Am I the Only One Broke???

Updated on September 17, 2010
B.K. asks from Austin, TX
39 answers

Our family lives paycheck to paycheck. The money is spent before we see it in the bank. Am i the only one? I am a stay at home mother of 3 children. Oldest 13 years old and the youngest 9 months old. My husband is an rn at a hospital and works 2 full time jobs to pay the bills. I'd like to hear from other sahm who feel this way. It stinks to feel guilty about spending money....how do you guys feel?

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E.B.

answers from Houston on

You aren't the only one broke. MANY of the people that you might think have money (that act and spend like they do) are really just living on credit cards. Everyone is in the same boat.

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J.B.

answers from Corpus Christi on

you could go from being a SAHM to a WAHM like me. i've worked at home for many years with an amazing company and never have to leave my kids side to do it..make a great income and have many freedoms because of it. call or email me for info.
[email protected]____.com
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M.L.

answers from Colorado Springs on

You may not see it around you, but you're in a HUGE club! It's never easy to manage financially (no matter what you may assume about other people), but right now a lot of folks are living from paycheck to paycheck, if they're not out looking for a paycheck in the first place. They don't talk about it; they're too busy getting that paycheck and using it as wisely as they can.

For what it's worth, at my house we have always "worn our belts tight," partly because I insisted (!) on being a SAHM. I have never regretted that decision. But it did mean I had to take the responsibility of making choices. I was hitting the library for "household economy" learning from the time I was first married. Back in the '90s, I read Amy Daczyczn's advice when it was in newsletters, not books! (Still worthwhile, though the financial stuff is outdated.) Even before that, I always did alternative shopping (read: thrift stores, yard sales). I tried to teach my children, when they were young, to spend money wisely so that, when they were old enough to earn their own, they could make good decisions about whether the "in things" were really worthwhile. We still live in an older home, drive about the furthest things from new cars, and don't take big vacations. I try to save a little money each month from my household account; sometimes I don't make it and occasionally I do.

I learned a lot from my parents, who always counted their pennies, having learned to do so during the Great Depression. I knew other kids had some things I didn't, but I never really felt deprived. For example, when all my friends wanted beautiful Madame Alexander dolls for Christmas - that's how long ago it was! - my mother found us American Character dolls that were in her budget and were just as lovely. (I still have mine.) On the other hand, they used their money in ways they felt were important: living in an area with good schools, sending their daughters to camp in the summers, putting us through college!

One reason I can enjoy living economically is that I stopped looking at advertisements a long time ago. Ask me if such-and-such is on sale at a certain store, and I'll go, "Huh?" My friends have to call me and tell me about a good sale! It seems weird to me to look at ads now. I avoid looking at TV commercials, too. If I listen to all the hype, I get dissatisfied. When a woman has an important job to do and valuable people to take care of, she doesn't have time to cry and wonder if she's measuring up to the neighbors' standards. I am happy when the bills are paid!

I have some younger friends (they're mamas, not grandmamas) who have learned the financial principles that Dave Ramsay teaches and say that they're managing on their small budgets much better now. There's a website if you would like to check that out.

But no website can make you feel good about having a husband and children who love you and whom you love. You have that already. You're also probably richer than the majority of people in the world, so take stock of what you have, including the wealth of love and character at your house, and make your home a place of joy.

I'm sorry this is such a lecture! I just want to add one more thing: let your husband know how much you love him AND his two jobs. Thank him out loud for everything he does. Try not to pine about what you may not have, because it'll put a guilt trip on him. For anyone even to have two jobs is wonderful in this economy.

