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I began working *almost* full-time at the beginning of June (I works about 35 hours a week so far).

 

I hate it.

 

I miss being home.

 

That said I do have opportunities to work from home making the same amount of money that I am working outside the home. The *only* problem with the work is monotony. It will be the same thing day in and day out with no advancement or difference. The job I hold now I can change departments every 6 months as long as there is an opening.

 

That said, I would consider staying at home as long as I don't have to work as many hours. 35 is killer. 25 is more doable but significantly cuts into our income. We don't make much as it is, about 27k a year or so.

 

We are not on any assistance and I don't want any. I don't want to jump through those hoops unless absolutely needed.

 

So how can one live with less? I am cutting off the cell phones at the end of the contract which is in October. I was thinking of going prepaid but if I am working from home and home most of the time I won't need it. So I can cut that off.

 

We don't have cable. We do have internet and we *need* that. Dh works from home and relies on the internet. If I were to work from home I would need it as well.

 

We have medical bills that need to be paid. Of course rent and electric take up almost half the income and food and needed items (like feminine needs as such) take up almost the other half. Then put in a couple things like karate, gas for the car and medical bills and that takes up the rest. The thing is I know I am overspending somewhere but I can't figure it out.

 

So are there any suggestions on how to live with less and what needs to be (or can be) cut out? Anyone willing to look at my budget and make adjustments? :)

 

I have to work from 1-10pm (EST) so I won't we on here to respond but anything is helpful. I am willing to make some sacrifices in order to come back home.

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This might be a long shot, but since your DH works from home and needs internet...

 

If he has an employer, is it possible to ask that employer pay for all or part of your internet service? They are still saving on office space, wear and tear on basic office type furnishings, etc. My DH's employer pays for internet, phone, etc, so this might be possible.

 

If he does not have an employer, is it possible to increase his fees somewhere to cover the internet cost?

 

Just a thought.

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Could you base your budget on 25 hours a week and then if you get 35, the extra goes into an emergency fund (or pays medical bills sooner)? That way you're not relying on 35 for your monthly bills.

 

Can you save your grocery receipts for a month to see what you're spending on what? Maybe it's possible to plan your menus differently to take advantage of sales more, or maybe there are too many non-essentials. Maybe you can switch to more reusable items if you're not currently. Also, when you plan your grocery budget, I would have a target amount in mind -- X dollars for breakfast each day, Y for lunch/snacks, and Z for dinners. Then you can see if what you're preparing is lining up with that and opt for cheaper meals if need be.

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27,000 for two adults and four children? I am pretty sure you aren't 'wasting' anything. That puts you under the poverty line.

 

You can cut the karate. It isn't a necessity. You could go down to one car, if you have two. It would hurt but it would save money.

 

I think you are at the point where there will be no painless cuts. You are going to feel it all.

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It's a mental things just as much as physical. Those "extra" expenses, like fixing the AC in the car, don't happen.

 

One car would be the biggest hurdle. We have one working car, the other one needs minimal work, but they're both paid for, so selling wouldn't do any good and we're going to have another driver within the next year.

 

We keep cable for entertainment and internet for school, my work, and my sanity.

 

If you can get some food assistance from a food bank that could help. Some allow you to come once a month, once every two months, so even that little bit could help.

 

We've done nothing this summer, dh needs the car for work and we couldn't afford the gas for me to drop him off anyway.

 

Finding ways to stay entertained when others are off buying lattes or going to the movies is the biggest hurdles. You truly have to accept that you have less. I don't feel deprived of anything, just a tad stuck, but it's temporary is what I keep telling myself. Staying out of places you can't afford to be is good. We're in a small town there isn't the draw to run to Target because it's 40 minutes away.

 

Downsizing and decluttering is another. Also looking to minimalist design, green living, and sustainability has helped me. I hang my clothes on the deck to dry. It looks a tad redneck (I don't want a clothesline), but it's green. 34 minutes of 220v electricity adds up for each load.

 

It's just as much of a mindset as it is to physically do without. The hard part is not to let the kids get dragged down by this. We have nice stuff, ds is blessed, we weren't always this broke.

 

We just don't do many things that others take for granted. Some people get it, some don't.

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27,000 for two adults and four children? I am pretty sure you aren't 'wasting' anything. That puts you under the poverty line.

 

You can cut the karate. It isn't a necessity. You could go down to one car, if you have two. It would hurt but it would save money.

 

I think you are at the point where there will be no painless cuts. You are going to feel it all.

 

 

:iagree:

 

Just in case you really still want to try to identify an area in which you are "wasting" money, take a look at your monthly expenses by percentages. What percentage of your monthly income is spent on housing? On food? On clothing? On medical? If something is vastly disproportionate, it should stand out. You can check various websites (Dave Ramsey, Larry Burkett) for ideas about what percentage is a good rule of thumb for each area.

 

If I were you, I would stick out the 35 hours per week until the outstanding medical bills were paid off, and then a while longer until an emergency fund of $1000 or so is built up to cover the next medical need. Sorry, I understand that's probably not what you want to do, but...wouldn't you feel better knowing that you have a cushion against a crisis?

