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I have seen families that make less money than we do and can afford higher rents and have leftover money to get nails done, massages, vacations, hair cuts, etc. We are scraping by check to check. My clothes have holes in them, I cut my own hair, I dont get nails done, I have nothing, we cant afford to go anywhere. Yet, I am told by people we make too much money for any kind of help. I cant even afford preschool for my kids. I talked to DH about it and he said I have to live that way to find out. I want to know so I can take all this "Extra" money we supposedly have and use it to send my daughter to preschool. I dont understand!!
by on Apr. 20, 2013 at 6:03 PM
Replies (31-40):
illogicalkat
by Bronze Member on Apr. 24, 2013 at 3:42 AM

If that is the case, you need to sit down with your husband (which should have been your first move) and discuss how you are living. Clearly, you two need to work out some other arrangement for management of your funds. If he takes a lot out for savings, at the detriment of your current needs, it needs to be changed.


Quoting momofsunshine77:

DH takes a lot out of his check for savings. He does it not me. I never see the money. He puts a lot into 401K, savings for the kids cor college, etc. We also have the best medical insurance, mostly nbecause of me, I have asthma and require an inhaler every month, without insurance the inhaler would cost $250 a month. Also if the kids get sick , we dont pay hardly anything. Awesome dental and vision as well. Driving for me will not be able to be cut down as we do not live very close and it is VERY expensive rent to live where I grocery shop and take kids to school. Probably about 3 times more than we are paying now, but we are looking.
Quoting illogicalkat:

Is your husband self-employed? Are you taking all the deductions for which you qualify? Do you itemize your deductions? That seems like a high tax rate, unless your husband owns his own business.

Since you buy a lot of fresh produce, are there any co-ops you can join? That could bring your grocery costs down quite a bit.

Is there a necessary reason you live so far from town? Can you move closer to your husband's work?


Quoting momofsunshine77:

DH made 75,000 last year with OT and brought home 45,000. I guess we live in a high cost area. We pay 1200 in rent, about 600 in all our utilities. we have propane - very expensive will never get it again. I spend about 600 every 2 weeks on food, not including any necessities like toilet paper, paper towels, toiletries, diapers, etc. We have 2 cars and one payment of about 330 a month. insurance is about 530 every 6 months. I have to drive about 45 minutes to anything like grocery, etc. So we spend at least 300 in gas per month for both cars. Oil change every 2 months. If I send my 4yo to preschool we would have to add on another 700 per month for public preschool, 800 for private. And again I would have to drive 45 minutes to get there one way. None of this includes if anyone needs clothing or shoes or anything in the house if we need to replace it, like worn out towels, bedding, broken dishes, etc.
Quoting illogicalkat:

Do you live in a high-cost area? $51k seems like it should be able to carry you. After taxes (let's call it 20%), that should be $40,800 per year, or $3400 per month take-home.

$3400 - 1200 for rent leaves you with $2200 for bills and expenses.

Groceries for a family of 3 might average $600/month, leaving you with $1600.

Then you utilities shouldn't cost more than about $200, which leaves $1400.

So now that necessities are covered, what is left that you are paying? Car note, insurance premiums, smartphones, cable/satellite/internet, student loans? Aside from the student loans, those are things that you can adjust.

Quoting momofsunshine77:

We dont save cuz there isnt anything to save. I am going to be VERY LUCKY to buy food this week. We are trying to move, and I was looking at a condo for 1200 a month, what we pay now for rent, and when we got to the office the lady said there was a limit of 51,000 a year. We make more than that so we "make too much money". I can tell you for sure that if we only made 51,000 a year there is NO WAY we could afford 1200 a month in rent. So, how do they do it?
Quoting DaWife806:

Do you all save more than other people? We live"pay check to pay check" but we move money to bills and savings on payday. If there is money left over in the account the day before payday we feel like we didn't appropriately save the previous check.

The other explanations could be PA, parents supporting their adult children, ect.









JasonsMom2007
by Platinum Member on Apr. 24, 2013 at 3:51 AM
I'm in ca. Our mortgage is around 1200 and we make less than 51,000 a year. We put money in savings as well.
We own our cars outright
We don't have cable/satellite
We grow a garden and can/freeze extra for winter
We don't eat out
We cook from scratch
We do our own home repairs
We combine trips to save gas

Our food is expensive. We are gluten, sugar, preservatives, etc free. That does not help our budget.
Hubby s work pays for his and my insurance. The kids are on state insurance. That helps. Hubby also has a truck provided by work.
We can't be irresponsible but we can do extra things as a family. Like the other day we went to six flags. The kids and I are going on a field trip on the train soon. We can afford things like that.


