Rep Power
well done for taking the first step and acknowleging the debt
you seem to be in a similar position to us a few years ago and it will get better I promise.
you will get some great budget advice from the girls here and there is a ton of info on the forum
Can you reduce grocery ,eating out costs and personal gas usage? that would really help.
can you call any of the cc companies and negoiate, some of them may not help at all but you may be lucky with some of the others, a couple of ours cancelled the interest on ours for a certain time frame which helped alot
08-17-2007, 08:44 AM #3
You will have the most control over the variables for your immediate budget. $250 for entertainment?? That can be cut. Turn the A/C down to cut down electric bill.
Browse this site for tips on how to cut your grocery costs.
I think you need to really look at the variables and see where you can trim some fat. THEN worry about the CC's.
08-17-2007, 08:56 AM #4
- Rep Power
I agree with cuttin out the entertainment and lowering the power bill. Hang laundry outside, turn off all those lights, TV's etc. Can you get a smaller phone/cable/internet package.
Also, is there any chance you could do some child care? Just one or two would help you get out of the red if this is feasable.
Garage sale? Look at things around you, do you really need them?
Coupons and shopping loss leaders will also help.
Best of luck talking to the hubby, I'd figure out all that I wanted to say and then have the talk in a quiet neutral place, maybe even go for a walk to discuss it.
We're here for you.
08-17-2007, 09:23 AM #5
I'd do the above mentioned. Reduce your grocery bill. Start using coupons and plan your menus. There are tons of tasty, frugal recipes on this site and on the web in general. Set yourself a monthly grocery budget and stick to it. That is the #1 easiest way to start saving some $.
Your power bill seems a little high to me. Start unplugging all appliances/gadgets that aren't in immediate use. They use electricity even if they are just plugged in. Start hanging your laundry...if not outside, then in your bathroom, use folding racks,etc. Turn off lights and TV's when they aren't being used. Use a crockpot instead of heating up your oven.
Entertainment-cut it down to only eating out once a month. Drastic times call for drastic measures. Once a month will keep you from feeling deprived. Use your local library. Check out books, magazines, movies for yourself and kiddies.
Your cable/net/phone also seems high. Can you call them and see if there is a cheaper plan? You'd be surprised at how many companies have a lower, comparable plan that is unknown to many.
Once I got these things under control, I'd start snowballing my debt. Start by paying off one CC at a time, usually the smallest. Read any books you can by Dave Ramsey and others.
Welcome, take a deep breath, and you've come to the right place for help.
I'm a SAHM mom as well. I also homeschool my children. I promise you this can be done!
08-17-2007, 09:57 AM #6
Thank you for the encouraging words.
The electric is very low for our tropical locale. My friends and neighbors have been receiving bills of $ 400-600 lately. The hurricanes took their tolls on our trees (shade) and the power co. have all raised rates to earn back their losses. We have the ac set on 80 and it still seems to run non-stop. I am trying to be better about the unplugging thing. DH has a server he runs 24/7 and it is an old machine. We do not have a line, but I do dry a fair share on the folding rack on the porch. We tried cloth dipes, but I can't handle the toddler poo (sorry if too much info).
Right now, the entertainment catgory is a catch all. Clothes for 3 rapidly growing children & 2 adults (shoes, etc), memberships/field trips for homeschool activities, and the like. We have one provider for cable/high speed here, so we are stuck. I tried their "lite" speed for a little discount, but then my husband could not get into his system at work when they called at 2am or so. I have taken alot of books to the used store for trade credit and that has cut our book expense greatly.
The gas cost varies, but we have family spread accross the state and we end up being the ones to drive the kids to grandparents, I take my elderly grandmother to her appointments and so on. I have tried to plan my trips to catch more stops on the same trek.
Stephanie, do you find homeschooling to be terribly expense? Even with a virtual school for my son, there are still little things and then the pre-k programs for the girls all seem so costly.
The grocery costs are a biggie. I have found a local Angel Food group and plan to buy with them monthly. I still have some higher costs as the girls have special dietary needs and the fake-dairy items can add up.
We took a paycut when dh changed jobs almost 3 yrs ago (not in base, but he lost OT and mileage). I started using the ccs to help make up the difference. We always managed to make the payments, so they kept uping the line. By the time we made the money to afford what we had in original expenses, they all grew. There is definately some over spending involved too. Right now I feel so quilty for doing this to our family. My husband works hard and makes a decent amount, but now he can't enjoy any of it because of all this.
