Sticking To A Budget

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In response to a Living on a Dime story about budgeting, Yvonne writes:

My problem is not setting up a budget but sticking to a budget. Gas costs what it costs. Groceries – It is expensive to eat healthy. Do you have suggestions for how to live on a budget? We don’t do a lot of things but we seem to overspend our budget each month. And I know there is no way my husband is going to keep track of every penny he spends. Please help!


How To Stick To A Budget FOR GOOD!



Tawra: This is a question that I receive frequently. Many people feel that the thought of budgeting is too daunting. My first thought is that if you set up a budget and can’t stick to it, either your budget, your spending or both are not realistic.

One thing I should mention up front is that there are several reasons why you might make a budget and how you handle your budget depends largely on why you have one. Here are the main two groups:

  1. If you spend more money than you make, you may be making a budget to get your spending under control. If that is the case, your realistic options are to cut spending to fit within your income or to increase your income to cover your spending.
  2. Some people create a budget just to create a plan for how they spend their money, even though they don’t have a problem with over-spending their income. If this is you, you have some leeway in your budget. Say your income is $5000 a month and your budget is for $4,000, allowing for $1000 savings each month. If this is the case, you can also choose to cut spending or increase your income, but you also have a third option. You might decide that $1000 savings is more than you can handle and cut your plan so that you expect to save only $500 and add the other $500 to your spending budget.

The reason why you are creating a budget determines the urgency of sticking to your budget. If you’re in the first group, you don’t have a lot of wiggle room. There is no good way to regularly spend more than you earn. If you do, everything will eventually, break down and it will impact all parts of your life. There is simply no choice but to live within your income or increase your income. If you’re in the second group, you have more freedom to choose to keep more “optional” budget items since you have not committed all of your available income.

Budgeting is not a precise thing, especially at first. In order for a budget to be effective, it has to accurately project your spending. The first time you make a budget, you will probably have to use your best guess for some things. Many people have no idea what they actually spend on food, entertainment and other more flexible budget areas. If you keep copies of utility bills and other expenses, your guess may be more accurate than another person’s guess. Even so, you will probably find out after the first month that some of your predictions in various areas are not accurate.

The solution to this problem is, after the first month, to re-evaluate your budget based on your spending. Ask yourself if the problem is that you disregarded the budget in certain categories and spent more than necessary or if the budget projection is not realistic. If you spend a certain amount of gas going to work each day, that is an expense that you can’t necessarily cut easily because your income comes from your job. If you feel that you must use the amount of gas you are using, you will need to adjust your budget to allow you to spend more on gas.

Even though I said you can’t necessarily cut the gas cost easily, most people usually do have options to reduce that cost. The question is, how important is it that you stay within this budget projection on gas? If you’d rather buy the gas than go to a movie, reduce your entertainment budget and increase your gas budget. If your budget is very tight and it accounts for every cent you earn, you may have to consider ways to reduce your gas cost. Even though “gas costs what it costs”, there are ways to reduce your consumption so you don’t use as much.

In our own situation, we used to think about something we wanted to buy at the store and then go get it right away. Now, we wait until we have many places to go that are near each other and make one trip out of it, unless it is a matter of life and death that we go now. It has been a challenge to our patience when we get excited about doing it “right now”, but we have saved a lot of money consolidating trips. Most people would be surprised to see how the mileage for “little trips” running errands adds up. If you drive to work by yourself each day, consider carpooling with someone else. We Americans don’t like the thought of that because it limits our feeling of independence, but if you work far from home, it can really save you a lot of money. If you live close to work, can you walk or ride a bicycle? Then you would get some of your exercise at the same time.

If your gas cost is high because you are involved in a lot of activities that require you to be in different places at different times of the day, consider whether you need to do all of those activities. If each of your kids are involved in a sport that costs $100 for three months, you also pay the cost to get them there and, if you’re busy enough not to be able to cook dinner, the cost of fast food is a direct result of that activity. If you do one such activity once a week and spend only $10 for fast food and $2.00 for gas each time, the entire three month activity cost is not $100, but $244. It is OK if that activity is important to you as long as you can afford to keep it in your budget.

There’s nothing wrong with increasing the amount you plan to spend in your budget as long as you can afford it. If you have only a set amount of income and are having trouble keeping your spending within that income, an increase in one budget area will mean that you will have to cut somewhere else. We know a family here in Kansas that thought that air conditioning was not essential when the temperatures were in the mid-90s and the humidity was high. They decided not to use the air conditioner, but they did not think buying delivered pizza and other convenience food was unreasonable. There is nothing wrong with that. We wouldn’t do it ourselves. It is just the choice they made. Regardless of how you make it work, income must outweigh spending.

We don’t recommend trying to keep track of every penny you spend. (Good news for your husband ๐Ÿ˜‰ Some financial systems require you to keep every receipt for a pack of gum, but that is just not practical. It is too tedious and people just get frustrated doing it. If you are having trouble keeping track of spending in a given budget area, it might be useful to use an envelope system.

One of the biggest drains on a budget is “nickel and dime” spending a quick stop for a pop at a convenience store or an impulsive magazine purchase. If you don’t know how much you spend in this area, put a set amount of money in an envelope for miscellaneous spending. Only make these purchases out of this envelope until the money is gone. This will help you get an accurate idea of how much you spend in that area.*

Say you put $300 in the envelope and it is gone is ten days. That means you spend $30 per day on “miscellaneous” spending. (And you didn’t have to write down every purchase.) At this rate, you can plan to spend $900 a month on these things (I’m gasping at the thought ;-).

If you want to limit spending in this area, put the money in an envelope and when it is gone, don’t allow yourself to spend any more on those things until the next month. If you’re accustomed to spending a lot more than your budgeted amount, this can be difficult. If your budget is not too tight, you might want to reduce the spending in that area over a few months so you don’t get discouraged.

If you feel your only option is to cut your spending but you are having trouble doing it, you will want to make sure you’re clear about “needs” and “wants”. The only real “needs” we have at a most basic level are food and shelter. Everything else is a “want”. All “wants” are negotiable at some level. We want to have a house with air conditioning. We don’t want to eat only beans. We believe it is important to have a car. If your “wants” are too important to give up, you must increase your income to make everything balance.

The problem we see the most is that most people who are having trouble with spending and debt want too many things they can’t afford considering their income. (Mike: I understand that. I’ve been there!) If you find yourself in this situation, it is easy to get irritated with having to make a choice to give up something you feel strongly about keeping.

We hope this helps! Good luck with your budget! -Michael and Tawra


*Note From Jill – I don’t even bother with envelope spending. I just put a $20 bill (or whatever amount I decide on) in my wallet. If half way through the day it is gone then it is to bad for me. It only takes once for me to run out of money and need more to learn to be more careful. Surprisingly enough I keep really good track of my spending when I have only $20 to think about each day.

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  1. Diane says

    We have been a one-income family ever since I was disabled in a car accident 25 years ago. I can so relate to your “good days and bad days”, Jill and Tawra Jean, and having to give up one way of life and adopting another. My husband and I have always been on a budget, but the budgeting was a necessity because we were paying on several credit cards, and a car payment. We were just paying the minumums. It did not occur to us to budget to pay off the bills and save money. About 3 years ago we suddenly realized my husband was retiring in 2010 and we would be going into retirement with a lot of debt. So, we started paying off the debt slowly, but then I discovered Living On A Dime and and because of what I was reading it became clear to us how to really get rid of our debt and do it quickly. We stopped going out to eat, hid the credit cards. budgeted for everything, never, ever bought anything that wasn’t on sale or from a thrift store and soon the bills were paid off and we started saving money. We were able to do a lot of renovations on our home last year and not have any debt from them. We are so proud of that. We see budgeting as our pass book to a healthy savings account, going into retirement debt free (we do have a small mortgage and house payment) and being able to travel a bit. My husband retires in 9 weeks at age 65. I have read your blog everyday since we started our new way of handling money and it helped me through so many rough spells as we adjusted to not just grabbing a credit card when we wanted something and weren’t close to payday. This blog enables us to become “wise stewards of our money”, and budgeting plays a huge part in that.
    Enjoy the day. Diane

    • says

      Right on Diane!!! You are exactly what this web site is for. What a great success story. I get so tickled when someone finally “gets it”. We have so many people write us and say there is no way they can get out of debt let alone start saving and they think they are truly saving and doing the best they can but when they finally have that light bulb moment and see the reality of what they are doing and seriously change – well it always makes me want to do the happy dance if it didn’t embarrass my kids to death although now that I think about it that has never stopped me before. : )

      Any way super good job and I am so happy for you. I know personally how much work it took you so can’t applaud you enough and am amazed how you made up your mind to do it and just did it. Once again good job.

  2. Brianna Beaver says

    These are great points. I feel lucky to know them before I have to live on my own [18, moving out in September].
    My parents did a budget recently, but are having trouble sticking to it. I see many ways they could control their spending [NOT smoking, NOT giving 10$/every few days to their youngest daughter, NOT buying a house that was outside their means] but they refuse to listen to me.
    Their salaries have been cut recently due to the recession and their bank accounts have been in the red for 10 years and I know they won’t be able to keep the house up much longer. I know they want to retire in the country in a log cabin but I know that the way things are going now, that it won’t happen. My dad always spends money trying ‘get rich quick’ schemes, which never work. Or he’ll try to buddy up with a friend and start a business or similar but it always fails because he gives up easily. They just bought a rental property [for me, thus I have been doing all the emailing to try and find tenants] and were already ready to give up on it because finding tenants was hard.

    I am going to print this article out for them and maybe some of the budget sheets too! I think the envelope system might work as I know my mom is a big impulse spender on clothing, and they both go out for lunch more than necessary. Thanks!

