(Closed) I’m really drowning here and I need help bad!!

posted 8 years ago in Money
Post # 32
Member
14971 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: June 2011

I’m a natural saver even though we make good money, I was just raised that way.  I actually feel bad about spending on the everyday little things like bottled water or a snack from the snack machine cause I dont think its “worth it”.  If I were to buy bottled drinks, I think well I can get water free from the fountain.  If I want a snack, I think, instead of spending a dollar on this little bag, I could get a whole box at the market for $2… besides, I dont need the extra calories anyways!  So I get a reusable bottle, and pack little snacks for myself each day from a bigger box I get at the market (always on sale).  Every little bit counts, I only shop grocery sales and base my weekly meals around what is on sale, I dont buy misc snacks when I’m out, I dont even buy trash bags – we use the grocery bags in a small waste basket, I try to always pack lunch, I dont buy coffee – I have a coffee maker at work or make some in the morning at home… dont think of it as depriving yourself, think of it as padding your savings account, and change your habits so that you can have the same luxuries, but with a different approach.  When you want to buy something, just stop and think, do you REALLY need to, or will you do ok without.

Post # 33
Member
4354 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: June 2013

@MsBrooklynA: All our bills tend to be the same amount, save for a minor fluctuation here and there so we transfer out the same amount every month. We either manually go to that account and trasnfer out the money to the bills or some debit from the account automatically. It took some charting in the begining (spread sheet would work really well for this) but now that we’ve been on this schedule for more than a year, nothing really changes so we transfer the “set amount” we figured out in the first few months of having all the bills.

I would chart it every month if I were you though. It’s just easier that way, especially when getting used to a new system. I would most likely do that if I didn’t have Fiance and his crazy math/memory brain. He remembers every single bill where as I might forget some here and there.

Actually, my parents own a home similar to the size of ours and my mom keeps a log every month of what each bills cost (going back like 10 years now or something crazy) so before we bought our house, we sat down with her log and calculated what we expected our bills would be before we bought and moved so we had a really accurate picture of how much money we’d be spending.

I would just start with writing everything down. Same as being on a diet, if you don’t account for it, it just accumulates in the backround until you’ve gained 50 lbs.

Post # 34
Member
383 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: August 2012

@MsBrooklynA: Oh WOW….all I can say is WOW. I feel like I handwrote your post MYSELF! We are JUST alike! I make pretty decent money for my age but I ALWAYS manage to live paycheck to paycheck because when I see or know of any money in my account I always blow it on clothes, shoes, jewelry, etc. It scares the CRAP out of my Fiance b/c he IS a saver and very frugal (needless to say he will be in charge of finances once we move in together and join incomes). What I did to try and help myself is I tried the cash route…I gave Fiance all my credit cards, to keep away from me and only have one bank card on me for emergencies. The MAJOR thing I am praying for is discipline. I have tried MINT, read numerous finance books, and created Excel budgets but I dont stick to anything 🙁 So I really just need to get focused b/c clearly I am my own biggest issue when it comes to this. Overall the PPs have amazing suggestions, trying these things out along with a strict disciplined mindset, I’m sure will have you right where you want to be!

I am SOOO jealous of some of you money-minded PPs I really wish I could be more like this b/c I HATE that gap btwn checks where I just feel so broke, it really makes me sick but I always manage to find myself there ;-(. I’m really praying that I can get it all together because I am so scared that I will take my bad financial habits into my marriage! You guys had some really good ideas though and I will make sure to keep an eye on this post for more great tips on being a better saver.

Post # 35
Member
5667 posts
Bee Keeper

First I just want to say I am not good with money naturally. It’s something that I have to work very hard at so I really understand how hard it is to think about each and every purchase I make and make sure I’m sticking to a budget. I think PPs have given some excellent advice and I don’t have much more to add- except the suggestion to research. Research, research, research.

Learn about money. Saving it, spending it, investing it… everything. Learn how credit works, how to get better rates on loans and how to plan out payments. I know it’s difficult on a sporadic salary. I temped for a while and I had weeks that I didn’t even get paid. It sucks, but if you build up enough of a cushion with savings you can prepare yourself for anything.

Here is a list of some the resources and tools I’ve found extremely helpful.

