Finances-How Have You Handled Situations?

Updated on December 27, 2010
K.B. asks from West Jordan, UT
10 answers

Are there certain things your husband and you do regarding finances? This is an area that I struggle w/and have for most of my adult life. I want to improve. I might be the "odd ball" out in that my husband actually pays most of our bills and we share grocery shopping etc. I feel like I really need to take more control over our financial situation. My husband has struggled as well. We both grew up in homes where our examples were more spenders than savers. Things need to change and we both know it. We are going through loss mitigation on our home at the present moment to see if the bank will work w/us to lower our payment etc. due to our circumstances. My name is on the loan and my FIL is the co-signer because my husband has been self-employed and we purchased our home in 2009. It's really stressful but something we need to face head-on. I just really want to know some things you have done or ways you have made the family financial situation better? I want to go into 2011 feeling more in control. Any and all advice is appreciated Mamas.

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answers from Kansas City on

Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University!!! My husband and I went through this a year ago, and it was the best thing we ever did. Dave has common sense ways to teach you to save money and get out of debt! Here is his website:

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answers from New York on

What has changed so drastically in such a short period of time (a year)? If you bought the house in 2009, you should not be having problems paying the mortgage and needing to lower your payments. Did you buy a home you couldn't afford and just hope for the best? Did you buy a home and then go out and buy all new furniture, appliances, etc, more things you couldn't afford?

Examine how and why you're in the situation you in. Any try to correct the problems.

A few ideas to help along the process....

Know the difference between a want and a need. Only buy the items you truly need. You need to eat and go grocery shopping, you don't need to go out to dinner or get take out. You don't need to eat anything that cost over $2.99/lb.

When money was tight, hubby and I never bought anything over $25 without consulting each other first.

Never use a debit card. It's too easy to overspend. If you can't pay cash, don't buy it. Also, no credit cards. Keep one for emergencies.

Pay yourself first. Have $20 a week from you paycheck directly deposited
into a savings account. Save this money for unexpected expenses, like a car or house repair, or unforseen medical expenses.

For at least one month (preferrably 2 or 3) keep a list of where every penny is spent. Once you know where all the money is going, you'll be able to better determine how it can be put to better use.

Good luck.

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answers from Minneapolis on

Well first and most important is to not buy out of your means. The home you purchased in 2009. Could you conforatably purchase that home and pay for it and your expenses on your lowest income if you both work. In other words, if you hubby makes $60,000 and you make $80,000 did you buy the home going off the $60,000 income? Or did you like many take the two $140,000 and get a mortgage for the amount you could get with that income. This is where a lot of people go wrong. What if you loose your job, get sick, etc. and just have one income. Also do you always buy new? new car, new van, new tv...etc. Does it need to be new, I have never purchased a vehicle over wholesale, sure it has a few thousand miles on it when we purchase it but they all work great.

We have lived off of one income for the last 8 yrs, now a family of five we still manage on essential the same income in fact less as my hubby lost his job last year and was out of work for months.

Now we are finally buying a home, a home that we can afford on his income alone so in 4-5 years when I go back to work we will be just fine because my income with be all extra. For saving, retirement, little extra spending and other things. Of course for us and many we can't purchase a home on my income (the lowest) because I don't have any, but if we keep renting we will never get ahead. Sure our first home will not be new, may need a bit of work, but it is the size we need and can grow a bit in it.

I think some people got it and some people don't we have managed without Dave Ramsey, I think it is just common sense, but so many people want more, and more, and think they deserve what they want. when really it is just things/stuff.

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answers from Lansing on

I was off work for a year and a half and got waaaaaaaaaaaay behind on my house payments. Like way behind, almost to the point of forclosure. My mortgage company wouldn't work with me, and then finally by the grace of God, I got a woman who wanted to help. I filled out my modification paperwork and it took awhile, but they took all the money I was behind on put it on the end of my loan and my payment was also lowered almost 200$. I now have a 4% rate throughout the rest of my loan. THank God!

I'm still struggling tho. Trying to get caught up on everything I in a sense let go for a year and a half.

I am trying to pay off all the small stuff first, I'm trying to buy ONLY the needs, not the wants..its hard but I'm trying. I cut down my cable bill $40 a month and I cut down my cell phone bill $20 a month. I also don't go out to eat as much, and either cook at home or go to my moms. I also buy generic whenever possible.

I hope that helps and I hope everything works out for you!

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answers from Erie on

My husband and i sound similar to how you guys run things. My
DH is self employed as well with a fluctuating income. He pays the bills and mostly we grocery shop together where he is still "in charge" of the money. I was raised as a penny pincher so it's hard for me to spend on myself and i question almost everythign he wants to buy because he is more of a spender and likes his entertainment. Thankfullly we are meetign our bills, but i still worry and we still don't communicate well about it.

I keep trying ot keep track of expenses and to talk with him about how much we have but so far haven't been successful.

I guess one of the simples ideas is the whole needs vs wants thing people are talking about. In my mind any meals you are eating out, including starbucks. are a want. easier said than done, but if you buy groceries you like and can take with you, snacks for the kids and yourself packed everywere you go you'll probably save a lot of money.

good luck and a big hug. it is super hard.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Dave Ramsay. Buy O. of his books used.

Simple concept, really: Live on less than you make.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

You've gotten a lot of good responses so far. I'll only add a couple things. As far as Dave Ramsey, if you don't want to spend money on one of his books or programs right now, he is on talk radio daily. You can listen for free. Do a web search and see if you can find a local station (probably AM) that carries him.