8 moms found this helpful
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A.H.

answers from New York on

write down what you are spending each penny on... are you using coupons.. you can try going to a thrift store for some things.. i have bought winter coats and boots at the thrift store.. and they are really nice.. go to a thrift store in a nice area... they have really nice stuff.. are the kids shutting the lights off when not in the room and shutting the tv off... i can't beliveve how much we saved by just shutting the lights off, using coupons, and watching what i spend money on.. can i wait to buy this or that until it's on sale... i buy the sunday newspaper to see what is on sale that week.. do i really need this... i hope this helps.. it helped me out.. now i actually put a few dollars in the bank and we actually get pizza once a week.... or we go without for two weeks.. so we can go bowling or mini golf... its worth the effort... we also have timed showers.... and then ask the kids and adults to cut 2 mintues off that time.. it reallyw orks.. the bills come in less....which really helps... allie~~~~

3 moms found this helpful

M.G.

answers from El Paso on

No your not the only one. In April of this year i decided to quit a really good paying job to be home with my 4 and 6 year old. Last year my 6yr old son had a really hard kinder year. I believe it was do to my husband and I working so much. Besides the more you make the more you spend. You know with daycare, after school programs, school lunch, and you eating out for lunch do to lack of time to fix lunch in the mornings. So now I'm home and I get anxiety when I think of all the things that need to be paid. But I stop and see how happy it makes my little ones when I help with home work, pick them up from school and volunteer at thier school It helps me take it day by day. Everything will get paid in time what's important is your kids security and happyness.

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M.L.

answers from Austin on

Hi B.:

Nope your not the only one!! We also live paycheck to paycheck and it's weird because my husband just got promoted w/ new pay raise and we are still in the same situation.....we are struggling every day!! I just keep praying and trusting in God that He will make things better!! I will keep you in my prayers!! Hang in there!!

M.

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D.P.

answers from Pittsburgh on

I think LOTS of people are in that boat with you & your family!
A budget is essential in times like this.
We've been feeling the pinch too.
What makes it better is to know that we don't have credit card debt (that can't be paid off at the end of the month. Lots of people become slaves to those minimum payments and that's a death spiral to "Brokeville."
I really suggest Dave Ramsay's Total Money Makeover or Financial Peace for a solid plan to eliminate debt and learning to live on less than you make--whatever the amount. Good luck to you and your family.

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P.W.

answers from San Francisco on

Of course not. We're in a recession.

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S.G.

answers from Rochester on

We're having our own financial difficulties. I'm the only breadwinner in the family (not by choice) and we have a 2 yo, 14 mo and one on the way.

Definitely isn't fun having to think about $$, but really, the only way you can think about things is to have a budget or its never going to work. Sometimes you have to strap down and not get things you want. Clip coupons (but only buy stuff you'll actually use), look for good sales, organize your shopping trips to minimize gas, etc. Look to see what services you could do without (perhaps netflix instead of cable, or hulu if you're internet saavy, etc). Look at used clothing online or at local stores (you can find some great buys). Sell the stuff you don't need on Craigslist. Simplify things if you can.

Might be worth looking at a sitter for one child while you get a part time job? Not sure if that is an option. With my three being under three, having a sitter/nanny is not so cost effective for my bf to get a job....but it possibly could be for yours as it may be that two are in school during the day and only one would need to be watched?

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T.F.

answers from Dallas on

We are not broke right now but we were years ago.

We DON'T carry any debt.... even if it means no cable tv, phone, etc.

We are fortunate to live well but we manage well. We are both numbers people and it was not always like it is now.

We carry no debt except for our mortgage which is minimal.
We never used an escrow account for our year end taxes and insurance. Why let a bank get interest on YOUR $$. Save up during the year and pay it yourself.
I keep about a 6 month supply of food and staples. My grocery trips of basically for fresh fruit and veggies. I go to Costco about once every 2-3 months and spend about $400, go to my butcher about once every 2-3 months and spend about $300.
We do use the credit card heavily because we run a business and we have high expenses. HOWEVER, there is NEVER a balance carried on a card. It is paid in full each month.
If you have an expense pop up, (ex: ac), pay cash. Many repair companies, etc will give you a discount up to 10% if you pay cash. If they don't run a credit card, they save 7% or so.
Pay Cash for a car...........NO car notes.
When house and car insurance is due.....pay the discounted price for paying in full vs making payments. You can save over $100 for using that option.

