Cutting Costs

Budgeting a Family of Four

When I was a child, money was the least of my concerns or worries. My mom would give me a $1 bill and I thought I was rich!  I could now afford the barn of my dreams & all the cows in the world.  (I was a farm kid!)  But as I got older the worth of that dollar became a whole lot less.  I was graduated high school with a full time job and rolling in the dough! (Or so I thought)  See, I was still living at my parent’s house….bill free!  Not a worry in the world about money problems.  I went out with my friends every weekend, bought all those new brand name shoes and jeans.  I was living large.  Keep in mind I was only making $9/hour at the time.

A few years passed and I moved out of my momma’s house and in with my boyfriend of 3 years and his son. We had a small two bedroom apartment.  I had a new job by this time, I changed my career path from accounting to the dental field.  I had a full time reception job and was making $12/hour.  My boyfriend was in customer service and was making $11/hr.  Our apartment was a decent monthly rate and the only other bill we had at the time was our electric.  Seriously guys!  We had all the money we could want left over after bills.  We bought new stuff: tv’s, new clothes, new toys, new everything.  Not a care in the world right?

And then the shocking news hit that I was pregnant! PREGNANT!  My first thought was not overcoming happiness as most would think.  It was “Oh Shit!  What the hell are we going to do now?”  We had less than 8 months to figure out where we were going to live and how we were ever going to be able to afford the expense of another child.  A baby that we would have to buy diapers, formula, baby food, clothes.  It was all such a shock and then we went to my first doctor’s appointment.  We saw our little panda’s tiny silhouette and heard her heart beat.  Everything became so real and for a minute all that worry went away.  We could do this!  We have to do this!

So we started first by hunting for a new place to call our home. All the 3 bedroom apartments that weren’t completely unliveable were so expensive!  I’m talking $1,000/month on the low side!  We just couldn’t do it.  So I spoke with a representative at the bank and discussed my allowable monthly payment and they worked with me.  It was much more affordable and I could literally choose my payment based on the home I bought.  And just like that we were off again.  I was looking at homes, I was looking at a homes…to buy!!  It was such a long and difficult journey, and the longer it took the bigger and more swollen I became.  Finally we found the perfect home for us.  It was 3 bedroom, 2 bath, large walk-in closets, big back yard, a garage.  I’m telling you people this place had it all, just needed a little TLC and it would be perfect.  I talked with our relator but the payments were just going to be too high.  So we kept looking, but nothing measured up to that one house.  Fortunately for us, the area the home was in was swept with news of a dam break on the lake.  Of course all of the homes for sale in that area dropped in value, the sellers just wanted them gone!  We jumped on this opportunity.  And offered $40,000 less than their asking price, I told my boyfriend that they would never take it.  It will never be accepted, we might as well just settle for another place.

A week later we got a call from the relator. The bank who owned the home accepted our offer!! They actually told my realtor that they would be glad to get rid of it now since it would be swept away once the dam broke anyways.  So we got our dream home!! We really did it!!  We moved in exactly 3 months later.  My dad used to be in the construction business, so he helped with all of our home repairs and we saved thousands!  Don’t get me wrong, we still are working on a few minor improvements, but we are very much comfortable there.

Now that I’ve given you the back end to my story, we are going to get a little more current with things. I am now living in my dream house with my fiancé and our 2 kids.  We are also struggling a lot more now than we ever have with our finances.   Granted we are paying two car payments, a mortgage, home improvement loans, a water bill, an electric bill, heating bill, phone bills, car and house insurance and other miscellaneous other debts that we have incurred.  It’s safe to say we are in a little over our heads right now!  So I decided to try and cut our budget on items we bought around the house.

For instance, we now have a weekly grocery, eat out allowance and gas money allowance. If we run out or go over, I take it out of the budget for the next week.  So far we have only had this happen once and it was not pretty that following week!

I have also been trying to cut cost down by making some household products! So far, things have been going pretty well with those.  I have made my own household cleaner, my own laundry detergent and my own laundry softener.   I’ll post more at another time with those recipes for anyone who is interested. J We have also been buying various supplies in bulk. Such as toilet paper, paper towels and condiments such as ketchup, mustard ect.   I have noticed a significant savings rate since we have been doing this!

So when you’re sitting at the kitchen table wondering where in the world you’re going to come up with money to make ends meet, just look for inventive ways to save and cut corners!  They are ways to save, you just have to put forth the effort!

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