I can see your point

if she is abusing the card elsewhere. I thought of another option, after I hit send on my last message. DH is HORRIBLE with cash. I discovered prepaid gas cards at Speedway. No fees, no funny stuff, and some times they have specials in association with the prepaid cards. These really helped my budget when DH was spinning out of control with cash.

I’ll defend you here for another reason

How easy is it to pick up a soft drink when you get gas, IF you have to go in to pay? You said that you have a van, even if you fill way before you are empty, and it takes $20 to fill up, and you add a $1 soft drink every time, that really changes your “gas expense”. Think about how much higher the gas prices would be to yield $21, instead of $20…

Hi, my name is Pol

I am a 34 year old Christian and my husband is 37. He is a father of 3 (I’m a new stepmom). We have 2 cats.

I have been a faithful listener of Marks podcasts on iTunes every day for the past couple of months. I have really learned a lot, but am ready to learn more.

I would like to try to get my hands on the dvds for his Financial Peace University, so I can start a class here at my house.

Both Scott and I are veterans, and he works, while I go to school full time. My school is paid for completely by the V.A., so at least financing that is not a problem. Our main problems are not having enough for groceries and utilities. We sat down and made a budget this month for January, and the last time I got paid (I’m on disability), we paid off several small recent utility debts at once. Now I’m ready to do the baby steps, and save $1000. It seems like such a large amount to someone who has never saved anything, and lives below the poverty line (most of my husband’s check goes to child support). We drive two 1994 model cars, and his is paid off in 2 months, while mine will be paid off in about 2 years.
Any car we get in the future will be cash, like Mark says.

Other than offering to babysit for people locally, selling my books and cds on half.com, and selling stuff at Trade Day (like a flea market) in the summer, I don’t know how we can really increase our income or stop so much outgo. Scott used to work 3 jobs, but he got so burned out, and we figured out that they are going to continue to keep his child support high if he brings in more money that way. We petitioned the court to have the support brought down because he makes almost half as much as he did when they figured it up based on an old job.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I’m sure we haven’t thought of everything.

I do

Laundry detergent, cleaners, vitamins, etc. comes from one budget, edible food from another.

We’re still tweaking our food and household items budgets and I’m not sure if we are now under budgeted for groceries or if I overspent buying ingredients to make cookies this month. We’re giving cookies to scout leaders and others this year and I had to buy lots of things that I don’t normally buy all at once… flour, 6 pounds of butter, oatmeal, chocolate chips, nuts, etc. We ran out of grocery money earlier this week and I had to buy eggs with my spending money.

I now know to add an additional $25 to the food budget in December. Hopefully I’ll remember that next year.

When I had a family..

One week a month, my budget was more than the rest of the weeks, to allow for the increase in non-food items… TP, paper towels, vitamins, deoderant, toothpaste etc. Then I didn’t feel so bad because I budgeted specifcally for them..

I’ve also heard people who have a separate line item completely for non-perishable items.

Diapers, pullups and wipes are a lot cheaper at

Sam’s Club and I’m pretty sure Costco has similar prices.

I buy a lot of staples at Sam’s Club, spaghetti sauce, pasta, spices and such. I also get some meats there. I probably save more than my membership cost every year, but the downside is that impulse buys are expensive, you must shop with a list.

When my husband was driving 65 miles each way to work, we save two or three times our membership cost on tires alone. The one time we needed new tires and Sam’s Club only had 2, we shopped around at all the tire places in town and it turned out it was less expensive to buy a membership at Costco and get 2 tires, than it would have cost to buy 1 tire elsewhere.

You can go into a gas station

and purchase one of their gas cards with the prepaid visa Yes, for some reason, some cards are not supposed to be used at a gas pump (like your prepaid visa). But you can purchase a card from the gas station WITH the prepaid visa, and that card is often meant specifically for the gas pump

I’ve done that before…as well as using cash to purchase a preaid gas card. It is a GREAT way to pay at the pump and not have to be tempted by all the “stuff” inside the store, too And, yes…it does keep you from having to lug little ones into the station to pay!

