Monday, August 10, 2009

Making Ends Meet- Living on a Budget

Living on one income is sometimes difficult when you are a single mom. I wish I could have a nice cushion for emergencies but the truth is money is tight! After the separation I found myself with one income, numerous debts and two little mouths to feed. Here are seven steps that I'm using to make it work financially.

  1. Make a monthly bills spreadsheet. All of my regular bills like rent, electricity, phone, credit cards are all organized on a spread sheet. It really helps me to visually see all of my bills all on one page. It also makes it easy to see when bills are due and if they have been paid. I also added an interest column so I could see the amount of interest I was paying each month. This is a great way to keep myself accountible and to see how much money is being wasted each month on interest.
  2. Stop adding debt! The first thing I did was cut up my credit cards and decided to live on cash. Trust me, this was very scary! I couldn't make an emergency pit stop at the grocery store anymore, I couldn't buy the cute jeans for the boys on a whim anymore and I couldn't just pick up the boys to go to the zoo. Everything had to be calculated and allotted in the budget.
  3. If you do have debt, make yourself a get out of debt plan. My next step is to get rid of the debt that I already had. I made a list of all of my credit cards and put them in order of interest rate. The one with the highest interest rate was my first mission. Pay that one off first. Of course I still make the minimum payments on the other cards but whenever I have a little extra cash I make sure to pay off that one. It also helped that the balance of that first card was also low so that I was able to pay it off rather quickly. Knowing that one card is gone is such a wonderful feeling and really motivating. My other balances are a bit higher so I know that it will take me some time to pay them off but as long as I stick to the plan and don't add debt I am sure that I will be able to do it.
  4. Make a meal plan according to what's on sale. A really important part of living on a budget is looking through the grocery store flyers and making a meal plan for the week according to the specials. It's unbelievable how much you can save by only eating the meat that's on sale that week. Meat goes on sale in rotation so you can be sure that every few weeks the type of meat you want to eat will be on sale. Make the meatloaf when the groundbeef is on sale, make the roast chicken when the chicken is on sale, etc. I also like to make extra so that I can freeze it to have it available when I want later. I always have a container of meat sauce or chili in the freezer ready to go.
  5. Buy the essentials when they go on sale. Things like detergent or toilet paper goes on sale all of the time. You should never buy these items at full price if you can help it. Same goes for shampoo, soap, diapers, etc. I am also always on the lookout when non-perishable food items are on sale so that I can stock up. Pasta, canned beans, canned soups, rice ... all of these things go on sale quite often.
  6. Don't eat meat every night. One of the reasons my grocery bills were always so high was that I was making meat at every dinnertime meal. This can be pricey! Taking a couple of nights to have vegetarian meals can be healthy, budget friendly and is even good for the environment.
  7. Find all of the free activities happening in your neighborhood. Entertaining children can be expensive but it doesn't have to be. When I started having to greatly reduce my monthly entertainment budget I was surprised how many free or cheap events there were for the family around the city. It just takes a little searching. There are things like Shakespeare in the park, movies in the park, family days around town, cultural festivals... a lot of things are free you just have to look for them. I also found that sometimes we could go to the local park and have a picnic and it was just as fun a day as it would have been spending it at the zoo which could cost more than $20.00 a person!

1 comment:

  1. I can always enjoy prosperity if he carefully plans out a budge. Money management help