- This topic has 25 replies, 1 voice, and was last updated August 29, 2007 at 12:44 am by .
- August 29, 2007 at 12:44 am #253259
It can be hard to pare down to just the absolute neccesities, but
you are making enough to make it work (I, too, live in Michigan, we
have 3 kids at home, and a bring home pay of just barely over $2000
a month, and very little debt).
For starters, you need to evaluate what bills you have that are not
neccessary, and can be cut back, or turned off all together for a
Landline Phone (If you use cell’s primarily)
Credit Card Usage
Some bills that can almost -always- be trimmed are:
You need to clear your life of things you can’t afford. If your
bills are only getting a minimal amount each month, then they are
building up too fast, and there are things in your life you can’t
afford. Get rid of those extras. They are not essential to living
I realize that most people can’t live without a cell phone these
days, but you can awlays cut back on the cell phone- less minutes
per month, less usage per month (make the most out of free minutes,
and avoid using it at all during regular minutes!), getting on a
plan that allows free mobile to mobile, or a calling circle of free
phone numbers, etc.
If you do live with a cell attached to your hand, then kill the
landline. It’s an expense you don’t need if you’ve both got a cell
phone. If you do need it, call and ask for a bare bones package- a
pack where they only provide basic phone service- no long distance,
no 3 way calling, no caller id, no seperate number, etc.
For cable tv, cut back to the very bare minimum. No DVR, no
Satellite, no digitial, no HD channels, no ordering pay per view or
on demand, etc. If you can, get rid of it all together. Call and
tell them you plan to swap to sattelite, and chances are, they’ll
offer you a deal for a few months to entice you to stay, getting
your package at lower rates for a bit.
Internet, if you use cable internet, switch back to dial up for a
while, it’ll cut your bill in half, or more! Weigh the cost per
month of basic dial up and basic landline phone against the cost of
using just a cell phone, and getting cable internet (you save on not
having the landline, but the internet is more expensive).
Cut all extra entertainmnet from your budget- no going to the
movies, no going out to eat (period!!- pack a lunch for work, and
eat in at night!), no trips to various places which might cost you
money to do. Instead, make use of parks for a free outing, and pack
a picnic lunch, go to the beach, etc.
Your food budget can be cut down pretty easily in most instances,
just by watching what you buy. Get essentials first, and get the
cheapest option available when you buy them- whether that means the
brand name that is on sale, or the store generic. Once you have the
essentials, get the non-essentials like snacks, treats, etc.
Use coupons. I know- most people hate to use them, because they say
it’s not worth saving $.35 on a bag of chips. Well, when used
correctly, you can get food items for free every week.
Coupon useage is a bit of a debate. Some people refuse to use them
to buy things they normally don’t buy, whether it’s a type of food
or a brand name. Some people hate the time involved. Personally, I
Here’s the best way to use them:
1. don’t take the time to clip them if it’s something you absolutely
WILL NOT buy, whether it ends up free or not (food you guys hate,
products you don’t use, or don’t need, etc).
2. Before clipping every Sunday, peruse the weekly sale ad’s. You
want to see what’s on sale, because that’s a great way to keep your
budget down, as well as to figure out which coupons you need each
3. Match coupons to sale items- sure, $.35 off a bag of chips that
is normally $2.99 isn’t great. But, what if your store doubles?
Then, it’s $.70 off. Even better, what of those chips are half off?
Now you’re getting them for $.80. Check your area, not all stores in
Michigan double, even within a chain. I’m in the West Lansing area,
and all but the local Super Walmart doubles. I used to be in Mt
Pleasant, and all the stores except the Super Walmart doubled.
Before that, I lived in the Grand Rapids area, where almost no
stores double coupons. I know that the Saginaw area is great with
double coupons at some stores, and that places like Kroger over
there will sometimes double to a $1.00 instead of the typical $.50.
4. Make your grocery list complex- list the item, list the price
it’s on sale for, and list whether you have a coupon for it, and
finally, list the end price, and the amount you wish to buy.
5. Ask friends, co-workers, family, and neighbors for any unwanted
coupon sheets. Many people throw them out every week. If you have
doubles, you can really save when you have a good coupon and a good
sale! One week, I got $45 worth of groceries from Meijer in Mt.
Pleasant, and walked out the door only paying $.19, and without a
gift card of any sort, just coupons.
