22 answers

Making Ends Meat....

I know we are not the only ones out there with this problem. We can't seem to make ends meat each pay period. My husband and I both went to college. He has a good job and makes decent money, but it's just never enough it doesn't seem like. I teach pre-k, but it's not through a school system, so I don't get paid a lot and I don't get paid through the summer, which makes times like right now especially difficult. I feel it very, very important that I am home with my children as much as possible! I struggle with going back to teaching in the public school system every year at this time. But I just tear up at the thought of missing the milestones in my children's lives. My husband supports me, but I still can see the stress each month. We have a mortage, two car payments, two student loan payments each month, and all the other stuff that comes with a house (insurance, TV, internet, etc...). I guess my question is if others have been in our situation and are now out of it, what did you do?

A very good friend of mine loves Dave Ramsey and has recommended him. My husband doesn't see the point in paying someone to help us get out of debt. I want to do it, but I can see the money going elsewhere that just seems like a better idea. I don't know what to do ... any suggestions? big or small!! What do you all do to stay "afloat"? Thanks for your help!!

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What can I do next?

More Answers

You can cut the cable and save a chunk of change each month - my family does just fine with an antenna in the attic. How expensive are your cellphone plans? You might consider switching to prepaid and using a cell only when absolutely necessary. Myself and kids have prepaid phones ($80/year each) and we use an Internet phone when we don't use our cellphones at home.

Sell one of the newer cars and buy a used compact car for whomever isn't hauling kids around to drive. I think there are many things that folks consider necessities that really are luxuries when you are living paycheck to paycheck. Also, look at your eating out expenses - plan meals ahead and shop the sales.

And, honestly, I"d set aside the guilt in terms of getting a better paying job - research shows that kids with SAHMs are not necessarily better off than kids of moms that work AND a working mom that isn't worried about bills is far better for everyone than a mom that is very worried about how to make ends meet. The main difference they find between SAHM and working moms is that SAHMs spend more time on housework ;) And, some of the research shows that working moms are actually happier overall.

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Hi L. I understand where you are coming from. I just recently resigned from teaching to stay at home with my one year old boy..Well I have thought about it myself how can I make money while at home..Have you tried offering babysitting services at your house? Also, check out monster.com and search for "online teacher" there is a company based in Dallas that are hiring teachers to work online. Check it out it doesn't hurt. Or something else you could do not sure if your husband works weekends, but you can look for a part-time job on the weekends....Good luck!!

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Hey there, yes, many are in the same boat. Suzie Orman has a good program on TV (for free) and also has a book out ot help people like yourself.

Basically what she says is this:
You either have to make more or spend less to catch up.


Look at your bills.

Cable: Do you need 1000 channels on the tv? Can you go basic?
Auto loans: You are working part time, why do you have a car payment? Can you sell your car for a used one with no added payments? Can you reduce your insurance by taking a driver defense course online? Can you refinance to a lower interest rate?
Groceries: set aside an amount every month and that's it - no wandering shopping at Walmart.

When you look to buy something think, have I been so inconvenienced without this in the last 6 months? Was my life upside down because I didn't have it? If no-DON'T BUY IT. Squash the I wannas.

Dining out: Huge expense-can you cut down to once a month?
Home items: We love to buy things for the house but once I made the decision-no more house stuff-all of a sudden we had more money to put back. We live humbly but we are still alive.

Student loans: yes, we all have had these. Any way you can do a home business on the web to help pay for the loans? That would be your specific contribution.
Does your hubby take sack lunches? This is where we save the most and my hubby doesn't seem to mind.

Garage sale shop: I know but have you seen what people are selling now a days? Every body needs the money and there are so many nice people out and about on Saturday mornings. Great way to get to know your neighbors.

Coupons: We save at least $20 every two weeks on groceries. Little effort for big reward. Look for a place with DBL coupons, etc. Don;t forget places like Walgreens and CVS-they have great sales and accept coupons when you use their card.

As for your credit cards, if you can't get the interest down you may need help. Hiring a company will hurt your credit but it will help you get a peace of mind in the long run. Choose one to pay all and cut them all up. No more using cards. Scary huh?

Toys: big expense and they tire of them anyway - any way to participate in a toy exchange with your friends and that's free.

You have to get out of that credit cycle. All money goes to cards so when you need something or an emergency, you have no savings to fall back on. That would be my first step, start saving****.

You may have to go back to work but will the cost of daycare balance out?

