How can you save $$ when you don't have it?

netshoundJuly 8, 2006

How in the world are you suppose to save money when you pay out pretty much what you make and whatever is left goes to other neccesities? And if you do have a teeny-tiny bit left, should'nt you be able to do a little something fun for a change since you normally can't rub to nickles together?

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You have to decide whether doing something fun is worth sacrificing your financial security overall. Each time you deposit money into savings, no matter how small, you bring yourself closer to a peace-of-mind that is much greater than the fleeting joy you'll feel when you splurge. Just my two cents.


    Bookmark   July 8, 2006 at 10:34PM
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You place long-term security ahead of instant gratification.

It helps if you pay yourself first... have even $5 taken out of the paycheck weekly. You don't see it - you don't miss it. And increase the amount as you are able...

    Bookmark   July 8, 2006 at 10:52PM
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" pay out pretty much what you make and whatever is left goes to other neccesities..."

Simply put, there's two alternatives: 1) Bring in more; or 2) Pay out less. And keep Ol Joyful's wisdom in mind: If you're in a 25% tax bracket, you need to earn $1.33 to spend $1.00!

One has to examine what they're paying out that they shouldn't. Many times there's unnecessary luxuries that could be cut down. A person would be surprised exactly how cheap they can live when they have to and more importantly want to.

Head to the library and check out the book Tightwad Gazette. There's a series of three (and they were later compiled into one). Read them and you'll get a lot of ideas on where to start.

Learn the phrases: "Reduce, reuse, recycle", "made from scratch", "NO!" and a few others.

And learn from your financial mistakes.

I've had a lot of tough financial times as have many others. But we made it just fine.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2006 at 11:50PM
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I've had my share of tough financial times too. It's amazing what some calls necessities and others call luxuries. For me, I looked at my expenses and cut. I decided what I could live without for awhile and I did. More money can be available very soon this way, and even moreso if you can increase your income, even just a little. Then presto, you have a little extra money. Then you can start thinking about better paying jobs and what it would take to get those. Or possibly moving elsewhere that is more affordable. As far as entertainment goes, often times you DON'T get what you pay for. When you think about dinner out, a movie, or a nite club, babysitter, and the gas, now that's alot of money. It's usually not worth it when you have very little to spend. Check out the parks, evening sunsets with a favorite beverage, a get together with friends grilling out or playing cards. Entertainment doesn't have to be expensive.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2006 at 5:14PM
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You save $$s when you learn how to "pinch a penny" and "stretch a dollar" to cover more things than you think possible.

There are so many things these days we think of as necessities when in reality they are not. We do not "have to have" everything we buy. I am from the old school of "do without", "use less" unless you have extra money to pay for it after the savings account has been fed as many dimes, dollars, as possible. Yes, I lived thru hard times, not a nickle or dime for a piece of candy. Used my legs for transportation, washed clothes in bathtub, could not afford laundrymat.

Here are some things I do not need to buy when strapped for money: gum, coke, candy, popcorn, movies, eat out, mixes or pre-done foods, makeup other than powder/lipstick/eyeshadow/eyebrow pencil, gas for unnecessary trips anywhere, expensive shampoo, new clothes/shoes/purse. Use fans instead of A/C or keep A/C on high setting and use fans to circulate air.

There are many things to do for fun that do not cost a penny.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2006 at 7:26PM
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Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana

Have you reduced your bills, by being conservative?

Water? Elec? AC? Heat?

Do you drive conservatively? Reduce trips? Make a plan and run errands so as to not have to backtrack, or have to go out again? Have you checked into cheaper auto insurance? Tires properly inflated?

Do you have a cell phone? Cable or satelite tv?

Do you buy groceries in bulk and stock up when they are on sale? About everything I buy is 'on sale', and I buy more than one.

Videos and DVD'ds are rent free at most libraries.

When I first moved out on my own at age 21, it seemed there were weeks that I didn't have money left over for a pack of gun. It was then suggested that I get on the savings bond program at work. They took something like $5 each week, and believe it or not, I was still able to live just fine, and had learned my first lesson in myself first.

If you cannot reduce your bills, possibly a little part time job of a few hours would help, at least for now.

I live alone, and can live on a shoestring, if I so choose.

Best of luck to you.


    Bookmark   July 9, 2006 at 7:34PM
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I buy items at thrift stores, yard sales, estate sales, and eBay. You can find new as well as excellent pre-owned items at these places.

A friend who started a family five years ago bought nearly all her plus-size maternity clothes from these sources -- she was a stylin' expectant mom. Now she buys her kids' clothes pre-owned too.

When I had to furnish an apartment, I found nearly all my furniture and appliances (toaster oven, kitchen table, chairs, pots, pans, food processor, rugs, TV, clothes dryer, etc.) at yard & estate sales, the classified ads, and (there's a craigslist for nearly every city in the world).

Admittedly, this system doesn't provide instant gratification, like going to Target for an item. One has to do some hunting, but that's free entertainment and delayed gratification can be a good thing. I'm living very well and saving money. And in many cases, I have items of a higher quality than I could have afforded at a retail establishment.

I buy music CDs off eBay or -- it takes a few days for them to arrive by mail, but they are so much cheaper than retail. And I don't have to go to the mall -- a place that just exhausts me.

I second the suggestions made by others above -- I follow most of them too.

I would like to add this -- it's also important be part of the system, no matter how little money you have. Donate your good usable items to thrift stores, hold a yard sale, give away unwanted items to friends, volunteer your time, etc.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2006 at 5:25PM
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How about moving? Housing, taxes, utilities, etc. often vary by city/town. If I were retired or disabled, I would get the heck out of the big city.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2006 at 9:21PM
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parrot_phan makes an excellent point. The real key, of course, is keeping the possessions to a minimum. But, courtesy of our consumer culture and planned obsolescence, thrift stores, garage sales, and Web sites like craigslist and are great places to find stuff. For that matter, places that specialize in secondhand -- used-furniture stores, consignment clothing shops, etc. -- also are good. When I look around my house, I'm amazed at how much nice stuff I've bought secondhand -- and sometimes not even used!

    Bookmark   July 12, 2006 at 11:07AM
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I lurk here alot but rarely post. Three years ago my husband was diagnosed with lung cancer -- a month later, the plant where he worked closed.

We lived off of $200 a week unemployment (maximum in Iowa!) for 9 monthes and did not add to our debt. Actually, we didn't use our savings except for medical bills.

I learned something very big --- its better to make memories than reservations. So when we needed a night out -- we packed a picnic, star-gazed at a planterium, took a moon-lit hike. Much more delightful than a $75 meal at a resturant or the latest movie.

And now that my husband is healthy and cancer-free and back to work ---- we live by the same philosphy.


    Bookmark   July 13, 2006 at 9:03AM
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Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana


Thanks for sharing. It sounds like you had some really tough times, though you didn't let it get you down.

I too am a cancer survivor (well actually 'cured' since it has been over 5 years) and find such pleasure in the simplest of things. I think it can be said, that I make my own fun.

One of the best laughs I've had recently was watching my puppy chasing a butterfly. Luckily she never caught it.

When company drops by, we enjoy sitting on the porch sipping a cold beverage, visiting, and enjoy the hummers and other birds.

It is said, that one of the advantages of living in the city is that there is so much to do. Restuarants, theaters, museums, etc. I'd much rather take a walk in the woods alone, with my fur friends, or with other friends.

I too like to make memories, and it seldom costs anything.

Sue...who is having a friend over tonight and we're baking home made yeast cinnamon rolls and making a memory.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2006 at 9:30AM
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Cathy - Sue - Excellent posts!

