We go to the thrift stores together now, and I am teaching her how to appreciate and shop thrift stores. Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch is an excellent place to get new overflow from Target at cheaper than store price. Clothes for children can be had at a good cheap price and a third of the price too. The clothes we look for are Target brand, and new tag clothes. Instead of $25 jeans, it is $4 for the same jeans that are name brand.
I get a couple for my children, and my one niece whom I now raise. My brother whom is my niece's father has custody, and he told me to help raise his daughter, and the only way I know how to is frugally by sewing dresses made of yellow and pink. I get to crocheting too, as my source for mitts and scarfs for all my children is yarn from thrift stores.
My other past time is coupon clipping which my sons do with better accuracy than me. I passed that gene onto my children. We have a garden for our veggies, and seeds come cheaply from dollar stores in my area. I raise my children to be respectful and honest when it comes to living frugally. One doesn't have to cheat the system to do it.
Our rent is rent controlled by an understanding landlord, otherwise our rent would be a hardship on our family. We live in a two-income, limited budget of $1400 combined. We each get about $700 a month. This is the last year for rent return from the state, as they will not be doing it next year, so our rent return will be saved for clothes that are not thrift store buyable, or sewable.
Shoes are bought at a Payless Shoe store two times a year. One for winter, and one for the rest of the year. Shoes are a spendy adventure for a family of 14 that includes one niece, two adults, and eleven children. All of various ages. Hand-me-downs, thrift stores, and occasional garage sales help, but mostly hand-me-down clothes.
For furniture we go to the thrift store again. I also shop for dollar store bean bag chairs for my teen son and daughter. I love the fact that people donate Snoopy and Winnie the Pooh stuff. They sell them cheaply at rummage sales too, but I guess one person's clutter is our family's gain.
I shop at Family Dollar, and Dollar Tree in Dilworth and PR for groceries and personal items for my family. I stopped shopping at regular grocery stores long ago. I make my own cleaning supplies out of items like baking soda and vinegar. I have not spent one penny on bleach or 409 in years. I clean my windows with vinegar and lemons with water as a solvent. It works well.
My family is happy and we do not feel deprived one bit. Teach them young not to want name brand and you get frugal adults. That is what I always was taught and personally have been quoted by friends and family. My children have excellent imaginations, because I raised them to know that money can't buy you happiness or fun, if what you pay for isn't what you call fun. Living frugal has always been my way.
My grandma taught me to sew, knit, crochet, and cook from scratch. My mom taught me to clean without spending money that was not around with no job, and my grandpa taught me to fish which is what we eat fresh caught all summer long. My dad taught me car maintenance, so paying for oil changes never happened in our family which is what I teach my children, and DH was raised the same way I was raised frugally, so we teach that to our children. This is how we live frugally.
By Tanya J. from MN
First, I used a windfall (could be a tax refund, holiday gift, inheritance, bonus, etc.) to get a month ahead of my bills. This means any money received in January is for February living expenses. Don't use direct deposit unless it goes directly to a savings account. You are likely to use it before you mean to if you put it in your checking account. Otherwise just hang onto those checks until about 4 days before the first of the month. Then deposit the checks or transfer from savings into your checking.
When you make your deposit, get cash back for regular items such as gasoline, allowance for kids or the working person, groceries, and money for things like a night out, movie rental, haircut, etc. We call those incidental expenses. Put the cash into a coupon holder - one slot for groceries for the month, incidentals, gasoline, etc. That's all you should spend for the month on those items.
Write any checks for bills due the first of the month. Then whenever a bill comes in, pay it right away. Part of my going through the mail is writing checks for bills received and getting them ready to go out in the next day's mail.
When you are at the bank (I only go once a month to do all this), transfer into another checking account money used for bills that aren't monthly, like car insurance that you only pay twice a year, or property tax, home insurance and auto registration paid only once a year. Each month you put only a month's portion of the total bill for each item into that second checking. Then when the bill comes, the money is there because you have been saving for it bit by bit all year. You don't have to take it out of savings. You can do the same thing for clothing, school supplies and outings, gardening, home and car maintenance, whatever your categories are.
