New Here! Need 2 start budgeting...HELP!

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-30-2007
New Here! Need 2 start budgeting...HELP!
Fri, 05-28-2010 - 10:47am

Hi! I'm Jennifer. SAHM to 3 kids 5, 2, 1 years old. My DH brings in our only income. I really need our money to quit "DISAPPEARING". I know it's horrible but we don't keep up with our check book or debit purchases. We definitly have got to start doing this. I know that our money that disappears is going to dh's lunch eating while at work. He always forgets his lunch box when I fix his lunch so instead of saving money on me fixing his lunch he ends up spening $8-10 a day. Now that may not sound like a lot, but it does NOT fit into our budget, at least not for everyday of the week. LOL.

We use our debit cards and never write the purchases down. I used to write mine down, but dh never did his, so I basically quit writing mine down b/c I was mad at him.

We are a low income family, until my kids are all in school, it just makes more sense for me to SAH with them.

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-28-2010
Fri, 05-28-2010 - 11:00am


I am having similar issue so I am looking forward to the responses you get. My hubby and I have only been married 7 months and it seemed a lot easier to manage my money and pay the bills on time before I was married :/ I love the boy but seriously, do you have to spend $9.99 on a game for your iPod?

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-05-2004
Fri, 05-28-2010 - 1:35pm

Howdy and Welcome! :-)

Do you know if you can access your bank account online? Credit card account, as well? Some banks offer this for free, and I think some still charge for online access. If you can access your information, maybe you can look over the purchases this weekend and divide this month's purchases into categories, such as:
Eating Out as a Family
Dh's Lunches out
House Rent/Mortgage
Car Payment(s), if any
House Maintenance (if you had to purchase anything to fix up your home, hang a picture, caulk a tub, etc.)
Gas (for the car)
Natural Gas
Cable/Dish/Satellite TV service
Internet costs

And you could add other categories like any giving through church or charity, any salon trips for hair or nails, gifts purchased (with three little ones, I know this can be expensive at times during the year when playmates have birthday parties), etc.

Now, granted, this won't allow you to see any purchases you made with cash at a store or McDonalds or where ever, but it'll at least give you a ball-park image of your finances and where you are spending most of your money.

In my case, it was definitely my Dh's lunches and our groceries. Dh said that he felt embarrassed when he had to brown-bag it when no one else did. So, we compromised there. I suggested that he stick to dollar menus and the "special of the day" when he went to a full service restaurant. That has really cut back our spending in that category. For grocery spending, I started making a list, looking at what I had in my home already, and I started paying in cash (actual bills, not debit card). I put the cash in an envelope marked "groceries" in my purse, and when the money was gone, I stopped shopping until our next paycheck. We also looked at ways to cut back in other areas. My son is 11 now, so he's not really into toys, but he does love video games. Those can be super pricey. So, we told him we'd handle holiday and birthday video games, but any other games will be his responsibility to earn the money for. Granted, that's hard with little ones like you have. Still, you can stick to dollar stores, consignment stores, or arrange a toy swap with other Moms in your area. You know how kids are always soooo excited when they go to their friends' homes to play with toys that are new to them? Well, swapping works the same way. You get rid of toys your kids are sick of playing with, and you come home with like-new toys that your kids are super excited about, and it costs nothing. :-)

Think about whether you need a home phone and cellular. Also, if you have special features on your phone like internet and facebook/myspace and all that, decide if you really truly need to update your status 24/7. Will your friends survive without knowing that you're standing in the line at the bank at exactly 1:24pm on a Monday afternoon? lol Services like that can often be cut. Same with cable TV. We cut our cable service, but we kept the internet service for my husband's job, since he often works from home. That cut our bill by $75 right there. We watch DVDs now for TV viewing. The library has lots of videos for kids and adults, and the best part? No commercials telling the kids what toys they just have to have. lol :-D

Just take it little by little, examine everything going on with your accounts, and if your Dh won't give you his receipts, remember you may be able to see everything online anyway. ;-)

Take Care and I wish you luck setting up your budget. :-)

pat :-D

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-30-2007
Fri, 05-28-2010 - 5:04pm

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-04-2006
Sat, 05-29-2010 - 4:23am

I agree with what Pat has already said. In addition to what has been said, I find that it also helps to look at the shop ads while I'm doing the meal plan as this allows me to choose recipes around the cheaper meats and veges etc.
I'm not sure if you have pay-as-you-go mobile phones in the US, and if so, how often you have to put money on them. If the main reason for having that phone is for emergencies, then this is a good way to keep that cost down.

