Credit Card Debt and Entertaining

Updated on June 08, 2014
A.F. asks from Bellmore, NY
28 answers

My husband and I have a five year old and a two month old. We live on Long Island (NY) and have a starter house. We've basically been on one income for five years. I am a former elementary school teacher but I just quit my job as a Para (aide) to Autistic students in a middle school to stay home ( at least a year) with our second daughter.

My husband makes a great salary but I guess in NY and with a house. It is never enough. I long to entertain more with our friends but often times my husband feels like it costs too much to invite a large group over. We have a small house but large yard so the majority of our entertaining would be seasonal and barbecues.

We don't have major credit card debt but we've accumulated about $24,000 I think. This does not include the hospital bills from having a second child which total roughly $2,000 and I hope insurance covers the rest. We had a rental property that we lost a lot of money on and we had to put things on a credit card to fix it up to sell. Sometimes it's dental bills or a car bill. We rarely travel and do not go out to dinner often.

We use the credit cards for kid's clothing (children outgrow clothing) and sometimes I need things too but not high end at all. I shop in Kohl's and even Walmart or Target for inexpensive kid's clothing.

Aside from me getting another teaching job (I didn't love it), how does one really not rely on credit cards? The problem is we never pay off balances which accrue interest. Then it takes so long to pay them off. If we are ever going to be able to dormer our house or even save money, we need to do things differently. Plus it would be nice to extend an invitation to our friends once in awhile to have them over for dinner too without worrying about how much it will cost to feed everyone.

Thank you for the advice. P.S. I have to pay for daycare for my baby if I go back to work which runs about $1,400+ a month. I also will have to pay someone to put my older daughter on the bus for Kindergarten. Her school starts at 9:05!

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So What Happened?

Thank you for your responses. I do think my debt is a lot, however, I often hear people accumulate a lot more than that. About $16,000 was that rental property. Without going into detail, half of that debt my brother-in-law owes us b/c that house was originally in his and my husband's name. The B.I.L. is paying us back, slowly. This will take years. As for buying clothes for kids at consignment or thrift shops, I'm not against it. I'd have to try it. I don't know anyone who does that. It's just something even my parents never did growing up and money was always tight then on a father who probably earned $25,000 with a S.A.H.M. and two kids in the 80's. I'd have to give it a shot. As for pot luck entertaining, I could do that. We pretty much do that summers with friends we stay with at a lake. We'll chip in cash there to cover the cost of food too. Most of our friends are drinkers but I would ask then to bring alcohol. I would just like to reciprocate, not every weekend, just occasionally. As for the debt, I guess I learned part of it from my parents. They relied on credit cards to get by when we (my sister & I) really needed clothes, the car needed repairs or there was a dental bill not covered by insurance. They lived and still do live paycheck to paycheck. Not a fun way to live. We do have cable, internet and an iPhone each. I bet those are ways to cut back. We have two cars, one with a car payment. They are older vehicles. It is cheaper for my husband to drive to the city for work than take the L.I.R.R. As for tutoring or a night job for me, it wouldn't work. Dave usually works nights. Now he is on a day shift but often gets home after 8 or 9 PM. I'd have to get a job while my five year old is in Kinder and pay for daycare plus paying to put Alyssa on and possibly off the bus. I am interested in reading about Dave Ramsey's take on debt. We do have a college savings account started for both girls. We have a life insurance pict which is important. I do agree on getting rid if credit cards but I think we should have one for emergencies. More important than that is not relying on a debit card. It is so hard to budget when we rely on it all the time. Thanks again!

More Answers


answers from Norfolk on

Well it's not a mortgage or a car loan but $24000 in credit card debt seems like a lot to me.
Our only debt right now is our mortgage.
We pay cash for vehicles.
We pay off our credit cards every month.
We have rent income from our first house (it's paid off) and as soon as we can sell it to wipe out the mortgage on our 2nd house we'll be debt free once again.
Perhaps you can get a Dave Ramsey book from the library and find ways to get your debt paid off.
Kids grow so fast you can sometimes find some nice clothes at consignment stores.
I stopped getting clothes for our son at Walmart since they seemed to fall apart after a few washings.

In the mean time - have an annual potluck barbeque party.
You provide the meat (burgers/hotdogs/chicken) and people bring side dishes, salads and desserts.
People can bring their own beverages too.
Maybe you can serve lemonade/ice tea/water.
One a year is a place to start.

Tutoring and baby sitting might be a good way to bring in some extra income.

10 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

HELLO????? You think $24000 credit card debt is not major? Good grief. Debt is EVIL and you have been sucked in to the downward spiral of justifying the use of a card.

What you must learn is delayed gratification and it will be hard for you to do that since you justify your purchases in your head. You have to STOP using the cards NOW and get them paid off.

Use cash and if you don't have cash, then don't buy anything. Use self discipline and whatever other motivator you want to stop this nonsense.

Do not spend money that you do not have. You will be held responsible to pay it back.

If you continue to justify your expenses on a credit card, you can very well end up bankrupt, losing your house and worse. Also, how are you planning to get your children through college and prepare for your retirement if you can't stop relying on credit cards.

