Starting Again

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-15-2014
Starting Again
Wed, 01-15-2014 - 11:28am

Hi everyone, I am a long time lurker.  Had been in and out of debt years and years ago, and this board was very helpful.  Never officially snowflaked, but read and applied a lot of things.  Think I would've learned.  But DH income increased, and with kids, we fell off the wagon.  Put some money in to remodeling our home, and now  wish we waited because our income took a slight dip and without being careful we find ourselves in a pickle.  

Well, we are getting back on track.  Things are turning around with my husband's business again, and I'm going back to work part time.  However, don't want this to ever happen again.  

Going to try snowflaking, etc.  I have never done a budgetspreadsheet.  Any direction you guys can point me in?  I am tracking my spending and trying to make a plan, using my bank website is helpful with tracking spending.  Do you use a program for your budget?  I want to get back on track and figure out a way to keep on track.  The debit card is my downfall.  Even with my bank app, I just flick it and figure something will be in my account to cover it, and for many, many years, it wasn't a problem.  Thinking for a while, I need to use cash only.  I do have the Dave Ramsey book, and am going to pull it out.  

Have a small emergency fund, but need to keep adding to it.  Good news is, we are saving for retirement and will continue to do so (auto deducted from pay).

Thanks for any support and help you can give.    

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-10-2003
Wed, 01-15-2014 - 12:12pm

Hello and welcome! I am a long time member (since I bought my first house in 2007 yikes!!) I started with $35K in student loans, $20K in car loans and about $15K in cc's. I made my last debt payment in December and am debt free, but it took 6 years to do it! Like you I had ups and downs. Paid off the cards and then ran them up again.

Coming here is a great first step. Here are some things that I found helped me out:

1) For at least a week (a month is better) track every penny you spend to see where the leaks are. In my case, it was eating out (and to be honest, its still my vice) I would rather eat out with friends then buy "stuff" so I had to figure out who to work around. A lot of people here have found this helpful to figure out where the spending was.

2) Put together a realistic budget and follow it for a few weeks. Track your progress against it to understand if its realistic for you and your family. I started with a basic excel spreadsheet, figured out my monthly income, put in my fixed expenses, debt repayment, savings and finally my variable spending (food, gas, entertainment etc). It was a work in progress and is still changing

3) Start sinking funds. This is money you put aside off of each pay in order to pay for non-regulary expenses (i.e. car repairs, birthdays, vet visits, etc) I started with $20 a paycheck and more often then not would pull it out after a month or two. However, everytime I got a pay raise, or was able to lower a bill (i.e. cable, cell phone) I put some of it towards the sinking funds. I now put away about $400 a paycheck away in 5 funds (vacation, dogs, house mainentance, birthdays and fun money) Sinking funds have saved a lot of people on this board and I am a big fan!!

Keep in mind this is a journey and your budget will change and adapt as you get pay increases, pay off debts etc.

Make sure that you keep some money aside that is yours to do whatever you want with. Even if its $5 a week to buy a magazine, you need to have money to spend on whatever you feel like.

Good luck! You can do this!

Bex -

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-15-2014
Thu, 01-16-2014 - 9:26am

Hi- and thanks so much for the support!  I have never heard of sinking funds, that is great advice.  Going to start doing that.

I will also try an excel spreadsheet.  Do you put every little thing you spend on there?  Or is it okay to lump some things in categories?  With a bunch of kids, and going back to work, that's the thing I'm worried about keeping up the most.  I rarely did it the last few years even with not working.  But I'm motivated now, so hoping it will keep me going.  

Also- good advice about having something little to splurge on for myself. I have already figured out that coloring my hair is the one thing I really want to try and keep in the budget.  That will definitely be "my thing".  Did it on my own years ago, but now there is way too much grey, and the color doesn't grab or stick at all when I do it myself.   Getting old is no fun!

Thanks again!

Community Leader
Registered: 08-25-2006
Thu, 01-16-2014 - 12:49pm


Bex already touched on the basics.  Kids can dollar (or even $5.00) us to death!   It adds up quick.  So, now that you will working part-time, that will probably be the area you will have to watch out for.  Grabbing things on the way home from work, or from daycare, is very tempting.  I have started using cash for such thing, but......I can still find myself in a pickle at the end of the month.  The good thing is that I am not going any farther into debt.  The bad part is I am not getting out of it very fast, either.  

Keep us posted!

Serenity CL making a second marriage work

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-08-2008
Sat, 01-18-2014 - 2:05am

Yes, I use a spreadsheet. I have a mine set up until Aug 2015 right now. I don't put everything in it right now...because I have been doing it so long that I know how and where we spend money. Initially, I set up what I *thought* the amounts were, then I tracked them and recorded the real amounts. After a few months, you begin to get the hang of what the real amounts are.

Welcome to the board,


iVillage Member
Registered: 12-31-2010
Tue, 01-21-2014 - 1:55pm
Hey Wokingit4 - Glad to see you are refocusing! As far as sites for assistance, I used to be able to email a spreadsheet I used, but can't anymore since I am now in the field (sad to say, those of us who do this for a living, cannot communicate without so much hassle and review,. most of us don't so you only see information from others who may not hold credentials that require review.) I do like as a site to use for budgeting and tracking. Folks say it is pretty secure as well. Using cash for one month is truly eye opening, and you and your hubby could make it into a really fun exercise. As far as married folks and budgets - one of you is probably the more anal/diligent of the two, be sure to let the other person actually make changes to the budget or they will never be a part of it. Do not make it a punishment, allow for each to have some free money that you don't have to account to the other one for. AND start another account from your new pay, even it it is $25, have it come out before you see the check and put it someone hard to get to, like a mid term savings account for big purchases later on. Up that amount every time you get a raise or pay something off. You will be surprised how fast it will grow. Good luck, Marie