what do you do when your on a tight budget?

Cristy - posted on 10/09/2009 ( 27 moms have responded )

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We are on a very tight budget with so many bills to get payed plus rent and all. Anyway I get payed every 2 weeks and after we take care of the bills I only have 100 left to get groceries ( lets be honest thats not much these days). Plus I need to get my kids winter clothes (boots,coats,pants...ect...) and dont know how I am going to do that........I was wondering how others work this out.....I am starting to get stressed.

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Amanda - posted on 09/03/2011

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I know how you feel, my husband only gets paid every 2 weeks and the day he gets paid it's always gone after I pay the bills, etc. and wonder sometimes if we will have gas money until the next paycheck. However, here are some ways we have saved a good bit of money. We don't have cable tv, our cell phones are pay as you go "go phones". If you have money you have phone if not you don't, but you're not locked into monthly payments or contracts. When ANOTHER dryer broke 2 years ago, I refused to buy another one - we hang all of our laundry out - weather permitting, otherwise we hang it in the sunroom. Because of this our power bill is between $40 and $60 less a month! than it was. Our laundry is neverending, so we wash everyday (not due to lack of machine, it has always been that way). We live in Alabama and in the summer we can linedry 4 to 5 loads a day. Our heatpumps (1 new and 1 older) got to where they weren't cooling well - the old one quit cooling and the new one just ran all the time - so we bought window units $100 ea at Wal-mart or Homecenter (slightly higher) and using them cut our power bill about $60 to $100 per month and they cool better. If there is nothing on "free" tv, we sometimes play board games or paint, read, or just "talk". We try to eat at home - eating out is our biggest weakness - so we try new recipes to try and make it more appealing. We've tried gardening, but we stink at it, but will probably try again as everything keeps going up. We live "out" so we try not to drive into town unless it can't be avoided and this saves on gas. We shop at the thrift stores for clothes, sheets, shoes - i got a pair of new looking reeboks for $4! We shop regular stores too, but look for sales, but we're too tight to pay too much for anything. We buy our groceries at Aldi's and/or Save-A-Lot, they are cheaper than anyone else, even Wal-mart. My teenage daughter buys all her cosmetics at Dollar Tree, I don't wear any myself. We buy our deodorant from Avon - it's only 99 cents a bottle! Toothpaste from $ Tree, toothbrushes as well, perfume, $ tree has a lot to offer. I'll stop now, i'm sure I've listed a page worth. lol

User - posted on 10/10/2009

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go to the tax credits they might be able to help if u are on a low in come they help with rent and council tax to x

Martha - posted on 10/10/2009

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Take advantage of second hand stores for clothing as well as Salvation Army coat give aways. Pray before you go shopping. We neede3d a winter coat for our son, we prayed and at the first garage sale, we found one for $3 that was in perfect condition. FOOD shop the ads, use lots of rice and pasta (filling and alot less expensive. Day old bread stores, Avoide prepackaged---buy oats and make your own graola, pancakes are a very inexpensive alternative for breakfast as s French toast. hope these ideas help.

Cristy - posted on 10/10/2009

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Quoting Cristy:

what do you do when your on a tight budget?

We are on a very tight budget with so many bills to get payed plus rent and all. Anyway I get payed every 2 weeks and after we take care of the bills I only have 100 left to get groceries ( lets be honest thats not much these days). Plus I need to get my kids winter clothes (boots,coats,pants...ect...) and dont know how I am going to do that........I was wondering how others work this out.....I am starting to get stressed.


  I just wanted to say thank you to you all who replyed to this ...u all helped me alot with some great idea....thanx so much

Alicia - posted on 10/09/2009

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food stamp. i know some people are ashamed of these things but its nothing to be ashamed of. and if you have kids under 5 do wic (women infant and children) program. u get milk cheese juice eggs peanut butter and other things now im not sure what they are though. do consignment for the clothes you can sell the ones you dont need any more and but ones you do need for a fraction of the price. good luck i know how hard it can be.

Jenn - posted on 10/09/2009

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We're on a really tight budget too. I'm lucky in that almost ALL of my kids clothes are hand-me-downs and then they get some new outfits as gifts from Granny, Grandpa etc. I love looking for deals on groceries using coupons whenever I can, items that are on sale, and only buy what I really need. The one grocery store here has 1/2 price items (things that are close to the expiry date) and I buy those a lot and just throw the stuff in the freezer so it doesn't go bad. Thrift stores I'm sure would be a great place to look for kids clothes too - think about how fast kids grow - most of their clothes they outgrow before it gets too worn.

