Easier Budgeting – Don’t Make It So Complicated!

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Make Budgeting Easier

Easier Budgeting – Don’t Make It So Complicated!
by Jill Cooper

I was just watching a show on budgeting. I had to chuckle when watching it because the woman on the show was going into great detail about making charts, tracking your spending and savings and lots more. Even I, who have a good grip on my spending, was getting overwhelmed with all the things said a person needed to do to get out of debt.

She then used one of my “favorite” suggestions, which is to keep track of every penny you spend. You know, the “Carry a small notebook in your car and write down every penny you spend” method. I know this works for some people and please keep using it if it’s working for you, but I often wonder if these people live real lives or have actually ever really tried their own suggestions.

Let me give you my own personal experience with the little notebook. I keep a notebook in the car where it is nice and handy. I load 5 of my 6 grandkids into the car and we head to their house. On the way, I run into the store. I have things I need to return and things I need to buy. Two of the grandkids want to buy something with their own money but one is $.75 short and another $.35 short, so they ask to borrow it from me and promise to pay me back when we get home.

On the way out of the store, we walk past the bubble gum machines and so, being a proper “Nana”, I start passing out the quarters for gum. Two of the quarters disappear into a machine that fails to spit out the gum, so I have to find two more quarters and calm the two distraught children.

Finally, we make it out the door and head for the car. I quickly make sure each child is holding someone’s hand so they won’t get flattened crossing the parking lot. It’s a frantic journey to the car as kids drop their new gum, leftover change and a package or two along the way.

Then we all climb in the car and wrestle with car seats, seat belts and, most importantly, who gets to sit where and by whom.

Yes, the car is hot and everybody’s tired but despite that I say, “Just a minute– I have to write down what I just spent.” Suddenly, we are searching for the little notebook– on the floor, in the seat, on the dashboard. At last we find it, stuck in between the seats under the youngest child’s car seat. After tugging and pulling, pushing and shoving, buckling and unbuckling, we have the notebook. Now where is that pencil? Ah, an easy find. It’s under the trash can on the floor.

“Let’s see now… what did I buy again? Where’s the receipt? Do I add the money I got back on my returned item or deduct it from my credit card bill? Do I call the $.75 and $.35 a loan and write it down until it is returned or just write it down?????”

“Yessss, I know you are hot. I know you are hungry. I know you are tired…”

These methods might work well for some people, but my life is complicated enough without adding more. At times my whole day is like the above story, so I have so many more important ways to spend my time than constantly searching for a notebook or writing on a chart.

What does a person do?

I once worked for a man who had a major problem controlling his spending. Here’s what finally helped him: Every Monday morning he put a $20 bill in his wallet. That twenty was all the money he allowed himself to spend for the whole week. It was his lunch money, pop money and if he saw something at a store he really wanted he had to buy it with his twenty or do without it.

This made him go home and think about the thing he wanted. Did really need it? Was it really worth it? Half the time, just having to drive back to the store was enough to deter him from buying it.

He even found himself making a game of it, challenging himself to see how much of the twenty he could still have left at the end of the week. He started saving the extra money to use for something bigger and more special that he wanted. Often, after he had a nice chunk added up, he decided just to apply it to a bill. Watching that bill slowly go down told him he was winning the game.

If you have tried other ways unsuccessfully, you might try the twenty dollar bill idea. –Oh, and it doesn’t have to be a twenty. Depending on your circumstances and where you live, it could be more or less, but pick an amount and stick to it. It may take a week or two to figure out how much you want to allow yourself but after that, use a set amount and that amount only for your miscellaneous spending money.

With this system, if you spend it all by Wednesday, too bad! You will have to eke by the rest of the week and if you aren’t already bringing your lunch to work or finding other ways to save you will find yourself starting to do it just so you can save more of your “twenty”.

What I like even better about this idea is that at the end of the week or month, instead of having a huge column of little piddly things to add to your ledger, you only have to make one entry for the twenty for each week.

I did find it interesting that at the end of the show, after presenting all of these complex suggestions, the woman was asked, “What do you do if your house payment is more than you can afford and you are deep in debt?” She paused with a strange blank look on her face and said, “There are only two things you really can do– earn more or spend less.”

That’s it in a nut shell. We can make charts and write lists but the bottom line is we simply need to either stop spending or start earning more.

