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How much do you have to live off of each month?

August 20th, 2008 at 06:06 am

If that is too personal, you can ignore it! DH brings home $640 every two weeks, for a total of $1280. DH also pulls out the $1500 for the house payment from our savings account, unless he gets a commission to pay it with. Any extra commission goes to the savings account, not to bills. At my work, on average, I make about $850 per month. So for 5 people, 2 dogs, 1 cat, a hamster, a fish and a 2100sq ft house, I have $2130 a month for everything. Gas, elec, phone, cell, trash, cable, car/life insurance, gasoline, water/sewer, piano lessons, food, credit card payments, medications, babysitting, car payment, misc. kids stuff, home maintainence and church. Whew!

Soooooo..... here is the million dollar question (I wish!) DH says that I should live within my means. I say HELP.THIS.CAN'T.STRETCH.THAT.FAR!! Am I out of line? I just wonder if a few brave folks would share, maybe I could compare???

(ANY NEW READERS ON THIS TOPIC, PLEASE SEE BELOW FOR CLARIFICATION ON OUR BUDGET. I WOULD REALLY LIKE TO KNOW WHAT YOU SPEND PER MONTH!!)

54 Responses to “How much do you have to live off of each month?”

  1. snafu Says:

    For a long time we have used a 'Budget Map.' All the categories are written across the top, HOA, Utilities, Tax, Ins. Auto, Food, Fun, Repair, etc.[use the categories you need]
    I use the figures from last year by taking the annual total and dividing by 12. Some categories get money assigned eventhough the bill is not yet due.
    If a category is more than allotted I know I must cut back elsewhere. Just now our auto costs and utlities have gone through the roof! Way higher than I could have anticipated. The only way to manage that is to earn more money. Adding a part time job, babysitting, cooking a couple of dinners for a harried neighbor all bring in extra cash and is managable around my work. A friend has taken on housecleaning jobs around her regular work which has non traditional hours.

  2. onesexylady Says:

    I say that more income is needed or either you may have to cut some of your expenses. I would start by trimming the "extras" and if that doesn't help although the housing market is bad right now I wouldn't think twice about maybe selling the house and downsizing to an apartment or something perhaps instead of paying $1,500 on a mortgage you guys could get by on maybe paying $800 or $900 a month. I don't think its wise to dip into savings to pay your mortgage unless there was job loss or something other cause that permits you from working. But do think about it paying $900 a month for housing would saving you $600 bucks a month totally a whopping $7,200 saved or rather extra money per month. I get very iffy when I here a budget is clinching so tight it usually means disaster eventually. Also you may if its possible and its not for some try living on one paycheck or and bank the other partners pay. But I stated if possible which may not be in your case just a suggestion.

  3. creditcardfree Says:

    No you are not out of line. I have lived on that income with two kids, one cat, and a 1200 sq ft house. The house pmt was just under $1k. We didn't have piano and dance lessons. We didn't contribute to church. We didn't save for college. We were able to pay off about $10K in debt and some of that time had car payments under $200.

    Does the commission money ever get used on other household items or just the house payment? I think more income or making some tough decision to cut back in some areas are going to be needed in order to dig yourself out. It can be done, so keep working on it. ((hugs))

  4. compulsive debtor Says:

    Personally, I couldn't live on that monthly salary for a family of five, but it can be done obviously so I think you're both right. Definitely need to do all you can to increase that income, but at the same time you can look at how you're spending your money and start trimming extras. It would help if we had some idea where you were allocating your funds each month.

  5. monkeymama Says:

    You already know my answer.

    You know, you mentioned in one of my past blogs you lived on $3500 or so monthly and I was thinking we probably were about there, or less, when we had our first child. As such, we lived VERY lean and we didn't have near the luxuries/extras we have now. & we weren't saving at all at that point in time, when we dropped to one income.

    I think certainly something has to give. Too many expenses/too little income.

    Your house payment strikes me as quite large, considering. I know you mentioned the fact in my blog I lived in a HCOLA but I can't say my mortgage is that high either.

    I think your spouse needs an intervention. Wink I can not imagine budgeting all that on $2k-$3k monthly.

  6. Petunia Says:

    Boo - what about WE should live within OUR means? I think I know the answer to that, am in a somewhat similar situation. Wink
    The amount you have to work with seems pretty small - we have a bit more, but fewer people, smaller house and smaller house payment. For you to make it work I think you'd have to make some significant changes in lifestyle.

  7. Personal Finance Student Says:

    It sounds like you're trying to do a lot on $2100/month. When we were making that much, we went to using cell phones only in order to save on our home line, we didn't pay for cable and used dial up internet (a pay as you go service so I tried to use it other places for free). We also lived in an apartment (still do actually, it's less than a mortgage would be right now and we fit well) and only had one car. Some people thought we were crazy to only have one car, but it's do-able and you can save a lot of money. It may take a little sacrifice (I woke my baby son at 5:45am to take my husband to the train every morning to commute to work or went without a car and just stayed home all day.), but we adjusted quickly and appreciated the savings. We didn't have many extras like piano lessons, but we didn't have more than a baby either. We did always give to the church; I think it's important and you'll be blessed in the end. That's just my opinion.

    Good luck with everything! I know thinking of paying for everything can seem daunting, but keep at it and I'm sure you'll come up with a solution you can all live with and enjoy!

  8. ceejay74 Says:

    Good thing you have the savings/commission thing to cover the mortgage payment. That does seem a big payment; any way you could refi to something better? Even stretching it out to another 30-year would ease the strain a bit.

    I'd cut the piano lessons.

    Also cut your church donation down to a symbolic gesture ($1 in the collection plate or something). You need to make sure your family stays afloat; those better off will take care of the church until you can help again.

    If any of those animals passes on, resist the urge to replace them. Current pets are a necessity (it's your responsibility), new pets a luxury.

    Consider home OR cell phone, not both.

    As for your husband, I don't know what to tell you. This would be much easier (read: possible) if he were willing to work as a team and stop blaming you. Maybe try to get on that show "Maxed Out"? I don't know if they shoot in America or just Canada. They'd give your hubs a wake-up call about his role in this situation.

