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Discussion Starter #1
Hey folks... just wanting some input. I'm currently trying to fight my way out of some debt I've accumulated and so I've been adopting Dave Ramsey's debt snowball plan. I'm really trying to look at ways to cut back and save more money to throw at my debt but I just get stuck... seems like all the advice out there is stuff I already do. I cook all my meals from scratch, twice a week, then portion up my food. I eat PBJ for lunch every day. I shop at thrift stores, when I shop which is rarely. I don't spend frivolous money. In fact, the only thing in my budget that doesn't HAVE to be there (minimum expense) is $15.41 for netflix once a month, which is basically in lieu of any sort of spending money for me. Oh, and internet for $25, so that's about $40/month for non-essentials. And those are the non-essentials that will keep me happy and away from impulsive spending.

So I've got to start thinking of other ways. My sister collects formula coupons for me and I just sold some on ebay for $50 so that'll help. I've also got some cloth diapers I can sell and would probably make $150-200 on - I am now a single working mother, not a SAHM anymore, and my daycare doesn't do cloth diapers (plus I don't think I'd have the time & energy to wash them, etc.). I still make all my daughter's baby food, though. I buy store-brand unless I MUST have name brand for some odd reason. I shop sales, and stock up on things with really good prices. I bake my own bread.

I don't really have a lot of time do stuff like ebay, etc. though. What with working fulltime, DD, etc. the only time I have time is on the weekends... ugh.

Any ideas? Another thing I could probably do is start selling books on half.com. I think that's easier, no picture is required. Could probably start selling videos, too. I don't watch many of them, most are from my husband but he apparently doesn't want them anymore.

I think the frustrating part for me is that when I try and look online for ideas its always stuff like "stop getting your nails done, sacrifice that daily latte" etc and I don't do any of that stuff! I even trim my own hair!
 

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What I did, was, I wrote checks for everything for 3 months.

Then, I sat down and figured out where the money went. I then tried to figure out how to cut back on the higher items.
 

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Reconsider ebay. If you spent just one hour on Saturday and Sunday, you might be surprised how much you can get listed.
I think you have more stuff laying around that you would sell on ebay than you think.
Since you dont have alot of extra time, look stuff up before you list it. No sense wasting your time listing 99 cent videos that may not sell.
Keep with the Dave Ramsey plan....it works!!!!!
Clove
 

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I've been listening to Dave for a while now, and I do believe he's onto something good !

My husband and I have started reading his book and its exciting.

Betho, it sounds like you are on the right track, we are much the same way and it is frusterating trying to find extra money in the budget when you are so careful anyway. One thing people spend too much on is household cleaners, most things can be washed down with hot water, dishwashing soap, vinegar, and bleach. Try not to buy the fad chemical cleaners. Other things we are trying to do, is turn off uneeded lights (with 4 kids this is almost a full time job), use less - of everything possible, electic, propane, water, food. Also, try to make the most out of things you have access to, if mom grows sweet corn, try to freeze as much as possible in portions you and your DD can pop into the microwave. Less gas, this is a big one :)

Don't skimp on things like milk and veggies etc.

Your probably already doing this stuff - but wanted to throw in what came to mind first. Good luck with your plan, hang in there, and don't get discouraged. Praying about purchase's for a day or two seems to help me have perspective, and peace about whether to go ahead or to hold off on the purchase.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
clovis said:
Reconsider ebay. If you spent just one hour on Saturday and Sunday, you might be surprised how much you can get listed.
I think you have more stuff laying around that you would sell on ebay than you think.
Since you dont have alot of extra time, look stuff up before you list it. No sense wasting your time listing 99 cent videos that may not sell.
Keep with the Dave Ramsey plan....it works!!!!!
Clove
I think its not so much the listing part, but I have a 9 month old and so finding stuff to sell (beyond what I have around here) is where I'm drawing a blank. I have dabbled a bit with ebay and I know that it's hard to establish a niche and I don't think I have the mental energy to put into something like that, kwim? I think once I get my stuff cleared out & sold, then I'd have to start doing garage sales, etc. which is not an easy task with an infant. Plus I don't have a working digicam and I don't want to buy one... etc.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
fastbackpony said:
I've been listening to Dave for a while now, and I do believe he's onto something good !

My husband and I have started reading his book and its exciting.