It takes a lot of discipline and creativity. Make a plan and stick to it.

Best wishes to you!

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M.T.

answers from Austin on

You should definitely check out Dave Ramsey's program. I was a stay at home mom and right now working a contract job part time that I can take my son with me. We had a good amount of debt and took his class for the first time earlier this year and it has helped so much. We have already been able to pay off most of our debt and have learned how to budget what income we want to be able to live off of without me working. I even found ways to cut back at the grocery store which I love to shop at and could easily overspend. I have also been a Mary Kay Consultant for many years but never really took it seriously. When we started the program I decided I wanted to help bring in income without having to pay daycare and began working my MK business and last month sold over $1000 and heading that direction this month as well. Like Dave Ramsey says "Do it with Gazelle Intensity, like your life depends on it." Every extra penny we make goes towards paying off another debt and MAN IT FEELS GOOD. Good luck

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L.S.

answers from Philadelphia on

My husband and I both work and we still have a hard time paying all the bills on time...

I clip coupons, and by that I mean I really clip coupons, and a friend of mine in florida sends me the coupons from her paper too. People in different areas get different coupons, so I get twice the savings... another big thing with coupons... if your grocery store doubles coupons... then only use coupons that are for 75 cents, usually the $1 coupons cannot be doubled, so you actually save $1.50 when you use the 75 cent coupons. Cut and save your coupons ahead of time in an organizer, and wait for stuff to go on sale... I had a 75 cent coupon for crackers last week that I pack in kids lunches... they were on sale 2/$4 so I paid only 50 cents each for two 8 packs of crackers... there have even been some times where I get the stuff for free when they go on sale 10 for $10.

I save at least 90 bucks in coupons every time I go grocery shopping... the trick is to save the coupons and only get stuff that you need and will use. Also mart hopping between grocery stores that have different items on sale... you can save a bunch of money just by getting your groceries from more than one store.

Another great way to save money is to buy bigger portion boxes of snacks and get snack sized ziplock bags (with a coupon of course, lol) and make up your own prepacked snacks.

Find out if they have a coupon bin at the hospital where your hubby works, I work in one and we have a big bin in the break room with coupons of stuff people cut out but did not need. If there isn't a bin already, maybe you can send in a little box with some of your coupons you won't use and start the trend...

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P.W.

answers from Dallas on

B.,
I am not broke now, but I was back in the 80's. There are ways to budget and survive the times, but unless you have a plan to further your income the struggle will more than likely continue. 2 full time jobs are going to wear your husband out fast. Make a plan. Let me know if I can give you some ideas.
Hang in there. Make a plan, then be patient.

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L.G.

answers from Austin on

If you are a SAHM then you know there are sacrifices that you are making that are SO worth it. Whenever you aren't sure, just ask your youngest if he/she would like to spend the day with someone else... Hooray for your husband! Make sure you thank him EVERY time he comes home with a pay check or deposit stub. Be sure to tell him how proud you are of him working so hard to provide for his family. Find ways to go out of your way to make him feel loved and appreciated. (It will make you feel great to build him up this way.)

Then work with your husband on making a budget. Don't think of it as a negative or restrictive thing but a plan of how you spend your money. Then when you spend the allotted amount on something, there is no guilt. You are just following the plan. If you decide to splurge on ice cream cones for the kids, decide that it will come out of another category that you don't need all of that month. No guilt, just following a plan that you both decided on.

If you don't get into debt, you will be fine once the kids are older and you can work part-time while they are all in school. It gets easier because any money you make can go into savings. Having a savings account gives you so much peace of mind because it's there for the unplanned repair, etc.

In the mean time, enjoy your time with your kids. Don't ever let them see you stress about money. Instead, remind them about what a great dad they have who works so hard. Be sure to do it in front of him!