  9. mom-sense Says:


    Has your DH seen the budget? Has he seen how much you are spending in each category? I have a DH who has a "hands off" approach to our finances: he makes it, I manage it.

    It is difficult to meeet everyone's needs and make cotinual sacrifices with a limited income. I tell you that I have less funds and more people. My spending looks something like this: $650 on utilities; $300 on fixed price EFTs - insurance/student loan payment; $600 on gas/groceries (This has been a nightmare category-but I am somehow able to make it work by couponing, buying Buy One, Get Ones, and buying only the produce that is on sale). I then have about $200 for things like dog grooming/oil changes/general home repair and maintenance). Our entertainment is cheap (movie rentals, dining out is only for a birthday or event).

    The rental property income covers real estate taxes and Catholic school tuition. I get most of my kids uniforms from the clothing exchange at school. All of the rest wear clothes from Once Upon a Child. I am lucky that we have some nice upscale resale stores where I am able to get great clothes for myself and DH for cheap. DH and I are also fortunate that we have irresponsible loved ones who are always buying and giving away clothing/shoes. We are not proud. We donate to the Church regularly.

    DH's side job income goes straight to the vacation fund. I have discovered the value of putting that away when it comes in - others might not agree, but that is the way that it is. I track my coupons savings monthly and apply that to my dancing daughters' classes. Thankfully my parents paid for swim lessons for all of the kids, and an acting camp for my oldest.

    We have taken on a recent remodel that has been relatively cheap compared to if someone else was doing the work, but all I see is the money dwindling out of the account. I am so happy that it is done (with the exception of a few odd things like a shower curtain and floor vent cover.

    I get very tired of tracking every dollar and saying to DH "We will have to wait until you get paid for ..." At least he is getting on board to see how we can save $ in the long-run (replacing the burners and painting our old grill cost $45 versus a new one for $200)

  10. nance Says:

    What jumps out at me are the "car payments, cable, and credit card payments". Can you cut down to basics only on cable? At least until you get your car paid for and your credit cards paid off. If you didn't have car and credit card debt, you could live fairly well on your income. It is those expenses that put you over the top, and I'm sure you realize this.
    Can you trade babysitting with a friend,or neighbor?
    Can you stop piano lessons until you get some debt paid off?
    I can live well on about $1,500. a month, but most of our clothing is purchased at thrift stores, or garage sales, I cook everything from scratch, and plan meals around loss leaders. I stock up when something we use goes on sale. We don't drink alcohol, soft drinks or purchased bottled water. I stock up on milk when it is a loss leader, and freeze it. I try to do errands and shopping on days when I have to be out and about, saving fuel. I have a large house, and it is paid for, but taxes and insurance run $450.00 a month, and utilities are extremely high. I budget $300.00 a month, year around for gas and electricity. We rarely eat out, and when we do, it is usually breakfast, at a nice restaurant with a great breakfast special. It can be done, but credit cards and car payments are the budget busters!

  11. NJDebbie Says:

    What scares me a lot for you is that your mortgage payment has to come out of your savings. To me, that is a clear indication that you cannot afford to keep your house. I was a stay at home mom for many years and lived on my husbands income, but we did not own a home, no car payment, no babysitting fees and no credit card debt. I think your income is okay if you didn't have the high mortgage or car payments.

    Now to answer your question, we need $5870.00 to cover our monthly expenses including $500.00 to fund our summer months (both my husband and I work 10 months out of the year). Our net income is $$6866.00 + some extra income, which I don't include because it will be use to fund retirement accounts and my son's college tuition. I also live in New Jersey where property taxes are insane and home prices are a bit exaggerated.

  12. boomeyers Says:

    They suggestions are all awesome, but I am curious to COMPARE! What do you spend??

    Some clarifications:

    Onesexylady: It would be around $1200 in our area to rent a three bedroom apartment with pets, not to mention moving expenses, and captial gains tax on selling the house. It just isn't an option for us.

    Creditcardfree: The savings account from commissions is over $20,000. DH tries to keep it going by only taking out the interest and keeping it over $20,000. This is about 5 months living expenses in case of emergency. This makes DH feel better, but it is $20,000 we could also pay off in debt!

    Compulsive Debtor: I have been looking for a full time job, but nothing has panned out. Since my job keeps me at having to be available 7 days a week, that leaves a p/t job difficult to find. DH will not get another job. Period. I try to sell on ebay to make a little extra.

    Ceejay and Monkeymama: We have a $200,000 loan at 5.9%, which is pretty good! I round up a house payment a little bit to $1500, so we can cut a little off the mortgage time. We have about $45,000 equity in the house, that we do not want to tap into, we just want to pay off the CC's.

    Petunia - Smile
    Personal finance: We shared a car for a few years! I thought it was fun and brought us closer together! We each need a car for work, and we have a paid off spare for DD1 who will turn 16 next month and wants to get a job. She will pay her own car insurance.

    Momsense: Yes, he sees the budget. MIL bought back to school clothes for DD1/2, DD3 wears hand me downs and garage sale clothes, with a few new things to mix in.

    Nance: I will look into cutting our cable bill. We have just had the "bundle" deal, but we don't need it, I don't think. I will call them and see how much cheaper we could get it. With selling on ebay, I do not want to go back to dial up if I can. We do not eat out any more and spend very little. I have always used coupons, Aldi's, and I combine trips for errands too.

  13. Joan.of.the.Arch Says:

    I do not understand putting commission only to savings, none to bills, especially if you are taking money out of savings to pay the mortgage anyway. All in all, it does sound to me as if you are paying way too big a mortgage for your level of income. 70% of income (non-commission income?) goes to mortgage? I would be a freakin' nervous wreck like that. On the other hand, your spouse seems unreasonable about what it really takes to maintain the household. Once he said maybe he needed to take over bill-paying, but you thought the finances needed to be done jointly. Well, the decisions and understanding can still be joint while he does the actual check writing and becomes closely familiar with every bill and every expenditure. So I say, let him do that part! Let him see what it takes....Telling you that you need to live within your means seems accusatory. Do you not both share the same standard of living? Do you not both benefit from that cable, that phone, that house, that vehicle (except the one sitting unused in the garage), those lessons for the kids, that babysitting, that food, those pets, that vacation, that water service, etc? If there is change to be made, seems like you both would be making it.

