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Help with a Budget?? What would you change?: LittleMsMom's Personal Finance Blog
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Help with a Budget?? What would you change?

February 24th, 2010 at 07:47 pm

Hi I am trying to cut costs so I can work on financial security. Our take home income MAY drop this Dec due to a lay off so I am trying to be proactive. Right now I am just looking to have a solid budget and trim a little so the saving can go to an Emergency Fund. And later if the layoff happens will make more drastic changes closer to Dec.

Here is my budget could you help look it over and see if there is anything you would look into changing.

Expenses: Monthly
House:
Mortgage $1,060.00
Electric & Gas $126.50 *
Water/Waste $56.90 *
Phone $29.17
Cell $100.00 #
Internet $38.11

Dental - Premium $44.68
Sons Meds $50.00
Daycare $239.00
Child Support $679.00

Car:
Gas $180.00
Insurance $33.16 *
Tags $17.00 *

Misc:
School lunch $30.00 (Edited from $50)
School Snack $6.66-> $15 EVERY 9 WEEKS
Food $450.00 #
Cleaner/tolietry/Paper$10.00 #
Gifts $60.00 *
Clothes $20.00 *
Toys/Fun $20.00 *
Spending $ Husband $100.00
Husband Life ins $38.00
My Life Ins $36.50
College Fund $225.00

$3,647.68 (-$20)

House Repairs
Misc
Dental Cost Share

I was going to explain areas but decided not to make excuses and just let you attack it. But I will put * next to Averages and # next to estimates.

Take Home : $4160.02

Mortgage is Mortgage plus taxes & insurance as loan type requires an escrow account

(Changes) I cut the School breakfasts 2/25/2010 out of the budget. My husband is back home now so I dont have to drop my son off for breakfast at school in order to make it to work on time. This was actually more than $20 because he was buying extra al-carte items but my budget was base price.

12 Responses to “Help with a Budget?? What would you change?”

  1. scottish girl Says:

    can you get a cheaper cell phone package? maybe try and reduce your grocery bill?

  2. LittleMsMom Says:

    Thank you Scottish girl:

    The cell phone bill is estimated as it was recently changed. My husband texts and uses alot of minutes so we are trying out a family plan. Depending on the volume of calls and texts over the next two/three months I will reevaluate this and make changes if possible.

    The grocery bill is an estimate also, I am going to try to get a solid # for the food amount over the next two/three months and will adjust that.

  3. ceejay74 Says:

    I think it looks pretty reasonable! Of course there are some "wants" that you could cut out if you really wanted to put every extra cent into EF savings, but they're really pretty modest by my standards.

    Is there time/capacity for one of you to pick up a little part-time work? That's another way to accelerate savings.

  4. NJDebbie Says:

    Welcome LittleMsMom! In anticipation to your income decreasing in December I would be drastically reducing expenses now to build up your emergency fund. If by any chance your income situation stays the same then you'll learn to live with less and that's a good thing in this economy. May I suggest that you read Dave Ramsey's books. I don't live by everything he says but most of his advice is quite solid. I agree with Scottish girl that your food bill should be scale down a bit and your hubby's cell bill is quite high. Also, check out moneysavingmom.com for great ideas and deals on food items. I've learned a lot from this website. Lastly, I would read as much as you can about how to manage finances. Good luck and I look forward to seeing your progress.

  5. scottish girl Says:

    No problem. I look forward to seeing your progress too.

  6. LittleMsMom Says:

    Ceejay: What "wants" do you see that YOU would cut? I am trying to get a outsiders view of my finances. It is some times hard to make changes when you dont know any better.
    Sadly we are at a point we cant increase our income by getting any more hours. Income would have to be buy selling property which is what I am trying to focus on. Thus our internet expense-which might be a want to some.


    NJDebbie: I am working on reducing the grocery budget; I used to be great at using coupons and was on a weekly coupon train; but between work and everything else I have really let that slide....What is a good/average food budget for a family of three?

    The cell phone I have reviewed past bills and put the minutes into a spread sheet and I think I am in the cheapest plan for now. I am hoping when AT&T comes to our area that we might have a cheaper option. Cell service is just plain expensive where we live <-- That kind of thinking is what is getting me in trouble. I will see if once I plug in the next 2 months minutes into the spread sheet if there is a cheaper plan without us getting hit with overage fees.

    Thanks for recommending Dave Ramsey, I have read one of his books and like his style; his and the guy that writes smart women finish rich.

  7. ceejay74 Says:

    Well I hate to cut out ALL fun, but these seem to be discretionary:
    Gifts $60.00 *
    Clothes $20.00 *
    Toys/Fun $20.00 *
    Spending $ Husband $100.00

    Also, could you either cut down to one cellphone or cut the landline?