Biggest thing, more people are divorcing over money than ever before. The news said people aren't even fighting over the kids anymore-just the debt. You have to remember to keep calm and always promote each other, take his worry away while he is at work so he can do a good job. Don't let it hang over your heads while you are at home so he can be happy to see you every night. It will be ok. Respect each other always.

Hugs to you and God bless your growing family, C.

I forgot this one: check out your fridge and water heater temp. Do you need rock hard ice cream? Lowering this can save you money ans well as balancing out your thermostat.

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Here are a few suggestions...

#1 what about watching children in your home (I believe in TX you can watch 4 without licensing)... but even 2 would help out- you figure 50-60 a week (that is 200-240 a month).

#2 what about doing away with the second car. I know many families who have gone back to just one vehicle. Or you can sell one car and purchase a descent used car that is paid for... this helps eliminate a car payment and can help lower your insurance.

Side note on insurance: make sure you have your insurance for home and car with same company- many companies offer a discount for having both with them (I save 15% a year on my homeowners insurance).

#3 see about consolidating your student loans... right now many student loan lenders are willing to consolidate student loans into one payment.

#4 to save on groceries, check into Angel Food Network and see if a church or organization in your area participates- it is a box of food (no income verification- anyone qualifies) which they say will feed a family of 4 for a week for $30. You order around the 10th of month and pick up the last saturday or around the 25th. And the menu changes every month. Check out their website www.angelfoodministries.org (believe that is right). Even purchasing a couple boxes will help with the grocery bill.

#5 check out local churches to see if someone offers a Crown Financial class- cost is nominal -@ $10-15. Really good stuff. Many churches even offer free debt counseling.

#6 sit down and put all you owe on paper... make a working budget, you might even contact any credit cards or even your student loans and see if you qualify for lower interest rate.

#7 start with the small things- you will see the light when you put it on paper... begin paying off small items... then put that extra money toward a larger bill, and so on.

I know several families who have gone from being $100,000 in debt to completely debt free within 10 years and less.

Have you ever thought about a home-based business? I am a stay at home mom and have recently joined a team of moms to build a home-based business. Visit my website for more information and let me help you work from home. http://www.buildingfuturesfromhome.com

Hey L., i highly recommend dave ramsey as well!! me and my husband went through his program and we are much better budget friendly now than we have ever been! When we first got married we didnt really budget really well and didnt prioritize very well, so when we would run out of money we would just put it on a credit card and go about our mary way... which was so awful to do! Our sunday school class went through dave ramsey together and trust me i know being in the situation that you are in that the initial $100 (i think thats what it is anyways) seems like a lot of money, but TRUST ME you will be saving so much more money in the long run and it will make you so much more financially secure and it will probably even strengthen your marraige even more because he teaches you also how to work together with your budget. I know you want to stay home with your children, but i will tell you this ...if you do go through dave ramsey, he will encourage you to go back to work if yall are struggling. I hope this helps!

My husband and I have been through Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace class and learned sooooo much! You could even just get his book "Total Money Makeover" and it goes over a lot of the same stuff. One of the things he's big on (that my husband and I have always said anyway) is to get rid of car payments. We drive older vehicles that we keep in good condition so that we aren't paying all that money each month. If you were to sell your cars and buy used cars while saving the $ you were using for car payments each month, you can save a lot of money, and also buy newer and nicer cars in cash with the $ you saved, eventually buying yourself a brand new car in cash (meaning you're not paying all that interest!!). That's one way we save so much money each month. It is worth the money to go through the class (you can even do it online on your own). We're still working on it, but I have a lot of friends who have become debt free by applying what they learned in the Financial Peace class.

My husband and I are going through the same thing. I had student loans and was able to get them deferred or put in forbearance because of economical hardship, so you might try that, if you have credit card debt, like us , I recommend a company out of Florida called Freedom Debt Management. They negotiate with your credit card companies to get interest rates lowered and you pay them an amount every month and then in turn they pay your creditors, the fee they charge is included with that. We recently did it and we were paying about 300 a month and now we are paying about 250 to pay off our debt in about 4 years. They don't loan you money, they work with your creditors. I know they are legit because this is the second time I have had to use them unfortunatley.We got rid of our house phone and use our cell phones, but be sure it is cost effective and you have enough minutes on your phone, clip coupons, since you are about to deliver, you couldn't start a side business but maybe later you could do some work on the side to help make ends meet. If you want any more suggestions or anything else, let me know.

It's the best $100 you will ever spend. It will change your life. Just do it.