  14. mom-sense Says:


    Boo~

    Of the funds that you have to live on, how are they budgeted?

  15. princessperky Says:

    You get over 2 thousand to live on minus mortgage each month? 4 years ago I lived on almost exactly that, and I had to pay the mortgage out of it.

    Currently I make more, and I waste more. (also eat healthier)

  16. frugaltexan75 Says:

    Boo,

    Pre-tax I bring in just a bit more than your combined income -- that's for one-single adult - no pets - no dependants. My rent is $660/mo and utilities are paid by my complex. I don't have a car payment nor any credit card debt. I feel like I barely am making it -- so I can't imagine how you're doing it with car payments and credit card debt AND 5 people to feed, not to mention utilities!!

    Is your husband at all receptive to the idea of using maybe half of your emergency fund (20K) to pay off the highest interest debts? Have you tried adding up the interest accrued on the various debts in a month's period and compared it to the interest earned on the EF?

    Another idea - a way you might be able to earn a little extra money -- see if you can become a Cha Cha guide. It wouldn't be a lot of money, but even $20 or 30 /mo extra could help ease the financial strain.

  17. ceejay74 Says:

    Comparatively speaking my family makes about three times as much, and we're three people with no pets or children. You're welcome to look at our budget breakdown on the "Bills and Budget" page in my blog. It is a projection for October; currently we make $400 less than that per month, but one income is going up. We're very careful with our money but obviously we have lots of places we don't cut costs because we don't really need to. If we had to we would and my family would deal with it, but I think they'd mutiny if I tried to cut costs just to pay off even more debt faster. The budget you see is our compromise.

    And you're right, that is an awesome mortgage! Smile

  18. Broken Arrow Says:

    Um, I hope there's a typo here because that number is really, really scary low to me. Granted, I don't know what your cost of living is, but mortgage alone is 70% of your combined income. That leaves only $600 a month for a family of five (not including pets) and all the bills....

    I really don't know what to tell you. You've been here long enough to probably know and already do all the tricks we can suggest.

    Still, can you sell the house and move to somewhere cheaper?

  19. shiela Says:

    wow..you are doing well actually to managed to get that much out of your money.

    We make almost 3x to your normal income (no commision). We spend about $1,600 on living exp and about $1,300 on mortagage interest per month. Our mortgage is interest only at the moment, but we have been putting extra $500 per towards the principal. We also put in any extra money we have in the redraw account which offset the interest rate we pay for the mortgage. Unfortunately our interest rate is almost 9% here in Australia.

    And we also pay about $220 p/m on CC debt. We could pay this off right now but we are taking advantage of the 0% balance.

    So to answer your question, we use about 50% of our income p/m to spend on living exp and mortgage. The rest is put into either short or long term savings. BTW these are all in Australian dollars so compare to USD you might want to take about $200-$300 off our exp. And double for the income. The rate is about 86c to 95c in the last few months.

    We don't have kids, no pets, no car payments (and we only own one), no cable, no frills on home phone and internet, and mobile phones are prepaid.

    Goodluck Boomeyer. Just try to get ahead (even in a small way) every month.

  20. boomeyers Says:

    Don't be scared BA. We claimed about $86,000 on our tax return. We have enough in home equity, savings and retirement to pay off this debt 3x's over. It is just that we want to use what we are making to pay it off instead of dipping into something.

    What I have been trying to tell DH is that he is allocating TOO much to savings/retirement and not enough to live on in the real world. That is what drove us into $50,000 worth of debt! (Well that and 3 trips within 6 months!) At the time we took the first trip we were only $8000 in debt. Those were the days! Smile

  21. boomeyers Says:

    Mom-Sense:
    1500 Mortgage
    250 Gas/Elec budget billing
    40 Phone
    35 Cell
    85 Water/Sewer/Trash
    82 Cable/Internet
    175 Life/Car Ins. (3 vehicles)
    1060 CC payments
    50 Bank loan
    200 Car payment
    60 Piano lessons (my mom pays for this every few months)
    100 Church (varies, I try to give $20 a week, but sometimes it is $10 and sometimes we don't make it)

    REMEMBER, this is out of take home. DH MAKES more, but health insurance is $800 a month for the family plan and he gives 4% to retirement. We are claiming 5 on taxes.

    The credit card payments are sometimes higher if we spend something on our monthly AmEX. So you can see, nothing is left for food/gas or life in general, like toilet paper! I have three girls!

    The girls may get a haircut every few months, no nails done or fancy beauty treatments. We even skipped the dogs yearly vet exam because we cut up the cards and can't afford it. Ugh!

  22. Personal Finance Student Says:

    So, boomeyers, to answer your question that I neglected to answer before (sorry)....our new budget (it's posted on my blog and based on an upcoming raise) shows we need just shy of $2553 for living (if we cut out all the non-essentials). I anticipate our new take home to be about $5100/month after having all dental/medical/life insurance, 401k and flexible spending account contributions, etc. taken out. This covers two adults, one toddler, one baby (well, in about another 1.5 weeks!), two cars (only one car loan) and no pets. This will be the first time we have regular hair cuts and savings factored in and fun money used to be $20 each for the month, but was the first item to go when other expenses came, which was usually every month.

    I agree, only having one car really brought us closer together. Like I mentioned earlier, I did have to wake a sleeping baby every morning, but it was a special time that my husband and I can look back on. I actually like the fact that we had to sacrifice like that to make things work, it made me feel like we were really working together.

    I just added up your expenses (minus the mortgage since that comes from your savings), but I don't see food listed, how do you feed five people and do everything else? I'm amazed. Also, I would think you could definitely claim more than 5 on your taxes. I believe we were claiming around 9 or 10 when we owned a home and had only 1 child and still received a refund, perhaps not as large as yours, but I'd rather have it during the year.