Too often, we focus on learning how to get out of debt with the misconception that, simply by learning, we are doing something about our problem rather than focusing on getting out of debt by actually stopping our spending.

Often, we want to know how to save on the large amount of groceries we buy, never thinking that we could save a lot simply by not buying so much. Or, here’s one that I love: “My husband lost his job, so how do I save on our vacation?” I don’t know how to say this gently but, if you don’t have a job or you had a pay cut and don’t have enough money, you don’t take a vacation, play golf, buy new things to fix the house, put your kids in sports, throw expensive birthday parties, keep buying junk food or convince yourself that you really need to keep your cable and Internet to help you find a job.

There is one way and one way only to get out of debt and that is to spend a lot less than you make. The more desperate your situation, the more drastically you have to reduce your spending. Some of you may have to go from having your hair, nails and toes done once a month to only having your hair done. If things are really tight, maybe you can’t pay to have anything done most of the time. You may have to learn to share only one car. You might have to start walking or taking the bus. Whatever you need to do to pay it off, get serious and do it.

Key words for today’s lesson. Stop spending or start earning more.

For more easy and practical ways to save money and get out of debt, check out Dig out Of Debt and learn more about how to keep more of your money.


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  1. Rosaria says

    I loved your article on budgeting. It really, truly is very simple. Spend less!! I especially love what you said about not going on vacation if you lost your job (did someone really need to be told that?), or cutting down on manicures and getting your hair done. This is all just common sense but it’s amazing how many people find it all difficult. We are not used to giving up on “instant gratification” in this society.

  2. Bea says

    You know why, Jill, it’s so hard for most people to stop overspending by keeping a budget? It’s because it involves those old-fashioned Christian virtues of fortitude, perseverance, temperance, patience, self-control and learning to say “NO.” We have to have virtues in order to have control and that’s not easy. All the Catholic Saints lived in “Voluntary Poverty” in order to live by higher values. St. Francis of Assisi, for example, gave up his families wealth to live with almost nothing and he was happy. He didn’t rely on material things to bring happiness. In our modern, secular, advertising controlled world, we have a hard time with those old-fashioned virtues. It is a struggle not to be a material “glutton.” Budgets require self-control, not self-indulgence.

  3. Lori says

    But sometimes, we really do not have enough and there are sometimes situations that are beyond our control that put it out our ability to just put enough food on the table, and clothes on your children. Some times we actually need help. Not every one who does not have enough wastes money on cable, junk food etc. some of us are actually very frugal.

  4. di says

    I was forced to only use cash one month, and boy I didn’t use very much, I had to calculate how much I had by how many days: gas, food, misc.
    Now I try this: I always ask myself about purchases, say I wnat to see a movie, can I go to the dollar theatre and see one? Sometimes, and then I talk myself out of it by going home and watching TNT or AMC (old movies I have never seen) do I want to go out to dinner, then I think about what I could make at home that is new, and I wind up eating at home. Buying new clothing, maybe I’ll hit up a consignment store, or our local freight store, and make a price limit of $10 for any new item(s). Sometims I don’t find anythingk, and other times I hit a jackpot. I don’t spend a lot of money on things so much, I prefer to give things away, Of course anohter new pair of shoes isn’t going to make me happier, just more clutter for my closet. Like they say, one thing in, and one thing out. I make tradeoffs with myself all the time, do I want a $5 glass of wine, or invite someone over and buy a full bottle to last a lot longer for say ($10) double my pleasure. If you think in terms of tradeoffs, its a better deal automatically.

  5. Sandra says

    Absolutely right on, Jill!!!
    Whatever ” system” you use to get there, the only way out is to spend less than you earn.

  6. Rebecca says

    I totally agree that writing everything down is too much of a hassle. What works for me is using mint.com, which is free, to make a budget and track my spending. I just sync it up with my checking account, and it does the work for me! It shows you how much you have spent in each category, and it’s really a motivator to stay within your budget!

    Rebecca, 29, Orlando, FL

    • Mara says

      I LOVE Mint! I now have all my financial info in one place and love watching my progress. Just seeing it makes me spend less and try harder.