 

As for the karate expense, if you were to divert karate fees to paying off medical debt and building that cash reserve, how long would the kids need to sit out? A year, maybe? The kids can handle that. Also, are you certain you are getting instruction from the most economical source? Community centers and YMCA programs can be excellent yet much less expensive than a private dojo.

 

:grouphug: HTH!

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It's also worth checking with the owner of the karate studio whether you could swap cleaning services at night with a reduction in tuition. We pay only $100 a month for tae kwon do because I clean the studio 2x a week, which knocked off $125 the monthly tuition (normally it would be $225 a month).

 

I also agree with those who've suggested you budget for 25 hours, bring in pay for 35 hours and apply that extra money to your medical bills. Then build a nest egg.

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27,000 for two adults and four children? I am pretty sure you aren't 'wasting' anything. That puts you under the poverty line.

 

You can cut the karate. It isn't a necessity. You could go down to one car, if you have two. It would hurt but it would save money.

 

I think you are at the point where there will be no painless cuts. You are going to feel it all.

 

I'd either cut karate or see if a relative would be willing to pay for it for the kids as a birthday or Christmas gift.

 

It's a mental things just as much as physical. Those "extra" expenses, like fixing the AC in the car, don't happen.

 

One car would be the biggest hurdle. We have one working car, the other one needs minimal work, but they're both paid for, so selling wouldn't do any good and we're going to have another driver within the next year.

 

We keep cable for entertainment and internet for school, my work, and my sanity.

 

If you can get some food assistance from a food bank that could help. Some allow you to come once a month, once every two months, so even that little bit could help.

 

We've done nothing this summer, dh needs the car for work and we couldn't afford the gas for me to drop him off anyway.

 

Finding ways to stay entertained when others are off buying lattes or going to the movies is the biggest hurdles. You truly have to accept that you have less. I don't feel deprived of anything, just a tad stuck, but it's temporary is what I keep telling myself. Staying out of places you can't afford to be is good. We're in a small town there isn't the draw to run to Target because it's 40 minutes away.

 

Downsizing and decluttering is another. Also looking to minimalist design, green living, and sustainability has helped me. I hang my clothes on the deck to dry. It looks a tad redneck (I don't want a clothesline), but it's green. 34 minutes of 220v electricity adds up for each load.

 

It's just as much of a mindset as it is to physically do without. The hard part is not to let the kids get dragged down by this. We have nice stuff, ds is blessed, we weren't always this broke.

 

We just don't do many things that others take for granted. Some people get it, some don't.

:iagree:

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]It's also worth checking with the owner of the karate studio whether you could swap cleaning services at night with a reduction in tuition. We pay only $100 a month for tae kwon do because I clean the studio 2x a week' date=' which knocked off $125 the monthly tuition (normally it would be $225 a month).[/b']

 

I also agree with those who've suggested you budget for 25 hours, bring in pay for 35 hours and apply that extra money to your medical bills. Then build a nest egg.

 

That is a terrific arrangement!

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I think one can live fairly well on that amount BUT it could also be crushing. There are too many variables, debt levels, savings amount, cost of living, extraneous circumstances, med issues, etc. However, that is of course living without a lot. I think at that level you do have to go through it with a fine tooth comb. We really had to cut back even further this year and we've done all the normal frugal things for awhile.

 

Our bills and we've done to cut :

electric- Only hang dry clothes, only wash in cold, never use heated dry on dishwasher. Air is at 83 during day and 80 at night and when it is cool enough at night I don't use it at all. Yesterday it got up to about 88 or so in here as I cranked it up higher as we're having another heat wave. I try to only use hot water when needed and keep it very short, shared baths and short showers. Lights off whenever possible, cook using crockpot and try to cook multiple things at a time.

-

phone/internet (slowest speed dsl)- last year I found out that they had lowered rates for new subscribers so I called and had mine lowered- saved me $20 month

 

car insurance- just raised our deductible

 

house/tax/insurance

 

gas- Dh does errands when in town for work, we skipped a lot of co-op this spring(and everything that cost money- other than a $5 skating trip) and have tried just not to go anywhere.

 

groceries-Aldis and basic produce only along w/ my bulk items. I only buy produce that is the cheapest and stretch the meat I have. Used more rice and beans.

 

netflix ($8)

 

The kids only activity was scouts for ds at $5 a month, he sold enough popcorn for weekend camp and dh got an overtime day which paid for daycamp. Dates have been at home and we haven't ate out. Dh has $20 a month for spending money for poker and I don't take any. I've spent maybe $30 this year for clothes for everyone(mostly some skirts from Goodwill to accomodate my pregnant belly), we've made do with what we have, although everyone could use some underwear).

 

I make all my own cleaners, so far this year I've spent $25 total for all cleaning/house products (vinegar and 1 gal of dish liquid) and all paper products for the year have been $31(tp). We use cloth everything but tp. I've been tracking every penny spent and if it is not a need then it isn't bought and even then we've tried to redefine what is a need. We only have tracphones and our avg per month is $10.

 

I think it would be prudent to get those med bills out of the way and an emergency fund built up as well, because if you are just barely making it and then something happens you will be in big trouble.

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27,000 for two adults and four children? I am pretty sure you aren't 'wasting' anything. That puts you under the poverty line.

 

You can cut the karate. It isn't a necessity. You could go down to one car, if you have two. It would hurt but it would save money.