I was totally broke during college and for several years afterward. I learned to enjoy life, not just getting stuff. Now that I've got some money, I still love camping, libraries, parks, and lots of cheap stuff. Knowing have to live great on less will also help me retire earlier.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2006 at 7:34PM
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We try and do all that kind of stuff also. The only thing is, when you really think about it...some of that stuff is not cheap anymore. For example..we love to fish. To fish legally we need fishing liscenses that are $20 each. That equals $40 for the both of us. Not cheap anymore. We like to camp...just tenting in a state park is $25 a night. We could find somewhere less expensive I suppose but with a toddler we will only go where it is safe and patroled. So you figure for a weekend it's going to cost $50 for 2 nights, then add in the gas and food, and again, your looking at close to $100 for the weekend easy. Alot of these things seem like they would be inexpensive but when you really break it down, it's not anymore. I like the idea of going to the park. We live near a free one that has a great playground for the DD. Tonight it was so hot I let her run around under our sprinkler! It was great just watching her have a good time. We really try to be thrifty when we can, which is most of the time, but sometimes when you've worked so hard for so many years, and lived from paycheck to paycheck, it would just be nice to just once not have to worry about the cost of something. I'm fairly young now, I guess if you count 36 as being young, and I want to enjoy life now when I can, not when I'm too old to do the things I enjoy now. I know people say save it for retirement. What if I'm not around till then? I just wish since we really carry no debt load other than the house, 1 car, daycare, and utilities, and 1 loan for new windows, we should be able to get by better than we are. Considering what other people have for debt load on here, I think we are doing pretty good with that. Both my DH and I have been at our jobs for almost 20 years and switching into a new profession is not going to happen. We've even tried selling on eBay but there is so much stuff on there now, it's hard to make any real money without putting alot of time into it which we just can't do right now. Us along with alot of people save our change and bring back bottles to use as "fun" money. We can't do alot with it but it gives us something to look forward to after working so hard. I guess it's the little things for now, right? Tomorrow maybe we'll take the DH to the library, she will be in heaven with all those books! We'll even get a DVD maybe while we are there! Thanks for listening.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2006 at 8:14PM
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I don't know your situation personally but I see soooo many people who define luxury items as "necessities".

I had a friend who lost her home due to forclosure. Sure, her spouse had a heart attack and couldn't work for a while, but they refused to cut down on things.

They bought garbage bags instead of using the free ones that you bring groceries home in. They used reams of paper towels instead of sponge for things like spilled Kool-Aid. Zip-Loc bags. Disposable storage containers. Disposable toilet scrub brushes. Room fresheners. Disposable dust cloths. Convienence foods. Soda pop. Chips. Ice cream. They still were buying expensive steaks for dinner instead of chicken and ate lunch at fast food restaurants instead of packing a lunch. Aerosol household cleansers instead of soap and bleach and vineger. "Salon" shampoo because it was "so much better" and electrolysis appointments instead of using a tweezers for eyebrows and chin hair. She also NEEDED to cover her grey, with haircoloring at the salon. These "necessities" all add up.

They wouldn't give up broadband for dial-up because it was "too slow" even though neither of them needed a computer for work. They "needed" their cell phones and so did their KIDS!!! They had cable with ALL the extra movie channels and thought they were "saving money" by not out going to movies.

They also thought they were "saving money" by buying and drinking wine at home with dinner rather than going out to a bar.

I tried to hint that maybe they should cut some of these things out of their life - "Won't you feel silly when they forclose on your house because you *really needed* HBO" and "Maybe your 22y/o son could get his OWN cell phone?"

They lost their house.

Me? Every stick of furniture in my house is second hand either thrown out by someone and given to me or bought at yard sales and thrift shops. I actually get COMPLIMENTS on my decor. (I won't buy second hand upolstered items though.) Nearly every dish, glass, pan, bowl, bakeware, and utensil is something that someone was getting rid of. It is amazing how cute combinations of mismatches can look on a table setting. Your salad plates do not have to match your dinner plates. I get compliments.

The computer I am using right now was going to be tossed out by someone and I snatched it up.

I make ALL my meals from scratch using only raw fresh ingredients. It is actually healtier for you to do this.

I have NEVER bought anything I did not have the money saved up for. Never ever wasted a dime on interest payments. That includes my second hand car and my 'scratch and dent sale' appliances. All my first appiance purchases were for second hand items to tie me over until I could afford something better when they broke down years later. A 'Harvest Gold" stove cooks just as well as a stainless steel one.

I keep my thermostat at 60 and wear a sweater. I know people who heat their homes to 80 and then walk around in their underwear. In the summer I probably turn the AC on less than a dozen times and even then only to bring it down to 78. I know people who walk into their air conditioned home and put on a sweatshirt because they feel a "chill". Really.

Half of my wardrode comes from second hand shops and thrift stores. I actually prefer the "older" basic styles they carry. I guess being middle aged you get stuck on a "look" that you tend to stick with. Giant baggy jeans slung low on the hips costing $80 don't appeal to me. Neither does oversized, neon colored athletic wear with droopy shorts.

I find most of my entertainment in the free movies and concerts offered at the local university. The movies they show are BETTER than the crap the theaters have. The museums and art galleries have free days. And there is nothing better than a bike ride through town or along the lake. (On my second hand $10 bike. LOL.) If you have kids or grandkids check out sites like for your area, they have listings of free events for kids that are fun and educational. Kids don't NEED an Xbox or GameCube or what ever the new hot item is these days.

When I was younger I used to work TWO paying jobs. Yes. And my social life did not suffer either.

If you have a hobby, (you say you like fishing and camping) try getting a second JOB doing those things. I know a guy whose second job was being a fishing guide. He had no formal training. He just liked to fish. That way you can enjoy the outdoors and fish AND get paid to do it. I knew a married couple who got a weekend JOB working in a night club. She was a coatcheck worker and he was a bartender. They got to get out of the house and see the bands they liked and socialize with other people and GET PAID rather than SPENDING money. They didn't feel guilty about the money spent on a babysitter when they were *working* at a nightclub rather than just "clubbing it". Sometimes doing volunteer work has benefits, for instance, volunteer ushers at our local ballet get to see the ballet for free rather than spending money on tickets.

People nowdays do not realize **how good they actually have it** even when they have to scrimp. My parents grew up during the depression. I listened to their stories about having to eat nothing but oatmeal - everyday - for weeks - for DINNER. Or rice and milk - for dinner. And putting newspaper in their shoes when they got holes. My mother even had to sew sanitary nakins out of old rags and WASH them for reuse because they didn't have the money to waste on disposable ones. This is why I often turn a deaf ear when I hear young people boo-hoo-hooing it about how broke they are, and they need money for a "necessity" like disposable diapers. Geeesh.

I don't live miserly and I am not cheap. My home does not look like a dump. I do splurge on things like tickets to the ballet which I enjoy, and the occasional nice restaurant or nightclub. I just don't feel I need to be financially strapped by owning a plasma TV or video cell phone when there are cheaper alternatives that will free up money for other things.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2006 at 1:18AM
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To my mind, saving money is like being on a diet: you can be on a diet on which you don't consume a single calorie more than you need to sustain your health, but you most likely won't stay on it unless you can break the rules occasionally and enjoy a treat. If there's an activity or a purchase you really enjoy -- fishing, ballet, audio -- partake occasionally. I believe people who don't ever splurge are just as much slaves to money as spendthrifts.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2006 at 11:30AM
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I don't look at being frugal as dieting. What I do is work out my desired savings first. Once I've paid myself and my bills, I'm happy to spend all of the rest on whatever strikes our fancy.

I try to economize as much as possible on the things that don't matter to me so that I can afford the things I like. We drive cheap cars, never buy jewelry, buy cheap clothes, etc. But we also have a nice pool, a theater room, and lots of neat electronics.

Make sure you save enough money for emergencies, retirement, and future expenses. Don't waste money on things that aren't important. Have fun with the rest.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2006 at 6:44PM
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Whenever someone lives literally from paycheck to paycheck, IMO they're doing themselves a true injustice if they don't sit down and track every penny spent for at least a couple of months. Then start looking at it. Since I have no idea what you spend and what you spend it on, there's no way I can give more than general suggestions along with the other great suggestions already given.

