- June 22, 2007 at 8:37 pm #252463
Well, for starters, it depends on the area you live in. I mean, someone
making 32k a year can be considered really poor, or mid level middle
class. If you live in an area where most people live in nice houses and
drive expensive cars, and a typical grocery visit costs half a
paycheck, then it’s harder to do.
Our family consists of an 11 yo, 8 yo, and 5yo, plus my husband and I-
so 5 people. I’m a SAHM, and my husband just got a new job that pays
35k a year, salary (meaning no over time). We had to relocate for the
job, but not far.
So far, the area we are in is cheaper in everything but our rent. We
splurged BIG time on the apartment we went with. It has 4 bedrooms,
though, plus ammenities such as a pool, tennis courts, basketball
court, playground, a gym, and washer/dryer hook up’s right in our
apartment. The overall size of the apartment is just over 1500 square
foot, so it’s huge for an apartment. Additionally, it’s about 400-500
sq ft bigger than the house we previously rented. That said, the rent
is $1015 a month (ouch- to me!), where as the house we rented was
$775/mo. But, it includes the cost of gas (heat), which in the winter
was running us $150-250 a month in the house, so that eats up some of
Anyway, for our family, I do all the budgeting. It’s not perfect, we’re
broke sometimes, but we’re also at a point where we’re actually making
enough to NOT live paycheck to paycheck.
Here’s some idea’s on corners to cut:
Grocery- buy generics, and don’t buy a bunch of extra stuff. If a brand
name is on sale cheaper than generic, get that. What ever price is
lowest, get it. Start including more side dishes with meals, and cut
back on the cost & quantity of the overall main dish to cut cost. Use
coupons. Shop loss leaders, fresh produce stands, and make meals from
Utility bills- Unplug items not in use to conserve electricity: clocks,
VCR’s, radios- basically anything with so much as a light up display,
because it is using electricity when not in use. Lower the wattage in
many bulbs by 1 level, or get the spiral bulbs that use less wattage
for the same amount of brightness. In the winter, lower the thermostat
by 1 degree or 2 degrees, and wear warmer clothing. In the summer,
raise it a degree or 2 and wear cooler clothing. Keep the curtains shut
to avoid the sun heating the house up. On cooler days, open windows,
and prop fans in them to keep the air off. Fill the freezer with water
filled milk jugs so it uses less energy to keep items cool.
Phone- Commit to 1 type, land line or cell phone. You don’t need both.
If you like the conveince of a cell, ditch the land line and save
yourselve $20-100 a month.
TV- Cut back on the cable plan you have, if you have one. Or on the
satilight if you have that. Do you use all those channels? Call and see
what smaller packages are offered, or make it sound like you plan to
switch- they may offer you a better deal on what you currently have.
Internet- If you don’t spend all your time online, and currently pay
$20 or more a month for DSL or cable internet, then cut the cost by
going back to dial-up. You can get dialup for as low as $5 a month at
some places. Your phone company, if you still have or plan to keep a
landline, might have a special deal on it.
Extra’s, Entertainment, etc- Cut, cut, cut. Before renting a movie,
before stopping off for burgers for dinner, before grabbing hair gel,
pay the bills and get the groceries. From what is left after all that
is done, make 2 piles: Allowance, Savings. put half the money left into
a savings account, and half you can use as allowance. The allowance is
for those little extra’s that don’t seem like much, but that add up-
The savings account should be seperate from any accounts you have no.
Put it into a bank you don’t usually use, and decline the atm card.
Make the money inaccessible, basically.
I started an account like that back in February to save for vacation.
Any extra money we get, plus some extra from our tax refunds, and we
currently have over $1500 in it. I do a lot of stuff online, including
a paid to do stuff site, a survey site, and a site that pays me to
write articles. Any checks I get in the mail are deposited into that
account. The lower amount checks are held onto until I have a few, then
they are put into that account. I also save change and once my jar (an
old spaghetti sauce jar) is full, I deposit it. Some of my change
deposites have been close to $100 in and of themselves.
The savings gives you a cushion, even if it’s only $100. It can save
you when you have car repairs, or when you need to get diapers, or
there aren’t enough groceries in the cupboards. Making it less
accessible means you can’t go on a Saturday night and draw money out to
go see a movie. Or to grab enough out to get a lamp you like.
The allowance money should be used for anything you don’t -need-, but
want: movie rentals, nights out, a new shirt, going through a drive-
through, etc. It will make you think twice when you know on Monday, “I
have $20 to get through to next Monday… do I really want to spend $5
of that now on a cheeseburger meal??”
More on entertainment: Find cheap or free entertainment such as
spending the afternoon at the park with a frisbee from the dollar
store, going to the beach for the day, watching an older movie on TV
with a bowl of popcorn, reading a book from the library, etc.
Another way to bring income in- have a yard sale. If you can make $100,
it’s still $100 you didn’t have before, and you can stock up on
groceries with it, to lessen the week to week burden. We stock up on
things we eat alot when they are on sale, to avoid paying larger prices.
My budgeting ways didn’t come from a frugal up bringing. Now, my
parents were not big spenders, they scrimped and saved every penny over
the years. But I never had anything to do with it, so it wasn’t
something I really knew how to do.
When I got married, my husband was a full time college student, working
part time on campus, and full time summers on campus. Our first year
married, he literally made just over $7,000. I was a stay at home mom
right away due in part to high day care costs, and in part due to not
knowing the area well. We supplemented our income by having him take
out as much as he could when the school loans came around, so twice a
year, we got boosts of around $2,000-3,000, and at tax time, we got an
additional $4,000 back. So, while we DID only make $7k a year, we were
bringing in up to $17,000 a year. Still, we lived -very- frugally. I
remember one day we got into a fight (one of few, and likely our first
one), and I walked around town for the day. It was near dinner time,
and I was mad enough to spend the $5 in my pocket on a meal at KFC.
I felt SO guilty about that, because I knew we had $15 total to last
till our next paycheck, which was a week away yet, leaving us with just
$10 after that meal. We never ordered out, we only rented cheap movies
(new releases were a very special occasion), and we scrimped and saved
when we could to do special things.
We splurged when our big checks came in from taxes, & student loans,
but even then, not much.
Good luck! If you want to know more about any of my frugal ways, just
ask or email me. I’d be happy to help a bit more. 🙂
— In Budget101_@yahoogroups.com, “crazigyrl_jen”
> I feel dumb asking because I know people live on much less, but we
> have a 3 year old and a 1 year old and are struggling…I cut every
> corner I can, but we are still really struggling. Any advice or
> comments would be greatly appreciated.
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