      • Craig says

        I too highly recommend using something like mint.com and linking to your checking accounts to download transactions. I personally use quicken but I know that’s an extra expense that not everyone will want The key is to not just download the transactions but to code them to accounts such as utilities, food, dining out, etc. whatever you want, you can make up your own categories. Then run a report by category. Much easier than keeping a notebook as downloading the transactions does it for you. It doesn’t help with cash transactions obviously but I code that to “spending cash”. I even code ATM fees since they can really add up.

        On that last point, taking $20 out and paying a $2 fee means your paying 10% of your money in ATM fees. You may not notice it otherwise so using a system like the above really helps you find those potential cost savings.

        • says

          I’m not sure about the point of taking $20 out of an ATM machine and paying $2. I would never recommend using an ATM machine. I have never even used one and have survived just fine. Unless you have a business most people’s billing paying should not be so complicat4d.

  7. Debbie says

    Great post. My personal money saving idea is to keep my hands in my pockets. I find that if I don’t touch or pick things up I am less likely to buy. It’s been working too.

  8. Carolyn Showalter says

    I really like this concept, I just want to be sure of how to do this without
    keeping track. How do you actually know when you are out of debt or how much
    longer before you are out of debt.
    My husband has a budget and the checkbook on the computer and wants me to take
    over the finances but when I try, it gets me insane. To me it is very complicated. To him it’s easy. I want to handle the finances but just can not
    do it with what he has set up. That is why I am very interested in what you
    have to say about budgeting. Please reply to me. I am kind of desperate in
    this area.

    I also want to thank you so much for all of your letters that you send out.
    I find them all to be very helpful.


    • says

      Carolyn, why are you taking over the finances if you aren’t good at doing it? I would just let hubby keep doing it if he’s good at it.

      How do you know when you are out of debt? Well, you look at your bill and when it says $0 it’s paid off.

      For us we are trying to get our house paid off. We are almost 50% of the way there! Each month we just look at what is left for us to pay and just LOVE to see that number going down with our extra payments!

    • ann says

      Carolyn maybe your hubby wants you to know how to work the budget so if anything God forbid should happen to him you will be able to manage. I was in just that spot when my hubby had a heart attack and subsequent open heart surgery he was hospitalized for 5 week and I was left with the task of paying bill with no passwords, out of checks, checkbook not balanced. What a mess! You are fortunate your hubby trusts you to do the task . Even tho I know I can do it he never believed or trusted me to even try. My advice is calm down and ask him to explain what needs to be done. Listen carefully to what he tells you and be confidently happy in the fact that you will not be in the mess I was.

  9. Tina says

    Each payday I write a check for $50 dollars (I get paid every 2 weeks). From that $50, twenty go into the Christmas Club, ten goes into the savings account, and the remaining twenty is my “mad money” for 2 weeks. The rest of my paycheck then goes for household expenses, gas in the car and lawnmower, and groceries. If I want a special ‘outing’ (movie in the theater, eating out at a restaurant, special purchase, etc) that gets paid for by the money I save from $20 dollar ‘mad money’.

  10. Cindy says

    My husband and I are very fortunate in that we were able to pay our house off this year – about 10 years ahead of schedule. We are in our mid-50’s and live in our “starter” house of 960 sq. ft. to which we added a 12 x 14 family room a few years ago. Our house is in a nice rural setting and I add a few perennials each year so the landscaping looks good, too. We raised our two sons here and had plenty of space. My point is that we could have “traded up” at some point and still have had a large amount of debt, but we didn’t do that. I don’t understand why so many people have to have a huge house. I’d rather have peace of mind (and not so much to clean :)

  11. Wendy says

    I’ve always been appalled at how much people spend when they really don’t have the money to pay their bills. People are so caught up in the rat race that they’re overspending what they should. Then you have those who PURPOSELY spend beyond their means, then declare bankruptcy. No wonder our country is failing so miserably!

    Our family has been looking for REAL ways to save more money. Anytime we’ve come across someone who has a list of “10 ways to save money”, we eagerly read it hoping for something new. Unfortunately we read the list saying “done that…done that…doing that, etc.”

    We don’t have cell phones. We homeschool. Our kids aren’t in extra activities besides church and homeschool co-op. We’re a one income family. Our vehicles are paid for. We mostly buy used clothes, etc. The list goes on and on.

    I’m wanting to know more on how to save beyond the “normal” stuff. Thanks for publishing your ideas!