 

I think you are at the point where there will be no painless cuts. You are going to feel it all.

 

:iagree:

 

Are you saying that your income is 27k a year or your combined incomes are that amount? I find it hard to believe that a family of 6 can live on 27k per year in our area without some type of assistance.

 

I hope you are able to find a way to be home again!

 

God Bless,

Elise in NC

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My #1 recommendation would be You Need a Budget (YNAB). We've been using this methodology/software for nearly a decade (with its frequent upgrades) and it is amazing. It's different than programs like Mint, because you are actually budgeting ahead for next month based on your income THIS month. Essentially, if you are familiar with Dave Ramsey it follows very similar principles.

 

You can read about the methodology here for free:

 

http://www.youneedabudget.com/method/the-book'>http://www.youneedabudget.com/method/the-book

 

There's a free 34-day trial and helpful forums:

 

http://www.youneedabudget.com/

 

HTH!

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Thank you for all the ideas!

 

For those about the yearly income. We are a family of 5 :) and yes combined income is about 27k. With out tax return (if we spread it out over the 12 months) that allows for the filler in the budget to make ends meet. Although with this next return we are going to pay off as much as we can with it to get a little breathing room!

 

Karate is the only expense we have that isn't "needed" The only reason I am hesitant to stop it is because dd is 6 months from her black belt and she needs to keep going. It is only $60 a month and can go as often as I can take her.

 

We do have two vehicles but both are paid off and our insurance for both cars is about $250 every six months. The problem with only have one is we would need to have the van the other is a Civic and doesn't fit us 5 as our youngest is still in a car seat and it takes up a lot of the back seat) and the van is a gas hog. So sure I would save in insurance but I would spend a lot more in gas.

 

My dh is a independent contractor but doesn't (and can't) negotiate the contract he has. It is a take it or leave it thing. He is basically an "employee" just classified as a IC. So there is no help for the internet.

 

I will do as others suggested and analyze everything I spend.

 

I will be looking at the you need a budget and see what I can do!

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I wasn't sure if your husband did computer work, but if so, he might be able to do maintenance and computer repair on the karate studio's website in exchange for your daughter going. (I consider karate to be very important).

 

Sorry, that was my only suggestion. Good luck, I think others here have made good suggestions. :)

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Honestly, there comes a point where there's nothing left to reasonably cut back and instead it's time to focus efforts on trying to increase your income level. I understand- I'm in a very similar situation and it's been hard accepting that I simply can't quit my job or cut back on hours.

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Since every little bit counts at that level, I'd sit down with hard numbers on the car/insurance/gas thing. How many miles do you drive per month? Miles per gallon in the van? What is the actual cost difference v. insurance cost in hard numbers?

 

Plus, you can try calling the insurance company and seeing about making changes on the policy to adjust the rates.

 

Looks like your youngest will soon be able to move to a booster seat, right? (In my state, it's 4yo or 40 pounds). Perhaps then you could downsize to the car?

 

Can your oldest pick up some babysitting or other work to pay for her black belt? It's character-building. :)

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I think you are paying a VERY reasonable rate for unlimited karate lessons! And perhaps 6 months from now your dd will be able to work as an assistant teacher and earn her own tuition.

 

:grouphug: I think you are doing very well with what you make.

 

Thank you for all the ideas!

 

For those about the yearly income. We are a family of 5 :) and yes combined income is about 27k. With out tax return (if we spread it out over the 12 months) that allows for the filler in the budget to make ends meet. Although with this next return we are going to pay off as much as we can with it to get a little breathing room!

 

Karate is the only expense we have that isn't "needed" The only reason I am hesitant to stop it is because dd is 6 months from her black belt and she needs to keep going. It is only $60 a month and can go as often as I can take her.

 

We do have two vehicles but both are paid off and our insurance for both cars is about $250 every six months. The problem with only have one is we would need to have the van the other is a Civic and doesn't fit us 5 as our youngest is still in a car seat and it takes up a lot of the back seat) and the van is a gas hog. So sure I would save in insurance but I would spend a lot more in gas.

 

My dh is a independent contractor but doesn't (and can't) negotiate the contract he has. It is a take it or leave it thing. He is basically an "employee" just classified as a IC. So there is no help for the internet.

 

I will do as others suggested and analyze everything I spend.

 

I will be looking at the you need a budget and see what I can do!

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I am guessing that at 27k you aren't paying much, if anything in taxes, and probably getting some money with the Earned Income Tax Credit. If you are not getting the EITC, look into it, if you are comfortable accepting it. Regardless, if do have to pay any taxes, make sure you are claiming the largest deduction possible. If you itemize, your internet, work space, new computer if necessary, etc, all count as business expenses, depending on what percentage of time they are used for work v personal. I would assume that the standard deduction plus child credits totally cover your tax burden, but if not, double check for exemptions/credits for which you are eligible.

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I am guessing that at 27k you aren't paying much, if anything in taxes, and probably getting some money with the Earned Income Tax Credit. If you are not getting the EITC, look into it, if you are comfortable accepting it. Regardless, if do have to pay any taxes, make sure you are claiming the largest deduction possible. If you itemize, your internet, work space, new computer if necessary, etc, all count as business expenses, depending on what percentage of time they are used for work v personal. I would assume that the standard deduction plus child credits totally cover your tax burden, but if not, double check for exemptions/credits for which you are eligible.

