Something that helped me was that I knew I had to do this or I would lose my home and my kids were going to be hungry and cold.It did help that we had a very small income coming in but it was a very steady income. 20,000 a year.That was one third the income we were used to.

When we started budgeting it was for necessities only ….Birthdays and anniversaries were homemade and small…as well as Christmas too!Dh and I spent almost nothing on our selves for birthday’s,anniversaries,and Christmas…about 10.00 for each event …when our debt was paid off we then went to a new budget in which we added things like Christmas, Birthdays, Anniversaries for the immediate family.

At the same time I began saving for Easter, Christmas, and Thanksgiving dinner each month so when they came around I had the money already saved for the food. We used to just buy the holiday food anyway and go hungry the next week because we didn’t have enough food money to cover the month.And inevitably it was is a 5 week month on top of it all.Pet food was also an area I began to include budgeting for…we have a dog,cats,chickens and goats so I put them into my budget.

I also came to realize that being paid once a month was a problem because we have 5 week months..So I started budgeting an extra portion of money for 5 week months in which I save something extra for food,gas for the car .When I budget each new year I try to think of what snagged me last year and add it to the budget.One of those things that snagged us in the beginning was car and house insurance so that was the first thing that went on our budget.I dilike crise living including financially.

My budget changes yearly sometimes bi yearly.When oil and gas went up I about died.We dealt with the oil problem this year by buying and installing a woodstove.It has almost paid for itself in one season.To deal with gas we decided to buy for 1500 dollars a used car that gets much higher miles per gallon then our van..That also has paid for itself quickly.Everything is at least a half hour drive each way. so we save a lot on gas.We saved for these things and then bought them.When we were in debt though this would not have been a possibility.

Another idea is to find a food cupboard. We would not have survived without it.

This is a good topic. Sometimes budgeting can seem impossible. When we were going through some very tough times I didn’t even bother. When my husband was going through health problems and he was unable to work it seemed impossible. Then I had health problems and things got even worse financially for a couple more years. Frankly, I don’t know how we got through it and I’m still living with the financial impact.

Now that we are both healthier and fully employed again, I am determined not to waste the opportunity to turn things around. My first step was to take a complete and honest look at the financial picture. I listed all the people and institutions I owed and how much I owed, what the interest rates were and all the contact information.

I then got up to date with my bank reconciliation which I did in QuickBooks. I then ran a report of my transactions from QuickBooks and then exported it to an Excel spreadsheet where I found out what categories of spending and what amounts I’d spent for the entire last year. I did an annual budget for this year and broke it out into months. I included the irregular but predictable spending for the different months. It is the irregular expenses that have been my biggest problem over the years. Why should it be a surprise when the car registration comes due once a year? But I’d never planned for it so every year when the bill came in I’d worry how I would pay for it.

I’m trying to follow this budget I’ve made, but I find that I am spending more on certain categories, like food and over-the-counter medicine, for example, than I’d planned. So I am revising and refining the monthly plan before the beginning of each month. I think by the end of this year that I will have a much better idea of what a realistic budget will be. I haven’t gotten discouraged yet because I know this is a work in progress. Every day I spend time tracking all of my receipts and updating my QuickBooks and Excel spreadsheet. A little bit of work each day keeps me on track. A few days ago I got an installment loan here. My bad credit was not a problem and I got approved! How do I enter this loan record to my spreadsheet?

Still, I will give you that this will only work if income is sufficient and consistent and if there are no health disasters around the corner. I’ve made a commitment to myself to be aware of my financial situation every day and not put my head in the sand again.

I started listing my spending on a spread sheet. Cash,debit and checks in separate columns.
The surprise I got was it became so tedious, I spent less. But I continue. Incoming and outgoing,what it’s spent on,which store,the price of gas etc. Whatever it take to keep me on track.

I also found this article which I draw inspiration from.

I too struggle to keep within my budget. My main shortcoming is in groceries and dining. Even when I use cash, I still tend to overspend by borrowing from other envelopes or using my debit card for the excess. I am really trying to overcome this one.

What do you struggle with?

Are you doing a zero based budget at the beginning of every month?

