Budget - Arlington,TX

Updated on March 01, 2007
M.M. asks from Arlington, TX
21 answers

Hi- I really didn't know where to post my questions, so here it goes. I have a problem, I really need to get on budget!!! I really do not know how to go about it. I know i over spend on the little ones everytime i go to the store i need to get something for them, i love to buy clothes, shoes and books for them. I do not go and make huge expensive purchases but i know i need to cut down on small purchases on the girls because at the end it all adds up. I just would like to know how you manage your budget, do you all have something written down you go by, or do you write everything down daily, you give your self and your spouse an allowance, etc. In advance, thanks for your suggestions.

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Thanks for the advice. I'm going to go ahead a read Dave Ramsey's book; I will also start writing things (where money is going) down i think that will help.

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D.G.

answers from Houston on

Dave Ramsey, Dave Ramsey, Dave Ramsey. Read his books, listen to his show on 570 AM KLIF, M-F 1-4 p.m. It's like having a daily AA meeting- keeps you focused & gives help you didn't think to ask about. We just started budgeting & working the program 3 months ago, & it's really amazing how much money we have at the end of every month now... $1-2K JUST by keeping away from the impuse shopping & not being so lazy & eating out so much.
D.

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T.M.

answers from Dallas on

M.,

I am in the same boat. Hoever, I have been listening to Dave Ramsey and have just purchased his book called "My Total Money Makeover". You can listen to him at DaveRamsey.com , he comes on at 1:00 M-F or if you can't get to a computer everyday, you will also be able to hear him on 570 KLIF at the same hour. What an eyeopener it has been to listen to what he has to say about credit card debts, over spending...etc. Again, I have just received his book, workbook and cd which has a budget already setup. I actually, am anxious to get started on it because I want out of debt. It's tough but in my case since I have no on to confer with about my finances but me and it's difficult to have to answer to yourself.

Good Luck.

T.

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T.C.

answers from San Antonio on

Dave Ramsey has an excellent plan and wonderful worksheets on how to budget. You can go on his website and listen to his radio show. Also, if you want copies of the worksheets I can give you copies if you can't find them on the website he encourages people to share his products. Let me know if you are interested it's the best budget form I have ever used. My email is [email protected]____.com

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E.W.

answers from Dallas on

My husband and I live my a strict budget monthly. We go over all of our monthly expenses about once every six months and figure out where our money needs to go. You really need to plan on everything, be sure to incluse your average fuel usage, groceries, prescriptions, everything!!! Once we figure all of these totals out we see what is left, divide that by 4 and that is what we have to spend a week. We are big planners and do not like suprises so we always under allow on our weekly budget, and out some money into savings. One big thing we did also was get on equalized billing on our electric/gas bill so that we could better plan our months budget. Collectively we know that we have "x" amount of money to spend for each week, and so anytime we spend money we call one another and keep the communication open. This way we are on board with what we have left for the week. In addition if we do not meet our budget (ex: we have $125 budgeted for groceries and we only spend $80) we just add that extra money into our savings account.

It really works well for our family and keeps us in line and responsible. Also if you are having issues with it now I would start showing your children how to manage money so that they realize the value of a dollar and wont ask for things at the store. If they get an allowance you can always let them spend some of it and put a certain percentage behind, this will be great practice for when they are older. Wells Fargo has a childrens savings program where the child gets a little gift (eraser, ball, pencil, etc..) everytime they add to their savings account.. Kids are never to young to start learning how to manage money, and learn responsibility.

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B.

answers from Dallas on

M.,

Also try Crown Ministries - www.crownministries.org. They can set you up for a consult (for free) with a money advisor. Sometimes it helps if a third party tells you where your money is going!

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A.T.

answers from Little Rock on

We do a little of everything, write out a budget, keep track of it daily, allowance etc. One thing we have found that helps with our impulse buying is that we search the flyers for grocery stores to see whats on sale, make a menu from that, then we make out our list and estimate how much it costs. If we come up with $80 we will take $100 to leave extra room for things we forgot, things being more pricy than we thought, or an occasional impulse buy. Then we take it in cash and don't bring any cards or anything with us. If we only have a certain amount with us then we can't buy anything more than that. We have been trying the same thing when we shop for other stuff. We go to the store with an idea of what we want and how much we are willing to spend then we only take that with us. It really does work I have been suprised!

