A few years ago my husband and I had to cut back drastically on our monthly budget. My husband's health insurance was cutting into our monthly bills big time. On top of that his company stated no overtime. This was a huge hit on our finances. We had to make a decision and do it soon. Our house was underwater and there was no way we could sell it. Our commute to work was over 70 miles each way. Gas prices kept going up. Cost of food was going up. Something had to give and we didn't want to lose everything we worked so hard for.
Look at your Budget. -One of the first things I did was write down our total monthly bills and spending. I logged into my banks checking account and wrote out our average spending, then how much we made. Be honest with yourself and remember to add in all the little items. Don't forget the lunches, coffee stops, trips to the store, small monthly subscriptions. They add up fast. Once you have your total and subtract it from your monthly income, are you in the red? Figure out how much it will take to get you back in the black. Once you have a number you need to start cutting back on your spending.
Cut out the luxury items. - Take a look at everything you own that has a monthly bill. Lawn services, maid services, newspaper and magazine subscriptions, your monthly club dues. Anything that you can let go of and live without. Since we didn't have a lot of extras we looked at our cell phones as luxury items. Did we really need that monthly data plan? I called my cell phone provider and dropped data plans. This easily cut about $80.00 per month. Cable was another luxury item. Did we really need cable? We cancelled cable and got an HD antenna for local channels. We added HULU and Netflix with a low monthly fee and got to watch shows and movies recorded the next day. Once we got use to the idea, we didn't miss cable at all. That saved us another $100.00 per month.
Call your Credit Card companies and Work out a Plan. - Be honest with them. Tell them that you can't make that amount each month and see if they will work with you. Some will and some won't. Work with the companies that will help you. If they won't budge, then you need to make a decision. We had to stop paying on one of our cards so we could afford our house payment, food and utilities. Food, shelter and safety come first for you and your family. Too many families end up losing their home into foreclosure just to pay a credit card company. Don't let them scare you into paying them. All they want is your money and they don't care about your family. Once we got back on our feet we called the credit card company we decided on a settlement amount and paid it in full. we took a hit on our credit but quickly brought our scores back up after.
Start using Coupons- This was one of the biggest cut back on my budget. I saved about $200.00 per month using coupons. Coupons are great for everything, not just groceries. I use them when we go out to eat, when I buy cloths and anything else I spend my money on. I had to change the way I shopped and I had to become frugal. Ask yourself, "Do I NEED this or to I WANT this." Most of the time it's a want. If it is, think about it longer and you probably should pass it up. Start shopping at consignment shops, garages sales and local thrift shops to save money on household items.
Look for Bundles or Promotions- Sometimes your utility company will have promotions or a bundle service that you can sign up for and save money per month. They don't want to lose customers and are sometimes willing to work out a deal with you for several months or longer. I dropped one gas company and added a new on the same day at a lower rate. This dropped my bill by $30.00 per month. It doesn't seem like much but it does add up.
Buy items Used- I shop on eBay to find great deals on clothes, toys, music and more. Many times you can find a great deal on items that are used but in new condition. Shop garage sales, consignment sales, keep your eyes and ears open for friends, family or co-workers looking to get rid of items there not using anymore. You'll be amazed at how much this cuts back on your monthly budget.
With a little research and planning ahead, you can get back on your feet again. Don't worry about the small stuff and just make sure you can take care of your families needs. Our family gave up on a lot of luxury items, but that was only for two years. Once we cut back on our spending, increased income slowly and made good decisions, we are now paying our bills on time and have a much better outcome.
Mixed Nuts Mommy
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