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M.L.

answers from Houston on

We have $25 in all of our accounts for the next week, and we have bills due, tomorrow. Usually, we have some in savings, but that is wiped out now from moving and relocating for a new job and trying to stay afloat without using credit cards when my husband was unemployed.

It really is terrifying isn't it?

And we live pretty poor, so it isn't like we spend lots of money on new things. I buy clothes on clearance, at garage sales or goodwill. We eat homemade food and cheap. We have two older cars that are paid off and we don't have fancy techie stuff. The only debt we have is rent and student loans, but even making the bare payments our tough.

Hang in there.

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J.P.

answers from Boise on

I'm not a SAHM but still felt this way until last year when I bought Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover. It is amazing the money that seemed to go everywhere. When all the bills are paid off, I probably could be a SAHM, although the kids will be in school by then, and I want to make sure that college is paid for before the kids get there, so I will most likely continue working. The book is worth looking at, and can make things look possible.

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K.C.

answers from Dallas on

Man, there is such a big membership in that club here, especially my family. Our savings (what little we had) was wiped out by one of our cars needing a part (like $220) atleast my sister's friend did it for free putting it in....it's hard living like that ....especially now that we have a 2 month old. :(

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M.T.

answers from Nashville on

You're not the only one, and I work! It's tough out there and you just have to learn the art of creative budgeting, "robbing Peter to pay Paul" (this is a term for cutting one cost to cover another), coupon cutting, creative cooking and enjoying simple things like the park....love your family as if they're the only wealth you have.

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B.C.

answers from Dallas on

We are so broke lately too. I stay at home with my two who are almost 3 and 9. I'm currently looking to start watching kids in-home again b/c we just can't do it on one income. So no, you're not alone.

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J.B.

answers from Las Vegas on

I am not a SAHM, but I also worry about money. I've had success using http://www.mint.com. I found it on a recommendation from the New York Times. It's safe because it doesn't store your financial information (see the website for more details). It helps track your spending.

Additionally, I like watching Suze Orman for advice on financial matters. You can watch her podcast here: http://podcast.cnbc.com/mmpodcast/suzeormanshow.xml

I agree with the other mom's about coupons.

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M.F.

answers from Austin on

We're currently enrolled in Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University. It's a class that's frequently offered by churches, and they may even offer a scholarship, if you can't afford the cost. If other churches are like ours - you don't have to be a church member to attend the class. Definitely worth checking into.

Best wishes -
M.

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E.O.

answers from Austin on

I've been a SAHM for the past 13 years. I don't feel guilty about spending money because we try to spend it wisely. I'd feel guilty if I was spending money and didn't know where it was going or if I had tons of credit card debt. That's why next summer we will finish paying off our mortgage in 23 years instead of 30. That was one of our goals. The other was to save for the kids' college and our retirement, which we are doing. Write down your long-term goals. That way you are working toward something instead of feeling deprived. We have a daughter in h.s. and son in college. We have a budget and don't spend what we don't have. Write it down; it helps to see where the money goes and you can see where to cut. We use the library for books and videos instead of buying so we don't go out to movies much. When we do, it's right after lunch when tickets are cheaper and we're not tempted to buy popcorn and stuff. We take an out-of-state family vacation every 4 years or so. We rarely use credit cards and when we do, we pay it off at the end of the month. If we don't have the item we carded when the bill arrives then it should not have been on a credit card. (that means no pizza on credit card). That's why I like writing checks; I can quickly see where I'm spending my money and how much I have left. My car is 11 years old. My husband's car was 14 until it was totaled recently by a drunk driver. We use lots of coupons for groceries & when we eat out, which is a couple of times a month. We don't do the drive-through food. That's expensive and not healthy. Do lots of home cooking. Our furniture is old. We don't have the latest electronic gadgets. We have one computer and one TV and both are several years old. No Gameboys or Playstation. We do lots of free stuff. Shop at resale places and garage sales for clothing. While making these sacrifices, keep reminding yourself of your goal. This will also help your kids learn about sacrificing short-term fun for long-term gain, i.e., study for test instead of playing video games. It's not easy but it's not impossible. Keep your eye on the prize: whatever your goal is.