RENEA - posted on 10/09/2009

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One thing that will help you out on groceries will be to find Sunday paper with coupons. I feed my family of 4 for for about $50.00 a week. i know that sounds funny, but it is true. i go to Krogers they do double coupons everday. best way for me to explain this is go to www.couponmom.com and read how all this works. as for clothes.. You may want to try consignments stores. Take what you have for sale and buy what is in the store .. that way you keep building you money on the things that you sale for clothes that you need for now.. i buy alot of clothes for my kids there.. hope that this helps

Pam - posted on 10/09/2009

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I have been on a very tight budget in the past. At one point I only had $40/week for groceries. Find you local Aldi grocery store and shop at Goodwill or another store similar to it. My kids, 2 boys & 2 girls, have all learned how to stretch a dollar and actually suggest clothes shopping at Goodwill for school. They know they get more and I don't buy it if it is not in good shape. Check out sites like couponmom.com and shortcuts.com. These are places to get coupons and also on the couponmom.com website, she does the searching through the grocery ads for you and shows the best deals for select stores. Make sure you are putting your priorities in order. Make sure the basics are covered first, Shelter, utilities, food, clothing and then allocate the remainder of your money to your other bills. You can write letters to any creditors you may have and explain your situation and let them know how much per month or pay period you can pay them, even if it is not the full payment. They will not take legal action against you as long as you are sticking to what you have told them. Take a course in finance or budgeting through a local church or your financial institution. Those are usually low cost or free. I don't know if I can suggest a specific program on this forum, but check out a book by Dave Ramsey from your local library called Financial Peace University. I went through the program through work and it was a real eye opener. Good Luck!!

Joanna - posted on 10/09/2009

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Same boat!! Out of work for 2 months now and living on half my salary.

Start with your utilities. just yesterday I was able to negotiate my cell phone bill down to a more affordable level. I don't have a house phone, and I bundle my phone and internet and that saves money. I found a better rate plan with another cell company and asked my current provider to match the rate plan, which they did.

If you do cable or satellite, only pay for the basic service, and if you find a better plan with a different provider, call your company and negotiate with them. They will negotiate....they want to keep your business.

Also, where I live, I can choose and alternate provider for my electric that charges 3 cents less per KwH....so I am making that call today. You can look into that option as well to save a few bucks a month on that bill.

If you have clothes that your kids have grown out of, look into consigning them. I typically donate, but times are tough, so this year I am consigning to get a little extra cash to by winter clothes with.

For food - use the coupons, buy generic if the deal is better, and for canned and frozen goods, try a discount food store like Aldi's or Save-a-lot. They are not cheaper on everything....but they are on some items.

Christmas is coming up too! I have a pretty large family, and I can't get them to do a name draw to save the amount of gifts to buy, so I budget myself to just $20.00 per person. You can also give favors as gifts, instead of presents that you spend money on. Why not offer to clean house for a day for mom or an aunt as opposed to buying a $50.00 basket from bath and body works??

If you own a home and have a mortgage, look into programs to reduce your monthly payments!!! This is actually what I did for a living before my company closed and if you are having problems and are living reasonably, there may be programs to help. It is a huge pain in the butt, and banks are not easy or fun to deal with, but they are, in many cases, required to help. It certainly behooves them to help.

Good luck Cristy and all the other moms out there trying to keep things together in these difficult times! We will all get through this, and be better, stronger women because of it!

User - posted on 10/09/2009

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Consignment shopping! The clothes are great and so are the toys! I pretty much just shop consignment for my daughter. Great clothes!

Shameron - posted on 10/09/2009

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try angel foods. i am not sure where you are located but they reduce a 60 dollar shopping fee to around 30. http://www.angelfoodministries.com/ There are no requiremens to using them. As well, try shopping at the good will. Another thing I do is make foods that stretch. Red beans and rice, chicken and dumplings, gumbo, jambalaya, chicken soup. These are all meals you can make for under 10 dollars, and usually last for a week each. Freeze these so that you aren't eating the same thing over and over and pull them out when you are ready for that mean. Also check craigslist and freecycle. Craigslist has a spot for free items and often times people will post some decent things they are getting rid of. As well, freecycle is a place you can get rid of your old unwanted things, and pick up other people's old unwanted things as well.

