Budgeting Hurts my Brain

Our current envelope system. I’m going to change it for envelopes that have zippers to keep change in and change gas (which we do through debit at Costco for cheaper) to entertainment (which I forgot to include).

I’m serious. My actual brain throbs. It doesn’t make sense, but I swear the feeling is there.

So, as I’ve talked about in the past we’re doing the debt snowball method to rid ourselves of debt, I’m awful with money, blah blah blah. Everything kind of got put on hold with having a baby. I didn’t even track our spending for a month after she was born, which is something I’ve done for the last two years. It felt like we were back at that place where we were a few months ago where we couldn’t put a full tank of gas in the car for fear of not being able to buy groceries before the next paycheck. It’s not a place that I like to be.

So I decided to do something about it. I never did start up our cash envelope system that everyone recommended. I still didn’t start it until the 20th of last month (one of the days my husband gets paid). I kept thinking that if I took our income and subtracted the bills, we’d have a number for spending and we’d just put it where it needed to go at the time. That just wasn’t working. Every. Single. Paycheck. we’d end up spending into the next before it came in. I was constantly worrying if we had enough. I was avoiding doing the math on my tracking sheet because I knew that we’d be in a deficit when I did it. Something had to change.

That’s when I saw this post by That Mama Gretchen. Probably nearing a year ago, when I finished reading Total Money Makeover, I made copies of all the sheets at the back of the book that you’re supposed to write your money information on. I put those copies on my desk with the plan on filling them out in the near future. I’m living proof of why that first page where you say when you’re going to finish each page is important. I just never did them.

After reading Gretchen’s blog post, I finally decided to take the plunge. Wow. Some of those numbers were terrifying. Seeing on paper how much we’re “worth” was horrifying. Even if you don’t count in the mortgage, it was an awful number. On the other hand, some of the pages were amazing, like the one where you take your expenses over a year in categories where you’ll end up paying a lump sum and divide it by 12. How did I never know to do that?!? I feel like I’m budget illiterate. It amazes me that this sort of thing isn’t taught in schools. I need this much more than I’ll ever need algebra (though I still think we should learn that too).

An example of the ledger I keep in the envelope to tell how much we’ve spent and where.

The most important form, in my opinion, is the monthly cash flow plan that Gretchen mentions in her post. It was difficult determining exactly what we needed where. And I’ll be honest, I’ve messed up in multiple places. I forgot my student loan payment (since I took spring semester off and one of my loans is through a different company with a weird policy, I didn’t have a grace period) for April, thinking that we wouldn’t pay it because I was starting school again and therefore would get deferment again. Yeah, school doesn’t start until May. I also didn’t expect to make some money from selling diapers and one of my secret shop companies. I also entirely forgot to put spending money in our entertainment category. Like that’ll happen!

So things have been modified along the way. I’ve had to take money from one envelope and move it to another. I’ve been wrong on how much we’ll need in one category from this paycheck versus the next paycheck (obviously you can’t put all of your cash into your envelopes at the beginning of the month if you’re paid multiple times a month). Things have been changed around a lot. I’ve gotten frustratedย a lot. I’ve literally called my husband near tears telling him I can’t figure out where such-and-such money went. With work and determination though, it’s worked out.

I’m proud to say that we lived through a whole pay period without overspending. Beyond that, some of the envelopes still had money in them. We made it through two weeks without overspending. It may not be much of an accomplishment to some people, but it is to me. And we managed to pay an extra $155 to our credit card as part of our debt snowball too.

I’ll continue sharing our financial journey with you all. I know that budgeting may seem off topic for this blog, but it’s an important part of parenting. Other moms often tell me that they could never be a stay at home mom because they need the income. This world is truly not made for one income families anymore and I understand that. It’s a battle every day to make ourselves survive on less and, beyond that, thrive on less. For our family, it’s important that I’m the one here raising our children. I know that not every mom has the ability or want to do that and I have no problem with that, it’s just a priority for our family. It gives me the opportunity to do many of the things that I talk about on this blog, such as breastfeeding, gentle discipline, and so on. I also know that working moms can do a lot of those things too. That’s not my point here. My point is that budgeting does fall in the realm natural parenting because in my world, part of natural parenting is surviving on one income in a two income world. So I’ll continue to share in hopes that it helps some of you out there thrive on less money.