Any credit card needs to be paid in full EVERY month and never carry a balance. Do you realize the amount of interest you are paying on this debt.

If you want to entertain, be creative.. have potlucks and BYOB. You don't have to prepare prime rib and tenderloin to entertain. Don't go to restaurants if you can't pay CASH for your bill.

I know it will be difficult for you but look at it this way..... you are contemplating taking on another job JUST to pay off credit card debt and if you take another job, you will have more expenses for child care, clothing, and dining and you already know you cannot control your expenses.

Real friends will continue to be your friends if you are paying cash. Don't use credit cards to try to be someone you are not because you are just hurting yourself and your family.

Remember delayed gratification and the damage you are creating if you continue credit card use.

I strongly suggest that you and hubby sit down with a qualified financial counselor to help you pay this off and learn how to manage finances without running up debt.

10 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on


So you have $24K in credit card debt right now? Ouch. How do you plan on paying it off?

What do you plan on doing about any monies that might be due from the hospital bills?

Probably going to go WWWAAAYYY off here..but it sounds like you want to know more about financial planning and getting off credit cards than to be able to have people over every once in a I apologize if I write a book here...

How do you NOT use credit cards? Easy. Budget. STOP USING THEM. Live within your means.

Sit down and get a budget in place. Figure out what you owe each month and get on a payment plan/schedule. Have you never done a budget before? You're not helping yourself or your family by depending upon credit cards.

In 2006, my husband and I decided to go CASH ONLY. It was a hard choice as we loved having the CONVENIENCE of credit cards. We sat down and figured out just how far in debt we were...what our savings was and what would happen if he lost his job (we've ALWAYS gone off his income alone, anytime I've had a job, the money has been a bonus for our budget.

If you don't know how to make a budget - search out a financial planner to help you. YOU CAN DO THIS... it takes HARD WORK and dedication.

You want BBQs? Have you thought about shopping at COSTCO and keeping it simple? Hamburgers and chips...not steak and lobster. You don't need to provide alcohol - soda, tea, water...if they want alcohol - they can bring it themselves...yes. I know, some will say RUDE...oh well. YOU WANT to have parties...they do NOT have to include alcohol.

Stop buying new clothes for the kids. Go to garage sales or Goodwill. Now's the time when people are having garage sales. Check on ebay for "lots" of clothes. Your kids don't need 20 pairs of pants and 40 shirts.

You need money in the door now? Have a garage sale and get rid of the extras. Use any money that you get from the garage sale towards a credit card or debt you have. If you have collectibles? Sell them on ebay.

You need to make a decision. CAN YOU AFFORD to stay home with your new baby? If the answer is NO? You MUST find a job that you LOVE and will pay you enough to cover the costs of daycare, transportation, etc. Again, this is where a financial planner will be most helpful. Depending upon who you bank with (I bank with USAA, financial advisors are free), call and ask them if they have a financial advisor you can meet with.

Use coupons when shopping.
Make a grocery list and stick to it.
Make a weekly menu plan.

Call your utilities companies and ask if they have a flat-rate plan. I know MANY do. They will average out your usage over the last year and set an amount for you to pay - this way you can budget better.

There is much you can do, as you can see....YOU CAN have it all. But you have WORK at it.

Good luck!

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Richland on

I am very fortunate that both my older kids understood and embraced the lesson, never start with credit cards. Save enough for emergencies, then save for what you want. Once you start on credit cards, thanks to the high interest, you will never be able to save enough to pay cash for anything.

Still with your BBQ needs, go to a place like Costco or Sams and buy those huge bulk meat packages. Ya know the untrimmed still in the butcher packaging. Yes you will have to prep the meat yourself, cut into steaks, chops, whatever....but for about 25 bucks you have more than enough meat to serve 30 people. Good meat too! Then your friends bring sides. Done, 25 bucks and you get to entertain! If you want to provide beverages you can stick with cheap beer, sorry I consider Bud cheap beer, long story... Soda, ice tea is really cheap and people like it. Frozen drinks?

I see no reason why you couldn't entertain 30 people for under 100 bucks if you are willing to put the work in.

Okay, have to add, like everyone else, 24,000 is not a little credit card debt! That is a whole freaking car! That you can't find enough money to have friends over indicates you don't know how to do anything on the cheap. I would buy clothes for my kids at garage sales or consignment shops before I used a credit card to buy it.

I feel bad for you, that level of debt has to be killing you. Look at your interest payment every month. I would bet it is at least 2,000 dollars. That is money you could have been spending or saving if you had just waited a bit before you bought stuff. I know people who live on 2,000 a month, they would not believe you just gave it away.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

If you have people over make it a potluck.

My advice is to do whatever you have to do to pay of the $25K. Is that debt all on credit cards? Or other loans? That's a heck of a lot of credit card debt to have, because you are paying/wasting HUNDREDS of dollars of interest monthly. You need to do whatever you can to pay it off right away.

I would be very uncomfortable with that amount of credit card debt, and I would take whatever job I needed to pay it off. I agree with the others that you guys need to cut up your credit cards, and learn to live within your means. You can buy kids' clothes at a thrift store, and they won't know the difference.

