Ok, lets talk budgets. Yeah, there are more exciting things to talk about but let's get this out of the way to make way for some more exciting topics. As a newly single parent I am faced with a whole new set of financial challenges. Before the divorce my husband and I weren't rich my any means. We were the typical american family. Well, maybe not totally typical. I stayed at home and earned money at home (this was our extra money) while he worked a full time sales job to pay the bills. We did ok (more on this later on ways to make money at home), but we never felt comfortable. Let's just say there were no Hawaiian vacations...maybe one to Louisville Kentucky, lol, but we really were just staying afloat.
Now as a single parent, there are even more challenges financially so I had to give my finances a kick in the pants, and myself. Lol Here's what I had to do to cut my budget in half.....
Determine what is your main expense? For most of us it's housing.
This is usually something non-negotiable. It's a fixed monthly expense. There are some ways around this expense though. Look into housing assistance programs in your area. As a single mom I now qualify for assistance with this. Call your local social service agencies. If one says no, there may be another, don't give up. Ask questions, tell them your story, people are mostly good and willing to help if you are just friendly and polite. If you don't qualify for any kind of assistance there are other options.
Get a roommate and split expenses in half. Move in with mom and dad or a brother or sister. Also, another option is to buy, it may actually be cheaper to buy than rent...talk to a mortgage broker or do a rent vs. Buy comparison
Rent $800 ( cut in half) $400 with these tips
Ok, going down the list....
Most of us have a car payment, this is another fixed expense (I don't have this one). I got a car from my friend Sarah (thank you girl, love ya). I will also be looking for another one that will be purchased with tax money (try to pay cash for a car if you can...payment monthly zero)
You can try to refinance your loan to lower your payment (this may lead to more installments, but less monthly expense)
You could take out a personal loan with a lower interest rate and pay the car off.
Let's say your payment is $300 you could reduce it to $150 buy doing this.
Next on the list.....utilities
This is usually somewhat of a fixed expense. Ways to reduce this expense...
Barter...for example, my neighbor and I share internet I use her internet and she uses my garbage service. A win/win scenario. We both save monthly about $50 or so monthly. My internet bill is a whopping 0.
I don't have cable but I watch movies and use Netflix steaming which is awesome and I don't even miss cable or the $150 bill that follows. I do have a pg&e bill every month but there are even more ways to reduce this. If you qualify there is a program called CARES that saves you a portion of your monthly bill. There's also a program called HEEP, its an energy assistance program that will help with your bill.
Moving right along.....
More flexible expenses
Groceries....this is my favorite one because this is my most flexible monthly expense. If you have a good panty stock you really can get creative with this one. You can use coupons (see my kindle ebook for sale on amazon to get started). If you aren't into that just meal plan around the weekly ad at your favorite grocery store. Buy produce that's in season, try cutting some meat out of your meals. You can still eat a balanced meal with other protein. Eggs for example, are so cheap and versatile.
This is my weekness. I love clothes. But I refuse....absolutely refuse, to pay retail prices. You will not see me in Macy's. Sorry Macy's you have some cute stuff but I can't see spending $50 on a shirt when I can go to a consignment store and buy the whole outfit and shoes for $50. I always dress nice and my kids always have nice name brand clothing. There are several ways I do this...
Thrift stores (ask questions a lot of times these stores have bag days or half of days doesn't hurt to ask)
Consignment stores....I love stores that take items for store credit. This is a lifesaver when you have kids...they outgrow their stuff so fast.My son is four but as tall as a six year old. These stores always have like new items. No one will know you bought it used.
Garage sales...super cheap clothing and household items
Rummage sales....went to a church on (the best ones) today. Go on the last day of the sale for the best deals usually a dollar or two a bag
Friends and family....love the hand-me-downs. With two boys I pass all of my four year olds clothing to his lil brother then after he outgrows them we pass them on to friends or family or trade them.
Other expenses...credit cards.
This is a tough one. Best tip. Don't use them. If you can't afford to pay cash for something....you can't afford it. Sorry. I know easier said than done. If you have a credit card balance try consolidating to one card. A lot of companies like Capital One will have the zero interest for balance transfers...take advantage of that. When the offer runs out transfer to another zero interest card. Keep doing this until its paid off.
Consolidate, apply for a forbearance, the main thing with student loan companies is communication...they are there to help. These to me are good debt. Student loans are one the lowest interest loans of there. Not that I would encourage taking out student loans but if you want an education and would otherwise be destined to a life of flipping burgers, this is your best option. And your credit score doesnt matter since it is backed by the goverment.
This is a tricky one. Most things that are fun cost money. But you can still have fun on a budget.
Utilize your local library...you can rent movies, cds, books, use the internet....free.
Redbox...movie night? Sign up for free redbox movie codes
Parks...pack a picnic lunch and have a park day with the kiddos. Bring some skates, kites, jump ropes, tennis rackets. Take advantage of the park.
Take a hike...haha...yes litetally. I love to explore my local area. I live in beautiful Northern California, an area rich in recreational opportunities. We have Shasta Lake, Whiskeytown, endless camping, hiking and adventures to take advantage of.
Summertime fun in the park...in my area during the summer there are family movies in the park one night a week..there are also Friday concerts in the park. Check your local newspaper and entertainment magazines for info on free local events.
Hope these tips helped trim your monthly budget. I will be posting more about budgeting and makign money at home. Stay tuned.
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