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Financial Update – October 20th Through November 19th

This last month was really hard, but we made it! And in budget! Actually, according to my money-in versus money-out spreadsheet, we have left overs. My bank account doesn’t agree, but whatever. I can’t figure out the problem and I’m not going to stress myself out on it. I know I recorded all spending and I know that we ended the month with less than $5 in hand. That means we spent less than we made! Woohoo!

This upcoming month is going to be a bit difficult too. Not quite as bad as last month, but this is the month with the final payments to the midwife (actually two of them between November 20th and December 19th), and then we’re done. We’ll also be done paying off my MacBook this month (four months ahead of schedule). Most of that money goes to the credit card (via our Debt Snowball), but the extra payment this month obviously doesn’t and then we’re letting ourselves keep half of the regular midwife payment (not the technical Dave Ramsey way, but considering we had nearly as much spending money as we were paying the midwife in a month, we’re letting ourselves have some slack).

My husband also got a raise, which is awesome. $3000 more a year gross. I’m honestly the most happy with what that says about job security. Not that I thought he would lose his job, but if they’re telling him he’s awesome and giving him more money, he’s definitely not on the chopping block. With this extra money, we won’t qualify for WIC anymore, so I’ll have to start spending more on groceries. Our parents also want us to take up our own cell phones (they’ve been lovely and had us basically pay them the bare minimum until now) because our contracts are up. We’re still probably going to stay on my parents’ plan, but pay an equal share of everything in it (including the start up costs). Those two things will take up a large part of the raise, but we may still have a little extra at the end.

On to the spending!

Going out: $108.15 I’m upset this number is so high. It’s partially because of impulse buying while I’m at school. Also partially because when I get incredibly pregnant it’s harder for me to keep cooking dinner like I should.

Pets: $44.10 Bought cat food. It’ll last us a while.

Personal: $55 Peanut went to the doctor and we got her some medicine.

Grocery: $115.27 I’m pretty happy with this number. As I said, it’ll be higher in future months, but I’m still proud that we’re working through what we already have. I need to make more dinners though, so that is skewing this number.

Car: $186.89 Husband had to get his license renewed and the rest is gas. My van actually went into the shop this month, but my lovely parents took care of it. We’re going to pay them back half the total cost next month (the other half they said is a gift).

Gifts: $1.10 I’m pretty proud of my Christmas spending so far. This one was Peanut’s “something to read” and my “something you want” from Amazon. I had a little over $25 in gift cards from SwagBucks and used Super Saver Shipping. I’ll do a post going over all my Christmas shopping/knitting once Christmas is over so no one sees their gifts before they should.

House: $67.08 We had our furnace serviced (it was in great condition he said) and bought a table for gaming. The table wasn’t strictly needed and I debated whether to get it at all, but it was a fantastic deal (half of what we normally saw this type of table for) and I know it’ll be put to good use.

Children: $1.51 Bought Peanut some new boots. It took multiple times looking, but I found some that were perfect at the local kid’s consignment store. I had credit there from selling some of Peanut’s old clothes, so that’s why it’s so low.

Entertainment: $19.15 Halloween makeup, a SwagBucks game that my husband bought because it gave him 700 Swagbucks (which more than made up for the $3 price of the game), and a knitting needle that I bought to make a gift, but I could technically have made something with the needles I already had, so I decided it counted as my entertainment.

Clothes: $0 This one is $0 because my mom is awesome. Over the last month my only two pairs of maternity pants both acquired holes. Went to the local maternity consignment store and got a pair of jeans and a pair of black pants. My mom is so nice.

School/office: $0

Other: $0.30 Lost $.11 and paid $.19 in interest on the line of credit (which was a stupid mistake on my part ).