I pay off my credit cards every month, so I don't pay interest. If I ever need to carry a balance for a couple of months, I will spend nothing until I pay it off. I wouldn't pay the kind of interest you and your husband are paying any more than I would throw five hundred dollars out the window every month. That is what you and your husband are doing. Think about it and visualize this: would you just take five hundred dollars and throw them out your car window as you were driving along? I'm sure the answer is no. Well then why are you willing to pay interest?

The only valid interest is on a house, or a car, or student loans, IMO, and even then you should keep those expenses as minimal as possible.

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answers from Columbia on

1. Cut up that credit card.

2. You need a budget. Seriously. Using that credit card is evidence that you are not living within your means. You cannot continue to accrue debt in this manner. You need to cut your spending drastically, find money (that means selling some of the stuff you keep spending on, like the clothes the kids grow out of or gently used toys they don't use anymore, or the exercise bike that's collecting dust in your spare room, whatever), and you need to be putting money in savings and a retirement plan.

I strongly recommend that you hop on and set up a free account and use their budgeting tools and software to get a handle on your financial situation. Stop using your credit cards. Consider using a cash envelope system as described by Dave Ramsey. Figure out which book you like and go to the library to check it out. ;)

3. Consider a direct sales opportunity that might help you to bring in some extra cash and help you to entertain at the same time. There are tons out there. Tastefully Simple, Velata, etc. would allow you to get some yummy treats to share with friends that you could sell to them if they love them. And you could contribute to your household income. Become a money-finding machine. Find ways to make cash by working for it, making things, or selling items that are cluttering your home. Do a garage sale. Sell some big items on Craigslist.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Boca Raton on

It sounds like you guys need a plan. Have you ever listened to Dave Ramsey? His web site is You can listen to his radio show online for free. I checked out his book from the library - Total Money Makeover.

He is religious but you don't have to be religious to follow his principles.

His show is very positive and motivating.

It's a bad idea to rely on credit cards for monthly expenses or even emergency expenses. Dave Ramsey can teach you how to address both of these issues.

Maybe once you guys get a plan your husband's heart will be open to entertaining on a budget. He's probably very nervous as the sole provider, especially if he feels like you're going backwards most months.

I'm a big believer in having a stay-at-home parent, but the math has to work. Show him how you save your family money by being home. Get on a plan together. Decide where every cent goes before it even comes in the door.

Good luck.

ETA: I read your question more in the "big picture" of what's going on with your husband when it comes to finances (entertaining others being one part of family life). I'd clarify with him exactly what bothers him about entertaining/hosting and see how to make him feel better about the financial side of it.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Albuquerque on

OK so, I won't lecture you on your credit card debt, you have a lot of advice here. As far as clothes, we shop at thrift stores, garage sales, and clearance (sometimes clearance is cheaper than thrift). Even if it's just a few items here and there while keeping in mind the following season. A few weeks ago I bought my daughter a jacket at Goodwill knowing it will come in handy later. We also found brand new swimming suits for $2 bucks. Sometimes you score, sometimes you don't. But pay with cash, it's too easy to get bogged down with the credit card.
Look at other ways to cut down. Cable? waste of money. Shop around for car insurance, cell phone bill, etc. Good luck!

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answers from Anchorage on

That is a lot of debt! In order to avoid using credit cards simply stop using them. Stop carrying them with you, cut them up if need be. Live with what you can afford with the actual cash you have on hand. If the kids NEED (and not just want) new cloths then you can check thrift stores or shop sales ( 3-4 times a year old navy has kids jeans for $5). If you don't have the spare cash to buy BBQ for a large number of guests then don't do it. If you can afford a smaller gathering with cash, then go with that. Fact is, you guys got yourselves into this mess and it will take a lot of sacrifice and cutting back to get you out. Do you have cable? Cut it (we did almost a year ago and don't miss it at all). There are usually a lot of way we can cut down on costs, from getting cheaper phone and internet plans, to using coupons for food and doing repairs on cloths rather then replacing them.

I understand the desire to stay at home, I have been home for the past 10 years, but we live within our means and have always understood that my staying home means we have to make due with less.

To pay off the cards try to budget to where you can pay at a minimum double what the lowest min payment is.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

Let's say you have $1000 on a credit card. The payment is $25 per month. If you look at a detailed bill you'll see the apply something like $20 of that to interest and $5 to the actual bill. So credit card companies are getting rich.

If you don't pay the account off every month if at all possible you will never ever ever ever pay the whole bill.

Many people apply a triangle/pyramid style idea to their bill paying.

They take a serious look at their debt. Write it all down on a chart of some sort so they can see it in black and white.

Find the bill that is the least and pay that bill off as soon as possible. Now that is according to that particular person's lifestyle and interests. I would not want to give up driving through McDonald's on my way to work for a dollar pop. I choose to do that because that same size pop at a convenience store is $1.51. So I'd budget in that one pop a day and not take that away so I could pay an extra $10 on a credit card. BUT I might give up buying a new release movie in Blue Ray and DVD and digital all in one box for $30 and renting the DVD instead for a buck.

If I had 4 credit cards that I could pay extra on and that payment would absolutely go towards the primary amount owed then I'd make an extra payment every month of what ever I could. Then not use that card at all.