    • says

      Wow, Brianna. At 18 you are way ahead of the game and it sounds like you really have it together.I get so pleasantly surprised to get someone your age who not only knows what to do but is willing to work at doing it. I feel bad for your folks not being able to control their money but thankful that you have learned from their mistakes instead of following in their footsteps.
      Good Job.

  3. Marilyn says

    I just found your web site and am excited about learning ways to save money and ultimately have a little more financial freedom. We’ve made some poor choices in the past and are overextended. The problem is that we’re upside down in our mortgage so selling our house and downsizing is not an option. We need cars for our jobs but our credit is so bad we can’t get a bank loan, only a car finance company loan at a high rate, and on a new vehicle which of course is more expensive. Our only “luxury” is cable tv and internet and very little outside entertainment except for family functions (weddings, showers, graduations) and carryout food on Friday evenings. I feel like we’ll never get out of the hole we’re in. Any advice?

    • says

      Marilyn, first I know it seems like there isn’t light at the end of the tunnel when you first start getting out of debt but there really is. Finances are often like marriages. People will spend 10 years destroying a marriage or messing up their finances and then wonder why it can’t be fixed in 6 months. It takes time and may take awhile before you see any results. It took me 5 years making 12,000 a year to pay off $35,000 debt.

      Also it depends on the level of desperation you are and how bad you want to do it. I gave up everything. I didn’t buy coffee, pop for me to drink at home, I didn’t run my a/c even though it was 100 degrees. My life was uncomfortable doing it but the debt was even more uncomfortable to me.

  4. MikeB says

    Thanks for the article and for the helpful comments. As a single income family we also struggle with money. I made a budget and over time have tweaked the numbers as ‘reality’ required. I found that on one hand I know we should only so or spend this much, then life and reality hits the fan. So now the bidget has a lot of the little things like some for entertainment and we like to go out eat after church with a few other families. Even though we ‘can’t afford it’ we also realize that we need to have some enjoyment besides the feeling of paying down the bills. I consider our budget a living document that gets updated sometimes daily depending on the unexpected bills or overtime.

  5. Pumpkintown says

    Hey MikeB. How about a potluck dinner with friends after Church ?…cheap ..lots of fun and no guilt !

  6. says

    I actually like living on a budget. It’s liberating. We have a categories for eating out, clothing, craft supplies, vacations — the fun stuff, in addition to all the necessities. The fin stuff categories may only have a few dollars a piece in them, but we save, and they add up quickly.

    I save up in the eating out category and we can go and enjoy our dinner out, without guilt, knowing that the money is there in the bank. Same goes with clothing and craft supplies. I save for a bit and then I can purchase what we want guiltlessly.

    With vacations, once a year, we plan something based on what we’ve saved up. Much like the Christmas accounts of yester-year. There are no “surprise” credit card bills at our house.

    Oh, sure, there are those months when gas prices have skyrocketed and it throws a wrench into everything. But the next month I reallocate the income accordingly, and we’re fine.

  7. Carol says

    Jill, I would really like to know how in five years and making only $12,000 a year you paid off $35,000. That would leave you approx. $416 a month to pay utilities, buy gas for your vehicle to get to work, insurance, and food. In this day and age, I find that remarkable and almost impossible. I have a goal to pay off my small credit card debt before I retire, but it must wait until my car is paid for in just a little over a year. I will then take that money to pay off my cc debt. I do make a little more than the minimum payment on my credit cards and am very diligent at keeping my mortgage and my car payments on time. At the age of 61 I became divorced and was left having to refinance my home and begin life over again. Trust me it was difficult to do. I know I will never get my home paid for unless I come into some windfall of money, but that’s okay cause my house payment is less than rent in my community. I eat out very little except for my lunch that I purchase from my company cafeteria. It is much less than what the cost of the food would be at the grocery store and lunch is my main meal and I eat very lite in the evening and buy very few groceries for home. I read your blog everyday and am still amazed everyday how you all do it. Thanks for all you give us and God bless.

    • says

      I know most people find it hard to believe so that is why I wrote Penny Pinch’n Mama. It was in the late 80’s I did it but even for then it was something because there actually were many things more expensive then then there are now. For example back then we only had a small 13′ black and white when most had huge colored but even a small colored TV was close to $300 compared to the same size I have seen on sale for $125 or less now. You had to pay for long distance, of course depending where you called, it was like $.25 a minute. That means at times talking to someone in the next town it could cost $7 for 30 minutes.

      Any way some of the things you mentioned was I lived in a run down house that needed to be remodeled and not in the greatest neighborhood. House payment was $110. I had little utilities. I had to break down and use a pot belly stove for heat instead of my regular furnace, we didn’t have the luxury of taking a shower every day and we could only take 5 minute showers, I stopped using my dryer and made sure we wore our clothes more then once. Turned off the freezer – that and the dryer were drawing $80 worth electricity which was a lot back then. Didn’t water my yard or even had potted outdoor plants that used water.

      I drove a cluncker which meant I only needed liability and cheap liability at that plus I worked at home and when I worked away from home I got a job that was less then a mile from my house. The kids walked to school and I didn’t go hardly any place else but to the grocery store which was near by. When the kids got older and started driving they paid for their own gas and all.

      I only paid $15 a week for groceries which was a challenge for even then. Usually I tired to only live on $300-$350 and every extra penny like birthday money, Christmas money etc. when to paying off debt. I bought no clothes for myself or anything like that and very little for the kids.

      It was tight but doable. I wish I could take all the credit to be honest my budget never works out on paper. God did so many things for me that is hard to explain. Neighbors would bring me things from their garden which helped with the groceries, I would sometimes get hand me downs for the kids and myself and it seem like every car I have God has somehow given me the best gas mileage. Once I needed a new battery so bad and had to jump it every time I started it. That wasn’t easy but after a few weeks I got some money in the mail- the bank had under paid me on something and it was $50 exactly the amount for a new battery.

      I don’t have room to go into it all but like I said I put it all in Penny Pinch’n Mama. Even to this day I still live off of only my disability which is even less then what my elder parents get from their social security and with no kids at home I feel like I am rich compared to what I use to live on.

  8. JenW says

    I know we couldn’t survive without a budget! We have five children and homeschool, so it is a necessity. I have paid the bills and created the budget every year. Here are some tips that might help. Call your electric company and get on their budget plan if they have one. That way it is the same amount every month. Same with gas if you use a gas company. We also put the gas for our vehicles on a credit card so we can pay it like a monthly bill. Just determine not to use it for anything else. If you use the same gas station, consider using their credit card if it give you a discount for using it. Use caution if you have self-control spending issues.
    When creating your budget, don’t forget those once & twice a year bills like home owners insurance, auto insurance, real estate taxes, personl property taxes, vehicle tags, dog tags. We also budget for medical copays. Our annual physicals are free but a visit is $25. I estimate by the number of times we visited the doctor the year before. Our eye doctor visits cost us $40 each time. So I calculate who needs to go every year and who (according to the doctor) every two years. Our dental visits are free for six month checkups. Don’t forget contracts with plumbers or heating & air (we have one who services our system twice a year). If you have pets, consider their checkups. We have a small pool so I have to estimate the cost of chemicals. Christmas, birthdays, car maintenance, and house maintenance costs are considered as well. You might want to consider budgeting a clothing amount. I think this is one area we blindly spend money, because it is a blouse here, pair of socks there, a pair of shoes today. Before we know it we’ve spent several hundred dollars just in clothing for one person!
    Things we pay once a year are added together and divided by 12. We put that amount in the savings account each month to cover those when they come due so we aren’t scrambling to get the money when the bill comes. I simply transfer the exact amount we need for the bill into the checking account by online transfer. I also have a calendar on the back of our budget which tells me when things are due and when I think it is best to pay it.
    Our budget is broken into paychecks as my husband gets paid twice a month. I start with the net amount (we have our health insurance deducted from his paycheck),sutract our tithing, his cash to keep on him,and each bill that needs to be paid at that time. When my husband was paid weekly, I had to deduct a certain amount from the first paycheck (I simply put a “*” in the check number box) which I added back into the check register in order to have enough money to pay our mortgage payment. My thinking is this, if you see money in the account you might spend it and forget.

    Whatever system you use, cash, envelopes, etc., if it is too complicated, you are not as likely to keep it up. Dave Ramsey, the Cheapskate Family (the Economides, I think), and Mary Hunt all have great ideas on budgets, debt free living, and frugal ideas. The great thing about THIS site is the sensible every day things we can do to be good stewards with what we have been blessed with. Thank You!!

  9. Janice says

    I love your article and other posts that I have read. Our family does have a budget, but working in a store makes that very hard to stick too. My budget goes like this, we have this amount extra money, so today I purchased 30 pairs underwear for 6 pairs for a $1,then I bought 10 pints of blueberries for $1. Eventually there are things that I may not have too purchase for the next 6 months- a year. I rarely pay full price for anything, but I do have a list of future items to buy and watch for the extra closeout price and then buy in bulk
    . We make alot less that we have in past years, but seem to have more money avaiablefor bills and other things. So this seems to work for me.

  10. Rhonda says

    I am disabled and recieve 817.00 per month. Don’t get me wrong I appreciate it. If not for that I wouldn’t be able to survive. It is very hard to make this money stretch. I don’t have a car payment, I don’t waste money or at least not that I realize. Do you have any advice for someone with such a low income?

    • says

      I’m not sure what to tell you Rhonda. You make almost $200 more then I get a month so most of the advice I give is from me someone who has an even lower income then you but with out knowing exactly where every penny goes it is hard to tell your where to cut back other then the things I have already mentioned. Look very closely at where you are spending your money. I was talking to a group of women not to long ago going on how they can’t cut back on one more thing, all the while they texted almost not stop on their $400 plus cell phone. Then later were discussing what a good deal they got on a name brand purse that they only had to pay $40 for and not $150. No matter how good of a deal something is if you don’t have the money to pay your bills it isn’t a good deal.