There used to be a thing called the "family vacation" that was a once a year event. Today it seems like the "family vacation has to occur at least monthly, but I digress. To take a family of three camping and be able to fish for a few days to a week can be expensive or very cheap, all dependent upon the requirements of the people. Food doesn't need to cost any more than it does at home, in fact many times it can be cheaper. You don't need to eat at restaurants three times a day. If you own your camping equipment, it's expense is minimal. The licenses cost a few bucks as would the campsite, unless you look around and camp at a friend's place or something. Ever think about camping out in the back yard, if you have one?

How often people eat out, and where they eat out can make a big budget difference. Fun is a relative term. You can have movie night at home. Watch for a movie on broadcast TV (since anyone living paycheck to paycheck should not have cable or satellite anyway). Make a pitcher of generic kool-aid, pop some popcorn, maybe buy some cheap candy or maybe make some hot dogs and get together when the movie comes on and watch it. You could even get an uncomfortable chair to sit on and spread some jujubes on the floor for ambiance. Just remember to dim the lights and take the phone off the hook or turn off the ringer!

If you truly need a cell phone for emergencies, get a prepaid one instead of a postpaid. Start looking around for opportunities to combine spend less, earn more and have some recreation together. For instance people that like to fish and camp would probably not find it a big chore to get a part time job at a sporting goods store or a bait shop. Work can be fun.

Energy use can be a huge expense. Turn down the t-stat in the winter and turn it up in the summer, Weatherstrip, replace bulbs with CFLs, check the temp of the water heater, shower instead of bathe, etc, etc.

One thing really concerned me. Essentially I read the comments as something similar to I want to enjoy myself now, for I may die tomorrow. True to a point, but when you have a young child, you chose to have a responsibility to provide for that child. If something happens to you, that kid shouldn't have to suffer more yet.

Take a deep breath and look at what you have, not what you don't have. You have good health it sounds like anyway, you have a family and many people would give up their millions to trade places with you.

I enjoyed seeing the comment about the sprinkler! Shows that you aren't adverse to enjoying the simple things in life. Perhaps you need to widen your circle of friends? Getting together for a picnic with other families with kids of comparable ages can be frugal and fun.

It all starts with the determination to make it work. Good luck on developing a more frugal and financially prosperous lifestyle!

    Bookmark   July 15, 2006 at 2:52AM
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I remember a coworker complaining to me about how hard it was to make it on our meager salaries. I had always assumed that he was making a ton of money. It turns out he was just spending it. There he was complaining about not being able to save while sipping his daily $4 cup of coffee.

I've seen families making less than $30,000 a year save money. I've seen people making more than $200,000 a year go bankrupt.

It's not rocket science people. You take 15% of your gross paycheck and put it into savings. You find a way, however painful, to live on the rest. Do it for a while and it won't seem so painful. Keep focusing on the things you can do so that in the long term your gross paycheck gets bigger.

Don't whine about being broke if you have cable TV. Don't whine about being broke if you eat meals out. Don't whine about being broke if you are replacing a car that works. Don't whine about being broke if you buy books and mags rather than reading them at the library. Don't whine about being broke if you aren't so tight that your AC is set to 79 and your heat is set to 66. Don't whine about being broke if you buy new clothes or furniture. Don't whine about being broke if you go to movies.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2006 at 7:55AM
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As I was packing up my things to move to a new house, I came across an old photo album. It showed the years just after college.
It was unbelievable how poor we were! The dreadful broken down furniture, milk crates and bricks holding up shelves, noodle-and-ketchup meals, not even blinds on the windows! Page after page, pictures of a home that I'd now be embarrassed about.

But I cannot ever remember thinking of ourselves as poor! No doubt we noticed that there wasn't money for special things, but I simply cannot remember ever feeling bad about that. Or wishing for more. I guess we were optimistic about the future and sitting on a pillow on the floor instead of a recliner wasn't something we pined about. We had one phone and one TV and we'd be puzzled if you'd ask us if we needed a second one.

There were lots of friends, and, judging by the pictures, lots of fun to be had. Maybe we were too busy with that to yearn for a dishwasher or custom kitchen cabinetry.

I guess my point, too, is that there is a huge difference between what you need and what you want.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2006 at 11:59AM
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Here are a few tips that I've found useful:
1. chart your monthly expenses (every penny)
2. put something into saving, even if it's just a little
3. put utilities on a budget-billing plan
A few other ideas:
Trade an evening of babysitting with another couple with children. Camp in the backyard of friends and have a cookout and then invite them to do the same.
Check with your local bank, but many mortgage loans (& perhaps car loans too) can end up costing you less in interest if you make half your payment 2 weeks early. eg. your mortgage is $800 due the first of the month. Pay $400 on the 15 of the month before and the other $400 by the due date. With the exception of the first time, this helps spread out the lump of the payment over more than one pay period and can also reduce the overall interest by as much as 1/3.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2006 at 5:08PM
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Well the sad truth is we pay-out more then we make!! Sad but true. Gas went up, Mortgage went up due to a 38% tax increase in the area I live in and believe it or not..other areas around me went up more! Crazy! Utilities(gas/electricity) went up due to all these weather catastophies we have been having in this country. Daycare went up for the DD and after calling a number of diffrent places, where she goes now is actually still the cheaper one! Our health insurance went up an extra $70 a month, which does'nt seem like alot but for some it is. It's funny how everything has gone up and my job gave us a 50 cent raise and they thought that was sufficent. Hmm..weird.
I guess the luxery items we could get rid of is cable and the computer. We already don't rent movies or go to the movies. We eat fast-food from time to time but not even enough for it to count. We NEVER go to a resturant. Someone had a good idea of getting free movies at the library. I'm going to check into that. Someone suggested getting a new job but lets be realistic..I'm 36 years old and have been at my current job for almost 20 years. I am not about to quit and start over now especially with all my vacation time I have earned and seniority. I'm to old to be starting at the bottom with limited skills. Shoot...I should have gone to school!!! When we want something, we just do the best we can and save a little here and there. It takes us awhile sometimes to get it but if we want it bad enough we usually can attain it. Of course I told my DH the other day I would love to have a diningroom so we could have real holiday dinners with the family. Of course I told him I would probably be 70 when that happened and by then...who needs one!! My goal is to have the house paid off by the time I'm 55. My DD will be just about done with schooling by then. A mortgage free home, how nice that will be!

    Bookmark   July 16, 2006 at 1:17PM
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The people who said to write down everything you're spending were exactly on target. I did this and my entire understanding of personal spending and how I use money changed.

I started by writing down everything I had spent over the past week since it was still fresh in my memory. I wrote down a lot of things, then I added them up only to discover a giant difference in what I had spent and what I wrote down. I was shocked, I just couldn't place where all that money had gone. The overwhelming majority of my money had simply vanished. Even when I added in a large magin of error to accomodate any forgotten spending the numbers were wrong.

I decided I must track everything to the last pence and find the giant leaking hole in my budget. Turns out I was spending money I didn't know I was spending. Every day, a few pence here and a couple of there, the majority of my money was quietly leaking away on things of no lasting value. If you've ever had a small drip from a tap and put the plug in the drain only to find the bath full the next morning then you already know how it works.

The money I remembered spending, the higher value items costing £10 or more, which I had debated buying with myself so much turned out to be a rather insignificant portion of my weekly spending. It was ironic and disturbing to work out that a £1.70 coffee each work day was £442 a year (not so far off a whole month's wages for some people!), and that I was over the year spending more on 75p toilet cleaner than chocolate I often decided I couldn't afford.

Provided you keep letting your money drip away little by little on the small things that add up you'll never have any - not even when you stop buying the seemingly big things. Now I've stopped most the little money leaks I have a lot more to spend on myself and doing things I enjoy.

You just have to start asking yourself questions like "Should I drink instant coffee at work rather than buy out, or have a holiday this year?"

    Bookmark   July 16, 2006 at 4:18PM
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1. You are paid according to how much the company needs the skills you provide, not according to the cost of living. It's nothing personal. That is the way most everyone is paid.

