Thursday, August 28, 2008

How We Manage On Less Money Part 1

One of our apple trees

Once again, I'd like to thank you all for the warm welcome back! I'm trying to get around to everyone and hopefully by the weekend I'll have said hello and seen what fabulousness you've all been up to. I am trying to limit my time on the computer as it actually takes quite a bit of my day to do all the things I need to do to keep our finances, house, yard, LIFE going.

So as I mentioned before, when my husband was shifted into another position in his company we lost quite a bit of income - over $600 each check. Not only that, but, we didn't find out this was going to happen until 3 days before payday! Oh yes, somehow they didn't think it important enough to let him know. I found out because I always check his paycheck at their online payroll center (toward the end there I was checking to make sure he was even getting a check). When he called HR about it they said they were planning on telling him on payday and forgot that you could look at paychecks on line 3 days before. I'm sure they wouldn't like to open their checks ON PAYDAY and find it less than what they were used to getting! Anyway......I'm not a financial expert but I can share what we've been doing to cope.

The first thing I want to point out is that we we've been doing the Dave Ramsey program for years and had no credit card debt, had $1000 in an emergency fund and were not living paycheck to paycheck. Get a copy of Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover. There's a link in my Amazon box and here's the link to his website Check out the "We Did It" section for inspiration. He often puts his books on sale and many churches offer his Financial Peace program. Also,check your library for a copy. Mary Hunt also has a similar plan.

Debt is bad! I can't encourage you or emphasize enough that if you have debt you should focus on getting out of debt. Debt is not normal. Just because lots of people have credit card debt doesn't make it o.k. Debt limits your choices. Do whatever you have to do to get out of debt.

I think it's important to have a plan. A plan for how to spend your money, how to build up your savings, a menu plan, a shopping plan, you get the idea. I'm a planner. I do think it helps to have a plan to reach a goal no matter what that goal is. You can definitely save money by planning if that's your goal!

To begin with you really need to have an idea of how much money is coming in and how much is going out. I won't use the "The Big Bad B Word" ! I'll say "spending plan". Believe me I didn't want to do it either! There's something about sitting down with your stack of bills and receipts - I guess it fear. Fear that you are living above your means, fear that you're not really doing such a good job being a good steward of your family's money, fear that you really can't tell your wants from your needs and are overspending. Fear of reality!

I'd say it took me several days to write everything down and I use Quicken! But I would sit down and then need a cup of coffee, or I decided I wanted a pen with a pretty ink color (you know so it would look purdy - sheesh!), then I needed a snack, then oh yes I should put the clothes in the washer, or make a call or....a million different things. In the end I didn't sit down and write everything in one shot. I really did it in bits and pieces. It was all I could stand! But I discovered that eliminating a few things(no more random TJ Maxx trips), cutting back on somethings (dropped health club membership for one thing), thinking about certain things in a new way would (could I make my own cleaning products, hang my laundry etc) - well if I did these things we would be alright. It would be a challenge - but it would be fun to see if I could learn some new skills along the way.

I see myself as the Manager of our home and finances and I take my job seriously. I have pride in what I do and I want to do the best job possible. But I don't have it all figured out. I'm always looking for more information! So I hope you guys will chime in with your ideas!

Next time I'll get into some of the specific things we are doing. I'll probably intersperse those kinds of post with pictures of projects I'm working on around the house, I have some books I received when I had my last blog that I never got around to reviewing so I'll do some of that, and I'm cooking more from scratch so I have recipes to share.

Thanks for dropping by and taking the time to read this! I'll leave you with a picture I took this morning of one of my sunflowers cause I'm just not used to a post that doesn't have lots of pictures!


Kathleen Grace said...

I think we are going through very similar circumstances. My husband has been working one week on and one week off since January! He is in the building business and nothing is getting built here in Michigan at the moment. It is amazing how much you can cut out of a budget to make things work. We also do not have any debt and had some money in the bank. I havnet followed Dave Ramsey but I keep hearing about him so I think I may take a look. Anyway, we are doing some of the same things you speak of and God takes care of the rest. He meets our needs in some very interesting ways. I'm looking forward to more tips from you Manuela:>)

Storybook Woods said...

