How do you manage your budget with a limited income?

Staying on a budget is always a difficult task, especially with a family. What are some of your suggestions for moms on how to manage their finances and budget?

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11  Answers

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We rarely buy things for the full price. When shopping for clothes or items I head straight to the clearance/sales racks. I don't bother to glance at the "spotlight" item (why let in temptation?). I always ask the question: Do I need it vs. want it. Be grateful/satisfied with what you have. Just like I teach my kids to choose their friends wisely..... I do too. One of the biggest financial pitfalls are people that let themselves get sucked into "keeping up with the Jones'". I avoid people who "brag" "compare" like the plague.... It just makes sense to shop sensibly whether by force or choice!

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Shift into a cash budget. It forces you to spend only what was budgeted, and if you go over, you have to take from another envelope which is budgeted for something else. Stop using the debit card for everything. We only use ours for gas. This will also help to keep you from impulse shopping at the grocery store because you need to plan ahead to grab your money before going to the store. No cheating though, be strict with yourself or it won't work.

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Barbara has a lot of good points. We are a family of four and have been on a tight income for about 4 yrs when my husband did not complete Pharmacy school and left us with huge student loan debt. He works full time, plus another part time job every other week. I work part time when I can with the help of family watching our two girls when they are not in school. I do Coupon Sense which is a website that matches coupons to the ads each week. I also subscribe to three Sunday papers so when something is on sale (like rice, tp, peanut butter,etc) I can buy three of them and stock up. This has saved us about $150 a month on groceries, plus we have a nice stockpile so I don't have to run out and get things when we run out bc we rarely run out. I can also donate things I get for free like toothpaste and body wash to our school and help out without costing our family a penny except my time.

We also cut all unnecessary expenses-extra classes for kids (I take them to free or almost free activities like the library, play dates, splash pads, public pools, etc) Cut our cell phones, cut cable/internet/phone to very basic service. Our power company has a Time of Use plan which saves you on electricity. I only do laundry, dish washer, etc during those times and try to turn the AC up during the peak times. We RARELY go out to eat, it is much cheaper to eat at home. I also ask myself every time I want to buy something if we REALLY need it? And if it's not on sale do we need it NOW? I also buy quality when I think it will pay off. I purchase good tennis shoes that are on the roomy side for my girls before school starts and they make it the entire year instead of having to get two or three pairs each. I purchased good backpacks and now we are on our second year with those. I don't buy clothes unless there is a need for them-holes, outgrown, etc. I also don't buy clothes just because it's on sale. I ask myself will they wear it? Will it go with anything else? Doesn't save you money if it never gets worn. We manage it day by day, month by month. It's not always fun but we have what is important to us as a family. We have two very old cars and old about everything else-computer, tv, fridge, etc. We only replace it when we have to. For now that's how we are managing it.

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I use coupons, shop at second hand stores. And I also do crafts at home, I sell some of the crafts online, it doesn't bring in a lot but it brings in enough to cover my cost and a bit of pocket cash for me. I make all Christmas gifts. shop around for the best deals as far as groceries.... We are stocked up on body wash, toothpaste, toilet paper, and such that would cost us extra every week, but I've managed to get our groceries down to a little less than $80 a week for a family of 3. Sometimes I don't even go out to the store, cause we have everything here for the full week. Eat at home, bring bagged lunches(hubby does this every day).

Also check and see if you qualify for WIC(they cover milk, bread, beans, its a big help also cheese and juice). Buy diapers on sale, pick up a couple of packs when they are, and use coupons when purchasing. I purchase most of my diapers from drug stores which allow you to use ecb's or up rewards or their $$ toward diapers. This has cut down diaper expenses big time, especially with a second one on the way.

Go to garage sales in the summer for clothing and also toys. Check out for local estate sales/auctions, sometimes you can find a lot of toys cheap(my mom use to do this with us kids).

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Write down every single expense and don't carry cash. I could never keep track when I used cash because I had no way to track it. Quicken makes a great program to help you budget too.