You must do a budget every month because every month will be different. If it is February, you may need extra in dining for a Valentine’s dinner or flowers. If it is March, you may need extra gas to travel to your parents home 3 hours away for a visit. If it is April, you may need to put a deposit on your son’s preschool. If it is May, you may need to buy all new sandals and shorts for the kiddies, etc, etc, etc.

Make sure you budget some spending “blow” money too. You know you are going to spend it, so make sure you budget it!

You can’t do a “perfect” yearly budget. I used to do that. I would budget $50 for clothing, $120 for dining, $120 for gas, etc. I would always go over or under in a category. With zero based budgetting you get much closer to the actual numbers for that particular month.

The bottom line is, you MUST try zero based budgeting for at least 3 months before you decide if it works.

I’m on month 2 and it is much better than month 1, but I hope for better management next month.

Good luck and send us some examples of your struggles.

I have been a subscriber to this group for a while, have never posted though… could you please explain what you mean by zero based budgeting? I read this loop and it has helped me a lot, but I still haven’t worked out a “sound” plan for my finances… what works one month doesn’t seem to last very long. Thanks!

I know you are going to laugh, but save all of your change. Put it in a piggy bank, an empty jar, a bowl on your dresser. Every single day, put your change in the container. Leave it there.

When you need gas for that road trip, take the change to the bank and have it put into bills for your trip. You will be amazed at how much money you have just in change. Do it every day. I only let myself keep $2 in change per day. At the end of the day, everything else goes into the piggy bank. We vacation in the Outer Banks of North Carolina and save our change from year to year, it pays for our trip down. One night in a Comfort Inn, meals (generally fast food), and our gas going down. By doing this we are not touching the vacation money until we are on the beach.

I’ve been doing that too. It’s my eggs,bread and milk money in an old coffee can. And you’re right,it does add up. Another thing I do is round UP in my checking account. (My round up point is 40 cents and over.)If something is $15.43, I deduct $16.00 in my check register. At the end of last year, I ended up w/$17.00 over the actual amount. Not a lot,but a start. And, I always know that there’s “extra” in the checking account, in case I get in a bind between pay days. If anyone else has other tips,please share.

Is it just me or is sticking to a budget about the most impossible thing to do? Over the years I have formulating what at the time seemed great budget plans for my year, but here we are in 2015. I had a great plan, seemed do-able, would leave me with savings, caught up bills and a good head start into 2016. And here it is February, with not one thing in my budget followed! And quite frankly, I don’t see being able to start with this intended budget until at least March and I know me, in March, I’ll be saying April! I’m so frustrated and disappointed in myself AGAIN.

Is it that I’m setting unrealistic goals for myself? Or is it that I just have a mental block of following through? I have noticed one trend, I cannot start the budget because I’m too busy trying to catch up the current bills, so the money I planned to “budget” with is “spoken” for before I’m even paid.

What do you guys think? Does anyone else experience this? Has anyone overcome the mental block? Thanks!

If you own a home I would recommend looking at the impact a HELOC will have on your current cashflow. They can be dangerous in the hands of those who cannot curb their spending, however if we are in need of a little cash to get rightside up on a budget then they can help. Plus, several times I have actually reduced the monthly expenses of my clients by doing one, not to mention that the interest on a HELOC is a tax duduction, unlike the credit cards. Learm more about HELOC at BankRate.

It could be some of both of these, which would make you a fellow human being. Unrealistic goals can be especially toxic. Budgeting, for example, ZERO for entertainment money is one common unrealistic goal I have set in the past (failed) and seen (never successful).

One possibility would be to present some of your budget goals – in whatever level of detail you are comfortable with – here. Outside observers are often able to see things you cannot, since they are not emotionally involved in the process.

One suggestion that has worked for my wife and me is canning the idea of doing a budget more than a month or two into the future. As you have said, it only leads to frustration. Not every month is the same. Some will have things like birthdays or holidays that will require more dough, and some will have less.

If you are struggling to keep up with the bills, that could be a sign of some underlying problem (too much debt? too little income? budget out of whack? Something else?).

I have been a fan of Dave Ramsey (www.daveramsey.com), and have had some success using his ideas. I think his best idea is that personal finance is mostly about behavior and attitude, and less about math (though I am a serious math nerd as well). Another great part for me is the way his radio show helps me stay focused and excited about my goals.

