I Am Failing... I Need a Financial Counselor!!!

Updated on August 26, 2008
P.H. asks from Mesa, AZ
8 answers

Ok, the only reason why I am telling you all this is because nothing is changing, and I figure that mabey someone is going to read this, who knows exactly how I feel, and has some suggestions!

My husband, myself, and our 2 children live with my in-laws... (which they are WONDERFUL people) We couldn't have asked for better roommates! We have been here for 1 year. We moved in because we/I couldn't handle finances anymore. We were in the hole, and they offered to help us get out, by having us live here rent free, and not having to really pay for anything. The only problem is that I think that we have become so spoiled, that I look at our income, and our 'normal' bills, and we don't have enough money left over to pay for food, let alone rent, and all of the misc. bills that come along with it!

There will be months where we/I am doing really good, then all of a sudden our account will be in the negative, and we will be broke! Now, we are paying bills off, but still, there is no excuse! I just don't get it. I am so unbelievably frustrated lately, and on the verge of another nervous breakdown. I just don't get it! I see all of these people around me that are our age, and doing well with there lives. They have a house that they own, and nice cars, and children, and they make the same as my husband! I JUST DON'T GET IT??

I am going to try to go and get a job in the evening when my husband is home, to bring in some extra money. I can't be out for too long, because I still breastfeed my 9 month old, and I don't want to totally stress him out! So even with that, what kind of income can I really bring in?

I would work in the home, but everything that I have found is either a scam, or I need to pay them money before I can start to work for them!?>? I am NOT going to do that! Anyways blah blah blah... I am venting, and I just need to get over it right? I guess I am just so sick of 'getting over it!' I want to fix it, but I just can't seem to do it right! Any advise??? Please Help!! Thank you! :)

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answers from Phoenix on

Hi Pricilla!

I know how frustrating finances can be, and we feel the stress of it too. I'm by no means an expert, but I can pass on some advice I've received. First, sit down and write out a budget. It doesn't have to be complicated, just write down what your bills are, when they are due and how much you pay. Round up if it fluctuates. Now add things that aren't set in stone, like groceries and gas, entertainment (even if it's renting a movie or the occasional night out) and don't forget to allow for the unexpected,like a copay for a Dr. visit for he kids. I find that those unexpected expenses are more routine that I thought. IF you are unsure what you are spending on these things each month, go to your last bank statement. Write down each category and plug in each transaction accordingly. I was shocked to see how much was in my so called "miscellaneous" column. Plus, I found out that those quick trips to a fast food joint that I thought was no big deal, actually added up, even if it was only $5 at a time.

The next thing I did was do away with as much unneccessary expense as possible. I reduced our cable bill by getting rid of some premium channels, got a smaller cell phone plan, and opted for slower internet since I use it mostly for recreation. It seems insignificant at first, but next month when you get your bill and you don't wince it'll be worth it.

The last suggestion I have is probably the hardest, at least for me. We have to learn to pay ourselves first. When your husband gets paid, immediately take a small percentage and put it into a savings account and DON'T touch it. Start with something, even if it's five bucks and work up to more. Think about it, if you can put 50 dollars away each paycheck, and if you get paid twice a month then you've put way $100 for the month. Over the year it's 1200, and now you've got something. Anyway, I think you get the drift.

We are all struggling with these issues, and some days are harder than others. I wish you the best!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

I know this is a delayed response but I wanted to tell you about a resource that's helped many of my friends and family members.

It's a ministry called "Crown Financial" and it's completely free. Google it to learn more, or go to this link to start using the tools right away:


Take a few minutes to check it out. You won't be sorry, I promise.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

Hi P.,

I think it's terrific that you recognize you need help getting a financial plan for your family. Don't berate yourself for not getting it right and there's nothing to "get over." You are doing a wonderful thing by taking this step. Here are a few things to get started...

It sounds like you have made a list of your bills and "normal" expenses. You (and your husband) would probably benefit by carrying a notebook and writing down every single daily expense -- even the small drink or snack purchases. This will give you a clear idea where your money is going.

If you are getting free rent, and probably some meals, and still in the hole, your money may be going to a lot of small entertainment-type expenses. These items often add up quickly -- but are sneaky because they seem so small at the time. And we often reward ourselves with small purchases when we're stressed (candy bar here, pair of earring there, toy for the kids).