Quoting momofsunshine77:

We dont save cuz there isnt anything to save. I am going to be VERY LUCKY to buy food this week. We are trying to move, and I was looking at a condo for 1200 a month, what we pay now for rent, and when we got to the office the lady said there was a limit of 51,000 a year. We make more than that so we "make too much money". I can tell you for sure that if we only made 51,000 a year there is NO WAY we could afford 1200 a month in rent. So, how do they do it?



Quoting DaWife806:

Do you all save more than other people? We live"pay check to pay check" but we move money to bills and savings on payday. If there is money left over in the account the day before payday we feel like we didn't appropriately save the previous check.



The other explanations could be PA, parents supporting their adult children, ect.



JasonsMom2007
by Platinum Member on Apr. 24, 2013 at 3:55 AM
1 mom liked this
Oh and I also live 40 miles away from all major stores. Amazon is my friend! I have prime and instead of wasting my money on gas I just click a few buttons and its on my doorstep in 2 days. I usually only spend around $100/month on gas. Yes, even my nonpershible foods come from Amazon a lot of times.
aka_speezolove
by on Apr. 24, 2013 at 3:56 AM
1 mom liked this

We live at poverty level, yet I get a lot of name brand things by visiting thrift stores, blogging for money, couponing a ton and saving all my pennies for things I want, along with the tips I earn at my part time job. Now, I haven't had a haircut in years and my nails have not been professionally done in years either, but I learned to do it myself and I am completely satisfied with the results. I go places for day trips and we have fun. Sure, I don't get to do a lot that other people do, but working hard to save every penny I can to afford things I want is worth it to me.


JasonsMom2007
by Platinum Member on Apr. 24, 2013 at 3:56 AM
$600 for 2 weeks of food is insane as well! My family of 4 takes about $500/month to feed and that is gluten free and junk free!
momofsunshine77
by on Apr. 24, 2013 at 12:57 PM
I dont have easy, so I dont know where that is coming from. I make my life any harder than it i sI will never sleep - literally. I am not making excuses. I do make meals from scratch and meal plan. Things cost more here I am assuming. I remember one time talking to my MIL and we were discussing ground beef. She said it was like 2.50 a pound by her I looked at our label and it was 5.49 a pound. Go figure. She lives in a totally different state. Like I said before I have gone to budget couselors and this is it. As far as the car goes I dont understand your math. My isurance is 530 for 6 MONTHS for both cars which is about 85 a month for BOTH cars. So dropping coverage on one wil not save me thousands of dollars cuz I am not even spending that much a year on BOTH.
Quoting MamaSnaps:

I am not being rude here. I really really promise!!! You have excuses for everything. If you WANTED it you would do it. The money is there so you spend it instead of doing what may not be easy. Easy is REALLY expensive. A little research and self education and you CAN do it. 

I want to mention something else you said and give you my theory on it: Your vehicle-you have a payment on it. Car payments are a huge huge huge money pit. You have a car payment of $330 and insurance is $530 every 6 months. You are having to maintain full coverage on that car which has probably raised your insurance premium about $100 a month. So, that vehicle is costing you $5160 per year.

If you purchase a new car at $4000 per year AND THROW IT AWAY at the end of the year, you're ahead.

You don't have to cover that extra $100 in full coverage. What are the chances you are going to throw away the car at the end of the year? Slim. I require one year out of each vehicle and I haven't spent near $4000 since I had my last car payment on a new car. I purchased my SUV 3 years ago for $2000. We maintain it and figure $100 a month in vehicle maintenance. Total cost of $4400 INCLUDING  oil, tires and about $600 in a maintenance fund. Over 3 years your car has cost you $15840. WITHOUT oil, tires and any repairs. That's a difference of $11440. That's $3800 per year or just over $300 per month.  I am still driving that SUV and I had someone offer me $2000 for it because I am thinking I want something different. I can change my cars as the whim strikes me.

That's only one vehicle and it's savings would have allowed you to purchase 3 vehicles and throw them away in a year out of what you spent. I have a LOT of stashed money in my vehicle account because those vehicles always last more than a year. Did I mention that is my JUNK second vehicle? My first vehicle is much newer... much. I had saved enough money to buy that new with cash by not having a car payment. 