Betho, it sounds like you are on the right track, we are much the same way and it is frusterating trying to find extra money in the budget when you are so careful anyway. One thing people spend too much on is household cleaners, most things can be washed down with hot water, dishwashing soap, vinegar, and bleach. Try not to buy the fad chemical cleaners. Other things we are trying to do, is turn off uneeded lights (with 4 kids this is almost a full time job), use less - of everything possible, electic, propane, water, food. Also, try to make the most out of things you have access to, if mom grows sweet corn, try to freeze as much as possible in portions you and your DD can pop into the microwave. Less gas, this is a big one :)

Don't skimp on things like milk and veggies etc.

Your probably already doing this stuff - but wanted to throw in what came to mind first. Good luck with your plan, hang in there, and don't get discouraged. Praying about purchase's for a day or two seems to help me have perspective, and peace about whether to go ahead or to hold off on the purchase.
Thanks... i appreciate the encouragement. I've been working really hard to do more stuff like turn off lights, only having the AC on when it's really hot in here or the baby can't sleep, etc. I'm getting a $50 home depot gift card from my job pretty soon so I'll buy some of those energy-saving lightbulbs and a water-saver showerhead... that'll make me feel better in addition to saving money.

The hard thing is I can't work overtime... as far as my job I could probably work as much OT as I had energy for but my daycare is subsidized by the state and if I make $40 more in a month, then I lose $300 in daycare subsidies. So I'm kinda limited with that. I am able to do one hour of OT a month and that's all I can do... so I do that. Would be so much easier if I could just work extra hours in a week.

The nice thing is that me living without my husband I do far less dishes and I eat soooo much less. A casserole that used to be dinner for us plus a couple lunches of leftovers for me has now become 5-6 meals. So food savings has been crazy.
 

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How about going the cheaper dial-up route. You can knock your internet down from $25 to around $5-$10. There's an extra $15 to throw at it if you can deal with the slow load times... which you can if you want to.

At one point, I quit buying any meat for "myself" but still bought it for the rest of the family (cutting down their portions) and saved about $20-$25 a month. Like another poster said, don't skimp on good vegi's and milk for the kids but meat is not a necessity.

That's about all I can help you with. Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Dahc said:
How about going the cheaper dial-up route. You can knock your internet down from $25 to around $5-$10. There's an extra $15 to throw at it if you can deal with the slow load times... which you can if you want to.

At one point, I quit buying any meat for "myself" but still bought it for the rest of the family (cutting down their portions) and saved about $20-$25 a month. Like another poster said, don't skimp on good vegi's and milk for the kids but meat is not a necessity.

That's about all I can help you with. Good luck.
Dialup is a good idea but I don't have a landline at the moment... I have a tracfone for emergencies but I'd have to put in a landline so that would end up costing me more...

Yeah Meat is one thing I'm trying to cut down on. I'd like to eat more vegetarian stuff but I have a pretty major soy allergy so I gotta find more sources of cheap protein. As it stands now I just use half the normal amount of meat and double the veggies in what I cook. DD doesn't get any meat yet but she's young enough it doesn't matter... She doesn't really eat that much but formula costs are expensive, even store brand. In a couple months I'll be able to put her on cow's milk which will be cheaper, even buying the hormone-free kind.
 

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Beans are cheap protein. I'm fortunate to like beans. lol

This may sound extreme but have you considered giving up the internet for a while? Maybe use your local library's internet for a while? If you ditched the $25 dollar bill for 5 or 6 months, then you would have the money for the landline and could go the cheaper route. Just a suggestion.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
One cool thing though... One credit card I have (it was maxed buying food and gas... ugh) is like $1000 overlimit and between finance charges at 30% interest and the overlimit fees, about $2 from my $120 payment goes towards the principal each month. It's ridiculous. My parents decided to pay off the card with their line of credit and so now I get to pay their interest rate. So that'll be more like $100 from my $120 payment going towards the principal. Cool, huh!

My parents rule :) :) :)
 

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Dahc said:
Beans are cheap protein. I'm fortunate to like beans. lol

This may sound extreme but have you considered giving up the internet for a while? Maybe use your local library's internet for a while? If you ditched the $25 dollar bill for 5 or 6 months, then you would have the money for the landline and could go the cheaper route. Just a suggestion.
yeah I have thought about it... I dunno. I think about... what would I do. Trying to find a balance between saving more money but still doing SOMETHING for myself. It's kind of like the idea that if I'm dieting I want to let myself indulge sometimes so that I won't go nuts. I know that by having internet at home I have something cheap to do so I'm not gonna be tempted when someone wants to go out or do something, etc. Does that make sense?