The list above is generalized, not based on any specifics, because
you didn’t list what your bills are. Loans and credit cards are
likely factored into your high bills, and most often, those can’t be
avoided. But, you may be able to talk to each of them, and get a
lower interest rate, or a refinanced mortgage or loan, which equates
out to a lower monthly payment.
I wish you luck!!
Also, here’s a group you might be interested in:
Heather in MI
— In Budget101_@yahoogroups.com, “paradise2lost”
> My husband got home from work today and a glance at the most
> bills that arrived in today’s mail, began yet another round of our
> continuing battle over bills! We’ve been married over 10 years
> have 2 kids of our own plus his 19 yo daughter from his first
> marriage (she lives with her mother, but we help her out with
> on occasion.) We seem to continually get in over our heads. Just
> when we feel like we’re getting on top of things, something always
> happens to throw a wrench into our finances and we’re back in debt
> to our eyeballs. Throughout our life together I have been
> payer”… a job I’m resenting more and more. My husband blames me
> for our financial situation… he says I am not paying the bills
> correctly. That I “should be paying things off, not spreading the
> money around a little here a little there…” My point to him is
> you have 5 or 6 bills due at the same time and only enough to make
> the minimum payments on each, or pay off one completely and let
> other 4 or 5 slide… how can you do that!?!? We’d end up having
> utilities shut off, no gas in the cars, no groceries, or worse
> that we already have!!! He doesn’t want to actually take over
> the bills, he just wants to tell me how to do it! We’ve never
> worked off a budget… I’ve attempted to several times, but seeing
> all the debt written out on paper just seems to make the task of
> paying it all off that much more daunting. Plus, when I’ve
> listed everything in black and white, it just sets my husband
> He’ll read through it and start yelling, “Why is that bill still
> here!? I thought that was paid?!? Why are we behind on that
> etc… It’s so FRUSTRATING! I want to have a meaningful
> conversation about getting our finances straightened out, but my
> husband just starts yelling at me and then I get defensive and
> too, and nothing gets accomplished. I’m tired of being blamed for
> everything also. It’s not like I’m buying clothes or frivolous
> for myself. I’m not wasting our money. I admit I have made a few
> errors in our check book that have screwed up our finances at
> (i.e. overdraft fees etc.) The only other financial “sin” I’m
> most guilty of is eating out for lunch too often during the work
> week… But, he does too, so it’s not like I’m the only one. The
> last few weeks I’ve really made a conscious effort to take lunch
> home (leftovers, a sandwich, etc) and have only ate out once or
> in the last 3 weeks. I’ve told my husband he should do the same,
> he continues to spend $20 to $30 a week on breakfast and/or lunch
> the cafeteria at his work. He said he’d take lunch if I made it
> him every day. Fat chance! I’m not his mother! If I can make my
> own lunch then he’s capapble of doing the same for himself. Am I
> The thing is… in almost every other way, our marriage is great.
> The ONLY thing we ever really argue about is money. But it’s
> that it’s straining our marriage. I’m sick and tired of fighting
> about money.
> I know we should be doing a lot better than we are right now. We
> both work full time, and gross about $60,000 a year… but our
> take home pay (after taxes, insurance, 401k, husband’s union dues,
> onsite childcare for daughter) is about $3800 per month. We are
> behind on a few things and have some old debt that has gone to
> collection. Our mortgage payment is current, but we’re usually
> to the wire to get it in on time each month. We live about 25
> from our jobs so gas is a big expense. We cannot really ride
> together as our work hours are very different most days. Our son
> 8 years old and entering 3rd grade this fall, our daughter is 4
> and starting PreSchool this year. They both need new shoes and
> clothes and I have yet to buy anything and school starts next
> We rarely go out as we never seem to have the extra money. Our
> primary entertainment is our Netflix movie rentals. I’m tired of
> living paycheck to paycheck and never getting ahead.
> HELP!!!! I need any and all advice I can get. I’ve been
> a “lurker” on this group for several months now. I guess the
> blow up with my husband today prompted me to write. I know many
> you have mentioned Dave Ramsey on here and have actually been to
> website today to see what he’s about. I’m thinking of signing up
> his Total Money Makeover plan… have any of you done it?
> Any advice will be greatly appreciated!!! Thanks for listening!
> Wendy in MI
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