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Cutting expenses/budgeting


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38 replies to this topic

#1 asm

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 03:24 PM

Hello all. Today I received a credit card bill and discovered that my interest rate has almost tripled and my minimum payment has went up $100. My husband and I couldn't make a dent in our bills before, so this is a problem. Add to this that I quit/got fired from my job last month, we're kind of screwed. (Long story short with the job thing. I worked for a temp agency and was sent on an open ended, long term assignment. The job ended up being not as described and the person I worked for was openly hostile to me. I informed the agency, who told me I had to give notice. I refused and asked to be reassigned, so they fired me.)

I know it's our fault we're in this mess, there's nothing we can do about the past. And the job hunt is going full force.

Anyway, I was wondering if you guys could take a look and see what we could cut.

Mortgage - 1000
Credit card 1 - balance 6000, monthly 120 (interest rate will probably go up, I'm guessing)
Credit card 2 - balance 8500, monthly 170 (ditto)
Credit card 3 - balance 8500, monthly 250 (as of today)
Credit card 4 - balance 275, monthly 10
Credit card 5 - balance 300, monthly 10
Credit card 6 - balance 550, monthly 25
Insurance - 100 monthly
Gas - average 35 monthly
Electric - average 100 monthly
Water - average 25 monthly
Cells - 80
Cable - 100
Car payment - 300


Some things to consider:

The only credit card that has been used in well over a year is the 550 one. $25 a month is put on the card, for netflix and credit monitoring. Netflix is probably going to go.

Insurance is for two vehicles.

Cell is for two phones, cheapest plan. My husband uses his for business.

Cable includes dvr and internet.

The car is halfway paid off. We drive our vehicles until they are junkers, so we feel that overall, it will be worth it to keep it.


Thanks for any suggestions.



#2 Enjay

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 03:34 PM

Get rid of the cable and keep Netflix (perhaps a lower plan). It stinks for a month until you get used to it and then you realize how much more free time you have.

#3 Nemeweh

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 03:50 PM

Hello all. Today I received a credit card bill and discovered that my interest rate has almost tripled and my minimum payment has went up $100. My husband and I couldn't make a dent in our bills before, so this is a problem. Add to this that I quit/got fired from my job last month, we're kind of screwed. (Long story short with the job thing. I worked for a temp agency and was sent on an open ended, long term assignment. The job ended up being not as described and the person I worked for was openly hostile to me. I informed the agency, who told me I had to give notice. I refused and asked to be reassigned, so they fired me.)

I know it's our fault we're in this mess, there's nothing we can do about the past. And the job hunt is going full force.

Anyway, I was wondering if you guys could take a look and see what we could cut.

Mortgage - 1000
Credit card 1 - balance 6000, monthly 120 (interest rate will probably go up, I'm guessing)
Credit card 2 - balance 8500, monthly 170 (ditto)
Credit card 3 - balance 8500, monthly 250 (as of today)
Credit card 4 - balance 275, monthly 10
Credit card 5 - balance 300, monthly 10
Credit card 6 - balance 550, monthly 25
Insurance - 100 monthly
Gas - average 35 monthly
Electric - average 100 monthly
Water - average 25 monthly
Cells - 80
Cable - 100
Car payment - 300


Some things to consider:

The only credit card that has been used in well over a year is the 550 one. $25 a month is put on the card, for netflix and credit monitoring. Netflix is probably going to go.

Insurance is for two vehicles.

Cell is for two phones, cheapest plan. My husband uses his for business.

Cable includes dvr and internet.

The car is halfway paid off. We drive our vehicles until they are junkers, so we feel that overall, it will be worth it to keep it.


Thanks for any suggestions.



Have you called and talked to anyone at your credit card companies? See if you can cut or suspend your current interest rates. Tell them they are putting you in the position of being unable to pay. :) During this current credit crisis, I would think they might want to be getting paid, instead of trying to squeeze blood from a turnip, so to speak.