2. This isn't for everyone, but...DH and I have only catastrophic care insurance. We had an opportunity to get insurance through his employment. It was going to cost double what we are paying now, and the benefits weren't that great. Still would have to pay the full rate for Dr. visits, and such. For the extra $2400 a year the insurance would cost, we didn't foresee $2400 worth of benefit to us. Our medical bills, paying every penny ourselves, don't come to that. Our current insurance will kick in if for instance one of us has cancer or something.

Lucky me, our state provides free or low-cost Pap smears and mammograms to un- or underinsured women.

3. Yes, it's true that "tv doesn't come in well without cable." It's also true that 30 or so years ago, people didn't die from only watching three channels.

4. I was labeled "redundant" at the age of 46, and had to start over. You can decide not to look for another job. But someone higher up may make the decision for you.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2006 at 4:53PM
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"It's funny how everything has gone up and my job gave us a 50 cent raise and they thought that was sufficent. Hmm..weird.... ...
Someone suggested getting a new job but lets be realistic..I'm 36 years old and have been at my current job for almost 20 years. I am not about to quit and start over now especially with all my vacation time I have earned and seniority."

You are ONLY 36! Half of you life is ahead of you. You CAN make a career change!

You have been with one place almost 20 years and they reward you with a 50 cent raise... and you want to STAY there?!?! Another reason to change jobs (IMHO), especially since income doesn't meet expenses....

    Bookmark   July 16, 2006 at 5:17PM
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36...I'm OLD. A new place would probably think I was a health risk or at least bleed them dry when it comes to insurance! LOL!!!!

    Bookmark   July 16, 2006 at 5:54PM
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gosh... then what am I at 51? I don't consider myself old at all, and you are still quite young...

    Bookmark   July 16, 2006 at 7:44PM
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Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana

Several folks I know were hired when they were 50+ into a manufacturing plant. The company (I think) saw them as potential and valuable workers who would do a good job, come to work as required (so many young folks want to push it to the limit with the percentage they are allowed to miss), and stay with the job...(again so many young folks just job hop until they can almost no longer get a job because of not having a good work history.)

It sounds like you have a good work history.

Sue...55 years young

    Bookmark   July 16, 2006 at 10:39PM
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It's easy to feel OLD if you've been in the same job for 20 years. Were you planning to stay in the same place for the next 25?

I'm 44 and look forward to my next career change. Would be the fourth for me and I'm picking up experiences and qualifications along the way. We just hired a 54 year-old female vice president in another department. Age didn't seem to be an issue there.

These days, with the possible exception of McDonalds and Hooters, employers value things like life skills, experience, maturity, and the ability to answer the phone without chewing gum at the same time. People live longer and do so more healthily. Older staff is not as much of an insurance issue as it once might have been.

When I look at the people just entering the workforce - people who think eyebrow piercings in the workplace is okay and spell the word "you" with a single letter - I don't worry about my employability just yet.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2006 at 9:35AM
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>>>"We eat fast-food from time to time but not even enough for it to count"++++++++

It counts. Believe me it does. It all *adds up*. You just don't think a couple dollars here and there makes a difference but it can add up to hundreds or even thousands of dollars per year.

I have a couple of friends at work who are *always* broke. They run out of money and borrow then pay it back and start over again> running out> borrowing> running out> borrowing...........They do this every month. One makes $78K/yr and the other makes 72-120k/yr with commission.

One buys a fast food burrito and soda for breakfast to eat on the way to work, and then picks up a large Starbucks coffee to take to the office. I pointed out to him that his "breakfast" (if you would call it that) is costing him $10/day or $200/month or $2,400/year. He never saw it that way in a lump sum in his eyes. He actually had to miss his daughter's wedding because he was BROKE and couldn't afford the plane tickets and hotel room to go. I lost respect for him.

The other guy buys a fast food breakfast and then buys soda out of the machine all day at a $1 per can. He drinks at least 10 of them per day. He just doesn't see it as a huge expense because he spends it a dollar at a time. Lunch is also fast food and dinner is beers after work with the guys. He doesn't know why he can't make ends meet. He actually said to me said that he doesn't think that spending money on "a few beers here and there" is going to make a difference in the long run. He is spending $20/day in beer!

They both park in the parking lot because "it's only a couple of bucks" rather than park on the street a bit further away. This all adds up. A dollar here. Two dollars there. Another dollar........ By the end of the day they just don't realize how much money has gone between their fingers.

Neither of these guys own a home and neither one has a dime saved up. Both of them are bouncing checks at the end of the month for bills.

One must budget their luxuries. I, myself, enjoy a pricey Starbucks Frappacino every single day. But I knew I had to make a choice between a $2 Frapp everyday and possibly a hood ornament for my truck. I chose enjoying the daily Frappacino over the hood ornament. I would never even consider balancing the choice between the $2 Frapp and paying the electric bill on time.

It all adds up.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2006 at 7:34PM
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When I look at the people just entering the workforce - people who think eyebrow piercings in the workplace is okay and spell the word "you" with a single letter - I don't worry about my employability just yet.

Before spelling and using grammar properly went out of style (never mind "u" for "you", I'm talking about all-too-common gaffes like "He and myself spent alot of time to get it's performance up to the required level."), I felt the same way. Hardly anyone seem to care.

I suspect things like the eyebrow piercings will become the norm in the not-too-distant future. No one blinks an eye at pierced ears, and even multiple ear piercings are common and accepted. Many piercings coworkers won't ever know about. :-) Things will change. So long as the ability to learn and a solid work ethic exist, I don't think it will matter to employers much.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2006 at 11:20AM
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Bud - the $10/day your coworker spends is what the debt experts on Oprah call the "Latte Factor". If this gentleman invested only half of his Latte Factor, $1200/year, for the next 15 years and received an 8% return he would have $35,189.14!

Writing down everything you spend is critical to getting a hold on your finances. When you have it on paper, you can see where the fat can be trimmed, even if its just a dollar here or two dollars there. Squirreling away a few bucks is better than nothing at all.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2006 at 5:52AM
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I heard a "talking head" on the radio (several years ago) tell about how he saves his one dollar bills, so I thought, I can do that, and I'll use it for my Christmas fund. I've done it for three years now and I usually accumulate about $1,000 each year. The only trick, you need to use cash for most of your purchases. If you rely on plastic, it's not going to work. I also put the money into a bank savings account as soon as there's $25 or so accumulated.

Since I don't spend $1,000 on Christmas, it has also become our emergency fund (appliance repair, etc.) and where we go for big-ticket items - like new tires or a dishwasher. You could use it to fund car insurance, and things like that.

Here's how it works at our house. Hubby and I get a weekly allowance (usually $100, but sometimes it's $150) - mine goes for groceries and household stuff, his for car/gas/oil and occasional eating out. We don't use credit or debit cards because it's been shown you usually spend more for your purchases using plastic, than if you use cash.

If all I have in the grocery budget for the week is $50, then that's how much I have to spend - PERIOD! Over-spending is the reason fast-food restaurants installed the customer-convenient charge/debit card machines. It wasn't because it was better for the customer.... I go into McDonald's with $5, I'm probably going to decide to buy the All-American Special (1 hamburger, small fries, small drink) for under $3 and get some change back. With plastic, people get what they want, when they want it. It's a whole lot different having to reach into your pocket then and there to pay for something.

So that's a simple how-to program.


    Bookmark   July 19, 2006 at 8:08PM
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Well, I can understand the OPs frustrations. If one followed all the advice here, one would spend life at work, come immediately home and make all food from scratch, sweltering in the summer and freezing in the winter, never go anywhere but home and to the store to spend hours calculating costs per serving. If you could swing it, you'd get the cheapest slowest internet connection and use it only to spend hours searching for bargains. You may be able to swing yard sales, estate sales, and such IF you aren't adverse to paying for gas and wear and tear on the car, IF you even own one.

Then die rich having never enjoyed life a bit.

I'm not of that ilk either. Although I guess I'm in better financial shape because I can budget in fun like a killer vacation in Miami for a week, dinner and movie dates with my husband, and still pay cash for car repairs and crazy high vet bills (don't ask). Sure, I could stay home instead of going to Miami and put that money into my retirement account (which we both contribute maximum). I'd rather not though.