Deborah - posted on 10/09/2009

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All the ideas that the moms have had are awesome. We are in the same boat as you with a family of 6. I have learned to use the coupon system. It has made such a difference. I can go to the store and spend $60-$120 weekly but the difference is I have a shelving unit stockpiled with necessities (toothpaste, detergent, soup etc) as well as a freezer full of food, where as before I had nothing. I use the site www.thegrocerygame.com. You can try this site for free for one month and then I believe it is $10 every eight weeks. I shop at meijers. I have gotten so many free things from meijers, CVS and Walgreens by using coupons, such as toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap, razors, soup and many other things. The difference is that you use the coupons when the item is at it's lowest price, not when you just have a coupon. The lady from Grocery Game does all this work for you and then tells you where to find the coupon. I highly suggest checking it out. It has really save us! If you have any questions I would be happy to help.

[deleted account]

I am ALWAYS stressed on how to handle this. I usually shop at a grocery store that carries their own brands only and costs a bit less. I plan my meals for the entire week, them make a list from there to shop w/. For clothes, I hit up the local Salvation Army. Wednesdays they have half price days. The clothes that I buy are always name brand (picky teenagers), and I never pay more than a few buck for any one item. Also, do you have Freecycle in your area? It is an internet based group that is geared by county in each group, and ran w/ a moderator. People can post items to give away (all items have to be free). Also you can post a wanted message for items. I always see people in my group giving away kids clothes. I also use it to clean out my attic and basement. This is similar to Craigs list, but everything has to be free. There are restrictions of course. Good Luck!

Kathleen - posted on 10/09/2009

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A great way to start is to take a deep breath. Money equals stress in 99% of situations I'm sure. If you are stressed it is very hard to look at things in a positive way. First have you tried consolidating your loans? It is a great way to lower interest rates and lower payments and it never hurts to ask. Second have you tried shutting off the bills you don't require such as television, internet, etc. Have you searched around for things that you could find cheaper through a different company such as car insurance, life insurance, renters insurance. We switched to RBC insurance and saved over $100 a month on our car insurance. As for your groceries it can be a challenge and you are right because money doesn't go as far as it used to. Kraft Canada.com has a great area that gives you recipes for a week. The recipes are easy to make and they are not too expensive, especially if you substitute with no name. Take a look http://www.kraftcanada.com/en/dinner/1ba... Watch for sales, buy your groceries once a week and resist picking things up at the small stores because they are often more expensive. As for lunches for kids it is more expensive to buy healthy food but try anyway. A piece of lettuce of slice of tomato can make a sandwich taste a whole lot different. If your kids are old enough get them to help make them because then they will be more likely to want to eat them. Also try to allow yourself some spending money, even if it is only 5 or 10 dollars. Make sure it is in cash that way you don't overdo it by accident. Do not try to save money by getting rid of very important things like life insurance, car insurance etc. Maybe you could save gas by taking the bus if it is available in your area. Also you can look for something to do on the side if it is really getting tight. Try a local convenience store or coffee shop. 12 hours a week can pay that extra hundred dollars for your groceries. As for winter clothes look at the thrift shops. A lot of the time the coats are pretty much brand new but they just don't fit kids anymore. During the summer season check out yard sales for clothes your kids can fit into now or even later on. Buy your kids clothes that are a little bigger so they have room to grow (you can always hem pants up with just a few stitches and let them down later). Also put your budget on paper, computer, somewhere and plan it by the month because that is how a lot of bills go. Also it helps you arrange things so you can see how the month will pan out. The last little bit of advice that I can offer is the one I struggle the hardest with... do not think about it all the time. Plan ahead by planning monthly and only look at your budget on pay day. That way you can rest assured that it will be taken care of but it doesn't consume you. Also when you are done with the budget on your payday and you have sent the money where it needs to go take another deep breath and go play with your kids. One more thing that I did was I made my bills go straight to my banking sight. Royal Bank has a great section for this. It helped because that way all my money was being organized in the same spot. It can drag you down really fast if every time you go to the mailbox it is full of bills. And worse they all seem to come at the wrong time. Hope this helps and sorry it is so long. Good luck!