    Best of luck to you!

  23. greengirl Says:

    obviosuly this isn't going to help you much, but i thought i would put my bit in. i am a little difffernt because we don't own a home, and this is only MY earnings and expenditure (not BF's):
    Take Home: $2134
    Rent: $506.68
    Bills (approx): $240.00
    Loan Repayment: $148.00
    Mobile Phone: $30.00
    Bank Fees: $4.00
    Skincare: $35.00
    Left Over: $1170.32 (for food, petrol, savings and fun)

  24. onesexylady Says:

    Please don't take this in the wrong way and i'm not saying this too seem mean or anything but it seems that you are in DENIAL somewhat about this situation. You have found something wrong or some type of excuse or rather road block for every suggestions everyone has given you. Obviously something needs to be done because if it weren't a problem you wouldn't have mentioned or even thought twice about whether or not your living beyond your means. If your DH is using money out the savings account to pay mortgage there is definetly a problem that's the biggest indication that your living in home in which you really can't afford. Rent and Mortgage is the most important expense what's going to happen if that money runs out or even if your self or husband (godforbid) can't work even half of 5 months. That'll drop the account down and half and what you do after the remainding $10,000 is gone this is why people go into FORECLOSURE. Purchasing homes that the bank shouldn't even qualified the customer for but than again people put them selves in there own hole. It seems that you guys want to have ALL THE EXTRAS and aren't willing to sacrafice cutting anything until some things are paid off.Why don't you use the money out the account with $20,000 in it to pay of your cc debt that makes much more sense compared to the interest being tacked on for not paying your bill in full each month.

  25. monkeymama Says:

    I am kind of at a loss for words. How does $86k income turn into $3500/month income (at best?) I have a similar mortgage and the same medical expenses (maybe more).

    It doesn't make any sense to go into massive debt to save more.

    I stand by that the house payment is high. A $200k mortgage is rather large even from my HCOL perspective. I think if you were to seriously consider your housing situation, would be the easiest way to turn this around.

    Likewise, "having the savings and equity to pay the debt 3 times over" isn't very warm and fuzzy to me. Home equity is fickle and your debts have got to be growing at a fast rate. Faster than you can save. So I understand probably why your husband wants to save (maybe making up for some lost time?). BUT I just can't even make sense of it at this point. If he is putting money to savings and retirement instead of paying monthly bills? It just doesn't make any sense to me.

    We just want to help.

  26. ceejay74 Says:

    Oh, gotcha. I was missing the point of your question like everyone else. Smile If I add up my essentials minus mortgage--meaning groceries, household items, debt repay, technology/Netflix, condo fees and utilities, health/education and haircuts, it comes to $2746. I reckon if I needed to cut back I'd cut down grocery/household money, cut cable and Netflix, put aside a bit less for health and education, and cut the barber down to every other month for all of us. I could get it down to $2506. If we didn't stay on three different diets, we could probably trim another couple hundred off that, but $2506 is where I'd still feel like I was living a comfortable life. Here's my current breakdown:
    Grocery/household budget: $900
    Minimum debt repay: $993
    Cable/phones/Internet/DVR/Netflix: $175
    Condo fees (incl. utilities & garbage): $518
    Health/education budget: $100
    Barber: $60 (for 3 people)

  27. littlegopher Says:

    I'm not sure if this is kind of comparing apples to oranges, but here goes...

    750 mortgage
    200 gas/electric (budget - 1200 sq ft old house)
    120 phone/dsl internet
    28 trash
    100 water/sewer/recycling
    500 cc debt repay
    72 life/vehicle insurance (3 vehicles, oldest pays own)
    120 medical
    500 savings (minimum)

    Those are the set expenses for the most part...now here's the variable ones (approx. for the month)...

    250 gas
    600 groceries (including HH, pet and beauty/health)
    150 eating out

    Then there are the really variable expenses depending if there's money or not...

    Actually, gas for the cars goes here too, as we will curtail any extra driving (and less helping out the girls with gas for their cars)

    groceries can fit here too - I've done cheap and basic for many years, and can go back to it as needed. It's only been more recent that our situation has improved to allow us more breathing room in this budget area, but it is one that I enjoy keeping tabs on, and challenging myself to do better (kind of a game)

    eating out is put into this category, and eliminated totally when money is tight

    cell phones - we all use pay as you go phones. The girls pay for theirs (I buy occasional cards for birthdays/holidays or just because) My husband and I use our phones for emergency and keep track of the girls purposes. This isn't a big expense for us, and more for piece of mind (elderly parents and teens and all!)

    clothes - we buy as needed, and often from thrift stores and target clearance racks, we get hand-me-downs often too from people I work with) Also as the girls have gotten older, their sizes are stabilizing, so less new sizes needed, plus they are working and use their own money oftentimes to refresh their wardrobe (amazing how frugal they can be)

    haircuts - in fact, the four girls and I just had our back-to-school cuts, with coupons at a Great Clips. I've found a great stylist there, and asked if I could request her - she said yes, and handed me a pile of $7.99 haircut coupons (I tip her well!) Anyway, if money is tight, I have no problem cutting the girls' hair and my bangs (I just let the back go.) The girls probably go twice a year, and I go three or four times (short hair gets you, but I try for styles that grow out well) I buzz cut my husband's.

    girls school/activities costs - we've always tried for the side of less than more. Through the years, the girls had girl scouts (only my youngest belongs now) a sport if they wished (usu one a year, as these costs add up) - right now just my third is one that costs one season, but goes two seasons My two oldest belong to a couple clubs and activities at the high school (art club, newspaper, language clubs...) Sometimes the girls try out for theatre. Overall this category's expenses aren't too expensive, but are worthwhile activities, and done as we can afford

    travel/vacation - My husband and I traveled a bit before the girls came along. Since then, we have tent camped within our own state. When we've traveled out of state, it was to visit and stay with relatives. Last spring, we traveled to Galveston, TX to camp on the shores of the Gulf over spring break, with no relative in sight (we hope to do more trips like this, before the girls get too enmeshed in their own lives!)