      The point I really am trying to make though is they have started going to thrift stores recently and using coupons to save money and were thinking they were doing all they can to save not having a clue that maybe they could save more by getting rid of there cell phones and not buying any more purses. I’m not saying you are doing that but that we need to look real careful at every part of our life. Can we shorten our showers or take fewer. Stop watering our yard or buying plants, do you buy books at garage sales – this seems like you are saving but if you have to you may have to just get your books at the library. Sometimes we look at the obvious and change it but you may have to go a little deeper.

  11. Pat says

    We are retired and live a modest life style. We do have our little splurges now and then, but in the main live very frugal. What surprises me is that many around us think we have money. We don’t. We have never had much money, but since we are a 2nd time round couple, when we got together we decided
    1. bills are paid first ( we include tithing as a bill)
    2. money for yearly items like insurances, expected taxes etc. would be put in a savings acount monthly and those would be paid for out of that account, plus we added $50 each month for emergencies and anything left over if we overbudgeted for expenses
    3. groceries, we wanted to eat healthy and be healthy as we could.
    4. extras and entertainment. Since we enjoy the forests around us fishing and dh. hunting, we moved to an area that has this all around us, just walk out the door and we are there! There is a deer in the yard as I type just nibbling on the grass. Earlier this year I watched a baby deer and it’s Mother as it took it’s first steps at the back of our small acerage by the creek. A few days later I watched it as it scooted around the yard with Mom standing by watching over it. I enjoyed it so much, and all from my window! We moved ( when we retired) to where we could afford to live and where we would choose to be if we were on holidays. That worked out to be very inexpensive living. Yard sales provided cross country ski’s , boots, poles, snow shoes, fishing gear, and golf bags, balls and clubs and putters. Nothing we bought was over $5! and all of it is in regular use by us, friends and family that visit.
    I have my gardens that I love, the biggest expense was the fence around the garden to keep the deer, moose and bears out. Our home payment is like someone else mentioned far, far less than rent anywhere I’ve seen. This suits us. So we are happy. You need with all your planning to plan what the family wants, where they want to be and how it suits everyone. Then work towards that goal. Budgeting helps to get you there.

  12. Marie says

    OH Jill, I wept for you today, reading your blog. I often weep for others when I read of their hardships. It makes the problems I had seem trivial. Several years ago, my husband had his job cut from 5 days to three days a week. I figured that eating out was our biggest waste of money, we don’t go to movies, but kept the cable, I quit buying books and magazines, junk food was costing $600.00 a year and soon we we saving more than the cut in pay was. The strange thing was was we didn’t miss any of it. Every time I hear of a frugal idea I try it. I have been using homemade laundry soap for three years, and vinegar and baking soda. Instead of spending $10.00 a week on cleaning supplies, I might spend that much a month. A little here, a little there, it all adds up. Now we are able to put about five hundred a month into savings and have zero debt.

  13. Chris says

    Keeping track of my money has been a huge help. That means our checkbook is always balanced.

    We don’t carry it with us – it’s too big; but deposits or withdrawals are written in as soon as we are home and have access to the checkbook.We use a composition notebook as a register, which is why it’s left at home.

    Recently I went back a year and a half and notated, month by month, each month’s beginning balance. To that every deposit is added for a monthly total. That month’s debits and checks are then added together & subtracted from deposits and credits.

    From this information we know what percentage of our income is being held onto for that month & what percentage is being spent. If you are spending more than you take in, you’re in trouble. Believe it or not, not everyone keeps track of thier money.

    Some expenditures can be adjusted, in order to be more frugal – some cannot. If you don’t keep a legible checkbook register, you can’t begin to create a viable budget.

    • says

      I do believe it Chris. That is one of the main problems, people don’t keep track of their money. They don’t balance their bank statements or even look at their bills at all or that carefully. Even when people buy groceries and things they swipe their credit card – are talking on the phone or to the kids – and can walk out of the store without having any idea what they just spent. It is like burying their heads in the sand – if they can’t see it it won’t hurt them- mentality.

  14. Connie Lorraine says

    What a wonderful and informative article! I love all the advise you gave. I would like to humbly offer a trick I used to feel good about my budgeting… when I get the compulsion to grab a take out dinner or buy something I don’t need but want… I take the amount I would’ve spent and put it in an envelope! At the end of the month, I then get to see how much I actually saved by not indulging in the little things. I feel a sense of pride at what I’ve done! God Bless!

  15. Ellen says


    I like the $20 a day idea – but I don’t see how it will help me with my biggest problem: overextending on the grocery shopping.

    It’s better to make infrequent grocery trips in bulk, not every 2 days with a $20 bill.

    One idea I’m thinking of is I can start myself once with a surplus for the first weekly or bi-weekly shopping, and from then on use that $20 (or whatever the daily amount) to accumulate toward the next trip.

    Any other suggestions?


    • says

      Sorry for the misunderstanding Ellen. The $20 is not for grocery money but for general daily miscellaneous spending. Some people can fritter away $20 just going into a convenience store each time they stop some place during the day. This is to control that.

      You don’t have to use exactly $20 a day either for this. I personally can carry $10 for a week or two for my miscellaneous spending money.

      Here are some other articles on our web site which deal with actually spending on groceries and how to do that. They go into great deal on grocery shopping.

      How Much Is My Grocery Bill

      Save on Groceries Before You Leave Home

      Stop Wasting food and Save Money

      Of course if you want a lot of info we have our Grocery Savings on a Dime e books too.

  16. says

    My carrying around money is for gas only in summer, and student fees (once a quarter they pay a printing fee to use the computer printers) at my daughters’ school Sept- May. For the last 25 years I just haven’t been the type to pick up a magazine, buy food at the gas station/convenience store, buy a latte, etc.

    I was not always this way, but now am a planner. I plan ahead for most everything I purchase. Even medical emergencies are “planned for”. We set aside a certain amount every month to build a cushion as well as pay for doctor’s visits. Our cushion has built up enough that we have the annual out of pocket for the family saved. It took 3 years of an extra bit a month to save for this, but now we can rest assured that we are covered. We save in advance for everything we spend money on.

    This is something my siblings don’t quite understand. I’ll go around with holey socks and shoes that are looking kind of sad for months, just so we can save for something important. My sibs tend to think I should just buy what I want now, put it on a credit and worry about future expenses when they come. The problem with this way of thinking is that if I didn’t have the what-ifs saved for, I would lay awake worrying now.

    Sticking to a budget gives me peace of mind. It’s worth small sacrifices to achieve.

  17. Marie says

    After learning to cut back several years ago I have been continuing to learn new ways to save. Money not needed for living expenses go into savings, however with interest rates of less than 1% We might as well put it under a mattress. We had a lot in the stock market but the crash of “08 we lost about a third. Taxes and insurance on our house keep going up and the City has raised rates on our utilities. The future is so uncertain, we depend on SS for our expenses. My husband plans to retire when he is 80, three years from now. Will Medicare be there? At the same time my retirement from work will run out (this and my SS pay for property tax and all insurance)

    I tracked back a year to see what we were spending. DH SS pays tithe, cable, utilities, car and house expenses. His $800 a month salary goes into savings for retirement This leaves my 401K that is in an annuity that pays $380 for my life, This is used for food, clothes, gifts, personal and cleaning expenses. $75 a week for food and $$80.00 for stuff like cleaning supplies, personal and clothes. We have been doing this for three months and even managed to eat out when we are out of town.

    I keep the money in an envelope and when it is gone, it’s gone.

  18. says

    YOU Are a blessed family to me. LOVE YOU ALL.
    barbara l.

    • says

      Barbara I am so sorry to heard about your hip and knee it can be hard to be laid up like that. I hope and pray you will heal quickly. It can be very isolating too when you are sick like that and to have lost your best friend makes it even harder so I am glad you are able to pop in and read our blog. It may not be the same as a best friend but I hope it helps you some. I love hearing from all of of our readers each day so I know what you mean and so many of the seem more like friends then just readers. I do hope each day finds you getting better and better and thank you for your sweet comment.

  19. Bea says

    There are so many nice people that comment on this website. It makes all the bad stories out there seem less threatening. Jill, is Tawra and her family near that theatre shooting? SO SAD!

    • says

      They are probably about 40 miles. The pastors of 2 of the churches they visited while looking for a church was at the movie when it happened but they were both ok. Thanks for asking about her Bea.

  20. Bea says

    You’re welcome Jill. Whenever I hear something on the news about Colorado I think of your family. Like those fires etc.
    Thank God those 2 pastors are ok. They probably helped a little in comforting people since they were eye witnesses to that tragedy.

  21. JustMe says

    I’ve tried everything! My husband and oldest son just keep working against me. I have four sons (21, 15, 9, and 2, and I am 29 weeks pregnant with kiddo number five!). We have zero saved, which means when I have this baby, I’ll be able to take three days off…exactly long enough to have the baby, get home, and unpack! I work from home as an MT, but I was really hoping to take at least three weeks off to get accustomed to my newborn and bond. However, every time I turn around it’s always something. Just this past weekend I was hit with “we have to buy (our oldest son) tire ramps so he can change the spark plugs in his car!” There went 43 bucks I wasn’t planning on…oh, oh, and then there was the 70 dollar ticket my son didn’t mention to me until he was threatened with having his license suspended (which I had just paid 150 to have his license reinstated because he wasn’t paying his insurance! Now I pay his insurance at 126 a month, too, as well as his cell phone, and gas!)…and there was the 60 bucks for his tag renewal! I just “made” him get a job and told him he will have to pay his own way…I feel bad because I know pharmacy school is stressful, but he’s gotta pull his own weight.

