Am I missing anything, or should I just
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|Sat, 01-10-2009 - 10:41am|
Am I missing anything, or should I just grind my teeth and buckle down on this budget?
We're an one-income family with just my husband working and three young children. Our budget's always been tight, but the price of everything going up lately and our kids growing, it's been extra tight and I feel a bit frustrated because I look for ideas how to make our money go farther and everything I find are stuff we already do or doesn't apply to us. Don't get me wrong, we have been very blessed with people giving us clothes for our kids and etc....
I also feel we've cut out basically all extras except for our cable tv but since we get a $10 discount on internet for having tv and it's the most basic possible tv so it's like we only pay around $4 each month for tv, taking cable tv away would only save us $4. TV saves my sanity sometimes so $4 is a small price for that. We can't get rid of the internet because dh needs it for work and it functions as our phone. We did get a discount for 6 months since we just moved so that helps a bit.
I also did consider finding a job to supplement our income, but with two young kids home all day and one in school for only three hours, I feel our priority has to be me staying home a few more years. Also my dh has a job with a weird schedule so I worry about making our schedule work so one of us is always home with the kids. I do babysit for free for some friends occassionally and they do the same for me. If they needed someone regularly, then they would pay, but right now, it's more of a trade so....
So here's our budget and maybe someone will have some ideas or insights for us.
1835.34 = Net Income (take home pay) (see note below)
-920.00 = Rent (no choice, but we did manage to move close to dh's work so he can walk)
-170.00 = Van payments (lowest priced we could get while still being reliable)
- 48.71 = Van insurance
- 42.96 = Cable Internet and tv (see above)
-100.00 = VISA (see below)
- 74.29 = Gas for heat (not too bad since it's been pretty cold here)
- 22.99 = Water/sewer/garbage (can't change)
- 52.02 = electrity
total left $404.37 for food, household, diapers, gasoline for van, and basically anything else that comes up (co-pays for dr, oil changes for van, shoes, etc). I used to pay about $500 each month for food/household/diapers/etc. I know I probably should be a bit more specific for the amounts of food, gas, etc, but each month the amount changes because we need to take the kids to the dr, or do oil change, or dh's shoes are totally worn out and he needs to get some new shoes, we have to visit dh's family 2 hrs away, etc. We do get WIC for the younger kids and it helps a lot with cheese, eggs, cereals, milk (I would say it saves us around $50-$70 each month). Also the younger two kids are TINY and PICKY with food... I worry about them not getting enough. I did look into food stamps because of that but we make just $200 gross too much to qualify. We are working on one child using the potty, so that will help quite a bit with the diapers but I feel strongly about not forcing him 'til he's ready because I don't want him to have problems later so... (did consider cloth diapering, but not an option right now)
For our net income, we do deduct quite a bit for dh's 401k (5%). I am trying to decide if we should change it or not. His employer matches what we put in up to 5%, so if we change that, his employer will put in less... but at the same time, it would mean more money for food... I don't know... wwyd? We also decided to opt out of the medical savings thing for 2009, so that was supposed to give us a bit more money each month, but then our health insurance rates went up, so our net income is pretty much the same.
Also, we were stupid and somehow we ran up almost $3,000 on our visa over the last two years. We stopped using it for anything and agreed with each other to pay $100 each month so we can work on bringing it down. We are hoping we will get enough from income tax refund and EIC this spring to either bring it down drastically or pay it off entirely, then at that point, we will go back to a limit of $500 and use it for only emergencies. Should we reduce the amount we pay each month to something like $50 so we have $50 more for food? Or just pay the minimum until we get the money from the gov?
Ok, that was a longer post than I planned. I'll shut up now. Kudos to you if you read it all and understood it! I guess I think and discuss it with myself too much and I need someone else on the outside to give me some fresh perspectives. TIA!