Thanks for the reminders

You said everything I was going to say. lol I wanted to comment on how much you are spending for groceries. This is an area that I think you can try to spend too little and end up shooting yourself in the foot. We have 6 people to feed. (4 eat adult quantities, my husband, me, my 18 yo son, and 17 yo dd) Our current budget is $300 every two weeks. We are able to live fairly comfortably on this. Because of my schedule, I don’t cook everything from scratch anymore so we could trim it down if I had more time. I just wanted to give you another number to compare what you are spending. Whenever I’ve trimmed our food budget down too far, I end up getting frustrated and give up on the whole budgeting thing. When I have enough food for my family then I do much better watching other areas.
As far as the gas goes, I’ve started loading a Costco gift card with 1/2 my gas money, when I go in there to shop once every 2 weeks. I keep some cash for gas just in case I’m not near a Costco when I need gas. (or they’re closed). It’s been very convenient and solved some of my frustration with having to pre-pay. You can do the same thing at Walmart, if they have a gas station at your Walmart. It’s nice because I’m already going to Costco so it’s not an extra trip anywhere. Plus their gas is cheaper. It does require some planning but that’s the price I’m paying for getting into debt.
Recently, I balanced my check book and we have some envelopes that we keep track of electronically for things we are putting money aside for. (car repairs, household repairs, Christmas etc.) To my amazement, there was money left in these accounts when I balanced my budget. Since I’m only using cash now, I’m actually seeing some of these accounts grow. We’ve had them for years but there was never money in them because I always went over budget in other areas and I would have to steal from these accounts. The other great thing is how many fewer transactions there are in my checkbook now. No more tons of debit purchases to subtract out when I’m balancing my checkbook. Ahhh. Makes for speedy work. Hang in there, it’s worth it!

I would guess that at least 70% of “emergencies” are a lack of planning

Emergency room will bill you, with no interest for the first 30 days, so if you were going to pay “cash” you have that opportunity after the emergency is past. It is illegal I believe not to treat a true emergency, regardless of ability to pay.

Snacks in the car will pacify a screaming toddler, until you can get to where you will eat as a family. That would be a planning issue to me, not an emergency. Unless the child is diabetic, as I am, and sometimes I know I need to eat or else I’ll be flat on my back somewhere. Its still a planning issue for me, because I should have made plans for an extended outing away from food or have already plannned to eat out and therefore its in my budget. I just don’t decide, at the last moment to eat out, I plan each trip in advance. Like today, I didn’t bring lunch, I opened the refrigerator at 5:30 this morning and decided I didn’t want anything in there. We’re having a holiday snack fest at work so I can munch all day but I made the decision at 5:30 that lunch will be eaten out, and I’ll eat leftovers for dinner tonight. I’ve regulated my insulin to accomodate for my lunch out, and I’ve analyzed my budget to see who I’m robbing for the meal. I’m robbing my entertainment budget. I will only see one movie this weekend, unless I get treated LOL.

I don’t really have a counter to the flat tire, except that patch kits are 7 bux, and the full size spare you should be carrying around. Not to switch gears but how many of you carry around a full size spare? Where do you get the spare from? When you get new tires, ask the tire expert which tire is best? and dump the donut and replace it with the best of your used tires. That way if you should be unfortunate enough to experience a flat, you aren’t unbalancing your load with a wimpy donut and you can ride to the tire store in what I consider to be more safety.

But back to the issue… A patch kit is more economical than buying a new tire everytime a tire goes flat. Surely if you’re cooking everything from scratch, you know the value of being economical. The integrity of a patch is safe enough to transport your precious cargo (children) with little fear. Frankly I’d be more worried for my saftey with a donut than a patch. Very rarely is a tire rendered completely unusable from a simple flat so a patch will extend the life of your tire. Now after its been patched once, and goes flat again, I personally would buy another tire.

The purse thing… I freely admit, I shop too much… enough said about that. But I believe Dave calls this blow money. I definitely belive this type of money should be in the form of cash. Therefore you have a defined amount, and can’t quite possibly exceed it. And while you can rationalize in your mind that a debit card is a defined amount… For instance you know you have 10 bux extra that you can spend for whatever, and the purchase with TAX is 10.60, yeah that will fit on the debit. But if you had a 10 dollar bill, and only 10 dollars, you’ll make a pitch for the sales price to be 9 dollars so you can cover tax, or you’ll find something cheaper or leave it entirely.