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J.C.

answers from Anchorage on

Half the time I am putting gas or food on the credit card before the month is over, which makes the next month even harder. To top it off, my husband may be losing his job due to medical issues, and I am not sure if we will be ok or not. You are definitely no the only one. There are a lot of us right now just doing what we can to get by. I am worried/sad about what I am going to be able to do this year for Yule/Christmas.

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B.D.

answers from Houston on

I think one of the biggest things is that both you and your husband have to be "on the same page", otherwise it's like one person is fighting an uphill and never-ending battle. That is actually where I am at. I do all I can to scrimp and save. My husband on the other hand, spends a ridiculous amount of money on things like eating out, alcohol, etc. No matter what I've tried...showing him how much debt we are in, etc., it doesn't work. This has pretty much led me to a sad conclusion that I can't do this alone and among our other issues, will probably lead to a divorce if something doesn't change.

Everyone has given great advice and guidance. Hopefully using it will provide some relief for those of us struggling. However, for me personally, we are buried in debt, have two in daycare and can't unload a house that we can no longer afford. I work and my husband works and our checks are gone before they hit the bank.

It's sad as someone said when you work so hard and never really see a dime go into savings.

Good luck.

G..

answers from Sherman on

you couldnt have picked a better topic for this!! it give everyone the ability to vent..so here i go ...... i feel the same way we live beyond pay check to pay check my DH work has cut them to 4 days a week and we are 150$ over getting food stamps or anything close to that and i am a SAHM and i love it but i feel guilty thinking that we wouldnt be so bad off if i worked then i remember that our insurance goes by our income and i would need to get a babysitting by the time i pay her i would of been better off staying home we dont have any debt except our crappy house and one crappy car that we worked so hard to pay off just to say we have one crappy car paid off..lol. we filed bancruptcy last yr so all our debt is gone and we still cant make it and on top of that the kids always need clothes and now xmas is right around the corner...(sighs) thanks i needed that..

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J.S.

answers from Albany on

Hello....
i know how you feel. My fiance and I both work full time jobs and we also have a 2.5 year old that our parents watch. Like you said "our family lives paycheck to paycheck". We do the same thing. we are lucky if we can afford to get groceries once a month. I work at a bank and he works a machine mechanic. I feel like i am guilty to buy simple things we need or want when we have barely enough money for the bills. An No you are not the only one broke.

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J.W.

answers from Benton Harbor on

You've already gotten great advice, so I'm here more to commiserate than anything. Of COURSE you're not the only one, especially in light of what the recession has done. So many people have lost jobs and homes--it's pushed people who were already living on the edge right off the cliff. I stay at home with three kids too, ages 4.5 to 10. The money has been so tight but in a way it's our own fault--we actually have enough income, and no credit card debt, but we have two new cars right now. My husband's car was a must have--his truck was 16 years old and absolutely falling apart so when cash for clunkers came along, it was a no-brainer. His car payment is really small, under $200 a month, but it does cut in to the budget. The biggest luxury we have is our new Toyota van--it is leased but the lease rate was really good and we plan on buying it out. It just hurts right now, knowing it won't be payed off for 6 years. I really wanted to buy a used Sienna van, I had no problems seeking out a deal on an older one, but my husband really liked the features and body style of the 2011 and I totally lost that argument. So I drive a nice van but I haven't bought new clothes for awhile and I'm almost not exaggerating when I say I have nothing to wear. I totally feel guilty spending money on myself, it seems I would rather buy clothes for my kids and I always come last. I am thrifty with yard sales, consigment shops, etc., but right now our worst expense is groceries. I'm sale shopping, clipping coupons, planning menus, I have a huge backyard garden, and we almost never eat out. Our house isn't extravagant but we do have a 15 year mortgage and we live in an area with excellent schools (fortunately) but unfortunately, high property taxes. In the past 8 years, we put most of our extra income into fixing up our home, the oldest parts of which are about 90 years old. The silver lining is that our house is finally fixed up enough to our liking and it shouldn't require any major projects any time soon. We never took out any equity loans, always used our own cash, so equity-wise I think we're not underwater. I know it's going to get better, our long-term financial picture is good--the house will be paid off in 14 years, maybe less, the cars will both be paid off in 6 years, and my husband contributes heavily to his 401K. But yes, I feel guilty about spending money on extras. While there is some money for extras, it seems that everyone else comes before momma.