The only place it looks like you can cut is the cable/DVR as Enjay suggested. If you cna take what you're saving, and add anything to it, you can do what's called Snowballing (Dave Ramsey's plan) and start with the smaller balances and every time you can, pay a little something extra until it's paid, then snowball that monthly payment into the next lowest balance.

What's your food costs looking like? You can use coupons/ Grocery Game to save $$ for paying off the debts faster.

IMHO, once you get back to work, you should still stick to this plan so you never end up in this position again. KWIM?

#4 asm

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 04:26 PM

Yeah, it is looking like cable's about the only thing we can cut. Fairly recently, we looked at all our bills to see what could be cut and that's really the only thing we came up with.

It just frustrates me, because we were literally just at the point that we could start putting away a tiny bit of money (any savings is long gone) and start the snowball plan.

Food costs are ok, I guess. We go shopping every 2-3 months and our monthly average is around $100. The last time we went shopping, we tried to use coupons, but could only find 3 that we would use. We buy generic for 99% of our items. The savings we got from the coupons just paid for the stupid paper we bought to get them. I'd love to be able to do the grocery game, but I don't know how it would work for us. As it stands, we buy all of our household goods at the dollar store and maybe a third of our food items (coffee, milk, bread, condiments, etc).

My husband deals with the credit card companies and he hasn't seen the big increase yet. The three big cards have/had rates of around 7%. The ones with low balances are mine and I have crappy credit, so the rates are around 25%. I would have had the $550 card paid off by the end of the year, but had to get three new tires on my car (they were more than bald and it wouldn't pass inspection). And since I had been putting any extra cash towards the cards, I didn't have a savings to pay for them, so they went on the card.


Our basic lifestyle:

My husband drives his motorcycle to work in the summer and when it's not raining to save on gas, but our gas costs were averaging around $400 or so a month there for awhile. That was just to and from work.

We both smoke, which costs about us about $140 a month. We have no plans to quit.

Beyond that, we stopped going to the movies two years ago. We go out about once every 4-5 months. We don't drive unless it's absolutely essential. Over the past year, I did buy about $400 worth of clothing, but I was working in a business casual environment and had no appropriate clothing. I don't get manicures, pedicures, or massages. Every couple of months, I get a haircut, but my stylist charges $25 (obviously, that's done).

I'm currently in school and my tuition for this semester is paid for, but I guess I can forget about next semester. That's a shame, since I'm only 2 classes shy of my associates degree.

#5 radi8

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 04:30 PM

Have you called and talked to anyone at your credit card companies? See if you can cut or suspend your current interest rates.


+1

If you don't get anywhere on the phone, make your request again- in writing to the Exec offices.

#6 Nemeweh

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 04:46 PM

Yeah, it is looking like cable's about the only thing we can cut. Fairly recently, we looked at all our bills to see what could be cut and that's really the only thing we came up with.

It just frustrates me, because we were literally just at the point that we could start putting away a tiny bit of money (any savings is long gone) and start the snowball plan.

Food costs are ok, I guess. We go shopping every 2-3 months and our monthly average is around $100. The last time we went shopping, we tried to use coupons, but could only find 3 that we would use. We buy generic for 99% of our items. The savings we got from the coupons just paid for the stupid paper we bought to get them. I'd love to be able to do the grocery game, but I don't know how it would work for us. As it stands, we buy all of our household goods at the dollar store and maybe a third of our food items (coffee, milk, bread, condiments, etc).

My husband deals with the credit card companies and he hasn't seen the big increase yet. The three big cards have/had rates of around 7%. The ones with low balances are mine and I have crappy credit, so the rates are around 25%. I would have had the $550 card paid off by the end of the year, but had to get three new tires on my car (they were more than bald and it wouldn't pass inspection). And since I had been putting any extra cash towards the cards, I didn't have a savings to pay for them, so they went on the card.


Our basic lifestyle:

My husband drives his motorcycle to work in the summer and when it's not raining to save on gas, but our gas costs were averaging around $400 or so a month there for awhile. That was just to and from work.

We both smoke, which costs about us about $140 a month. We have no plans to quit.

