Monday, November 10, 2008

I want to be a fiscally responsible mama

I am a worrier. I worry a lot. I worry about little things. I worry about big things. I worry about other people's problems. I worry and worry and worry. So, it is no surprise that the economic downturn has me worried.

I worry that my husband will lose his job. I worry that we won't be able to pay our bills. I worry that my children will grow up in poverty. And really, I have no reason to worry excessively about these issues. My husband's job is pretty secure. All of our bills get paid every month. And my kids have everything they need to be healthy and happy.

But I still worry. We have a high mortgage payment, several credit cards, and tons of medical bills. Although we are able to make our minimum payments each month, it feels like we will never get ahead - we will never have money to save.

I really want to learn how to manage our money better. We eat out several times per week. We purchase things impulsively at the grocery store. We shop at Target WAY TOO MUCH. Although I have tried to curb these frivolous expenses, we seem to always fall back into the same ruts.

Any words of wisdom? How do you save money?

***This post was inspired by the woman in front of me at Target last night. She spent $952.38! As she signed her name to the credit card slip, she began crying. Disturbing and depressing.

30 comments:

J'Ollie Primitives said...

Good morning from the World's Biggest Tightwad.
I hear Dave Ramsey's book about financial responsibility is good. I'm too cheap to buy it.
I try to play the percentage game. A certain percent of $$ to groceries, gas, credit card bills, and SAVINGS. Savings should come first but that's not happening right now.When the budget for a particular item is exhausted, we do without. Credit cards are used ONLY for emergencies. 952.00 bucks at Target??? That lady has a problem, especially if she's cryng about it.

Danielle said...

I am very cheap. I always walk around the store with an item before I purchase it..and usually I put it back. I always say do I want or need this item. Yesterday at Linene's and Things Pete wanted to buy new pots because they were on sale but I made him put them back. I stick to my grocery list too! I was just born a cheap ASS

Eva said...

I think cheapness is something you have or don't, but you can train yourself to it.

I do what Danielle does when I need retail therapy--I often just carry it around a while. The best thing for me is to think that everything I buy I'll have to get rid of when we move.

My urgent question though is WHAT WAS THIS LADY BUYING???

As for worries, my biggest worry these days is Obama's safety. Honestly the first thing I check in the morning is the NYT now.

Kate Coveny Hood said...

The only reason that we are not in horrible debt is because my husband acts they we are constantly on the brink of bankruptcy. We're not - but we probably would be if he didn't keep me in check. This is a huge exaggeration - but I really don't have good sense when it comes to spending. No words of wisdom from me. I'll be checking back to see what other commenters say (and heartily ignoring their advice like I always do).

Jiff said...

WTF was this lady buying??? Maybe she went through a divorce and was on her own, trying to buy necessities. Who knows. But dang.

I've heard about the Dave Ramsey book too, but only recently. Shannon at Misguided Mommy recently wrote a post about this very topic. :) She and I do the same thing. Plan your menu for the week, go to the store with a limited amount on a store gift card to use. Suddenly you decide waht you REALLY need. And don't go putting $100 extra on there just for the frivolus stuff.

As for eating out, gradually cut down. It's hard when you have your hands full with two kiddos so make small steps toward eating out once a week. Do like Fri or Sat nights. :)

Pregalicious said...

i forced myself to sit down and write down all of my income and all of my expenses. first i subtracted the fixed expenses like car payments, mortgage, student loans, child support etc. then i subtracted credit card payments. then i figured what i need every month for groceries, dry cleaning, prescriptions and i think thats it. i took the rest and divided it by 4 and then 2 and thats the cash my husband and i each take out each week. we use the cash for lunches, gas and whatever else. i only use the debit card for groceries, dry cleaning and prescriptions. it's been tough but it has helped us tremendously!!

Pregalicious said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Misguided Mommy said...

952 fucking dollars on a credit card. are you fucking serious. omg. duh. she was crying because her husband was going to kick her fucking ass. what the hell could you even buy there for that much.

no.

scratch that..i mean i know you could buy more then that but

WHO DOES THAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

i need a tylenol.

i love the pic of the kiddos in their costumes by the way

Dooneybug said...