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R.F.

answers from Harrisburg on

Many people are just like you, but continue to spend unnecessarily to pretend they have it OK. The biggest thing you can do is to live BELOW your means. My husband and I have always been thrifty. We don't buy things we really don't need. One huge expense we avoid is cable TV. We are so busy, that we really don't have time to explore all 2000 channels that may be available. My son can catch up on past episodes of Cartoon Network's Star Wars the Clone Wars on the computer for free. Otherwise, I miss the occasional Penn State Football game, but the FREE channels we get using the converter box (as you can see, we don't have a new TV either as we need the converter box - a new TV doesn't require one) are more than sufficient (ABC, NBC, CBS, ABC Retro Channel, PBS, FOX, etc) to keep us amused when we do have free time. One thing that really burned me was when my son visited a friend whose family was obviously struggling, and the living room was nearly consumed by a huge big screen TV... I couldn't help wondering how they had the money to buy something like that but not have the money to fix their broken front door or sign their son up for baseball. Another thing is the cell phone. These things are awfully expensive. I don't have a text plan. We don't use it. We use the minutes that come with the phone and that's it. Those expenses alone are pretty big each month, and it's amazing how they add up. Thrift stores for clothes, CraigsList for kids toys and sports equipment, and that sort of thing is fantastic! I just sold a whole bunch of diapers that we had overpurchased and then my kids potty trained... so there are great deals to be had on just about anything. The major key is to not spend on things you don't NEED... and do live below your means. It really is amazing just how much we can cut back if we really need to. It's a good lessons for kids too to realize that they really won't die if they don't have DS. I've explained to mine that I can't stand seeing kids plugged in to the DS in restaurants, in the car, etc... the only gaming system we'll buy is the Wii because at least you have to move for that one... not because we're poor, but because that's the values I want to teach. Spending less really gives a chance to teach the values of focusing on what's really important in life, and gives you a chance to spend more happy family time on things like a family kickball game or a game of scrabble rather than everyone plugged into unnecessary electronics in separate rooms.

In our situation, we purchased a small house, which is really too small for us now, but it's definately livable... while our friends have upgraded and live in big places, we don't. We buy new cars, but the shortest time we've owned one is 11 years (that was the one car we bought used). The others were for up to 15 years (mechanics bills for the year were certainly less than what we paid on car payments), so often, we have no car payments. My husband is currently driving a 2001 Honda Civic with more than 200,000 miles on it, and we're just now coming to a time when we'll have to spend some money on it, but that's OK because it's a lot less than what we'd spend on a new car each year. I charge everything to get the 2% cash back, but we NEVER cary a credit card balance, since that would cost us more than what we're getting back. If I couldn't pay it off, I don't buy it. By living this way, we were able to pay off our mortgage in only 14 years, and now own our tiny home, so now we're able to save for college and pay for the kids to do some special activities in the summer. We have found that it is really worth it to live this way because we don't have to worry so much. Even when my husband was out of work for a year, we were OK, which was a real blessing. Hope some of our tips help.
Good luck!