Say one card had $10,000, another had $5,000, one had $4,000, then one only had $1000 I'd be making the minimum payments on the others and paying every extra penny I could on the $1000 to pay it off. Then take that extra money and put it on the next lowest card. This is one way.

Some companies have much lower interest rates that others. I've heard of people taking out a new card that has a super great rate and taking cash then paying off the higher rate card or getting a bank loan/credit union at work, to pay off the high interest cards. I never had that as an option but do think it could work only if a person changed their spending styles.

Here's what I saw in your post that concerns me. Buying kids clothes on credit doesn't matter how cheap they are. If you're putting them on a credit card that cute pair of shorts for only $3.95 at Walmart, in the end, costs about $15. Because you aren't counting in the interest, it not being paid off each month so it builds and builds and builds. I'd never buy kids clothing like this. Way too expensive.

Simply buying, with cash, a couple of items per month for each child will do much better. Do not use the card for any reason except an emergency.

If hubbies car breaks down he can use yours. If you don't have one then his is the only way he can get to work. If he can't get to work via train or bus or other mode that isn't embarrassing for him in sight of his co-workers then his car must be repaired. His co-workers image of him is important. They don't need to see him as any less than he is.

Dental bills...well, you should be able to get dental insurance through his work. IF it's too expensive I understand it's better to not get it if you have good teeth. If you have bad teeth then go get the dental insurance for a year and get all the work done you can. That way in the long run you'll pay less out of pocket without insurance.

I imagine it was under control and things were okay until the rental property thing happened. Now that's taken care of and sold, right? No more problems with excessive spending that has to happen right then? I understand emergencies. I probably would have sold the property as is if possible and got out from under it. So many people walk into a house, even that's been updated, and see stuff they don't like. Then the house doesn't sell for that, the price has to be lowered. Even though it was needed I am not sure I'd have spent much.

I love watching property brothers because they have such great ideas and can pull if off. They have enormous budgets though. They also listen to the person who's home they are doing.

My sister fixes her houses up before putting them on the market. BUT she fixes up how she'd like it. She took down her cow border and put up more border, it was a definite theme. I told her that most people thought border was only in really old houses and made it look dated. She actually said if the people looking at her house didn't like the wall colors and border they didn't have to buy it. I tried but she wasn't interested.

I was looking to move a couple of years ago and every house that I went in to had super ugly brownish beige paint. It was depressing and really really ugly. I didn't guy a house that had been upgraded because their tastes were not my tastes.

My sister took a cut on what she might have gotten for her house. It didn't sell for 3 months. If she had left it alone it probably would have sold for the same amount. In my opinion all the work and planning and money spent was wasted.

I think you must have had to repair stuff and spend that money. I do think it is in the past and you learned a huge lesson.

Now that you have that behind you it's time to plan on some new lifestyles.

Spend only cash. Do not use the card unless it is a true emergency. Running out of diapers and it being 2 days until pay day is NOT an emergency. It's poor planning. Go to Walmart on the first or in the middle of the month when you buy your household supplies and get what you need then buy an extra item you currently use.

If you want to learn how to store up items so you can always have the items you need and not run out of them then please go to your local library and check out Peggy Layton books on food storage and being prepared for an emergency.

After reading several of Peggy's books I realized I was doing food storage all wrong for my family. I had wheat and beans that we would never every use. No one in my family will touch beans so there wasn't any reason for me to buy more of them and I ended up giving a bunch away. The wheat went to
a couple of family friends and neighbors who have wheat mills use it regularly.

I keep a few boxes of bread mix in the pantry. Just in case I get the urge to make some in the bread machine. We are just not big bread eaters.

I also learned how to have diapers on hand, wipes, diaper rash ointments, enough toilet paper and other paper items. I learned how to buy stuff that MY family needed and how to not run out of any item I really need.

There are many ways to cut excessive spending. I can't do it all the time by any means. But we do NOT have credit cards. We got rid of them. We pay cash for everything now.

I have a friend who has always been a SAHM. She has 6 kids. They decided when they were young adults and just married going to college at BYU to try and buy everything outright. Of course there are things a person has to buy on credit, especially when starting out. This family started to grow and they bought the most affordable home they could when hubby got his engineer degree. He worked at that job for a couple of years. They took all the money they made on the house they sold and put it all down on the next house. They lived there for about 10 years. Same thing.

By this time if they bought a vehicle they paid cash from savings for it. They were staying true to their ideals about paying cash. This went on. When they moved to my town they paid over 50% down on the house they bought. It wasn't a fancy house or massive or anything. They bought a modest house and their house payments were under a couple hundred a month. When they had more kids and needed a larger place they looked at their finances. If they sold their house for $XXX,XXX that would give them about $200.000 to put down on the next house.

So they opted to build. The house they built only cost about $50 per square foot and they built a huge home with all the pretty items they'd never had before. They lived in this house for about 20 years. They had no house payment because they'd worked and paid cash for as much as they could.

They put all their kids through college at BYU and had a beautiful home and owed nothing. They hadn't bought a vehicle since college days for any member of their family where they hadn't paid the full amount in cash.

They made a decision and stuck to it. They didn't go hungry and they didn't use credit unless it was a planned thing for those few items that are so massively expensive that a regular person can't pay cash like homes and college.

