Even with two jobs, there were really hard times. We lived a couple of months with only a little over $1,000. How did we do it? I really don't know, to be honest with you. Probably divine help, but also our hard work on our monthly expenditure planning.
Budgeting is the key when you live on a tight income. Living on a budget is sure not easy, but it will bring you peace of mind and you'll feel more secure IF you stick to it!!!
So here's a couple of things you should keep in mind when rethinking your economical situation:
- CREATE A BUDGET: keep a record of your expenditures. Record and review monthly income expenses and determine what you need to reduce...especially nonessential things. On your budget you have to include FIRST all the obligations you have such as tithing and offerings (for those that contribute to whatever church you are a member of), housing, transportation, insurance, food, utilities, and so on. Everybody has their own budget and limitations. Some think that $2,000 is way to little for a family of 3 (mom, dad and one kid), some think that $3,000 is too little for just the two of you.
Total monthly income : $2,900
Car Insurance: $130 (for 2 cars)
Car loan: $210 (only 1 car..the other we bought with cash)
Groceries: $250 (anything we buy at Smiths, Sam's Club, or any other grocery store is counted as grocery.)
Gas: $240 (both cars. My husband works 35 miles from home, 5 days a week, which makes 70 miles/day for him. I work only 5 miles from home, 3 days a week.)
Fast-food: $60 (we like to have a budget for fast food or any eat-out we have so we'll keep track of how much we are spending on it. Since we love to cook, we don't spend much eating out, we do all at home. But days off are usually when we spend the whole day out and we use that money for these days or any eventuality with friends. Regular days, we eat at home)
Personal: $70 for me, $70 for Brandon, $70 for Rachel. (some months I end up spending MY personal money buying things for my daughter - as all moms do :) - but I still keep it within our budget).
GRAND TOTAL: $2,225
PS1: after paying our tithing and offerings, we still have some to put on savings!
PS2: next month we'll have an addition on our budget: health insurance ($120)
Whatever you do, however you do, just make a REAL thing for you and you family, and that works for you. Make sure you are not overdoing/overbuying and being rational about it.
- SAVINGS: sometimes they can be impossible, but try to put aside what you can. Gradually build a reserve and use it for emergency only.
- SHOPPING: change your shopping habits and look for good values, cheap shops rather than the ones that offer brand name. AVOID sales unless you need something in particular. Even 20% off sales + 30% off coupon can cost you a lot at the end of the day.
- CREDIT CARD: keep ONE credit card (if you have any. I never had one!) for emergencies and destroy the rest.
- MAKE A GROCERY LIST: before going to the grocery store, list everything you need to buy. Better yet, keep a notebook on your kitchen counter so you can write down something you need whenever you notice you need it or it is almost gone. At the store, stick to the list and don't buy any unnecessary thing. Grocery lists saves you time AND money!!!
- MAKE A MEAL CALENDAR: when you plan what you are going to cook during the week/month you know what to buy and won't be clueless when dinner time is coming up. Check out Weekly Menu Planning for more details on it.
- GET GREEN: pack lunch to work/school on regular food containers (Tupperware) instead of using ziptop bags. Bring you own thermos/bottle with water/juice, instead of buying bottled water or boxed juice.
- CAR: avoid using your car unless you have to. Maybe now would be a good time to become car free.
- INDULGENCE BUDGET: Set a personal money that you and each person can use for personal indulgences: dinning out, movies, shopping or whatever you want. And once it's gone, it's gone. In my house, this money is "rollover". If you don't spend it all the current month, you have left over for next month and so on. My husband uses his personal money to increase his arsenal of knives (he's a chef). But his knives usually cost over $100, so that means he'll have to wait 2 months to get what he wants..
- AVOID DEBT: Spending less money than you make is essential to your financial security. Avoid debt, with the exception of buying a modest home or paying for education or other vital needs. If you are in debt, pay it off as quickly as possible.
I am not a financial expert, don't get me wrong, I do have my splurges here and there. But I learned very young how to handle my money and what I could do with it. Value your money. You work the whole week/month to get it and it is very important that you use it wisely. Be smart, Be realistic. Live Happy!