Beyond that, we stopped going to the movies two years ago. We go out about once every 4-5 months. We don't drive unless it's absolutely essential. Over the past year, I did buy about $400 worth of clothing, but I was working in a business casual environment and had no appropriate clothing. I don't get manicures, pedicures, or massages. Every couple of months, I get a haircut, but my stylist charges $25 (obviously, that's done).

I'm currently in school and my tuition for this semester is paid for, but I guess I can forget about next semester. That's a shame, since I'm only 2 classes shy of my associates degree.


Okay so go to the Grocery Game website and read the forums (I think they're still free).

Keep in mind it'll take about 8-12 weeks to get a good collection of coupons going. Ones that you'll actually use and that will coincide with sales you can order off of websites. I know, because I used to be a gaming fanatic then got lazy. Just had to reorder my newspaper for Sunday this week. :swoon: The 9$ a month for the sunday paper and the cost of what the grocery game site will be made back my first shopping trip. If this is not an option, there are ways of doing it yourself. Keeping your own price book to see when the sales price is a Real sales price, etc.

For school can you apply for grants or see if your school has some kind of help for you? It'd be worth looking into since once you finish you're earning potential will be more. Short term loss versus long term gain. KWIM?


Other than quitting smoking (which I have troubles with myself...) You're just going to have to get back to work, ASAP, even if it's not an "ideal" position.

#7 asm

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 05:07 PM

I actually discovered a coupon website where you can buy coupons. I checked that out and there seemed to be several that we'd use and I think they were around .05 apiece, so I thought I might do that.

As far as grants or loans, I don't currently qualify. I have defaulted student loans. I was going to call this month to set up rehabilitation. I might be able to borrow money from his parents, I guess. My tuition payments are going to be around $200 a month, so it not hugely expensive, but more than we have at this second.

I know that we both should quit smoking, but we're not at the point where we're ready, so it wouldn't be successful.

As far as work goes, I've applied several places and have had a couple of interviews. One of the places I've applied is notorious for taking awhile to make a decision, so I'm waiting to hear back. And I've found three more places today to apply. I'm looking for administrative positions (secretary, receptionist, etc), so I'm not applying for things I'm not qualified to do. And I'm going to apply tomorrow at some nearby hotels, since I have experience there. I'd do it today, but managers are gone at this point and I've found you have a better "in" if you can talk to a manager when you turn in an application at those places.


Thank you for talking me through this, everyone. And for not being judgemental about our mess. Basically, we knew what we were getting into and had a plan in place, but that's failed.

#8 hlburi

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 05:16 PM

I actually discovered a coupon website where you can buy coupons. I checked that out and there seemed to be several that we'd use and I think they were around .05 apiece, so I thought I might do that.


I wouldn't buy them unless you are really going to need a bunch of one kind of coupon.

Do you have neighbors that get the paper but don't use coupons? How about a recycle center that would let you take the coupon inserts that others throw away?

I cannot emphasize enough to take advantage of the Walgreens free after rebate programs and CVS "extra bucks" programs. I have managed to stockpile so much non-perishables this way it's hardly even funny.

Edited by hlburi, 22 October 2008 - 05:17 PM.


#9 asm

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 06:08 PM

I actually discovered a coupon website where you can buy coupons. I checked that out and there seemed to be several that we'd use and I think they were around .05 apiece, so I thought I might do that.


I wouldn't buy them unless you are really going to need a bunch of one kind of coupon.

Do you have neighbors that get the paper but don't use coupons? How about a recycle center that would let you take the coupon inserts that others throw away?

I cannot emphasize enough to take advantage of the Walgreens free after rebate programs and CVS "extra bucks" programs. I have managed to stockpile so much non-perishables this way it's hardly even funny.


RE: the coupon site. You have to buy at least 3 of the same coupon, but we do generally buy stuff in bulk. Well, as much as we can pack into places, anyway. We buy a decent amount of boxed goods and frozen veggies, as well as pastas and soups. I like pre-packaged pasta meals for a quick lunch or a side for dinner, so I generally buy 10-15 of those at a time. And we switched from canned veggies to frozen, because there's only two of us and there's less wasted food when we can portion out stuff ourselves. We rarely find coupons for that stuff, though. The sites minimum order is $3, which is about the price of our paper, so I figured that if I could find $3 of coupons we'd actually use, it would be worth it. But I only found the site last week, so I haven't had the chance to fully check it out.

