r06387 : It’s really easy to experience financial difficulties without properly budgeting. I would say that many of us (including me) have experienced this at some point in our lives. There are plently of budgeting tools out there and fancy programs you can use, but I prefer to just write everything out. Here’s what I would do:
Write down all of your monthly expenses (including your husband’s). I think it’s easiest to start with rent, loan payments, credit cards, car payment/insurance, phone bill, cable bill..,you get my point. Then write down your secondary monthly expenses, including gas, groceries, and anything else that’s required. I wouldn’t guess on those either. I would go back and look at your statements to get a better idea of what you’re actually spending vs. what you think you’re spending.
After you write down your expenses, subtract this from your husband’s income. That number will be the amount you have left to put into savings and spend on optional activities like going out to dinner or the movies.
I’ve been doing something similar to this for years and it works great. After my husband and I combined incomes, I took it one step further and figured out how much we were making each week and that’s how I determine how we pay our bills. So, we have our student loan payments paid at the beginning of the month (even though they’re not due until the 20th) and our mortgage is paid mid month (about 15 days early). This works for us because those are our two biggest debts and it makes more sense to spread them out.
Regarding savings, we automatically have part of our checks deposited into savings (separate from retirement), so we never even see that money as part of our monthy income.
What I’m getting at is that you have to really sit down and study your income and debts. This is the only way that you’re going to budget and get yourself out of the financial hole that your’re in. Personally, if I were you, I would focus on paying your credit cards down first before saving more. I wouldn’t take out a loan unless it’s absolutely necessary and if I were you I would get a job ASAP.
It can be difficult finding a job period, nevermind in your own field. If you are already low on cash, you should be doing everything in your power to get some kind of income- even if that means working for your inlaws or anywhere else. I have Master’s Degree and before I was able to secure a job, I worked a daycare changing diapers for $12/hour. I needed income so I did what I needed to do.
Regarding the puppy, I would wait. You’re already in a lot of debt and while I don’t think it’s impossible to have a puppy with debt, I think you need to learn how to budget properly before you add more monthly expenses. And puppies cost more than you may think. To put it into perspective, I spent about $400 in vet vills for the first 2-3 months and this was just for normal stuff like check-ups and vaccines. Food is another $30/month. And I don’t know who is going to care for the puppy when you’re not home, but we also spend $40/week on a dog walker during the school year because my husband and I work the same hours and didn’t want to leave the dog alone for 9-10 hours/day.