OK, here's my budget. . .

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-20-2003
OK, here's my budget. . .
Thu, 07-24-2003 - 9:09pm
I'm so embarrassed to post this. . .but we are so bad with $$ and I need definite help. It looks like our re-fi won't be final until next month so I'll go with the bills we have right now(I wrote the post about wanting to be a SAHM once we get matched with a baby.)

DH's take home salary (after taxes, health benefits, 7% 401k) is: $3468/month.

Our bills are (this is for 1 month):

phone: approx $75/month

gas: $22 (this month, in the winter it's higher, but electric is lower so usually it balances out)

cable: $60

mortgage: $1600 (includes principle, interest, taxes and insurance)

H2O: $37

car (leased): 365

car ins: $145

electric: $170!!!!!!!! (YIKES!!)

brinks (alarm system): $27

misc credit cards: $825!!

This does not include any food or household items. We're OK right now b/c I am bringing in a decent salary too. But if I ever want to quit, something has to change.

PLEASE HELP ME!!!!!!!!!!!!


iVillage Member
Registered: 04-01-2003
Thu, 07-24-2003 - 9:34pm
I'm not very good at this yet, but here is what I suggest:

Cut down on your phone service. $75 is quite a bit. Do you use all the services/minutes on the plan? If you don't... go bare bones plan and use prepaid calling cards for long distance - generally more bang for your buck.

Cable. Many people would say cut it, but I know I love mine so I won't suggest that just yet ;)

With your refi, how much of a savings will you see there?

I don't really know anything about car leases so I can't help you there.

Electricity - youch! Make sure you are turning out any/all lights that aren't in use. Do you line dry clothes? If not, make sure you are getting optimal use out of your dryer... no half or tiny loads - only full and pull them out as soon as they are dry. Have you changed the light bulbs in the house to the high efficiency ones (we haven't, but will when we move in a couple of months). I know others on this board have with good results.

Misc. credit cards. I'm not sure what this covers. Do you pay them off monthly or is this debt? The first thing you should do in this category is sit down and write out every cent you are spending. Track, track, track. You'll be amazed at where your money goes (I was!). Then start cutting back. Perhaps you could each get a small allowance to cover your urge to shop or eat out or whatever. Once you have tracked your spending for a month or so, you should be able to sit down and write a good budget that shows all of your spending needs (not wants though).

Definitely try to live on just your dh's income for a number of months and bank your entire check. I think this is great practice for the real thing, plus it builds up your emergency fund.

Good luck! Hopefully some of the truly knowledgable women on this board will have better tips!



Mommy to Julia (12/99), Anna (10/01) and Victoria

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-23-2002
Fri, 07-25-2003 - 9:24am
phone: approx $75/month WAYYYYYYY to high ours is 40 a month and we still have extras that should be cut on it trying lower this if you have caller id or call waiting do you really need that stuff?

gas: $22 (this month, in the winter it's higher, but electric is lower so usually it balances out) we dont do gas for the house so not for sure here

cable: $60 can u go down to a basic plan on the cable or is that basic*hubby works for the cable/internet company here so ours is free i'm not sure whats the average cost*

mortgage: $1600 (includes principle, interest, taxes and insurance)

H2O: $37

car (leased): 365

car ins: $145

electric: $170!!!!!!!! (YIKES!!) I dont know where you live but unfortunatly for here that's normal during the summer course it's over 100 degrees daily make sure you cut all lights off when you aren't in the room also i beleive cutting down your water heater a couple degrees would also lower this

brinks (alarm system): $27

misc credit cards: $825!!

although it's smarter to pay off the credit cards with the highest interest rate it might help if you get rid of the cards with the small balances first to free up a little money each month

chelle 22 dh larry 26 and baby boy alex due sept 22nd

Avatar for mquin73
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Fri, 07-25-2003 - 12:10pm
My advice would be to cut out any extras that you can out of your phone bill and maybe use the prepaid calling cards for long distance calls. Also, personally I would cut out cable completely. Dh and I haven't had cable for about 2.5 yrs now and I for one really don't miss it that much. Sometimes when we go over to his parents house they have the full cable pkg and we watch tv there, but I honestly like not having cable (less likely to spend alot of time sitting on our frannie watching tv - especially for dh)! lol Now on the electric bill I would make sure that lights are not being left on when not in use, same goes for the tv (or tv's), and radios. And raise the temp on the a/c so it doesn't kick on as much. We have set our a/c at 74 and we've had 90-100 degree temps and high humidity as usual.

You didn't mention if you have a cell phone or what you normally spend on groceries/household items or what is spent on eating out, lunches, and etc? From what I see here you have $142 left over from dh's salary after you pay these exp. BTW, don't be embarrased! We all know how you feel.


signature 2008

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-20-2003
Fri, 07-25-2003 - 2:12pm
Well, I'm posting my budget just for a comparison. DH's take home is $2600 and I have no salary. We have 6 kids at home ages 4-15.