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N.H.

answers from Austin on

For the past 5 yrs I've been struggling trying to find a 'decent' job that actually pays me what the job is worth. Currently I wk at home doing cust svc & I only get pd abt $200-$300 a month...yes that's right per month! I'm LUCKY to have this job BUT the thing is, b/c I ran my cred cards up just trying to pay bills, etc b/c I don't make that much money, I keep having to use my cred cds b/c I use ALL of my money towards paying on them just to turn around & hafta use a credit card for gas or some other necessity. It's a never ending cycle for me to be broke. I've looked and looked and applied & applied for job after job after job after job just to either not receive any response to my application or be told "sorry we hired someone else" or "sorry, you're just not what we're looking for". It doesn't matter that I went to college, that was yrs ago. I firmly believe, the older a person gets, the harder it is to get a job that pays enough for bills every month. We're a two job household, I have a job (that pays zilch) & my hubby has a job that pays only half of what he's supposed to make. I've even applied at grocery stores or other retail chains to get a supplimental job but no one calls me bk about it although the sign in the window says "now hiring" or "help wanted". Although it may not pay much, try a wk at home job w/Alpine Access or West or LiveOps, they're legit & I've wked for West & currently for AA so it's at least something. With West I could make my own schedule & LiveOps may be the same way but just ck into it, at least it'd be something to supplement household income. Hope this helps & good luck!

J.B.

answers from Houston on

I hear you, I had to get groceries on $20 before! I did it:) but man it was tough. How is your debt situation? We had a pretty good amount of debt, including cars for a while. We got ahold of some Dave Ramsey material and now we are debt free except our home. All debt paid and cars paid off. When we started attacking our debt we only brought in about $60k, I am a stay at home mom and we had another baby in the process!! I only tell you that to encourage you that if debt is an issue, it can be conquered! The book we used was called The Total Money Makeover. You can check it out at www.daveramsey.com. Once the debt is gone, it is amazing what your income can accomplish. I wish you the best, hang in there!!!

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K.H.

answers from San Antonio on

Are you paying for a lot of debt? Dave Ramsey has really helped our family. We live on a budget, pay cash for everything we buy (excluding utilities), it's easy and has eased a lot of stress for our family. Our solution to your problem was Dave Ramsey and Financial Peace Univ., but you have to take it seriously and stick with it. Hope you can find some peace...no pun.

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D.M.

answers from Houston on

Like lots of other moms said, I highly recommend the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University (FPU) or you could probably even borrow the Total Money Makeover book from a library. It made a HUGE difference for us. FPU was about $100/couple in Houston (not sure if it varies in different locations), and we can go back to another course any time. The budget is the first & most important step. You can't cut back on spending if you don't know what you're spending money on.
My hubby & I got ourselves into a mortgage & car payment that were fine before the economy went bust, but then within 6mos to a year, we lost about 30% of our income each. (we went to FPU after this) Luckily we still have our jobs, but it's hard keeping up with everything. My sibs think we are doing fine b/c we make more money, but we are also in much more debt than they are!
I'm the primary breadwinner, and hubby's looking for a better job to help make ends meet. We've got a 5yo, an 8 mo, and one on the way. Not sure how old your middle child is, but if s/he's still in diapers, one thing we're looking at to save a bundle is stocking up on one-size cloth diapers that both babies will be able to wear through potty-training.
A lot of people are in the same boat right now, so you're definitely not alone. It is proving to be a great lesson for many on how to manage finances & make it work. Hopefully as the economy gets better, we'll be able to manage our money better & rebuild our savings.

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J.H.

answers from Columbus on

It doesn't matter if you make $40,000 or $140,000 if you do not budget your money and spend more than you make you will always be in debt.

Many of the moms here have posted about Dave Ramsey and his program and I'll just add my name to the list. He really emphasizes working together as a couple to meet your financial goals. Many people have marital problems stemming from money problems. If you and your husband are willing to learn what it means to have a budget and a goal to get out of debt then you can make it work. You can get rid of the guilt. If you know you have $100 to spend on food, clothing, or whatever then you never have to worry that your spending the money meant for utilities or gas or mortgage. A budget is awesome! I love that we have control of where our money goes each month.