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R.

answers from Dallas on

M.,
This does not have to be an arduous task, but getting started can be hard.
My husband and I didn't start budgeting until my daughter was born. We don't keep track of every cent from every day, but we do make sure every essential expense (like bills and retirement fund) are paid.
You should re-evaluate your expenses every time you change jobs or some new financial burden comes up or is finally removed. Start doing this by collecting all your statements and keeping every receipt from purchase you make for one month. At the end of one month sort it into essential and non- essential purchases; then add it all up and see how much you spend on each category.
Decide how much you can dedicate to non-essentials.
If you find you are over spending then start trimming your non-essential expenses (this includes trips to the movies, dinners out, cable or satellite TV; even having a home phone if you use your cell phone more often; ect..). It's actually easier to trim non-essential bills than it is to trim frivolous spending at every shopping trip.
Also, it's way too easy to charge on a credit card when you don't have the money to cover for something.
If you have more than one credit card then destroy all of them except for the one that has the lowest APR. Then work on paying the rest of them off. If you can, lower the limit on your remaining credit card to $500 (you usually can't do this until you pay it off or get your balance below $500). Then use this credit card solely for your frivolous expenses. For myself I allow roughly $500 per month for eating out, buying the kids some extra toys, my daughter's dance classes, going to the movies, ect. You may need to limit yourself to less for a while until your other debts are paid off; or your budget may require you spend less on non- essentials.
We also have a "gift fund" savings account. Each month I put away a little for Christmas, birthdays, and weddings ect. into a Christmas account that can only be accessed once a year (some banks actually call these Christmas Savings accounts). I also save for my home owner's taxes in a similar account. At the end of the year the accounts are accessed and used to pay taxes, Christmas spending, and birthdays. What's left goes into a savings account and is saved for gifts later in the new year.
This works well for my family because all our birthdays are around November to Febuary anyway.
If you like Ebay or other online auctions; get rid of PayPal or other online payment accounts that will give you credit. PayPal is notoriously insecure anyway and not having an account will keep you from bidding in auctions (many auctions only accept PayPal payments). I mentioned this because I have a friend that has gone broke by participating in online auctions.
Lastly, if you find you can't manage your money then give up access to your bank account (or limit it). Let your significant other handle things financially and/or tear up your bank card. I do everything manually when it comes to banking. If I'm out of money I have to go inside the bank to get it, I cash a check, or use my $500 limit credit card. It's also easier to say no to the kids when you don't have the cash or bank card in your pocket to allow a "yes" response.
The big money saver for us was this- Switch Banks! Large banking institution or corporations charge way too much in fees! Credit Unions are far cheaper and charge less for overdrafts, account transfers, ect. When I used a major bank they couldn't even give me a clear explanation of what all the extra charges were for except the overly general heading of "taxes and maintaince" (the reason I switched banks in the first place)! Credit Unions may not be as prevalent as Bank of American (or others); but if you tend to spend too much, any distance you can put between yourself and your bank account is a great advantage.
RPocai

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C.R.