You and hubby must be on the same page with this or you'll have nothing but heartbreak. If he wants to save money and you want to entertain and pay the whole thing then you're going to argue over money.

IF IF IF you want to entertain call a few friends and invite them to bring stuff and you pay for the meat. Only it's not "buy a ton of thick juicy steak time" It's buy a bunch of packages of hot dogs for the kids and some chicken for the grown ups.

You can still have friends over. Make it less formal. OR wait until next year when you're back at work and you have more excess money. Put any extra money you can on the lowest card you can, where they''ll apply extra payments to the principle then get at least one card paid off. Work towards this.

Go on interviews next spring and have a job lined up for the next school year. Even if you hate it you will basically be working so you can afford to entertain and have extra's.

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answers from Grand Forks on

Kids clothes can be bought very inexpensively at garage sales and thrift stores. I just put up an online ad for my kids clothes selling them at $1 per item and sold 120 items in one week. Ask around to see if any of your friends are getting rid of kids clothes. They would probably much rather pass them along to a friend than just donate them to a thrift shop.

Get a part time job you can work evenings and weekends when your husband is home. If you work someplace like the Y you can get a free employee membership, or work at a grocery store or Walmart and you can get employee discounts on your groceries. Since you are at home anyway offer to take in extra kids.

When you entertain you can serve cheap stuff like hot dogs and chips and make it BYOB, or you can provide just the meat and assign your guests to bring sides, or you can do a total potluck. Everyone loves a potluck.

ETA: $24 000 is definitely MAJOR credit card debt. I can't imagine not paying my credit card off in full each month. No way I would pay interest!

Get rid of the iPhones!!! And the cable!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

$24,000 is NOT major to you?! Wow.

Stop shopping for new clothes for your kids. Go to a thrift shop. Go to a consignment shop. They do not need new clothes.

Get your priorities straight. I would be LIVID if Tyler and I had $24K in credit card debt. That's just obscene! I'm sorry, but I think $24K in debt other than a house, is just major.

You want to entertain? Make it a pot luck, people don't mind contributing to a get-together. I know I certainly don't. When Tyler and I go over to friend's house, we bring something. Go to bulk stores to purchase food. Like someone said, make it burgers and chips.

I think you've received a lot of great advice for financial planning. You really should read it all and take it under consideration. You can't travel and do other things because you are living beyond your means. Cut the credit cards up. TODAY.


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answers from Dallas on

Awesome responses that you need to seriously consider. You have champaign taste and a beer budget. As Dave says, a money problem is never really about money.

What are your objectives? What are your priorities? Everything should flow from them.

For right now, I sense that paying off your credit card is not a priority and it's got to be for you to be able to stay home with your kids, which I assume IS your priority. So paying that money sucker off is tops right now.

Do you yard sale? Your kids are young. They don't care what they wear unless you teach them to. Your goal is to dress them for as cheaply as you can. Nice stuff comes from grandma as a present.

Entertaining is pot luck, deserts only or hot dogs on the grill with others bringing the other dishes. What you don't understand is, half your friends are wishing they could entertain also and would not mind hot dogs at all for the chance to be out with people! You just have to be the brave one to own your income level and it's limitations. You have to work it, girl! So How cheaply you can put on a spread and it be cute. You will never be creative if you just throw money at a problem.

And perfection is the satin liner of creativity's coffin!

Don't wait the biggest part of your life for things to be perfect so you can entertain perfectly. Get some guts and go for it!

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answers from Rochester on

Personally I think $24000 is a lot of credit card debt. I feel like I'm drowning under my debt and I have just a fraction of what you do. The only way to pay it off is to put less on the card and pay more on the debt. Your statement should have a place on it where it will tell you how long it will take to pay off that card if you don't add anymore to it and if you are only paying the minimum. Be sure you are sitting down when you read it. You need to find out what will be the best plan for your family to tackle the debt. I do know several who have had success with Dave Ramsey's plans.

As far as entertaining, especially cookouts in the summer, make it a potluck. We used to do it all the time (2-3 times a month even) back when no one had kids and it was easier to coordinate people. Even now almost every get together we go to is a potluck. We would usually supply the meat, but we also have friends who are vegetarian so we also did BYOB to grill. We usually had drinks available too, but a lot of people brought their own. Everyone else pitched in with salads, chips, desserts, hot dishes, appetizers, etc. Maybe it is just a Midwest thing, but everyone loved it. We could always count on certain people to bring their specialty to every party. Entertaining doesn't have to break the bank.

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answers from San Francisco on

Like SH, I have known moms to work PT evenings and weekends, just enough to bring in some extra cash without incurring daycare costs. Sure it was Target and Starbucks, not glamorous but they needed the money.
And having friends over doesn't NEED to be a financial burden, host a potluck! Provide the meat or other main entrée and request sides and desserts. Our friends ALWAYS bring wine (even if we don't ask for it) which keeps costs down as well.
Also, when it comes to kids clothes, don't forget to look in consignment and even thrift stores. Yes, it's a bit more effort to find good stuff but when you do you would be AMAZED at some of the deals you can get. One year I got my daughter a practically brand new high end ski coat for $5 at Goodwill, it was easily an $80 coat!