 

IIRC the limit is about 47k for a family of 4.

 

One year we qualified but dh didn't put it on our taxes we later received a check(or perhaps it was a corrected form or such) from the IRS as they had caught that we didn't claim it. Dh didn't want to claim it but then decided to do so once they contacted us.

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Are you *sure* you can't all fit in the Civic? A Civic is the same size as our Ford Focus (or close enough), and we had three across the backseat for a while -- an infant carseat, a toddler harnessed seat, and a booster. It was tight, but it worked. Now, wth teens, it might not, but you might give it a shot. Or if it'll be a while before your youngest is big enough for a booster, you might look for a narrower harnessed seat, like a Radian.

 

Could you possibly sell both vehicles and get something a little bigger, like an Accord?

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Since every little bit counts at that level, I'd sit down with hard numbers on the car/insurance/gas thing. How many miles do you drive per month? Miles per gallon in the van? What is the actual cost difference v. insurance cost in hard numbers?

 

:iagree: I have done that. It takes me $20 in gas in the civic alone to get to work and back. In the van it would take $10 more a week. That would be more than the insurance we are paying and we would only have one vehicle.

 

Plus, you can try calling the insurance company and seeing about making changes on the policy to adjust the rates.

 

We already have the state minimums! :)

 

Looks like your youngest will soon be able to move to a booster seat, right? (In my state, it's 4yo or 40 pounds). Perhaps then you could downsize to the car?

 

It is 8 or 80 in my state. We have a ways to go before he doesn't need to be in a seat.

 

Can your oldest pick up some babysitting or other work to pay for her black belt? It's character-building. :)

 

I wouldn't even know where to go to get her babysitting jobs. We don't know anyone well enough to have her babysit *and* we live 30 minutes from everything (that's why it takes so much gas for me to get to work it is 30 mins away). There is also the logistics of babysitting. My schedule is not set and is extremely varying in what hours I get so I wouldn't be able to get her there.

 

 

Are you *sure* you can't all fit in the Civic? A Civic is the same size as our Ford Focus (or close enough), and we had three across the backseat for a while -- an infant carseat, a toddler harnessed seat, and a booster. It was tight, but it worked. Now, wth teens, it might not, but you might give it a shot. Or if it'll be a while before your youngest is big enough for a booster, you might look for a narrower harnessed seat, like a Radian.

 

Been there done that! :) We had to drop the van off for repairs (the radiator needed to be replaced it was overheating) and we all squeezed into the civic to go home. My dd was sitting on the door and ds was squished sideways. Our civic is almost 10 years old and I think they may have had smaller back seats then.

 

Could you possibly sell both vehicles and get something a little bigger, like an Accord?

 

I actually had thought of that *BUT* both our vehicles are high miles (civic is 180k and the van is 220k) need heavy cosmetic repair and aren't worth squat. We wouldn't be able to get enough money from selling them to purchase a car and we can't afford a payment. Dh would go nutso if I suggested going down to one vehicle too :P

 

 

I am wondering if, perhaps, it isn't so much I am "wasting" money as the prices have gotten higher as well? Has anyone else noticed prices going up significantly? I don't buy processed foods and such (well try not to, there are a couple items that we sneak in) and I spend...thinking... about $325 to $375 for 3 weeks.

 

I think I am going to have to be more "anal" in how I categorize my spending and have separate transactions for each one. That way it would be easier to track spending.

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I began working *almost* full-time at the beginning of June (I works about 35 hours a week so far).

 

I hate it.

 

I miss being home.

 

That said I do have opportunities to work from home making the same amount of money that I am working outside the home. The *only* problem with the work is monotony. It will be the same thing day in and day out with no advancement or difference. The job I hold now I can change departments every 6 months as long as there is an opening.

 

That said, I would consider staying at home as long as I don't have to work as many hours. 35 is killer. 25 is more doable but significantly cuts into our income. We don't make much as it is, about 27k a year or so.

 

We are not on any assistance and I don't want any. I don't want to jump through those hoops unless absolutely needed.

 

So how can one live with less? I am cutting off the cell phones at the end of the contract which is in October. I was thinking of going prepaid but if I am working from home and home most of the time I won't need it. So I can cut that off.

 

We don't have cable. We do have internet and we *need* that. Dh works from home and relies on the internet. If I were to work from home I would need it as well.

 

We have medical bills that need to be paid. Of course rent and electric take up almost half the income and food and needed items (like feminine needs as such) take up almost the other half. Then put in a couple things like karate, gas for the car and medical bills and that takes up the rest. The thing is I know I am overspending somewhere but I can't figure it out.

 

So are there any suggestions on how to live with less and what needs to be (or can be) cut out? Anyone willing to look at my budget and make adjustments? :)

 

I have to work from 1-10pm (EST) so I won't we on here to respond but anything is helpful. I am willing to make some sacrifices in order to come back home.

 

I would say that you need to look at reducing your rent if it takes up 1/2 of your family's income. I think your rent/housing expenses should be closer to 1/3 of your family income. If you really want to be able to cut back on work hours, you're going to have to cut out the karate and reduce your driving to spend less on gas. Have you tracked all of your expenses for a month or two to determine if you have any holes in your budget? How much are you spending on groceries, etc?