    • says

      Yes, it’s too bad but we have to keep repeating the basics over and over again because people “just don’t get it”! We are also working on getting into the hardcore tightwad ways more with the new site. Give us some time and we will start getting more ideas on.

      One thing, there really is a point where you can’t save much more. You can cut until you aren’t spending much at all and then you don’t have anything else left to cut!

    • says

      Wendy, I know what you are needing and I wrote a whole book on what I call “hard core” saving and being frugal. It is called Penny Pinch’in Mama. I didn’t cover everything but I did cover more of the unusual stuff. I really don’t like pushing our books and things but I can’t cover everything on the web site because it can become to long and involved often so that is why I write the books to give everyone more complete details on things.

      I do so many different things that are scattered around the web site which I try to mention when I can for example. I take a shower at night to cool off. I the morning I will wash my hair then in the sink. In the summer I don’t turn on the hot water and just wash it in cold to save on hot water and of course I don’t let the water run while I am shampooing. It’s just a habit for me to do this now.

      When I take Tawra’s kids to school I can go down a bumpy dirt road and save 3-5 mins time or I can go down a paved road. I do the paved road because it saves wear and tear on my car, less maintaince and the car will last longer. I do all kinds of things like this all day which I do try to tell about on the web site but have done much more detail in our books for lack of room.

      I know most want the free info but usually our things more then pay for themselves. We will try to do more of the hard core stuff. What happened was we started years ago that way but most people thought we were crazy or silly in some of the things we suggested. Now though with things getting tighter and harder for some they are starting to think maybe they should start trying to save.

      Also there is a point where like Tawra has said you just need to bring in more money. I have talked to different top of the line financial men and asked where could I save more and have really stumped them. When we started out talking they said with all confidence they could find some place for me to save but after a bit they couldn’t and ended up saying I just needed to bring in more money. So on occasion it happens.

  12. Kate says

    I’ve tried the notebook. I’ve tried saving receipts in an envelope each day. And I usually wind up just throwing out the clutter at the end of the month, without having achieved my goal of tracking my spending.

    I laughed myself silly reading your description of keeping the notebook–it feels like you’ve been peeking over my shoulder. I don’t have grandkids (yet), but that feels so much like my life!

    Your suggestion to keep and spend $20 for the week is such a practical idea–thank you!!!

  13. susan says

    Hi Jill and Tawra

    My husband and I paid off our house early,we decided years ago that we would not be in debt we we it our 50’s well we did it we paid off our house and at this time have no debt and a nice savings account. We worked overtime and did jobs no one wanted to do at our plant just to get the extra hours and we did the math and put all of that overtime over the years on our house and we did this while raising a child with cerbal palsey. Sure it was hard but we did it and now we are free to take vacations when we want. We didn’t take a vacation for years and years and just banked that vacation money and I am sure glad we did. I will always be frugal but now I feel like I can do the things I really want to do with no debt. love your news letters!

  14. Barb Nauman says

    My dad always said, “Be smarter than what you’re working with…” I have adopted that into my mindset of “surviving with style, grace and class.”

    Three weeks ago I arrived at the grocery store to see several workers discarding plants of all kinds into boxes from their outdoor displays. I asked if I could take some, and they were happy to have help with the “trash.” I grabbed what I could and discovered when I got home I had several tomato plants, cabbage and green beans-also, some flowers of different varieties. With lots of TLC I now have healthy veggies growing and gorgeous FREE flowers in my front yard.

    I am reminded how easy it is for us to give up on something-a plant, or a wonderful human being who may just need a little extra love to flourish!

  15. says

    Yippee! You finally told it like it is. We both get $20. a month to spend on stuff. I have basically stopped going to the Walmart. Quite often I have my $20. at the end of the month. Then I do not replace my $20. until I have spent it all. We are seeing our bills go down and PTL we will soon be completely out of debt. IT has taken a long time, but we are getting there.

  16. says

    This is so true. It’s really difficult to save especially when you are already used to a comfortable life. It will will take a lot of religious discipline before one can learn the virtue of saving…

  17. elizabeth says

    Wow great article – so true. And good comments too. I remember growing up, my mom would deposit dad’s paycheck and take back $200. That was her money for groceries and all the “whatever,” that came up for the next 2 weeks. This was in the 1980’s. They were excellent savers and never in debt, always paid off credit cards in full each each month, paid their mortgage early and never financed a car. Mom stayed home and dad worked a decent job but not rich by any means. They did not have a complicated system. They simply saved first. A certain amount always went to savings and then they lived off the rest. If there was extra left over, that went into the savings too. I wish I was better at this.