I have lots of ideas for you but it's too much to leave in a comment here. If you want to hear them I can email you. You know I have my other blog where I talk about my deals I get? I'm actually doing a presentation on being frugal and saving money to my MOPS group in February. We are by no means experts and have tons of room for improvement but we do pretty well. There are a lot of other blogs out there that also give great tips on being fiscally responsible. And blogs are a FREE resource! Again, let me know if you want some links and I'll email them to you!

Heather @ boy, girl, and a pug said...

I would have been crying too if I had spent almost $1000 at Target!!

As far as saving money, cloth diapers rock! We have also cut back on eating out and I sold some things on ebay.

We set a limit for birthdays and Christmas and I actually stuck to it! Then I hit up Grandma for shoes and coats for kids:) Works well for me!

Now if the medical bills would just stop piling up all would be good!

amanda said...

omg she was crying?? honey that's so sad. i mean really sad.

as for being responsible...we sit down together every two weeks to balance the budget. we project and then see how we did.

it's been very eye opening.

still hasn't totally curbed my target addiction but it's helping :)

Melain said...

That IS disturbing! There is WAY too much of that going on in our culture. I'm a big spender and have to fight VERY HARD against my impulses to avoid my credit card.

What works for me: Get into things that are time consuming and cheap (or FREE). The less time you have to wish for stuff, the less likely you are to buy it. It works for me. As for impulse purchases, all you can do is make a list and use all the will power you can muster to stick to it.

Lainey-Paney said...

....just to get started....try picking up this book (at the library or at half priced books!)
"America's Cheapest Family" by the Economides family.
It's an easy, entertaining, and idea filled book.
I read it cover to cover. There were some things that I thought---no way.
But, the nice thing about it---at the end of every chapter it gives you steps if you want to make a little improvement, a medium improvement, or go all the way!
I just enjoyed it. And, you can pick it up every now & again & gain another little tidbit that helps save money...

Lainey-Paney said...

...on another note, where oh where did you get those house-shoes for the kiddos?

Amanda said...

What kind of shop is Target?
Unless she was buying something electrical ~ TV's etc, that's a lot to spend in one store!! And she was crying??!

Jenn said...

Well crying is a bit odd, since she was the one putting the junk in the cart. I too worry about all those things, hy husbands work insurance is the crappiest, so we still have quite the bill from having the baby. I always stress about christmas, since everyone we buy for has 10 times the money we do, I feel bad not spending 100s on each one like they can..we spend about 50 buck on each and that's pushing it but I feel bad ...so my husband and I go without and never get presents for each other ever for anything.

Catizhere said...

I've gone "Cash-Only" I cut up all but 1 card & I NEVER use it. I take so much out of the bank on Friday & That's what I use for the week. Groceries are pretty much the same week to week, so thats easy to budget. Fill up the gas tank every week(it seems to last longer than stopping & putting 10 bucks here & there) We haven't been out to dinner in AGES, but we do order in once a week (usually on Fridays, Mamma need one stinking night away from the kitchen) If I could just get Joe to give up his ATM card, I'd be happy. That man tapped MAC every day for 10 days in row once. $10 here, $20 there, bought lunch for guys one day...

With my little tricks, I've been able to save a good amount of money. I've almost saved enough to get my new fancy-ass Oreck vacuum AND a new reclining chair for Joe's birthday gift.

Jenny said...

yikes! that is a lot of money to be spending at target...i only wish!
i know of a couple people that just throw things in at the grocery store and it freaks me out! $300 for 3 people and like 5 days worth of groceries! not me, i always look for a deal these days.

Jeninacide said...

Several months ago I started freaking out about money too. I ALWAYS do that thing in Target where I carry something around with me "to feel it's chi" or something and I usually put it back- or at least most of the items back. I have gotten really used to online bargain shopping and really waiting and waiting to buy something (anything) until I have found EXACTLY what I want at the BEST possible price. I also am on a grocery budget and we only eat out once a week now. I have ended up saving a LOT of money. I FORCE myself to put 10-20% of MY paycheck (not my husband's we need his for bills) into a savings account and I DO NOT TOUCH IT.