I don't think anyone in our neighborhood gets the Sunday paper. At least, I've never seen one out on someone's driveway.

As far getting papers from a recycling center, we have curbside recycling (a second garbage truck comes around to pick up items to be recycled), so I wouldn't have a clue where one would be. I'm not trying to discount any of your ideas, btw. They are good, but I'm not sure they'd work for us.

We looked at the Walgreens/CVS thing after hearing about awesome deals people were getting, but we were hungry and frustrated by the time we checked it out. We'd be using CVS, since it's fairly close, if we did this. I guess I'm confused about how it works. We normally never shop there. I think the last thing I bought at our local CVS was when I got some film developed 3 or so years ago.

We buy toothpaste, toilet paper, paper towels, milk, cheese, butter, boxed goods, coffee, condiments, cookies and chips (rarely) at our local dollar store. We live in a neighborhood full of older people and this is the closest shopping place for them, so about a third of the store is food items. It's all/mostly brand name, non expired stuff. They recently put in a bread section, so it's kind of a dollar store/small grocer.

In the summer, we grow some of our own food and exchange excess veggies with our neighbor. Occasionally, we'll stop by a very small farmer's market nearby, which is in the parking lot of the local liqour store. Odd association, but the guy who owns the store is awesome. It started as a project with some of his neighbors and just grew. He carries the most awesome jams and jellies almost year round, which he gets from the local Amish.

Occasionally, we hit up the local overstock store for food, but I'm hesitant about it. I know logically that there's nothing wrong with it (I know how it gets there), but still. Basically, we live in a big shipping distribution area and when flats or boxes are damaged, even though the product inside is fine, the shipping companies can't deliver it. So, they sell it (or maybe give it, not sure where this place is in the chain) to this place for sale to the public. It's mostly name brand, non expired stuff sold for super cheap. And usually in bulk.


As far as making money outside of a job, we do have some stuff that we've been meaning to sell. I think we've been keeping it partly because of laziness and partly for emergency needs for cash.

#10 54regcab

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 06:47 PM

The bottom line is either the income needs to come up or the $1,000 house payment needs to go.
If DH's employer requires him to have a phone they should pay for it/provide it.
Enjay is right on the money with the Cable, you won't even miss it after a month.

#11 asm

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 08:47 PM

I have an update. Apparently, there was an unauthorized charge on the card. A couple of years ago, he signed up for this gaming site, used it for a month or two, and decided he didn't like it. They tried to charge the card $80 or so, which is why the rate went up. They said they would lower the rate and deny the charge and we are trying to find some sort of phone number for the company, but have only found an email address.


54regcab, do you have any suggestions about how we could lower our house payment? Selling isn't an option with the current mortgage prices and the fact that we'd have to live an additional 30 minutes outside of town in order to get a significantly lower rental payment on anything (we already live 25 minutes from his job and 40 minutes from the city center). Before my husband bought this house, he lived not too far from here. We live in what is known as a cheap, but still safe, part of town and his rent was only $60 less than our current mortgage payment. Not being pissy, but curious for any suggestions.

I don't know if his phone is "required" for business. However, every other person in his position has a cell phone and that's how all his business contacts get in touch with him. He can get calls at all hours, so he decided years ago that it was easier to drop the landline and carry his phone with him. We'd like to be able to write it off, but aren't sure the requirements of that.

I'm looking at the tax code and I'm so confused. Essentially, he got a cell phone years ago so he have a number he could be reached at all times. This number is given out to employees, staff, and vendors. Everyone knows that if there's a work related issue, that's how he can be contacted 24/7. However, he also uses for personal use, so family and friends have the number as well. Because of this, I have no idea how it would be qualified.