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I am not understanding your income. Minimum wage, ($8) for two people, one working 40 hours and one working 35 hours is $31K a year. Is your husband in the right job?

 

I am wondering if he can find a job mentor, maybe someone through the church or job assistance program, to help him find a job with higher income.

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I began working *almost* full-time at the beginning of June (I works about 35 hours a week so far).

 

I hate it.

 

I miss being home.

 

That said I do have opportunities to work from home making the same amount of money that I am working outside the home. The *only* problem with the work is monotony. It will be the same thing day in and day out with no advancement or difference. The job I hold now I can change departments every 6 months as long as there is an opening.

 

That said, I would consider staying at home as long as I don't have to work as many hours. 35 is killer. 25 is more doable but significantly cuts into our income. We don't make much as it is, about 27k a year or so.

 

We are not on any assistance and I don't want any. I don't want to jump through those hoops unless absolutely needed.

 

So how can one live with less? I am cutting off the cell phones at the end of the contract which is in October. I was thinking of going prepaid but if I am working from home and home most of the time I won't need it. So I can cut that off.

 

We don't have cable. We do have internet and we *need* that. Dh works from home and relies on the internet. If I were to work from home I would need it as well.

 

We have medical bills that need to be paid. Of course rent and electric take up almost half the income and food and needed items (like feminine needs as such) take up almost the other half. Then put in a couple things like karate, gas for the car and medical bills and that takes up the rest. The thing is I know I am overspending somewhere but I can't figure it out.

 

So are there any suggestions on how to live with less and what needs to be (or can be) cut out? Anyone willing to look at my budget and make adjustments? :)

 

I have to work from 1-10pm (EST) so I won't we on here to respond but anything is helpful. I am willing to make some sacrifices in order to come back home.

 

You can buy magic jack to keep at home in those off times that you may actually **need** to call someone from home.

 

:bigear:

 

I would love to see people's budgets and how they stretch them. I'm trying to cut out any expense that isn't absolutely necessary. :D

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You are right that prices have increased a ton in the last 2-3 years. My family used to be putting money in savings every month no matter what. Now many months that is very iffy. I really feel for families like yours who were doing okay 5 years ago and now are just barely keeping their heads above water. All it takes is one car wreck, one stretch of illness or one large home repair to set families like yours back significantly.

 

It appears that you are doing all that you can do. Your food/grocery budget seems ridiculously small for your family's size. You probably are just barely making it home with a bit of produce for the kids and a couple gallons of milk each week. One thing I;ve done to stretch milk is to buy whole milk and water it down by 1/4. Also in tight times I will ban buying juice, soda, or anything but water and 1-2 cup of milk per kid per day.

 

Is your toddler potty trained? If not, I would really work on that.

 

I don't see how you could cut your rent any more, but you may want to start hanging all your clothing to dry besides socks and undies. That might help with electric. I'd also be training the kids on re-wearing clothes that haven't gotten "dirty". (Ie. if they just laid around the house in sweatpants and didn't spill on them, they are not really dirty and can be worn again.)

 

Medical bills...call them and see if they will adjust your bill, especially if you have been reliably making payments. Sometimes they will cut it almost in half is you can make a single lump sum payment. sometimes those kinds of savings are worth borrowing from some other place to get the adjustment.

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27,000 for two adults and four children? I am pretty sure you aren't 'wasting' anything. That puts you under the poverty line.

 

You can cut the karate. It isn't a necessity. You could go down to one car, if you have two. It would hurt but it would save money.

 

I think you are at the point where there will be no painless cuts. You are going to feel it all.

 

:grouphug: I think she's right.

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It's a mental things just as much as physical. Those "extra" expenses, like fixing the AC in the car, don't happen.

 

One car would be the biggest hurdle. We have one working car, the other one needs minimal work, but they're both paid for, so selling wouldn't do any good and we're going to have another driver within the next year.

 

We keep cable for entertainment and internet for school, my work, and my sanity.

 

If you can get some food assistance from a food bank that could help. Some allow you to come once a month, once every two months, so even that little bit could help.

 

We've done nothing this summer, dh needs the car for work and we couldn't afford the gas for me to drop him off anyway.

 

Finding ways to stay entertained when others are off buying lattes or going to the movies is the biggest hurdles. You truly have to accept that you have less. I don't feel deprived of anything, just a tad stuck, but it's temporary is what I keep telling myself. Staying out of places you can't afford to be is good. We're in a small town there isn't the draw to run to Target because it's 40 minutes away.

 

Downsizing and decluttering is another. Also looking to minimalist design, green living, and sustainability has helped me. I hang my clothes on the deck to dry. It looks a tad redneck (I don't want a clothesline), but it's green. 34 minutes of 220v electricity adds up for each load.

 

It's just as much of a mindset as it is to physically do without. The hard part is not to let the kids get dragged down by this. We have nice stuff, ds is blessed, we weren't always this broke.

 

We just don't do many things that others take for granted. Some people get it, some don't.

 

Wow. Good post. Just out of curiosity... are you aware of any minimalist blogs, etc.

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Honestly, there comes a point where there's nothing left to reasonably cut back and instead it's time to focus efforts on trying to increase your income level. I understand- I'm in a very similar situation and it's been hard accepting that I simply can't quit my job or cut back on hours.