Gabriella - posted on 10/09/2009

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Beth's idea for menu planning is a great one. Try looking at what you have in your pantry, fridge and see what meals you can make. For instance, if you have a frozen turkey breast, you can make that in the crock pot and then turn that one meal into several things for a few days. Turkey with gravy and roasted veggies, burritos or enchiladas, breaded turkey cutlets, mashed potatoes, steamed veggies, you name it. Find items that you can prepare that will extend themselves into many things that your family finds palatable. Try a meatless day(s) each week as well. Beans are a low cost, great food item that can be used in hundreds of ways. As many have said, you can save a ton by cutting out a lot of the junk food.



Coupons, coupon, coupons. They are so worth it these days and try to look at things like paper towels, toilet paper, etc. to see if there are cheaper options. There always are.



If you typically eat cereal in the morning, try oatmeal. You can purchase large canisters for about as much or less than a box of the leading cereal and you get so many more bowls out of that canister. Additionally, the oatmeal is healthier given it's fiber content, low fat and it stays with you longer so that you are not as hungry as fast.



Food banks (as someone mentioned) are also a great way to save. They actually have markets where you can purchase items at ridiculous prices. I have to mention, as someone who has worked with nonprofits for the past 15 years, when your situation improves, please don't forget all the nonprofits that have helped you along the way. They count on donations to make these services available to people when they need them. Churches as well (which are also nonprofits).



If your budget will be tight for some time, try shopping on the off seasons, now is a great time to buy summer clothes and earlier in the year, when the spring collections are appearing, is a great time to stock up on winter deals.



The bottom line is that budgets require planning. You can make a list of all the things that you absolutely need and then work from that list. When the kids can't live without a treat, use that same oatmeal to make granola and sprinkle it over their yogurt or give it to them as cereal. Use the things that you have on hand to make those special little things. Even cookies. Here is a quick recipe that only needs a few ingredients:



1 cup of peanut butter (chunky or smooth)

1 1/3 cup of sugar substitute (splenda works well here)

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract



Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine all ingredients in a blender and mix well. Make the dough into balls the size of a walnut and place on a greased baking sheet. Press fork dipped in sugar substitute in criss cross patterns across the tops of dough balls. Bake 12 minutes. Makes 18 cookies. These will satisfy that sweet tooth without having to resort to store bought items making this a cheaper option. There is no flour or oil which saves additional ingredients and they are fast. Have the kids help.



Hang in there, budgeting times require a little planning and creativity, but you can do it! If you need more recipe ideas, let me know. I love cooking and I collect recipes, I would be happy to share any with you and anyone else reading this who is also interested. Moms stick together and support each other!

Diana - posted on 10/09/2009

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I was a single mom of 4 boys selling cars. Instead of toy stores and book stores we went to garage sales. Another thing we did was go to the salvation army and buy GOOD jeans for 2-5 dollars. Even tho they were a size too big they would eventully grow into them, you would be amazed how many name brands you can buy in second hand stores. Another money saver I still use today is get your own clippers and become your own barber.even with little girls, keeping bangs trimmed at home is so much cheaper. I always packed lunches for the kids but keeping it fun is the challenge. The money you save is mind blowing.

Kristin - posted on 10/09/2009

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My kids don't wear any new clothes I am fortunate to have a big familoy that hands things down, ask around if anyone has anything they are not using, shop fo r groceries at discount grocers and clip lot's of coupons, also plan meals ahead of time this saves alot, if you belong to a church community this is a great way to get food from the food pantries or resale shops.Apply for WICin your state and recieve milk,eggs cheese and other groceries free including baby formula this is a wonderful program to help families eat healthy hope this helps

Beth - posted on 10/09/2009

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I think most of us are in the same boat.

When it comes to food shopping,you should go thru you fridge and cupboards and write a menu out for a week or two and buy what you would need to make what is on your menu.

For example if you decide one day you are going to make speghetti,you look thru your cupboards and you notice you have one or two packages of noodles,well that is something you wont need to buy.

Lets be honest here we tend to end up buying something that we already have in our cupboards without really realizing it so you end up spending money on stuff that is not necessary because we already have it.



I don't know if you have a program like what we have here in November called "Coats for Kids" it's an organization that is put together to help ppl that can't afford to buy winter coats,snowpants,boots..ect.