    At any rate, I have no faith in a budge any longer. I don’t know which is worse, struggling with a budget or stressing without one… We make pretty good money, have no loans (except a car that will be paid off March 2013), no credit cards, only have to pay 20% of our son’s college tuition, and our only luxury is cable/internet/house phone bundle and three cell phones, but every month our money finds somewhere to go to the penny! Wish I could just hand it all over to someone who knows what they’re doing…

    • says

      I know you won’t want to hear this but you sound desperate so here are a few things you might think about. Sometimes we get caught up in wheel like what a rat would get on and go round and round and round and we don’t know how to get off. It feels like you just keep spinning in the same rut. That is why it is call the rat race or spinning your wheels. You need to stop running. How?

      First of all look at what the real problem is and get your eyes off of the symptoms (you can’t take time off work, you son keeps needing more money etc.). You are focusing so hard on your problems that it is wearing you out so you can’t think of a solution. Also stop even worrying about or thinking about a budget. You don’t need a budget like “they” all say. Your problem isn’t a budget it is over spending and as long as you have your eyes glued to how a budget can’t or won’t work you, can’t see what the real issue is. In a way it is sometimes a good excuse not to have to look at the real problem and do something about it. I’m not saying you are doing this but it happens sometimes.

      I can tell you are feeling a little guilty about making your son start paying his own way and I make these next statements only to help you feel less guilty. By the time my kids were 16 (they started at 15) they were totally paying their own way. The only thing I provided for them was food, utilities and a roof. They paid for their clothes, insurance, gas and all their school needs. By the time they were 18 they were totally providing for themselves even paying for their schooling. It wasn’t because I was this perfect mom or they were perfect kids it was just the way of things. Kids are suppose to grow up and learn to be responsible and you have nothing to feel guilty about. As a matter of fact we do our children a grave in service when we don’t nudge them out of the nest and it is in a way selfishness on our part because we don’t like the feeling we get when we have to do it and to make it worse our kids usually holler about it and we feel even worse so instead we do nothing but just give them more and more and make the nest more comfortable for them.

      My son had to gently nudge my 16 year old grandson last year and guess what he is working part time,going to school and is paying for insurance etc. and has survived. My 14 year old grandson works too and is paying for any “extras” that he needs besides having enough saved for a car and is buying his own tablet and anything like that. I don’t say this to brag but to let you know they will survive and not to let them guilt you into anything.

      Budget isn’t the problem here. Spending too much on a 21 year old is. Don’t say yes but jobs are to hard to find or we need to help with his education. First of all there are more jobs out there then we think they just aren’t the kind of job we want or the pay isn’t what we want but even if he couldn’t get a job he should be doing everything in his power not to add to your expenses like getting a ticket, or being irresponsible with his insurance. But from his point of view he doesn’t need to worry or work because he knows you will do that for him.

      You and your husband need to have a good talk. Then the two of you need to talk to all our kids and lay down some spending rules. If you don’t do that then you need to realize; I choose to live this way – not being able to take off work for the baby, working non stop. This means then you can not be upset about it. It has nothing to do with a budget and all to do with supporting a 21 year old.

      I don’t mean to sound harsh or that I don’t understand but you said you wished someone who knows what they are doing could help you so I really am trying too. I really hope this helps and not hurts too much because I know how you feel. I am having to in a small way do to you what you need to do with your son.

  22. says

    To Just Me,
    I felt so badly for you when I read your post. It sounds like life is very stressful right now for you, and I’m wishing it wasn’t.

    For what it’s worth, I think you did the right thing requiring your oldest son to find paying work, to pay for some of his expenses. I think actually earning his own money will make him more responsible and think twice about expenses.

    The one thing you can do, that will help him through this transition of paying his own way, is show him how to find better deals on things — like those tire ramps, he could’ve tried to borrow a set from a friend or neighbor (even putting a sign up on a church bulletin board, asking to borrow a set). Next, he could’ve checked freecycle, craigslist, or any other free exchange site. Then moved up to looking for some used, then if still not finding them, at least look for best deal online or with a coupon found online for a brick-and-mortar store.

    My oldest is 24. I spend a lot of our interaction time showing him how to do basic things, like manage his paperwork (bills, bank statements, etc) and cooking from scratch. These are skills that will help throughout his life. There are times when it’s stressful trying to get my kids to accept more responsibility. But I know that in the end, they’ll be capable adults.

    Good luck!

  23. Chris says

    For us, the keys to “budgetary sanity” have been awareness, thinking ahead/realistically, and personal responsibility. Folk’s methods may look differently as they practice those things.

    I also belong to a few online forums that deal with being frugal

  24. JustMe says

    Hi, Jill: I take no offense at all! You are 100% right! And I appreciate your response! My husband is my son’s biggest enabler. But, I will stand my ground on my son having a job…even if it means choking my hubby in his sleep (just kidding, we need his income ;). My son has found a job selling…Kirby vacuums!! I hated the idea at first, but this boy has sold three in one week at 2 grand each!! In this economy, I was stunned. So, I’ve already informed my son where his 400 dollar paycheck is going that he’ll get next week (he was recently already paid 200 for his first sale). I think he expected me to wait a few checks before hitting him with his own bills, but nope…he needs to pay ASAP ๐Ÿ˜‰

    As for over-spending, ABSOLUTELY! I make my husband take his lunch now (and make breakfast at home) because he was spending at least 10 dollars a day for lunch and breakfast. His gas alone costs 600 a month because his job is an hour away. Nothing we can do about that, but I did recently lower our cell phone bill (hubby is a city employee and we just found out we were never getting his discount that we requested three years ago..that was my bad, as I should have been paying attention), and I also lowered our cable bill by realizing we were paying 45/month in cable boxes and an HBO package we did’t need or hardly watch.

    I admit, I myself have only gotten involved in trying to budget and save because of this surprise pregnancy (big surprise…we’ve never had two babies so close in age before!). So for months now I’ve been working on a budget and getting nowhere with each pay period…overspending every single time.

    Our grocery bill was/is out of control, too. At one point we were spending 1200 or more a month in food! We’ve lessened that a little, but I think we could lessen it more. My father, mother-in-law, and my nephew were living here at the time. My nephew was going to college with my son…because his parents…well, they are just a mess, I’ll leave it at that. In March of this year, we relocated both parents who pay 100% for themselves now, and my nephew (thank goodness) went back home for summer break and informed us he’s staying home (phew, phew, phew). We are praying his sister will be going home in August. That will help also.

    Hi, Lili: Awe…you don’t have to feel badly for me…it’s my own fault – you’re too sweet. I was just being a crybaby after yet another failed budget this pay period ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Also, now that you mention it, I wish I had looked on Craig’s List for those ramps..duh! I am definitely going to be more firm with him as far as a job goes and paying his own bills. No more feeling guilty…okay, so I’ll probably still feel guilty but I won’t let that stop me.

    I am concerned that my husband and I have set him up to fail as far as his own finances go later on when he is working at his profession and is on his own. I do talk to him about living well within his means, but as we all know, kids learn by example…and boy have we been bad examples. It’s a shame it’s taken me this long to realize how horrible we’ve been with our money. I have a 24-year-old niece who has been saving since she was 15 – she has since gotten married, paid off her husband’s school loans, made him get a job, and they now have two children. Last I heard, she had over 60 grand in her savings!! How impressive (and embarrassing for me)is that! Unfortunately, though, her husband found out a couple of years ago that he has progressive MS and he is now on disability and they may lose their home. She said she’d rather lose her home than her savings…she’s very serious about her budget and savings. I’ve always wanted her to help me with a budget and savings, but I didn’t want to burden her with my problems, especially now. She does a lot of scrounging, though…like I’m pretty sure she is still wearing the same underwear her mother bought her as a child! lol

    Question: Did either of you fail at a budget several times before finally getting it down? Do I just need to be patient and keep working at it? Actually, I know I’ll keep working at it, because I’ve never been one to give up easily on anything, but it would be nice to know that eventually it will work if I keep at it.

    Also, I was so desperate at one point that I was looking for a financial adviser! Apparently you have to make a certain (large) amount of money to get one to work with you. Like I said, we really have no debts. Is there no such thing as a “home finances financial adviser?” Someone who can take our income each month and pay our bills, add to our savings, and keep us from over spending? I guess if I did that, though, it would be another unnecessary bill (paying the adviser). Geez, can’t win for losing! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Again, thank you both for responding…maybe I can learn something…finally!

    • says

      Hi Just Me,
      Don’t allow yourself to feel guilty for asking your son to be responsible for his extra expenditures. It’s a good thing, to have him be responsible. If something were to happen to you, you need to know that he can take care of himself. Preparing him for being a responsible adult is what your job has been for the last 21 years. When he was small and you had to take him to a doctor’s visit, he didn’t like it, but you knew it was the right thing. Reinforce his good work at earning money, by telling him how proud you are of how he’s taking care of things himself. He’ll begin to take pride in it himself, and want to take on even more responsibilities. You’re doing a good thing, just keep reminding yourself of that.

      As for managing to do well with a budget, you asked if there was a time when I didn’t quite get it right. Sometimes you have to “hit bottom” to find real motivation to cut back and cut back until you are well within your means. For me, that bottom occurred when I was in my 20s and still single — no money, no food, no job, behind on rent, and no idea how to take care of things. That was rock bottom for me. It motivated me to work hard to never even get close to that again. I found that once I began to live so well below my means that savings started to snowball.

      You might want to start a spending journal. Just use one of your kids old spiral notebooks (that still has clean pages in it). Write down absolutely everything that you spend money on, and write down those things that you held off on buying, too. Record how your day was going too. Sometimes you’ll find spending patterns that have emotional ties to them. But also, it might point out an area that you are spending way too much in. When you find something like that, brainstorm how to do better in that area. For a while, I’d take my daughters out on errands with me, then we’d “treat ourselves” to some sort of fast food item. This was adding up and I never really saw it all happening, until I wrote it down. I thought about all the realistic ways I could do better with this. I make sure we all have a snack before we leave. I pack an extra snack and some plastic bottles filled with tap water (and coffee for me, so I don’t get the Starbucks urge), and I plan something very simple to make for dinner that night, so that I don’t want to go get burgers/fries.

