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How to make our one-paycheck family work?
~ A Message Board Archive
Confused by the archive abbreviations? Check out the acronym list from our boards!

From Monlar ~ My husband and I, up until this week, thought I would be staying at home with Emma; however, after receiving the hospital bills and learning what Emma's health insurance would cost, we have had to reconsider! I want to stay home. So, I am willing to cut back on things. All of our money is tied up into our bills with the exception of about $350 which has been for groceries and entertainment. Now, Emma's insurance is going to take $200 of that, leaving $150 for food and fun! How do we make that work? And that isn't including the bill for the hospital, etc. We are going to have to make a payment plan with them. I need MAJOR suggestions here.

Even if I go back to work, I will not make enough to pay someone to watch Emma and make extra to really make a difference in our income. My husband doesn't have a regular schedule, so I can't just work the opposite of him. Also, there is opportunity for him to take another job with more money, but it is one he really doesn't like. Would you want your husband to work another job that makes more money instead of making less and being happy?

From JenT ~ I think it is an excellent idea to try and work out payment plans with your hospital and insurance. You asked if I would want my DH to work in job he didn't like just to make more money . . . no way! He actually tossed out the idea of returning to the classroom and giving up his web design business, so that we would have guaranteed income and the benefits. But the thought of how unhappy he would be made me 100% against that idea. Is there some sort of work that you could from home? I do a little bit of private tutoring and some other jobs here and there, and they help us make enough money each month to cover the cost of our health insurance. Good luck to you...

From luckylady ~ I don't know how old your baby is, but here are some things I do to save money. Buy target brand formula. It costs 1/2 as much as the others and baby loves it. Make your own baby food by using fresh fruits and vegetables. There is a place called diapermart where we can get diapers at almost 75% off. They are knock-off brand, but work just as well. We found the store in a lower income part of town. The same store had bottles for $1.99, sweatsuits for $6.99 and many other baby stuff. Also, check out the resale shops in your area for both you and baby. I go to a resale shop in a ritzy part of town -- the clothes there are top notch, but "past season". Who cares if they are from last year??? They still look great. Just a few ideas on how to cut corners. Good luck.

From Monlar ~ In response to the cutting corners, we already do that! I buy Walmart formula, and don't shop for clothes for me or Emma really. If I do it is very very rare and it has to be on sale. We have about 15 packs of diapers that people have given to us, so I have only bought 2 packs at Kroger that were dirt cheap (Kroger brand on sale). Emma is only 8 weeks old, so she's not eating baby food yet, but when she does, I'm sure we'll be making it ourselves! I guess I should have added that what costs us the most is groceries. We just can't seem to budget in that department. I have tried clipping coupons, but I won't lie, 90% of those coupons, we don't even need or use.

From SharonCC ~ I'd also look at several insurance options. Is this through your husband's employer? Or are you buying it on your own? What are your choices as far as plans, deductibles, companies, etc?

Think about a little side business that you or dh could do to bring in some extra $ each month. Just $3-500 a month extra, could make a big difference.

Don't have him take that job that he'd be unhappy in, but do have him keep his options open for other jobs, especially ones that include insurance.

Invest in the Miserly Moms book. A large portion of the book teaches you how to grocery shop and cook for a lot, lot less. You can feed a family of four, well, on $40 a week.

By store brand diapers, store brand wipes OR make your own (very easy to do), clothes at extremely cheap stores or resale, make your own xmas gifts (bake or something), don't eat out, shop clearance sales, etc. etc. etc.

Miserly Moms can teach you how to do all of the above without sacrificing your lifestyle. I know I sound like a commercial, but it's a GREAT book. It's by Jonni McCoy.

From KateG ~ StorkNet also has some Miserly Moms columns with some fabulous tips, here: http://www.storknet.com/columns/mccoy/. It will take effort, but you can do it!

From Lucas' Mommy ~ Is there a way you could save money on Emma's insurance? That is a ton of money for insurance. I'm not sure where you live but your state might have insurance that goes by what you make, like NY has Child Health Plus. It's GREAT!!! There are also independent insurances out there. Try looking it up on the 'net. We save money at the store by stocking up on meat at a wholesale club like BJ's or Sam's Club. We freeze and then thaw the day we want it. It's great. It may cost more one week but it really saves you money throughout the month. We also buy store brands on certain items. Coupons really help even though you mentioned you don't use them.

From ClimberGirlsMom ~ Have you checked to see if your state has a CHIP program (children's health insurance program)? My husband lost his job a year ago and his new job pays a lot less and we have to pay for insurance. We applied for CHIP and were accepted because of our income, and we would have to pay for insurance. The program uses a good insurance company in our area, there are no copays or deductibles, and we got to stay with the same pediatrician. Its free (in PA) if you meet income guidelines and if you make more then you have to pay. But, its still a good deal even if you would have to pay part of the cost. Hope this helps you out. Good luck.

From katy ~ I am right there with you! We are having to move because our rent is just killing us now that I am not working! We are barely scraping by! Remember that the hospital bills will be paid off eventually. They are not forever, even if they feel that way! And I am sure that they will be very willing to work out a payment plan that will work for you. If your rent is very high, see about finding some place cheaper! We are actually going to be buying a house, because we can save about $200 a month that way! Rent around here is outrageous, and the interest rates are so great right now. It is definitely a buyer's market, and there are good deals for first time home-buyers. I had no idea until recently that it was actually cheaper to buy, even with no or very little down payment! I have a book called "The Tightwad Gazette" that has thousands of ideas for saving money. It is fun to look through it and root out the good ideas from the ridiculous ones. I have definitely learned a lot from it, though!

Good luck!

(BTW, unless you have a good-paying career waiting for you, chances are you can save more money by staying at home than you can make by working. I know that's the case for us. I would barely make up for the daycare costs, let alone the extra car, insurance, work clothes, etc.)

From Mom2MNMz ~ I was going to suggest the book Miserly Moms. I use some of the tips in that book and it really helps us a bunch! I don't know how I did it, but we lived off of $125/month in groceries while my husband was in college in his first year. I must have blocked that time in my life out!

From huntergirl ~ I'd look at just what exactly your bills are tied up into, and if you can cut some of them down or out. One thing I suggest to my clients is to create a budget spreadsheet. My clients already have historical actual data from me (I'm an accountant) but you'd have to go through your checkbook and cash receipts for the last three (or maybe six months) to determine exactly what you've spent every penny on. Use this information to calculate your average monthly expenses. Be honest, if you take a cab home every day, put it down. If DH tosses his leftovers lunch and picks up pizza, put it down. Then look hard at every single item, and consider if you still need to spend that amount. Dry cleaning might go away completely, if you do hand-washing. Do you *really* need cable? Are you still paying collision insurance on a car that's paid off? Can you refinance to get a lower rate on your mortgage? Look at refinancing your high-interest credit cards to lower-interest ones, or paying them off with a low-interest loan. One of my clients sold their second car when they realized that the husband could join a door-to-door vanpool. The vanpool cost just a little less than the monthly payment on the car, but they saved the gas, insurance, and maintenance costs.

These are the types of decisions that can really save you money in the long run. Clipping coupons saves you pennies, you want to look at where you can save dollars, hundreds of dollars. It can be done. Good luck!

From cdw ~ We had to change our life style big time! Instead of a jeep grand cherokee, we sold it and have an 87 suburban (our other car is paid off). We own our home so we did an equity loan and paid off everything so we have few bills. My DH does side jobs to earn extra $. DH is looking into a different job to make more $. It is hard but I believe can be done with hard choices and lifestyle changes. Just to let you know our income was cut more than 1/2 when i stopped working.

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