And Yes, I have accounts for everything. It's easier that way and money gets "hidden" and saved that way. It started with operating the businesses and having a payroll, tax and overhead accounts and I extended it into my home life. Which leads me to my next suggestion...  

One other thing I found is that if you have the money you spend it (which is why I said you have excuses.) If you make it go away before you ever receive it you adjust. I have stopped the $ from actually coming home. I don't have any choice but to use only what is in the operating account. When I first started doing it I had to put it into something that I couldn't touch come hell or high water-as if you didn't have it. If you can just pull it from savings-you will.   I allow $50000 per year into our operating budget for the family. That includes the monthly everything budget, our vacation and roughly $5000-7000 for my son's wrestling.

You mentioned student loans-for heaven's sake pay them off. If that's what your income level is with 2 kids you got a tax refund. What did you do with it? Probably purchased some things you needed? If you had paid off your student loans how much money would that be each month? And how much LESS in intrest would it be? You could purchase those things you needed every month instead of waiting until tax time.

I do not have a credit card with a balance on it. I do use a credit card every time I purchase ANYTHING or pay a bill or ANYTHING I can put on a credit card except gas in order to rack up mileage. Our vacation tickets this year cost me $50 in fees for all 5 of us. I pay the bill with the card, come home and pay the card off. No intrest, no payments but, lots of miles!! This year it isn't paying a hotel because we aren't going anywhere other than to visit my son but, usually we do and depending on the year it sometimes manages to cover that hotel room too. 

Quoting momofsunshine77:

 I wish I had a garden.  I have a brown thumb and I live at 10000 feet.  Nothing grows here unless you are REALLY good at it and it takes A LOT.  I dont even have a lot of dirt, mostly rocks, we dont have grass or regular trees - just pine. 


Quoting Zazayam:

Do you have room for a garden? It doesn't take a lot of room to grow enough to supplement... You'll probably have to buy at least a little produce no matter what, but it does help. I spend about 600ish a month on all of us and we eat very healthy with only a few packaged foods. It might be worth driving the extra 10 miles to a different grocery store too, that just seems crazy to me.

Quoting momofsunshine77:

I clip coupons, but there aren't any for fresh produce and meats. I make a lot of things from scartch, so I end up buying ingredients instead of packaged food. produce is EXPENSIVE, so is meats. I definitely dont eat the way I would like to because it costs too much. I price meats everytime I go and dont buy it if it is expensive that week. Produce and meats are one thing I will not buy on "sale" I have bought rotten meat before by doing that and dont trust it anymore. I have 2 kids 4 and 2 and I do get a lot of snacks like applesauce and fruits, etc for them. Because I have to drive so far I have to have things that are healthy, but easy to eat in the car. I cannot tell you how it gets to be that high but it does everytime and I do everything possible to cut the costs down on it and it doesn't happen. It adds ups quickly.
Quoting MamaSnaps:

For a family of how many? I am spending about $700 a month total on EVERYTHING for a family of 5. I am NOT an extrem couponer. I rarely remember to clip coupons at all! We eat well. 

Quoting momofsunshine77:

DH made 75,000 last year with OT and brought home 45,000. I guess we live in a high cost area. We pay 1200 in rent, about 600 in all our utilities. we have propane - very expensive will never get it again. I spend about 600 every 2 weeks on food, not including any necessities like toilet paper, paper towels, toiletries, diapers, etc. We have 2 cars and one payment of about 330 a month. insurance is about 530 every 6 months. I have to drive about 45 minutes to anything like grocery, etc. So we spend at least 300 in gas per month for both cars. Oil change every 2 months. If I send my 4yo to preschool we would have to add on another 700 per month for public preschool, 800 for private. And again I would have to drive 45 minutes to get there one way. None of this includes if anyone needs clothing or shoes or anything in the house if we need to replace it, like worn out towels, bedding, broken dishes, etc.
Quoting illogicalkat:

Do you live in a high-cost area? $51k seems like it should be able to carry you. After taxes (let's call it 20%), that should be $40,800 per year, or $3400 per month take-home.

$3400 - 1200 for rent leaves you with $2200 for bills and expenses.

Groceries for a family of 3 might average $600/month, leaving you with $1600.

Then you utilities shouldn't cost more than about $200, which leaves $1400.