Have you looked at why your DH forgets the lunches you make? Would it be possible to put lunchbox with the lunch in it in his car (perhaps on the passenger seat) the night before, so that he doesn't have to remember to grab it in the morning.

Do you allow money for an individual allowance each for yourself and DH? I know that it will be tough on a low income, but if you could give DH (and yourself) an allowance then he would be able to buy lunch sometimes as long as he is aware that once the allowance is gone its gone.

As for where to find online tools that will help you to budget, its tough to figure out what to recommend. Everyone is different on how they prefer their budgeting - eg some like pen and paper, some use Excel, others use personal finance programs and so on.

I've attached a spread sheet that one of the banks that I use provides that is useful. I also find the budget calculator on useful, as it's very comprehensive with the categories that are on it. Even as someone who's been budgeting for a while I still find it useful to look at from time to time. It is designed for Kiwis but most calculators on the site could probably be used by people just about anywhere.



iVillage Member
Registered: 11-30-2007
Sat, 05-29-2010 - 10:49am
Thank u so much for sharing that spreadsheet. I found it very useful. I'm gonna show my DH. I think that will really put things into perspective for him.
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-05-2004
Sat, 05-29-2010 - 12:51pm

I'm not sure if this link will work since it's kind of long, but I'll paste it here just in case. I googled "free budgeting programs", and I found this list of programs from a page called My Money Blog. It looks to be a pretty sizable list. :-)

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2005
Sun, 05-30-2010 - 7:48am

The first step to having a budget is write eveyrthing down.

List all your bills/required expenses.

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-26-2010
Wed, 06-02-2010 - 2:21am

Hi Jennifer. Welcome! I'm a new SAHM myself.

The previous posts gave you some great advice. The allowance is definitely key.

My DH and I both get an allowance, which I've heard some people describe as being restrictive. But, really, it's money you are allowed to spend on whatever you (or DH) want. So, if your DH wants to buy lunch he can, until he runs out of his blow money.

As for DH and me, we don't make ATM withdrawals or buy anything from the joint funds that the other doesn't know about. Working from a written budget every month can make all the difference. Hold each other accountable. Don't keep secrets. Be a team.

I keep a checklist of the bills I'm expecting every month and check them off as I pay them. If there's a surprise, I tell DH.

If you DH isn't on board, maybe you can have a heart to heart talk with him one night after the kids go to bed. Look into his eyes and tell him you need his help with the finances and you can't do it alone. If you're scared, tell him so. You shouldn't have the burden of managing the money all by yourself anyway. It just doesn't work.

I love to recommend Dave Ramsey's book "The Total Money Makeover." It's wonderful. Good luck to you!

Oh, one more thing - about lunches. Maybe he just prefers a hot lunch? Maybe he could take microwave dinners or leftovers he can heat up? Or, splurge on really good bread and lunch meat so he looks forward to eatint it - it's still cheaper than eating out.



iVillage Member
Registered: 11-30-2007
Wed, 06-02-2010 - 10:08am

I want to thank everyone for your wonderful advice!

I took our checkbook and got an accurate balance. I did a list of our bills and outgoing money and subtracted it from dh's pay. I know what we should have left if noone spends anything. So far my dh took $25 without letting me know...until I looked online at our account last night. I was so stinking mad! I guess I'm OCD on things not being like I expect them to be b/c it makes me so angry. I told dh that he has got to let me know. that I hate keeping up with the budget and I need his help and input. But this weekend instead of eating out he recommended we eat at home( which is wonderful b/c he likes to eat out) He was even adding up how much this meal was so much cheaper than a restraunt meal. So I was shocked and impressed by his attitude. Just disappointed about the $25. Thats a big deal for a low income family. KWIM!!!!???!!!

I just wanted to update and KUP abuot how it's going. Thanks so much. I really appreciate the spread sheet