Sunday, September 03, 2006

Ways to Cut Back

I spent the morning going over my August expense report and projecting my September income and expenses. Although my August deficit was -$1372.98 (i.e., I used up my savings last month), my projected September deficit is $166.36. But that's after cutting my grocery budget by $150, paring my household budget, and spending absolutely no money on entertainment, dining out, etc. I still have enough in savings to cover this month's deficit but the fact is, this is going to continue indefinitely unless I change something.

So. My new strategy, obviously, is to step up the job hunt. I don't know how it's possible to even live on what I'm making. My take home pay from work is averaging about $880/mo., and I'm supposed to get $400/mo. from my ex for child support. He usually pays me at least most of that. Altogether, that means I'm living on about $1200 a month, or $14,000 a year. Wow.

FYI: Yes, I'm a single working mother. Yes, I know I qualify for WIC, and probably welfare too. However, I am a republican, and moreover, I believe in taking responsibility for one's own choices. That is why I have always declined to take advantage of these programs. Because in my opinion, that's exactly what it is -- taking advantage of others who may have made better choices.

Anyway. Back to the issue.

Since I've been half-heartedly job hunting for two months now and my efforts have been fruitless, I'm now going to have to focus more intensely on the other side of the spectrum: Cutting Back. Here are the options I've come up with:

1. Essentially eliminating my grocery budget: Last month I spent over $300. Don't ask me how. Except for essentials for the kiddo, who is a picky eater anyway, I can probably make due with ramen and canned veggies for the rest of the month. I will throw a blanket over some chairs and eat underneath, pretending I'm enjoying spoils from a post-apocolyptic raid on Wal-Mart.

2. Pay only the minimums on my credit card debt this month. I know that won't affect my principal balance, but let's face it, I'm in survival mode at the moment. At least I'm not adding to the debt.

3. Gas. Prices are going down -- woohoo! I saw it for $2.39/gal on Friday. However, I'm sure I could do more to consolidate my trips. Also, must check my tire inflation, etc. to ensure I'm getting the most gas mileage possible.

That's about all the areas I can cut back. It goes without saying that this month I won't be buying a single magazine, item of clothing, book, anything. In fact I may consider hitting my mom up for feminine products. (I figured out I spend $94 annually on those...)

What a fun month this is going to be! :-D


At 11:25 AM, Blogger savingadvice said...

Since I don't know your entire budget I can only comment on the areas that you did mention. Not sure how much you are into couponing, but grocery coupon guide can show you how to significantly cut the grocery bill down (I used to think coupons were a joke, but you really can save money with them)

Paying the minimum on cc isn't what you want to be doing, but like you said it's survival mode. Have you tried getting you're interest rate lowered? It doesn't always work, but if it does, you'll save a lot of money.

Smart move on the gas. While it may be going down now, it only will take one world event to see it spike again. One of the big ways to save is to avoid commute traffic - not sure how possible that is for you...

Good luck with the finances and it seems you're taking the right steps to solve the issues...

At 3:53 PM, Blogger Em said...

This is Max from Howtobepoor.

Ah, the survival mode. I just got out of it.

Ways I made money:

- From the blog(s): After being banned from AdSense, I went with Linkworth, and now the main blog HTBP is bringing in $75-100 a month. Sign up through my site.
- Donating plasma. Easy $50-75 a week.
- Freelance web work. Ask around and appear professional. People always need something created, researched, modified, explained, etc.

General tips:

- Watch the electric bill: turn off lights, never use the dryer and air-dry clothes, turn down the fridge, take short lukewarm showers, etc.
- When driving, keep tires inflated, don't run A/C and know where you're going.
- For household items, shop at Goodwill and Salvation Army.

You seem to be ashamed of asking for help - it has nothing to do with being a Republican. Programs like welfare and unemployment comp. exist because sometimes people fall on hard times and need help.

When you're stranded on the side of the road, you push your car all the way home, too? Why not? I bet you could!

At 8:38 PM, Blogger Maggie said...

Thanks for the advice. Definitely some great tips -- always appreciated!

Max: I wouldn't say that I'm ashamed of asking for help. If it came down to the idea of being homeless or not being able to feed my kid, then I'd take it. Short of that, I guess I'm too proud. Also, I feel like programs such as welfare are socialist tendencies within our country, and I'm a big individualist. When I turn this situation around and become well off, I really don't want my tax dollars paying for others who just don't want to do the work of tracking their budgets and being responsible about spending. Far too many people are riding on the mercy of the government today.

And for the record, if my car broke down, I would of course resort to flying. Tis what superpowers are for!!


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