This way everything that's left STAYS in savings. The bills are always paid right away and there's money earmarked for the big non-monthly bills and other living expenses. You can make it a habit to never go into your savings account to pay bills by using this system.
The next windfall you get after starting this should go directly into savings. You'll soon find you have a good back-up in case of job loss or emergency expense.
Padma in Pima
I have all my bill and savings categories labeled at the top of the page. Every payday each category gets a dollar amount added into its slot. Some categories get 0 and others get the same amount each payday. Luxury categories might only get more than a 0 when I have a overtime check.
Every time I spend money from a category it gets subtracted. Sometimes you have to spend money from one category to cover another categories' expenses especially at first when you do not have a lot built up in each category, but at least you see where your money is going and where your spending weakness lies (like buying too many clothes for yourself or spending too much on gifts each month or fast food etc.)
The sum totals of all the categories must add up to your current checkbook balance to work. You must balance this book just like you do your check book. Do it every time you write a check or use your debit card, it is easier than it sounds and will become habit and fun once you get the hang of it.
It is an easy way to save money for insurance and other large pending bills, Xmas, vacation etc without having to have more than one account. Also it keeps more money available in your checking account for emergencies and helps keep your daily average balance higher in case of accidental overdraw God forbid.
Of course there are Christmas clubs and savings accounts but this way if you have a gift category, a christmas category, etc you have the money readily available all year and can pick up really good sale items for special people as you see them during the year and not feel guilty about it because it is in your budget! You can just store the treasure until the birthday or holiday come along. Hope this is clear. Good luck!
By grandaaww from Richmond, KY
Find out when your contract expires and note the date. Avoid early cancellation fees entering your life by opting not to renew the contract. It's the perfect time to buckle down and cut back.
Going without your cell phone plan doesn't mean going without your cell phone. Pay-As-You-Go plans allow you to cater your monthly budget accordingly. The committal to extra fees is gone, and so is the outrageous phone budget. It also works well for teenagers since they can be responsible for their own minutes. No money this month? No minutes. It's an easy lesson that anyone under eighteen can learn.
Gas prices may have fallen, but it's not a bad idea to trade down on your vehicle. Large trucks not only use more fuel but also cost more for repairs and yearly tags. Are they worth it? For some, the answer is an adamant yes. For others, maybe not. If you're driving a heavy duty pickup just to haul weekend toys, you might be able to downgrade your vehicle and pick up a cheaper, lighter trailer.
Similarly, if those monthly car payments are taxing, imagine what they'll feel like if job cutbacks affect you. Trade in now when you're not feeling so desperate and opt for something that's softer on your budget.
Try to gradually tighten your utility budget belt. This month eliminate one premium channel listing. Next month, drop call-waiting. Then, caller ID followed by DVR services. Could you drop your voice mail service and purchase a cheap answering machine instead?
For those of us who are fortunate enough to have jobs, stable mortgages, and some minor senses of stability, we're maintaining. It's not a time to play with our money or make risky decisions. Yet, a few experts are reporting that it is a time to take advantage of the weak economy.
For those who hold 401K investment plans that are mostly invested in stock, stay there. The quick rush of rats to abandon the sinking ship is over. Those who ran the mooring lines and left the ship early enough may have saved money, but now that the stocks fell the ship has sailed. Investors suggest that you now wait it out; wait until the ship docks again and you recoup some of your money before scampering out of your investment.
However, know your budget. Purchase these items only if your budget can handle them and you're one of the lucky who can afford them. Don't buy items on credit and don't empty the bank account to purchase them. Shop wisely, and you can take advantage of the hard times.
Those who once drove gas guzzling vehicles or luxury sedans with high monthly payments have opted to trade in for more reasonable cars. In steps the weekend camper who is in need of a heavy duty truck at a low price. Today's the day to find it. The business who needs a company car for clients and sales calls can pick up a luxury sedan at a good price as well, either on trade in or repossession resale.
For all of you very frugal TF readers out there, I have a big dilemma. I am trying to help someone out with and was wondering if you could guide me. Is it possible to live on $1000 per month with a mortgage payment of $800 a month which includes the taxes? I am asking for a family of two, a parent and a 22 yr. old college student. The student's schooling costs are covered and he works part time for his expenses. The location is upstate NY which I mention because I know cost of living varies. Of course in this location there will be heating costs in the winter, but I know there is assistance available for that. Thank you for any advice you can give.
