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OK-first of all I feel like I'm going nuts. I mean, I am a 36 year old woman who has been married for 12 1/2 years and has two beautiful children. (dd 7 and ds 4)--I should know how to manage my money and "run" my household. However, I have been running a much larger household (my family of 4 plus 8 teenage boys) for the last 10 years in a group home. The catch is, I ran the home using someone else's money. I am thrifty and frugal by nature and training (thanks to mom). I am just hoping that someone out there with our similar family make up (family of 4) and income (mid 30's) can give me some pointers on what a target budget might be for various categories. We are pretty determined to make my being a SAHM and a homeschool family work.

We are currently debt free and intend on keeping it that way, with the exception of a mortgage. (if we can ever find a house that we can afford--we rent now). I've been "back in the real world"--out of the group home business for one month. We've started saving receipts, but I have no idea of what is a livable budget looks like.

Any advice/support is appreciated.

Pam
 

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Budgets in the traditional sense never worked for me. I would suggest simpley tracking your expenses in different categories for at least one month. I use an excel spreadsheet that I made. Then you can see what categories you "overspend" in. It really helps highlight where my budget is leaking. After one month I decided where me and DH could tighten up. If you are interested PM me and I'll e-mail you the spreadsheet. :)
 

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All we did the first few months was track spending. I taped a large manilla envelope to the inside of a cupboard door(we didn't have a computer at the time), and as soon as we came in the house the receipt went into the envelope. At the end of the month I went through them to see what we had bought. Who knew we could spend that much on junk!!!
 

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There's a great website called planabudget with a free budgeting spreadsheet, BudgetPlanner. Instead of just keeping track of how much you are already spending, it also tells you the budget guidelines for a family of 4. For example, you should not be spending any more than 36% of your income on all housing expenses. You input your income and the spreadsheet calculates all of the percentages. I've found this to be very helpful, because I needed to know how much I SHOULD be spending (or not spending)!
 
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