That is another avenue you can check into.Like the others have said churches,salvation army and thrift stores may also be able to help you out as well.



Good luck hun.I know all to well what you are going thru as a lot of ppl do as well.

HUGS

Tara - posted on 10/09/2009

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I grew up being in a tough situation like that. My mom did the best she could by us. I remember us having a lot of hand me downs and second hand stuff. Also a lot of meals containing pastas and potatoes. I wish I had some first hand knowledge on this to lend to you. We just recently put ourselves on a budget but its nowhere near as tight as that. And Im still looking around for a job. Maybe you can find some extra work somewhere? Ask a friend to watch the kids a day or two a week instead of care? Given your kids are in care? Good luck and best wishes!

Kimberly - posted on 10/09/2009

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Try shopping at other places. Do the work and clip those coupons it will be worth it. don't be afraid to ask for help from local church for winter items even if your not a member they usually help out. Everyone is going thru tough times right now and you are not alone. i use my local food bank whenever i can so at least one paycheck is grocery free to purchase other items that always seem to come up. good luck! hang in there!

Jessica - posted on 10/09/2009

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Cristy.



It's tough, I will tell you that. But I am sure you know that much. lol. For my family it's pretty hard aswell. My Husband is working and I am at home with the little one. What I have found that helps is as follows...



For Food; shop around, it takes a little more time and energy but it is worth it. Check weekly flyers online before you head out and only get what is needed. Put back the junk food and sugar products and stick as close to the budget you set out. Stay on the outsides of aisles as well.

For Clothing for the kids: Instead of going to higher end stores for winter stuff that they will only wear once a year, try buying second hand online or by doing a swap meet with moms in your area. It's a way to get gently used items and a great way to meet and spend time with other moms. Ask around, a friend might no someone who has a child that's around your kids age but is a bigger size, they might be willing to sell some of the old stuff fro cheap.

I could help you find the resources you need if I knew where in the world you were. : )

or check out my blog and leave a comment about what your looking for and i will see what i can do. http://beingamom.blog.com



hope this helps!

Jessica

Megan - posted on 10/09/2009

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honestly i'm in the same boat, except we are living off of one paycheck.... with more bills coming in then money. i know not many people like to admit they have to turn to it, but go down to the welfare office in your town and apply for food stamps... even if its 50 buck, you know as well as i do that it will help... try that one out for your food situation... if you do end up goin down there ask to sign up for 2009 Christmas unlimited holiday toy program. you can register any child ofyours (up to age 12) for it and they get aprox. $25 worth of toys (per kid). Also try calling 886-488-9742 i dont know where you live but that is a toll free number for help for families. they offer 790 different services.... hope this helps.

Crista - posted on 10/09/2009

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did you try going to local food pantries alot of the time they will have clothes which will help and i dont no if you have this in your area but there is a program called angel food you get a nice amount of food for cheap i no how you feel and i really hope this helps

[deleted account]

Try thrift stores and craigslist for the winter clothes. Clip coupons and find out whether any of your grocery doubles coupons, Wegmans (I'm in Buffalo) always seems to double my coupons under $1 so I try to always use those at that store. Worst case scenario try and get assistance or try a Food Bank. These are tough times and if you need help ask for it, there's no shame in that because we all need help at sometime or another.

You could also try and get rid of some of your bills if possible...cable or if you have a house phone and cell phones get rid of the house phone. Also see if your gas/electric company does an equal billing that may give you a few extra dollars to put towards groceries. Good Luck.

Maggie - posted on 10/09/2009

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Shop at church consignment sales for the kids clothes. You wouldn't believe the deals you can get! Most of the stuff is like new there, too. You could also do yard sales. Sometimes you can find some nice stuff.

Clip coupons from the paper, print them off the coupon sites - anything you can do to save a bit here and there on groceries. If something is on sale (buy one get one free especially) get a couple if it's something you know you'll use. You can stock up in the freezer or pantry! Check with all your local grocery stores to see what's on sale before you go so you know what you need to get. You can also switch to store brands on some things because the taste is practically the same. Try them out and if you don't like them switch back to what you usually use. Cut down on unneccesary things like chips or cookies. You could also go to Costco or Sams or BJ's to get the items you use most in bulk.

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