So now that necessities are covered, what is left that you are paying? Car note, insurance premiums, smartphones, cable/satellite/internet, student loans? Aside from the student loans, those are things that you can adjust.

Quoting momofsunshine77:

We dont save cuz there isnt anything to save. I am going to be VERY LUCKY to buy food this week. We are trying to move, and I was looking at a condo for 1200 a month, what we pay now for rent, and when we got to the office the lady said there was a limit of 51,000 a year. We make more than that so we "make too much money". I can tell you for sure that if we only made 51,000 a year there is NO WAY we could afford 1200 a month in rent. So, how do they do it?
Quoting DaWife806:

Do you all save more than other people? We live"pay check to pay check" but we move money to bills and savings on payday. If there is money left over in the account the day before payday we feel like we didn't appropriately save the previous check.

The other explanations could be PA, parents supporting their adult children, ect.











SewingMamaLele
by Bronze Member on Apr. 24, 2013 at 1:24 PM
1 mom liked this
We make 6 figures and still struggle, so i get it.

But, i will say that your food budget sounds really high. the high quality hamburger here is 5.50, not on sale, but i never buy it unless it's on sale.

We spend around 600/mo for a family of 6 (3 adults, 3 kids). That's without coupons, just shopping sales, and i make everything from scratch, with lots of produce.

Also... 800 for prek?? Have you called to get actual pricing, cause that's full time pricing... Not part time a couple days a week.

Where do you live (if you don't mind!).

I would seriously reevaluate your food spending, plus look at how much you're saving and if it would be better to pay down the car loans faster.
MamaSnaps
by on Apr. 24, 2013 at 2:27 PM

Easy was your response to building a garden-you had every excuse why  you can't do it-which boils down to it's not easy to do where you are at. 

I didn't say save thousands on car insurance. I said $100 per 6th  month period on your car insurance by not being forced to carry full coverage because of having a car payment. The thousands comes in from the actual car payment. 

There is some variation of prices across the country for many many things. Where one thing may be more expensive for you because it has to be shipped in another will be cheaper. It really does equal out quite a bit across the board. I looked in my freezer and on the hamburger package from this month I paid $4.59 per pound (in bulk) for hamburger so we are really very close in price. I know if I spent almost $1300 a month on groceries we'd be eating steak and not hamburger! 

Would you be willing to share exactly what is on your last grocery receipt? That may explain whatever it is we are all missing here. 


 

Quoting momofsunshine77:

I dont have easy, so I dont know where that is coming from. I make my life any harder than it i sI will never sleep - literally. I am not making excuses. I do make meals from scratch and meal plan. Things cost more here I am assuming. I remember one time talking to my MIL and we were discussing ground beef. She said it was like 2.50 a pound by her I looked at our label and it was 5.49 a pound. Go figure. She lives in a totally different state. Like I said before I have gone to budget couselors and this is it. As far as the car goes I dont understand your math. My isurance is 530 for 6 MONTHS for both cars which is about 85 a month for BOTH cars. So dropping coverage on one wil not save me thousands of dollars cuz I am not even spending that much a year on BOTH.
Quoting MamaSnaps:

I am not being rude here. I really really promise!!! You have excuses for everything. If you WANTED it you would do it. The money is there so you spend it instead of doing what may not be easy. Easy is REALLY expensive. A little research and self education and you CAN do it. 

I want to mention something else you said and give you my theory on it: Your vehicle-you have a payment on it. Car payments are a huge huge huge money pit. You have a car payment of $330 and insurance is $530 every 6 months. You are having to maintain full coverage on that car which has probably raised your insurance premium about $100 a month. So, that vehicle is costing you $5160 per year.

If you purchase a new car at $4000 per year AND THROW IT AWAY at the end of the year, you're ahead.

You don't have to cover that extra $100 in full coverage. What are the chances you are going to throw away the car at the end of the year? Slim. I require one year out of each vehicle and I haven't spent near $4000 since I had my last car payment on a new car. I purchased my SUV 3 years ago for $2000. We maintain it and figure $100 a month in vehicle maintenance. Total cost of $4400 INCLUDING  oil, tires and about $600 in a maintenance fund. Over 3 years your car has cost you $15840. WITHOUT oil, tires and any repairs. That's a difference of $11440. That's $3800 per year or just over $300 per month.  I am still driving that SUV and I had someone offer me $2000 for it because I am thinking I want something different. I can change my cars as the whim strikes me.