#12 54regcab

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Posted 23 October 2008 - 08:09 AM

If you live in an area that there are no decent places withing 30 miles for under $1,000 then getting a Job paying $40K/yr shouldn't be a problem. If just about everybody is paying at least $1,000/mo, the income to pay that has to be coming from somewhere. With both of you working making $80K you can take care of the bills.

#13 Nemeweh

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Posted 23 October 2008 - 09:20 AM

If you live in an area that there are no decent places withing 30 miles for under $1,000 then getting a Job paying $40K/yr shouldn't be a problem. If just about everybody is paying at least $1,000/mo, the income to pay that has to be coming from somewhere. With both of you working making $80K you can take care of the bills.



That's assuming that one can find a job making 40k a year. Which is assuming a lot. 40k a year means the person would have to be making $19.00 an hour. That's a dream for a lot of people out there.

Consider instead a national average of about $10 to $12 per hour (which would be considered "good" pay). That brings the income to anywhere from 22k per year to 25k per year. And OP is currently unemployed, which is why they have come to this current situation.

Monthly they have $2325 worth of bills going out (plus an approx. 100 per month in food for 2 people), which is 600 per week, which breaks down to about $15 per hour. (for 40 hours)

This means her DH is pulling in a little over 30k per year. this is a good wage in MANY areas of the country.

:dntknw:

#14 Lovepalmtrees

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Posted 23 October 2008 - 09:30 AM

Boy - everyone always says cut cable..... I think I would sink into a depression if we had to do that :dntknw:. Cable is our main source of entertainment. I would rather quit smoking that cancel the cable :lol:!!!

It really looks like you just need to get another job - anything to bring in some cash. I cannot see anything wrong with the mortgage pmt or food costs. It is just those high balances on the cards that keeps you from moving forward.

#15 hlburi

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Posted 23 October 2008 - 03:38 PM

Cable is our main source of entertainment. I would rather quit smoking that cancel the cable :rofl:!!!


I wonder how people back in the Prairie days ever managed to make it without going insane. :rofl:

#16 Jeffmo32

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Posted 23 October 2008 - 03:57 PM

Cable is our main source of entertainment. I would rather quit smoking that cancel the cable :(!!!


I wonder how people back in the Prairie days ever managed to make it without going insane. :(


Most of them probably were insane !

#17 54regcab

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Posted 23 October 2008 - 04:26 PM

If you live in an area that there are no decent places withing 30 miles for under $1,000 then getting a Job paying $40K/yr shouldn't be a problem. If just about everybody is paying at least $1,000/mo, the income to pay that has to be coming from somewhere. With both of you working making $80K you can take care of the bills.



That's assuming that one can find a job making 40k a year. Which is assuming a lot. 40k a year means the person would have to be making $19.00 an hour. That's a dream for a lot of people out there.

Consider instead a national average of about $10 to $12 per hour (which would be considered "good" pay). That brings the income to anywhere from 22k per year to 25k per year. And OP is currently unemployed, which is why they have come to this current situation.

Monthly they have $2325 worth of bills going out (plus an approx. 100 per month in food for 2 people), which is 600 per week, which breaks down to about $15 per hour. (for 40 hours)

This means her DH is pulling in a little over 30k per year. this is a good wage in MANY areas of the country.

:cry2:


$10-12/hr may be typical for where you live, but I doubt $1,000/mo is bottom dollar for a decent apartment. It's just bigger numbers where the OP lives. FWIW $10-12 is typical for our area also, but you can get a decent rental for under $500 so it all works out.

#18 radi8

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Posted 23 October 2008 - 09:01 PM

you can get a decent rental for under $500 so it all works out.


Around here- Small town WI- a "decent" rental starts at about $750. Heck, I get $500 for my rental in N. Michigan where there are NO jobs and every other house is up for sale or already foreclosed.

that argument to "get rid of the house payment" may make perfect financial sense, but in the current environment it isn't always possible to do so.
If it were, I wouldnt' have a rental house in N. Mi. :rofl: I had it listed at 50% of it's appraised value over a year ago. I still own it.