    entertainment and hobbies - we keep busy but don't spend a lot of money. We rarely go to movies (the older girls more, with their own money.) We rent dvds every so often, or get them free from the library. We own a fair amount of dvds, mostly collecting a few at Christmas, as we do enjoy watching movies together as family and with friends. We all have cheapie bikes, like to swim at the nearby lakes, tent camping in the summer, hiking local trails, reading (visit library at least once a week), church activities, local volunteer opportunities (we live in a small town, and this could be a full time venture - ha!) We just enjoy doing cheap and free things

    Our income is closer to $4000 per month, plus any extra my husband makes being on call and for OT. I also do a little extra here and there - processing bulk mailings and extra childcare time for the local early childhood program (my old employer) and summer school for special ed. All of my girls are working now (the oldest two more, and they have the spending money to show for it (as well as savings - ha!) This helps a lot with the girls' expense - we provide very well for their needs, but those sometimes budget-killing extras are their own. They do very well though! 10% of my husband's income goes to 401k, and I have a public employee retirement plan that takes 5%.

    I'm sure there is more that we spend money on, but these are the main things. I hope this helps! Btw - you do great on what you earn - all those millions of small steps do count. I know you'll get where you want to be. Best wishes!!

  28. boomeyers Says:

    Thank you to everyone for sharing and baring! Smile I appreciate all your info and input. It is just nice to have my own confirmation that our budget is tight and if my husbands commissions were added to living expenses with a PORTION put into savings, we would be breathing a little easier! Then we would'nt have to take that money back "out" of savings to make our house payment. When we initially purchased our home, we borrowed $150,000, but refied to a lower interest rate to pay stuff off when we were still only making around $40,000 a year. Inflation is what really started killing us back about November when it started creeping up and that is when I started searching for a full time job, with no avail.

    Monkeymama: It does'nt make sense to me either! Smile Honestly DH reminds me of Fred Sanford of Sanford and Sons, the old tv show. He used to grab his chest and say "I'm coming Elizabeth!" and feign a heart attack. DH uses his health as a crutch (he had a heart attack and 6 way bypass at 37, 5 years ago) and says he needs the money in the savings account for his mental health. Go figure this, but I do tend spoil him, so if he feels better with $50,000 in debt and $20,000 in the savings account, that is what we have. Cutting up the cards helped to not incur new debt, but that was my over flow for groceries and gas and LIFE. So we are struggling along rather badly right now. And we have 3 birthdays coming up!!

    PF, Greengirl, Ceejay and Littegopher, thank you so much for your input! Keep going guys! You are all awesome!

    Onesexylady: Like I said earlier, for 5 people and pets, renting would be around $1300, so we will take our chances not to get bitten in the butt. We will make it out of debt, mind over matter. It is just hard. And if we are living in luxury, I am hard pressed to find it! We eat our meals at home, do our own home repairs, but unfortuneatly are unable to do our own car repairs, which is gonna cost us because we have older vehicles we maintain instead of buying brand new with a warranty. We wear out our clothes, use coupons and Aldi's. Yes, I am keeping cable and internet. Call me crazy!

  29. seven of seven Says:

    Gross Monthly Income: 4400
    Mortgage: 2150
    HOA: 300
    Gas/Elec: 40
    Phone: 14
    Water/Sewer/Trash: 0
    Cable/Internet: 13
    Car Ins: 25
    House Ins: 32
    CC payments: zero debt/pay off each month
    Car payment: 0
    Gas: 100
    Leaves me with 2675/month for food/ent/savings/fun

  30. boomeyers Says:

    Wow 7 of 7, you are doing great! I guess you must live in a condo or planned development where they pay your utilites, water/ sewer, etc. It is my dream to own a nice condo someday! Smile

  31. snafu Says:

    Your husband seems to have a disconnect from what is leaking from your $$$.

    I suggest you add up all the interest paid on credit cards and finance charges for the past 12 months and show that figure to your spouse. He needs to see the sum he has spent for the priviledge of keeping such a large sum of 'piece of mind' cash. this is not over, there are interest costs each and every month. Can you transfer to 0% interest CC?

  32. fern Says:

    ok, i obsessively track all my expenses, so i can give you an average YTD for 2008 that is 99.9% accurate.

    Remember, i have a house and all those other bills, but am a single person.

    So, my average monthly expenses are:$3,882. But that includes a few big home improvement things, like expanding my brick patio ($2,170) and having some trees cut down ($1,524). Without those major hits, my average 2008 monthly expenses would be: $3,348. OK, keep in mind, too, that i pay alot more toward my mortgage than i have to, an extra $425 a month, so minus THAT my average monthly expenses would be: $2,923.

  33. gamecock43 Says:

    I am late jumping in this convo...but here is my rundown...keep in mind that its just me and baseball boy-
    Income: $1700 month guaranteed...but income is usually about $2200 a month because baseball boy works when he can.
    Fixed Expenses: when we live in FL only-
    rent $500 month
    Lawn $50
    Cable $45
    water $100
    energy $200
    Pest $40
    waste $30
    Health insurance $200
    Car insurance $100
    Then the rest is for all the other stuff that life costs. Actually...looking at that rundown...we should be doing better than we are- which is why I joined this blog...to see where the hell it goes.

  34. boomeyers Says:

    Thanks Fern and Gamecock43! That is why we are all here, to learn and to share and to grow! I can see I am not entirely out of line with DH which is helping me to stand up to him! Smile Snafu, disconnected is a polite way of saying it!

  35. Thrifty Ray Says:

    Kat- Have you sat down with him and showed him what the income and the expenses look like? I know you and he recently discussed the debt...but did you take it a step further and discuss what is coming in and going out each month?

    It really sounds like you and he need to sit down with someone who can help you to get on the same page about a realistic budget/ repay plan. I know we offer that service where I work...perhaps you could talk to someone at your local credit union or at a consumer credit counseling agency??

