ok- ok we know we are in debt we were ha

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-27-2003
ok- ok we know we are in debt we were ha
Thu, 05-29-2003 - 7:16am
we DH has be taking a pay decrease. he is in construction sales and since last year it has been slowing and now since the war it is even worse. so now we can't get a grip on the situation.

I have been reading many posts- saying cut things from your budget. what if there isn't anything you can cut out? we don't eat out- maybe once a month and we have a coupon for buy 1 get 1-- we have cable internet can't get rid of that cause DH uses it for work and gets reimbursed half.

I do work parttime in the evenings as a merchandiser about 15-18 hours I use coupons buy food on sale even will go to 4 different stores to get the best deals.

so how do you get out of debt? how do you find extra money when there isn't any to find. we went to credit counseling but since we aren't in "alot" of debt they can't really help us-- we will be paying them 180 more a month for 7 years- can't do that.

It seems you need to be way over your head for these plans to work-- we have about 23,000 in cc bills trying not to use them but it is hard when you need something and don't have the cash.

I was told if we had over $50,000 in debt we would be in a better place then we are now-- wow!! my DH is looking for another job- parttime but around here they only have 11pm to 7 am shifts 4 days-- he can't do that due to his work. I would do it but then I wouldn't get any sleep until 5 pm so I am at a loss and very discourage.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-31-2003
Thu, 05-29-2003 - 8:23am
Well jach_y, you can't get out of debt if you keep incurring more debt. The only way to get out of debt is to stop using those credit cards. I know it will be hard. But if it were easy, Everyone would be doing it!

Relying on 'the system' to help you out isn't really taking care of the problem, is it? You got yourselves into trouble, you can get yourselves out, regardless of the economy, or the war, or anything else.

If you really can't think of a way to get more money coming in, then you'll need to come up with a way to have less money going out. It's the only way. You can't get out of debt if you keep incurring more debt. You'll have to do without. If it means going to a food pantry for groceries instead of charging them, you'll have to do that. If it means sharing a ride with people to work, or taking public transportation, or riding a bicycle, then do it. Using things in your house until they absolutely can't be mended anymore, then either going without, or finding a way to get another one for free or 2nd hand.

Don't let fear of debt paralyze you, like it did me for so many years. You can control your finances instead of letting them control you. You've made a good start by posting here. Try going to the library and reading books by Jerrold Mundis and Mary Hunt. And keep the faith, it can be done. You can do it!!

All the best,

Lee Ann

Lee Ann


iVillage Member
Registered: 05-08-2003
Thu, 05-29-2003 - 9:17am
The major principles are to stop charging, evaluate expenses, reduce expenses, increase income.

Everyone has expenses they can cut. Even it it means moving to a smaller house or apartment, doing without a car, etc. Most groceries that people buy with a coupon are ready made items or convenience products. Cut grocery costs by making the frozen lasagne from scratch rather than buying the canned or frozen version, making laundry detergent rather than buying the Tide with a coupon, using vinegar or ammonia to clean rather than buying the Mr. Clean. There are many frugal living websites that can help you cut household expenses. electricity, you save $10 a month by not leaving the coffee pot on after you brew it. Stuff like that, it's a learning process.

When you run out of expenses to cut you have to go to increasing income. We're at that point now if we want to get out of our mess faster.

But Lee Ann's right, "no new debt" is the backbone of it all, you can't get anywhere without doing that.

Good Luck!

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Thu, 05-29-2003 - 11:36am
Welcome to the board! You will find a lot of support and help here.

I agree with the previous posts. I know it's hard--we thought we couldn't cut any more, but surprise! We could.

Track your spending for a month or two. Watch where every penny goes, and record it. Then look and see what you can do differently. Can you consolidate errands to cut down on gasoline? I started taking my son only to nearby parks instead of driving all over town for the novelty--he still gets fresh air and exercise, and our gas budget has decreased. I feed our family of three on $45 a month, going to only two (occasionally three) stores a week. We eat a lot of beans and rice. Mostly we just don't have snacks in the house. We eat sandwiches for lunch or leftovers from the night before. For breakfast we have a piece of fruit. For dinner, we have a planned menu item. Here's how we do it:

Each week, the day before grocery day, I make a menu with dh. We select six meals we want that are inexpensive (we assume one night we can eat leftovers or make something out of what we already have--it always works out that way). I make a list of items required to make each meal. We avoid things with expensive or packaged ingredients, and try to make a lot of things that share ingredients, so we reduce waste (for instance, if I need bell pepper for one menu item, I try to select another item that also uses bell pepper, because chances are neither of them will use an entire pepper, and this way I don't waste half of one). I add to the list any non-food groceries that we need--laundry detergent (I buy the cheapest brand in the cheapest quantity I can find), dish detergent (again, cheap), soap, etc. We do not buy cleaning products such as window cleaner, counter cleaner, floor cleaner, etc.--we use vinegar or just plain water, and it works just fine.