 

:grouphug: Yup. I understand that one.

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Others have made good suggestions on areas to cut back on.

 

I had an executive-level job when I had my first born, and have done work as a PRN (as-needed employee) or independent contractor ever since. At times I do miss having a larger view of things and the variety of my work before, but for my family I've accepted that the door there is closed for now. I have no regrets, and the future is still open.

 

Working from home does have some perks. I have no commuting expenses, no extra wardrobe expenses, no meals out, and no work celebrations that I have to contribute to. So consider that in your accounting. Right now my work-at-home contract is actually my best one in many ways. Because I'm an independent contractor, I do claim some of my vehicle expenses on the out-of-home contracts (is your husband really claiming all that he can that way?), but I don't do as well financially on those frankly.

 

Good luck!

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I would say that you need to look at reducing your rent if it takes up 1/2 of your family's income. I think your rent/housing expenses should be closer to 1/3 of your family income. If you really want to be able to cut back on work hours, you're going to have to cut out the karate and reduce your driving to spend less on gas. Have you tracked all of your expenses for a month or two to determine if you have any holes in your budget? How much are you spending on groceries, etc?

 

Hmmm Our rent is $735... and electric has been running 200-250. So that is almost half out income between the two (I said that in the original post :))

 

In our area this is the least amount of rent we can get without moving to a single wide trailer (which I am not against but in this area? I won't go there). Anything equivalent to what we have is way more. Less than what we have is maybe $50 less or so. I'd rather stay where we are than save $50 for what we would get.

 

I am not understanding your income. Minimum wage, ($8) for two people, one working 40 hours and one working 35 hours is $31K a year. Is your husband in the right job?

 

I am wondering if he can find a job mentor, maybe someone through the church or job assistance program, to help him find a job with higher income.

 

Minimum wage is $7.25 :)

 

You are correct if my dh hours were consistent. They are not, neither are mine. I work between 32-40 hours a week. The average of that is 36 but I typically work 34. Dh can work up to 20 hours a week but they have been low on work and he has only been getting 15 hours a week. That 20 hours or so a month is what is killing us. You are also figuring our income before taxes :) My dh is a IC, so he has to pay self-employment taxes. Last year we did great. I was a IC as well and we made 36k, however we paid almost 5k in SE taxes. This year I was an IC for only 4 months then the contract wasn't renewed and I was unemployed for two months and I am making less than I was as an IC.

 

So between the two of us we make about $2100 to $2200 a month. When dh is making his full hours it isn't so much of an issue, but he isn't so we are struggling and I am trying to figure out how to cut back and what to cut back on.

 

If we only didn't have medical and a cell phone bill! That is $200 a month right there.

 

You can buy magic jack to keep at home in those off times that you may actually **need** to call someone from home.

 

:bigear:

 

I would love to see people's budgets and how they stretch them. I'm trying to cut out any expense that isn't absolutely necessary. :D

 

Ooo yes we will be getting that Magic Jack after our cell contract expires in October.

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Dh can work up to 20 hours a week but they have been low on work and he has only been getting 15 hours a week. That 20 hours or so a month is what is killing us. You are also figuring our income before taxes :) My dh is a IC, so he has to pay self-employment taxes. Last year we did great. I was a IC as well and we made 36k, however we paid almost 5k in SE taxes. This year I was an IC for only 4 months then the contract wasn't renewed and I was unemployed for two months and I am making less than I was as an IC.

 

I am trying to figure out how to cut back and what to cut back on.

 

I think you are doing an excellent job on your budget. I would focus on increasing your income.

 

If your dh is only working 20 hours a week max, can he take in another IC job to go full time? You could apply the extra to your medical expenses and have those paid off much quicker.

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Hmmm Our rent is $735... and electric has been running 200-250. So that is almost half out income between the two (I said that in the original post :))

 

In our area this is the least amount of rent we can get without moving to a single wide trailer (which I am not against but in this area? I won't go there). Anything equivalent to what we have is way more. Less than what we have is maybe $50 less or so. I'd rather stay where we are than save $50 for what we would get.

 

 

 

Your power bill seems very high. How large is your home or apartment? Can you inquire with your power company to see if they offer any programs--I know our company will come in and do an energy audit to help you determine how you could lower your bill. We have a 1450 sq. foot, 2 story house and our power bill is never higher than $200. Even in the thick of the hot NC summer, we've been running about $170 (and that's with the a/c running nonstop!).

 

Another suggestion...if your dh is only getting 15-20 hours of work right now, is there anything he can do to bring in more income? Could he get a newspaper route? Deliver pizzas? Tutor students? Create websites for small businesses? (I don't know what his talents are, but if you shared, maybe we could brainstorm some ideas). Could one of you clean the karate studios where your dd takes karate in exchange for tuition? (My husband and I clean the dance studios where my dds dance).

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I have thought about the electric bill, I personally think it is because we live in a very old (and somewhat dilapidated) double-wide home. It is not efficient. At all. Everything in our house is electric.