Get rid of the cable or dish. Go to a cheaper cell phone plan and get a slower internet is what we have done lately. Dave Ramsey also has books to read that should be available from the library that won't cost you. I wouldn't pay to see him. HE is also on some Christian radio stations with a weekly program. I am afraid if hubby is not on board than if is a moot point, because I believe both spouses need to be in on the plan whatever it is.
I would also cut out eating out, new toys or clothes etc. And really look at what are necessities and what are "wants" vs. "needs". You would be surprised what you can live without when you want to.
BTW, we have never had cable or dish. SO we really haven't cut that out. We never paid for it to begin with.
THere are also some frugal websites you might check out.
GOod Luck,

I have not read all of your responses so I am sorry if I repeat =)

One big thing you can do is get rid of the second car, you would be amazed at how much money that saves you. I was working and desperately wanted to stay home with our daughter. The only way we could get it to work financially was for me to give up my car. It was the best thing I ever did, we saved almost a $1000 a month. (payment, insurance, maintenance, gas) When we saved extra money we were finally able to pay cash for a car about a year after I quit working.

Dave Ramsey is SOOO worth the money! I would highly recommend doing the class. Many of the local churches will give scholarships for the classes if you need them, so you may look into that.

Good luck, I hope everything works out for you and your family. I know how stressful money can be.

Dave Ramsey doesn't get paid to help you get out of debt, he teaches you how to do it on your own. All you have to do is buy his book (The Total Money Makeover), and if you are serious, you can do it. I swear, it is very very hard at first, but eventually you will come out of the hole you have created for yourselves. We all create this image of how we are supposed to live (mortgage, car pymts, etc.), but really all we are doing is living our lives in debt. Get the book. It will change your mentality. And good luck!

I just want to tell you that Dave Ramsey changed our lives. It is about $100 dollars to go through the Financial Peace University class at a church or somewhere (look at his site he will post all the upcoming courses on there). This plan will give you specific steps that you don't have to 'wonder' what to do next. IT works. We were in your situation....now we have my student loan and the house. IT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE. Pray for your husband's heart and mind to be open to this. Prayer is stronger than any argument or nagging. I was feeling the burden more than my husband, and out of the blue he felt the 'house was on fire.' I did not yell or cry or be dramatic, but when you talk to him, it was as if I had. I know God intervened that day and interceded my words and tone. Things started changing from that day. I am forever grateful. The way we look at 'stuff' in general is so different. We are not minimalist, but it has deeply impacted us and all for the better. Having no credit cards or car payments is so freeing. We had to get a card again this year for a roof replacement, and it was amazing how fast and motivated we were to get rid of it....we did and faster than any in the past. I praise God for Dave Ramsey's ministry......it is the best advice we have come across.

Crown Finanical Ministry is very similar to Dave Ramesy. It is a non-profit Christian group and the cost for the class is very minimal. They have many resources online for free at www.crown.org. You could read Dave Ramsey's book from the library and you will at least know where to begin.

Hi, L.! My husband and I both went to the Dave Ramsey FPU and LOVED IT! As a matter of fact, we are looking into teaching it at our church, because there are so many people in the same/similar situation. It is WONDERFUL! I honestly could not say enough about how great those classes are. He teaches you how to make your money behave! :)

As far as things you could do: try asking your student loans for deferment or forebearance until you get some other things payed off. Usually they will let you do it between 6 mos and 1 year. Now, you will have to put that money toward paying something else off and then use that money (all of it) to paying something else off, until you get to a comfortable place that you can breathe, at least.

There is so much information to share. Please, feel free to contact me if you'd like some tips. I'd be happy to share some of the things I learned with you that we are living and loving right now.

On another note but related...we also do the Grocery Game (www.thegrocerygame.com) and save LOTS of money with it. It is $10+ a month (depending on how many stores' lists you want), but we save WAY more than that; so, to us, it is worth it. AND...right now, the Trial is FREE!

This year, alone, we have saved about $1,000 at CVS. We shop there every week, too. I'll give you an example of our last trip there...We bought a retail total of $80.34 and PAID (out of pocket) $0.36! Yes, you read that right...36 CENTS!

Please, contact me for more info on that, too! Best wishes to you, and I pray you will find hope in all of our postings...there is a light in this tunnel! :)

Hi L.,

If you're interested in Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover book, get it from the library! (occasionally, he will also have a sale on his website & the book will be only $10) I was also able to find his blank budgeting sheets on his website....print them off for free! Putting a budget on paper really opens your eyes & lets you see where your money is getting away from you.

good luck!