Consider if you are spending your money the way you want to. Then consider what would be the best option for bringing in more income. Where will the "extra income" go? Are you just saving up enough to get your own place? How will you support your living expenses then?

Take these steps one at a time and don't overwhelm yourself. You can look for a free counselor at your church or local community action agency. There are lots of resources on the web. I like Jean Chatsky (from Oprah show) -- she's very down to earth. Here's a link:


You can do this for yourself and your family. Work with your husband. Can you ask your in-laws for advice?

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

I was once in your position. A great book or Movie to watch that really helps in "The Secret". Your mind is really is really in control of your well being. I am 28 years old, and until about 18 months a ago, I was a single mom raising 2 boys. They are now 10&8.Since I decided to stop stressing and feeling soryy for my self things have really fallen into place. So the very fist step is positive thinking, (ie start morning by saying outloud "I am greatful")Then you really need to establish a budget, and stick with it. The best way to see where you are going wrong with finances is to write down every dime you spend in a journal. This will surprise you. Please trust me with this it really does work. I would be glad to share more with you, as this seems to be my calling now a days. Last year I decided to get my real estate license to help people, like you and I. I was too frustrated with seeing eveyone else own a home, and nice car. Most of my cleints right now are on a program to clear up debt,and credit, in order to buy a home. For those of them who are actually taking my advise seriously, they are seeing major improvements. Hope this helps, please let me now how it goes!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

I'm so proud of you for deciding to get control of your finances. It will bring you such great peace of mind, which is much more valuable than any material things. Dave Ramsey is a financial guru who offers sound, solid advice (he's been there, done that--he filed bankruptcy years ago and now he doesn't have any debt whatsoever, not even a mortgage). Check out www.daveramsey.com He has a radio talk show on 1310 am in the afternoons here in the Phoenix area that I LOVE. He celebrates becoming debt-free and answers financial questions. He has a cash-only envelope system set up to help people stick to their budgets. I love the entry to his show where they say, "The show where a paid-off mortgage replaces a BMW as the status symbol of choice."

More than anything, it just takes great discipline. When my husband and I were in college the first year we were married we made only $13,000 taxable income combined, and so we were well within the poverty level. We just cut our expenses as much as possible so we could live within our means. We just learned to do without. It was extremely difficult, but definitely possible with discipline.

The little things do add up. Track your spending and expenses for a couple months and you'll most likely be surprised how much money is wasted (I was!) and you will see where you can cut back to save more. Making a budget and sticking with it was the only way my husband and I were able to make our money stretch to go where it needed to. Pay the crucial things first.

Maybe you can find free financial counseling that would help. Are there any expenses you can cut out? My mother-in-law has many unpaid debts that will most likely never be paid, and it is hard for me to watch her buy new clothes and get cable TV or join the gym or go on vacation when she owes people money. It's a matter of integrity and I think one should pay people they owe before spending frivolous money (I'm not saying you are). Good luck. I wish you the best. The good news is that it's up to you (and your husband)! I am really impressed that you've decided to make a change, as difficult as that may be.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

the responses are all good. I would like you to visit dave ramseys financial peace university. Our church offered the course last year and I took it. I have to say his methods do work. the problem is discipline. In a nut shell you have to have your husband on board and it requires a spending plan, savings plan and an overal plan. Stay the course and be very greatful to your inlaws.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

There is a great book I recommend to everyone. It talks about WHY we are "set" to make X amount of money and no matter what we do, we end up at that X amount. I have seen how it is true, we make more money and magically we get more unexpected bills. It just always stays at X amount! It drives me crazy. It feels like "we just can't keep up with inflation" can't get ahead. The book has shown me it is because of my "programming" about money. What I/you need to do is change our thinking.

And, it is not only about money. Lots of great concepts. It is "Secrets of the Millionaire Mind" by T. Harv Eker and you can check it out at your local library.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

you need a budget where you detail exactly what is coming in and what is going out. Don't let your free living situation enable you - you need to stop spending money on things you don't *truly* need. comparing your family to other people isn't going to get you anywhere, you don't know the intimate details of their finances.

honestly, being a SAHM isn't a right, it's a privilege. I'd get a job before I moved in with my in-laws because it's MY responsibility to provide for my kid. I don't understand how you don't have enough money for food...where is all your money going??

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