On the other hand, it's still $25/month. On the other hand again, since I only keep a tracfone for emergencies, I don't even have a phone so I do most of my communication over the internet. So cutting out that $25/month could cut out my main source of entertainment and communication. Is it worth it? I don't know. I think if I did cut out one of my 2 entertainment things I'd stop the netflix for $15/month.

I just don't know. A landline is out of the question for me... just not something I'm willing to pay for. If I got a landline & dialup I'd end up spending more than I do for my tracfone minutes on occasion and my cable internet. The landline alone would cost the same as the internet does.

But still, internet's not a necessity. But then again, there's not a whole lot to do. My baby goes to bed almost immediately after we get home so after 7pm I'm pretty much stuck at home. I've got lots of books but have read them all 1000 times.

One of those dilemmas... ugh. I appreciate all the responses and ideas, a LOT. I just don't know how to proceed.
 

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do you know where all your money goes now? assuming you do, and you've looked at many obvious cost savings as mentioned above, i'd go thru my biggest expenses and see what i could do about them.

for most people, the biggest expenses are rent/mortgage, auto, insurance, food, etc.

some people have shopped around and gotten cheaper auto insurance, or cheaper renters insurance. (i still check their reputation for paying claims and such -- hardly worth saving money, only to have major hassles should you ever need to file a claim.) sometimes you're paying for extra services in your insurance that you don't neccessarily need. eg, your auto insurance might have a towing policy that costs a few dollars per month. you could compare that to AAA membership for cost and benefits to see if you really want it. some people with old beatup cars cancel the part of the policy that covers fixing their car (collision? not sure), as they know it'll be totalled and they'll only get a very small amount for it from the insurance company. make sure you still have liability covering damage you do to other's cars, and for medical for you and others.

is there any way that you can find a less expensive place to live? get a roommate? rent a room from someone else? live with relatives? again, not worth saving money if its unsafe, or comes with hassles that consume your time and energy, but something to consider. i've rented rooms from homeowners before. from what i gather, it's probably easier to find a responsible homeowner to rent a room from, than to be the one trying to find a sane&responsible tenent/roommate. you can check 'craigslist' for your area, or the local newspaper might have a section for this.

auto? any chance of using public transport? a bicycle? (probably no in most areas; and safety issues with bicycles in many areas, particularly with a child) any chance of selling it and getting a less expensive car? probably need to have a pretty large cost saving here to justify the hassle of selling, buying, wondering about reliability of the new car, etc. but just worth brainstorming as it's a pretty large expense for most people.

interest charges? sounds like you already worked out a deal with your parents. any other ways to reduce your interest charges? there seems to be lots of gimmicks and tricks they play on people in this area, so be very careful here.

banking fees? i've found credit unions generally have much better terms for checking accounts, savings accounts, and credit cards. are you eligible to join any credit unions? still a member of a credit union anywhere?

any other big expenses you have that might have a creative way to save? do some judicious comparison shopping?

what's your income tax withholding at your job? (W-2 or W-4, can't remember which one it's called) if you were paying 30% interest before, its foolish to give uncle sam a free loan of your money, all so you can get a 'refund' at the end of the tax year.

daycare: sounds like you're about at the edge of loosing this benefit from the state. you might consider what happens if you do. a payraise, or your employer really needing you to work overtime 'cause everyone else is out sick or something, could throw a monkeywrench into your plans. is there a church group that has inexpensive child care? another source?

that's all i can think of on the cost savings side right now. perhaps something will be useful. don't have any ideas on the revenue generation side, as that seems to depend on a persons skills and aptitude so much.

good luck...
--sgl
 

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For me personally, I would cut the internet and netflix. The library not only offers free internet, but tons of movies and books.
Also, if ebay is overwhelming for you , then try craiglist. Its free and its local unless someone wants to pay for shipping. I sold an old 4 wheeler and travel trailer there and made a tidy sum. :) Things of higher value can go on to Ebay.
What size and type are your diapers? And just as a suggestion even if your daycare won't use them I would use them at home to cut back on the disposable consumption. :)
I commend you for your efforts. Having been a single mom before I know how hard it is. Keep us posted on your situation, we want to cheer you on! :)
God Bless,
Michele
 

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No smoking, drinking, eating out. Don't go shopping. Don't drive unless you have to. Get rid of the credit card. Accept charity. Sign up for the foodbank. Wear your clothes more than once. Use up what you have, wear things out before replacing them. No shopping. No sodas. No treats. No pets. Eat porridge or bread and jam, no cereals. Switch the baby to milk as soon as possible. Soup. No air conditioning. Heat sparingly and use socks. Don't go shopping. Don't even go window shopping. Take weekly baths, and turn off the hotwater heater between times. No toys. No shopping. Don't keep cash or coins in your purse. Cut meals in half. Drink water or milk. Use powdered milk. Use cloth diapers at home. Eat fresh food in season, when it's cheapest. Buy at discount stores. Consider asking shops near you if you can recuperate the fresh fruits and vegetables that are unsellable, then freeze or preserve them for future use. Don't go shopping.
 