  18. misty says

    that was a wonderful post. the best part about saving and paying your debt off is the actual paying it off. the weight just lifts right off of your shoulders. my hubby and i payed off our credit cards in January and now we are paying our car off. we definitely were living beyond our means at one point in our life and we are still paying for it. now i refuse to be that way ever again, i want my children to grow up and know how to manage money. what better way to teach them than by example. my parents always did and always will live beyond their means, i have tried helping them by helping with a budget but it only works if you are willing to stick to it. well good luck to anyone that is just starting to budget their money.

  19. Juliann Johnson says

    You are so right on! I was a single Mom for some years, always on a tight budget and I would plan our meals out for the week; shop once a week and “hold off” buying things until they came on sale or the desire to even have them diminished.
    Now that I’m a Grandma, my challenge is not to tell my daughter how to budget, raise her children, or live her life. I found plenty of clothes at the thrift stores; I would wash, iron, mend and spray starch. I would make crock pot dinners, soups and an occasional “Sunday dinner” roast or chicken. My daughter thinks I’m nuts when I suggest living this way. Once when I asked her what she planned for dinner, she said…”Green eggs and ham, Mom”….
    We agree to disagree and love each other through it; but thank you for your
    wonderful approach to living; and your God centered way of life. Some lessons are learned the difficult, rocky way….I have shared your books with both my
    DDs. Julie

  20. mary says

    When my daughter was dating her husband, he complained that his salary was so small that he couldn’t save any money. When she asked where it all went, he had no clue. She suggested he try the listing method. After two weeks he had spent almost nothing except on rent, gas and food because it was TOO MUCH TROUBLE to write out a trip to the vending machine, etc. He had actually saved over two hundred dollars. He had said he couldn’t put money into the company’s 401 plan (with the company matching up to three percent of his salary). When he was getting a raise, she suggested that he put the amount of the raise into the 401. At the end of the year he was furious at himself when he saw how much was in the account and thought about how much he would have had if he had done it for the previous four years. This was after only five months. At the end of the year he used some of the savings he had accumulated from skipping the snacks, etc. and bought an engagement ring. He’s now a very thrifty person.

  21. says

    The best way to stay focused is just to keep it simple. Cut back by making it a game. I also find that setting a specific amount works pretty well and forget the notion of writing everything down. Tried it. Too much effort and not enough return.

  22. Carol says

    What it comes right down to is discipline. The discipline to think before you buy and the effort to walk away without it.

  23. Mooney says

    I’m a 32 year old unmarried woman who bought her first home a year ago and it was really scary to think about how I was going afford my house and really budget. It seemed very daunting to actually see if my income would stretch, you can only estimate this until you actually live in your first home!

    I automatically gave up getting my hair and nails done. I do it at home, I even do my own home perm, I went into the local beauty supply and they gave me some tips on how to roll my hair, I even bought the same perm I was paying to have done, the box was $9.50 and it comes out better than when I paid $70 bucks to have it done. What a markup- $9.50 and $70 for the same product!

    I am pretty computer saavy so I decided to try to find a spreadsheet where I could enter my income and all my expenses. I googled “personal monthly budget spreadsheet” and this great free spreadsheet came up with all types of sections for you to enter your income and expenses from groceries to charity contributions. I have done this for a year and stuck to my budget. It is also great to be able to tweek your expenses if you have to, month to month and see if you are still making it. If you’re in the red the numbers turn red it’s a real eye opener. It’s easy to use and is all right there. The numbers are the numbers so you know if you’re overspending. Something to try.

    • says

      Mooney, I never could figure out why gals started going and having a perm done and paying that much for it. We always gave ourselves our own perm up until the late 80’s and then people stopped doing it themselves. The ironic thing was by then perms had become even easier to do. It used to be you would wet a chunk of hair with the solution then have to curl it quickly to get the rest of the hair in rollers so the first curls didn’t start over doing. You had to hurry so fast and it wasn’t easy.
      Now you can take your time, get everything curled then put the solution on. It is so simple to do. I know some people say theirs don’t always turn out but when I have broke down and had a perm done professionally it didn’t turn out 75% of the time either and I was out all that money.