Changing to a cash system, is about changing the mindset and making money a real, tangible thing. While there are safety concerns that we have to be aware of when carrying cash, its far better to get a handle on spending, by making a practice of spending the green stuff on a regular basis.

I would be interested to hear how others with small kids manage/d without a card

The kids make it different stakes. And we all don’t live in the same places weather/security crime wise so no one can judge you for keeping the debit card to safe guard your family. I agree with your reasons for security and safety.

So now the only real problem is to figure out a way to really use the debit card in only that manner–maybe buy gas cards to use at the pump with your gas budget money at the beginning of the month. Then keep the debit card wrapped up and in the wheel compartment of the vehicle.
Having the debit card in your wallet while shopping is making you not work so hard to make the purchases equal your cash on hand as you feel, well I will just throw the overage on the debit card. So it isn’t serving you well as you aren’t learning to shop within the budgeted amount.

We live in a part of the country that temps routinely fall way below zero and a person can freeze to death. Paying at the pump is a nice convenience during times like that. Having a cell phone is reassuring if the car breaks down and we have/soon to be had our roadside service in the cell phone contract. I am going to try go a few months at least without a cell phone but I don’t know if I will do it long term.

OK that being said I finally got my husband to shred his debit card a couple months ago. It has been going fine for him to take cash. He recently went on a 5 day business trip to Hungary and took $350 in hungarian money for the trip. Normally he just uses the ATM there and that avoids conversion rates and exchange issues. One of the guys from his work had just returned from Hungary and had messed up his math (an extra zero) when taking money out of the ATM machine and had an excess. He was really bummed as back home here the bank wanted to charge him a hefty conversion fee to change the money.

I didn’t like him carrying all his money. He could have lost it and been in a pickle overseas. It worked out ok though. His room and ticket was prepaid by the company travel account.

It’s like my SEARS card. Sure I am keeping it for an appliance issue that we have no savings for currently (we need a fridge, sump pump, water heater, stove…if one were to go kaput-been there done that-it would tip our lives upside down. But when I use the Sears card in a couple of dry days before payday at KMart for stuff or buy a baby shower gift I have to question if I can keep it. But that being said I still haven’t shredded it.

I want to. I am scared I will be left in a pickle. I did rationalize that if I am paying the bill in full it’s not much different then using cash. I did pay almost double what I normally would for a shower gift…which is good as I tend to be a bit sparing at times.
Not stingy. Just not extravagant. I paid $32 for the gift but this is their 4th pregnancy and the only one that made it to month 7 as all others miscarried so it called for a something nicer then $15-20 IMHO.

I haven’t even gotten any Christmas gifts this year yet. I figured I will get mall cards for the boys and let them shop the after Christmas sales to get the good deals and have even more then.

Anyhow, I am sure we will all be happier with the budget process in January.

I am on the tough love side of the house

I”m going to have to disagree with your assessment of what is an option and what isn’t. First let me say I understand the convience of pay at the pump… but in the spirit of spending cash and stop carrying the debit card especially if you can’t control your spending with it…. I’m going to loving suggest that you look at last month’s budget line for automobile gas. Using the envelop system, put that amount in the gas envelope. The FIRST time you go to the gas station in the coming month, take the time to take the children out of the car, and go inside and buy a gas card for the amount in the envelope. All future stops for the month, you can use that card at the pump in the same way you would use the debit card. What is one time of “inconvenience” if in the end you’ll save money and let go some of your dependence on something that you might not have the best control over.

As far as that overspending of 20 bux at the grocery store. Thats not a lot of money, but… you’re cheating yoruself and using your crutch (debit card) to bail you out. Do you make a grocery list? Clip coupons? What extra’s are you not accounting for that causes your overage?

What ikind of emergency are you envisioning that you just have to have your debit card with you? Lets talk about those different scenario’s. I think there are too many people here who have left their crutch at home and have done just fine without it and its helped them. Just wishing the same for you.