    I can understand his need to save given the scary health issues that he has encountered...clearly he wants to have savings incase the rainy day comes back--but there has to be a realistic approach to it- otherwise the resentment is going to build on both sides.

    My budget is not one I would recommend comparing your too...I have been too lax on too many things this past year. Frown
    Perhaps approaching this with a solid long term plan might help. "If we do this...here is what our finances will look like in 5 years...and 10 years..." If he saw that there is light at the end of the tunnel, he might be more open-minded to what you need to do to get there...and you would both have something to work with and be excited about. Just a thought.

    Good luck friend...



  36. Dido Says:

    For comparison purposes:

    I make, and spend, about 3500/month....2610 from my regular FT income (after health insurance, 2% retirement contribution, and taxes) and the rest from a part-time second job.

    My expenses:

    Mortgage 750
    Utilties 300 (includes 15/month cable TV and 10/month cell phone)
    Costly Pets 345 (chronic illness)
    grocery 475 (too much)
    eating out 185 Frown Car 240 (Gas 120, Insurance 60, repair bill averaged out 60)
    Charitable donations 50

    That's 2345 (or 2295 w/o the donations) of "basic" expenses, which could be cut to 2200 if I ate out less and cooked in more and more cheaply.

    Then this year there's also been 1155/month for "other expenses." This has included college textbooks for 4 courses (tuition is free through my job), replacing the gutters on my house, buying the beginnings of a new professional wardrobe (for planned career change--I'll start job hunting this fall), travelling to L.A. to visit my mother, 3 expensive dental jobs and new glasses, and household/garden expenses not included in with groceries (e.g. new reading lamp & ottoman). Most of these expenses could be cut or postponed if essential (except the thousand for dentistry/glasses), and aren't things that come up every year.

  37. anonforthis Says:

    I am new to your blog, so I am not totally sure of your backstory. There is a good article in the issue of Money Magazine that just came out (sept.) that deals with living and budgeting when part of the income is commission. This may be of interest to your husband. You could probably get it at the library or just read it at Barnes & Noble. A subscription to "Money" can be had for as little as about $10 a year, and it's a great source of help to me, very well worth it.

    What strikes me is that the house payment is the worst thing in your budget, unfortunately. If there's any way to downsize or refinance, that might be worth considering. Ideally, your housing expense is not more than about 25-30% of your take home. It seems like you live pretty lean otherwise, except for the car and cc debt. You could certainly cut lessons, cut home phone or cell, or cut home phone and go to prepaid for strict emergency only cell, cut cable tv (even if you rent 4 movies a month for entertainment, it is still a better deal to not have cable). Maybe you could speak with your pastor about cutting down the offering and volunteering instead. But that is small stuff, ultimately, and it will not make as big a dent as cutting house or car expenses.

    If you have 5 months of emergency savings, it might be reasonable to take 2 months worth and apply it to any debt that will get you out of an entire monthly bill. I would not spend your savings down any more than that.

    Raising income is of course going to help, so maybe there is a way to focus on that beyond nickel grabs like ebay.

    I just did our budget, so this topic is fresh in my mind. 2 adults, 1 child, 1300sf condo, boston, so higher salaries + cost of living.
    housing - 2163 (this includes a condo fee of 457, covering stuff like yard, heat, sewer and water, trash)
    utilities (electric, cable/int/phone, cell phone) - 387
    transportation - 850 (2 cars, gas)
    husband train & station parking - 305
    life ins - 138
    529 plan - 100
    annual bills contribution - 510 (i take all our annual expenses, like car insurance, homeowners insurance, car excise taxes, car maintenance, my life insurance and divide by 12 to fund a separate account for when things come up)
    food - 400
    supplies (house, cat, personal care, diapers) - 150
    husband lunches out - 100
    medical - 105
    babysitting - 264
    savings - 775
    discretionary (category includes any takeout, restaurants, clothing, entertainment, gifts, alcohol) - 160 per week

    we also pay into 401k, health insurance, and a transportation and healthcare pretax savings account.

    so the numbers may seem big, but we found that our housing and car costs are the biggest chunk for us too. We are getting rid of a car in order to boost our college and retirement savings, and we are getting rid of cable. We may cut the babysitting and home phone. we can downsize the cell bill too. i also plan to shop for cheaper car insurance and homeowners insurance. we already raised the deductibles on our car insurance, and that did save a ton right there.

    Good luck to you, looking forward to hearing what you and your husband decide.

  38. anonforthis Says:

    Oh yeah, and maybe point out to your husband that oversaving ultimately hurts you - if you run out of money at the end of the month, and the overage goes on a credit card, then it grows your debt, and you will pay more interest on that debt than you would earn in savings! Even a good online account is paying maybe 3.5% right now, and the average credit card is more like 12-15%. It doesn't add up, unfortunately. If you retain your good credit, you will be able to borrow in the event of a true emergency. Something to think about.

  39. Tamal Says:

    I would first like to say that "don't give up". What you need is simply to downsize your expenses. I know saying is easier than doing, but thats what I can do for you. In my opinion try to get free of credit card debts or so called bad debts and trim your expenses towards household expenses (excludes fuel) to 20% of your gross home intake.Secondly in this situation you won't be able to get a second income from a small business, because that needs money and time. So the best part is go for some part time jobs so that you can actually add something to your kitty and remember if you can not to use this extra money in your daily chores rather save it.

  40. Betsy Says:

    This is tough. Of course you can't stretch to meet what you're actually spending with less than you're actually spending. But, by the same token, if you keep trying to have/do everything, you're just going to keep digging yourselves deeper into trouble. You either need to increase your income or decrease the expenses. I think if your income doesn't climb, you're going to have to make some hard choices in order to get where you need to be.

    What does this mean? If the pets are what's keeping you from selling and moving to someplace you can afford (and if you can't afford to take them to the vet), then you need to make the sacrifice of finding them new homes with family/friends. And then move to someplace that's considerably less expensive than where you are now. You and your husband need to stop diverting commission/other monies to separate accounts and consider everything you both bring in as a way of dealing with the current situation. You both also need to look very critically at every expense, no matter how small, and look at how you could reduce or eliminate it. Which may mean no cell phones, no piano lessons, two cars or less, everyone letting their hair grow out, and low-key family-only birthday parties with very small gifts.