  24. TuxGirl says

    I guess we use something similar to the “write everything down” method, but a bit more delayed. At least once or twice a month, I go through *all* of our credit/debit card transactions (yes, we use credit, but we pay it off entirely each month. I just love the rewards). I use a tool called gnucash which allows you to have as many “accounts” listed as you want. I go through and assign each expense to an account. The tool automatically adds the budget amount to each account on the first of every month.

    As for the “20$” idea, my husband and I each have an “allowance” budget item. We can spend it however we want. As long as he stays in budget, I can’t say anything about how he spends his money, and the same goes for how I spend my money. If he really wants to go to the store and spend all his allowance on candy, that’s his choice! :)

    It’s a bit of work each time I sit down to go through the expenses, but it also forces us to pay attention to where all the money goes. Each time I run the budget, I can say “we spent this much on eating out this month,” or whatever it is. And, I can show where each of those expenses occurred. We can see if we’re spending our eating out budget on one big restaurant trip for a special occasion, or if we’re using it going to mcdonalds because we don’t want to cook. It also allows us to notice things like when our internet provider increased our bill by 1$ a couple months ago… If I wasn’t doing this, I don’t think I would’ve noticed.

  25. Rachel says

    I have always loved clothes. But I also had some preconceived ideas about what goes together and what doesn’t. My outfits had to be just so. If I didn’t have the perfect peice I would go out to get it. But if you look at the fashion magazines now, it is more like anything goes. I am mixing and matching what I have in my closet. A solid tee with a skirt, or a blazer thrown on that I haven’t worn in years. I thought about wearing a white skirt the other day, but I thought it was too late in the season. At church Sunday I saw two women wearing white. There really are no rules anymore with clothing. You can get by with what you have as long as it is not worn through, soiled or torn.

    Also, people are so impatient. In the last couple of months we have had our weedeater and our microwave break. When our daughter comes over she just can’t believe that we have not run out to get new ones. Well, we can cook on the stove and the yard is not growing at the rate it was in the summer, so we are willing to wait until we find a really good deal. We did need new tires on one of our cars, so we did that.

  26. Linda says

    Hi – I am 43 yrs old and am terribly in debt. Recently I have made a friend who has been frugal for years out of necessity. Unfortunately for me I have always had someone to bail me out or help me out of tight spots. Recently my husband and I had a “come to Jesus” meeting with one another and decided we would no longer accept help to get out of tight spots we created for ourselves. So my friend introduced me to your web site, now being frugal is becoming a game for our whole family. Recently made your home made laundry detergent (love it – the clothes are soooo clean and it is soooo cheap to make). I do a home day care and spend quite a bit on wet wipes…now getting ready to make my own. I am learning with the help of my friend and your web site, it is not always saving a lot in one area but saving small amounts in all areas. Thank you for your web site and your dedication to helping us. As for budgeting this is new to me also, so we are starting with a small “allowance” for each of us and going from there

    • says

      Linda I am so glad for you in the changes in your life in allareas. Way to go. I can tell it in the tone of your post that you have a great mind set for getting out of debt and that is most of the battle right there. I know there will maybe be days of discouragement once in awhile but don’t give up and if you need to holler or have any questions on those days or any others be sure to ask and we will try to help or answer you questions.
      Great job and keep up the good work.

  27. Veronica Tidd says

    More great advice Jill and Tawra
    One little trick I use is to immediately pick up something that I fancy which would be an unecessary impulse purchase
    and carry it around while I look for the things I came for. When I am ready to check out it is easy to just put it back because I feel I have ‘owned” it for a while and it is no longer so attractive

  28. Tommienell Ellis says

    I became a widow in November. We had been married 52 years—the years passed very quickly. We both came from poor families and we wanted better for our family; we were frugal and worked hard while we raised our children. We have always felt blessed by God to have our health and ability to care for ourselves. During our marriage we invested whatever money we could, and put money in retirement plans and in our homes. Neither of us ever had high paying jobs. We put ourselves through Bachelor’s degrees along the way. Now that my husband is gone and I am alone, I am happy to have a comfortable living for my remaining years. I realize I could be destitute and dependent on our children. I miss my husband so much and I am grateful that we did plan ahead. Tommie Ellis

  29. Sue says

    My husband and I have seperate checking accounts. He has his bills and I have mine. When it comes to grocery shopping he spends too much. How do I get my husband on board to save.