      Just some ideas. Good luck. And even if you feel that you should’ve gotten this all figured out years ago, just be glad you’re getting it figured out now.

    • says

      I love your tenacity and you are just the type of person I love working with. You are willing to say I have a problem and it needs fixed. 50% of the battle is won with that. You have a really good attitude about it all and I can tell you are going to do this come rain, hell or high water so I am so excited for you and can’t wait to see what happens. Besides I can’t believe you have 4 kids, work, expecting and are making a major change in things.

      First let me answer a couple of your questions

      1.Financial Advisers. I don’t advise getting a financial adviser especially if you are getting one to do the work for you. It is like getting an accountant to do your taxes thinking you won’t have to lift a finger – you find out you need to do most of the work- gathering up receipts, bill and paper work etc. I wish I did but I don’t have room to go into detail of why they usually don’t help your average person. But what happens is they have you gather all the numbers and most of the time after you have done that you can see where you have been spending and what needs to be done yourself. Hopefully I can help you. Now of course doing it in the comments like this and not having any of your numbers I can’t go into as much detail and may be a little off because of that but hopefully you can take some ideas away.

      2.Budgets. You can fail many times finding a budget that is why I don’t recommend stewing over finding the perfect budget but instead concentrate more on just controlling and cutting back on your spending. That really is all a budget does. What happens with trying to be on a budget is it is like putting yourself on a diet and most of the time they don’t work. Mentally we fight them, more times then not that diet isn’t the right one for our body, we don’t like the taste of them – the list goes on. So we fail, get discouraged and go back to our old eating habits with a vengeance. This is why I tell people instead of going on a diet practice portion control. You will lose weight every time. The same goes with money, control the amount you spend.

      3. Financial Advisers and Budgets. Pies or percentage charts are used a lot and unless you happen to be the 5% of people who just happen to fall in the right place of the pies and charts they don’t work for every one. For example, now I just using random numbers, but lets say they say you should spend 25% of your monthly income on your mortgage and 15% on entertainment and vacation. I have mostly worked from home but I don’t go on vacation ever and I never do anything that costs money for entertainment unless you count the $2 I spend every 2 years to go to a movie. So I don’t even need entertainment on my chart but do maybe need more on my mortgage for more house because of my business. I think you get the idea.

      4. You may feel like you are failing at first a little. You are trying to break old bad habits and that is never easy, ask anyone who has tried to quit smoking or biting their finger nails. Any change will feel strange, hard and like work at first. Although if you are struggling extremely hard need to move on and try something different.

      5. It takes time. I always say we spend 5, 10, 15 years messing up our finances or marriages and the expect to have them fixed in 6 months or less. You need to be willing to put as much work and time into fixing them as messing things up. But don’t panic. That may seem like forever but the good news is if you are working at it and on the right plan you will within 6 mons. to a year see a lot of good results which will be so exciting it will give you momentum to keep you going.

      Okay now all that being said lets get down to the nuts and bolts.

      Gather the numbers for all of your bills. Don’t panic I’ll give you examples of what you need. Be honest and don’t just guess and say uhhh I think I spend $400 for groceries when the reality is you spend $1000.

      Get a paper and pencil.

      In column 1 write all your bills that are set in stone. These are bills that you have every month and are the same amount. Ex:


      Next to it write column 2 which lists monthly bills which are flexible and change.Use last months or this months amounts. Ex:

      Car Gas
      Medical bills

      Last column, column 3 I want you write everything you spend each month for you 21 year old. Ex:

      Car insurance
      Car payments
      Car repairs including items bought for repairs
      Cell phone
      Medical bills
      School bills
      1/5 of mortgage payment, food and utility bills.
      Monthly bills should be shared by each adult living in the house. Mom, dad, 15, 21 yr. old = 4 and 2 & 9 yr old = 1 = 5 adults. Parents responsible for all under the age 18.

      You will need to add your own things to this list like car payments, credit card payments.
      At this point don’t add in things like clothes, vacation, entertainment or savings.

      ~ Add up each column separately.
      ~ Add column 1 & 2 together.
      ~ Add all your incomes up
      ~ Subtract column 1 & 2 total from income totals.

      Look at the amount. If you have some left you then apply to clothes, misc. (like hair cuts, toiletries), savings, vacation and things like that. You choose how much you want to spend for these. Each family is different in their needs in theses although I do suggest to try and take some out for saving first.

      If you don’t have any left then you will have to do some major tightening of the belt. Cutting back on food cost, taking 10 minute showers instead of 30.any place you can. Check out our web site because we have literally thousands of ideas on how to do this.

      Ok don’t panic I haven’t forgot column 3 and your son. I did it like this so you could have an exact visual for yourself and to show your husband and son exactly how much you are spending a month on him. You see I think you will find that probably your whole pay check is going to support your 21 year old. Just adding the bills you mentioned to me I added them up and figured if you make let’s say $15 an hour, you worked 20 hours one week just to pay for those 5 things you mentioned of his.

      The real problem is you are working to support your son not so much a budget. I want you to really put this in perceptive and I think you have but what I say next might help you get your husband and son to see what is going on. Your husband and son are wanting you their wife/mother who is 7 plus months pregnant to work 20-40 hours a week to support a 21 year old adult healthy male. Now is there not something wrong with this picture. I know I am preaching to the choir because you do see this but you need to somehow get your husband and son to see this because if they aren’t on board you will get no where paddling against the current.

      This is why I didn’t add your son’s column in because I want them to see you are working solely to provide for him and no man worth his salt will want his pregnant wife/mom killing herself supporting him when he is perfectly healthy and just doesn’t want to work. Don’t allow the excuse – he’s trying to go to school – be part of the picture. That may sound politically correct and cause warm fuzzies but bottom line is if he or anyone is too irresponsible to work their way and pay for their own schooling or at least to help then all the education in the world will not help them because they will not be able to hold down a job and chances are won’t even have the gumption to try and get one when school is out.

      I not saying your husband or son are awful at all. They really are very typical. Why do you think in the garden of Eden God told Adam he was the one that would be cursed and have to work and not Eve – because guys tend to be more lazy then gals and He knew that would be a harsher punishment for the guys. I just know that they need gentle (with an iron fist : ) ) nudges once in awhile and that is what we have here.

      Now you are probably saying I still will have to pay for column 3. Well first remember column 3 is not your responsibility and you need to let that sink in but if you still feel you need to take care of it then you will have to add it to the money you were going to use for vacation, clothes etc.

      I know this was long and I really couldn’t say all I wanted because of that but after reading this and doing your numbers let me know and I can answer more of your specific questions if you need me too. It is hard until I can have maybe even a general idea of numbers.
      Hoped this helped at least get you started.

  25. Maggie says

    JustME, My son is 31 and has had his own business since he was 11. He started a lawn mowing business and to this day, with a full-time job, continues his lawn mowing business. He spends every Saturday morning mowing 3-5 lawns of customers he has had for many years. Now, I don’t tell you this to brag but to say that he makes $20 – $50 per lawn. In our neighborhood, there are lots of people who cannot do this for themselves and my son gets their business. We have many professionals that do this but my son likes it and does a good job for his customers. He uses the cash for his bowling and hockey tickets all winter. I know lots of young people want to make many dollars and don’t want to do the blue collar jobs but that is where money is. If you live in a place where people mow their lawns, you can recommend to your son that this is where money can be made. AND you are paid as soon as the lawn is done. Immediate cash in hand.
    Just Me, I wish you much luck with your finances. It is a hard road but if you stay in touch with Jill and Tawra and read their blog, you will find lots of ways to reduce your spending and get back on track. There are lots of us responding to their emails and you may find some good tips from us, too. God Bless You.

  26. JustMe says

    That would be awesome, Jill…much appreciated!!

    Maggie…my oldest son is lazy when it comes to stuff like that. He will go to school and ace that, but when it comes to labor…he’s lazy. That was one of my biggest mistakes was allowing him to be that way. My second son, on the other hand, is very motivated by money. He did all kinds of stuff for my father when he lived here.

    Unfortunately, where we live, there is a ton of grass cutting competition…and the people here in our gated community have money (not us, though, obviously…lol), so they’d rather hire a big company to do their lawn versus allowing a kid do it cheaper.

  27. Chris says

    A few posts back Lili said .. .. ..

    โ€œFor a while, Iโ€™d take my daughters out on errands with me, then weโ€™d โ€œtreat ourselvesโ€ to some sort of fast food item. This was adding up and I never really saw it all happening, until I wrote it down. I thought about all the realistic ways I could do better with this. I make sure we all have a snack before we leave. I pack an extra snack and some plastic bottles filled with tap water (and coffee for me, so I donโ€™t get the Starbucks urge), and I plan something very simple to make for dinner that night, so that I donโ€™t want to go get burgers/fries.โ€

    She has a good idea there when she talks about how to avoid the snack while out syndrome and the grab fast food on the way home syndrome .. .. ..

    BEFORE I go grocery shopping I add the ingredients to make a couple of simple meals, for just such an occasion as night prompt me to get fast food. Occasionally I even buy something like Lean Cuisine to have on hand for times when I just donโ€™t feel like cooking. It helps to think of what you like in the quick fix dpt ahead of time, so that you are prepared.

  28. Maggie says

    JustMe, I hear you about the community. We live in a place where most people hire a company to do their lawns but my son has established his niche because he only mows when the lawn needs it not every week regardless of growth, like the companies do. He edges and sweeps up the clippings. He really does a good job and his customers appreciate his hard work. It does take a while to build up a client base but if you do a good job, they will keep coming back. Hope you son has much success in whatever he tries in the future.

