Budgeting and saving on limited income

Question: I'm a single mom with two sons, 10 and 12. My job pays $15 per hour and I receive child support, but can't seem to get ahead. I rent an apartment, have a car payment and I don't think I'll ever be able to start saving money to buy a home. I'd love to go back to school so I can get a better job, but I don't think I can do it.

Answer: Single moms are unsung heroes. We know you have a tough job, but you must stop focusing on what you don't have and focus on your most precious assets — your kids. Sure, a house would be nice, but with a house comes a lot of other expenses such as trash and water fees, repairs and property taxes; the list goes on and on.

Start with small steps. Get on a spending plan — a budget — to help control your expenses. Evaluate every expense so you can start generating some savings. Make a goal to save 5 percent of what you bring home. Read the budgeting chapter in our book (check it out from the library). We wrote it for families like yours.

Between using a budget and building emergency savings, you'll start feeling better about your direction. Eventually the discipline of saving will become an addictive habit, and finding ways to save money will become a game.

 If it's too overwhelming to start this process on your own, contact Crown Financial Ministries (Crown.org). They can provide a faith-based budget coach at no charge.

Keep going, mom, you're gonna make it.

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3/8/2009 2:17 PM Kate wrote:
I saw your show on Dr. Phil recently and was very impressed. I am going to get your book this week but had a question for you. I came into an inheritence recently and with the real estate market being what it is, my financial advisors suggested I buy a house which I did and purchased it outright, I inherited my mom's brand new vehicle and still have a little over 200,000.00 in a trust that has been invested. I am to live off the interest of that trust which is around 800.00 a month. I have had a serious injury to my spine and am unable to find work because of the limitations to what I can do physically. It takes a long time to get on disability which I don't want to do since I am partially disabled, not permanently. I don't know how to stretch this 800.00 a month when my medical expenses are outrageous and I don't see an end in sight with finding a job that can accomodate my disability. I know I am fortunate to not have a car payment or a mortgage but I don't know where to go from here. Just to let you know, I live in Arizona (Mesa) and I don't think I can qualify for AHCCS since I have assets of the house and car in my name, although I am going to check into it. I am looking forward to getting your book. I would love to meet you, I am so impressed with you and your family.

Thank you for reading,

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4/18/2009 4:55 AM Terri Smith wrote:
Hello,  I have been married for 31 years and can't seem to get ahead. My husband and I only make around 9.00 and hour. Between meds,insurance and utilities.
There is hardly enough to pay all that needs to be paid.
I agree to pay on everyting something, but usually there is not enough.
We get paid every 2 weeks and don't always make it to next payday.
What do you suggest?
Thank you and Have a Blessed Day
Terri L. Smith

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4/23/2009 11:00 AM America's Cheapest Family wrote:
Dear Terri,
The only way to deal with your situation is to spend less or make more income.  Everyone must be able to put something aside every paycheck for savings/emergencies so that when the unexpected comes up you don't go further into debt.  Evaluate every expense and determine if it is a want or a true need.  Anything that is a true need, try to figure out how you can decrease the expense.  If you are not on a budget, you need to get on one, so you know what needs there are and how much you have available to spend.  See if you qualify for help with utilities with your service provider.  Look for ways to decrease your medication costs, such as generics, programs that help those who cannot afford their medications, pharmacies that offer a better price.  Re-quote your insurance to see if you can get a better premium. You can go to  InsWeb.com for several quotes.  Best wishes.

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4/28/2009 2:04 PM Dubai Furnished Apartments wrote:
I have the same problem.. i can't save. But, you give a good idea to save 5% of the income. i will try it. Thanks

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7/12/2009 10:57 AM Miltida wrote:
My husband of 36 years and I have been fairly frugal in that we have no debt other than 2 mortgages. Herein lies my question. We bought a home in Fl with the intention of having it for our retirement in about 3 years.It is worth way below what we paid for it. We also have a home that we are currently living and hope to sell it when we retire perhaps breaking even. We put the max allowed by law into our K as well as the extra savings allowed by law for those over age 50. After purchasing our two homes within the last 5 years our liquid assets is now relatively low. Question. Do we try and pay down the mortgaged property in FL? We plan to use the proceeds from the sale of our current home toward that mortgage when we retire. That will still leave almost $K mortgage. The home in Florida is rented below what we pay in PITI. So we are carrying that house and it would be an additional hardship to pay extra toward the principal but we would figure out a way to do it if you advise us to do so.

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7/15/2009 4:01 PM America's Cheapest Family wrote:
We got you note.  If you have enough in your retirement plans for what you estimate you will need, you may want to decrease what you are putting in and pay off more principle on your FL home to decrease the interest paid over the life of the loan.  It is usually a huge savings.  You may be able to reduce some of your current costs by re-quoting insurance on automobiles and homes.  Would it be worthwhile refinancing?  If you are able, we always advise paying down debt as quickly as possible.  Best wishes

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