So... It's a lot of little changes that add up is what I am trying to say.

Cristina Mathers said...

952 at target?????????? wow! i don't know if i could ever do that, wait, i COULD do it, but would i? no, i wouldn't because husband would prob divorce me!

Steph said...

That is so much money to spend in one visit to Target. Being cheap, I would have cried too. I always feel guilty spending money. Eli and I have been talking about budgeting and saving and have been doing a good job of it. It helps that I keep the debit cards and am able to see what is going out every day.

Kristin said...

Way to think ahead :) We are all so bombarded with the lastest and greatest! Its hard to be financially responsible when you are constantly trying to keep up. We communicate alot and write down everything that we buy, kind of like a check register, but we write what we bought too. Also, get a budget set up and communicate! Sit down once a week or so and go over everything. Plan ahead for birthdays, etc. I always get screwed when I realize that I have a wedding and 3 birthdays and I didn't budget anything for that!! Now I don't have that problem! I am actually writing a post on this now! :) Its a draft still but money talk has been swirling around in my head for a few months now ;)

Tabitha said...

OMG!! I am just trying to work out how much that is in uk pounds!!
Sounds alot!
Being on my own and supporting 2 kids ~ I have to be careful. I do budget ~ and I sit down each month and work out what needs to be paid ~ bills and outgoings etc!! Then I allocate a certain amount to petrol and food shopping etc ~ and then whatever is left is mine all mine (ha ha ~ believe me ~ it is not alot at all!!).
I think we are all thinking like this at the moment ~ the way things are here in the UK are pretty bad too!
love and hugs XXXXXX

Dana said...

i am a worrier too.. I hate it!! I never buy myself anything unless it is needed and rarely treat myself to anything nice! The only thing I really spend money on is groceries and bills.. I will buy what I want from the food store but often debate should I or shouldn't I!!

Rachel said...

I am no good at this stuff either but I used to be. I worried about everything and so I would not spend money. I think it is safe to say that putting yourself on a target and grocery budget is a good start.

Clare said...

oh my gosh, the story from target is soooo sad. i can't even imagine spending that much at one store, unless i was buying furniture or something. chris would kill me.

i am like you...we always have enough and i will do really good for a while, and then i will fall into my same habits. spend here and there. i feel like stuff always comes up, weddings, birthdays, holidays and then all of my good efforts go out the window. i often wonder if i was working would i spend so much. it is just being at home and sometimes i 'think' i need stuff, that i know i probably totally don't. sorry for the rambling, but any help would be great!!

Becks said...

I am married to a complete budget freak!! That is the only reason we are not bankrupt. If I was left to my own devices we would be dead broke! It sucks. We rarely eat out. I dont buy as many snacky impulse items at the grocery store. You would think this would make me lose weight but oddly enough it doesn't. I am too depressed with my weight so I dont buy new clothes..because its no fun! I try to shop at consignment stores for Sophia. Believe it is very hard! I am a born shopper!! Being fiscal sucks but so worth it in the end!!!

Marni's Organized Mess said...

Wow... We sit and record EVERY single thing we purchase, that helps put things in perspective.

Nellie said...

Holly shit. $952 at Target. Wow.

You must be my long lost sister. I could have written that post. And funny because today I did a post about our financial situation and how we never have any money to put into savings either. I've just had to stop going to Target all together. I make a list for groceries and get only what we need. We rarely eat out anymore. We take a $20 per pay period allowence each. It sucks. But we are trying to get out of the cc debt we owe. Oh, I'm not gonna keep writing... go check out my post :)

moo said...

This post speaks to my heart. My student loan is almost as much as our rent. We have two cc, and those two payments together make up our next highest payment each month.

I make grocery lists, clip coupons, shop around for best prices ... we eat out once a week because I *NEED* that to keep myself sane. But we don't really buy a lot of frivilous things. And I don't go to Target anymore because it's too dangerous.

I just want to be out of debt. And I never will be. And knowing that makes me want to cry, every day.