Dave Ramsey’s Totaly Money Makeover – It’s really an eye opener. He is very Christian so some parts can be difficult to get through if you aren’t but the money lessons are invaluable.

Suze Orman’s Young Fabulous and Broke – Suze has some great strategies and philosophies on money that vary greatly from Dave Ramsey. I found it a good read and found a lot of the information helpful. For instance, Dave Ramsey is very much against using credit to purchase items like cars and thus doesn’t discuss how credit works at all. Suze helps you to use credit responsibly.

Lynnette Khalfani-Cox’s Perfect Credit – Along the lines of using credit responsibly this book explains the ins and out of credit, how to use it correctly and how to attain a perfect credit score.

Mint.com – Free budgeting software that will help you track spending. It’s not great for getting down to the nitty gritty details (at least not for me) but is great at giving you an overall picture- literally. You can view data in charts and graphs to helps illustrate your money usage better. It also allows you a place to view all of your accounts (including debts and loans) in one place.

You Need A Budget Software – YNAB seems to be one of the best budgeting tools out there. It’s like the spreadsheet method on steroids. It’s an excellent budgeting  tool if you like their methods.

Gazelle Budget Software – If you end up liking Dave Ramsey’s methods he has a piece of software that helps you follow his plan.

 

I hope this helps a bit. Remember, no single method of budgeting and saving is wrong if it works for you. There are a ton of them out there and if you find one that fits your situation stick with it!

Post # 36
Member
2559 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: September 2010

@MsBrooklynA: Well, say we make $750 in a paycheck. The first thing I do is pay the bills I know will come up between then and my next paycheck. Then, I take out $150 (20%) and move it to savings – immediately. No buying anything until those two things are done. Then we take care of the other necessities – we assume we both need gas ($100) and that we need groceries (budgeted $75, although we are often under unless we’re stocking up on something on sale). Everything else is “extra”. We have food, gas, electricity, and a roof over our heads, plus $150 x4 every month in savings. If we don’t have $ by the end of that for going out to dinner or having a drink or taking a shopping trip, we. don’t. go. Period. It has to be something amazing for us to pull money out of savings – for example, I bought a groupon today for $50 towards $150 in furniture (actually, I bought two :)). Furniture = worth it. A bottle of water and a bag of chips = not. Once you get in the habit of not being kind of frivolous with where you’ll spend your money, it’s not hard anymore.

Post # 37
Member
916 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: April 2011

We’re trying really hard to save money right now, so here are some of our tips:

– Homemade lunches: My husband works at home, so he makes a sandwich or grilled cheese every day. I also pack a lunch and snacks.  I love eating lunch out, though, so I found I would “accidentally” not have time to make lunch in the morning. So I came up with a rule that I am allowed 1 lunch out a week. If I use it up at the beginning of the week, then I’m just going to be hungry if I don’t make lunch on another day. By not banning lunch out completely, it’s a little easier for me. I definitely have days when the vending machine is calling my name, but then I look at the price–$0.85 for a candy bar, when I can get two for that price at Walmart? Or a tiny bag of chips for the price of a big one at the grocery store? It’s hard, but you just have to devote some time on the weekends to prepping snacks. I usually do it when we get home from the grocery store on Saturday, I portion up chips and stuff into ziplock baggies to just grab on my way to work.

– Stopped buying bottled water. We actually have two Brita pitchers, so there’s never any excuse to open a bottle.

– I coupon and bargain shop. I’m not like the ladies on tv, but thekrazycouponlady.com is a great resource when you are first starting out.  The Sunday paper costs me about $0.75 a week, so all it takes is 2-3 coupons and I have saved money.  If I can’t buy it with a coupon or on-sale, we buy the store brand.

– I started baking. A lot. It can be expensive when you first buy ingredients, but now that my pantry is stocked, whipping up a batch of cookies is cheaper than buying them, and I save a ton of money baking muffins on the weekends instead of going to Dunkin Donuts.

– Get a library card. Most libraries have movies and cds as well as books. You can really cut down on the money you spend buying those things. I think we’ve bought two books since we got married!

– We only eat out about once a month, and then usually with a coupon or groupon. We miss eating out, but it’s SO expensive. You can buy almost a whole 6pack for the cost of one beer at a nice restaurant. 