 

I think one thing I am going to do is stop using the dryer. Since I have been working I use the dryer more because it is easier for me. I am going to have to hang up the clothes in the morning and then have dd or ds10 take them down and fold them later. That would work. That should help some. The big thing is the A/C dh tries to keep it down and won't up it. Not much I can do there. :)

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You can cut and cut, but ultimately, you need a little more income. Can you do some babysitting or home daycare? Freelance work for either of you? Deliver pizzas? Have a yardsale? (Last one we had made about $300!) Get another part-time job? Can your dh sign up for work through a temp agency to help tide him over when his hours are low? If he's not getting full-time hours then it would become my top priority to either find another, more stable job altogether or at the very least for him to secure a second job/source of income for a while.

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27,000 for two adults and four children? I am pretty sure you aren't 'wasting' anything. That puts you under the poverty line.

 

You can cut the karate. It isn't a necessity. You could go down to one car, if you have two. It would hurt but it would save money.

 

I think you are at the point where there will be no painless cuts. You are going to feel it all.

 

 

I agree. I was a bit confused about this. Was it $27,000 total or was her pay $27,000? $27,000 is definitely difficult and I'm sure she is wasting nothing at all!

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MamaAkins: Your power bill seems very high. How large is your home or apartment? Can you inquire with your power company to see if they offer any programs--I know our company will come in and do an energy audit to help you determine how you could lower your bill.

Mine is this high this summer.

 

Another suggestion...if your dh is only getting 15-20 hours of work right now, is there anything he can do to bring in more income?

 

We have an acquaintance who purchases furniture items from Craigslist and then resells it at a higher price. I wouldn't use Craigslist, but rather garage sales. People on CL are often angry at this person for turning around and attempting to resell an item that was posted yesterday for $25 for $150 today. Garage sale purchases would make more sense but this would require a truck or large van. It's getting them by though.

 

Could he get a newspaper route? Deliver pizzas? Tutor students? Create websites for small businesses? (I don't know what his talents are, but if you shared, maybe we could brainstorm some ideas). Could one of you clean the karate studios where your dd takes karate in exchange for tuition? (My husband and I clean the dance studios where my dds dance).

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I have thought about the electric bill, I personally think it is because we live in a very old (and somewhat dilapidated) double-wide home. It is not efficient. At all. Everything in our house is electric.

 

I think one thing I am going to do is stop using the dryer. Since I have been working I use the dryer more because it is easier for me. I am going to have to hang up the clothes in the morning and then have dd or ds10 take them down and fold them later. That would work. That should help some. The big thing is the A/C dh tries to keep it down and won't up it. Not much I can do there. :)

 

fwiw I can stand it much warmer than dh and I set it higher during the day while he is gone then have it set to be lower when he gets home.

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Mynyel: I am wondering if, perhaps, it isn't so much I am "wasting" money as the prices have gotten higher as well? Has anyone else noticed prices going up significantly?

 

Yes, everything has gone up. Except maybe large electronics, like TVs.

 

 

I don't buy processed foods and such (well try not to, there are a couple items that we sneak in) and I spend...thinking... about $325 to $375 for 3 weeks.

 

Oh my. I spend that in 1 or 2 weeks and we have fewer people. I need to take lessons from you.

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I would say that you need to look at reducing your rent if it takes up 1/2 of your family's income. I think your rent/housing expenses should be closer to 1/3 of your family income. If you really want to be able to cut back on work hours, you're going to have to cut out the karate and reduce your driving to spend less on gas. Have you tracked all of your expenses for a month or two to determine if you have any holes in your budget? How much are you spending on groceries, etc?

 

Agreed. Your rent is too high at 50% of take home pay. I don't even accept tenants whose income is less than 3X rental amount. It is too difficult to make it and pay utilities and other expenses.

 

 

Check around at what similar properties are going for in your area. You might find something or your landlord might match it. I would if I could, for a good, long term tenant.

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You can cut and cut, but ultimately, you need a little more income. Can you do some babysitting or home daycare? Freelance work for either of you? Deliver pizzas? Have a yardsale? (Last one we had made about $300!) Get another part-time job? Can your dh sign up for work through a temp agency to help tide him over when his hours are low? If he's not getting full-time hours then it would become my top priority to either find another, more stable job altogether or at the very least for him to secure a second job/source of income for a while.

 

Yes, you need to increase your income dramatically!! I honestly can't even imagine trying to live on $27,000 a year with a family of six. You need a second or even a third job to get yourselves on your feet again.

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You are right that prices have increased a ton in the last 2-3 years. My family used to be putting money in savings every month no matter what. Now many months that is very iffy. I really feel for families like yours who were doing okay 5 years ago and now are just barely keeping their heads above water. All it takes is one car wreck, one stretch of illness or one large home repair to set families like yours back significantly.

 

It appears that you are doing all that you can do. Your food/grocery budget seems ridiculously small for your family's size. You probably are just barely making it home with a bit of produce for the kids and a couple gallons of milk each week. One thing I;ve done to stretch milk is to buy whole milk and water it down by 1/4. Also in tight times I will ban buying juice, soda, or anything but water and 1-2 cup of milk per kid per day.

 

Is your toddler potty trained? If not, I would really work on that.

 

I don't see how you could cut your rent any more, but you may want to start hanging all your clothing to dry besides socks and undies. That might help with electric. I'd also be training the kids on re-wearing clothes that haven't gotten "dirty". (Ie. if they just laid around the house in sweatpants and didn't spill on them, they are not really dirty and can be worn again.)