  29. Marie says

    To Just Me,
    You are so blessed to have a large family and have a work at home job. You don’t have the expense of car gas and wardrobe to work in the public! How bright your oldest son is to be learning to be a pharmacist! He must have a wonderful personality to be a salesman. As far as the car ramps are concerned, what would it have cost if he had the job done at a garage? And your second son, the go gitter, has he tried being a wait person. There is always a demand for someone who is reliable. The third son could be such a help around the house, allowing you to take care of the little ones, be sure to pay him so he will have spending spending money so he can buy his clothes and school supplies. This would be a good time to teach him how to save. The toddler will be a great little helper, entertaining the baby, bringing you a diaper.

  30. Marie says

    To just me, I had six children and was a stay at home mom. There was never enough money. I tried to budget, but that didn’t work. My advice would be to add up the have to pay expenses such as taxes and insurance, and try to live on what is left. Packing a lunch for hubby is a good start. Make you own cleaning supplies, cut out the junk food, turn off the lights, search the web for frugal ideas, shop with a list, buy the store brands, buy when things are on sale. Plan your meals as you make out your grocery list, allowing 3 to 4 ounces of protein per meal, fill in with veggies that are in season. Write the menu at the bottom of the list, write the prices at the side and add up. If is more than the amount you want to spend, make changes. If it is less buy some emergency foods. This is hard to do at first, but hang in there, it will work out. Oh, don’t forget to save some to help someone who is less fortunate than you!!!

  31. Barb~ says

    Hi All!

    What an inspiring chain of letters and responses! Jill and Tawra, I love to see people come together to help another person trying to learn budgeting. Your site allows people to connect and do just that! Jill-I know you’ll have great ideas for Just Me.

    Has anyone seen any good ideas this summer for good buys on Christmas gifts? I’m starting now, so i’ll have everything paid for by Christmas.

    My best to all. I’m SO happy Tawra was nowhere around the shooter. God is so good.

  32. Marie says

    Barb, you are so wise to start in advance. One year I did my shopping in November and charged everything. It took three months to pay off the credit card. At that time I had 30 people to buy for (more now). Wrapping took forever. The next year DH hours were cut from 40 hours to 24 hours a week but he kept his benefits. That was when I had to figure out where I could make cuts in our lifestyle to make up for the paycut. There was no way I could afford to buy all those gifts. I told my family and they all agreed to bring one gift per person, $20 to $30 for those over sixteen, the younger ones drew names. We played a game with the gifts and had a great time trying to steal a special treasure gift. Now that our better off and can buy gifts the family wants to keep it the same. Small cuts in spending adds up to big bucks. Yes Barb, God is good, all the time, God is good.

  33. Maggie says

    Jill, Even though I am finally on the road to recovery in getting my credit cards paid off, I really enjoyed reading your information for JustMe. I don’t think there is any panacea to resolving debt but reading info like your notes and working hard to save $1 here and there, really can make a difference. I bring all my change home and put it in a jar. If I need to take the bus somewhere or buy extra milk one day, and it is too close to payday, I have these nickels and dimes to fall back on. My jug (when full) holds about $100 and it takes me nearly 3 years to fill it up. But it’s nice to have that available in a pinch and you don’t miss a few coins every day. JustMe, we (all of Jill’s and Tawra’s posters) are all pulling for you and know that you will turn things around. But, please keep posting so we can keep up with you. God Bless You.

  34. Dee says

    I’m a single parent, & raised my children without the much needed court ordered child support I’m still fighting for. Here are some of my money saving tips, that have lowered my bills & allowed me to look great & pamper myself.
    There are 3 of us in the household. We eat healthy & eat well. I plan before I shop! I make a list & the kids write their wants/needs on it too. I check the newspaper & shop the sales. I try to use coupons every trip,& my friend at work also gives me her coupons. I’m also on coupon, I got a lot of money savings tips there & I print coupons on line. It takes a little longer at the store with coupons but it’s worth it. When it’s something I have to buy, like toilet paper, paper towels, laundry deterdent, body wash, etc. I try to stock up with coupons. Don’t make the mistake of overspending because you have a coupon, then leave yourself out of badly needed cash you need until next payday. I learned that the hard way when I first started using coupons. If you’re out of money & still have left over coupons that’s ok! Maybe you can do a coupon trade with someone. I make the list of neccessities then find a coupon match. This way, seeing the coupon first doesn’t tempt you to buy the item you may not use just because it’s at a discount. Make sure you’re buying a product you’ll use, & there is no brand loyolty with coupons. I stop at the stores on the way home from work, so I’m not wasting gas by going out of the way or making a special trip. You would not believe how much time & gas money that saves! First, I go to Aldi’s & get all the basics there, eggs, milk, cat litter, etc. Then I go to Food for Less for food only, no household items. For household items & pet food, etc., I shop at Walmart. I recently bought cat treats at 7 cents per package, got free cans of cat food. I also get a lot of items for free with coupons. Last month I had approx 10 coupons for laundry deterdent. I won’t have to buy that again for approx 8 months. I also shop Walgreens & combine a sale coupon, with a Walgreens coupon, & manufactures coupon. My best save there was $85 combining all 3 & every single item was a necessity.
    I don’t have a credit card but found a way to get things I need without it. We were badly in need of new furniture, our older used set was literally falling apart. I put a moderately priced sectional on layaway, I have at least 180 days to pay it off. I also shop at online sites like the home shopping network. These Chicago winters get cold! I waited until these 2 goose down comforters went on clearance in May. I purchased them & the shopping site allowed me to make monthly payments. They’re delivered right away too. I saved lots, possibly hundreds of dollars by buying there instead of in a store & I got high quality merchandise. I also use layaway whenever possible. Layaway wasn’t possible with the curtains I recently bought but I saved a lot of money by doing my research. The same curtains are priced as high as $26.99 per panel. The average “discount “price is $18.99. I got them on sale for $15.99, I got free shipping, plus an additional 10% off & a $20 Egift card towards my next purchase. I got those 2 additional discounts because I had a problem with customer service, so I emailed the corporate headquarters. They solved the problem & gave me the additional discount & Ecard. Another time I contacted customer service at a different online store I received outstnding customer service & wrote an email detailing my experience & expressing how happy I was. I got an email back, & they sent me a $50 gift card! That was totally unexpected, the agent was happy to get a positive letter for a change. So don’t be afraid to go to a higher level if you have a problem, aren’t satisfied with the customer service, or if an agent did a great job & you feel they should be commended for their hard work in resolving your issue. Most companies want to keep the customer happy & may possibly compensate you in some small way.
    I made a beautiful display of vases on my kitchen shelves, with vases I bought from the salvation army for 65 cents to $3.00. I get compliments on how beautiful & expensive they look all the time. I buy all of my shirts & gardening & relaxing around the house from thrift stores. I have a beautiful butterfly garden that’s still a work in progress, & I saved a lot of money by buying plants on the dscount table.They may have a slight imperfection, that won’t be there when it comes back next year. I also buy smaller plants for a fraction of the price. I bought several beautiful Phlox perennials for $3.99 that looked better than the full grown big plants for $10.99. They look fabulous, & no one knows I bought the smaller less expensive plants!
    I sell many items on craigs list. People are looking for a good deal, so give them one! Don’t over price your items! Sellers always think there precious things are worth more than they actually are. Look for comparable items, & depending on the condition, sell it slightly lower than your competitors on the site & specify if it’s in good or very good condition. You’ll sell it faster, & the money will give you incentetive to sell more items. Imagine, getting paid for things you don’t use that are taking up needed space. Your “trash” is someone else’s treasure. I’ve sold perennials, & have many items for sale now, curtains, couch, love seat, & coffee table. Don’t pay for storage, go thru your garage & attic & sell those unused & unneeded items.Over priced items won’t sell! If you don’t get any buyers, lower the price slightly. Getting a little money is better than getting nothing because you had to donate it or throw it away.
    One of the best kept secrets is I go to the beauty school. I frequent 2 different ones in my area that feature different services. Students want to do do a better job than any professional in a salon! They are well trained, pass tests & have lots of practice before they are allowed on the floor. They are graded & want good customer feedback. The teachers are always available, they do a consult before any service, & they have more training than any professional in the most upscale salon. I pay $25 for a touch up, $5 to $6.50 for a haircut. I get an $80 facial for $17, an $18 french manicure for $7! I also get a deeply discounted deep conditioner everytime I get a touch up. I also get a scalp massage for $5. It keeps the scalp healthy, makes your hair grow, & feels so relaxing, it’s heavenly. The scalp is scraped with a brush, the hair is washed then the Khlosteral ( a deep conditioner that has been used in salons for ages) is massaged into your scalp. It’s a nice, relaxing stress reliever. I get compliments on my nails & get told how beautiful my hair is all the time! You can’t tell I got it done at a beauty school instead of a salon. I’m saving now to treat me & my kids to a full body massage at the professional masssage school. I’ve had fantastic experiences with students & have no doubts we’ll get a wonderful masage from a student. These are a nice treat & are good for your emotional, physical & mentall wekk being. Don’t forget to tip the students!

  35. Donna B. says

    These are super ideas, thank you! I start Christmas shopping in July and I like LTD Commodities and ABC Distributors catalogues. they have many things that are inexpensive. I make an ongoing list of what I’d like for people then I always look for those items and have plenty of time to find them. I put a sticky note on the item when I get home so I don’t forget who it was for:)

    My personal rule is I’m done by Thanksgiving so I can stay home December evenings and wrap gifts at my own pace, make any gift baskets or baked items. My holidays are much more pleasant now that I’ve simplified. It took YEARS for me to get it right.

