Am I missing anything, or should I just

Avatar for dsugarbaby
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-02-2003
Am I missing anything, or should I just
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!


iVillage Member
Registered: 05-14-2006
Sat, 01-10-2009 - 10:58am

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-02-2003
Sat, 01-10-2009 - 1:01pm

Sounds tight but doable -

are cloth diapers not an option because you dont have a washer and dryer or are there other reasons- Just asking because it can save tremenduously and we might be able to help you figure out how to do it.

also switching to cloth rags for cleaning and for personal use after using the bathroom can cut down on costs

you can also use the basics to clean like baking soda and vinager with some cloth rags cleans 90% of my house- at sams club vinager is 3.99 for a huge bottle and baking soda is 5.99 for a huge bag and these last for a couple months so that really saves

it sounds like you dont drive alot but the little things like keeping uneeded junk out of the van and keeping the tires inflated as well as combining trips whenever you can can help alot.

oops gotta run - Im sure other ladies will chime in and Ill try to get back

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-2007
Sat, 01-10-2009 - 1:02pm

Wow that is a tight budget!


iVillage Member
Registered: 03-03-2004
Sat, 01-10-2009 - 2:10pm


iVillage Member
Registered: 05-10-2004
Sat, 01-10-2009 - 3:14pm
Your Budget seems really tight and mainly you need a little more income. Have you thought about providing home-childcare? I paid a friend of mine to watch my girls when my second DD was born. One was 2 years old and the other 3 months. I paid her the same as what daycare would of cost me. In 2002 it was $800 a month. That extra $800 helped them pay off all their debt in just a few months.


Avatar for mom_x_three
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Sat, 01-10-2009 - 3:25pm

could you babysit for money a kid or two along with your own? maybe a classmate of the one you have in school half-day?

or maybe a weekend job when your husband can be home with the kids?


happily married since 2003...a blended family with 4 kids, 1 grandchild and second grandbaby due in September

Sherry<with 3 kids, 2 beautiful granddaughters

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-13-2007
Sat, 01-10-2009 - 11:17pm

GOSH, your budget is really tight. I started selling on Ebay to make a few extra dollars. I sold alot of household items I didn't need, then started selling small items I found at the thrift store, like books. I don't make alot, but after paying Ebay fees, and buying some things for my DD, I'm usually able to transfer $100 a month from PayPal. Let me know if you have questions about that.

Paying the full 5% to the 401k is wise. Also, once you pay off the credit card, I wouldn't lower the limit too much - I might hurt your Fico score. Also, making the minimums for just a month or 2 until you get your tax return, I would say is ok.

And of course, don't forget your local thrift stores and consignment stores. My mom found my DD an almost brand-new snow jacket for $2.


iVillage Member
Registered: 09-09-2007
Sun, 01-11-2009 - 1:30am

Some suggestions:

-Do you have a dollar store or 99cent store where you are? I get tons of my groceries at one of our local dollar stores. Kid's snacks, toilet paper, toiletries, even a toy for ds sometimes and so much more. Sometimes it's necessary to lower your grocery standards but sometimes you'll be surprised that you don't have to.

-Have a yard sale for some quick cash. Also, you could sell stuff on ebay or take some stuff to a local consignment store. Anyone's house you could clean? Run errands for an older person or working mom?

-I agree with other posters ideas of maybe babysitting or home daycare. Are you crafty? My business started as me being crafty for my daughter and then doing local market day craft shows and now it's thriving. There are doors that will open everywhere, sometimes you just have to look a little harder for them.

-I agree not to mess with the 401k. DH's company also matches what he puts in so we never change it and have it at the max of 11%.

-Are there any ways dh could make extra money? Mowing lawns or fixing things for people?

I'm still thinking. Hope some of that helps. Your budget is tight but try and remind yourself that it could always be worse.
Good luck to you.

Photobucket Thanks to Andie for my siggy!


iVillage Member
Registered: 08-01-2007
Sun, 01-11-2009 - 9:11pm

Don't beat yourself up! I think you have done a great job sticking to this tight budget! I agree with Texigan-Again. Maybe to cut down on your food bill, you could try the Angel Food Ministries food boxes. Some of the gals here like -busywith5kids- gets them regularly and they sound like foods your picky ones might eat.

Good luck and watch for more good ideas.

Avatar for dsugarbaby
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-02-2003
Sun, 01-11-2009 - 9:29pm

Wow. Thanks to everyone who responded. Each of you made some good points and/or suggestions.

Dh just reminded me that he does get a bonus about every three months and that usually helps a lot. We usually use that to pay for stuff that comes up like co-pays, oil changes, and credit card and whatever is left goes into savings to use for those stuff. I screwed up at Christmas time. I made a budget detailing what we would spend for each person/gift (only our parents and our kids and one sibling on each side) and bills/costs we needed to pay for Dec and thought we were on track, then after Christmas, realized I forgot to figure in gas and diapers and food for the last two weeks of Dec. Ooops! Fortunately, we received food and money for Christmas, so we turned out ok, but that kind of freaked me out. Ergo this post.

Thanks for the encouragement to leave the 401k alone. That was what I wanted to do, but then I started doubting myself and wondering if I was being stupid and that it's more important to have money now for our needs... We'll make it work.

We do live month to month... We used to have over a thousand in savings (I know, not much, but pretty good for us, considering dh didn't have a good job before and I don't work), but then our landlord changed management on us and raised the rent and a bunch of stuff (long story with lots of details I'm not gonna get into) but basically we didn't have a lease and had to move very last min and use the savings for the move. At the time, I thought it would be ok because we should get at least $500-$600 back from our deposit, but it seems we are not getting anything even thought we should (yes, we could go fight for it, but since we didn't have a lease, we probably can't prove/win anything). Since then, some things came up and took more money from it... So our savings are very little, about $150. I know, sad. I usually just try not to think about it because it makes me cringe and start a really bad spiral that I can't go into.

We used to pay off our credit card in full about every two or three months... It's been killing me to carry such a large balance, and a poster did make a good point that it could mean we are just not able to live within our income...

Dh works as tech support for one company and he was very lucky to get into that company when he did. Dh is very smart and knows a lot about computers but doesn't have any certifications or degrees (not something he was raised to go for, but he's trying to get some certifications now)... Right now his company is only hiring people with degrees and experience... There is NO way he could get a similar job with the same or better income somewhere else.

I am going to seriously look for options to bring in extra money... I used to work before having kids, but only various part-time jobs while I went to school. I graduated with an liberal arts degree... What the heck kind of job can I get for that? One that will pay enough to make it worth it (with costs of daycare and stresses of transportation, especially seeing we only have one car)? I am pretty good with scrapbooking and paper crafts, so maybe I could try making somethings and selling them... But I'm not sure how that would work...

I recently did a quick run through with filing our taxes (not actually filing but figuring it out on paper), and I am feeling a bit better because we should have enough to pay off the credit card and have a bit left over to put in savings... When we get the official paper from our credit union for our interest statement (so I can make sure we actually did only earn $4 something in interest) we will be filing our federal taxes online asap. Then when we get that money and pay off the VISA I will be feeling MUCH better not having that debt and being able to put that $100 towards food/gas/household and savings and while it will be tight, it won't feel so bad.

Thanks again to everyone who responded and I am taking each point/suggestion seriously even if I didn't say anything about it. THANK YOU!