About changing careers- I'll be 36 when I graduate vet school, my new career. I'm certainly not the oldest in my class, not by a long shot. And I'll be tripling my salary over my vet tech career. Pretty good deal, especially considering I'll easily pay off student loans and all other debts except home within 5 years of graduating.

But the only ways out of OPs predicament are either to make more money or spend less. I personally chose the former because my career will be more fun, more fullfilling, and it's more fun that way.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2006 at 5:37PM
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I started a whole new career at the age of 35, and I'm now (at 42) making 5 times what I was making before! Don't think you can't do it too! At least look into it, you might be surprised by what you find.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2006 at 7:23PM
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I went back to school at 34, started a new career at 36, worked there over 25 years, and recently retired early, at 62. Our house has been paid for for 4 years now, and I always paid myself first - money automatically deposited in IRAs and such every payday, and it's amazing how nice it accumulates when you never had the chance to spend it! You are 36 - that is young! You will be older someday, and the 36-yr-old you is preparing life for the 60+-yr-old you. (I also fixed plenty of mac-and-cheese meals for DH and 3 kids, washed clothes in bathtub, played cards at friends for a social evening, shopped at Goodwills (still do!! - and I could shop anywhere I want to now). It's a mindset you get into.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2006 at 9:14PM
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Well, I can understand the OPs frustrations. If one followed all the advice here[...]

I think the OP's frustration was that income and outgo were pretty much even, making it difficult to save money. There are lots of ways to save money. Without knowing that much about the OP's lifestyle and needs, we all threw out ideas. Some will work for that person; some will not.

I think one point some people tried to make (certainly I tried) was that you really have to trade money for time. If food is not an "event" in your life, and you want to drive down the cost of groceries, you need to spend more time preparing food and cooking or choosing a less-healthful diet. It means calculating costs per use and maybe shopping in more than one store. That takes time. But it's a choice you make.

Similarly, people here have expressed the idea that you need to have priorities. You mentioned high veterinary bills, which are not a necessity of life like payments for shelter or electricity. However, you are willing to compensate for that expense by saving money on clothing. Nothing wrong with that at all. You can have my fast Internet connection when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers. But I don't buy tons of CDs or DVDs at $10-20 a pop. Just not that important to me.

We all get to make our choices. The OP needs to think about what is necessary in his/her life, what he/she can economize on, and express those priorities by paying (or not paying) for them.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2006 at 9:34AM
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I didn't mean to sound like the ideas you all suggested weren't useful or good- they are. But from the tone of OP, it sounded to me more like an "I don't wanna save everything and not have any fun" whine than a "please tell me how to cut expenses" request. Maybe I'm wrong; feel free to jump in at any point netshound!

I agree it's all about priorities. If one wants to spend all their money now and rely on SS and meager savings for retirement then that's their choice. Some people enjoy shuffling around the house for 30 years, so they don't need money for trips and such once retired, especially if they did in fact enjoy life a bit while working. Other people think it's better to work their buns off, save every penny, and have a truly fabulous early retirement. Unless one makes enough to do both- have fun now AND later- then choices are going to have to be made. And if one doesn't want to make that kind of choice, one had better act quickly and figure out a way to either spend less on non-fun things or to make more money in order to afford the lifestyle s/he wants.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2006 at 11:24AM
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Oh, my..... On my list of things to NEVER waste money on would be a trip to Miami. That's about as far from "fun" as I could get... But wait a minute - that doesn't mean anyone who WANTS to go to Miami (or anywhere else for that matter) is wasting money - (unless they can't afford it and would need to use borrowed money (ie credit card you can't pay off for another 12 months) to have "fun") - but that's just MY going to Miami for "fun" is someone elses. See how "fun", and personal perspective of what "fun" IS, works?

I've always been a fun-loving person - it had nothing to do with where we vacation - or NOT! It had nothing to do with how much "blow" money I could squeeze out of the budget. It had nothing to do with how much money was in the savings account and investments. But I will tell you that being frugal and utilizing a lot of the money-savings tips shared here by others allowed me to stay home and raise and nurture our children in a loving and stable environment - and we are able to live on half of my husband's income and STILL have "fun" because I'm still frugal.

"Fun" is helping the single-mom from church fix her car when she can't afford the repairs. "Fun" is being able to buy the paint for an elderly widow and painting her porch. "Fun" is putting groceries in the food bank donation barrel - EVERY week.

Lamenting how being frugal and sharing a variety of money-saving ideas equals not having any "fun" is pretty self-centered thinking.

And when did preparing food from "scratch" get relagated to drudgery - or some kind of unobtainable lofty ideal? How perposterous! Especially in this day and age. It sounds like we have to go out and kill and clean the chicken, pick and shell peas from the garden, bake the bread, pick the seeds from the raisins, grate the hard cone of sugar on a grater, milk the cow, can the preserves, and on and on... Food from scratch means a trip around the fruit/vegetable isle, some steak/chicken from the meat department, and chopping it all up and having a meat/vegetable stir-fry and fruit for dessert - all in less than 15 minutes.

The ORIGINAL QUESTION was "How can you save $$ when you don't have it" and I think there were a good number of great ideas shared here.

And on the topic of choices...which is a good deal about saving. My best friend has cats, dogs, birds, fish, and on and off other "can't resist" pets, and spends about $300-$500 a month on care/feed. We had a discussion about how much she loves her pets and another discussion about how she has NO retirement. I assured her that she spent her retirement on her pets. She had never thought about it that way because retiring isn't even on her life's list of things to prepare for (even at 50+), but having more and more pets, IS. Would having one or two pets, instead of a small zoo, have made a difference between depending on Social Security for her retirement, or having been prudent with her money choices in order to have a nice nest-egg? YOU BET!

Good discussion, one and all. Interesting life experiences...


    Bookmark   July 21, 2006 at 3:10PM
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Re: Writing down what you spend in a month.

I too started doing this about a year ago--and I am still doing it to this day.

Here is what I do (it helps to be a bit computer savvy):
Set up a budget. You know how to do this: Mortgage, $1000 a month; electric, $200 a month, so on and so on. Make a budget space for everything! If you spend on it, put it in a budget column somewhere, even if it is "other".

Create a coding system for everything you pay for (1 for mortgage, 2 for phone, 3 for electric, you get the idea). For items such as work lunches (6 as an example), I even split that up (61 is my lunch, 62 is spouse). Put this code on all of your receipts.

Get a 6x9 envelope and stick it to your fridge. Put in EVERY SINGLE RECEIPT that you get. If you don't get a receipt, write down what it was/how much/when and put that paper in there.

At the end of the month, take all those receipts out and add them all up BY CATEGORY. Also, if you bank online, you can print your bank statement You will see that some things are always the same (your mortgage-1- is always the same amount). By using the coding system and Excel, I can input all into the computer (7/12/06 $2.55 62) and have the computer sort and add for you. This takes the guesswork out and makes sure you don't add wrong. Then you can see BY CATEGORY how much you are spending VS how much you are budgeting.
When I started this process, I realized that I was woefully underbudgeting for work lunches, household stuff (wal-mart shopping for Toilet Paper and such) and gas. I was probably spending TWICE what I budgeted! Now, a year later (barring any disasters, which certainly have come up in our family) I can say that I have been on the positive side of my budget (by the skin of my teeth) for a few months straight.

Try it--it is good to see where EXACTLY your money is going, instead of seeing a bunch of receipts that show that your money is gone.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2006 at 4:44PM
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There have been a number of good ideas expressed here which different people may find helpful in various ways.

Much of the information that comes to us about money relates to spending it - ever noticed the ads for cars on the TV?

And they aren't interested in what you spent last week - they want you to buy their stuff, *now*. So what if you don't have money enough to pay the rent at the end of the month: you added to their profit picture, *today*.

They even indoctrinate your kids, beginning as soon as their eyes gravitate toward the TV (before they learn to evaluate carefully some of the bull**** that some of their elders come up with ).