#19 radi8

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Posted 23 October 2008 - 09:12 PM

We'd like to be able to write it off, but aren't sure the requirements of that.

I'm looking at the tax code and I'm so confused. Essentially, he got a cell phone years ago so he have a number he could be reached at all times. This number is given out to employees, staff, and vendors. Everyone knows that if there's a work related issue, that's how he can be contacted 24/7. However, he also uses for personal use, so family and friends have the number as well. Because of this, I have no idea how it would be qualified.


You have to keep track of the % of calls that are business and the % that are personal- you can deduct the % of your expenses that relate to business use.
I do this with my truck, cell phone and land line (can't fax from a cell).
When the monthly cell bill comes, I mark the calls that were personal with a highlighter, calculate the % of the total calls they were- subtract that % from the bill's total- and mark the result on the front of the envelope. Into the file cabinet it goes. When I do my taxes all I have to do is add up the amounts I've written on the envelopes to get my yearly "business" expense.
Since I have an unlimited plan it's a simple calculation. Total bill - 15% (or whatever) personal use = business expenses.
If you are paying additional money for long-d or extra minutes, you'll have to add up each line item you used for business purposes- then add to it the percentage of the fixed monthly costs that also relate to your business use.
Same with the landline.
Same with the truck, only I keep track of mileage and use the IRS standard deduction for the number of business miles driven.

Keep the bills, you are required to have records to substantiate your deductions. You don't have to send them in- but you do have to have them on hand.

#20 radi8

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Posted 23 October 2008 - 09:13 PM

Cable is our main source of entertainment. I would rather quit smoking that cancel the cable :huh:!!!


I wonder how people back in the Prairie days ever managed to make it without going insane. :rofl:




moonshine. :yahoo:

#21 Enjay

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Posted 23 October 2008 - 09:19 PM

Boy - everyone always says cut cable..... I think I would sink into a depression if we had to do that :rofl:. Cable is our main source of entertainment.


We cut out our cable back in June because we are trying to save for a house and every little bit helps. Honestly, for the first week we were staring at each other mourning the loss of the cable (well, mostly we missed the TiVo) but after that you adjust. I don't miss it at all now. I'm even reading books! :yahoo:

DH wants his ESPN back. I told him that when we get into a house he can get a dish.

#22 angeleyeskkhr

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Posted 23 October 2008 - 10:11 PM

you can get a decent rental for under $500 so it all works out.


Around here- Small town WI- a "decent" rental starts at about $750. Heck, I get $500 for my rental in N. Michigan where there are NO jobs and every other house is up for sale or already foreclosed.

that argument to "get rid of the house payment" may make perfect financial sense, but in the current environment it isn't always possible to do so.
If it were, I wouldnt' have a rental house in N. Mi. :huh: I had it listed at 50% of it's appraised value over a year ago. I still own it.



I got a "break" on our house--$800. There's only a couple apartment complexes in my town (like two or three), and if I were living in those, we'd be paying the same amount (or more), and living with half my "clients" from work (sooooooo not a good idea. :dntknw:)

#23 radi8

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Posted 23 October 2008 - 10:25 PM

and living with half my "clients" from work


That wouldn't work out well. :dntknw:

#24 hegemony

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Posted 25 October 2008 - 12:42 PM

The only place it looks like you can cut is the cable/DVR as Enjay suggested. If you cna take what you're saving, and add anything to it, you can do what's called Snowballing (Dave Ramsey's plan) and start with the smaller balances and every time you can, pay a little something extra until it's paid, then snowball that monthly payment into the next lowest balance.

that is the expensive and IMHO not smart way to snowball. Snowball, btw, is not something ramsey the nutbar created. he just created the stupid version.

the Op should pay the highest APR first.

#25 nwbroke

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Posted 25 October 2008 - 01:42 PM

In an effort to "spread the candy around" this year, we have decided to take more candy from the top 5% of the Trick-or-Treaters and redistribute it to those less fortunate Trick-or-Treaters who didn't want to go out or didn't have the motivation to go to as many houses.



I'm not aware that anyone is proposing redistribution to people who do not work.




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