Mortgage- $1150 $1600

Car- $250 $365

Car Ins.- $107 $145

Cable- $47 $60

Gas- $10 $20 Mine too will go up in winter

Electric- $110 $170

Water- $55 $37

Phone- $45 $75 Mine includes internet

Misc.CC- $670 $825 Mine includes credit cards,private loan and student loan

Brinks- $0 $27

Medication- $20 ?? One of my children takes meds monthly, this is our copay

Trash- $45 ?? We live out of city limits, so we have to pay a service

Braces- $44 0 Insurance pays 60%, we pay monthly on our 40%

TOTAL $2548 $3326

Leftover $52 $142

This is without food!!! We have been using cc since DH's OT was cut. The only thing we could cut is cable. We went w/o it for 6 years and then got it this Christmas on a special deal. My DH wouldn't give it up when deal ran out.Our phone is basic and internet is only $9.95. My stepson has moved in with us relieving us of $230 a month child support and his mother will be paying us, not sure how much, soon.

I know how you feel about cutting it close, obviously! I would try the ideas others posted and just realize it can be done!


Avatar for chaundra2001
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Fri, 07-25-2003 - 2:15pm
Hi, I just wanted to let you know that last year we turned off our sattelite. I have 2 children 4 & 8. At first they were devastated!! But after a couple of weeks they didn't even miss it. It's amazing how imagintive and creative they are with their playing. Toys are actually being played with!! ha ha We all spend a lot more time talking and not staring at the tv.

Also, where I live you can get a levelized electric bill. Our's goes way up in the winter and lower in the summer. So, an expected amount every month really helps out. The other posts really had some good ideas as well. You just have to decide what your wants and needs are and stick to them. It gets hard sometimes. But, it's worth it.

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-12-1998
Fri, 07-25-2003 - 2:55pm
I have a couple of questions for you. Not sure if somebody else has brought this up, so forgive me if that's the case.

Regarding the misc. credit cards: Are you still using these cards on a regular basis with the balance continuing to go up? Or are these cards you are no longer using, but just trying to pay off? Or, are you spending that $825 on things each month and paying most of it off each month? I believe in your other post you said you had some CC debt to get on top of? If it is money you are spending month to month and you are paying a lot of it off each month, you should probably look at what you are spending the CC money on and work those into your budget as categories instead of just CC expenses.

You said you were refinancing your house in your other post? Are you rolling some of that debt into the mortgage payment? If so, that should make a big difference in your budget and will loosen it up quite a bit (I would think, depending on how much debt you have on those CCs).

If you haven't rolled that debt into your new mortgage, how long would it take you to pay it off if you tightened down now and devoted most or all of your take home pay to those debts? Even if you were unable to pay them off completely before you decided to quit your job, you could probably make a pretty good dent in them and potentially lower the amount due each month to a more manageable size.

You could start living on your new budget now (just DH's pay) while your salary and maybe some of that $825 you have allotted in your budget from his salary goes to those debts.

I would think that eliminating or reducing $825 worth of payments a month would sure make your budget a heckuva lot more liveable. That's more than a lot of people spend on their mortgage each month.


iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Fri, 07-25-2003 - 7:36pm
You've gotten some really great responses to your budget so, I'll just add a few thoughts that I'm learning right now the hard way!

1. Maybe you've already done this but make sure you budget down to the very last detail! That means spending money when you go out for a cup of coffee, whatever. All of those little things that you really don't even think of, try to take those into consideration and come up with your own system to budget for them! also, i think somebody already said to track everything you spend! you might be surprised!

2. I know it seems so minor and trivial but you'd be absolutely amazed at the difference in your electricity bill when you start being very careful about leaving lights on, using the dryer, etc. I've got a fold away clothes drying rack and try to use that as much as possible. My goal is to try to only run the dryer once for every two loads of laundry. I always line dry things like socks, underwear, dish towels. Since line dried things can tend to get a little stiff I choose the things that I know either won't get stiff or won't matter if they are.



Lilypie Baby Ticker
Avatar for scoopsmommy
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-28-2003
Fri, 07-25-2003 - 10:20pm
I would like to suggest a book to you or the series of books called "the tightwad gazette"

Please check them out at your library and read them. They were very inspirational to me and gave me tons of creative ideas how to save money.

Next, Make a COMPLETE budget or track your expenses for a few months. You must list EVERYTHING not just utilities. Look for websites that give you example budgets.

You must include:

gifts (birthdays and holidays)





eating out


houseold maintenance (repairs to house, tools, anything)

lawn care

pets/pet care (if you have one)

health insurance




life insurance


bank fees (checking account fees/atm fees)


any other costs besides the ones you have already listed

First and foremost you are going to have to STOP the credit card use totally. Get them paid off first. In order to decrease your houseold budget by approximitely 40,000, you will probably have to take some drastic measures. Maybe downsize to a smaller home?

Get rid of the leased car and buy a used car?

Cut the cable tv

cut all the fancies on your phone service/stop making long distance calls or time your calls.