Very good post. Thank goodness you did not have debt. I look forward to more posts. Clarice

She'sSewPretty said...

Manuela! I am so happy to see you back in Blogland. I hope you will do lots more posts about living within a budget. With all of my extra doctor bills, I can use some lessons on saving money! One of my favorite books is The Frugal Gazette. There's lots of good ideas in it.

mrsjones6 said...

You are such a savvy home manager. It is a quality I would love to embrace more of. Dave Ramsey is fabulous! We used his plan about five years ago to get our finances straight and not regretted one minute of that decesion. When Audley took this new job that moved us back to Alabama in May he took a hefty paycut as well, BUT we are back in our own home which means only one housepayment. What a relief that has been to us.
I really look forward to your other tips and advice on money/home management. It is something that we all desperately need.
Once again, I am thrilled you are back in the world of blogging.

Susie Q said...

Welcome back dear Manuela...and thank you fo rthe wonderful post. I think we all need to watch our money now and every idea helps.
I have thought about you and missed seeing your cheery posts and beautiful home.
So happy to see you...


Annie said...

Hello Manuela!
I am so happy to see you again. I was sad when you closed down your old blog. I always looked forward to checking out your blog for wonderful inspiration. Now, I'm off to check out the rest! Adding you to bloglines....

Kathy at Shocking Pink Thread said...

Dear Manuela, I hadn't been blogging too long when I found you the first time around....So glad you have decided to return with such important things to share. I could take a strong lesson from you about the value of being careful with finances. I'm looking forward to visiting again soon! ~Kathy

Cottage Contessa said...

Oh my goodness Manuela, I am so happy to see you are back blogging again sweetie! Wonderful advice in this post, just wonderful! I am adding you to my blogroll right away so that I don't miss out on anymore of your posts sweetie! Wishing you a lovely day!
Amanda (aka Cottage Contessa)

Mrs. Rabe said...

Great post Manuela.

We avoid debt like the plague, pay extra on our mortgage every month etc....

Besides, it has made me more creative, and more dependent on the Lord.

Andrea @ Big Creek Cottage said... are back! Yeah!!! I am so happy that I found you....glad your back......I still have pictures saved from your former blog that I turn to for inspiration!!! Manuela, welcome back!

Katy said...

Hellllo!!!! :)
my hubby and I took the Dave Ramsey good friends did as well...and we all learned sooo much! My hubby and I are just getting ready to pay off our car loan and then we will be debt FREE!!! WOOT! (except our mortgage..but Dave R. doesn't count that) We have never owned a credit card and I totally agree with your advice! :)
We live on one income...and it is not a large income according to most standards in our country...however...God provides and we do just fine!!! :)
It is wonderful to "meet" you! Have a wonderful weekend! :)

Rhonda in OK said...

I saw your comment on Like Merchants Ships and was so happy to see it was you.
I liked your other blog so much, your home photos were beautiful and I am so happy you are posting again.
Your decorated pantry in your shower is just about the cutest picture on any blog, in my opinion.

From a parent who has had fluctuating income and just put 2 children though college, your DD will qualify for more financail aid and you will get higher tax credits when the parents income is lower. So maybe that will be a silver lining for you all.

The Polka Dot Pixie said...


I am so glad to see you blogging again ( I never commented on your old blog but I loved reading it!) and really look forward to reading your posts about this topic. Due to some recent family and personal events, we will likely be in a tougher than usual finical situation this winter and I have been researching as much as possible in preparation.

You are an inspiration!!!

(((hugs)))- Jenny

Victoria said...

Welcome back! I only found your blog shortly before you decided to stop blogging. I enjoyed your projects immensely.

When my hubs & I had only been married a couple of years we went to a financial seminar at our church and we were bitten with the "get out of debt" bug. Best thing we ever did and probably the best way to start our marriage out!

It is such a joy and comfort to know that you are not living on the edge of debt or in debt. It alleviates so much stress personally and on a marriage! It is far better than a $5 Starbucks Mocha Frappuchino! :)

Thank you for bringing your ideas to all of us and sharing your path. I think it will be an encouragement to so many, including myself.

sheila said...