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Once you cut your expenses all you can (and sounds like you are doing a good job at that), try to increase your income. Maybe you could baby sit when you are off work. There are lots of moms that work shift work and need someone to watch their kids at night. They could drop them off on the way to work and you could put them to bed at your house and they could come pick them up on the way home. As long as they bring them after you get home in the evening it would not interfere with your job and you could make money while you sleep. Also, what about cleaning a house or two. If you have working ladies you know, you could offer your services. Even one house would pay well and it wouldn't take more than a few hours on your Saturday morning. I know of housekeepers that take their children with them if the home owners are out of the house. Good luck and I applaud your efforts to get debt free.
 

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Betho: It sounds like you have a good head on your shoulders. You should read the Tightwad tips thread and look at the older ones in the archive. You will not only get ideas for savings that you haven't thought of, you will see ideas for income. Sometimes the tips there focus on being efficient and organized for frugality.

While the day care seems like a large obstacle now, someday before you know it--it will not be a problem.

I know what you mean about money invested in your sanity. When our kids were small we were very strapped for money. For entertainment and frugality, I gave myself a three dollar budget every saturday to go "yardsailing". That three dollars a week and an hour without children saved my sanity and bought our birthday/Christmas presents, furnished our home, landscaped our home....I found it fun to find bargains and fix them up.

Perhaps you can fix up furniture after 7pm and sell it at your own sale or on craigslist? And use that 15$ a week savings towards something that would really save you money.

Take out the Complete Tightwad Gazette from the library and you will see some very frugal ideas. The pennies difference in choices add up to a retirement later!
 

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You really don't have to cut anything. First, listen to Suze Orman and negotiate EVERY financial contract you go into. I did this with my electric company. It works. if you remain strong and firm. Here they have some real witches working there, but you just have to witch up with them, and let them know what you are able to pay, not what they want you to pay.
Second, I lived in a town where every Saturday the church needed volunteers to help bag vegetables for their food pantry, then if you volunteered you were able to buy a bag for a dollar or so. My second oldest and I would get up before 6 a.m. every Saturday and bag groceries for three hours, and come home with all sorts of vegetables for about five dollars. I would have vegetables for weeks...frozen, etc.
Don't cut your internet, it has valuable information that you can use. Besides you would be using gas to go to the library, which is an unnecessary expense. Everybody doesn't live in Walnut Grove where you can just walk to the mercantile, so keep your internet.
Use cloth diapers at home if you want to, but to me they are more of a time water than disposable. I know everyone says that they are bad for the environment...but I figure that a country smart enough to get to the moon, should be smart enough to figure out how to recycle poopy diapers.
Buy cheaper cuts of meat and learn how to cook with spices. A cast iron dutch oven can make a round steak taste like rib eye, if you know how to cook!
 

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vickiesmom said:
Buy cheaper cuts of meat and learn how to cook with spices. A cast iron dutch oven can make a round steak taste like rib eye, if you know how to cook!
sort of drifting - but keeping on the budget theme of buying cheaper meats and making things go further...

My "cheap" meat is typically hamburger - I buy it 10-20 lbs at a time. I also buy chicken. I'd like to stay away from hotdogs/lunch meat as our "cheap meat"....

I'd like to know how to use my cast iron dutch oven to cook cheaper meats. I've really started using these pieces this summer and not only have they made food so much easier to cook, the clean-up has really saved me time!!!

I admire anyone who has been able to pay down their debt and make real sacrificies. I start and then something comes up...I know it should be a priority, but hard when the car breaks down or someone gets sick or hurt.
 

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Since you have a young daughter, I'm assuming that you have atleast 15-20 more working years. You could do the math(for each $1 per hour increase equals $2080 annually) and figure out if using your internet, and netflexs time studying to get into a position where you could be offered a job which pays more. Check with your state and see what is out there to help single mothers with education.

I know, you probably don't think you have a 2-4 years to get more education - perhaps thinking where you will in in 2-4 years with and without the education might be an eye opener.

Best wishes,
Marlene
 
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