I have a lot of school loans from my two children. I keep getting letters to consolidate them. Some one was telling my husband to take out a home equity loan to pay them off as then we could write off the interest on the home equity loan. Any opinions on that? Any suggestions about consolidating them with the Sallie Mae company where they were taken out? I need to do something before the interest rate goes up again. I am just not sure what all the options are or which way to go.

I have a lot of experience with school loans.

First of all, don’t use a home equity loan to pay these. Here are the reasons:

  1. You can deduct student loan interest on your taxes (I do it every year). I’m not sure if you can deduct it unless it’s for you or a dependent on your taxes. (Check with a tax advisor on this)
  2. If the person responsible for the student loan dies, the loan is forgiven, and no one will need to pay it.
  3. Congress is working to reduce student loan rates, and there is a good possibility of that happening.
  4. You don’t want to tie up the equity in your house for this. There may also be loan origination fees for an equity loan, and other hidden costs. There is info on the internet about this.
  5. You can consolidate the student loans for each student with your lender or another lender, and make sure it’s set up with a fixed rate, if that is the route you choose.

Hope this helps. And the main reason to not take a home equity loan for school loans is
this: Why would you put your home at risk????

I’ve been insulin dependent for 22 years and wear an insulin pump.

All you can really do is start off with the baby steps, and read when you want to know something. If you try to study it too much, too fast, that will overwhelm you and in many cases, discourage you.

It is actually like looking at our debt. It may seem really bad, sad, too much, but as we go along, it gets better and easier to understand.

As a type 1, my diabetes is in fact quite permanent, but in regards to type 2, my mother had that, did her meds, lost weight and in her case she was able to go off the whole medication trip with a weight loss of ‘only’ 25 pounds. Much like our debt, taking those little steps add up seriously.

If you want to email me about diabetes off list, feel free. I have no qualms about getting email <G>

Testing things are expensive, but if you like a certain meter, call the company. They usually GIVE these away as their money is made in the strips. I haven’t paid for a meter in 12 years.

I take care of my mother she has Diabetes , Alzhimers , Dimensia , Poor Blood Circulation , Irregular heart beat ( she has a pacemaker ) , Acid Reflux , and arthritis. I am getting better at cooking for her but she complains about the bland taste of the food. I try to get her to excersise and she refuses she said she is fine.

The expense is bad because of her insurances and what not I pay about 200.00per month for her Meds and insulin ( she takes 2 different kinds ). It is crazy and I ahve done alot of research and found a few ways to help her but I am still looking. I have asked the doctor about an Insulin pump and he said she is not ready for that yet. thank you for listening it gets a little frustrating.

IMO, I don’t see any ‘Yet’ regarding a pump. The fact she has all the other (mental) problems is usually contraindicative for pump therapy. Being on a pump means many tests a day, pro-activity in my daily care and very close communication with my doctor.

Of course it’s frustrating, especially when dealing in all the insurance ‘murble’ that goes with it. Some folks work their behinds off in trying to be regulated, and the body just doesn’t co-operate!

If your mom is on LILLY brand insulins, see about this with the company Eli Lilly. They had a program called “LILLY Cares” and they’d provide insulin very cheaply or at no cost in some cases. Also, I’d look into the appeal process for the insurances. They should require only an authorization for the insulin and her testing strips should be covered already.

Sounds like you both need a decent advocate, and if there is a Senior Center and AARP branch in your area, start there.

This may not be something you’d consider but check with your state’s department of human services, what used to be called welfare. Depending on your income you may qualify for help with medical bills. My grandma was diabetic. You MUST make sure you eat right or you’ll end up back in the hospital again.

Not to mention the cost of insulin and other doctor visits. Diabetes is a serious problem that won’t go away and it can lead to blindness, amputation of legs, heart problems, and it also slows your healing so that it takes longer to recover from injury, surgery, or illness. Please at least try. At least go to your public library and get some diabetic cookbooks and learn how to prepare meals the right way.

Thanks , First an apology for being so long in getting back to you as I am catching up on a full week worth of emails.

There is SO much out there about diabetes that I am a little overwhelmed. I hope to get this under control soon. I got a blessing as the medication (glucophage) the Dr put me on is on Wal Mart pharmacy’s special list and only cost 4.00. The glucose meter, strips and accessories were another story. I truly appreciate all the warm thoughts. Take Care. Blessed Be

I just had to write with a few ideas for you, I work in the medical field, right now as a phlebotomist, but before that I worked for a Dr. and ran his lab, instructed his diabetic patients, and ran numerous types of in office testing.

