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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all,

Ok, trying to really get control of our finances and I was wondering if you all can help me reign in my budget. I dont even know if its possible but I really need to live on $2K a month so that I can put the rest to paying off bills we are behind on.

So here are my stats
Family:2 adults, 3 kids, 2 in diapers (they need to be potty trained)
Rent $850
health insurance:$400 (whole family covered)
irs payment: $350
car ins:$119
groceries: $400/mon

ok, this is most of my fixed expenses, not including debt repayment. I already see a few places that I can reduce my expenses. I think I might just change our health insurance just to cover the kids, and I can reduce the car ins to liability only.

So do you think I can do it, live on $2k a month with those expenses?
 

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The first thing I would try to cut down on the the groceries, then do the car insurance and the health insurance, have you tried getting health insurance through the state?
 

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I live on $1800 a month as a single parent. My expenses are different than yours, but I wonder if the rent (biggest difference) is because of location.

$645 - Rent
$235 - Health insurance (I went through the insurance company that holds my car/renters insurance- $200 cheaper than work and it is PPO not HMO)
$90 - Car, renters and life insurance
$125 - Electric
$100 - Gasoline
$250 - Credit Cards
$350 - Groceries

This leaves me $5 left over for wiggle room, but in general we try to conserve on the utilities, gasoline and groceries. This lets me add to my EF and pay on debt. If by some miracle a child support check hits the mail box, then I will take the kids to buy clothes they need to replace worn out ones and the remainder gets applied to debt and EF. We quit eating out months ago and I cook almost everything from scratch. All our spare change goes into a jar to keep from any penny falling through the cracks so to speak - lol.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Rent:right now we are renting a house and $850 seemed pretty good. Anyone else in Houston, I dont think you can find a house for less than $850 in a safe neighborhood, and this neighborhood isnt great.
 

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Are utilities included in your rent, you don't have them listed in the budget. From what you have listed I would say work on lowering the groceries, get the kids potty trained, see if you can get a better rate on the health and car insurance. Is your rent average for where you live, is finding something cheaper to rent an option?
 

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Does Texas have a program through the state to get cheaper insurance for the kids. A few years ago we got insurance in Florida for the kids (don't remember name of program), it was for people that incomes were to high for medicaid but couldn't afford health insurance. We were able to get that and insurance for the kids was $24 a month, my dhs employeer paid his insurance and it cost us $100 a month to have me on dhs work insurance, we could have put the kids on the work insurance but would have made the monthly payment more then we could afford.
 

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I am a family of four and we live off of 2,200. a month. My morgage mayment it 1,400. that leaves me with 800. for everything else. IS it easy no, do we soemtimes have late bills yes, but it can be done. The first thing to do is to work on getting that grocery budget in half. Shop around of the health insurance, you can most liely get the kids on a state plan and maybe consider major medicial only for you.
 

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I would look for cheaper rates on the insurance, but no way would I cancel it on myself or DH. If you have a medical emergency, it could financially ruin you.I would try to cut the cost of groceries, potty train the kids, look for ways to supplement my income. I would await the day when the IRS was paid, that will open 350.00.Cook from scratch, avoid eating out. If you smoke or drink-quit.Barter with friends and family for things you need.
 

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Is there an Aldis store close by? I can really save a lot of money by buying my groceries there. What kind of meals do you usually prepare? I find that the grocery budget is the one thing I can change/save the most on.
 

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From my own personal experience the IRS are the best debt collectors to deal with. If you call and explain that $250 a month is putting to much financial hard ship on your family they will agree to a lower monthly payment. Get a lower payment with them, then on months when you have extra money you can make a higher payment.
 

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The only things I can see, if you can't find cheaper insurance, cut back groceries. Get those monkeys potty trained(ok, easier said than done, I have one of those too.).

How much are you really bringing in? You may need to cut back the snowball a bit.

You don't have gasoline in there either.

Sorry, I'm not a big help here..lol. If you want to increase the size of the snowball, perhaps look into a pt job or take in a child for childcare. That is what I do, I earn $1800/mo which is essentially our snowball.

My fixed bills are:
mortgage: 1200
Insurance: 200
Utilities: 400
Groceries: 400
Bus passes: $90
Gasoline:200

We are a family of 6. 3 require buspasses monthly to/from school. If I were driving, it would be $90/wk.

One in diapers(stubborn kid. Mom needs to be more focussed and spend a week being tough with her).

Insurance is for life insurance and 2 vehicles. Yes 2. Dh works quite a ways from home, and no buses at 5 am. We have a fuel efficient vehicle we use for that, and most errands as well. But for family outtings, we require a van due to family size. and with a dayhome, we require transport should I need to pick up sick kids.

Utilities are high, but almost 1/2 of what other families here pay. We locked in for gas and power, our rate is nearly 50% less plus we use less than the average family of 3.4 people for ours of 6 plus 3. But it includes internet and basic satelite as well. If we were really tight, we'd save $70 right there, but we aren't that desparate yet..lol.

Groceries, i can make on $300, but find I can't buy bulk sticking to that budget, so I prefer my $400 then there's always something in the house. This month I did a $300 challenge, have made it so far, but we used up a bunch of my pantry which means next month I need to restock way too many items. It's BARE!
 