Next, I make a list of food that I'd *like* to have on hand--fruit, oatmeal, extra tomatoes, cheese, rice milk, eggs, etc. These are things I can use as snacks or to make treats such as cookies. I then prioritize these items, putting a number next to each one to indicate how important it is (the most important item is #1, next is #2, and so on).

As I go, I place each item in a list for the different places I go. Usually, I go to the farmer's market for produce and cheese (and, used to be, eggs--but the guy I used to buy them from really made me angry a couple months ago, and Walmart eggs are cheaper anyway). I go to Walmart for nearly everything else. The exceptions are if Harris Teeter is running a loss leader for something I need, and bread, because I can go to Harris Teeter on Tuesday night and get really nice loaves of multigrain or crusty or other bakery bread for $1 a loaf because Tuesday is the night they switch to the new week's specials. Also, items such as sugar, flour, grains, and spices, are cheapest and best quality at a local health food store, so I wait until I need several of these type of items and get them all at once every several months.

Next, I estimate how much money I will need to spend on the *necessary* items at each location, and write that amount at the top of that list. I add the totals up, and subtract from $45. Any extra amount I divide among the locations according to how many "optional" items are on my list for that location.

Finally, I shop. I buy the items on the necessary list at each location first, totalling it up in my head as I go (at the farmer's market they'll total it up as I go so I have an exact amount--other places I do it in my head. You could use a calculator, and don't forget to include tax. I estimate tax simply by rounding up from any amount under an exact dollar on each item--this usually works out just about right). Once the necessary items are chosen, if there's any amount left to spend, I start working down my optional list. This is easy because it's already been prioritized. I usually save most of my optional money for the farmer's market, because I like to buy lots of fruit. I stick with apples, oranges, and bananas, with an occasional melon if they're cheap and I have plenty of money for optionals, because I can get a lot of fruit for a few bucks. The fruit becomes our snacks and breakfasts.

I never go over $45, although sometimes if I have to buy a lot of non-food items (one week I needed both laundry detergent and dish detergent, for instance) I give myself permission to borrow half the amount for those items out of the next week's budget--but somehow I always manage not to need to do that.

I could get by for less if I purchased the cheapest white bread available at WalMart and never bought a melon, and ate a lot more beans and rice and fewer pasta primaveras and grilled veggie pizzas (we're vegetarian, but haven't always been--when we were eating meat, we purchase the loss leaders at Harris Teeter, usually with an additional amount off because I always shopped on switch-over day, and rarely paid more than $1 a pound for meat. Whole chickens are great, because you can boil them with onions and veggies, save the broth in the freezer, use some meat for a casserole, some for fajitas, and other meat for lunch sandwiches--it goes a long way. Anyway, even with meat in our budget we managed on $45 a week).

The best thing, perhaps, is that we actually eat much healthier now than before the strict budget. We eat more fruit, almost no processed food, and lots and lots of vegetables.

Anyway, I don't know if that method is helpful to you, but I've tried lots of ways to bring our food budget down without going hungry, and this is by far the most effective method I've tried.

I also never purchase anything without first examining very carefully whether it's necessary. If I still think it is, my next question is, "how can I get this for cheap or free?" If I can wait a while for it, I look at the sides of the road on trash day. It's amazing what people will put out as trash. We've gotten lots of great stuff this way, including a nice recliner that smelled slightly of dogs (but came clean really easily), a turtle-shaped sandbox for our son in perfect condition (washed it out really well with hot water and filled with sand), lots of pots for planting (another way to reduce your grocery bill and eat healthier--grow your own!), and so on. Then I surf yard sales--warning, though, it's easy to spend too much, as there are so many "great deals." You have to be very disciplined, or perhaps have a separate "yard sale" spending account you can use and never go over. Second hand stores, Goodwill, consignment shops are all good resources. Also, start a network with friends--start telling them what you have that you don't want any more and get the word out about what you want that they might have. I have gotten great shoes, shirts, dresses, even a chest of drawers and lots of fabric for sewing projects this way. I've also given away a lot of stuff that I didn't need any more but they did. Children's clothes are great for this kind of swap too.