Bills

  1. Student Loans: $185.11
  2. Netflix: $8.54 Counting this as a bill because it’s a monthly charge. I know it’s entertainment though.
  3. Gym Membership: $17.09 Someone suggested that I have a doctor write a note to get me out of this, but I’m afraid. I need to actually go talk to my doctor and see if he will.
  4. Life Insurance: $46.29
  5. Power: $90
  6. Bradley Class: $50
  7. Gas: $46 So nice to be on the even payments schedule. Our bill would normally be much higher than this when it’s cold!
  8. Car Insurance: $78.69
  9. Mortgage: $900.99
  10. Internet: $43.49 Technically got reimbursed (from husband’s work) more than we paid this month for our internet. ๐Ÿ˜€ We’re not sure how long the reimbursement will continue now that he’s no longer on call (part of the raise).
  11. MacBook: $153
  12. DirecTV: $48.70 Part of our cancellation fee.
  13. Midwife: $300
  14. Credit Card: $66 Ugh I’m mad at myself about this. Forgot to transfer the money (it’s in the same account and everything!), so we got charged a $25 late fee. I have payments set up for the next few months. Pretty soon we’ll be paying $370 per month to this one!

Overall, I’m pretty happy with this month. I want our spending to be more deliberate this upcoming month and I’m doing the envelope budgeting system to get that done. I’m certainly feeling the high of paying things off and it’s great! Under our current plan, we won’t have any more consumer debt in 9 months! We’ll still have student loans to pay off, but it feels like a big step.

Money Update

I think I’m headed in the right direction, but I’m at a bit of an impasse. We’ve switched over to the cash envelope system and it seems to be doing well. I know exactly how much money I have until more comes in. I also know exactly how much to give myself on November 20th and December 20th. That leads me to my problem.

When do you start your budgeting “month”?

My husband is paid on the 5th and the 20th, but for as long as I have been recording our spending (over a year now), I’ve recorded it within the calendar month. Now that I look back on it, I wonder if I was misrepresenting our actual financial situation because of this method.

Here is my logic. Husband is paid on the 5th, which means that the money we spend from the 1st until the 4th is actually earned the month before. Then, in our current situation, we actually have more bills from the 5th of the month until the 20th than we have a paycheck coming in. This means that some of the money from the 20th of the month before also continues to be used until the 20th of the current month. His earning stay the same every month, but bills change. How do we account for this?

So that is my dilemma. I know how much to give myself every 20th of the month (since we don’t actually have money to spend on the 5th of the month paycheck) accounting for how much of that paycheck will have to go to the next month, but I don’t know how to account for it all in my expenses. I know that I don’t have to detail every single purchase, but I prefer knowing where my money went after the fact. If there’s confusion I can go back and figure out the problem or I can use those numbers to try to anticipate upcoming expenses.

So, here’s my spending up until the 19th of this month. I may continue with updating in a calendar month format or I may start a 20th-19th format. I’ll let you all decide!

Eating Out – $115.03 Yeah, we need to cool it here. I didn’t even realize it was this high until just now!

Pets – $0 (thinking of combining this one into grocery since some pet expenses end up going there anyway)

Personal – $46.50 Doctor’s visit, lab work, and husband playing basketball (when they can’t find a free place that’s open, they pay)

Grocery – 110.89 And half of that is apples for applesauce! Definite change from last month. I’m attempting to spend less than $20 every grocery trip, which is about once a week.

Cars – $86.22 Somehow we’re spending a lot more on gas this month than last. We’ve already spent this much again since the 20th. Maybe I should start tracking driving? Has anyone had any success with that?

Gifts – $11 Found some used yarn for sale on the internet. Got a couple of skeins for baby stuff, but most of it was for Christmas gifts. We’re pretty much covered on Christmas with canned stuff and stuff I’m knitting.

House – $5.29 Needed some tar for the roof of our garage since it was leaking. My husband did the work himself.

Children – $77 ($35 of which is being refunded to us through the mail as we speak) We cancelled Peanut’s dance class ($31/month), so that’s the last time we’ll be billed for that. I’m also using a wonderful tip from ladykay and hopefully Peanut’s grandparents will gift her enough for Music Together this January as part of Christmas, which would help a ton in budgeting that in. The other $1 was a tip for a balloon animal that a man made Peanut at the farmer’s market.

Entertainment – $22.50 Stuff for Halloween costumes and we went swimming once.

Clothes – $10.66 Found some maternity stuff at a consignment store. Don’t plan on buying any more clothes until baby is out!

Bills

  1. Bradley Class $50 (once more on this one, then we’re done)
  2. Car Insurance $79.63
  3. Comcast $115.02 (actually this is last month and this month’s, which is their fault so they took off a late fee, but of course still charged us for it, so we have a credit on our account)
  4. Mortgage $900.99 (why does it feel so revealing to show you all how much my house payment is?)
  5. Gas $46
  6. Jewelry Insurance $38 (yearly)
  7. MacBook $153
  8. Phone $40
  9. DirecTV $52.10 (after a cancellation fee, we won’t be paying them anymore!)
  10. Midwife $450

On the good new front, we’ve made $70 so far this month on selling random items from our house! I love selling stuff we’re not using. ๐Ÿ˜€ This next month is going to be rough with money because I spent so much in this first 19 days without realizing I was doing anything wrong. Now that we’re looking at the individual month and budgeting according to that, so things will be tight this month and next (next month we’re paying the midwife twice, but then we’re done!).

Any advice on how to further cut the budget? I’d love to see some of those who commented a couple weeks ago come back and give more advice! You guys were great!

Envelopes and Basketball

While looking at this picture, you must say "Yao Ming Smash!" in your head in The Hulk's voice.

As you all know, I started full disclosure with my finances last month. That post went up two weeks ago, but it actually documents my spending in the month of September, which means it’s really been over 3 weeks since I updated. I got a lot of really helpful comments on that post and I’ve been doing my best to put these into action.

One of the most suggested things was to start a cash envelope system. I know that I mentioned our debt snowball in my last post, but at that time I hadn’t actually read Dave Ramsey’s book. I listened to the audiobook about a week ago and one thing he mentions in there is that a budget isn’t meant to be constant. For some reason, I thought that if I tweaked things just right that I would eventually come up with the perfect budget for us and we’d just keep using it. Instead, I went over the next few months and decided what bills we had and how much money was left over afterwards. After coming up with the total for this month (which was incredibly low because I didn’t actually do this until we were over half way through the month, so I had been using my constant number, which was too high in the case of this month, up until this point) and withdrew exactly that from the bank. I haven’t gotten as far as putting specific money into specific areas (something I plan on doing next month when I actually have money to put into areas), I do know exactly how much I have to spend. It’s actually a huge weight off my chest and I’m loving it.

The second thing that people kept repeating was that we needed to cancel our cable. This was Really. Hard. To. Do. Mostly for my husband. While he is entirely on board with getting out of debt and in general changing our spending habits, he isn’t too happy about giving up things he loves. For me it doesn’t really matter if we have cable or not because I can watch all of my shows on Hulu, but for him it’s the basketball. He’s not just a fan, he’s one of those crazy people that knows Every. Single. Stat. from games a decade ago. He’s not a huge book reader (internet is entirely another story), but he read an entire book about the history of basketball in probably about a week and it was over 700 pages long. I know that guys love their sports, but he really loves his basketball (and enjoys sports in general really).

And this isn’t the first time we’d discussed cancelling our cable. We started to talk about it somewhere around a year ago. This summer we actually threatened to cancel and got $20 off our bill. What kept bringing us back was the basketball. Even with NBA League Pass Broadband, it was still a hard choice. He couldn’t get NBA TV, he couldn’t get the blackout games, he may have issues getting all the Jazz (our local team) games. So we put it off.

When I posted about our money situation and everyone said to get rid of it, I started thinking again. I brought it up here and there and eventually we had a big fight discussion about it. He said to bring him the numbers. So I sat down and worked out how much it would cost us over the next year if we A. Stuck with DirecTV and even renewed our contract when it’s up in May so that we could get a discounted price again=$700; B. Cancelled DirecTV (with a cancellation fee) and did Hulu Plus instead=$225; C. Cancelled DirecTV, got Hulu Plus, and the basketball season (which is currently in lockout in case you didn’t know) started this upcoming month (which, of course, it probably won’t considering they got a federal mediator and still couldn’t figure out a deal) and therefore we bought the cheapest Roku (so we can watch the games on the actual TV since they don’t have a League Pass app for the PS3) and the cheapest League Pass package (just 7 teams)=$500, or D. Cancelled DirecTV, got Hulu Plus, got the most expensive Roku, and got the most expensive League Pass=$600. This doesn’t even consider the fact that the basketball season may start even later and therefore League Pass would likely get a nice discounted price.

With those numbers, he finally agreed. I called today and, to the dismay of the man on the phone, cancelled our DirecTV. Whoever said in a comment that they really don’t want you to cancel was right. He wanted to offer me deals, he talked about how much we’re going to have to pay upfront to cancel ($20 for every month left in the contract, so $140 for us), he tried to get me to just put the account on hold, blah blah blah. I told him no and that he’s not talking me into keeping my service. It shuts off at midnight tonight.

I know that some of you are probably reading this and thinking we’re crazy. I know that some of you are thinking “Why do they need to get Hulu Plus or NBA League Pass to make up for their lack of cable?” It all comes down to different priorities. Television is a hobby of both my husband and me. It’s how we spend time together. Therefore, it’s important to us. I know that we need to “Live like no one else so that one day we can live like no one else,” but there is a limit. You still need hobbies in your life in order to be a happy person. I like being a happy person.

I’ll do a follow-up later this week on the actual money we’ve spent since this became a much longer section than I had anticipated.

Do you have cable TV? Did you decide to give it up? Was it as big of a deal for you as it was for us?

Total Disclosure and Total Reform

 

Welcome to the October Carnival of Natural Parenting: Money Matters

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared how finances affect their parenting choices. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while. It’s been rambling around in my head, but I just haven’t been able to do it. I haven’t done it because I’ve been afraid, but this opportunity to get it out was just too good to be true, so I’m taking the plunge.

I am awful with money. Absolutely awful. I do not live within my means. I do not budget. We always end up spending more than we make in a month and I am the reason why.

Wow. It actually feels pretty good to get that off my chest.

I feel like I’ve been lying to the blogging world. I’ve mentioned here and there that I’m not good with money, but I doubt that any of you took that as how awful I actually am. I’ve been trying to change for ages and I’m getting better, but I still need to entirely reform my way of thinking. I need to get a handle on my money so I can live a happy life without worrying about how much I’ve spent this month. Money is an important part of life, but in the grand scheme of things it’s so miniscule. Do I really want to spend my time worrying about money rather than having fun with my kids and watching them grow?

So I’m starting a policy of full disclosure on my blog. Sorry if this will make some of you who know me in person uncomfortable. Money can be an uncomfortable subject and I know that. I’ve talked to my husband and he thinks this is at least an acceptable idea. I’m hoping the accountability will make me take control of my finances.

So I’m giving you allย my numbers for last month. A couple of notes: We made more last month than we normally do because my student loan money came in. This is the last time I will be getting student loan money (grants only from now on) because I have taken all of the substidized (meaning the government pays the interest while I’m in school) money that they will give me and I don’t want to start getting loans that accrue interest. Yes, I will be paying a lot of student loans once I graduateย Second note: I stopped keeping track of money about half way through the month. One of my problems is that if I end up over-spending, I just stop trying at all. This is something that definitely needs to stop, but it’s also the reason why some of these numbers are pretty high in comparison to past months.

Going out: $91.98

Surprisingly, this is a good number for us. I know for some of you this may be a shockingly high number and I agree that we still need to cut down, but we’ve had much worse months than this. My husband gets an “allowance” of $30 per month for going out for work. I still pack him lunch (at least snacks) every day, but his department goes out for birthdays and they go to $.50 tacos on Wednesdays and stuff like that, so that’s not where I’m looking to cut. Something I need to do here is not buy stuff out of vending machines at school.

Pets: $73.05

This month the only thing we bought for pets was the materials to make a bunny box for our backyard. We tried to keep it as cheap as possible, but considering that thing will be out there for all sorts of weather, we needed to make sure it keeps her warm and doesn’t fall apart. Most months we actually don’t spend anything in this category, but then every few months we buy food or whatever, so I’m okay with where the average is at this point.

Personal: $124.07

This probably isn’t “personal” in the way most people would think. This is stuff like doctors appointments, our Bradley Method classes, exercise (my husband plays basketball on Tuesdays and when the church they go to isn’t open, they go to a rec center that charges). This one included a visit to Peanut’s allergy doctor (copay of $50) and one of three payments to my Bradley Method teacher ($50). The next couple of months we are paying the Bradley Method teacher again. I don’t anticipate any doctor appointments.

Groceries: $567.76

This is obscenely high in comparison to a regular month. Well, I at least thought that until I looked back at other months. Definitely somewhere I need to cut down, especially since we’re getting some free food from WIC now.

Cars: $207.58

Broke down a bought a parking pass for my school ($68 for one year) after missing the bus a few times. We filled up each car one time. It hurts to fill up my minivan even though it lasts more miles than my car because it’s like $90 at once. Hoping to continue filling up each car once a month.

Gifts: $4.00

Needed a couple of things for the breastfeeding basket I made.

House: $18.31

Bought a couple of whiteboards. One for a to-do list (which we’ve been using happily) and one that’s a calendar (which we use, but needs to be hung still).

Children: $1050.75

No, we don’t normally spend this much on Peanut. $900 of this is her preschool tuition for this semester, which is the reason we took out the rest of my student loan. The student loan covered her preschool plus an extra $600. This category is also unusually high because Peanut started her dance class and I didn’t realize I would have to buy her dance clothes and shoes. We also got her a three pack of Melissa and Doug toys off of Kids Woot that is partially going to go to Christmas, but I don’t know how much of it will so I just put the whole amount in this category.

Entertainment: $115.80

This category includes our Halloween costumes, which I am almost done making. I am making them myself as I do every year and trying to get them as cheap as possible. I plan on doing a post on that later once I’ve finished buying/making everything. I also forgot to change our Netflix to streaming only, so for a month we’re being charged for both streaming and DVDs on the new plan. Bleh. My husband also had a rare outing to play Magic the Gathering and I paid a $14 library card fee.

Clothes: $9.56

I bought a couple of maternity shirts at a consignment maternity store.

School/office: $2.00

I needed drawing paper for my botany class. Luckily, I found some for cheap at Target rather than buying the real art books at school.

Other: $0.00

Bills: $2288.81 This category warrants breaking down further.

  1. Gas: $46.00 (We’re on a program that charges us the same monthly for easier billing.)
  2. Mortgage: $954.99 (This will go down by $54 from now on, there was some confusion and we got a check for the extra we’ve been charged the last few months.)
  3. Credit card: $67.00 (We no longer use this credit card, but we’re also purposely not paying it down yet as part of our debt snowball.)
  4. Husband’s student loans: $185.08
  5. Car Insurance: $79.67
  6. MacBook: $153.00 (This is the current bill we’re paying down in the debt snowball. We have a few months left.)
  7. My phone: $40.00 (Both of our parents have us on their plans still because they’re awesome, but I agreed to pay my share of the family plan.)
  8. DirecTV: $65.69 (Some may argue that we should give this one up and we considered it over the summer, but my husband loves basketball and this would mean that he wouldn’t be able to get games at home. Instead we threatened to cancel and they took $30 off our bill. We used $18 of that to get HBO over the summer, but I’ve just canceled it, so this will go down a bit.)
  9. Gym membership: $17.09 (I would love to cancel this, but can not find a way out of it.)
  10. Midwife: $450 (We normally pay her $300/month with the intention of paying her off before I am 36 weeks, but I forgot one month so we’re paying 1.5x twice.)
  11. Life insurance: $46.29
  12. City: $94.00 (Every other month. Covers trash, recycling, water, sewer, etc.)
  13. Power: $90.00 (We’re on a program that charges us the same every month for easier billing).
  14. Comcast: $0.00 (They messed up and didn’t auto-bill us in September, so we’re paying double in October. Normally $53.40 after we called and threatened to cancel, so they brought it down by $15. Since my husband needs this for work when he’s on call, we’re reimbursed $45 a month from his work, so it essentially ends up being $8.40 for internet.)

There it is. I know some places that I need to work. I have some places that I’d like to get lower, but I just don’t know how. I happily welcome suggestions. I plan on posting a regular summary of money. Maybe more often than once a month because that was a really long post, but I’m not going to tie myself down to any specific time interval. Hopefully me just putting this out there for the whole world to know will help me stay under control.

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama Visit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Money Matter$ โ€” Jenny at I’m a full-time mummy shares her experiences on several ways to save money as a parent.
  • A different kind of life… โ€” Mrs Green from Little Green Blog shares her utopian life and how it differs from her current one!
  • Show Me The Money! โ€” Arpita of Up, Down & Natural shares her experience of planning for parenting costs while also balancing the financial aspect of infertility treatments.
  • Material v Spiritual Wealth – Living a Very Frugal Life with Kids โ€” Amy at Peace 4 Parents shares her family’s realizations about the differences between material and spiritual wealth.
  • If I Had a Money Tree โ€” Sheila at A Gift Universe lists the things she would buy for her children if money were no object.
  • Financial Sacrifices, Budgets, and the Single Income Family โ€” Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama looks at the importance of living within your means, the basics of crafting a budget, and the “real cost” of working outside of the home.
  • Overcoming My Fear of All Things Financial โ€” Christine at African Babies Don’t Cry shares how she is currently overcoming her fear of money and trying to rectify her ignorance of all things financial.
  • Confessions of a Cheapskate โ€” Adrienne at Mommying My Way admits that her cheapskate tendencies that were present pre-motherhood only compounded post-baby.
  • Money Matters โ€” Witch Mom hates money; here’s why.
  • Money? What Money?! โ€” Alicia C. at McCrenshaw’s Newest Thoughts describes how decisions she’s made have resulted in little income, yet a green lifestyle for her and her family.
  • What matters. โ€” Laura at Our Messy Messy Life might worry about spending too much money on the grocery budget, but she will not sacrifice quality to save a dollar.
  • Making Ends Meet โ€” Abbie at Farmer’s Daughter shares about being a working mom and natural parent.
  • Poor People, Wealthy Ways โ€” Sylvia at MaMammalia discusses how existing on very little money allows her to set an example of how to live conscientiously and with love.
  • The Green Stuff โ€” Amyables at Toddler In Tow shares how natural parenting has bettered her budget – and her perspective on creating and mothering.
  • Jemma’s Money โ€” Take a sneak peek at That Mama Gretchen’s monthly budget and how Jemma fits into it.
  • 5 Tips for How to Save Time and Money by Eating Healthier โ€” Family meal prep can be expensive and time-consuming without a plan! Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares five easy tips for how to make your cooking life (and budget) easier.
  • Belonging in the Countryside โ€” Lack of money led Phoebe at Little Tinker Tales towards natural parenting, but it also hinders her from realizing her dream.
  • Total Disclosure and Total Reform โ€” Claire at The Adventures of Lactating Girl gets down to the nitty gritty of her money problems with hopes that you all can help her get her budget under control.
  • Save Money by Using What You Have โ€” Gaby at Tmuffin is only good with money because she’s lazy, has trouble throwing things away, and is indecisive. Here are some money-saving tips that helped her manage to quit her job and save enough money to become a WAHM.
  • Two Hippos & Ten Euros: A Lesson in Budgeting โ€” MudpieMama shares all about how her boys managed a tight budget at a recent zoo outing.
  • ABBA said it โ€” Laura from A Pug in the Kitchen ponders where her family has come from, where they are now and her hopes for her children’s financial future.
  • Money vs. Time โ€” Momma Jorje writes about cutting back on junk, bills, and then ultimately on income as well ~ to gain something of greater value: Time.
  • An Unexpected Cost of Parenting โ€” Moorea at MamaLady shares how medical crises changed how she feels about planning for parenthood.
  • 5 Ways This Stay at Home Mom Saves Money โ€” Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama shares 5 self-imposed guidelines that help her spend as little money as possible.
  • Frugal Parenting โ€” Lisa at My World Edenwild shares 8 ways she saves money and enriches her family’s lives at the same time.
  • Conscious Cash Conscious โ€” Zoie at TouchstoneZ shares her 5 money-conscious considerations that balance her familyโ€™s joy with their eco-friendly ideals.
  • Money, Sex and Having it All โ€” Patti at Jazzy Mama explains how she’s willing to give up one thing to get another. (And just for fun, she pretends to give advice on how to build capital in the bedroom.)
  • Money could buy me … a clone? โ€” With no local family to help out, Jessica Claire at Crunchy-Chewy Mama wants childcare so she can take care of her health.
  • Spending Intentionally โ€” CatholicMommy loves to budget! Join her to learn what to buy, what not to buy, and, most importantly, where to buy.
  • New lessons from an allowance โ€” Lauren at Hobo Mama welcomes a follow-up guest post from Sam about the latest lessons their four-year-old’s learned from having his own spending money.
  • How to Homeschool without Spending a Fortune โ€” Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares tips and links to many resources for saving money while homeschooling from preschool through high school.
  • It’s Not a Baby Crisis. It’s Not Even a Professional Crisis. โ€” Why paid maternity leave, you may ask? Rachael at The Variegated Life has some answers.
  • “Making” Money โ€” Do you like to do-it-yourself? Amy at Anktangle uses her crafty skills to save her family money and live a little greener.
  • Money On My Mind โ€” Luschka at Diary of a First Child has been thinking about money and her relationship with it, specifically how it impacts on her parenting, her parenting choices, and ultimately her lifestyle.
  • Spending, Saving, and Finding a Balance โ€” Melissa at The New Mommy Files discusses the various choices she and her family have made that affect their finances, and finds it all to be worth it in the end.
  • Accounting for Taste โ€” Cassie at There’s a Pickle in My Life shares their budget and talks about how they decided food is the most important item to budget for.
  • Money Matters… But Not Too Much โ€” Mamapoekie at Authentic Parenting shares how her family approaches money without putting too much of a focus onto it.
  • Parenting While Owning a Home Business โ€” In a guest post at Natural Parents Network, Lauren at Hobo Mama lays out the pros and cons of balancing parenting with working from home.
  • Crunchy Living is SO Expensive…Or Is It? โ€” Kelly at Becoming Crunchy talks about her biggest objection to natural living – and her surprise at what she learned.
  • Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems โ€” Sarah at Parenting God’s Children shares how a financial accountability partner changed her family’s finances.
  • The Importance of Food Planning โ€” Amanda at Let’s Take the Metro discusses how food budgeting and planning has helped her, even if she doesn’t always do it.
  • Kids & Money: Starting an Allowance for Preschoolers โ€” Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings discusses her family’s approach and experiences with starting an allowance for preschoolers.

Staying at Home in a Two Income World

I choose to be the one that raises my daughter. Don’t get me wrongโ€”working moms are not bad people. As I’ve said many times before, you choose what’s right for your family, I choose what’s right for mine. In this particular case, staying at home with my Peanut is what’s right for me. I’m all for working outside of the home and plan on doing it one day when she doesn’t need me so much. My problem is the fact that I’m practically forced into working just to survive.

My husband and I are looking into buying a house. We’ve been living in my in-law’s basement for over a year and a half now and while I really struck it rich when it comes to the in-law lottery, you can only live with people for so long before things start to go downhill. We need our own place and I think that’s a reasonable thing to ask.

Originally we were planning on renting, but a local money fair turned us to the idea that it may be better to buy a home even if we only live in it five or so years before selling it. There are tax benefits and of course the equity and honestly the idea of calling something so immense ours really strikes my fancy. So we dived in and started the house search.

We searched much lower than what we were approved for (well actually, what my husband was approved for because the bank man decided that there wasn’t a benefit of putting a non-working spouse on the application… grumble grumble) and we put an offer on a house yesterday. Only after we did the offer did we actually sit down and work out our new budget with the house payment and utilities in there.

Oh my.

As a pretense, my psychologist said that what we went through was a pretty common thing called “sticker shock” where you say “ZOMG I’m buying a house I can’t do this!!!” Now we’re thinking that we can probably figure things out, but it’ll be tough for a while.

Anywho, we did our budget and were actually in the deficit with buying a house and barely making ends meat if we rented instead. Of course we’re paying a lot less for living space at the moment, but really that much less? How does this work out? How can we afford a house? Do I have to get a job? I don’t want to be away from my Peanut!

Of course we’re budgeting as much as we can and we’re going to be spending less on things like going out to eat, but really I think we’ll pull through this. I’ll continue to go to school (which is already too much time away from Peanut IMO) and I don’t think I’ll have to get a job. We’ll have to decrease our food bills, but I won’t do it by buying crappy, unhealthy food. I’ll buy things in bulk and make things from whole foods which I’ve already been doing. We’ll figure this out, but why do we have to fight so hard just because I want to be the one to raise our children?

I’m all for feminism, but it’s backfired for the women who don’t want to work outside of the home. Since all the women went out the work, prices of things inflated accordingly and now it’s impossible to survive on one income. How is this fair? Why do I get punished because I want to be there for my Peanut’s milestones? Why do I get punished for being the one to teach my daughter the ways of life rather than some stranger?

Simple answer: life isn’t fair.