    Your son is only 6; while it's admirable to be saving for college so soon, it's also more important to keep your heads above water during a difficult time, so a TEMPORARY suspension or reduction of this savings category could help a lot.

    Hope that helps! Like I said before, these seem like reasonable categories to me, but if you're desperate for places to cut, these are possibilities.

  8. Homebody Says:

    What they all said! DH and I spend about $350.00 a month on food on average, but this month I kept it under $200.00 (well okay we have a few days left in the month and I have $2.00 left). It did take some time to make sure we were using up leftovers and really comparing prices, but it was a great exercise and I plan to keep it up (well not the $200.00, but less than $350.00).

  9. twotinytoes Says:

    Your mortgage is low compared to us in San Francisco area. $1000 will only rent you a studio, with no bedrooms.

  10. baselle Says:

    Mostly what everybody else has said. Another thought is to begin to trim everything that is variable by a bit, then a bit more.

    Food can be a great place for savings - think about loss leader specials, eliminating most junk food, packing lunches instead of buying one, making sure you eat the food you buy. Is the 10$ cleaning line per month? If you have your supplies already, use 'em up and the difference goes into savings

    Probably want to consolidate the 3 gift/fun/ clothing lines into one line, then cut in half.

    What is the "Spending $ husband"? If its husband fun money allowance, is your husband aligned with the goal? Even cutting it in half, or worse (heh heh) forcing him to pay his cell phone bill with it, definitely is a start.

    Also the gas budget. Is this an estimate and what does it reflect? I don't know where you live but is there a way to combine trips, use one car, and/or bike/walk errands?

  11. patientsaver Says:

    Well, your mortgage is very close to mine, but your monthly total is higher. I'm just one person, but my average monthly expenses usually fall in the $3,000 range.

    I know you can get DSL internet a little cheaper. Mine is with AT&T and I pay $15 a month; i also have my land line with them. The cell phone does seem high, as others have said.

    The food bill also seems high, especially if you're separating out the paper/toiletry items.

  12. LittleMsMom Says:

    Thanks for all the tips:
    I want to address these in hope for more input!

    Cleaner/tolietry/Paper$10.00 # This is probubly much lower; I rounded to $10 to make it neat but should I start tracking this category? Also the cleaner grouping included laundry which when our washer was down I was using $8 in quarters a week at the laundry.

    Gifts $60.00 = We are closer to $5 most months but Christmas, Birthdays, and Anniverys bring this average up. I am trying to save the $60 so at the end of the year we have a Christmas fund and the birthday etc can just come out of the Gift account. We have the three of us at home and 4 sets of divorced parents and two out of home children to buy for. Should I stop this?

    Clothes $20.00 * Same as above one month we will have no spending and then the next month someone will need new socks, underwear, shirts and jeans. How do you budget for Clothing?

    Toys/Fun $20.00 * Okay this is a son only line, truthfully it is probubly higher.

    Spending $ Husband $100.00 - My husband is upset about this amount he thinks it is MUCH to Low. He would be through the roof if it went lower. He is currently talking of donating plasma again to suppliment this amount. He is a FREE WILL spender.

    Cell Phone - Land Line:
    My husband after looking at the budget all he could say is he hates paying for the land line. That is my (Want Line item). For my Job I feel the land line is needed so that I can be contacted even if cell phone towers go down, I work in Emergency Services so I feel it is important for us to have a land line. Is it silly that I want to make sure I can be gotten ahold of if my work needs me since I am the primary income in the family since that is part of my job. I dont carry my cell phone at home it stays in my purse, also if my cell phone was my only phone I would have to leave it on ALL the time, I want to be able to have my work call the home phone at 3am IF they need me since the cell phone I will not hear at that time. As for the cell phone, my husband will go crazy without a cell phone, and he is the main user and to add the extra line is only $9.99 to $19.99 depending on the contract. We just added texting Which has been a real help to my sanity...My husband no longer calls me at work in a rage over something trival he texts we instead which takes a heck of a bite out of it. What would you do?

    We have Cable internet I have looked into DSL through our telephone provider and it would be more expensive. I am hopeing once AT&T comes to our area for Cell phones that we might be able to get some internet services through them.

    Gas:
    Where we live the public transportation is minimual. Also it is winter now so driving is a must (weather is below zero). Once a month my husband ends up driving 400 miles to work training but I guess the big problem is my husband feels the need to play taxi to his friends but I hope that will be reduced as I have started giving him gas money at the start of the month and when it is gone it is gone so he is having to see that if he drives his buddies taxi cab style it will take a bite out of his spending money until the 1st of the month.

    College funding:
    Yes this is for my son BUT worst case I could use it for any family member. If I lose my job this Dec I would like to use the $ to get a degree which would help me find work faster.

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