 

Medical bills...call them and see if they will adjust your bill, especially if you have been reliably making payments. Sometimes they will cut it almost in half is you can make a single lump sum payment. sometimes those kinds of savings are worth borrowing from some other place to get the adjustment.

 

These are terrific suggestions. With regard to the medical bills, reducing the monthly payment will help the monthly cash flow, but the debt will still be there. Do not be afraid to boldly ask them to forgive a portion of the balance due; all they can do is say no.

 

I am wondering if, perhaps, it isn't so much I am "wasting" money as the prices have gotten higher as well? Has anyone else noticed prices going up significantly? I don't buy processed foods and such (well try not to, there are a couple items that we sneak in) and I spend...thinking... about $325 to $375 for 3 weeks.

 

I think I am going to have to be more "anal" in how I categorize my spending and have separate transactions for each one. That way it would be easier to track spending.

 

Oh my, yes, prices have escalated! I think my same grocery dollar now only buys about 2/3 of what it got me 18 months ago!

 

fwiw I can stand it much warmer than dh and I set it higher during the day while he is gone then have it set to be lower when he gets home.

 

Maybe some box fans, strategically placed?

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27,000 for two adults and four children? I am pretty sure you aren't 'wasting' anything. That puts you under the poverty line.

 

You can cut the karate. It isn't a necessity. You could go down to one car, if you have two. It would hurt but it would save money.

 

I think you are at the point where there will be no painless cuts. You are going to feel it all.

 

 

Are you sure? I've never made that much, we live on half that, to me thats a heck of a lot of money and if they can't make it on that they are probably over spending without realizing it.

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It does sound like you need to find sources of extra income asap (especially since food prices are predicted to go up because of the drought), but in the meantime, check out Amy Dacyczyn's The Complete Tightwad Gazette (or the earlier three volume Tightwad Gazette books) from your library. The prices and computer information are very dated (1990s) but all the information is still relevant. PLUS she writes several articles on how to keep children from feeling deprived, which was one of your concerns in your original posts. She is also funny. This is the most complete book on money saving strategies.

 

You can check out the reviews here:

http://www.amazon.com/Complete-Tightwad-Gazette-Amy-Dacyczyn/dp/0375752250/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1343415968&sr=1-1&keywords=the+complete+tightwad+gazette

 

p.s. As long as the kids needs are met, they'll be fine.

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We do not live in a particularly high cost of living area, but finding a rental suitable for a family under 900 per month is rare. Add in utilities and you have housing costs for a family around 12k per year. Not sure how a family here would manage on 13k annual income!

 

We are in a college town and most rentals are geared toward students.

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Are you sure? I've never made that much, we live on half that, to me thats a heck of a lot of money and if they can't make it on that they are probably over spending without realizing it.

 

 

Well then share! :) What is your rent/mortgage and utilities look like? Half of what we make would be about 14k a year. Our rent alone is 8820 a year. Our electric averages about $200 a month. That is 2400 a year. Between those two things it would be 11200. Based off that it would leave $233 a month for everything else. I have to think you aren't being honest in your income OR you have to rent/mortgage, no utility payments or something else. I an sincerely not trying to accuse but your proclamations border on hyperbole.

 

So if you are completely serious then please, please share. I would love so see how you do it!

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Check out the forum llnoe.com for Dave Ramsey followers. They're as frugal as frugal can be and can give good tips for cutting down to the bone without selling the kids.

 

I really like the book "The Budget Kit" by Judy Lawrence for creating a budget and monitoring it. Her charts make it very easy to see where the money is going.

 

Menu plan, and plan meals based on inexpensive but filling foods like beans, lentils, eggs, peanut butter, tuna, whole chicken stretched to two or three meals, etc. We were in that situation a few years ago and it's rough. We chose to use WIC and food stamps for a short time until we got our heads above water and it made such a difference! I was able to stock up on dry beans, rice, canned goods, frozen veggies and loss leader meats, dry and canned milk, etc., and got off as quickly as possible with a stockpile of basics that helped us out for a long, long time. If you qualify and need it, use it until you're on your feet.

 

And good luck!

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I understand how you feel. When we hit rough times, I did a couple of things. All magazine subscriptions lapsed. Instead of buying books, we went to the library.

 

Also, OAMC and eating seasonal produce. I know some people don't like it, but boy you take advantage of buying in bulk for things like meat which can save a LOT of money! Of course you would need the room in your freezer. :) It is a full day of cooking, but boy does it save time the rest of the month!

 

I also can a lot for things like jams, spaghetti sauce, applesauce, etc. I just got a pressure canner to do veggies. If you already don't have supplies, the cost might be too much, but great idea for a gift if you are interested!

 

Brenda

 

ETA - We have been in the 80's and 90's here in inland So. CA, but I won't turn on the AC until it gets 85 inside during the day. I turn on the AC to cool down the house before the kids go to sleep and then turn it off. Other than that, ceiling fans only. Laundry gets done before or after peak hours as "time of use" is in effect or about to in many areas.

 

If you do use your AC, once it turns off, turn the fan to on for 5-10 minutes to get the remaining cold air into the house, instead of just sitting in the ducts.

 

Crockpot meals instead of using the oven/stove which also heats up the house.

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