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TX has medicaid and CHIPS programs for kids insurance. It is only a few bucks every 6 months (I pay $20) and then reasonable co-pays with each visit. I personally don't think that getting rid of the ins for you and your hubby is a great idea. I have a family of 5, hubby makes around $40,000 and we were eligible for chips for the two oldest and medicaid for my youngest.

I live in Pasadena, it's a bit stinkier than Houston but also think it's a bit cheaper to live here (plus I just hate cities, and here I don't feel as crowded). I rent a 3 bedroom townhome (older, nothing fancy, but overall decent) for $760 plus utilities.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
No, I didnt include utilities. I just moved here so I don't know what the average amounts will be but we will pay electric, gas, and water. At my old apartment my electric was 200-275 and water was 20. I am hoping the electric wont be that high because this house is newer so hopefully better insulated.


About state insurance, I hope this doesn't offend anyone but I feel weird using state aid when we are in this financial situation by being irresponsible in our youth. So I think I will shop around to find lower insurance.
 

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Is there an Aldis store close by? I can really save a lot of money by buying my groceries there. What kind of meals do you usually prepare? I find that the grocery budget is the one thing I can change/save the most on.
Nope no Aldis here, I always here about it, I wish it was here.

I cook really simple stuff, tex mex, meat loaf, curries. I think our bills are higher because I don't shop smart and my husband likes junk food so we get a lot of chips and cookies. We used to eat out a lot but since we are down to one car, I havent been going out to eat as much.

I do think groceries is where I can save probably $150 to 200 a month. Especially once I get the kids potty trained.

You guys are giving me some good ideas and its encouraging to see that there are others living on a similar amount. We do make more than that but we got behind on a lot of bills and I am trying to live on the bare minimum so that I can put everything else toward bills.

Thanks again for all the advice. Hey, any particular threads on here that can help me with lowering my grocery bill.
 

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phoenixmama, no offense at all. I totally respect and admire your attitude! I don't have advice, but wanted to offer you my best wishes. :)
 

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I cook really simple stuff, tex mex, meat loaf, curries. I think our bills are higher because I don't shop smart and my husband likes junk food so we get a lot of chips and cookies. We used to eat out a lot but since we are down to one car, I havent been going out to eat as much.

I do think groceries is where I can save probably $150 to 200 a month. Especially once I get the kids potty trained.
Cookies & junk food are EASY to save on. Just make it yourself! It's much tastier too. Cookies, muffins, cakes, whatever you can think of. Even cheaper if you can get the ingredients on sale.

I don't know how old your kids are, but DD#2 is 2 1/2 and just now starting to potty train. You might think about buying some reusable, cloth training pants. They are essentially pull-up cloth diapers. Some snap on the sides in case of messy accidents. They are more absorbant than the gerber trainers you find in stores. A little bit expensive to start with, but if you have your own washer you would really only need enough for one day and you could wash at night while your child is sleeping. Even if you bough 6 trainers at $10/each (you could probably get used ones cheaper) that equals less than a month worth of disposables.
 

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We're a family of 5 (2 adults, 3 kids with 2 of those in diapers). We live on $2,000. Our house payment is right around $600 a month, so you're spending a bit more on housing than we are but that's just regional differences.

I budget $140 a month for groceries (but this does not include diapers, laundry detergent, etc.) I budget around another $40 for the non-food stuff. It can be tight to feed us on that amount sometimes, and I know as the girls get older it will have to go up, but it works for now.

Definitely check into more competitive health insurance. We pay for our own. We have a $5,000 deductible and we pay $214 a month for all of us. Our insurance includes an HSA (Health Savings Account). We don't have a maternity rider so we've paid cash for each of our children. We don't have dental or prescription insurance but our insurance negotiates lower rates for those things and also for doctor's visits.

It can be done! We do both try and work to get a little extra $ each month (selling stuff on e-bay, piano lessons, substitute teaching, babysitting, etc.) but we only do our monthly budget on dh's income of $2000, so any extra is icing on the cake.

Good luck! :)
 

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just my suggestions :

If your married , and your spouse makes over 800 you may not qualify for public assistance in TX , if you are afianced or un married or single and make under 800 you may qualify for public assistance.

Your income being soley what you get from work. you need not report money from your mother or boyfriend , diability DOES NOT count as income.

If you are on Disability you automatically qualify for Food Assitance programs , as do your children.

You can look into Medicade , of CHIP for your children in TX CHIP regardless of Marital Status.

Look into WiC if you have children under the age of 5 (most offices will work with you even IF you are over a income level) , also hit those pantries if you have to. Groceries are a pain and when money is tight you gotta reduce , weed out convenience foods , cut back meals for light work adults , for hardworking adults reduce portion , increase caloric value as needed.

Use google to find pantries or community resources in your area.

Hope it helps you some how.
 

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Check out Angel Food Ministries to help with groceries, in Houston their are tons of host sites.
http://www.angelfoodministries.com/states.asp?st=tx

You pay about 25 dollars per a box of food, and you can usually buy as many as you need or want, and your income is not an issue.

You can call which ever host site is closest to you to find about ordering and such. Heres a the menu page which shows what you can get.

http://www.angelfoodministries.com/menu.asp

I know you said something about state aid and I feel that. Everyone needs help sometimes, my husband and i make pretty good money and we have still used this program when we were just to tight on cash and it really helped.
 
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