A local financial consultant who wrote a book, "Financial Freedom Without Sacrifice", says that they should teach more about money management in schools (I agree) - and it seems to me that if corporations get involved in the school system, they'll want even less emphasis placed on such a subject. The want us to follow their advice like a bunch of sheep.

Sometimes I've said that no one cares as much about your money as you, but I've changed my tuine. Yes - a lot of people are interested in your money: they'd like to transfer at least part of it rom your pocket into theirs.

But in terms of making your money provide good value for you, now and in the future ... no one cares as much about your money as you (should). Including helping your kids (or yourself) achieve further useful education beyond Secondary School.

Either you learn how to boss your money - or it'll boss you!

Have a weekend that provides more wisdom as to effective management of your money, everyone.

ole joyful

P.S. I'm feeling sort of sad - a good friend of over 30 years, whose husband more or less built their home, who got a new stove and other things when she wanted and despite doing some things to bring in some supplementary income after her kids were grown and away from home (but who subsidized a couple of them who weren't very productive) none the less wasn't bvery serious about it, and who doesn't have a private pension, as her husband was self-employed ... will be losing her home before long, as her income is substantially lower than her needs.

o j

    Bookmark   July 21, 2006 at 7:40PM
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For what it's worth, maybe I could mention that it was BECAUSE I had eaten my share of mac & cheese, washed clothes in the bathtub, etc. etc. that I did go back to school, started a new career at age 36, and improved greatly our financial situation. DH and I will enjoy retirement, not fear it. There are two choices: earn more or spend less.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2006 at 8:26PM
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There are all kinds of good tips here about saving money when you get it.
If you are paying out more than you are making it's time to add some extra income. Be very wary about make money schemes on tv or the newspaper - the way they make money is by selling you something.
Try doing some babysitting when you are home since you already have a child. Assuming you work days, you could do vacation checks of houses, evening checks or night care of elderly, pet sitting (better skip the dogs) but a bird owner or cat owner might need someone to check animals in their home. Find out what kennels charge and price accordingly. One of you could deliver newspapers. Child could ride along and you could make it "us" time. I have a BIL who makes $12 an hour painting rooms and has a waiting list. You could help pack someone who was moving or cleaning out garages. There's all kinds of work out there but you need to look for it. There are also lots of careers that do not require a 4 year college. I know a young man who studied to be an auctioneer and now has his own auction house. Everything that he sells brings him 30%. He gets less for houses but has at least 10 listings in a week. He is becoming a very rich man as are his parents who help with the business. Electricians and plumbers do not go to a 4 year school and I've not seen a starving electrician or plumber in a long time. There's stuff out there - find a way to make more money or your world might just crash and burn in a few years.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2006 at 4:35AM
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There have been a lot of good suggestions already. Can you stand a bit more?

When we were young and poor, I too felt the lack of luxury in my life. It was as though every minute was spent pinching pennies. Not a cent went out that wasn't planned. I decided to buy ONE item that wasn't the cheapest, or on sale, or whatever. I bought myself an expensive shampoo that smelled wonderful. Every time I had a shower, I felt like I was being pampered. I knew that I had the best shampoo anyone could have. (That might not have been true, but I felt like it was.) That little luxury broke our pattern of not spending extra on anything. Maybe we had to eat macaroni and cheese another week that month to pay for it, but it kept my sanity. It made all the other sacrifices bearable.

Another thing that ocurred to me, netshound, you mentioned that you work and pay for daycare. Have you taken a close look at what it costs you to do that? I remember seeing the story of one young couple who had a financial analyst look at their situation. The wife wept when she discovered that the family would actually be better off by $200 a month if she didn't go out to work.

It may or may not apply in your situation, but you should know. Look at all the costs of having a 2 income household, daycare, transportation, clothing, convenience foods, eating out, extra costs for DD as well as for you. Look at those costs in time as well as money, because I sensed from you second post that you are feeling stretched there as well.

Another way to mentally check out your situation, is to think of what your life would be like if your family was living in say, the 50's, or 40's or the 1800's. What would a family then have regarded as necessary? Why do you think you need any more than that? (I am not saying that you shouldn't have any more, just that it is a way of looking at your spending habits and the way you think about Stuff.)

I would like to give you the ability to look at each moment you have as a gift, to be enjoyed. But only you can do that for yourself. You have received that gift to be freely spent in any way you choose. Every time you spend money, you are also spending part of the gift of life's moments that you have recieved. You and your family are the only ones can decide whether the cost is worth it. But do it with your eyes open, knowing that you are in control of your decisions and that you have options.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2006 at 8:27AM
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Quote by Meghane - "And I'll be tripling my salary over my vet tech career. Pretty good deal, especially considering I'll easily pay off student loans and *all other debts* except home within 5 years of graduating.

Another trap that people fall into - the "Spend now and worry about it later" philosophy.

Running up debts and figuring that it will 'all work out later somehow' is a receipe for disaster.

I don't know what all your "other" debts are for but if you currently have both a school loan AND a home loan, I wouldn't suggest running up "other" debts for right now.

Young people today cannot count on a college education as a ticket to the good life. You would not believe how many waitreses and busboys have college degrees. Some of them just cannot find work in whatever overcrowded occupational field they chose, and some of them ran up so much debt while in college that they cannot dig themselves out of it without a second job.

They unrealistically assumed that once they graduated that corporations would come beating at their door waiving plum contracts at them. Or they find that on a meager teachers salary, they can't pay off their I-pods, spring break vacations, and Bananna Republic wardrobes that they charged while in college, plus pay their new adult day to day living expenses and their student loans. They just assumed that everything would magically fall into place.

And too many women count on their husbands to 'always be there' for them, to enjoy the 'good life'. They never take into consideration that 50 percent of marriages end in divorce with dire financial consequences for both of them in the event of this happening. Or he could just DIE - even at a young age - leaving the widow with financial obligations that are impossible to shoulder alone. All it takes is a fatal heart attack or deadly motorcycle accident and *POOF* the dream is shattered.

What if, even still married, one of you becomes permanently disabled and can't work at all? PLUS the added expense of medical bills. Even if you have "great insurance" you usually still have to pay 20 percent plus co-pays on medical bills. It all starts to add up. And don't anyone lock yourself into the "I don'thave to worry. That won't happen to MEEEEE......." mindset.

I know more than one young widow out there struggling with a job and kids and marriage debt. One was still paying off the debt that they charged up for their lavish wedding when he died (TRUE) and trying desperately to sell the Florida timeshare they had, in a real estate market that had flattened.

Quote by Meghane: "Then die rich having never enjoyed life a bit."

This is not about "dying rich". This is about not spending more than you have.

People are so spoiled nowdays. Nowdays a couple thinks they are poor if they only own one car and one of them has to take the bus to work. Or they have to wash the dishes by hand because they don't have a dishwasher, they are really 'suffering'.

There is a Home Depot commercial running on TV right now this week that shows a couple deciding to toss out their perfectly good working refrigerator for one with an ice maker and water dispenser in the door. This is the kind of thinking that gets people into finacial trouble.

Believe me, your kids are not going to remember how hard they had it growing up, having to open the freezer door to get ice. LOL. Or all the toys you bought them or the $5,000 jungle gym you bought for the backyard. They will remember things like gardening together and raising their own pumkins for halloween and carving them with their parents.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2006 at 9:43AM
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I had a real eye-opener lately.

I started packing for my upcoming move very early, since I knew I would be busier now than I was in June.

I've had boxes packed for weeks now. In all that time, I've had to reopen two boxes to get at something that I needed. TWO!
I think this tells me that I have a whole lot of stuff that I don't really need very much. I.e. I've packed away all but a few glasses, towels and changes of clothing, which I currently wash more frequently.

In purging things prior to the move, I've given away or thrown out things that are barely used, or not well-liked. A lot of things that cost me cold hard cash. Certainly, that money could have gone to more worthwhile things.