answers from Dallas on

M.-
the key to budgeting is to stop spending extra for one month. see how much you are really spending outside of your regular bills. get a dollar figure. it takes real disipline to not want to go and spend money on the babies, but if you want to cut out extra stuff to find where you can trim and budget it IS necessary.
i have been managing my household of 7 on a budget for several years, and let me tell ya, with a 1800 house note, 500 car note, 400-600 light bill every month, i had to find the ways to trim it down. first i tried to cut my bills down, but with 4 kids going in and out, doors opening and shutting, water left running, i found this to be a real impossibility. so i started looking elsewhere. how much were we spending on entertainment...ie....going to the movies, renting movies, buying $1 toys x's 4....cause there is four of them and you cant do for one and not the others you know, and my grocery shopping. i stopped buying clothes when they werent needed just because they were cute. of course i do still do this once in a while. we have 1 girl. she has to be the prima donna of the fashion world you know. so when i needed to budget because we kept overdrawing on these extra purchases, i took the debit cards away, stopped spending and found a way to trim down my grocery bill instead.
a great way to do this is to plan. i hate planning, but it changed my spending by 2000.00 a month. thats a lot of money. that 2000.00 went into savings and i now have nice college funds set up for the kids. the rest we save for a vacation, to buy a new car, a large purchase such as the big screen for the kids game room, things like that. it does help. and here is how i do it. scan through the sale ads for the grocery stores. find the things you like as far as meats only. canned goods are comparable at all the major markets, so you really dont save much money with those, unless you use the coupons. im not much of a coupon shopper, even though i should be, they save you even more money. 400.00 worth of grocerys and spend actually 125. 00. big difference with coupons. i have done it. but dont anymore. i dont need the help like i used to either. once i trimmed and taught myself how to be more careful, things just came easier, and wasnt so stressful.
plan a weeks worth of groceries. figure out meals for 7 days. one weekend to the next. write them down. and all the things that you need in order to fix that meal. check your pantry to see if you dont already have them, and buy the cheapest brand. most of the brands tend to taste the same, unless it macaroni. im a kraft kind of girl myself, and that is usually one of my splurge items. i average about 80-100 a week in the grocery store for a family of 7. i have been told that is quite remarkable. it just sounds normal to me. you can do it. it just takes wanting to do it yourself. plan plan plan. then you can see how much you have to spend.
sit down and write out all your REAL bills on paper, the write what you bring home every month. see if what you make covers what you have, and see the difference you have to play with. instead of buying something for the girls every time you go shopping, just do it one time a week. they wont feel cheated. they will adjust. and they will still be happy too. and with money to play with, and not to be stressed any longer, then you will be able to buy what you want and know how you can really spend it. when you see it in black and white, you dont tend to forget it. you know.

good luck to you on your budgeting, and if you need help just send me an im or an email at [email protected]____.com. i will have no problem helping you to see where you can trim if you like. we went from spending 8000.00 a month to around 6000.00 with all our bills, fun, and gas and groceries. it does work. you just have to do it.

take care.
C. R.

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D.O.

answers from Dallas on

Write down all of the necessary expenses that do not change (mortgage/rent, car payments, insurance, etc). Then write down all of the necessary expenses that are a bit variable (food, gas, utilities, etc) and estimate them as accurately as possible. If you have credit cards or other revolving debt to pay off list that as well. Add all of these things up. What is the total? Do you have 'extra' money when you compare your necessary expenses to your income? If so, you & your husband need to decide how much you will be putting in savings every month and how much is 'mad' money. I have an excel spreadsheet that helps me keep track of everything. Good Luck!

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E.

answers from Dallas on

Yuo already have so many good suggestions, I will just emphasize the one that really works for our family - USE CASH ONLY! We pay all our bills, then figured up what all of the other things added up to and I get out cash once a week and that is all I get. We have managed to save an extra $1000 per month and it has not been painful at all! When you start looking at how every little purchase depletes your little stack of money for the week those cute clothes and shoes don't look nearly as important. And when it is the end of the week and you have still have money left you don't feel guilty about spending it. Good luck!

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J.F.

answers from Dallas on

It sounds like you may have already decided what you are going to do, but I thought I would tell you what me and my husband do. Every month we sit down and make a spreadsheet of when the bills are do and how much they are. We also add in our gas money, groceries, and an allowance per week. We each get $25 a week to eat out on or whatever you choose to spend it on and we use cash. It's easy to spend more when you have a check or debit card. We don't have any credit cards. If we can't buy it, we don't need it. We also have a budget on groceries and only spend so much per week. (If you make a budget for groceries be sure to take into account toiletries, diapers, wipes, baby food, ect.) Sometimes that can make a big difference. If you are trying to save money the money you have left over put it in a saving account. That way it's not in your checking account. Well that is kinda how we operate. I hope this gives you some ideas.

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S.S.

answers from Dallas on

My husband and I recently experienced something similar. We wrote down all of our necessary expenses for the month and budgetted that against our income. We took the remaining money and divided it into "pots" - emergency money, savings and discretionary money. Now, anytime we want to buy something outside of the necessity list it has to come from one of our pots. Additionally, we started only going to Target, the grocery store, etc. once a week. That was a tremendous savings for us as it cut out a lot of impulse buying.

I hope this helps.

