In conjunction with the Living on Less Than $28,000 A Year series, I will be sharing periodic Financial Updates. I won’t always give specific numbers, but I thought it might be helpful for those of you in a similar situation to have a little window into the day-to-day decision making process we go through.
May was a difficult month for us. My husband made only $2000 this month which paid for rent, gas and groceries with $230 left over to pay for everything else including utilities, non-food items and our insurance. Thankfully we received a refund of a couple hundred dollars from our previous power company because we changed companies when we moved.
We also spent money on some unplanned expenses:
$100 on clothing
Suddenly my 11 year old hit a growth spurt and outgrew EVERYTHING. Thankfully we were able to find some clothing on sale for her.
My husband didn’t have a growth spurt (LOL!), but he did have large holes in his few pairs of shorts. While the holes provide “air conditioning”, we are not of the opinion that showing your underwear in public is cool, so we bought him several pairs of shorts.
$56 on non-food and toiletries
I told you about my discontent with DIY laundry detergent, so I purchased a 23 lb container of laundry detergent for $9.95. We only use 2 tablespoons per load so this should last a LONG time!
We also spent $46 on toilet paper and toiletries (body wash, shampoo, etc.). The toilet paper was on sale, so I did stock up on several packs, but this is much more than I would normally spend on non-food in a month. It seemed like we were out of everything at once.
$30 on entertainment and dates
We had free tickets to a local event one Saturday, which included dinner at 5:00 p.m.. We had planned to see a movie afterward with free tickets, but when we arrived, all of the 9 and 10 o’clock seats were sold out. We decided to wait and see the 11:00 show.
By this point, we were really hungry, so we did something very uncharacteristic and bought food at the theater. Our “free” date ended up costing us around $20–a good price considering we had dinner and a movie with snacks, but it was $20 we could have used for other things in the budget.
Thankfully March and April were really good months for us and we were able to save several hundred dollars. If we had not put that money into our second checking account (read more here), we would have been in serious trouble this month. Hopefully my husband will make more this coming month and we can return to our normal budgeting. If this trend continued, we would have to seek other ways to earn some income.
Again, I am sharing private information in the hopes that we can encourage those of you in a similar financial situation. We live on a tight budget and things don’t always go as planned. It’s tempting to spend “extra” money when we have it, but I am so glad that we saved that money in March and April so that we could pay the bills this month.
How did May go for you? Were you able to save any money? Share in the comments if you would like.
I am encouraged by your blog that this can be done. My husband and I are newlyweds (married July 2011) and are expecting our first baby in November 2012. We are trying to buy a house currently but are needing to make our budget tighter as the hubby is only employed partially through the year. I look forward to hearing any of your budget saving ideas!!!
Thank you so much for being transparent in this. I know that is hard, but it is so encouraging for me, who is in a similar financial situation. It reminds me that I’m not alone, and also that I can get through the tight financial months and still “live”. I really appreciate it.
I am so glad that you are being encouraged Maria. Thanks for letting me know.
Kristina Wilmoth says
I am just embarking on this journey after quitting my FT job to stay home with my kids and watch other kids this summer. I’m finishing my Master’s Degree next spring and I decided more time w/ my family was more important than the experience on my resume. I am 3 weeks in to this journey and I’m happier, calmer, and excited. I have saved us money, started a home organization binder, and have found time to tackle pieces of my to-do list that I have put off for years.
This week, I spent $138 on groceries for an entire week (including 4 daycare kids for 2 meals a day). I have learned a lot about healthier habits in my Master’s Program-Health Promotion and Wellness Management. I buy very little processed food and focus on finding meals that consist of ingredients that are close to their original form (fresh/frozen/etc). This isn’t easy on a tiny budget, but it’s possible.
I thank you for being a guide for this journey. I have 2 children, one that is allergic to gluten, and a diabetic hubby. Your menus are an inspiration. I am able to buy a FULL fridge full of healthy food (say THAT 3 times real fast) for a reasonable price.
My children are happy, my husband is happy, and *I* am happy.
Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Let me know if you ever need a guest blogger. I would love to share my story and help others in a similar situation.
Love and peace,
I’m so excited for you Kristina! Thank you so much for letting me know.
By the way, the guest post info is here:https://thepeacefulmom.com/contact/ (scroll to the bottom).
Hi, I just stumbled onto this site, thank you so much for sharing your tips and financial update, it is very encouraging and inspiring for me! I noticed that the income that you have set monthly only considers your husband’s income of about $2000+ monthly. I was wondering if your income from this website (advertising, etc.) is going to a savings fund like retirement savings, if you don’t mind my asking? Perhaps you address this in another area of the site, I am excited to go exploring the rest of the site! Keep up the great job.
I don’t mind you asking at all Julie. Here is a post I’ve written about the details: https://thepeacefulmom.com/2012/04/11/reader-question-what-about-the-blog-money-2/. Basically we are re-investing the money into the blog rather than taking it home. Whatever money we do take home, we are putting into savings to buy a newer car in the future. This may change in the future, but it’s what we are doing for now.