We are entering the onslew of family birthdays and holidays and I have to figure out how to make it fun for the kids without spending. I know this will be good for them in the long run, but when they are used to parties for every birthday....
I know I am just unloading a lot here, esp as a new member, but I have been keeping this all bottled up and just letting the thoughts out help. I am known IRL on alot of my mommy boards and our friends think we have it all together. It's all so embarassing to admit.
DH and I need to get some time alone to discuss it all. He leaves at 6ish to beat some of the traffic and gets home at 7:30 or so. We race thru dinner, bath/teeth/story/bed and then are too tired from getting the kids settled to discuss anything. I hate the long commute. I wish we could plop the whole house down closer to his office.
08-17-2007, 10:08 AM #7
- Rep Power
Spew away, that's what we're here for, it's ok, most of us have been there done that!
Hey, it's not like you went out on a huge designer clothing spending spree, this was just everyday life.
You'll get there.
also, go to the library and look for books on frugality, debt, budgeting etc. The Tightwad Gazette is WONDERFUL. Dave Ramsey is very inspiring also.
Hang in there, it WILL get better.
08-17-2007, 10:14 AM #8
I agree with the others.
Consider dropping cable and phone entirely from your internet package. If yours is anything like mine, it could save you almost $100 a month. You have a cell phone, use that as the major phone or get something like Cricket, which is cheaper. We have high-speed internet, phone and cable with 2 premium packages adn pay $130 a month including all of the taxes and fees, so there are corners to cut there. You can always add them back later when things are paid down, that's what we did.
Personal gas usage at $300? When I was a SAHM, that much would have lasted me 4 months of driving. Consolidate errands, have DH drop off/pick up stuff on his way to work, decide how much travelling is really necessary, and consider walking if it's close to home or riding the bus (every kid should learn how to use public transit anyway).
Dipes and wipes can be bought at Costco for cheaper. We used to buy Kirkland brand wipes and Huggies diapers for a lot cheaper than buying them at the store. Also, Huggies has a great coupon program where they send you coupons often for $1 or $2 off a pack (it may be more now, my "baby" is 5, now). Pampers had them too, if I remember right, but we always had reactions to them, so we stuck to Huggies.
As for the entertainment amount, that could be cut by more than half. We rent movies, and I use rent one get one coupons so it's less. Also coupons for the movie theaters, a day at the park, sometimes even local attractions in the area, or going out for a hike....these are all things that can be done as a family for little to no money.
When I was digging us out of debt, I paid the bills in this order: mortgage or rent, car, utilities and insurance, credit cards and THEN groceries last. Why? Because that way, the cc's got paid and what I had leftover was grocery money. It forced me, everytime a spending urge came up, to ask myself "Do I really want to take this money out of our mouths and use it for this?" Most of the time, the answer was no. Also, there were months where it really forced me to look at cheaper ways to feed us--coupons, sales, store-brand, and even food warehouses if I was desperate. Whatever money was left in my wallet at the end of the month padded a CC payment for the next month.
08-17-2007, 10:17 AM #9
- Rep Power
One great thing about homeschooling is you don't need to be concerned about living in an area with good schools. I would try to move closer to your DH's job. Would that also put you closer to your family, or not? Your gas expenses are awfully high. My DH commutes about 50 miles (round trip) a day, but we drive a Toyota Corolla. It is our only car. We spend around $130 a month for gas. Can you cut back on your cable channels? We have high speed internet, too, and our total for cable, phone, and high speed is just over $100 a month.
Grocery prices are rising, but I try to spend around $300 a month to feed our family of three. We never eat out, or get take out. For entertainment, we go to the zoo, where we purchase an annual membership. Sometimes we go to a second run movie ($2.50 admission for each of us), and we bring our own candy, instead of purchasing high priced concessions. Kids the age of yours usually are happy with a picnic in a nice park with a playground, and it is a cheap "family date".
08-17-2007, 10:17 AM #10
Wow, you must have posted at the same time I did.
A few weeks ago, someone here asked about using dollar store items for a birthday party, and from what I remember, it worked out great. That could be an option.
When you get back on your feet, consider a monthly gift budget. It will spread out the expense over the year, and you'll have Christmas or birthdays funded before it's time to start shopping.
08-17-2007, 10:35 AM #11
- Rep Power
Shaveing off a few dollars here and there can make a big difference.
I understand you need the high speed internet but you can cut all the extras off the phone package. I have bellsouth and I have high speed with just a simple phone package, no call waiting or long distance and my bill is 60 a month.