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answers from Dallas on

The other answers are great! I'm going to add my quick two cents. Pay kids clothes with cash/debit card ONLY. If you think about it, that deal you think your getting isnt a deal anymore using a credit card if you have to pay interest. Your paying close to full price, sometimes more. Take $20 and go to garage sales! I've scored awesome kids clothes that have only been worn once or twice(some with tags) for $1 or lower. AND I have expensive tastes when it comes to my kids. Gymboree, nike, addidas, childrens place, etc but I never ever pay full price. If you don't want to garage sale (its not for everyone) have you tried end season sales? I've scored awesome deals on kids clothes and put it in the closet for next year. Even WM has 1-3 racks at end of season sales. If you have kids of the same gender, you can keep the older kids clothes for the little one to grow into as well.

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answers from Honolulu on

This is what some Moms do that I know:
They are a SAHM. Home during the day. For their kids.
Husband works. Traditional hours. ie: daytime.
Then, the SAHM, gets a job, at night.
Then that way, she can be home for the kids and not have to send them to daycare. So no daycare expenses.
But, you have to have a Husband, that WILL DO THINGS, at night and FOR the kids, when you are not home.
ie: Husband will have to do all the nighttime routines, for the home, cooking, feeding, bathing the kids and get them to bed.
And do all the other chores.

Or Husband can get a 2nd job.
Or you sell things via Ebay etc. to make extra money.
And you, buy clothing on sale ONLY and/or 2nd hand.
And don't go shopping for yourself, unless you NEED new clothing. And IF you get any clothing for yourself that is just for fun... then you HAVE TO get rid of, or sell... your existing clothing OR SHOES, that you do not wear. Get rid of all the clothes you have... that you do not wear or need or outgrew. Just like with the kids clothing and shoes.

Instead of shopping for pleasure, and having parties and entertaining... PUT that money into savings. You and your Husband do not seem to have any "emergency" money nor savings. You use credit cards.

Then, as your kids grow older... they will probably be enrolled in extracurricular activities (as many kids are nowadays), and that will cost even MORE. Then, what are you going to do?

What do all the other Moms do... who's child goes to a Kindergarten that starts at 9:05 and takes the bus????
ASK other Moms. Ask the school... what parents do in that scenario.

I'm a SAHM. And I work part time. I have 2 part time jobs.
I can be a SAHM, because my part time jobs, are at my kid's school.
THEREFORE, I have the same hours/holiday/vacations as them.
And can still drop off and pick them up and be home with them after school.
I purposely got a job at my kid's school, SO that, I can still be a 'SAHM' too. It is not huge pay. But its extra money.

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answers from Boston on

If you owe $24,000, you have a huge debt and you are living beyond your means. Cut up the credit cards. Buy kids' clothes at consignment shops. Do without.

You are never going to catch up because all your monthly payments go for interest and not for the principal. That is how credit card companies make all their money.

Assume that your friends have similar issues. Have pot luck meals and BBQs only for those friends who enjoy those things. Learn to cook in bulk, and do without expensive convenience foods (they aren't any good for you anyway). Find the joy in having people coming by for your company instead of for your steaks.

Borrow DVDs from the library, and cut out "essential" cable channels that are expensive. Cut your phone bills to bare-minimum services. Cut out soda and snacks, start a garden. Have yard sales. Stop going to Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks, stop lunches out. Find every free feature in your town that you can - parks, free passes to the children's museum, etc. Do laundry more often so you don't need new clothes. Do a big clothing swap or toy swap as a focus for one of these big parties. Do a perennial plant swap as an activity - everyone digs up something from their yard and donates it, then draw numbers to see who goes home with what.

Get a book or DVD from the library from Suze Orman or another financial advisor - you'll be shocked at the fluff in your budget. Keep track of every single expense for 2 months - everything. Then look at your income. Cut and cut and cut until your income is more than your expenses. At the very least, put the credit cards in the safety deposit box so you can't get at them. If you don't have the cash in your account, don't buy it.

Really, you owe it to your kids to teach them how to be fiscally responsible, and that means saying "no" to "I want it and I want it now." I know it's hard.

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answers from Dallas on

As some of the others have suggested, stop going and buying new clothes for your kiddos on credit. Look at thrift stores and garage sales and trade with friends who might have clothes their kids have outgrown. Since much of your expenses is interest on the balances, you must set up a plan to pay off those balances. Once you have no interest payments or credit card debt, you should be able enjoy life a little better. What about tutoring for extra money? Perhaps you could trade off babysitting with a friend so you won't incur extra child care expenses. A good tutor could probably make $20-$30 an hour. Perhaps you or he could get a job delivering pizzas at night and put all of that money towards paying off the debt. (see Dave Ramsey on line info). I understand you want to entertain- you have a great back yard to host so invite some friends that are willing to bring food and beverages. You could supply hot dogs or brisket (relatively inexpensive if you buy one on sale) and let them bring the rest of the fixings. Don't plan to do it all yourself - when people ask what they can bring- have a list ready and divide the list and give each person a few things to bring ( paper plates and plastic cups and 3 bags of chips; ice and beer; two liter bottles of soda and a veggie tray, sides to go along with your meal, etc) These are the kinds of get togethers most young families have. People just enjoy getting together -there is no reason you need to host the whole meal. Good luck!

