C.H. asks from Sparta, MI on February 16, 2008
What Techniques Do You Use for Finances?
My husband and I have been married for 8 1/2 years and when we were first married, we had zero debt. We bought our first house that turned out to be the money pit (cracked foundation.)We had to put $15,000 into it just to repair everything and then had to pay to get out of it at closing. We are also paying off student loans for 3 masters degrees which is a huge chunk of change. Before I was a mom, I was on the career path. Now I would sell my degrees back to just stay home with them.
Anyway, the point to this ramble is that we are living paycheck to paycheck. We are making it, but barely. After this tax return, we should be caught up and have more breathing room. My question is what do you do to keep on a budget, etc? Envelope systems, any advice would be helpful. Thanks in advance!
2 moms found this helpful
R.B. answers from Lansing on February 17, 2008
We use Quicken software (Banking on line) for our finances and we love it! With Quicken you can plot your payments and income, use a spreadsheet for paying off debts and know when those debts will be paid off so you can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and you see your daily account balances.
I highly suggest it! If your bank doesn't integrate with Quicken then switch banks - it's worth it.
1 mom found this helpful
S.R. answers from Lansing on February 18, 2008
Write a menu (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks) every week before you go to the grocery store. Buy only those items you need for the recipes you've chosen for the week (add a bonus item or two for treats can make it easier to follow, at first). This pre-planning will save you countless time and money.
We've been doing this for 4 years and have been able to keep our grocery budget to around $60 per week for a our family of four (2 adults and 2 growing boys... 14 and 9).
We, also, avoid too much pre-packaged food (especially cold cereals, chicken nuggets, etc) it is high in price and low in quality! For snacks we stick with fruit, veggies and homemade granola bars.
In fact, we make just about everything from scratch and it doesn't take as much time as you'd think. The pre-planning really makes it work.
Plant a garden in whatever sunny spots you have in your yard. If you need to improve the soil in your garden take a drive to the country and find a horse farm willing to let you take a little horse pucky.
If you have really, really limited space plant the veggies you use the most. Plant herbs, too. Blanch and freeze, pickle or can whatever excess you garden produces... especially tomatoes.
If you have the freezer space but little time, slip the skins off the tomatoes crush them, pack them into zip-lock freezer bags and freeze them. They will then be ready to turn into pasta and pizza sauces, added to rices... you name it.
Also, buy your spices in bulk from the local health food store. You will get a higher quality herb and a lot more volume for your money.
For us, containing the grocery budget was the first step to re-evaluating our cash-flow. Start with one expense location at a time and keep trimming every chance you can.
1 mom found this helpful
S.H. answers from Grand Rapids on February 17, 2008
Two words: Dave Ramsey
S.R. answers from Lansing on February 17, 2008
My husband and I just started doing the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University that has a lot of things to do to become debt free. He has a book for this and also one called Total Money Makeover. Basically you have to start off getting $1000 saved up and put aside as an emergency fund. Then you can start paying off debt. Through out this we make a budget and use cash as much as possible. We use the envelop system and that really helps us to spend only a certain amount of money each week. We get paid weekly so we fill it up each week. Dave Ramsey has a website and like I said he has these books. Right now it is really helping us and we have a plan to get out of debt. One major thing we are going to do is sell our 2nd car and pay off our van with that. Of course taxes and this new tax rebate will help alot. Hope this info helps.
K.K. answers from Saginaw on February 17, 2008
My husband and I are in the same boat as well as many Americans. We have several credit cards w/ balances. I just recently did a finance seminar at work. The Total Money Makeover; the book is by Dave Ramsey. He teaches you how to budget, have an emergency fund and start working on paying your debt. We started the program back in December and we have not used any credit cards since then. We put money away in an emergency fund and have paid off 1 credit card. I have been on an unpaid maternity leave since January 17th; since we have a budget are using our ER fund to help bills until I got back to work on March 10th; again, we have not had to use CC's. I would highly recommend using the Dave Ramsey approach to getting out of debt. When I return to work, it should only take us 1 month to get our ER fund back and to pay off 1 more credit card!
Good Luck to you!
C.C. answers from Detroit on February 17, 2008
We like to listen to Dave Ramsey on the radio and we follow his budget system as well. He wrote "The Total Money Makeover". I even bought his envelope system with wallet. It's simple, laid out steps. www.daveramsey.com He actually doesn't take credit cards for his business, only check or debit cards.
N.K. answers from Detroit on February 17, 2008
I also have been married for 8 1\2 years and we have been through the same thing. Although my husband and I do not have student loans but were debt free when we got married. Since then my husband was wrongfully fired for a year from Chrysler and I was a waitress at the time(no children at that time) he did not get paid for nothing. Its a long story but clearly not his fault. Long story short, he got the same job back after taking Chrysler to court but its not what you think...he did not get back pay only backpay on an unemployment check so to speak. Since then his credit went downhill. Afterall you have to get credit cards to survive when there's no money coming in like their used to be. It's been hard so I understand how you feel. We used to go out to eat twice a week and now we don't. We will make it exciting to go out for our daughter but we split a meal or if we need anything we only buy on sale or clearence. CLIP COUPONS!!!!!!I can't stress that enough...I save sometimes 10-20.00 dollars at a time when I use them. Also we did debt counseling. It is different then debt consolidating. It's a great thing but you do have to pay their fee but they make it so much easier for you to get caught up and not be late again. That's what they do and that's what's important now a days. Trust me I know not having the greatest credit score. Look into that. Just check it out ,it can't hurt. I don't where you live but we went to American Debt Counseling on 10 and Vandyke. they have 20 years experience and have no bad reviews according to the Better Business Bureau. Well I know what you feel and I know I didn't offer alot but those things I did mention do help, even if they are the little things. Good Luck
M.S. answers from Detroit on February 17, 2008
I would recommend that you make a budget sheet. Looking at exactly how much you bring in and how much has to go out is very helpful. Know what you will need a month for utilities, insurances, food, gas, etc. will help you determine over-all cash flow. If you have credit card debt, or other purchase debts begin by using the spend down method. You list each one then you begin with paying off the lowest one. Once you have that one paid off you take that money and add to your next debt and pay until it is paid off. You will feel a sense of freedom and motivate you that there is hope. You have to start saving something for a cushion to have for those emergency times. when things break down, etc. Determine honestly what you can put away and don't take it out.
Suzie Orman has a book out that is for women. Oprah had it on her sight for free download. If you would like it, I can forward to you if you send me your email. It is very practical and simple.
Those are just a few ideas. God Bless your journey.