Power- I think you are in florida? I am and I know that 220 isnt bad but you may be able to cut that back a little buy getting on the budget plan. Before I joined up for the budget plan my bill was between 200 and 240 last summer, but this summer it has stayed at 140.
300 for clothes and entertainment. Thats any easy one. Search for free things to do in your area and give the thrift stores a try for clothing. I would say for atleast a month or two put a total freez on any clothes so that you can build a small emergency fund.
Dealing with those credit cards will be a big task. Are there any that you can combine so that you will have a smaller monthly due?
Good luck and please ask away we all have great ideas.
08-17-2007, 10:41 AM #12
- Rep Power
I forgot one important thing. Stop using the credit cards NOW! Your situation will never improve if you continue to add to your debt. Eat at home, even convenience foods are cheaper than dining out. Develop a stockpile of "loss leaders". Shop less for clothing and household items. I buy almost all of our clothing used. My DH has a part-time job as an adjunct instructor at a community college, and he is far and away the best dressed man on campus, in his Ralph Lauren and Lands End dress shirts, Perry Ellis and Tommy Hilfiger trousers, designer silk neckties, etc. ALL purchased at the DAV and Goodwill stores. We buy him nice shoes, on deeply discounted clearance at Dillard's, Kohl's or JCPenney. Our clothing and shoe budget for the entire family, (two adults and a "fashion aware" preteen is around $500 a YEAR, including shoes.
I used to spend more than we could afford. I learned better ways to do things, and you can too.
08-17-2007, 10:50 AM #13
Homeschooling doesn't have to be expensive. Look for free or discounted days to museums, zoos, etc. Homeschoolers almost always get a discount as well. You just have to ask. You can also ask family members for memberships for Christmases, birthdays, etc. My family is getting my copy paper and ink cartridges for Christmas this year. It is what I NEED, not more decorative stuff just making clutter in my house. I also buy my curriculum used and I supplement with unit studies. (FYI...we just did a study on the Little House series and it really helps put money into perspective for the kids)
Electric bill---I get you on that one. We live in NC where it is hot, Hot, HOT lately. I also remember my bills being higher for a couple of years after a major hurricane rolled through.
Groceries---off-set your dietary needs expensives buy cutting costs elsewhere. Good job on finding Angel Food ministries. Try planting a small fall garden (good HS project) or get fresh produce at farmers markets (much cheaper than grocery store). Cut out prepackaged, pre-prepared foods. Cook from scratch (I need to practice what I preach on that one). Meatless dinners once a week, breakfast for dinner once a week.
Gas--explain to relatives that it simply isn't in your budget to travel right now. They may even volunteer to come visit you. I did this recently with my family and by golly, they came here instead of me driving 3-4 hours with two cranky kids + a grumpy DH.
Clothing--yard sales and thrift shops. Your kids are at home, they don't have to dress to impress. Save a few special outfits for church, parties, playdates, etc. I find brand new, brand name clothes at yard sales and goodwill. Even if they have been worn before, can anyone actually tell it was worn by someone else? Nope.
Pre-K programs---what exactly do you have them in? I wouldn't pay for them to be in anything. I would join a good moms group if you are wanting them to have some "outside" involvement.
I hope this helps you. Most of us have been in your situation before so STOP feeling guilty. You are on the right track!
08-17-2007, 10:53 AM #14
Excuse the typos...I was on a roll!
08-17-2007, 11:14 AM #15
My ds is 3 (about 85% potty trained) and dd is 20 mo. So when I had 2 in diapers - I spent about $50 a mo on diapers and wipes for both. If you are not getting coupons in the mail, email pampers and huggies and ask to be on their list. Combine the coupons with sales. When there are no sales, I am also a fan of Target diapers - I like them better than Walmart's.
Start using Aldi's (or other discount grocery store) for groceries. You could try using your crock pot more. On hot days it is nice to use cause you aren't heating up the oven and still getting a great meal. Plus you can use cheaper cuts of meat and they come out great!!
We rent movies from the library for a quarter each - it is a great way to save $$$.
Also one thing that I do since I have such young kids and can get away with it...I shop for Christmas for them at garage sales and a little bit at clearance sales. Like a got an almost new "Princess" doll stroller for my dd for $2! I probably spent $60 at the most on both of them. This will probably cover some bday gifts for them as well. So here is the thing. My kids only know that it is "new" to them. They are still too young to know the difference and I really don't think that they care - cause we go garage saling pretty often.
Try that for Christmas shopping for your kids and see if that will help since yours are young too.
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