    About the only thing I wouldn't look to cut is the life insurance. Given your husband's medical history, I would actually make sure he has good long-term disability insurance and life insurance, and would even put more money towards those two things if necessary. You need to make sure that you and the girls are protected. If, God forbid, something were to happen to him, the slow crisis you're in right now would crash and burn awfully quickly, and at a time when emotionally you would be least able to handle it.

    I know that this sounds harsh, but I kind of feel like you're walking blindfolded along a precipice, and I keep wishing you'd step farther back from the edge.

  41. gamecock43 Says:

    No giving up the pets!!! Unless someone you know and are in contact with often would LOVE your pet or has asked you for it. But keep experimenting. Saving a little here and there will get you where you need to be. Its a marathon- not a sprint. Just keep trying new things and updating us. Keep motivated and keep the hubbiee motivated.

  42. Betsy Says:

    "No giving up the pets," gamecock43?

    The family is in considerable debt, it looks as if they are losing ground monthly, her husband is (presumably) doing well now but had a serious health crisis just five years ago, and they have three daughters-- at least one of whom is a teenager.

    Yes, the pets are undoubtedly well-loved and it would be emotionally hard to give them up. But. The house is the biggest expense in their budget. If they could find someplace that was $1000 a month instead of $1500, it would be huge. If the pets are truly the reason they cannot find a cheaper place to live, the pets are a roadblock to them stopping the bleeding. You can stick band-aids over the little cuts all you want, but the biggest gash is still there--the house payment. And consider: how are those girls going to be able to go to college if the debt continues to build? How is the family going to survive if the husband has another health crisis and is unable to work? How happy will the marriage be if things continue as they are? If the pets are the real reason they can't do something about their biggest expenditure, is it really the best thing for the family to keep the pets with them?

    Furthermore, the family cannot affort to take their pets to the vet. Is it really the best thing for the pets to stay with a family that cannot afford to give them healthcare?

    I am not suggesting that they drop their pets off at a shelter: I am suggesting that they give them to family and friends that they know can love and care for them. And this is only IF it is genuinely true that the pets are why they can't find more affordable housing. It's simply my point of view that if the cost of having the pets is potential bankruptcy, the childrens' future, and marital harmony, then pets cost too much for the family at this point in time.

  43. Original MomCents Says:

    I didnt see where your budget was, but here is our break down. We have 4 adults and 4 children. We live in a 1750 sq ft home in a nice neighbor hood. We are choosing to live a little "tight" space wise for right now so we can use our tax return and my DH yearly bonus for a down payment next year. We are paying WAY too much for the house we are in now, but we are renting until next year... not much we can do.

    Our income: $4,232 month
    Rent: 1350
    Tithe: 568
    Food: 500
    Insurance: 204
    DTV: 43
    Blockbuster: 5
    Electric: 237
    Gas for cars: 150
    CRB (stock trades) 20
    Xbox online: 12
    Phone: 80
    College loans: 136
    Credit cards (min) 45 (sometimes we paymore or pay off)
    Work Lunch : 50

    that leaves us with $832 which divides into savings, entertainment,Docter bills and emergency.

    My DH has his medical,401k and life ins. taken out before we receive the check.

    We used to live as a family of 5 on 2800 a month. With this we only had 1 car, no cable, only $25 a month for entertainment and a food budget of $300. We rented a nice 2400sqft farm house for $500 a month. (We new the farmer).

    This is going to sound silly, but I have to run this house like a business. Every month I print out the family finances from my excel file. Listing Total income, bills due, monthly expenses, and our balance. Then every Monday, my DH and I have a meeting. I print out what bills have cleared and what our balance is for the remaining week. It helps because my DH can see where all the money is going and also realize HE is the one that does the most spending.

    Hope you can get this worked out! Have a good weekend!
    Heather

  44. boomeyers Says:

    Thank you again, everyone for all of your advice and sharing your budgets! I am going to look deeper into cutting the cable/phone expense and the cell phone too. I have a great plan, but a pay as you go phone would work too, I've just been to "comfortable" with it all these years. I will miss my phone #, but it's not a big deal.

    Original Momcents: my budget was posted back up in a reply spot, not in the original blog post.

    Dido: This shows me I am not crazy in thinking that what we are living off of is not doable, no matter how you slice it!

    anonforthis: I love Money mag, I will look for that article. I know DH is only making 2.3 on his account and our hightest interest is 10.99. Go figure.

    gamecock: Smile I love my babies and would never give them up!

    Betsy: I had stated that a 3 bedroom in our area is not cheap. One I saw was 1150 and another 1300. I would rather sell something to make the house payment than sell the house, pay captial gains tax, and pay moving expenses to save $200 a month. We need a 3 bedroom for 5 people as laws in our city require occupancy permits for that kind of thing. I am not considering moving at this point at all, let alone for the pets.

    Thank you all for your ideas and encouragement. We are already making great strides to stop the bleeding first and foremost. Once we get that under control, then we will snowflake our way out of debt. Since I have to work till 5:30 and on weekends a second job is tricky, but not impossible. I will see what I can find, there was nothing in the paper this weekend, but I do have the side job of working for the one real estate agent sometimes.

  45. Alisa Says:

    Hi - just came across your blog for the first time and I think that it is great. I am finding it challenging at times to accurately detailed my monthly expenses. Trying to do a better job at tracking this information. Nevertheless, realized I had to do some serious cost cutting. So I went through the expenses I did have a need for and got rid of most everything that was not absolutely necessary! Boy did that hurt! But I found I did have a "few extra dollars" at the end of the month. But then, you wouldn't believe what happened; you guesses it hit with an extra expense. It never fails. I to am trying to stop the bleeding, doing all I know to do and can do. Oh well. I really will get a handle on this because it is important and I don't want to be a big contributor to our national debt of 9 trillion dollars.