Saving money is hard, but recognizing that you have to cut back your spending is a really important first step!  A lot of people don’t realize they are in financial trouble until they are way underwater, so you should be really proud of yourself for asking for advice!

Post # 38
Member
477 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: March 2011

Im not naturally good at money either but what really helped me was getting on a monthly pay scale.  I realize its not always feasible, but it really helps to knock out all your bills at once at the beginning of the month and scale everything into what’s leftover.

I would try to get really diligent and save up enough so that you get one month’s major bills saved up and then pay all of the next months bills at once.  Then as each paycheck or tip comes in, you squirrel it away for the next month’s bills, again to be paid at the beginning of the month.  Take out what spending money you allow yourselves in cash each week, but basically the bills for next month come first.  If you have one week a month where you know all the payments are going to be due, you will not have to keep track of various due dates and you will be scared enough to make sure that figure is covered.

This is extra important if you have fluctuating income.  If you KNOW rent, utilities, car and gas will HAVE to be a certain amount plus a bit extra for emergency, then you will always know u need to come up with X amount at the end of the month.  Make that figure higher if you know you will have other expenses.  Overestimating expenses also helps.  If you average power bill is $86, budget it as $100.   

As a rule, when I was on a super super tight budget, my spending money was never more than $20 a week and it was totally doable.  If I ran out of money the last week of the month, I ate mac and cheese till payday.  Just dont leave yourself an out.

Post # 39
Member
385 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: July 2012

Definitely get a reusable water bottle, and make sure to get one that is double-walled stainless steel.  Thermos makes some good ones.  Fill it up with ice and water and it will stay cold for hours.

Post # 40
Member
538 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2013

@MsBrooklynA: you can set up automatic withdrawls with the bank or you can schedule it yourself online. I went to the back with the checking info and have them deduct it from my paycheck, that way I don’t see it and don’t miss it.

Post # 41
Member
1526 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2012

@MsBrooklynA:  Yep!  That is exactly how it works.  It has a higher interest rate than most banks as well 🙂

Post # 42
Member
1723 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2012

I haven’t read all of the other responses but this is what I do:

1)  I have a savings account.  Extra money goes in there and it’s linked to my checking in case of overdraft.

2)  I put cash in an envelope and hide it from myself in my safe.  For some reason, I’m not as willing to let go of the green as I am swiping my plastic card.

3)  I quit going to Starbucks.

4)  As far as remembering to pay bills, I have a big calendar in the kitchen with reminders and I put reminders in my phone.  Some places will send you e-mails.  I also pay them immediately so I don’t forget.

 

Post # 43
Member
893 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: May 2013

Wow, really good tips from all the other bees!

The things that really worked for me were:

1.  Bought a water bottle.  Nowadays, they have water bottles with filters built onto them so it’s good to go.

2.  Signed up for an online savings account.  This works for me because you don’t see it when you go to the ATM and be tempted to withdraw from it.  Out of sight, out of mind.

3.  Treat your savings as a bill payment.  Most people use savings AFTER expenses.  So instead of putting what’s leftover, make these one of the first things that gets taken out of your paycheck.

4.  Automatic transfer.  Transfer savings the same day as you get your paycheck.  You won’t miss it if you don’t see it.

5.  Don’t spend OT pay.  It’s extra money you can stash away since you’re already using regular pay for regular expenses.

6.  Sign up for an IRA or 401k.  They have tax benefits and help you for retirement.

7.  Dine out once a week.  My Fiance and I agreed to only go out once a week to save cost.  Plus, staying in to make dinner and watch a movie/tv can be just as fun since it’s just the 2 of you.

8.  Coupons, coupons, coupons!  I live for coupons.

9.  Find other ways to have dates.  You can go for hikes, stroll in the park, visit museums, or even just stay in and rent a movie.  $1 movie rentals at Redbox is not too shabby.

10.  Sign up for mint.com.  It has great features that lets you keep track of financial goals and budget.  I’m on it regiliously and it can be addicted because it’s great to see your money go up and your debt go down. =)

Post # 44
Member
3279 posts
Sugar bee

First figure out what are your fixed and variable expenses every month.

Fixed=things that are not flexible rent/mortgage, ultilities, insurance, car payments etc.         

Variable are things that you can control the ammount of like cable, food, entertainment etc.

 

Then get a handle on what your monthly income is.  From your monthly income subtract your fixed expenses.  The rest is what you can play with. 