While I like having my STUFF, I've come to realize that I can do quite well without some of it :)

    Bookmark   July 24, 2006 at 1:44PM
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I really believe that if you're under 45 or so, going the voluntary simplicity route will get you nowhere in life. You really have to look and act at least middle class to get and hold just about any job, because people are suspicious of nonconformists (i.e., non-consumers) and people with low incomes. You have to go the most prestigious school you can get into, which (due to demand) may be extremely expensive. You have to be familiar with current consumer and pop-cultural trends to deal with customers and clients (at least managers think you must).

    Bookmark   July 24, 2006 at 6:24PM
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"You have to be familiar with current consumer and pop-cultural trends to deal with customers and clients (at least managers think you must)."

I'm a manager and I don't think any such thing. I'm clueless about modern music and prime-time TV. The only sport I follow is football, so I'm sports clueless the rest of the year. I've been working for a while, so people no longer care what school I went to. No one at the office cares that I drive a car that cost a fraction of what most of my staff paid for their cars.

I get my jobs and succeed at them because I know my business, I work hard, and I've earned a reputation as being someone that adds value.

I suppose that if your job involves a lot of entertaining, you better know what you need to know to entertain people. My job doesn't. I'm an IT geek and my job is about delivering information.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2006 at 6:39AM
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Since when do you have to spend mega-dollars to look middle class and know the lastest trends? READ and you will get it!

My husband and I do live a very simple life. I have seen 2-3 movies in the last ten years but I can still tell you who starred in what movie (most of the time!) And as if that matters!!!!

I can 500 jars of food a year -- we have one bath -- no heat upstairs -- no a/c -- I raise my own chickens -- I knit my own socks and sweaters (no, that doesn't save any money!!!)I don't have cable, satilite, or own a cell phone or ipod. I drive a 93 Tempo!! Yes -- I am a non-conformist or non-consumer. Who cares????

But I have never had trouble finding a job -- I look good and hip. (as a 50 yo can) Last week at Goodwill, I bought a Pendleton suit -- hot pink jacket -- pleated plaid skirt. Probably 2005 spring style -- $5.38. I got a Pendleton wool plaid jacket -- 25 cents. You don't have to spend a fortune to look good.

We don't have to spend our life savings to be knowledgeable and smart.


    Bookmark   July 25, 2006 at 8:08AM
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Amen and Amen, Cathy!

Last week at the Goodwill Outlet store, I bought name brand jeans for $1.25 each because they had a surplus of clothing in general. Here's a sampling of names: Tommy Hilfiger, Rocky Mountain, NY Jeans, Sean Jean, Talbots, Ann Taylor, Liz Claiborne, Girbaud, LL Bean, Land's End, Cruel Girl and Ralph Lauren.

There was so much there, I left the "middle class" stuff for other bargain hunters.

Scoring a bargain like that rates as FUN in my book -lol.

I second the idea of examining whether paying child-care with NET dollars is worth the cost of working. Using the CPA is a GREAT idea because they know to calculate things like before-and-after income tax rates and cost of working (for the ladies, things like hose-and-heels, make-up, commuting, lunches). When you know that figure, you can not only make the decision about corporate working, but also whether caring for another child to make a few bucks would be worthwhile. And whether the stay-at-home parent would use some of their time to cook larger meals - making instant lunch leftovers. Or doing the Ebay thing, or the evening part-time job thing.

I have friends who are low-middle income parents of 3 young children.(he's a cop, she's a pharmacy tech) Their children have NEVER been in daycare. They do have jobs that are worked on shifts, rather than both requiring the standard 8-to-5. When the first child arrived and had some medical issues, dad sucked it up and got a PAPER ROUTE. When the child's health improved, mom & dad switched off on the paper route to let each other get a full night's sleep. They made enough with the paper route and his full time and her part time to have baby #2. For #3, they had enough pay raises and wee tax deductions to quit the paper route.

She takes pride in finding deals everywhere and totally plans her Christmas shopping. Here's an example: as a Walmart employee, she takes her preplanned list to WallyWorld at 4am on the Friday after Thanksgiving (that part alone makes me cringe). By the time she fills her shopping cart, the checkout lanes have opened. She puts the whole purchase on layaway, takes the employee discount, and has it all paid off -in cash- in time for Santa's arrival.

We've crowned her the Queen of Cheap!

As for being in the know and looking the part -pshaw! My DH is a non-college attender. Zero college. Zip. Nada. He is 46 and just got offered six figures in the tech industry in Austin. (I say Austin because some of the California jobs have to pay more due to cost of living issues) DH also is CLUELESS about today's music scene, fashion, or the Hollywood star scene. However, he is a fair minded, hard working employee. No piercings, but that is his personal choice.

I recently quit a 5 year stretch as Admin Asst for a small company. Basically I wanted to explore my creative side by going back to school. Because I had the time, I volunteered to research a major purchase for my church. In doing the research, the sales rep realized I knew about the product (having worked for a company that sold a home version of the item) and asked me to call her boss and get a job selling this product from my home!

Did I take the Admin job thinking I would someday become a rep for the commercial version of the product? Never in a million years! So, at the age of 45, I get to sell something I love, make my own hours, and write off my mileage (which I try to plan into other errand trips). At 48.5 cents a mile, the IRS is doing me a big favor! If my DD was young enough to need child care, I could work my schedule to find her care either a day or a few hours at a time and then meet the clients.

Basically, there are lots of opportunities to make a few extra bucks. Ebay ain't all that time consuming, depending on what you want to sell. Iffen your evening consists of watching TV, it is pretty easy to type on the keyboard during most of the shows. And especially during the massive commercials. I bet if you tried, you could finish an entire list for an item during one commercial break.

All the best to all of you posters. I loved seeing that other people agree with my thoughts on Cable TV, fancy coffees, used clothing, and especially packing my own lunch. If that last one makes you roll your eyes, remember that the restaurants are not our friends, pocketbook-wise or health-wise. They put the most fat, sugar, and salt into everything to make it taste better and keep you (and your pocketbook) coming back for more. If you have any symptoms of Dunlaps disease (where the belly has "dun lapped" over the waistband) or high blood pressure or diabetes, packing your own food is a low-cost way to manage your health as well as your budget.

Have a super day!

    Bookmark   July 25, 2006 at 3:25PM
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Some thoughtful posts here. I've really enjoyed reading this thread.
At the age of nearly 62, I am retired (collecting my own pension), and very much enjoying my life.
At the age of 36, I was a single mom of two teenage sons. I had a good job, but life was a financial struggle. I sewed all of my sons' clothes (including jeans and jackets) buying the fabric on sale. I cooked from scratch after working all day. Still, we went camping and skiing (packing lunches and hot cocoa). I put the maximum amount into my 401K during those years. Once my sons were grown, I was able to afford scuba lessons (at the old age of 42), trips to the Caribbean, Red Sea and Fiji. At 44, I went back to school. At 54 I retired from the job I had worked at for 34 years. I continued working for the next 8 years at various jobs while collecting my pension. I have not touched the 401K.
Even though we are financially comfortable now, (I remarried 15 years ago), I STILL enjoy thrift stores, yard sales. It's the thrill of the hunt (LOL). I don't like wasting money. My husband is more financially conservative than I am so money is rarely an issue between us.

I don't know enough about the OP's situation to offer advice, but I certainly agree with the posters who basically say that peace of mind comes with living below one's means. My sister and her husband live lavishly, but I also know that they are borrowing from their home's equity to pay their country club dues and drive an expensive new sports car. I wouldn't trade places with her for anything.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2006 at 9:09AM
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I'm bumping this thread up. It's wonderful!

    Bookmark   July 25, 2007 at 6:02PM
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Thanks Rose! This was really fun to read!

bud wi, I loved it when you said that your kids won't remember that your freezer door did'nt have ice. We remodeled our kitchen last year and DH really wanted to replace the refrigerator even though its in great shape and still matches the kitchen. I just could'nt let go of $1,000-$2,000 for a new one. Especially since there is so much more remodeling to do. I think we are cut from the same clothe because i am just as frugal.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2007 at 7:02PM
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So, netshound, how is it going one year later?

