My Monthly Budget.. Please help!!

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-26-2012
My Monthly Budget.. Please help!!
Wed, 09-26-2012 - 9:01pm

Hi all! I'm a LONG TIME lurker and finally got the courage to post. It's not easy to put this all in writing but I'm going to do it because I think it will help me a great deal. I am stressed out but the amount of time and energy I put into keeping up with where my money goes. Each week it seems when it gets towards the end of the week, my checking account has less that $300 in the tomorrow I will have $90.00 in my account after the bills are deducted.  Its an endless cycle, it's embarrassing and I don't know how to fix this... 

 All income listed is take home, minus 401K contribution.. We receive $100 in reimbursement through our employer towards cable/internet/cell phone bill. 

I have a daily planner that I write all expected expenses as well as projected expenses. I find that I am spending WAY too much of my time looking at my budget, constantly running the numbers, looking a day ahead, a week, a month ahead trying to wring more money out of my budget somehow. 

I am approximately $35K in debt (credit cards).  One of the most troublesome and stressful things is this- I made one late payment (one day late) to one card and they raised my interest rate to 29.99%. It has been over 1.5 years with no late payments and they refuse to lower it. This debt is $20K and costs me $765.00 per month (minimum payment)!

Since I was having trouble anticipating my husband's expenses out of our checking account, he has a credit card he uses to pay for his work lunches, gas and any other misc. spending. The problem with this is, I find myself putting any extra money on this credit card.. The past 2 months I have put $500 per month on this card, only to have it go back up again. 

We RARELY go out to dinner. I would say once a month, max. We have 2 car payments (the higher one will be paid off in August, the other in 3 more years) 

Here's my budget for the month. When I do the math I come up with approximately $1380. leftover for the month. But I surely do not ever see this surplus when I'm balancing my checkbook :smileysad:

Take Home Pay $ 7,510.00

Credit Cards (minimum only) $1200

Personal Loan: $600

Cell phone (3 people): $187

Car Insurance and home owners: $183

Car Payments (2) $950

Netflix, Cable/Digital phone/ Internet: $190

Mortgage & HELOC: $1347

Life Insurance: $155

Gas/Electric: $244

Gas- cars: $420

Groceries/food: $650


Any advice and/or insight is greatly appreciated! 


iVillage Member
Registered: 10-01-2008
Thu, 09-27-2012 - 2:58pm

Here's my suggestions....and they are just that....simply suggestions:  

1)  Like others said.....track your money...every sinking penny for the month of October. 

2)  Hand you hubby $200 in cash and tell him that's it until next payday...or a reasonable amont that you think he sould be spending.  

3)  Watch the food might can save some $$ there.  

4)  Shop for a cheaper cell phone plan.  That seems a little high.  I have three phone for $124 a month includes (1) smart phone.  

5)  Does the $190 cable/phone/ internet include the $100 reimbursement, if so, that's not too bad if you are only out $90 a month.  

6) Ditch the credit cards...if it's any help, I filled Chapter 13 BK in 2009 and have be forbidden to apply for a credit card.  So we have not used one since 2008.  Yes, life can go on WITHOUT a credit card.  Our credit card debt was $60,000.  Scarry???That can happen to YOU.  You get control of those cards NOW...before they balloon any bigger. 

7) Is there anyway you can pay that one car off before next August?  Maybe two months earlier by shaving money from here and there and applying the extra to that payment? 

8) Shop for cheaper insurance rates....not usually a big savings but maybe $10 or so a month. Keep the house & car with the same company to get a discount.  

9)  Do you have money put back for Christmas?  DON'T plan on using the credit cards.  Start a stash for Christmas NOW.

10)  MOST OF ALL.......GOOD LUCK!!!!


"Patience is the best remedy for every trouble"- Plautus

Community Leader
Registered: 08-25-2006
Thu, 09-27-2012 - 2:43pm


I don't know if you are in Canada or in states, so not sure if your numbers are really that high, or not.  Honestly, depending on your family and size of your home, your amounts are not necessarily that crazy.  They would be high for my modest home and family of 3, but for you it may not be. 