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answers from Washington DC on

You need to just stop using the credit cards. Check out Dave Ramsey's program. It really helped us. We only have 1 credit card and we pay it off 100% every time we use it. We only buy our kids clothes when it's a change of seasons like from summer clothes to winter clothes. Sometimes family will give us hand me downs and if there is something they ever need, then I will go and get it, but we don't buy clothes all the time. Maybe 3-4 times a year. When we have friends over (like we are tonight), we are getting little ceasers $6 pizza's for dinner. Nothing fancy. We can still have a good time with pizza.
You really should not be spending money that you don't have. I never use the credit card. My husband will use it for gas and some bills, but we still pay it off. We don't use it to buy clothes and extra stuff. Try to just put the credit card away and live on what you make.
For extra income, you can babysit or if you are crafty make some stuff and sell it. Would it be possible for you to work part time when you husband gets home? I used to work at the grocery store as a checker and did the closing shift when my husband got home from work around 4pm. I would work 5-11pm. It worked because he was able to have time with the kids, and I would get out of the house for a while (even though it was at work) and we got a little bit of extra income back then. Now I work full time at a school, but my kids are both in school full time, so I have the freedom to do that.

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answers from Chicago on

It's all about how you see money. I have never really had any credit card debt. I do have student loans, and I did rely on that money to get me through tough times when I would have needed a credit card. But I've had a credit card for 24 years, and I have maybe not paid it off every month twice, and this was when I was a poor, hungry student that got real desparete for a while. To me, I use plastic for rewards and for convenience, but it is a bill that you pay off every month. The minimum isn't what's due, what's due is the total.

It's all about learning how to approach money. Dave Ramsey may be helpful to you.

Also, you can coupon. I threw a large (10 families with lots of,kids) party a few years ago, and we served 4 different kinds of meat -octopus, pork, chicken, and steak, and we had everyone bring a side and their own beverage. Since I was good at couponing at the time, I spent 50 bucks, and this included having some extra beer on hand. If you get smart about it, you can do it cheaply. Another cheap option: Mexican. We have large BBQ parties with make your own tacos. You can get a giant roast of meat for 30 bucks, and then I make my own rice and beans -slow cookers make refried beans better than anything you can buy in a can. Guac and chips and salsa and it's all done. All for under 50 bucks, if you shop at the right store.

You mention medical bills. We have a high deductible plan, and so we max out the limit on what you can save in a HSA. I've found this to be a great way to go about things. Hubby's company actually pays us 1k to do it, so after premiums, we actually make 500. I've had three kids, two broken bones, and two kidney surgeries done on this plan and I've never had to worry about having the money. We save close to 500 a month, and thus, there is always money for the inevitable medical emergency.

It may be time to start learning about money management. You really need to be working towards digging yourself out of debt, not about how to entertain friends.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Have you made a real budget that you can stick to?
Put in your income, your monthly bills, and what you need to put towards your credit card to make headway - which needs to be significantly more than the monthly minimum. Then stick to it, and you'll have a solid plan to pay off your debt. It's not difficult to do, but it does take discipline to not spend on extras that aren't really necessary (basically, eliminate all impulse buying including coffee shops, etc. When you go to Target, buy ONLY what you came for, not anything else).

Once you do that look closely and prioritize if you have enough after that to host something. Depending on your friends, it might be possible - I know my close friends always offer to bring the side dishes and/or drinks, so when I have them over, all I really need to buy is the main dish (which can be as simple as some burger and buns).

And, BTW, I buy all my kids' clothes second hand. It save so much, and there are some really nice clothes there.

ETA: BTW, yes, $24K is a lot of credit card debt. I don't know who you hear of who accumulates more than that, but even if some people do - I don't want their life, and I doubt you do either. They will never get ahead or retire. And even if half of the rental debt isn't yours, that's only $8K, which means that $16K of the $24K is yours, so you need to own up to the fact that you are living above your means. No more keeping up with the Jones's.

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answers from Washington DC on

There are probably a zillion web sites out there on the topic of "entertaining on the cheap" -- Check it out. One Google search is going to get you a ton of ideas. Plan something (no actual invitations, just a plan, with number of guests, cost of each item etc.) and present it as a budget to your husband. If you do some research and shop with care you can have a small group over on a shoestring.

Be willing to host potlucks. Perfectly acceptable. Not tacky. Done all the time forever.

Be aware that alcohol costs, so if "entertaining" means you feel it's a must, either cut back, research good but cheaper drinks, or just do without.

Take time to consider what "entertaining" is in your mind and if you automatically picture a full sit-down meal entirely paid for and prepared by you with multiple courses and various wines....If that's what you conjure up, even if it starts with a barbecue, rethink it. If barbecue means steak, it's time to shift to burgers and dogs. And so on. Have fun thinking of simple cost savers, and...your real friends will love a potluck and the chance to try new dishes. If they are "not potluck people" then they can buy their contribution. Also just fine.