1) Diabetes is not great, but not a death sentence….you need to be an informed patient, and Most of all follow your Dr.’s orders to the tee.

2) most pharmaceutical companies have programs for those struggling….sounds like you’d def. qualify.. these could supply you with meds as well as test strips, lancets, glucose meters, etc. Also write to the companies of any other meds you may be on..they all have this free-to low fee program(tax breaks).

3) watch your diet, I know you’ve heard this before, but take a walk on down to your library. I say a walk because exercise is the BEST way to keep your sugar level down, and take a book out on the GLYCEMIC INDEX, THIS IS CRUCIAL TO GLUCOSE MAINTANENCE!!! fORGET ABOUT THE DIABETIC COOKING COOKBOOKS, studies have recently found that the glycemic index is the key to control.

4) stay away not only from sugar, but from WHITES. by this i mean no white bread, no white rice, no potatoes.. the book will exlain it all to you.

5) drink alot of water, and

6) excersize…walk, run, dance, do whatever…it will help. also if you test and your sugar level is high, try and drink a glass of water and go for a long walk, your glucose level will naturally get lower. Don’t forget to test your blood as your Dr. orders you to, you should also have a Hemaglobin a1c every three months.this is a test that will give your Dr. your average readings over that period.

7) i know this one will be hard, but try not to stress, THIS WILL RAISE YOUR SUGAR!!!!

The FTC (federal Trade Commission) is who you are thinking of. They have a web site ftc.gov.

There are rules for collections. If you have told them not to call you at work they have to stop, they can not call you on your cell phone, “you are costing me money don’t call me agian”. Look back in the archives here for some ideas how to deal with them. You can always just not answer the phone, or let the machine pick it up.

On the internet Look up The Federal Fair Debt Collections Practices Act, it tells how the Collectors must be “the rules of engagement”.

You need to keep a log, who called, what number did they call from, time/date. And what if anything was said. You can always record it too. Hope that helped.

I have a question that is somewhat in relation to this. I got a cell phone from Verizon in August well almost immediately after it was turned on I started getting several calls from collections looking for “John.” I have told them that this is not his phone number anymore but they continue to call. How can I get them to stop?

Hey Everyone, Just a note to let you all konw that things in our household have come up against a new challenge. And all in one day…….are we good or what? Well my compnay filed bankruptcy last Oct and as a result I was moved to part time and lost my benefits so my husband got a second partime job to make up the pay difference. Well Monday my husbands company closed (main job) so now he id down to only a part time job. Of course there’s unemployment but it it isn’t a bandaid and we have to wait 3 weeks for anything. Well Monday night I ended up in the ER in diabetic shock ! Never even knew I had diabetes. I been so focused on my cancer recovery over the years I let other aspects of my health slide. SO as of the end of the month we will have NO insurance to handle any medical needs.

What we have will only get us through about the next 4 weeks (maybe 6 if I can just bare cupboard cook for a little while and not make any shopping trips in the couple of weeks). And truthfully we wouldn’t even have that if I hadn’t found you guys and had already started on our frugal living and following the absolutely great frugal financial and household advice I have gotten from you all. Thanks for sharing.

So moral of this story (especially for the younger ones who don’t believe they need to start worrying about stuff like this yet) PAY YOURSELF FIRST. No matter what you owe to anyone else SAVE something, anything for yourself!!! Take care !!

I’m so sorry for your lost jobs and diabetes ER visit! I hope you are feeling better and can control it. In regards to the unemployment, I would think with the unemployment rates at an all time low he’d be able to get 2 more jobs tomorrow!

Tell him to run out and get something, anything right now to make ends meet. I’m not sure what part of the country you are in, but what about construction, office work, UPS delivery, pizza delivery, etc.?? Check out Dave Ramsey’s website, www.daveramsey.com. He will help you get on the steps to recovery and prosperity!

I have read that collection agencies can not continue to call you at work if you have told them not to, I also have read that they can not call on Sundays, and they also can not call you so many times a day that it’s becoming harrassing. Does anyone know if that’s true?