    Be well.

  46. debtfreeme Says:

    This represents the amount is would need to cover the minimums on everything for me, a single woman living in a shared house. My take home salary right now is $3255.44/month.

    465 rent
    150 (1/3rd) utilities (usually have a credit on the account with landlord)
    75 cell phone
    200 groceries
    180 gas (four tanks a month)
    95 parking at office
    390 debt payments minimums
    1555 total

    401/457 comes out of each paycheck pre tax.

    Some things are not in this calculation though as those above are my absolute necessity:

    IRA investments
    spending money as this varies monthly usually around 200 going up as I date more and trying to stop that extra spending
    Specific savings goals (contacts twice a year, Insurance yearly for house and auto, Christmas/gifts, vacation, health account for my mom which she does not know about but gives me peace of mind to help when she needs it, IRA savings, etc)
    other savings.

    It represents pretty close to the minimums I would need to survive and I am sure I could pare that down to about 1200 per month if I really needed it.

    I know the cell phone is high but my mom is also on my account with her cell phone. This is one area I am not willing to go lower because of service coverage where she lives and I do not have a phone at the house.

    Utilities include: garbage, sewer and water, electricity, HOA, additional college classes, house hold products used by all roomies (plastic baggies, laundry soap, bleach, dish soap etc. as they are cheaper in bulk) others I canít think of right now.

    And hopefully I am about to be offered a new job with free parking!!

  47. Analise Says:

    Boo, here is my two cents for all it is worth:

    To have $2130 for everything except your house payment is very challenging, especially since it includes CC payments and you have 3 children and pets. Once your CC debt is paid off, you will more realistically be able to live on this amount, but for now I'd look for ways to reduce expenses. Food for your family ranks above cable, so I would eliminate that and also the donations to your church. You can donate more later when you can afford it. And unless grandma pays, I'd eliminate the piano lessons.

    I think your savings gives you peace of mind... you need to be able to make your house payment on months when commission income is low (and is it used to buy food?). Also, you need an emergency fund (and $20,000 is only about 6-7 months of expenses for you), so don't use all your savings to pay down debt. However, I'd use commission $$ above and beyond the house payment/groceries for CC debt reduction.

    As far as comparing what we have to live on, it would not be helpful. Let's just say that DH and I are financially secure after many years of working, living beneath our means, and systematically saving. Also, our 4 kids are grown so this very expensive part of our lives is behind us. Hang in there... your diligence will help you through the repayment of your CC debt but your DH needs a reality check about how much you can be expected to accomplish with only $2130.

  48. Nika Says:

    After retirement contributions/insurance/flex spending about $6,300-$6,400.
    We rent 700sf apartment, have one 10 year old car... but do spend money on leisure (travel, skiing, vacation breaks, eating out)

    We would have to sacrifice a lot if we had a child. I want one, but we need to work to prepare for it.

    I KNOW we could not afford 3 children or even 2. We could not afford quality daycare (over 2k per month), funding their college (no financial aid for a family with our income), experiences I want to give my child.

    So while we can afford our life now, I have to acknowledge I could not have afforded it with kids even if we cut out most of the leisure items. So I guess this makes kids a "luxury" at this point.

  49. terrygee Says:

    ..boomeyers.. why do you expect to pay capital gains on a house sale? Have you used up your lifetime exemption of $500 K per couple already?

  50. crazyliblady Says:

    Well, the first thing I would say is that I will echo other readers in saying that your expenses are either too high or you need more income. While getting additional income could be one way to handle this problem, the easiest thing I can see to do is reduce expenses. The first question I would ask is is $1500 your actual house payment, or are you paying extra in order to pay it off early? If that is your actual payment, I would say it sounds awfully high. Is it possible to refinance? In addition, there are several things you could cut out in order to live more comfortably within your means. For example, you pay for both a land line phone and a cell phone. My dh and I went to cell phones only over 7 years ago and never looked back. We love the convenience and only paying for one bill makes sense. In addition, you also pay for cable tv. This is definitely one expense, that while some in your family may not like doing without it, it can be done. Depending on exactly where you live, you may be able to get rabbit ears and still get some local stations. My dh and I haven't watched network tv in over 8 years. We love not being assaulted by all the negative advertising and other stuff we go tired of watching. You did not itemize how much you spend for these items, but I would say you could potentially save $100 minimum by cutting the land line phone and cable bill. Who knows with the house payment. I suppose it depends on if you could refinance with a lower payment. In addition, think about how you drive your vehicles and if you can combine car trips so that you can save gas. That would free up some money for day to day expenses.

  51. Anon Mee Us Says:

    Ah, I love the life of a single twenty-something who realized early in life (age 11) that I needed so little, and that life is better lived than paying off debts.

    I work part time (thirty hours a month), make $1500. My expenses:

    - $58 Mortgage (I bought a near-condemned abandoned house for $9k and fixed it up. It's now worth about $75k. Booyah! Best part, I did most of it with free and scrap parts from Freecycle and junk yards.)

    - $15 electricity (I modified solar garden lights to run inside, made four mini generators out of old cordless drills, installed woodburner for heat)

    - $6 - 8 water (I set up a rain collection system along the gutter, it is filtered on the way down, treated inside, and tastes awesome, only use city water to flush toilets and take showers.)

    - $15 Internet

    - $25 health insurance (just enough to cover the freak meteroid accident)

    - $20 Cell Phone (Tracfone)

    - $150 food (I'm an urban chicken raiser and have a nice garden, most of my food expense is eating out and drinks)

    - No CC
    - No Student Loans
    - No cable.
    - No car payment.

    - Total - $291

    Remaining - $1209

    I love my life, and yet many people would consider me poor and miserable. It's all about whats important, and cable and blackberries and netflix and fancy cars and law professionals aren't.

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  54. e smith Says:

    Wish I could offer you any advice, but do you realize that 70% of your take home goes to your mortgage? This is an untenable situation. Whether you make changes now or later, they will be required at some point.

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