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answers from Denver on

If I were you I would go back to teaching (like it or not), at least until I got that debt paid off. 24K on credit cards is far too high. A full time teaching job (not aide) salary in NY is enough to pay for day care costs and still be much much farther ahead financially, especially since your husband is already making a good salary.

Also, people LOVE to give away clothes their kids have outgrown, especially knowing some other child will get to wear them. I've actually had to buy very little for my two boys because people have just given me huge bags of perfectly good clothes! As a stay at home mom it's easy to make those connections with other mom's, try it!

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answers from Huntington on

Children outgrow clothing, but they are also hard on clothing. We rarely buy new new clothes. We get a lot of hand-me-downs from relatives and friends. I shop at consignment and thrift stores like Kid-to-Kid, Plato's Closet, Uptown Cheapskate, Savers, Deseret Industries. There are a lot of wealthy people in our area that donate really nice items to these stores, often with tags still on them. I WILL buy new shoes, but jeans, shirts, even my dress clothes for work are nearly always used. I will buy something new only if I have scouted for used and cannot find it.

Stop using the credit card and go cash-only. It is hard to begin with, but it forces you to really decide whether you NEED an item. Once you are out of cash, you are done spending. We were so surprised at how fast we were able to save for a down payment on a house by doing this.

I think you do need a game plan. Start looking for a way to earn and pay off that debt. Meanwhile, do not incur any more debt. You could babysit, work opposite shifts from your husband, go back to teaching until the debt is paid, etc.

I would certainly suggest pot-luck style get-togethers, which work great in the backyard anyway. Whatever you do, stick to cash and decide on a budget. Perhaps that budget is $200.00 a month for family entertainment and you decide to use that cash one month for a backyard BBQ where you buy paper goods, drinks, burgers, buns, condiments and maybe some bubbles and sidewalk chalk for the kiddos and ask your friends to all bring a side dish to share. Or in Winter months, you can invite couples over for Game Night with some snacks, or socializing with drinks and appetizers. It doesn't have to be super pricey. I know it depends on where you live, but here it is very common to all contribute to the food- guests rarely come empty-handed when it is a BBQ or casual get-together. I would save the large dinner party where you provide everything for AFTER you have paid your debt. :)

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answers from San Francisco on

Our motto is that if we can't pay cash for it, we don't need it. This is true of kids' clothing (ask around; people get rid of kids' clothes ALL the time, and I'm sure you have a friend or two who wouldn't mind handing their kids' outgrown clothes to you!). For all other items, take CASH to the store with you - whatever you can afford and have budgeted for - and if you can't buy what you want with the cash you have in hand, don't buy it.

For your credit card debt, $24K is a fair sum of money to be indebted for on one income. At one point, when my husband had lost his job and we had an enormous mortgage, I'll admit that we went into credit card debt. When we began to dig back out of it, what we did was this: We figured out the total amount we had that we could dedicate to paying off debt each month. Let's say $1,000. So, we had 3 credit card payments, and the first one had a minimum of $150, the second had a payment of 225, and the third had a payment of $75 (I'm just making this up, but you get the idea). So our total minimum payment was $450. That meant we had an "extra" payment we could make that was $550. We put that $550 toward the credit card with the highest interest. We continued to pay that "extra" amount toward that card each month until it was paid off. So let's say the card with the $75 minimum payment had the highest interest - each month we would send a check for $625. When that credit card was paid off, we would then send that $625 "extra" payment to the card with the next-highest interest, until it was paid off. And so on, until we had no debt left to pay off. As we paid off each card, we cut it up so we couldn't charge anything on it again. (Note: we did not cancel these cards, as doing so will harm your credit.) It took us about 2 years to pay off our debt, and now we keep one credit card for emergency purposes or for travel, and it is paid off each month.

Meanwhile, it's a good idea to try and save some money, too. If you can, have 10% of your husband's pay auto-deposited into a savings account, for which you do not have an ATM card. (If you have to go into the bank to get your money, you're less likely to do so!) If 10% is too much right now, start with 5%.

Take a look at your monthly expenses and figure out where you can save. We no longer have cable (just Hulu and Netflix), and honestly, we haven't missed it. There may be other ways you can think of to save (clip coupons, grow a garden, etc).

As far as entertaining, why not host a potluck? That's an inexpensive way to have fun with your friends!

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answers from Los Angeles on

It's quite simple. Don't live beyond your means. With 24K cc debt? You obviously are.
Figure out where your bleeding is--house, car, etc.
Get familiar with Dave Ramsay.
Good luck!

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answers from Springfield on

You can buy a lot of your kids' clothes at consignment shops and garage sales. If you really want to entertain friends, have a potluck so that the entire food budget does not rest on your shoulders. As the hosts, you would probably still spend more, but at least it wouldn't be as much.

You might be able to bring in a little extra income by watching someone else's kids. Perhaps there are other parents who need someone just to put their kids on the bus or to watch them after school - in case you don't want to do this full time. You could contact any local schools and let them know you are interested. Most schools keep a list of moms who can do this.

You could also let the local schools know that you are a former teacher and would be interested in tutoring. I know many moms who are former teachers but earned a little extra money tutoring after school. You would have to schedule it when your husband can watch the kids, but it is very doable.

Start brainstorming other ways you can cut corners. You might surprise yourself!

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