Also, does this apply to creditors as well? I have one creditor calling me on Sundays, calling my husband at work(which I requested they stop doing that today), and also call 6-8 times a day(which I feel is harrassment). I told them that I should have my tax return back in a couple weeks and then we will pay what we owe to make things current, and they tell me that’s not a good enough financial arrangment and that these constant callings each day will continue.

Can they do that? I can understand it’s their job to call, but one time a day is sufficiant, this 6-8 times a day is beyond excessive. I mean if I don’t have the money one hour, do they really think an hour later I will have the money???? I also recall an agency to call to report things like this, although it was for collection agencies and not sure if it included to report creditors or not, but I can’t find the number or remember the agency. If anyone can help me out on this and tell me if they are within their rights with calling that many times a day or not, that would be great!

First, start keeping a log, write down the name of the person calling, the company, telephone number, date and time. After the first call of the day, gather the same info and tell them they are in violation of federal law and hang up. If they call right back, ask them if they mind you recording the conversation. Do this until you receive proof they received the drop dead letter.

You may send them a letter, via certified mail so that they sign for it and you have proof, it looks like this.

(Date)

To Whom it may concern:

I have been contacted by your company about a debt you allege I owe. I am instructing you not to contact me further in connection with this debt. Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, a federal law, you may not contact me further once I have notified you not to do so.

Sincerely,

(Name)

(Account No.)

After that, if they contact you, you have the legal right to sue and should contact the CA’s managers about resolution.

More info is available at:

https://www.ftc.gov/enforcement/rules/rulemaking-regulatory-reform-proceedings/fair-debt-collection-practices-act-text

I hope someone can help. I have over $500,000 in equity in my house but because of my bad credit rating, no one will give me a Home Equity Line of Credit. It would be such a huge help to consolidate my bills.

Any ideas? Thanks so much in advance.

I am surprised that nobody will give you a loan that uses your home to secure it. Most places are jumping at the bit to do just that. In both cases, I was told I had derogatory marks on my
credit report. Washington Mutual was more informative about delinquencies and late payments (which I know about but I’m trying to be on time now). Other than that they wouldn’t say a thing. I can just see it: they’ll be over me like white on rice if and when I do pay my bills to give me a loan.

If anyone knows of a company that could help, I’d appreciate any information you can provide.

Well, first I’ll start with my opinion..

Why would you want to put your house as risk by getting a home equity loan.. Let’s look at it this way, if your mortgage is $1000/month and your credit cards are $1000/month, you can get a home equity loan and maybe have a mortgage payment of $1500 now instead of $1000.. So, if something happens and you can only afford $1000/month, you can no go into forclosure.. so if it was me, I wouldn’t take that risk.. Of course that’s a simple look at it, but that’s the general idea.

I don’t know your situation of course, but if you’re not too attached to the house, why don’t you sell it, make the $500,000 you have in equity and use that to pay off the bills and then you live in an apartment with no debt and a bunch of money in mutual funds. Then you can start over by saving for a new home or using the funds you have as a down payment. Again, I don’t know your situation, but I’m answering as “what I would do”

If you’re still bent on getting a home equity loan, then you can look for mortgage companies that do manual underwriting. Meaning that they actually look at all aspects of your life. Did you pay the mortgage on time, did you pay your electric on time, etc as opposed to just looking at your fico scare. Hope that helps Tom and good luck!

Try your local credit union and/or bank that you have a relationship with already. They may be more willing to “work with you” even if you get higher interest rates. The more I read, the more I learn about how companies are screwing people for paying late. It does not help a bit that nowadays they want the payment there by 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time. If it gets there at 11:00 a.m., you get higher fees, charged late, marks on the credit report, etc., etc.

Not everyone can pay a bill the second it arrives in the mail.

I have looked into home equity lines of credit, and it all ‘looks’ good. But, something was always holding me back. I never did one, and am now getting out of debt without putting my house on the line. I own this, and it is the thing standing between me and the street, so I wouldn’t ever park my house on the line like that.

This would be a one shot thing and I’m only looking for 30K to settle my mom’s estate. That’s what’s aggravating (among many other things). I’m looking to get a loan (or HELCO or whatever you want to call it) of less than 10% of the available equity. Thanks for all your advice, though.

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