Make saving a payment you have to pay yourself into a seperate account every month, and don’t touch it.

One other tip I have is, to go into your chequing account the week before payday.  Say your balance is 267 dollars.  Transfer the 200 dollars into savings right away.  Force yourself to live on the 67 dollars (assuming all your bills are taken care of).  It really builds up the savings quickly.  And if you only have 67 or 17 or whatever figure at the ready you can only spend that much.

Post # 45
Member
444 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: October 2011

I didn’t read the comments, so i’m sorry if it’s a repeat. But here’s MY take and it’s something near and dear to me.  Being finanically independence and not worrying about money is the most rewarding and I am so glad I thought about it early on in life. I don’t know if this will work for you, but hopefully it will get you thinking of ways that you can make it successful for you.

I’m the oldest and from immigrant parents..so as soon as I left for college, I was on my own.  I didn’t work during my college years and lived off fiancial aids because I didn’t want it to affect my studies. I had to be creative with money.

Now, I’m still ever so creative when it comes to money management (i read automatic millionaire). The way to managing your money is to make it easy.  First I update my bills every so often, making sure to track and account for ALL of them..get them to send you notification/pay online where possible.  A list on excel is really good to have too to keep tabs, you can delete ones you paid in full for and add new ones that you obtain.  You get the total of what you owe and when!  Once you know how much you owe, you can set aside that money (hopefully your bill is less than what you make)!  If it isn’t, you should find ways to cut your monthly obligation, I try to keep my obligation less than 50% of what I make.  With what I have left from my paycheck, I route it to an online account (I use ING because it pays interest on my savings).  I put away 30-45%, more now because of the wedding..it is done automatically and regularly (you only have to set it once..and change if you need to).  It makes everything easy and you don’t have to worry about writing a check or think twice about where the money will come from. For your information, I have one checking (a lot of them have fees unless you maintain a min), one saving (with paid interest), and one credit card.  There is nothing more I hate than paying for banking fee, credit card fee, interest and the likes…so i refuse to leave a balance on my credit card and I avoid paying banking fee like the plague.

With all that said, you have to be willing to sacrefice a bit..and it is tougher at the beginning..but once you see the thousands you save, you hardly even noticed you went without that donut/snack months ago. 🙂 I was able to put a 20% downpayment on a house a few years ago..and now saved enough to pay for the whole wedding in full…

Post # 46
Member
1077 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: April 2011

Things that have gotten me through and kept me financially healthy in the past:

Bills get paid automatically by direct debit when the paychecks arrive.  Late fees and finance charges really add up if you’re scraping.

Contributions to retirement also disappear on direct debit.  You can’t afford not to.

Don’t buy new things for want.  Period.  Like Suze says…Live within your needs and below your means.

Eliminate unnecessary monthly bills:  If you have internet, drop cable tv.  You can watch hulu.  If you have cell phones, drop the land line.  Do you need to pay for text, or will the talking and e-mail features on your phone do?  Make sure that your cars are insured under the name of the person with the lowest rate.  If you don’t have a payment, roll the dice and get rid of expensive comprehensive insurance.

Eat in.  A big pot of pea soup is yummy, full of protein, and costs $1.

Be careful about buying in bulk if it means that you use more stuff than you would if you bought it as you needed it.

Talk with your family about not doing presents, if that’s a big thing in your family.  I know that in mine, people (including me at times) have had to really struggle to produce the usual spread when probably the best thing is for the person who is tight on cash to save it, and the people that don’t need anything to just get a “love you!”

Sell stuff you don’t really want or need put the $ on any credit card debt that you have.  Even cheap items add up at a yard sale.  Old books, clothes, etc.  If you don’t have credit card debt, liquidate your excess and put it into an emergency fund like a CD that you can get at in a dire situation, but would not want to touch to just make the monthly expenses easier/more comfortable to meet.

Life still has to be fun.  I found spending money on something like the gym was way cheaper than doing it a bit here and a bit there on other things b/c I could go there all the time for my monthly fee and it was good for me too.  Everyone’s thing that they spend on to avoid spending elsewhere is probably different.

When you get to where you’re living well below your means, you don’t need to watch everything so carefully, and it’s a great relief and makes for a lot of emotional peace, IMO.  

 

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