SCAD has generous financial aid programs in place :) so go ahead & talkin' with them...

and if ya'll come down to do a tour, I'd love to see ya'll while you're in town :)

Jen r. said...

I am going to go and check out that book! Jen

Mary said...

Manuela - I just know you will be a wonderful help to all these young couples who are trying hard to make ends meet in this rough economy.
Fortunately we never had debt, lived carefully within our budget without loans, and altho' we use credit cards, have always paid the total amount monthly and never had to pay interest.
We both worked hard and, going into our retirement, the feeling was wonderful knowing the house was paid for, no car payments or loans hanging over our heads, and a fairly good income from pensions and SS. DH (who I guess was my personal "Dave Ramsey") also went back to work part time as a consultant for his company and this extra money is what enables us to travel....and buy French cheese now and then, lol!!!

It's often hard to go without things - but 'things' are what they are and we really don't need so many of them! Let me tell you, when you're as old as me you'll be trying hard to get rid of all those 'things' and simplify your life!

Good luck dear - sounds to me like you've managed to come to terms with what you need to do and your management skills are fabulous. Looking forward to chapter 2.

Cottage Contessa said...

Hi sweetie, just stopping by to invite you to enter the give away on my blog and to wish you a very lovely day!
Amanda (aka Cottage Contessa)

Melissa @ The Inspired Room said...

Such great advice and inspiration, Manuela! Thanks for sharing it all.

Happy weekend!

PS. I'm having Fall Nesting Week next week on my blog! Feel free to stop in or share a post on Mr. Linky! You are the master nester!


Bobbie said...

I too love Dave Ramsey and am looking forward to your tips. I am also learning those randowm trips to TJ Maxx and others for me really make a huge differnece in the budget.

Vee ~ A Haven for Vee said...

I appreciated your description of how you'd find anything else to do instead of the task at hand. Happens to me all the time. One of the things I'd "do" was snack and that was definitely bad.

Being the manager of your home is a wonderful occupation. May you continue to find ways to stretch your budget.

Screaming Meme said...

Manuela! It's Meme...From Screaming Meme! It's so good to see you or read you! :) I'm adding you to my blog roll...pls don't go away again!!!! Oh, I'm doing a continual faux class...Screaming Meme's Faux School...You should come and check it out!

Penny @ Lavender Hill Studio said...

These Spending Plan posts will come in very handy for everyone I think. Costs are just sky rocketing in groceries, utilites, and more. Anyway you can save money is a good thing!

BailiwickDesigns said...

This is a great post. We will likely find ourselves in the same position very soon, as my husband's salary may be cut (also due to the slowdown of business). We're in a good position though - like you we have no debt to speak of, and there are things we could easily cut back on. The future of our country is changing, and I think everyone will have to make changes to keep apace. Being a good steward of what we have is the place to start! ::Jill

Anonymous said...

hi manuela, this is my second comment, i think. i came over from h'peepers when janet said you were back. well, i'm catching up with you, and commend your spirit and ingenuity as house manager. you have inspired me. no more RANDOM shopping! wants don't get indulged unless serious attention has been paid (literally) to the needs column. i agree with the no debt thing, and we don't have c.card debt either. we do have one car with about 5 payments to go. once that is done i plan on using that money to hack away at the debt we incurred sending our son to ucla for 4 years. and our daughter to csulb. chaching!$! thanks for making it seem possible!!jkj

Mrs. Staggs said...

Hi Manuela,

I'm so pleased to see that you've started writing again, but it sounds like you and your husband have been going through some of the changes that are affecting so many right now. I'm familiar with pay cuts too, as we went through a similar time a few years ago at the company where my husband works. It was a temporay thing for us, but it took some creativity and a postitive attitude to get through. I've never lived with a lot of debt, other than my house payment, and it is paid for now too. Every now and then, I become overwhelmed living in a world that is full of so much consumption. I've always equated debt, with a loss of freedom. I think more and more people are starting to realize what that really means.

All the best to you.