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Yo mama so poor she went into McDonald's...

February 6th, 2013 at 09:11 am

...and put a milkshake on layaway. That's about how I feel.

$4.00 - That's how much leeway our monthly budget might allow us. Anything more than $4.00 growth in savings accounts, or $4.00 depletion of interest in debt accounts, is gravy. A Very Thin Gravy.
I feel I've gone so far down in saving $ (without spending $$$ for a trickle of a monthly payback) that a severe change is needed. I believe the car loan is responsible, combined with the expiration of the tax cut. Our debt burden is higher than recommended and that unsettles me. Outside Sacramento and the water heater, we have $650 less in savings than what we owe on the Home Equity Line of Credit and the car loan.

I am feeling bugged because we're now, what, one sixth into the month and we've blown 35% of our restaurant budget already.

I have to sell the house in six months or else refinance. I have not yet done our taxes, but I have a gloomy apprehension we will owe even more.

The upsides: we have ten years left to go on our mortgage, we're paying more than twice as much in principal as we do in interest, so lots of equity. Our area has been slower than other Seattle areas for house appreciation though: our equity, after $4400 principal payment, is now what it was six months ago. Still, this is the first year we have seen positive market value appreciation since 2008, so I'll take it. We are using under 25% of our home equity line of credit limit.

Yes, I am tracking our purchases and using coupons. I have a debt group meeting (not Debtors Anonymous, more post-MSN-MoneyCentral-Women in Red) and I'll bring up the subject that I need budget tweaking or more ways to save. If the sale of the house is a sure thing this spring/summer (88% certainty: where we move to depends on how the citizens of Seattle feel about renewing a school building expenditure levy), I need not bother saving for a "vacation" if I have the $$ on hand (or "on wrist" in this case) or for home repairs or home improvement if I'm just going to borrow from the HELOC. That's $155 a month relief right there.

I told one woman in our debt group how I was feeling about my budget and she offered to host a potluck one month in her apartment. I can't host in my house because one woman is allergic to cats, and the last time I hosted everyone was allergic to cats and my cat would NOT leave us alone once he woke up from his nap, screaming when I kept it out of our room, threatening to jump on the lap of the most allergic/fearful member if he and I did not change seats.

$25.00 goes to a CD in an automatic deposit monthly. The payments to the HELOC and the car are automated as well.

More ways to save money:

Try Planned Parenthood. Visit one of these clinics if you need a routine Pap test, a new birth-control prescription, or even a flu shot. Call your local office to find out what services it offers and its fees (which vary from state to state but are often less than a private doctor’s). Most locations accept insurance.

Buy more fruits and vegetables. Research from the American Dietetic Association shows that when families add more produce to their diets, their waistlines get smaller and their food budgets can shrink by 25 percent. This may happen soon, thanks to our current thin budget surplus and the drought of 2012. I see a tempeh experiment in our near future.

Your AAA membership gets you more than roadside assistance. It scores you discounts at retailers like Target.com, New York & Company, and more. Visit aaa.com for details.

Cash out. Some shops, especially independent ones, will offer you at least 10 percent off when you pay with cash (I have never seen this, personally).
Ask a manager or the owner before paying. I'm going to try this with the water heater.

Make free phone calls. Download a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) application onto your computer and dial up family and friends worldwide at no charge. Sign up at skype.com, lingo.com, or voip.com.

Boost your deductible. Increasing your policy’s deductible from $200 to $1,000 may save you as much as 25% on insurance costs annually.

The average person files a claim just once every 8 to 10 years, so you’re better off stashing the amount of your deductible in an interest-bearing savings account. I may raise our deductible from $500 to $1000.

4 Responses to “Yo mama so poor she went into McDonald's...”

  1. creditcardfree Says:

    We have had our deductible on our house and cars at $1000 each for years. I recommend it to anyone that has several thousand dollars in their emergency fund.

  2. pretty cheap jewelry Says:

    Well we have done light to moderate bargaining on big ticket items at Sears, Lowe's, and Home Depot. The floor employees at the hardware box stores have the authorization to give 10% off at any time. I asked once because I was making a large purchase for Girl Scouts and the discount was given. Try it for your own reason. I do not feel small doing this.

  3. snafu Says:

    Expanding on your point about house and car deductible, it's important to review your coverage a few weeks before renewal to ensure adequate coverage. I suggest verifying the difference in annual rate with $1,000. deductible and multiply saving by eight to compare numbers. An insurance agent can put your coverage needs out for 'bids' to the major re-insurers to hunt for better rates. There is often a discount if home and auto insurance is combined. Do you get a lower rate if you pay annually, bi annually or is the same sum paid monthly.

    If you choose a large deductible, you increase the pressure to bump up your Emergency Fund to reflect that change.

  4. baselle Says:

    February's a short month - 6 days in is 21% gone. Its something. Smile I'm been fuzzy myself - got on the wrong bus, two people chided me for coughing in their direction. However, for me when I find change at those self checkout lanes, fuzzy is helpful to develop that air of absent mindedness. If you fumble in your pockets, generally you look harmless as you pick up the cash from the cup.

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