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I think there are so many ways (simple ways) that one can save money. My husband and I have 4 children. My husband works a full time job, runs a summer camp, and in the fall works at a haunted house. I tutor kids (I am certified in elementary education and was a former teacher). I am also looking into another job at our local YMCA so my daughter can do winter swimming.
Some of the things my husband and I do:
- communicate about finances as often as we can
- communicate about purchases every time
- communicate about future purchases
- shop at consignment shops
- trac fone (I do not text and only use the cell when I have to); my husband has a cell through work
- grocery shop once a week (if you can) and stick to the list (this is a challenge for me and I am constantly working on it). I use coupons not as often as I should. Upkeep of coupons are a challenge for me. I sometimes get so frustrated b/c they seem like a scam but I use what I can when I have time to upkeep them--it is a great idea. Some people are amazing with coupons.
- we are on a budget (well with everything) but with our electric, I plan ahead for the summer and no matter how far ahead I am with the bill, I still pay the full amount knowing that summer will be the hardest season for us with the AC
- we use our credit card but when we get our taxes back and with summer camp money, we try and pay it off ASAP
- besides our mortgage and a home equity loan, (which is a pain but it is good debt) we try not to have a lot of other debt (such as unnecessary credit cards).
- we purchased a house that we knew we could afford
- our house needs some TLC done to it, but we take our time and only do projects when we have the money or know it will be in our pockets to pay it off (we never take on a project without knowing where that money is coming from). This is another challenge for me since I want a new kitchen but I have to wait until we have the money--it may take another 5-10 years but we will get there
-when we do plan a project, it mostly completed by my husband (we are so lucky, he is very handy)--we have saved thousands of dollars b/c of his excellent skills.
- if you can, try to fix your own car. Another plus for my husband is he finds out from our local garage what needs to be done for inspection and the garage does what they have to and then my husband does the rest (again, hundreds of dollars saved)
- get rid of things that are luxurious (I call these luxuries) subscription to newspapers and/or magazines, cell phones--it does not have to be fancy and you do not need to text (trac fone), do not eat out and if you do, make it special and every once in a while,
- when going to the store, my kids know when I say no, I mean no. They can ask 100 times for something in the store and I always say in a sweet tone, "not today, maybe another day" then we move on to the next item they want and I keep repeating the same thing over and over again.
- I try not to pass up good deals. Today in target, I found cute flip flops $2.48--I could not pass it up:)
- make your house more efficient. We added new windows, central air, and a wood stove to alleviate our oil bill. Of course, we have a home equity loan but our house is so much better in the winter and summer.
- Last but not least, I come from a very large family. For birthdays and Christmas, I make gifts whether it is baked goods or a craft that is what I give and everyone gets a gift.
- Oh yes, Halloween costumes, make your own--they are the absolute best:)
Our oldest is almost 8. I still wonder how we are going to get through this month or that month but we always manage to make it. We are lucky, yes, there are times I really want this or that; a new house or a new kitchen, but I would say we are very blessed and lucky with our beautiful family. The very best part is, I am staying home, and raising our children.
Good luck and we hope this helps your future with your family--it is tough but work together and you can do it:)

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I kniw the feeling, my husband has his own furnace business and I was working 4 jobs just to make ends meet, it's not easy to stayon budget cause something always comes up, that's jut life! But I've found recently found something great! Im now working from home helping people find financial freedom! I never pictured life like this, but it works, and now I no longer have 4 jobs. I work where I want when I want!

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I'm living on about $800 per month, for two of us
Buy everything on sale, stock up on staples when they're cheap, buy the limit of things you need, then return to the store later for the same products. Shop at thrift storess.
If you have a community kitchen or community meals program in your community, find the churches that serve them, and attend. I volunteer there so I'm expected to eat there. They always need help.
If you have churches that give out food bags, ask for them, I don't because they have foods in them I can't eat. If you're that broke, don't be embarassed to go to the food bank. Pay your cable or internet first, then ask for help from community ministries for help with electric bill. My pastor suggested that.
Look on the internet for resources, we have 211 here, but just google whatever you need help with and your zip code or whatever you have, that'll hook you up

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If it is broken, try to fix it. Everyone today is into just replacing items and that is a costly habit to get into.
Eating at home is time consuming but is far less expensive then eating out. Plus with all the health concerns about too much sodium intake it is healthy to make it yourself. Making your own lunch and coffee each morning can save a bundle in the long run. Pack a lunch when you go to the zoo or outing, that usually saves us at least $25.00 each trip.
We also have no spending days. No matter what you are not allowed to spend ANY money that day. It can be challenging but if you stick to it is becomes rewarding. We do this once a week on Tuesdays.
We are mortgage free because we never bought a house beyond our means. Keep it simple and live simple.
We have always payed cash for our vehicles. A car is never an investment only a cost.
I shop at second hand stores for our clothing. You can find lots of new and gently used items for very little cost. I window shop for the latest fashions and then find them in the second hand shops. It does take more time to shop but the pay off is worth it. I can usually clothe all 4 of my kids in one season for less then $100.00. I also bring our clothing items back to the consignment store and earn money for the next shop.
I am an big believer in coupons. I usually save $50.00 a month in grocery bills with coupons. I also use the superstore Mastercard and earn points towards free groceries. I can usually have $500.00 is free groceries a year.
I pay the Mastercard balance down to zero each month and never pay interest. The way that I learned to have no credit card debt is whenever I purchased an item with my credit card I went home and made a payment for that amount on the credit card. It taught me never to spend money I didn't have and I also earned the points the credit card.
Most of my suggestions sound pretty simple but if you combine them all together you will save lots of money each month. Hope this helps.

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I have started to use a lot of coupons and even trade them with other women. I also wait until items go on sale plus use a coupon for it and stock up.
Kijiji and Facebook groups are great ways to get things for a good price. Even diapers and formula!

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