I feel for you. We were exactly where you are about a year ago, and it's such a relief to be in control and on top of things again. Good luck, and keep posting!



Avatar for cl_phocid
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Thu, 05-29-2003 - 12:03pm
Hi there and welcome to the board! You have received *fabulous* advice so far! Birdiecheeks (love that name!) summed it up best in her post opener - "stop charging, evaluate expenses, reduce expenses, increase income."

Even if you can't do all the steps at once, the first and foremost important step is *stop charging*.

I would also recommend that you check out some books - Mary Hunt's "Debt Proof Living" is a board favorite, as well as Jerold Mundis "How to get out of debt, stay out of debt, and live prosperously." I'm sure there are others as well! I've found that I like just about anything written by Mary Hunt.

We're all here for you to lean on. All of us are in various stages of climbing out of debt, so we all know what you're going through - some of us are at the beginning, and others of us are on the road - hey...there are even some on the board who have conquered tens of thousands of cc debt.

I wouldn't worry too much about the credit counseling place not being helpful - IMO most of them aren't. They don't have any magic secrets - you can totally do this yourself. Stick around and ask questions and read what is working for others - we'll all help each other here.

All my best,


All my best,

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-27-2003
Thu, 05-29-2003 - 8:22pm
well As of today I am done adding on to my debt-- thanks for reminding me-- it is odd that I have to be reminded. and I am also proud that I am returing some items at bath and body tomorrow. Although I purchased 29$ of things w/ a gift cert-- I spent 20$ of my own money. so I am returning it all-- and saving the credit slip for future gifts I might need.

It is just frustrating-- I KNOW I can save abot 100$ a month on groceries. we spend 150 every 2 1/2 weeks my DH gets paid on the 1st and 16th so budgeting is alittle task. so next trip I am CUTTING my food bill. I am OCD on "snack" buying I don't know why but it will be put to an end. I am also going to see if I can get another store or 2 added on to increase my hours.

I am glad I am not alone I wish I found this board years ago-- we were never taught about credit- spending etc growing up-- my kids are learning it now and it kills me to say no we can't afford it but I was saying yes to everything trying to compensate-- notanymore.

thanks for helping me-- I know I sound pittful!! but I will keep posting and I am starting to track our money as of tomorrow!!

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-08-2003
Fri, 05-30-2003 - 9:41am
You don't sound pitiful, quite opposite in fact, congrats on taking the first steps!

Word of advise on the kids and spending though, don't tell them that "we can't afford that", it sends a bad message of poorness, poverty, other people can have these things but we can't, etc...

It's much more positive to say "we're choosing not to spend our money on that kind of thing right now" or something along those lines. It took me a while to say things like that, you get into it though and after a while they stop asking for everything under the sun. Shows them you're making a conscious effort of determining what's a good purchase and what's really needed vs wanted and that you feel good about the decision you've made. "We can't afford that" sends alot of negative vibes. I also tell my kids that "we're not here to buy _____ right now, we're here to get these things on my list" when we're in a store and they yang. They also understand now that they can expect to get gifts for birthdays, christmas and easter and not to bother asking inbetween. If they do ask I remind them to remind me when their birthday is approaching. By then they'll have changed their minds a million times anyway.

Glad to see you around, keep us posted on your progress!

Avatar for zaboz
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Fri, 05-30-2003 - 2:12pm

You gave some GREAT advice. But I really hope you meant to say $45 a week, not a month.

Or else I really need some lessons on how to shop.
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Fri, 05-30-2003 - 4:09pm
Oops! Yes, I meant a week. Wow. $45 a month would be pretty astounding--maybe some day, when I have my intentional community and permaculture farm, then my grocery bill might be close to that. But you were correct--$45 a week.

Thanks for the clarification!


iVillage Member
Registered: 04-28-2003
Fri, 05-30-2003 - 6:47pm
Hi Jach_y,

Just wondering if you are getting charged a high interest rate on your existing c/card(s) balance(s) and if so had you ever thought of consolidating your cards to one card with a lower or 0% interest rate? I only mention this is a temporary solution which may help you to keep the existing debt from growing. This is not a long term solution. Right now Philips.com is offering a 0% interest rate for transferred balances for up to 1 year as long as you make all minimum monthly payments on time.

I am NOT associated with the company in any way. This is NOT an affliate link where I get credit (or money or something else) for referrals.


I just thought it might be something that you could use to help bring your debt down. All of the other ways other people have mentioned are all so part of the process. Good luck and know that there are a lot of tools and resources out there to help you reduce and eventually elimiate your debt.

Take care,