    We also cut back on ourselves and “adopt” a family in need through a community organization. shopping for those children makes us so happy.

    I also stock my pantry a little at a time, i.e., this week corn bread mix is 3/$1 so I’ll get 3. then when we have extra people for dinner, I’ll make cornbreak to round out the meal and can stretch the meat and veggies.

    Your ideas were super,thank you. !!

  36. Maggie says

    Another great place to get good quality discount items is from a catalog called The Lakeside Collection. I have purchased things from this company for a number of years and have always been pleased with their items and their customer service. Now is the time to request their catalog. When we are at the beach, I start really listening to my kids and things they mention they need so I can start shopping the 1st of September.

  37. JustMe says

    Thank you for all the suggestions, Marie. There are some I’ve already been doing (I’ve never allowed junk food except on special occasions such as birthdays and holidays). We make blueberry muffins instead of junky-junk food…only a dollar a pack (just add milk) and the kids love ’em! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    And yes, I love my ever growing family…and that I can work from home to ensure all of my children are raised as properly as possible ๐Ÿ˜‰ It’s a very tedious job and is overwhelming at times (having a bunch of screaming kids when I’m typing a stat is very nerve wracking), but like you said, it has a great deal of benefits that outweigh the bad. Over the years I have breastfed two babies while working (sitting on my couch with a laptop and boppy pillow ๐Ÿ˜‰ I plan on doing the same with my new little guy when he gets here, too.

    My son being a pharmacist wasn’t exactly a dream for him, however, he does enjoy chemistry and science type things…we discussed it and decided that since healthcare isn’t going anywhere that being a pharmacist was a good option. He has done very well, I give him credit for that. I’ve seen some of his school work…and I know I could never do it!

    Thank you, Maggie! I feel hope sliding back in now…just when I was about to give up! God bless you, as well!!

    Dee: I’m in a pinch for time, as I am working right now, but I so look forward to reading your post! Thank you so very much for taking the time to post it!

  38. Dee says

    I like the envelope idea. The misc items add up fast! I eliminated spending any money during the week & plugged the holes where the money was draining out.
    Due to my lack of planning, I would stop for breakfast sometimes at a fast food place on the way to work, or I would go out to the food truck. Then I’d buy a newspaper, that alone is 75 cents a day.
    I eliminated all of this extra spending.
    I got a great deal on a newspaper subscription. Now I get it delivered 4 days a week, Sunday paper included, & I pay $4.00 every 4 weeks instead of spending 75 cents a day. That is a substantial savings right there.
    I plan better when grocery shopping. Now I make sure I buy everything I need for the work week at the store so I don’t spend money buying breakfast or snacks out of the vending machine. Now, the night before, when I oack my lunch, I also make my breakfast bag. I pack a yougert, banana, nutra grain bar, fruit, or a bagel. I always bring my lunch to work, everyday, I have for years. I work in the city of Chicago & it typically costs $8.00 a day to eat out.
    I haven’t spent any money at all during the work week in a long time since I took a few extra minutes in the store to get everything I need.
    I also changed how I was buying meat at the grocery store. I was buying too much meat & storing it in the freezer. There were several times, when I defrosted the meat to eat, it had been stored past the “sell by” date. I thought it would be ok as long as it was in the freezer, but I was wrong, it had gone bad. Several times I was able to go back with my receipt to get an exchange, which was costing me time & gas money to make a special trip to the store. Several times I had to take a loss & throw the meat in the garbage, because I couldn’t find the receipt, & the store wouldn’t exchange the meat without the receipt. Now, I carefully watch the “sell by ” date. & I only buy enough meat to feed us for the week. This way, everything gets eaten by the “sell by” date & I haven’t had to make any extra trips & waste my time going back to the store after coming home exausted after work.

    • says

      Good advice Dee. I am not a big fan of stocking a freezer full of things unless you have an extra large family or in special cases like you live far from town and things like that. I have found most of the time 50% of the food put in a freezer is either forgotten about and not used before it gets bad or something happens like the freezer door gets left open, electricity goes out etc. Add to that the cost of running that freezer to store a bunch a food of which you will throw a good portion of it out to me just seems a waste.

  39. kate says

    thanks so much for this wonderful article. i keep surfing the net for such articles. my husband is a businessman. it’s very difficult to make a budget on such an income as the income is never fixed or steady. sometimes there’s good business and other times it’s dull. how do i go about saving in this situation.

    • says

      Kate I know exactly what you are talking about. Most of my adult life I have had my own business and understand the feeling of feast or famine. It is frustrating because most financial advice seems to be geared around a regular set income and that is why most budget plans never worked for me but here are a couple of tips I learned and some of them the hard way.

      First when you do have the money coming in try to control what I call the “celebrating” spending. It is the same type of thing many people do when they get their tax return. You are so excited with the wind fall that you think “We can afford to treat ourselves to this little extra something.” Be ruthless and take that money and get every debt you can paid off instead.

      After your debt is taken care of (don’t make more) then when you have your “feast” times put as much savings aside for your next “famine” time and a little for regular savings as you can. If it is only $10 that is better then doing none at all.

      If you can eventually get to the point of your basic living expenses being only the amount of when you have your “famine” times that would be best. I know that is hard to do but it is a goal to aim for. Most people don’t realize it they get rid of all debt and are careful they can live on very little at least in between times if need be.

      Hope this helps a little. Holler if you have other more specific questions.

  40. says

    Had help with groceries this month and have some new ideas for gift basket fillers.
    Don is known as the go to guy at work for making small fixes to rifles and guns. So a few days ago one guy called and asked him to take a look at his brand new rifle which was not firing right. (It is hunting season) Don worked for about 1/2 an hour and decided the only fix was to return the gun. When the guy asked what he owed him Don said a favour at some time down the road. Well the guy said he would drop off some fresh cod fillets. He just got back from visiting family in Newfoundland and brought back a lot of cod. So great we will be getting cod for a couple of meals at no cost.
    Another friend of mine runs a chip wagon and she had a few 50lb bags of potatoes left. Her husband dropped a bag off for us.
    So a couple meals of fish and chips which we love for no charge.
    Only problem is except for those 2 meals as a treat we have gone low or no carbs. What do I do with 50 lbs of potatoes.
    Well gave about 20 lbs to a couple people with kids and one to a friend who is struggling to make ends meet.
    Now comes the creative part for gift baskets.
    I am going to can about 12 pint jars and add it to the gift baskets I am giving at christmas.
    Some will be plain potatoes and some will have carrots and onions in them and they can be part of a meal on a busy night or added into stewing meat to stretch the meat further.
    Utility turkeys were on sale for .95 a lb so I bought 4 at about $10 each. Now I have turkey to make soup stock to can, vegetable turkey soup to can and I am going to try canning one of them raw. All of these will go on my pantry shelf and some will be set aside for gift baskets.
    Since I already have all the equipment for pressure canning dehydrating the only real cost is going to be the jars and the ingredients which I am getting at really good prices due to the season.
    I am dehydrating just about anything I find on sale and have a couple quarts of different apples, 2 types of pears as well as a few mango and kiwi done. These are experiments that have turned out so well they will go into baskets.
    I have roasted garlic dehydrated it and then ground it into powder and have roasted garlic powder and salt to give as gifts.
    I love canning and cooking but with just 2 people in the family now we would never eat all the things I have in the basement and since most of the people I know do not know how to do this I think they will enjoy my efforts.
    A few special friends are going to get a jar of my green tomatoe mince meat for pies. Not many since it is so good Don is eating a jar out of every batch.
    So this is my christmas on a budget this year.

  41. rose says

    being in debt is like being strangled .. well at least to me it is ..
    my car is on,liteally, its last leg.. good thing i work at home .. hubbby was just asking me the other day what would happen if the car died .. adn i told him that i would be contacting the little bus service that comes to the apt complex we live in and seeing if i can get on it (they are used for seniors and disabled people, both of which i am not but bc i am his primary care giver, i am going to ask them if i qualify for the service) .. or i can walk 2 blocks down the street and take a bus (and making sure i had a cart that i can take with me) .. or i would have to ask my daughter to help me .. the cabs are way too expensive here so thats out of the ?? …
    we would have to do this until i saved up enuff money to get another car .. bc a car payment is a big no no here at the house .. (not unless its a brand brand new car at $100/month payment with no down payment and i doubt i will find such a deal! .. those days are long gone!..) ..
    we try very hard to budget and only pay for what is really needed to have .. the only thing i cant get under control is our grocery budget .. i only get what i need and what i desperately need to have and even tho i shop part of the time at walmart and hte other part of the time at the reg grocery store, publix, food is expensive ..
    i dont use coupons cs well .. i find htat to be more of a hassle to look in the paper for the deals when i normally do not buy those brands listed ..
    we dont buy any soda anymore .. even when they are on sale .. sometimes tho, i will buy the little cans of walmart brand twist up (its like sprite) .. but they last me over 3 months .. we drink alot of water ..
    thats actually our biggest expense .. ($10/week) .. but that includes the 5 gal water jugs (8 of them) and 2 cases of the little bottles .. so to me thats worth it .. our city water is horrrible .. and thats only for drinking and making hubby’s tea and broths with .. (the tea is made up of a bunch of spices and he enjoys it) .. so for that little bit, and everyone is happy, we justify that price ..
    our son, who lives with us, if he wants something other that what is on the normal food budget, he will pay for it himself ..
    i just found out the deli brand of roast beef i buy (i normally buy 1/4 to 1/4 lb and then cut the package in half) .. well its almost $12/b! … i was shocked! ..i told hubby .. no more .. and he agreed . thats just too ridiculus .. we can get the store brand german bologna .. which we all like (and yes i cut that in half too!) for less that $5/lb ($4.95 to be exact) .. and the deli people cut half of it thick and the other half super thin (hubby and son like to fry the bologna and eat it with their eggs.. and for the super thin, thats for sandwiches) ..