That's only one vehicle and it's savings would have allowed you to purchase 3 vehicles and throw them away in a year out of what you spent. I have a LOT of stashed money in my vehicle account because those vehicles always last more than a year. Did I mention that is my JUNK second vehicle? My first vehicle is much newer... much. I had saved enough money to buy that new with cash by not having a car payment. 

And Yes, I have accounts for everything. It's easier that way and money gets "hidden" and saved that way. It started with operating the businesses and having a payroll, tax and overhead accounts and I extended it into my home life. Which leads me to my next suggestion...  

One other thing I found is that if you have the money you spend it (which is why I said you have excuses.) If you make it go away before you ever receive it you adjust. I have stopped the $ from actually coming home. I don't have any choice but to use only what is in the operating account. When I first started doing it I had to put it into something that I couldn't touch come hell or high water-as if you didn't have it. If you can just pull it from savings-you will.   I allow $50000 per year into our operating budget for the family. That includes the monthly everything budget, our vacation and roughly $5000-7000 for my son's wrestling.

You mentioned student loans-for heaven's sake pay them off. If that's what your income level is with 2 kids you got a tax refund. What did you do with it? Probably purchased some things you needed? If you had paid off your student loans how much money would that be each month? And how much LESS in intrest would it be? You could purchase those things you needed every month instead of waiting until tax time.

I do not have a credit card with a balance on it. I do use a credit card every time I purchase ANYTHING or pay a bill or ANYTHING I can put on a credit card except gas in order to rack up mileage. Our vacation tickets this year cost me $50 in fees for all 5 of us. I pay the bill with the card, come home and pay the card off. No intrest, no payments but, lots of miles!! This year it isn't paying a hotel because we aren't going anywhere other than to visit my son but, usually we do and depending on the year it sometimes manages to cover that hotel room too. 

Quoting momofsunshine77:

 I wish I had a garden.  I have a brown thumb and I live at 10000 feet.  Nothing grows here unless you are REALLY good at it and it takes A LOT.  I dont even have a lot of dirt, mostly rocks, we dont have grass or regular trees - just pine. 


Quoting Zazayam:

Do you have room for a garden? It doesn't take a lot of room to grow enough to supplement... You'll probably have to buy at least a little produce no matter what, but it does help. I spend about 600ish a month on all of us and we eat very healthy with only a few packaged foods. It might be worth driving the extra 10 miles to a different grocery store too, that just seems crazy to me.

Quoting momofsunshine77:

I clip coupons, but there aren't any for fresh produce and meats. I make a lot of things from scartch, so I end up buying ingredients instead of packaged food. produce is EXPENSIVE, so is meats. I definitely dont eat the way I would like to because it costs too much. I price meats everytime I go and dont buy it if it is expensive that week. Produce and meats are one thing I will not buy on "sale" I have bought rotten meat before by doing that and dont trust it anymore. I have 2 kids 4 and 2 and I do get a lot of snacks like applesauce and fruits, etc for them. Because I have to drive so far I have to have things that are healthy, but easy to eat in the car. I cannot tell you how it gets to be that high but it does everytime and I do everything possible to cut the costs down on it and it doesn't happen. It adds ups quickly.
Quoting MamaSnaps:

For a family of how many? I am spending about $700 a month total on EVERYTHING for a family of 5. I am NOT an extrem couponer. I rarely remember to clip coupons at all! We eat well. 

Quoting momofsunshine77:

DH made 75,000 last year with OT and brought home 45,000. I guess we live in a high cost area. We pay 1200 in rent, about 600 in all our utilities. we have propane - very expensive will never get it again. I spend about 600 every 2 weeks on food, not including any necessities like toilet paper, paper towels, toiletries, diapers, etc. We have 2 cars and one payment of about 330 a month. insurance is about 530 every 6 months. I have to drive about 45 minutes to anything like grocery, etc. So we spend at least 300 in gas per month for both cars. Oil change every 2 months. If I send my 4yo to preschool we would have to add on another 700 per month for public preschool, 800 for private. And again I would have to drive 45 minutes to get there one way. None of this includes if anyone needs clothing or shoes or anything in the house if we need to replace it, like worn out towels, bedding, broken dishes, etc.
Quoting illogicalkat:

Do you live in a high-cost area? $51k seems like it should be able to carry you. After taxes (let's call it 20%), that should be $40,800 per year, or $3400 per month take-home.

$3400 - 1200 for rent leaves you with $2200 for bills and expenses.