  30. Dee says

    My biggest expense after the morgage is spending on food & household items. I shop Walmart to keep the prices low, & we eat healthy. I always buy fresh fruit & fresh veggies. Here in Chicago, we also have the highest tax rate in the nation, & that adds a lot to the weekly shopping expenses. I looked at my receipt after shopping. I spent $300, & $30 of that went for the ridiculous cook county tax rate of 10%. It’s excusable highway robbery. If I could move out of this county & state I would, as it’s too expensive to live here. We are taxed half to death on everything & it adds up! Paying this ridiculous tax rate everytime I shop is like throwing money away on every shopping trip. Shopping out of the county is out of the question because it would cost me more in gas money to travel farther to shop. It’s frusrating.

  31. Dee says

    I got a little emotional there while typing my post, I meant to say it in inexcusable highway robery, pardon me for the error.

  32. Dani says

    My budgeting is very simple I get disability benefits so I have a fixed income. I also have a childwith special needs so we have aadditional costs.
    My budget plan allows me to have approx $500 a month extra for either savings or things I need for the house.
    I take all my money for the month add it together I subtract rent, bills, transportation, pet supplies and savings .. i take what is left divide it by 4 and that is my money for the week (for me it is about $200) i take it out of the bank and leave my bank card at home
    that money covers groceries spending money and little odds and ends I may need
    if I run out before the next friday oh well for me. I have gotten several of my friends to budget this way and they all love it once they get the hang of it . It is much easier to manage and keep
    Track of smaller quantities of money it also assures you that you can stretch whst you have foran entire mmonth

  33. says

    Great article! Our family has learned a lot of ways to stretch a dollar over the years. Working from home, even part-time, can help offset rent/mortgage, utilities, and (depending on what you’re doing) even your groceries.

  34. Kris says

    Second marriage, 2 incomes, separate checking accounts. I have no idea what the bills are. I pay the mortgage, phone and water, and any other personal dr. bills, fuel and such. If something happened to my husband I would not have a clue where to start or where the money needed to go. I have asked and asked him to please bring his personal papers home to be filed and so that I know what is there and where to find it. He keeps putting it off and has never done it. I hate to talk to him about this because it always causes strife, but I don’t want to (heaven forbid) be left alone to deal w/this and feel like a fool to not know. We should have plenty, but seems that we are barely eeking by. Last year for Christmas I made binders for all our children and our parents w/all the emergency information you would need to know, and this still didn’t work. I don’t like to shop for groceries so we eat what is in the house, and occasionally go to the store. My question is how do I get him to bring this stuff home without having an argument?

    • says

      I hate to say this Kris but something doesn’t seem right especially if you have 2 separate mailing addresses. There seems to be more going on then him just not wanting to bring the stuff home. If a couple can’t talk about or discuss their finances together then there is more of a problem then just the finances to worry about. You have got to get your marriage to the point where you can communicate and talk to each other in a loving and caring way. You have 2 choices. You can accept things the way they are and live with them or you need to get help or some how get the communication lines open. In a marriage you should become one and that is not just physically but in everything including having the same mailing address and your finances.

  35. Kris says

    One more thing I failed to mention is that we also have separate mailing addresses at the Post Office, so I don’t always see all the mail and bills that he has.

  36. Patty says

    Seems that the original idea that writing down or tracking your every penny was supposed to be a short term project (perhaps a week) to help those who are clueless about where their money is going. Doing it for every penny continuously? You are right…Twould be a PAIN!

    When I first started getting a handle on our spending? It was by using the ‘track it’ method. It did help me see where we were going wrong. Now debt free for the past eight years or so. Paid cash for the last two houses and cars. Don’t totally discount the idea. Use it short term if you can and are wondering where you are spending money.

    Admittedly my kids were in their late teens at the time so your funny car scenario (I lived it too earlier) wasn’t a problem.

  37. Mary Jane says

    I love the comment about the way to double your money..just fold it in half and put it back in your pocket. It reminds me of what I discovered while on a weight loss journey years ago. How do you make every meal half the calories, half the fat, half the sugar and half the salt? Whatever you have served yourself, cut the portion in half, and eat that one half only. This idea coincidentally, also saves money.


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