  42. Maggie says

    The comments about the freezer are so appropriate for me today. Hubby and I had a conversation about just that yesterday. He wondering what is in the upstairs freezer that is packed so full and now I am wondering, too. I told him it was mostly bread items to make bread pudding which quickly fills a small over the fridge freezer but I know there are things in there that have not been seen in months. Guess I’ll have to clean it out. It is overflowing and I keep buying meat for the week without knowing what is in there. In the basement freezer, I have that pretty well organized but no beef just chicken and more chicken and even more chicken. I am so sick of chicken so yesterday on the way home from work bought a steak. Because I am just recovering from a hospital stay, even that was not too appealing. That’s what precipatated the “what’s in the freezer” conversation. So, I am beginning to think that I will shop for meat like Dee does. Weekly and use it up by the end of the week. I used to buy quantity because it was cheaper for our family but if is goes to waste, it’s not saving me a darn thing. And with the two of us just gettng older and eating less, there is no reason to stock up like I used to. Food for thought (no pun intended).

  43. Maggie says

    One more thing. I did freeze green beans and tomatoes last year but this year have been ill and that did not make my “dance card”. So, will just purchase them this winter and make do until I am better.

  44. rose says

    yes, i do try to budget as much as i can .. and even tho our rent has lowered a bit .. at the apt where i live, we now pay for water, rent and the electric all in one payment, it still seems to be high .. could be worse, could be better is what i say …
    but u are so right jill .. keep a budget and try ur best to stay on it .. its hard, i know, but its just like the decluttering issue… just keep at it ..
    which i might add, i am back to decluttering again . … yes.. even in this small apt .. where did all this stuff come from!?! ..
    thats for all u and the family does for us .. i know i greatly appreciate it ..
    stay nice a warm in the cooler temps .. oh! how i wish it would snow here in central florida! . ehehe ๐Ÿ˜€ .. tooooo hot!!! …

    • says

      Rose don’t be nasty and mention snow.
      Was talking to my mom yesterday and said we were supposed to get snow tomorrow. She said that she hopes it doesn’t snow until after she leaves for Florida in 5 weeks. She says her memory is quite good enough to remember it without the real thing to remind her.
      If it snowed in Bradenton beach she would just sit down and cry.
      So please be kind to the old soul.

  45. rose says

    hehehe … ok grandma .. i will .. well .. i would take flurries then .. and they wont stick .. that will be fine with ๐Ÿ˜€ .. i hope ur mom has a safe trip to bradenton .. ๐Ÿ˜€

  46. rose says

    your ideas for xmas is awesome grandma .. i like the canning ideas .. and green tomatoes mince meat sound delish .. ๐Ÿ˜€ ..
    our idea for xmas this year was books .. i found several awesome deals at and a few ebay auctions .. i was going crazy at those auctions tho .. winning by 2 sections for one ..
    some of those book sets that i saw were so ridiculously priced for used that even new was cheaper (and that was with shipping!) ..
    but i figure give the gift of learning/reading is the best gift of all …
    i figured if i spent $5 (including shipping) on each person for a book they would enjoy, i did good… some were more some were less but it all avg’d out to be $5 ..
    amazon is great for the 1 cent sales too ..
    for my 2 sisters tho, they didnt get books .. they read bible literature and read only those type of books from their place of worship (which is fine bc they do have awesome books) .. so for them i got what i call headless barbie dolls .. they are doll jewelry stands .. and dressed in evening gowns .. really pretty i must say .. and i got them at ROSS department store .. $6 each (i am only stating the prices bc if anyone would like to give this as a gift, at least u would know what i paid at that store) .. i am not sure if the prices are the same in other areas as to where i live .. just sharing .. and the doll stands have these like things that u can hang ur necklaces and etc ..
    i looked at all of our dollar stores but they either had those “love” novels .. or other books that were too old for children .. and even the children books were not for the older children (ages 9 to 12 or 13) ..
    i did find good deals at .. i can read books on the book levels .. from $2.50 and up .. tinkerbell, lego’s, batman, etc .. and u would pik them up at the store .. and our local walmart had a few disney books for $1 .. peter pan, lion king, alice in wonderland ..
    for my one nephew, he is struggling in his reading and the fact that he doesnt like to read doesnt help, well .. my son found a book “skyland’s doom” or something like that … its geared for an 8 yr old .. but it has action and robots and stuff like that .. my son said to get that book for him bc it might spark something in him to like to read (my son didnt like reading and struggled as well until he picked up the harry potter series and since then he has read lord of the rings (all 3 books), the hobbit, the eragon series and many others) .. that book was $5 (i am just sharing the prices of what i spent in case if anyone would like to buy one of these books for there family members, they will basically know the prices.. i realize in differnt parts the prices might be different) ..
    if you look in the lakeside catalog (we have the christmas 2012 catalog but u can look online too) .. lots of great deals ..
    i got my son a mythology book for $4.95 but they also have world history and american history .. $4.95 each ..
    they have alot of good things priced very reasonable too ..
    those m&m mugs (for the set of 2, either red and blue or green and yellow) are 88.95 for the set .. i have priced them at various places and well .. some places are just ridiculous for the price of just one .. and this is a set of 2 ..
    just sharing some of the deals that i have personally found .. in case if anyone is looking for something at a reasonable price ..

  47. rose says

    omg .. hehehe .. i made a mistake .. those mugs are $8.95 for the set ..not $88.95 ,,, heheheh … sorry about that .. its $8.95 for the set .. ๐Ÿ˜€

  48. rose says

    and i forgot to mention too .. the dining on a dime recipe book makes a great gift . i bought my daughter one earlier this year .. and she loves it .. she uses it all the time! ..
    my one sister, i gave her the penny pinchin mama and the dig out of debt books .. she said she has learned so much from them and being a widow she has to watch her pennies even moreso now ..
    just wanted to share this too … books are great gifts .. and knowledge is power ..
    my sister wanted me to let you know, she has learned many things in those 2 books that even tho she has very little income, the few little debts she has are finally being paid down .. slowly but surely and she is soooo grateful that i sent them to her ..

  49. Becky C says

    I want to start by saying thank you for coming up with this website. My spouse and I have been through a rough long few years. However, we are finding ourselves back in the same boat we were in before we decided to move to CA.
    In September my spouse and I left our home state and moved to CA. My spouse bought a camper and a truck and pulled it all the way out there. The plan was to live in the trailer for a few years and save money. He was given a great job offer in San Francisco. I am finishing up my schooling and needed to find work. I had an internship in line and after they were going to hire me on full time. After being out in CA for five days; I found us packed up and moving back to our home state. He got his old job back and the money just has not been from enough first few paychecks; which are making it hard to have money after the first weekend. We have a car payment of 298.00, truck 636.70, camper 380.74, insurance 200.00, Cell phones 180.00, food 100.00 weekly, medications 100.00 month, medical bills of 2000.00, three credit cardโ€™s 400.00, 1500.00, and 1000.00, gas for car 100.00 every two weeks, and the puppy 30.00 monthly.
    Sense we are living in the camper still in our home state and the weather is turning cold, we started looking for a place to rent. As we looked the rentals are 1000.00 or more. My spouse went and got a home loan to buy a home. The payment is less than the rent. We close on the house on the 30th of November. We were told that I could not work till after the closing of the house, but I know we need the money. What should we do? We are talking about putting the trailer up for sale at the RV place in town and then sell the truck and get a smaller care which will bring down the payments. Is this a good Idea? Please assist me if you can to figure this out as my spouse is going nuts trying to find out what we need to do to get back on track.
    Becky C.

    • says

      Once again I always say with out knowing every little thing about your life style it is a little hard to say exactly what to do but here are a couple of things. You are on the right track. Get rid of the truck, car and trailer as soon as you can and buy a clunker to get around in or use public transportation. That also frees up insurance money and things like tags. I would get rid of the cell phones too. If you think you need one for emergencies just use a prepaid one. Yes cell phones are convenient and in some cases fun but they aren’t a necessity no matter what anyone says. It wasn’t that long ago the whole world survived without cell phones.

      Now you listed all the big things but often you can save a bunch in the small things too and these are the things which often aren’t mentioned because we either don’t think of them as things we can give up or want to give up. I know many people who worry so about how they are going to make their house payment and they tell me this as they stand and drink their 4th pop for the morning and showing me this new thing or that that they had to buy for the house all of which was cosmetic.

      I don’t know where you live but if you can get your groceries down a little too it would help. That seems to be a little high and you didn’t mention if you go out to eat but if you do that makes it even worse. Also I know you love your puppy and in some cases we have pets and then loose our money and there is no way we can of course give them up but just be careful not to go get anything else like that that until you can really afford it. Look at your spending habits not just the bills you have to pay. Look around and watch where you spend every little penny and unless it is to help keep you alive at this point (like meds) don’t buy it. Use cash only so you can watch where it goes better and it will give you pause the next time you buy groceries or go to the store.

      Last keep reading the web site. We have literally thousands of different ways to save that I haven’t mention that may help. Hope this helps some.

  50. says

    Wow, I can’t believe I just found your site! I’m a 22 year old student and this is my fourth year living on my own. I’ve gotten much better with my spending but I still struggle to plan properly, even though I really have more than enough if I’m careful. Thanks for all the tips you posted here…I’m really enjoying reading your posts and I’m excited to make some changes. All the best.

  51. Mary Jane says

    I just wanted to say how great and generous Jill, Tawra and the other readers are on this site to take the time and energy to write long answers of sound advice to someone who is looking for help.

    • says

      Thank you Mary Jane. We are equally lucky in the fact that we have such great readers and you guys have some wonderful ideas too to help us out.


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