    Bookmark   July 25, 2007 at 8:30PM
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Im a student so I think its not a good time for me to save money. Moreover, we are too rich, I like to spend money alot. If i'll become poor someday for some reason. I'll tell u then. Cheers.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2007 at 1:37AM
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Hi powerful in Zion,

You like to spend money a lot?

Where did you learn that?

At home - and were your parents rich?

Or from TV? Those advertisers want to convince us to buy stuff ... that'll make it worthwhile for them to run those ads. If the folks who watch the ads don't spend enough to make the increased profit more than enough to pay for the ads ... they quit advertising. So who pays for the ads? You do!

Do you like being poor?

Many don't.

But ... if you want to spend, spend, spend ...

... get used to being poor ... cause you'll likely be that way all through your life.

I'd recommend a suggestion that has been made several times, here.

Keep track of every cent that you spend, for a while.

Separate the spending out according to category.

Don't tell us about it ... just look at it yourself ... and see whether that's the way you want to trade your time (i.e. the hours that you worked to earn the dollars that you traded for all of that stuff).

By the way, everyone ...

... every one of us has a home-based business.

And - we have employees.

Most of us, as the usual kind of employee, expect to get paid for the time that we invest where we work. If we don't - we don't stay at that place long!

Or, if we're an employer and don't pay our employees, they won't be around for very long!

But, in your second business, you have employees, but you don't have to pay them!

As a matter of fact, most of the time ...

... they _ pay _ you!!

I tell this story to kids, to help them understand how money works, and I tell them that if they send a couple of their employees out to buy ice cream, the ice cream tastes great.

But ... the employees that they sent out to buy it - stay at the ice cream shop.

They're gone.

They won't work for you any more.

But if you hang on to some of those Dollar-employees, they'll work for you as long as you hang on to them.

With one exception ... if you put them into the mattress ... they go to sleep!

Same with the ones in your wallet ... they're not working.

And, if you put them into the bank, they only work an hour or so per day!

Your job, as usual employers, is to make your employees work smart!

You want those invested Dollar-employees to bring in nickels and dimes ... that eventually grow into more dollars like themselves.

If you don't have Dollars invested ... you don't have that home-based business that supplements your regular income!

On the day that you started work ... you had brains and hands at work ... and no money.

On the day that you retire ... you have brains and money at work ... and no hands.

If you don't have money at work ... you can't retire!

Good wishes for learning how money works ... and putting some of it to work for you. Working smart, too.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   July 26, 2007 at 6:12AM
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Finances are very simple. If you make more than you spend, you will have money left over.

In my opinion, it will be easier for you to make more money than spend less at your age. If you are only 36, it would make more difference in the long run if you try to acquire a skill that can increase your pay or use it as a second job.

When we were growing up, my mom had a second job for a while. She was in her late 40s. She had not much skill and very limited English. I am sure she got paid the minimum wage and not much more. My dad stayed home with us in the evenings. My parents saved every dollar from that job and put it toward a down payment on a bigger house! At the time, I thought all families lived like us, frugally with big goals in mind...

Some people have high paying jobs and they may have the luxury of working less than 40 hours a week. Otherwise, those extra hours of work can go a long way toward having a few extra dollars.

When I read your post, I don't see that you have a financial goal for yourself. Having more money to play is not really a realistic goal since you can always WANT more money to play. I think you need realistic financial goals that you can work toward:

- pay off windows in x mo/yr
- save for retirement so that there is x% of current income at retirement.
- be able to retire at age 50/55/60
- pay off mortgage xx yrs early

The goals you set will be particular to your situation. No one can tell you what it ought to be. Once you have a goal, then your sacrifices are not meaningless. You are working toward something. I think deprivation without larger goals do not work for most people since there is nothing to be gained except daily denial. The goals that you set for yourself has to be more meaningful than the things that you are giving up.

In the process, you also teach your children about delayed gratification. The lesson will be invaluable in their life, more than the expensive toys that you can give them.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2007 at 2:46AM
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My SIL is a widow ,still working. Two grown children. She has economized all her life. She still puts money in a Christmas club account. And she pays her mortgage every four weeks, rather than monthly, which makes 13 payments a year and cuts down on the principal, hence the loan will be paid off in way less than 30 years. She'll have that sucker paid off just as she turns age 62 and retires.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2007 at 1:41PM
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Hi Netshound,

I mostly lurk, but thought I would share today. You may have more resources than you think you do. My advice is to network, network, and network. Join a church and get involved if you havent already. Join civic organizations and get involved. Do a little volunteering. By listening to others, you learn so much than will help you.

When we first married, we had little money and no help. Today we have money saved and are debt free. Much of this was accomplished by applying principals learned from others.

Helpful advice was:
Give God the first 10% of your income and save 10% and live on the rest. You will live better on 90% with Gods blessings. Buy a fixer-upper in town and trade up. You will save more than you know on gas and insurance if you do not live in the county. Finance for 15 or 20 years as opposed to 30 because the difference in the note is not that much and you will save a bundle on interest. Pay extra on the principal of your loan every month and you will save a bundle on interest. Get your home paid for, then if you get sick or lose your job, you will at least have a place to live. Cook from scratch. Unplug your stove, especially, and everything else when you leave the house. (This was advice given to keep our house from burning to the ground, but it saved a ton of money on electricity.)

When we bought our fixer-upper, the stove was worn out and the built-in oven did not work. I tore out the oven and made extra cabinet space. (Here is where networking comes in.) Someone told me that the school was trading in their stoves for new ones. Immediately, I went to business and asked the price of the traded stoves. They had one left, and it looked new. The salesman said they used Windex to clean it. I bought the Hotpoint stove and am still using it today (22 years later). I got it for less than half the cost of a new one.

That fixer-upper turned out to be in a wonderful neighborhood, and we liked our neighbors. We did not "trade up" for 19 years. The house sold for a nice profit.


    Bookmark   July 29, 2007 at 2:56PM
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Freind i need a gardener for garden but i dont have money for this this way i save my money in gardening...:)

    Bookmark   July 31, 2007 at 2:24PM
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There's only one way to achieve financial freedom.

Spend less than you earn.

Either arrange to increase earnings ...

... or spend less.

You need a few months' income on hand as savings, in case of emergency ...

... saves a lot of tearing out of hair, or chewing fingernails.

And, if I have an emergency repair needed on the car, it helps a lot if I can pay cash instead of putting the bill on a "credit" (really "debt") card.

Do y9u have any idea what rates of fees they charge to people who use their money?

Regular cards, 15 - 18%, soter cards 25 - 28%.

olw joyful,

    Bookmark   November 21, 2007 at 6:59PM
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You don't have to spend big bucks to have fun. One of the most fun evenings I ever had was with a couple of friends and a glass of wine over a jigsaw puzzle. It was like we were kids again.

My most memorable Mother's Day ever was when we hit the grocery store so everyone could get what they wanted, and we went to a local park for a picnic on a blanket on the ground on a hill overlooking a stupendous view. I remember that but honestly can't remember the fancy restaurants.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2007 at 3:50AM
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I agree with the poster who said that disability can happen to you and significantly lower your income! At the ripe young age of 41my husband became disabled and I had to eventually quit my job to care for him; at 47 I became disabled with COPD-so both of us are unable to work...In our case it was cut spending on things of low priority and keep things we feel our high priorities. Shopping sales, bakery outlets (Hostess, Schwebels, Nickels), goodwill, aldi's, save-a-lot, even bartering (that's a concept in of itself)
etc. I dropped my cell phone carrier-long story and am happy with a trac-phone for emergencies, we still have cable, internet of course and the landline thru the cable co-but that has saved us more than what we were spending on all 3 separately. I don't buy alot of clothes simply because I don't need them like when I was working in an office. When I don't fit or can't pass clothes on i take them to a resale shop and can make some bucks that way.

It's what works for you and your family...

    Bookmark   December 11, 2007 at 2:32PM
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Thrift shops have been my main clothing store for 15 years.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2007 at 7:36AM
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One of my kids is terribly embarassed that I wear thrift shop clothes. The other goes with me and thinks it's "funky".

    Bookmark   December 14, 2007 at 7:37AM
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