July 22, 2009,
L.D. asks from Greenville, TX on July 20, 2009
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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M.B. answers from Dallas on July 20, 2009
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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G.R. answers from Dallas on July 20, 2009
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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C.S. answers from Dallas on July 21, 2009
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?
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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D.W. answers from Tyler on July 21, 2009
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.
T.B. answers from Dallas on July 21, 2009
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
J.B. answers from Amarillo on July 21, 2009
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!
B.B. answers from Dallas on July 20, 2009
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.
S.H. answers from Tyler on July 21, 2009
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.