Hi L.,
It looks like you have been getting some really great advice. I have heard many good things about the Dave Ramsey program as well as Crown Financial. Pick one and stick to it. It is amazing the areas that you can cut back on when you really evaluate where you are spending. We use the Quicken Program to keep track of all of our outgoing expenses. It makes it easy to keep track and create a budget but you have to be disciplined to do it. Also, if you are looking to generate more income...find something that you are passionate about. My passion is nutrition and helping families lead healthier lives. I work from home on my nutrition business. It allows me a flexible schedule and I can do as much or as little as I want to. I share about the benefits of JuicePlus. If you'd like to know anything about it, check out my website at www.applestozucchini.com

Hey -
Everyone has given you some great advice. I was having trouble about 3 years ago and sat down and REALLY looked at my finances. Based on that, I changed my tv/cable/ and other bills that I have control over. I decided to cut out TV completely, but I kept internet because I share a lot of photos with my family and I enjoy doing that. I decided to make that choice and keep internet. But, we don't watch a lot of TV and we do watch videos, so I decided to let the TV go.

I also pack my lunch for work and I pack the kids lunch for school. Plus, I made homemade meals - meaning I do NOT buy pre-packaged meals in the freezer section of the grocery store. Plus, I always shop at Walmart. I found that I was spending a lot of money on groceries at the actual grocery store and I spend a lot less at Walmart. I buy generic in a lot of brands. There are some generic things that I don't like the flavor of, but most are just fine and so I buy those.

ALSO, the major change that I made is that I designate a certain amount of money to go into savings every month. I used to have a philosophy of "what is left over" will go into savings. Well, that never worked for me. So now, the money automatically goes into savings every month. And sure, I sometimes have to withdraw it, but at least it is there.

Recently, I changed cars. I bought a nice used car, sold my other car and then withdrew $3000.00 from my savings to pay off the new used car that I bought. So, I don't have a car payment AND, I had the money in savings to pay it off.

You can do it, but it takes a serious commitment to looking at your budget. And, my children know that they only get toys on their birthday and at christmas. There is nothing in between. Further, all of their clothes come from consignment shops. I rarely pay over $5.00 for anything they wear. Both of my kids also have one pair of shoes and one pair of sandals - even my daughter. She wears her tennis shoes with her dresses. I just choose not to afford to pay for "cutesy" shoes that she will only wear a couple of times before she outgrows them.


Hi L.!

I left my teaching job last year as well, and it's been a challenge, but here are a few things:

My husband and I are currently going through the Dave Ramsey program at our church in Denton - if you wanted to come check out a class one week, there wouldn't be any cost. We'll be on week 6 of 13 this Sunday night. I can get you info if you want. The cost for the class is for the materials, which included his book, a workbook, the CDs and access to lots of resources on his site - and I believe the access to the site is forever, not just for the duration of the class. I wasn't completely sold on Ramsey at first, but he's made a lot of sense to me, and it has changed our money situation.

I know lots of people recommended eating in more instead of going out. If you've got a pretty good handle on that, great! If planning meals ahead or squeezing the most out of your grocery budget is something you'd like to talk about, email me directly sometime ____@____.com - I'm a consultant with Homemade Gourmet, and our goal is to help get families back to the dinnertable, without all the stress. My meal planning help is completely free.

If you'd like to talk a minute about being able to make more income from home, I can help you with that too. Just email me, or check out our site www.homemadegourmet.com/karladunning if you're not familiar with the company. I've been with them for 6 years now, and the company is amazing, and our dinners are great!

Whatever you guys do, just hang in there. You'll make it!
K. :)

Good morning L.:
Times are really tough and it is so hard to make ends meet all around. I really encourage to just go out and purchase Dave Ramseys' book "TOTAL MONEY MAKEOVER" and "snowball" going now. You do not have to join his online thing which is eighty-nine dollars, just buy his book. In the back of his book are the worksheets you will need to make your plans to get out of debt. Simply take the book to Kinkos and have them make regular 8x11 copies for you and you will be on your way.

A. C

Dave Ramsey's book - Total Money Makeover. Highly recommend and you are not paying anybody a dime!

Can you live with one car? Can you do without cable? I would eliminate all of the "wants" out of your life until you are out of debt. Don't eat out at all. Have your husband bring his lunch to work. We went through all of this last year. It was either cut back or move. With our added daycare expenses, we sold one of our cars, never eat out except for may every couple months. Also, both my husband bring our lunch to work - that cut back a lot!! Also, we went on a spending freeze except for food and necessities. Also, we use coupons. Also, the money we saved went towards credit. We paid off $50,000 in debt last year; however, it was a lot cutting back. Good luck!

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