Another cost that can be reduced greatly is by going to their local food banks for assistance. They should call first to find out the hours they are open and what sort of ID and proof of address, if any, are required. Where I live you must bring a recent utility bill and a state ID that shows the same address. The hours open are limited.
I am trying to help out a friend with big financial problems due to poor choices over many years. My question to all of you successful TF folks is, is it possible to manage on the income she has coming in and get this nightmare turned around?
She is a 60 yr. old woman in poor physical health who had been unable to find employment for 4 years. She has no resources to fall back on. She is no longer eligible for unemployment benefits as they have been exhausted. After hundreds of job applications she finally was hired, but it is a very physical job and it is questionable just how long she can make it there. The pay is low.
Her income is very close to $1,000 a month, but her mortgage payment is $800 a month, plus her utilities. She is 2 months behind on the mortgage. The bank is threatening to foreclose as this has been a long and winding road they've been on before. She lives with her 22 year old son for the summer, but he leaves to go away again for college in fall. Fortunately he has been able to work out his finances for school, but he does need to save some money over the summer here. Is it possible to be frugal enough to make it on that much money? The geographic location is upstate New York as I know locations do make a difference.
Absolutely get rid of the house, she may be able for Social Security Disability, be sure and check that out. On getting a roommate, be very cautious. I'm 67 and I'm not sure I'd want a roommate, I'd rather have senior housing. My mother-in-law's income is around $1300 a month and she was able to get senior housing for less than $300 a month - this is in southwest Missouri. I don't know what kind of bills she has, if she has credit cards, she might be able to declare bankruptcy. Check with Legal Aid (free attorneys).
Kudos to the son for taking care of his college, but at 22 he should be graduated or almost ready to graduate. If he's still living with his mom, he should contribute to the household expenses while he's there.
Get rid of cable and internet services - read, go to the library for books and magazines.
Garage sales, flea markets and consignment shops are great for selling and buying clothing, books, etc.
Consolidate trips to town. I live in a tiny town 30 miles from a major town and I'd love to go every day. I have my trips down to once a week and now that my husband is very ill, my trips are down to when we have doctor visits in that town. It's not especially fun, but I view it as a temporary situation.
This shall pass.
Hello, I am the mother of three teenagers, well one of them is only twelve, but my oldest, at only 16 is 6'5 and 230 lbs, and his dad is just as big. My problem is, although we both work, we have a very tight food budget, and I just can't seem to make it to the next payday with our food supplies. I want to cook healthy, I do frozen burritos from time to time, but that just doesn't do it. Any ideas how I can better stretch our food budget while not feeding them junk?
We don't have a 'scratch-and-dent' store, but many stores here do have clearance racks. Items that aren't selling well get marked down and sent there. Try checking those out.
How is it that I am only making $1185.00 per month, for I am on disability and I always come up short? I have done everything I can think of to budget my money to make it possible to have a few dollars to put aside for an emergency.
By Lesa from Houston, TX
I am living off $750.00 a month total, retirement Social Security. I get rental assistance for my apartment, the rent includes heat, water, sewer, garbage, cable TV (as a thank you for renting from them). I also get food stamps. Check with your Department of Social Services and see if you qualify for things like food stamps, etc. If a person qualifies for rent assistance I urge them to sell their house and move into a rental. However, most locations have a real long waiting list for rent assistance. Here the waiting time is about 2-3 years. Here is also HUD apartments that are low income. Check into these things. I also gave up my car about 14 years ago. For me it is more economical to take a cab or being I have mobility problems I also ride a paratransit bus. The thing when using cabs and other public transportation is you have to plan ahead and limit your trips. Doing this is cheaper than running your own car. When you have a car you have to figure payments, insurance, oil changes, gas, tires, and all other maintenance items that might come up unexpectedly.
How can I feed and clean a family of 5 for $200 biweekly?
Laurie from Belle River, Ontario
I go to a food bank when I running low on food. And you can come back as much as you want for bread and there is no limit on the bread and bread only.