I thought I was tight with my money until I met my (now) husband. His jaw dropped at the money I spent when I thought I was being conservative. Since I met him, I've learned to eat out at less expensive restaurants (he loves buffets--more for your money), and order water to drink (think how much that saves over a year's time, esp if you both do it, when sodas at a restaurant are frequently $2 or more).

I've learned how to shop better--i.e., pay attention to store deals, use coupons and watch for days at your grocery store when they'll double the coupons for you, don't be afraid to shop several different stores because one may have the best deal on produce and another on canned goods, and another on meats. If you have any mercados near you (basically Mexican grocery stores), they always have great deals on produce. Also if you or your husband are military and there's a base nearby with a commissary, DO check it out. We save a lot there. I've always liked to garden, but now I take it more seriously. We buy a lot less produce in the spring and summer. And I grow my own herbs instead of paying $3 or more for a handful of fresh basil at the grocery store. My next goal is to start canning.

I also learned to go to dollar movies or matinees instead of the $8 evening shows. (Of course, now we mostly just use RedBox!)

This may seem like an odd way to save money, but I really think it made a difference for me: I started going to bed earlier. I used to stay up all night, and sometimes I'd make a latenight run to Taco Bell, or go out and spend money at a bar or restaurant or the movies, whatever. Now, I couldn't imagine paying even $3 for a well drink at a bar. And I'm a grump if I'm not in bed by ten. And things you can do in the day generally cost less than night entertainment.

Check out coupon-clipping websites (, and sites like that tell you about deals at local stores, and how to use coupons to your best advantage. I also check out, but usually just for fun; in the long run it doesn't help with finances, but I get a lot of free samples in the mail :)

My mom just recently started mystery shopping for a company she found online. She seems to like it and it brings in some extra cash. Google it.

Incidentally, if you have a library nearby with internet access that you can use, maybe you could stop paying for internet.

We actually invested in some scooters a couple years ago (Suzuki Burgmans, large enough to take on the interstate) which helped us save a tremendous amount on gas. They def paid for themselves. Hubby is now carpooling to work also.

It sounds like you and your husband keep your finances separate. Why not join them? Then you will both be on the same page about how much money is available. It can also save fights about who's paying more, who's doing more, etc. You as a team will be paying the bills, instead of "he pays this and I pay that." It gets rid of an opportunity to lay blame on someone because "you didn't spend as much as I did" or "you forgot to pay the water bill" or "we wouldn't have cable if I wasn't willing to pay for it."

It's fun to watch your savings grow, too. Set up some kind of plan. Even if it's just to put your change in a jar and earmark the jar for the savings account. Or choose a specific amount or specific percentage of your income to go to savings every pay period. Look into CDs or other interest-earning opportunities at your bank, although admittedly interest rates are next to nothing right now...but a penny saved is a penny earned, right? I'd rather earn 0.5% than nothing. Don't forget to add in the interest every month on your ledger. It's a deposit! Enjoy it, even if it's only a dollar, or less.

One other important thing, though--don't cut out ALL fun in order to save money. You might not be taking any expensive trips or even going out to an expensive restaurant any time soon, but there's lots of things you can do on the cheap. I already mentioned RedBox. Check your local community center for cheap or even free goings-on in town. Do you have a GPS unit? I'm a big advocate of geocaching--it's free, fun, and gets you out of the house, gets you a little exercise. Here's a previous question where I talked about it: Also, check out the National Parks Service website: some days they have free admission to parks. A lot of wildlife management areas and the like are free all the time, or you might pay a small fee to camp overnight. I just think it's important to incorporate some fun so you don't get overwhelmed by stress.

Well I thought I wasn't going to say much but I got going and couldn't stop. I hope this helps. Good luck with the loss mitigation!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

You can start to get control by sitting down and listing everything you spend so you can get a clear picture of where your money is going. Once you see where the money is going you can put together a plan to spend less. We don't buy any clothing unless it's end of the season and marked down 70% or more. If I want something I usually start off at the consignment shop. Just last month I picked up 3 pair of name brand jeans for $18.00. If you eat out a lot you can brown bag it to work and do all your cooking at home.

I save a lot by buying in bulk, cooking larger meals, and dividing into single servings which I throw in the freezer. Easy to take something out of the freezer and microwave it and a lot less expensive than stopping to pick up something on the way home.

In the same thought process, no junk food, soda, or juice. Around here it's water and popcorn for snacking.

Look at your bills and see if you need all the services you are paying for on your home phone, internet, tv, and cell phone. I didn't realize that I was paying $17.00 a month for total phone with call waiting. It was needed when my kids were teens and talked on the phone for hours but now that they are older we don't need it. I changed from paying texting on 2 cell phones to unlimited texting on all 5 lines and saved $5.00 a month. Just those 2 changes put an additional $264 in my pocket painlessly.

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answers from Denver on

My husband and I started the Dave Ramsey system last year and it has put us both on the same page. I am a saver and my husband is a spender living on one salary at the moment. We have refined our goals when it comes to money and love that we have great clarity on our future and how we spend our money. We got Dave's book at the library, they have the book, book on tape and workbooks available at our local library. Good Luck may 2011 be very prosperous for your family. :)



answers from Kansas City on

I agree - Dave Ramsey! He knows what he's talking about & his program works!! Good luck :)

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