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K.E.

answers from Dallas on

I know a few people have already recommended Dave Ramsey. I would highly recommend his book "The Total Money Makeover". It has really helped us get our finances in order and plan for the future. We do a budget in Excel every month. We have a list of expenses that we have every month and even set aside a little for quarterly expenses and 5 week months because our pay is the same every month. We always have some left over that we allocate to dining out, entertainment, gifts, etc. We always make sure that our budget equals zero so if one expense is more than expected something else has to be decreased to make up for it. This has really helped us. Also, just seeing what you are spending where and thinking about what you really have to spend and what the luxeries are can really make a difference especially if you are trying to meet a financial goal. One other thing that really helped us was getting our utilities setup on average bill pay (where you pay the same amount every month). It makes those summer months a little less painful. Best of luck!

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M.F.

answers from Dallas on

In addition to Dave Ramsey, there is an EXCELLENT budget ministry at Denton Bible Church. Getting on that budget allowed us to have everything we needed AND get the bills paid on about $38,000/yr when I quit my job after our second child was born.

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L.S.

answers from Dallas on

You might check out Oprah's Debt Diet. You may learn some good tips there. One thing it talks about is your 'latte factor.' What that means is that you figure out what you spend daily on little things like a cup of latte. It's SHOCKING to see what $3 a day can translate to if you saved that over the course of 1 year, 5 years, 10 years.

Also, I knew that I could never go to Target and get out of there without spending at least $100, so I just quit going to Target for about a year! Now, when I go, I go with a plan and try not to get off on too many rabbit trails.

D.H.

answers from Dallas on

M.,
"Total Money Makeover" by Dave Ramsey!!! This is the financial plan that my husband and I got on when I quit work to stay at home with our kids - it took a bit to get it rolling (about 3 months) but we are doing great at it!! Of course, I am a total nerd and LOVE doing budgeting!! I've made up a spreadsheet and everything. Let me know if you'd like me to email you a copy of our budget spreadsheet so that you can see how we divided our categories - I'd be happy to.
My husband and I are also going through the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University right now. It truely is changing our lives and the way that we look at money. Check out www.daveramsey.com and then click on Financial Peace University on the right if you want to check that out as well.
Good Luck with the budgeting - it will take a couple of months to get all of the kinks worked out but once you do it's almost fun doing up the budget each month (I'm such a nerd :) ).
D.

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S.M.

answers from Dallas on

Think about what your goals are - a new house? new car? saving for college or retirement? Take a picture, or cut one from a magazine, and tape it to your front door so everytime you leave the house you see it - remind yourself why you need to be responsible w/ your money.

Only walk out the door w/ the cash when you go out shopping. Make a list of what you're going to go out and buy, estimate the cost of those items - and bring just that amount of cash, don't bring your debit or credit cards, that way you can't overspend.

Look over your last month's worth of receipts. Add up all the "extra" money you've overspent on "stuff" the kids didn't need -- when you see that figure, think about what you could have done w/ that instead.

Good luck! :)

-S.

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A.M.

answers from Dallas on

I am the WORST at budgeting! I dont even balance my checkbook. My fiance on the otherhand, is WONDERFUL and can account for EVERY cent that comes in and out. He's tried to show me ways to budget but to no avail. So, now we have a separate bank account for baby shopping and dining out. I use a checkcard from this account. Once I run it up, I'm cut off for the month.
You could also try a pre paid credit card. It cuts off once you reach the limit so it will keep you from running over your monthly spending limit. The 1st month will be tough and you'll find yourself cut off with still 2 more weeks to go. But the discomfort of this will cause you to be more frugal the next month. :)

E.M.

answers from Dallas on

M.,

I wish I could help out with your request, but to be honest I'd LOVE it if you share any advice you receive!! My husband and I are in the same boat; since our little one came along in June, we HAVE to get ourselves on a budget but we haven't yet. We spend money when we want, and like you said, we never make huge purchases, but everything adds up!

Anyway, if you could share whatever responses you get, that'd be great! Good luck to you.

E. :)

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V.H.

answers from Dallas on

I have worked with many people helping them budget time/money etc. I would suggest first thing is to get receipts on everything. The purpose of this is to see exactly where you are spending your money. If you have computer, pick up some free budgeting software and really stick to it for at least 3 months. If your money is tight: Use coupons/discounts (I usually have families make it a game of who can find the best coupons for eating out/products/services etc.

People are usually totally amazed at what they spend on for example: eating out (grabbing that happy meal at MD's)

When my grandmother passed on, I found ledgers of everything she had bought since 1920:) That woman was the ultimate budgeter:)

Good luck to ya

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