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How do you make it on so little money?

Okay, I know some people will be annoyed by this but I have to ask. How do people make it on so little money? I am on mat leave for a yr with my baby and 4yr old. This yr I'll be paid about $30k in benifits and top-up pay. That's a little more than a $60k pay cut. My husband makes over $100k but we are feeling the pinch. I don't know how people make it on less.

I know it should be enough money but each month when I pay the bills we have nothing left. I've cut back on spending but it isn't enough. I live in fear of having to go into debt. We've never owed any money except for our house mortgage which is less than $170k. We don't buy new vehicles (my husband bought his last vehicle in highschool and drove it for 18 yrs), we don't go on extravagant vacations, I don't wear designer clothes, I only buy the kids toys on birthdays and Christmas. Where does it all go?

Any tips on cutting back?


Asked by Anonymous at 2:11 PM on Dec. 29, 2009 in Money & Work

This question is closed.
Answers (18)
  • Have you gone through your check book and wrote down where all of your money goes for the last few months? That will pinpoint exactly where your problems are. You may not realize that you are spending hundreds (or thousands) of dollars just on eating out. While you are looking through your checkbook, start writing out a budget for next month and swear to stick by it. You have enough income and it shouldn't be as tight for you as it sounds. I can tell you a group to join that can help motivate you so that you DON't go into debt, that's the Dave Ramsey Fans. Dave Ramsey promotes a debt free lifestyle and the moms in that group are either debt free or working towards it. We all help each other with budgets and give advice to each other and support too. There are probably a ton of things that you can cut back on, but without details it's hard for me to tell you exactly what right now. Send me a message if you want to know more

    Answer by slw123 at 2:19 PM on Dec. 29, 2009

  • heck ive had to cut back on TOILET paper i love charmin and i said i would never go with out but konw i buy a lot of my stuff at the doller store we sufferd a majory pay loss and i cant pay any of my credit cards i used to shop all the time and have no worrys about puting food on the table and now i do so its affecting everyone

    Answer by Anonymous at 2:14 PM on Dec. 29, 2009

  • I do know that I'm lucky - don't doubt that. I just need some hints on cutting back that don't include the kid's education fund or our retirement and savings contributions.

    BTW - I stopped buying Charmin too, but it's because I can't stand those commercials where the bear gets TP stuck to his bottom - yuck!

    Answer by Anonymous at 2:21 PM on Dec. 29, 2009

  • We are living on half of what we were living on four years ago. It is tough. Here are some suggestions for cutting costs:

    Make at least some of your own cleaning products. This has the added bonus of bringing fewer toxins into your home

    This is what we use for most cleaning (initially used as part of my daughter's 6th grade science fair project). It is cheap (my favorite) and non toxic.
    ¼ cup white vinegar
    ¾ cup warm tap water
    1 tablespoon baking soda
    10 drops of tea tree oil (antibacterial, antifungal, etc.)
    2 drops oil of lavender essential oil (antiseptic and smells nice)

    Stop buying paper towels and napkins. Cloth napkins are more fun! Pick up cheap cotton towels at your favorite second hand shop. Save money and trees!!


    Answer by rkoloms at 2:25 PM on Dec. 29, 2009

  • Past the age of 2, the only beverage that humans need is water. Stop buying juice and sodas; buy milks only for cooking and cereal. You can liven up water with slices of fruits and vegetables; make ice cubes with blueberry eyeballs for the kids.

    Replace meats with beans, lentils, tofu, seitan, etc. You can save even more money by using dried beans and lentils and making your own seitan.

    Cook from scratch! Home cooked foods taste so much better than the nasty boxed stuff, and you will feel better because you are eating healthier foods.

    Replace simple grains (white flour, white rice, white pasta, etc.) with whole grains (brown rice, whole wheat pasta, whole grain breads, etc.). While whole grains may cost more, they have more nutrition and are more filling, so they really are the better value.


    Answer by rkoloms at 2:26 PM on Dec. 29, 2009

  • Frozen fruits and vegetables have a longer shelf life than fresh and retain their nutrition longer; they are often a better, less expensive option than fresh.

    Once or twice a week have breakfast for dinner. Popular options at my house are: yogurt parfaits with frozen berries and whole grain cereal; veggies omelettes with a bit of cheese and whole grain toast; whole grain pancakes with fruit.

    Instead of baking a whole batch of cookies, make and freeze cookie dough balls. No one will be tempted to sneak a cookie(you know who you are) and when you do have cookies they will be fresh baked.

    Only go to the grocery store every 8 days. Before you shop, plan all of your meals and snacks for the next 8 days. Write your list, based on what you need to complete your meal plan. Pull any necessary coupons, eat before you go (never go to the grocery store hungry). Most important, buy only what is on your list.


    Answer by rkoloms at 2:26 PM on Dec. 29, 2009

  • The specials at the store are not to save you money, they are to get you to buy items that you don't need. If you won't use it in 3 week, don't buy it!

    I have a ton of recipes that are tasty, healthy, family and budget friendly; send me a message offlist if you would like some.


    Answer by rkoloms at 2:27 PM on Dec. 29, 2009

  • I think the best way is what PP said. Usually the most money is spent on food. Cook from scratch and avoid soda and other extravagent items that cost more. It can be done, setting up a good budget is also a good way to start. I am a SAHM and my husband only makes 24K and I can make the budget stretch for our family of 5. GL!

    Answer by picot08 at 2:35 PM on Dec. 29, 2009

  • stanting today track where every penny goes if you pay 2.50 for a starbucks coffe write it down if you withdraw 25 form an atm and there is a 3 dollar service fee then youctully took out 28 keep track for two weeks and find out where the money goes. take away all debit cards from the hubby if he sint responcible enough to keep exact track and give him cash but tell him you want recipts. then when two weeks is over you should have a pretty good idea as to where you can cut back and still live comfortably.

    Answer by jajamama at 3:06 PM on Dec. 29, 2009

  • You're buying more luxuries than you realize, sweetie. A great way to cut costs is to use store brands. No junk food. And I'm sorry, but if you really don't have anything left over, then you need to cut back on what you're putting into savings. I know that sounds harsh but look at the percentage you were putting into savings before and make sure it adds up to the percentage that you're making now.

    Answer by metalhealthmama at 3:10 PM on Dec. 29, 2009