I’m a single parent raising two wildly growing girls on my own lonely income. My rent, utilities, and childcare expenses eat up a good 65% of my monthly take-home. Add to that gas for a 45 minute (one-way) commute, healthy food, student loans, life and car insurances, and medical expenses (my older daughter is a Type 1 Diabetic), and we’re barely scraping $25/month into savings. If something should happen to the car, it would completely wipe out the miniscule savings we have at the moment. Add to it that work notified us today that starting July 1st, the prescription co-pay on our insurance is going up by $5, and there’s nothing left! My daughter has 3 prescriptions to fill each month and I have 1 – which leaves us with $5 left for savings. I’ve already cut the cable, the landline telephone, the Netflix, the dining out, and the extracurricular activities. Some days, it feels like I’m standing in a hole, digging deeper and deeper, but expecting to get closer to the surface.
I’m so sorry Lynette. Being a single parent is so difficult. I wonder if you could find a friend or neighbor who could help you some with childcare so you could cut those expenses a little or if there are any churches in your area that could offer some financial help. I pray that you can find some help soon.
It’s almost as if you have psychic abilities! Last week, my cousin lost her job. She is now left with only her husband’s income to support the two of them and their 4 children. We have worked out a summer arrangement where she will be watching my children for 50% of what the daycare charges. It helps her out, it helps me out, and the kids get to spend the summer running wild with their cousins — just like she and I did back in the day!
You made me laugh Lynette when I read about the psychic part, but I am so glad that you are able to help each other out. Your children will be better off too. 🙂
My husband makes around $2200/month and is able to support our family of six on that income. We’ve never been good at budgeting, but this January we came up with a plan and have been able to save money from each paycheck. It’s great having a budget and knowing exactly where our money is going. Our goal is to be debt free, except for our house, by the end of next year.
A plan makes such a difference, doesn’t it?
Tammy McClelland says
May was actually okay for us. We seem to have made progress (even though its slow) in the past few months. “Slow and steady” wins the race, I guess.
In March we had been over budget in 11 different envelopes (this is the system that works for us). By April, I had reduced that number by 2 and reduced it by 2 more this month.
The categories were were over in this month, I really could not do anything about. Very similar to your circumstances in that we seemed run out of shampoo, conditioner, feminine products, foil and saran wrap all at the same time. I’m going to try to do a better job of stockpiling these things when they are on sale.
We incurred an unexpected NSF fee at our bank because our overdraft protection does not go from our savings to our checking, only from checking to savings. So even though the money was there (in checking), it was not in the savings so we were charged the fee. I have banked with them for 20 years and never knew that the overdraft did not work the other way. I know now, unfortunately, the hard way.
This was the first month we instituted our financial goals (10 and 5 year goals broken down monthly: college, retirement, future wedding/honeymoon, etc.). There were 6 goals on our list. We met one of those goals (money for a fall garden) and almost halfway met another goal (savings). I figure maybe this will be slow progress just like anything else and meeting 1 goal and 1/2 of another is better than meeting none or not having any goals. 🙂
I also began this month setting aside money for home school materials for the fall. Been scouring Ebay, selling off our old things, etc.
There has been a lot of griping and complaining in my house in the past few months about the lack of money, food changes (no more junk food, etc), eating out, etc. That seems to have finally subsided about 1/2 way through May and everyone seems to be settling into the “new” way of finances around here.
The only real challenge this month was that I failed to realize that there were 5 weeks in May. I did not divide out our food budget accordingly. That left me with only $30 of food money to get us through the last week, but we did it. I have looked ahead to June and realize that I am going to run into the same dilemma and have planned accordingly.
Overall, I feel pretty good about May.
Wow, I’m impressed that you managed with $30 for a week’s worth of groceries. I spent my usual $100 a week, so we spent over $500 this past month. Hopefully we’ll be closer to $400 for June. It sounds like you are doing a great job. Keep up the good work!
jennifer brown says
I LOVE this. We lived on less than $22,000 with a family of four for a many years. My husband changed jobs back in March, and while the hourly rate is less, we bring home more because they work 10 hour days, 5 days a week. Its not that much more, but every little penny helps. Thanks!
Thank you for sharing your tough month with us. I have just started following your blog and Youtube channel. I’m trying to help my mom save money wherever we can. We live on a tight budget too. Rent is more than half of what my mom makes a month on two part time jobs. I just graduated from college so still job searching. We want to start by tracking our groceries. We don’t buy tons of brand name snacks but we spend on average $400 a month on food for the two of us and that includes eating out about once a week on Sundays after church. We are planning on cutting that down in half for the next month as a trial so to $200 a month on food. Thanks for inspiring me and knowing that a family on 6 can live on so little so can my mom and I.
You are very welcome Joy. Have you read my FREE e-book about how to save on groceries without extreme couponing? Here’s more info: https://thepeacefulmom.com/2011/08/19/free-e-book-save-more-clip-less/.
We have been living on an extremely tight budget while hubby went back to school…while it has been challenging living penny to penny, but it can be done, right? We have a 12 year old son and I totally understand the growth spurt. Hubby has been interviewing and we found he had a growth spurt as well…therefore a wardrobe splurge we didn’t expect for May. We were able to start saving an extra $20 this month by taking advantage of an offer from our phone company. Thanks for the encouragement! 🙂
Love it when you can get deals from the phone or utility company. 🙂
Thank you so much for all of this information. We are about to embark on a one income family as I know God has called me to stay home with my children. We live in a high cost of living city so it will be tough but it’s nice to know that other parents are making it work!
May was good for me because I got reimbursed for school production items and I got the second half of one of my stipends. However, instead of that money going towards paying off my debts it looks like it will have to go towards either fixing my vehicle or as a down-payment for a new vehicle. Thank you for sharing!
Well, at least you won’t have to use a credit card for your car repair, right? 🙂