My husband and I got completely out of debt (except for our mortgage) in February and it is wonderful. You can do it, too! We all made sacrifices to meet our goal. I used coupons, I shopped at consignment stores, we ate out less. But it was totally worth it. All five kids were even on board. We called in to The Dave Ramsey Show in February and we all got to scream, "We're Debt Free!"

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S.B.

answers from Redding on

No....you're not the only one. Times are really tough for people right now.
So many are out of work and losing everything.
Be thankful your husband can work.
Be as thrifty as you can.
It's really hard when it seems like no matter how hard you work, you never seem to get anywhere, but things could be worse.

I wish you the best.

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A.C.

answers from Columbus on

It does suck to feel guilty about money and worry about it all the time! I feel your pain.

Definitely take some of the other posters suggestions-great ones!

I would also recommend the following to help and to inspire you:
www.cannywomen.org

"The Tightwad Gazette" by Amy Daczyn (sp?). It's a big book, but it's all short articles, and well worth the read. Although the info about some stuff, like long distance phone service, is a bit outdated, it is well worth reading cover to cover.

As parents, look for ways to cut the budget.

Then, focus on making it fun. For example, instead of focusing on "we can't afford to go to the movies" make a movie & pizza night at home. Buy some pizza shells, some cheese, some pizza sauce, other toppings at the store, grab one of the DVDs you love, or borrow from a friend, and make homemade pizza. Or, if that's out of the budget, then make sandwiches for dinner and eat out under the stars. or if you have kids who'd like the idea, help them put on a play or a show and make it "Dinner and a show" at home. If you can't afford the pool pass, make it a game of inviting the kids & their friends over for homemade popsicles and fun with some water balloons and the hose or squirt guns. Or take the kids on a trip to a new, different park.

Good luck, and G-d bless you!

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L.L.

answers from College Station on

NO you are not the only one. Years ago I found myself in the same boat and decided to take care of other peoples children while I was home raising mine. 33 years later I am still doing the same thing. You can earn money from home and still be there for your kids. Just a solution that I used. Good luck.

L.

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R.D.

answers from Kansas City on

Another vote for Dave Ramsey. Don't spend it if you don't have it.

Use coupons!! Check out couponing blogs to teach yourself how to lower your grocery (and home products, diapers/wipes, personal care, etc) bill by at least 50%. That will help. It does take some time and practice, but if you cut spending $250-$400 (or more) per month, you could dig your way out that much faster! Consider it a part-time 'job' you could work 3-4 hours a week to save $400. I don't know any other part-time job that you can earn $100/week for 3-4 hours work!! That's $25/hour! Woo Hoo!

I recommend www.couponsdealsnadmore.com, www.couponingtodisney.com, www.hip2save.com, and www.survivingthestores.com.

You can also go to www.hotcouponworld.com. There are MANY forums there for you to read through, ask questions, get answers from well experienced and season couponers. HTH!! GL!!

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A.B.

answers from San Antonio on

I went back to work after 2 years. My husband's paycheck didn't even pay our bills, so we weren't even overspending. The SAHM's who seem to be spending more than we did must have spouses who made more than we did!

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S.R.

answers from McAllen on

Unfortunately Brigdet, U arent.
We are not living paycheck to paycheck, but we are close!!!. We own a business, and I tell you it has never been as hard. I used to be a SAHM, not anymore, we had to take on an office, and that is the biggest price I've had to pay.
We have had to cut back on a lot including cable TV!!, I am and have always been a bargain shopper and always look to get the best price in whatever I need to buy. Also using coupons is a great way to save, I look for them and clip them like there's no manana!! and some items I buy in bulk like shampoo, toilet paper, detergent. Things like that, also paying cash can give get you discounts.
If worst come to worst, look into financing instead of credit cards, interests are less. Budgeting is essential, and its not hard. Start writing down what you spend and start preparing for those recurring payments. It'll help you on your taxes too. Don't feel guilty about spending money, budget it! and it'll be easier to manage. Hang in there!!! Good Luck!!

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