Groceries for a family of 3 might average $600/month, leaving you with $1600.

Then you utilities shouldn't cost more than about $200, which leaves $1400.

So now that necessities are covered, what is left that you are paying? Car note, insurance premiums, smartphones, cable/satellite/internet, student loans? Aside from the student loans, those are things that you can adjust.

Quoting momofsunshine77:

We dont save cuz there isnt anything to save. I am going to be VERY LUCKY to buy food this week. We are trying to move, and I was looking at a condo for 1200 a month, what we pay now for rent, and when we got to the office the lady said there was a limit of 51,000 a year. We make more than that so we "make too much money". I can tell you for sure that if we only made 51,000 a year there is NO WAY we could afford 1200 a month in rent. So, how do they do it?
Quoting DaWife806:

Do you all save more than other people? We live"pay check to pay check" but we move money to bills and savings on payday. If there is money left over in the account the day before payday we feel like we didn't appropriately save the previous check.

The other explanations could be PA, parents supporting their adult children, ect.












momofsunshine77
by on Apr. 24, 2013 at 2:39 PM
I drive way more than DH, mostly because all our kids activities and the stores are at least 45 minutes away. When my 4 yo starts preschool - if I can get her in - That will be 45 minutes away as well and I will be driving there twice a day 4 days a week!!! We are looking so I am closer to the stores and the kids stuff, but we are not having a lot of luck. IT actually costs more there than where we are in rent. DH tried carpooling and it didn't save much. It only made him have to leave earlier and ocme home later so he could meet up. As far as our cars go they are old. we have a 2000 and a 2007. The 2007 was bought used in 2010 and that is the one we are paying on. LOL Since I drive so far and usually dont have cell service for most of the trip and I am usually driving in snowy mountain passes, I need the newer car for reliability - especially with 2 kiddos.
Quoting Karen_S:

Your food budget is pretty big.  Try eating less meat...it's healthier anyway.  And you can buy produce on sale...it's not like meat where you can't tell if it is old.  Get whatever fruit and veg is cheapest that week and work your menu around that.  If there is a good sale, buy a bunch and freeze some. 

And plan your driving ahead of time...$300 in gas is a lot.  So try to consolidate trips...have one day a week when you do bunch of errands in town.  Consider moving so that you are closer to DH work and your shopping. Any chance DH could find someone to car pool with?

If your youngest will be in diapers for a while longer and you have your own washer, consider cloth. You have to lay out money to buy them up front, but save over time.

You have cars that you can't afford.  Look at their resale value and think about whether you could save by selling them and buying older used cars.

Just some thoughts. 


MamaSnaps
by on Apr. 24, 2013 at 2:50 PM
1 mom liked this

Newer car does not equal safer. A well maintained car equals safe. I would get in my 2000 or 1997 and drive it across the country today. The 2000 has 140K miles on it too. 

Quoting momofsunshine77:

I drive way more than DH, mostly because all our kids activities and the stores are at least 45 minutes away. When my 4 yo starts preschool - if I can get her in - That will be 45 minutes away as well and I will be driving there twice a day 4 days a week!!! We are looking so I am closer to the stores and the kids stuff, but we are not having a lot of luck. IT actually costs more there than where we are in rent. DH tried carpooling and it didn't save much. It only made him have to leave earlier and ocme home later so he could meet up. As far as our cars go they are old. we have a 2000 and a 2007. The 2007 was bought used in 2010 and that is the one we are paying on. LOL Since I drive so far and usually dont have cell service for most of the trip and I am usually driving in snowy mountain passes, I need the newer car for reliability - especially with 2 kiddos.
Quoting Karen_S:

Your food budget is pretty big.  Try eating less meat...it's healthier anyway.  And you can buy produce on sale...it's not like meat where you can't tell if it is old.  Get whatever fruit and veg is cheapest that week and work your menu around that.  If there is a good sale, buy a bunch and freeze some. 

And plan your driving ahead of time...$300 in gas is a lot.  So try to consolidate trips...have one day a week when you do bunch of errands in town.  Consider moving so that you are closer to DH work and your shopping. Any chance DH could find someone to car pool with?

If your youngest will be in diapers for a while longer and you have your own washer, consider cloth. You have to lay out money to buy them up front, but save over time.

You have cars that you can't afford.  Look at their resale value and think about whether you could save by selling them and buying older used cars.

Just some thoughts. 



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