Start tracking that electricity. Hang laundry to dry. Don't leave the computer on all day. Turn off lights. Turn the thermostat hotter in summer' Cooler in winter. Use cool water for laundry. Use the "miser" cycle on the dishwasher. (the one that doesn't heat the dishes to dry them)

For every line of your budget, try to think of one way you can decrease the cost, even if it's only pennies you'll save.

Whatever you're buying with those cc's STOP!!!

Good luck!

Avatar for meandmypea
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Fri, 07-25-2003 - 10:31pm
phone: approx $75/month - I agree with others. This is way too high. We have no extras on our phone, so our bill is $21 a month for local service. I admit, I miss my caller ID, but we cancelled it because it only worked 50% of the time, so I couldn't justify paying $8 a month for that. I spend no more than $5 in long distance and I call my mom every Sunday.

gas: $22 - Sounds pretty good. I get level billing, and we pay $50 a month year round.

cable: $60.- Cut back to basic or cut it out all together. If both you and your DH are working for now, you're really only home all day on the weekends. Calculate how much you pay in cable per hour you watch in a month, and see if that's worth it to you.

mortgage: $1600 (includes principle, interest, taxes and insurance)

H2O: $37

car (leased): 365 - Have you ever thought about buying a used car? You can get a car that's only 2 or 3 years old (one just out of a lease, in fact) that's in great condition and much more economical. With a lease, you're basically just renting a car. I don't think it's worth it, but that's just my opinion.

car ins: $145 - That's $1740 a year!!! I pay half that for full coverage on both mine and DH's car, and I have an accident on my record. Have you talked to your insurance company about discounts you could qualify for? Here's a link to an online defensive driving program. You could see if your insurance company would accept that. http://www.4tdds.com/v2/faq.asp

electric: $170!!!!!!!! (YIKES!!) Making sure lights are off and line drying (even if it's just one or 2 loads a week) makes a HUGE difference. I use the 3 minute rule - if I'm going to be out of the room for 3 minutes, I turn the light off. I set my a/c at 77 degrees. It sounds high, but when it's 90 degrees outside, 77 feels great! Also, make sure you turn the power off on your computer monitors when not in use, don't just rely on the screen saver. The monitor alone uses more electricity than the computer unit. Level billing is great too, if you can get it. I pay $74 a month in level billing. Last year I paid $93 a month. I became much more diligent about watching our energy consumption, and it really paid off.

brinks (alarm system): $27

misc credit cards: $825!! - Are these minimums or are you paying extra to pay them off? If you're paying extra to pay them off quicker, I don't think that's so bad. I pay about $750 a month in cc's to pay them off, but my minimums total up to only $280. I'll be cc free next year.

Start now looking at things you want to buy as wants vs. needs. There are several great books that can give you a different perspective on the way you look at spending or budgeting, regardless of whether you're in debt or not. Here's a few:

"The Average Family's Guide to Financial Freedom" by Bill & Mary Toohey

"Debt Proof Living" by Mary Hunt

"Financial Peace Revisited" by Dave Ramsey

"Your Money or Your Life" by Joe Dominguez/Vicki Robin

"Miserly Moms" by Jonni McCoy

"Get A Financial Life" by Beth Kobliner

"How to Get of Debt, Stay out of Debt & Live Prosperously" by Jerrold Mundis

and the old standard "The Complete Tightwad Gazette" by Amy Dacyczyn

Good luck!


Edited 7/26/2003 7:41:50 AM ET by meandmypea

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-20-2003
Sat, 07-26-2003 - 12:40pm
Thank you all for your advice and responses. To answer some of your questions:

1. Mortgage: We anticipate saving around $50/month once we re-fi. We just moved into our house in December. Real Estate is very expensive in our area. We bought a 4 bdrm house that is 30 y/o but got a good price on it and it is in an area that I LOVE (good schools, nice neighborhood, etc.) -so moving is not an option for us.

2. Phone bill - We have already switched to a cheaper service and now use Talk America. That has helped quite a bit. I have a cell phone but I've had the same phone for 6 years now so I'm not in a contract. As soon as I quit work that bill will be gone.

3. Cable - $60 is for cable & internet. We will probably go to basic Plus cable to save some money.

4. Electric - A lot of people mentioned line drying clothes. We have a gas dryer - does this still apply? It is still plugged into the wall and uses electric somehow. We are getting better about turning lights off, tv's etc. I think it was so high b/c we've had a hot summer and the a/c jacked it up. Last month (June) it was only $70.

5. Credit Cards - The only CC we use now is an American Express, mostly just to track expenses. That gets paid off each month. The $825 goes towards our outstanding cc debt and a home loan we have out. Our other cc's have been cut up!! So we are trying to get that paid off.

6. Car - We only pay for 1 car that is leased. To break the lease I would need to pay the whole thing off - not an option.

I know those aren't in order. I really appreciate all of the tips/hints. My paycheck gets deposited into savings and we only take what we "need" for food/bills.

I really need to get disciplined. This board has a ton of great ideas.