But with said said, we can always look to where we can cut back, and where we can add income.  The Dave suggestions are a bit extreme, but it is good to get us thinking about what really is necessary versus what is just nice to have. 

All I can really add is to track every penny you spend for a month.  That will show you where the other $1,300 is going.  Next, give your DH cash to spend on his lunches, etc.  Granted, he could probably cut back in this area, but you gotta' start somewhere.  Men are often tough to convince.  They work hard all day and have a hard time seeing why they don't "deserve" certain things. 

I don't have a detailed spending plan because of what you described....the constant obsessing.  I am very detailed oriented, so I almost have to go the other way with it, so I don't drive myself batty. 

Pay the minimums on the CC, don't use the CC any longer, and start saving some cash so when something comes up, you don't have to use your CC. 

Then you can start looking at a more detailed spending plan.  Just my opinion based on your post. 


iVillage Member
Registered: 10-28-2009
Thu, 09-27-2012 - 12:00pm

welcome! You have already received some great advice. I would agree that the 29% debt should be moved to a lower interest rate if possible. Also, if you can look over the past few months to a year of bank statements, you may find where that $1380 has been going. This is a great exercise to see where you have been spending, so you know how to build a budget going forward. Keep in mind that a budget may take a few months of working out, so don't get discouraged.

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-11-2006
Thu, 09-27-2012 - 11:26am
Hi and welcome! I am also a long time lurker and I am trying to be intentional about posting more, for support and accountability. I'm afraid I don't have much advice to offer, only empathy. I have about 32K in debt right now :smileysad: It stinks!! Good luck to you!
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-10-2003
Thu, 09-27-2012 - 9:41am
Hello and welcome! This is a great, supportive group of gals (and guys!) who will be with you every step of the way.

First, start tracking your spending. Every penny. You have a leak somewhere (to the tune of $1400 a month) so its going somewhere! Once you figure out where its going to you work on it.

I agree with PPs. You need to stop using the cards. You will never dig out of the hole unless you put them away. This can be a nerve wracking thing to do! I know myself I am terrible and still use mine, but I pay them off monthly now. Focus on building an emergency fund (most here say $1K but its really what you are comortable with). This will help you so if a true emergency comes up, you have money there and don't go running to the cards.
Next, start thinging of the non-monthly but regular expenses. I suspect this is where you are running into trouble. I don't see anything for clothes, car repairs, gifts, medical expenses etc. These things are going to happen, so if you plan ahead and put a little aside each month, you have the funds there for them (we sometimes call them sinking funds or freedom funds). I currently have funds for car, house, vacation, gifts, pets, copays, and other (clothes, things that I "want" but don't "need). It helps because it stops the suprises.

Finally, you need to get that $20K to something else. 30% on 20K is theft in my opinion. Can you open another low interest card and transfer some (or all) of it? Extend the line of credit (not something I would normally advocate at all but $1200 in MINIMUMS only is crazy!) If you do transfer or get a loan to pay it out, CUT UP THE CARD. You don't want to run the risk of running it up again!

Good luck! I hope this helps!

Bex -

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-08-2008
Wed, 09-26-2012 - 11:33pm

$244/mo? wow, that's a lot. Our combined only gets to $180/mo at the coldest point of winter. In the summer, it's $60/mo for both electricity and gas! Natural gas prices are really low right now.

I agree that you need to dump the CC. Why is your Dh spending $500/mo while you penny pinch and worry about the budget? Put him on a cash allowance asap.

Just stop buying things. Use freecycle or the free section of craiglist to find things you think you "need". What do we REALLY need except food, shelter and bit of clothing?

Are there things you can sell to help pay down debt?
Are there things you can do on the side to bring in a little more?
Can you transfer that CC balance to a new one with a no interest introductory rate? (then throw everything you have at it!)




iVillage Member
Registered: 09-26-2012
Wed, 09-26-2012 - 9:24pm

Thank you for your honest and thorough response!  One clarification-- you asked about the electric bill.   $244 is the budget amount, I pay that all year around. I am thinking about calling them to see if it makes sense for me to be off of the budget program.

I agree that I need to completely stop using credit cards. It's such a terrible cycle. I look forward to looking into the program you spoke of. Thank you :smileyhappy: