28 May 2011

My budget

I'm going to do something that I don't know too many people to do. I'm going to put my income and expenses out there! Usually, finances are a private matter. People don't want to talk about how much they make or what they spend their money on. The government wants to talk about how important the budget is, but do we really know what goes on there? I have used Crown.org for a lot of guidance (and their free worksheets) and have been able to keep a pretty good picture of my finances.


Let's start with how much I earn and receive on a monthly basis.
I make $9.50 an hour and work about 4 days a week. After taxes, that comes up to about $559 and some change every other week. I also receive child support from my ex-husband. It's about $375 every other week. To figure how much that rounds out to be for the month, rather than multiplying these numbers by 2, I would want to multiply the number by 26 and divide by 12.

Sum of total income X 26 / 12 = Monthly income

Doing it this way, as opposed to the way of multiplying by 2, will yield a larger number, but this number will account for months where perhaps you will receive a paycheck 3 times, instead of just 2. Remember, there are 52 weeks in a year. If you get paid weekly, then you want to take your weekly amount and multiply it by 52 before dividing that by 12. I get paid bi-weekly, so 26 should do it for me.

559 + 375 = 934
934 X 26 = 24,284 (Without child support, I would only make $14,534 per year! Trust me, I'm looking for another job!)
24,284 / 12 = $2023 (and some repeating 6's) per month. Not too bad!

If I were to simply multiply by 2 = $1868. Sometimes it's better to go with the lower number to make sure that in the tightest situation, bills are covered and savings can be built.


Now the "fun" part. *rolls eyes* These things are the monthly bills that I pay. My rent is variable and depends on how much I make. Some bills are paid every 2 months or every 6 months or yearly (whatever) but I will break them down per month.

Rent = $445
Childcare = $500 ($125 per week = roughly $541 and some repeating 6's Usually about $6500 per year)
Auto & Property Insurance = $94.12 (since I have more stuff, I should probably redo this one)
Term Life = $5
Term Life = $20.79
Auto Loan = $71.58 (once I receive my tax refund, I will pay this off ^_^)
Verizon Internet & Phone = $95
Washington Gas = $80 (this is an estimate, based on the highest bill vs the lowest bill. It will not necessarily be $80 every month, but I budget for it, just in case)
Boost Mobile = $53 (soon that will change, as I am enrolled in the shrinkage plan)
The Grocery Game = $10 ($20 every 8 weeks)
Amazon Prime Membership = $6.58 ($79 for a year. Usually I pay the whole amount with tax refund, if I'm feeling up to it)
The Washington Post = $3.38 ($20.26 every 6 months)

The total of my regular expenses is *drumroll please* $1312.87. I have not included food, gasoline, or clothing (yet).


Subtracting $1313 from 2023 = $710.

I commute about 45 minutes from house to job, daily, so what I pay in gasoline is probably not what most people pay. My gasoline bill averages around $450 per month.

$710 - $450 = $260 left for clothing, household needs, etc. Since I receive foodstamps, I'm able to use only that to buy groceries.

One thing that I am not doing, and I feel I really should be doing is tithing, or giving 10% of my income to the church. Some people don't have a specific church in mind, but give regularly to charities. If I were to give that 10% ($202 per month), I'd have $58 at the end of every month.

Needless to say, I need to find another job. One that is closer to me. I'm looking for a telecommuting job. Even if I made the same hourly wage, I would save a significant amount of money by not spending so much in gas.

A new job would most likely mean a new daycare. That could cause my childcare expense to go up or down. Because I am a recipient of child support and I'm eligible for medicaid, I may be able to apply for child care vouchers to help with the cost of childcare. Why don't I have them now, you ask? Because the lady my son has been going to isn't currently set up to take them. I haven't moved him because of a couple of reasons. He had been going there since my ex placed my girls there. I wanted him to be with his sisters. When his sisters were moved, I didn't want to move him, and I think that was a pretty good decision, since they were taken out of the other daycare. I've been doing the best I can to keep his life as stable as possible, in the midst of all the big changes we have been through these last few years. When I move him, if it comes down to it, I want to make sure it's not just a short-term solution.

I will be back later with some tools for dealing with finances that I find pretty helpful.

25 May 2011


I haven't posted in a while because I've been in a pretty funky mood. I've been having mood swings that are just ridiculous!

It's really hard to say what's going on with me. Could be PMS? Could be general stress? I don't care what the reason is...I really just want to get back to normal! I feel like I've got quite a bit on my plate right now. It's not like things aren't under control (God's got it all worked out), but it really has been feeling like it. I'm considering looking for a new job that I can do from home. It's been on my mind for a good long time, now. The trouble is finding something. Most of the things you find when you type at-home jobs, are pyramid schemes, commissioned sales, or other "business opportunities."

Today, I stumbled across tjobs.com. I found a few opportunities that I could do. There also seems to be a lot of resources to help you out if you're like me and want to get a telecommuting job, but don't necessarily know how to make sure to get the job. Obviously, it wouldn't be the same as interviewing in person, and you would have to make sure you have everything you need to do the job (sometimes before getting hired).

I've already weighed my options and I think that working from home would be the best thing. The first thing would be no more spending >$400 in gas a month! I would have more time at home, doing the regular everyday things that don't get done now. I may actually be able to keep up my housekeeping. My time spent with the kids would grow (every second is precious). And I could get to doing other enriching things like take some classes, practice the violin more, complete my craft/decorating projects, get the garden really growing.

I would probably be able to save money on daycare as well. Currently, I'm spending $125 a week for childcare. That's about $500 a month, which is the biggest expense I have (next biggest is gas). I could look for a daycare in my area. Depending on how much the job would pay and the cost of childcare, I could apply for childcare vouchers to help. According to various financial planning pamphlets from Crown.org, the highest childcare/school should be for a family of 4 (with less than $25,000 income) is 8%. That rounds out to about $2,000 a year. I make about $16,000 a year, so my childcare bill should be no higher than $1,280 a year (or $106 a month). I'm clearly overspending. But considering the costs of childcare these days, I'm actually getting a good deal, paying $500 a month. I also have to consider my kids' ages. As they get older, they are cheaper to care for, not requiring so much.

If you're struggling with how to pay bills and keep on top of things (whether you're low income or just need a little extra help), I would encourage you to check out Crown.org and use the calculators and planning tools. Honestly, when I was married, someone had given my husband and I a book called the Complete Financial Guide for Young Couples: A Lifetime Approach to Spending, Saving and Investing. It really helped us to get started with a proper budget. After getting divorced, I purchased a couple of Larry Burkett's books for just myself: A Family Budgeting Guide, Family Financial Workbook by Larry Burkett - A Practical Guide to Budgeting - Paperback - Revised Edition 2000 and How to Manage Your Money.

I find myself going over my budget every month, to make sure I'm on the right track and to see where I can improve it.

Another thing that has really been bothering me has to do with my precious, broken family. At prayer time Sunday night, my oldest had some very hard questions for me. She wanted to know why I divorced her father. I couldn't fight back the tears. Things I wanted to say, even if true, I couldn't. She is just too young to be occupied with what happened in the marriage. These kinds of things are difficult for adults. I don't have to work too hard to give them the truth, but I have to work especially hard to make sure I don't tell them more than they really need to know at the present time and to keep it light and hopeful. I admitted to her that I didn't want to get a divorce and that I didn't know the actual reason for it. Believe me, I've heard all kinds of things from my ex, but he has never really sat down and told me what was really going on.

I've been falsely accused of all kinds of crazy things. He keeps fighting for full custody and saying before court that I'm an unfit mother. Never has he actually sat down with me to level with me and really work "for the benefit of the children." The list just goes on. I got an email from him, talking about how he had a heart attack and made a deal with God...Your guess is as good as mine on that one...All I know is that regardless of the front he puts up, the lies he tells my children and the people around him, they are starting to pick it all apart. I'm doing my best to protect them and to keep animosity from building in their hearts, by helping then understand that no on is perfect. Even grown-ups make mistakes, but that doesn't mean God won't do what He promised.

That's why I'm still here. I've been knocked down and beat up, but God has always been faithful. Even though I'm not the nicest to be around lately, I still remember that God chose me as I am, problems, mistakes, and all. I do hope that I can get to feeling better soon.

08 May 2011

Babies Make Mommies

Today is Mother's Day! Why do we get so excited about this day? Perhaps finally Mom can put up her feet and let someone else do everything? Or maybe everyone gets the chance to thank the women who chose life? Could it be that finally we can voice our appreciation for mothers everywhere? Do mothers need this kind of attention? Do they want it? Would they rather you just picked your socks off the floor or that you didn't go out of the house without brushing your teeth? Whatever your reason for celebrating Mother's Day, there's a good chance that Mom would love to know that you love her ^_^.

I changed my status message today to "What makes a #1 mom? Her #1 children!"

I don't know about you, but I can't seem to be proud of being a mommy without being proud of my children. They are the reasons I am a mommy. Whether natural-born or adopted, you can't be a mommy without the babies. If there was no one to care for, then no one would do the caring...right? I don't get worked up about the favor I did my children by carrying them for 9 months and giving birth with no epidural. That's just wrong. Instead, I like to reflect on my appreciation for my little ones and for God who graciously placed them in my life.

Now onto some mommy savings!

I wish I had posted this sooner, but Restaurant.com has a promo code that will give you 80% off any order for restaurant gift certificates. Just type in MOM in the promo code box. This offer does expire today (that's why I wish I posted this sooner), but it's worth it. You can search for restaurants in your area (or in the area of the person you want to send it to) and pick from what's available. I've gotten about $150 worth in gift certs for only $13. And I can't wait to treat myself to Phillips Seafood (I've never been there before).

A couple of things I found from The Krazy Coupon Lady's page:

Today is also the last day for Paper Coterie coupon code OPENHOUSE. The deal was extended from May 6 to today and will take $40 off. You pay shipping.

If you have a Facebook page, you can got to Swiffer's page, like them and get back on May 10 to enter to win a Swiffer 360 Duster Starter Kit. I know right?!

You can even Google "mother's day deals" and see what comes up!

06 May 2011

I'm on my way!

Today, I met with Ms. Cole (Family Self Sufficiency Coordinator) and Mrs. Cheney (Homeownership Coordinator) to talk about one of my goals. As part of the Family Self Sufficiency Program with my housing authority, I have to list my goals and possible ways to meet them. My goals have included creating and building emergency funds, savings accounts for myself and my children, and homeownership.

I got my free credit report today before the meeting and saw that credit score went down a bit, since I recently took out a car loan. All in all, I'm doing much better than I was when I was married. My credit took a bit hit during the marriage. When we started out, my ex-husband's credit wasn't so great and mine was barely there. We put bills in my name, but weren't able to maintain them initially. Just a couple of years ago, I managed to pay off all the debts that were in my name. Now, I'm opening accounts and doing my best to keep them current, so that the score will continue to rise.

As far as home ownership goes, I got the chance to show Mrs. Cheney USAA's Home Circle. It's a members only access to several homes available for sale or rent. She told me it was a good resource and suggested that I look in several different places when it's time to do my search for a home. She suggested speaking with different people (realtors, advisors, etc) to learn more about the home-buying process.

So far, I'm doing alright with maintaining good credit standing by continuing to pay my bills on time. Next steps are to take a first time home buyers class and to meet with them again.

I'm also on my way to narrowing down what I would like to get a degree in. I've been thinking about accounting or bookkeeping for some time, and I've also been thinking about perhaps majoring in languages. Today, Mrs. Cheney and Ms. Cole suggested that I major in something that is more career specific (like accounting) and minor (or double major) in something that could complement it (like linguistics). My wheels are definitely turning.

I have to say that I've been pretty worn out lately. Not from lack of sleep or general not feeling well. I've been feeling like nothing is getting accomplished. It's really been wearing me down, as much as I do, as hard as I work sometimes, can't see that I'm making any leeway. My house stills has some piles and some boxes lying around. I seem to do just about the same thing everyday at work....and so on. But today. Today I was able to see that the little things that I've been doing have an effect on the bigger picture. If I get to one pile at a time, eventually, there will be no piles. Even if I clear one box a week, there will come a point of empty boxes. If I continue to pay my bills on time, don't do anything drastic, I will have more opportunities at my fingertips.

Within the next week, I'll be working on balancing everything so that I don't feel overwhelmed, but so I do feel like I'm getting something done...but after today's meeting, I'm really feeling encouraged to keep moving forward. ;)