Not trying to offend, just giving you a different perspective.

Any suggestions?

I too have trouble following the budget! I like to call it a spending plan, but still I feel constrained. I think my biggest problem is not have boundaries. Since we are self-employed, I try to only take the same amount out of the business per month. But when I go over budget, I just take more money from the business. I wish I knew of a way to just take what I need and not ever go over.


is on sale this month for $100, isn’t it? I know, I know, don’t wanna spend… Many of the files from the FPU course are in the files section. (You ARE allowed to share them, but not for a profit)

Thank you for the information

I am listening to the 3 hr down load each and it is a great motivator. I have started to do the budget but have not gathered all my number together-very scary to me but needs to be done. I am of course trying to cut down on the money going out and was not sure if I wanted to spend almost $ 200 for the home study if I could get around it.

Obviously “The Total Money Makeover” and “Financial Peace Revisited”

are the books you want to start with. I’ve heard Mark say on his show that TMMO is the how and Financial Peace is the why I also highly recommend listening to his show (I listen online, it’s free at paydayloansfloridaonline.biz) to keep motivated and to really get a feel for what he’s teaching. If you can save up, you can purchase the Home Kit and it’s the same thing as FPU, you just watch the DVD’s by yourself instead of with a class.

The first thing I would do (my opinion) is to go to Marks’s website and download the free budget form. Then do a detailed budget and work on it for a few months to figure out where your money is going. I am personally still working on this after following Dave for several months … I love making budgets but have a really hard time actually following them 😉

Good luck and welcome

Yes. It won’t be easy, but it can be done

Communitcation and working to show you have intent to pay it off is the first step. Call and see, let them know the situation.

Dave always says to focus on the 4 walls… house, food, utilities, clothing … first and rest of the payments after you are caught up on those. Plus getting the emergency fund in place before starting to hit the payments hard.

Also stop all borrowing, just don’t do it. THat’s been the tough part for my husband, but he’s doing so great and it is showing in our improved financial situation.

We are so deep into the credit card madness that it is going to take us 3 to 4 years to get the credit cards paid off.

Thank you all for the great replies

A little bit more about our situation is we lost everything (ran up all this debt) a few years ago on a bad real estate deal combined with a medical expense. We sold our house at that time for a big loss and really don’t have too much left to sell! The debt we have is not new, it is the same principal we have been carrying around for 3-4 years making minimum payments (that’s all we could afford) and just spinning in circles with it. I finally decided to give it all to CCCS and stopped making payments. Now I have changed my mind and wish I would have never quit paying on them! oh well, can’t cry over split milk!

I work a full time and a part time job and my husband is supposed to be getting a raise of about $100 a week in the next couple of weeks so IF that comes thru it should really help us.

My biggest obstacle on budgeting is groceries. So if anyone has any ideas or link for cheap meals I will gladly take a look! LOL I have 2, 6″4, 200 lb teen aged sons who can eat me out of the house! LOL I am embarrassed to say I spent close to $300 on food (including dog food, toiletries, school supplies etc.) last week. I just checked into angel food and the closet location is about 25 minutes away but I think I can more than save the $5 in gas it takes to get there. So I am going to get an order in for Nov and I think that will really help.

I am feeling really motivated already! A couple days ago I thought there was no way out and now I am seeing that just maybe there is a light at the end of the tunnel!

Welcome on board

Yes! There is hope for you. It’s a bad idea to call one of those consumer credit counseling places. You are treated just as if you filed for a bankruptcy, you also have to watch and make sure that they are paying the creditors as agreed. I’ve heard a lot of issues with this. The thing about Dave to file bankruptcy is really not moral. You made the bills – so unless you are sick, some family emergency, unemployed, underemployed, about to lose your home, be on the streets etc. You made the bills, so you need to pay them.

Lots of folks have done it and been in worse situations. I would suggest that you only call the credit card companies when you are ready to make a serious deal. You can’t tell them one thing this week and not stick to it. They can call the entire debt due at anytime. Read the fine print in your contract. So unless you are serious and able to stick to a plan then don’t call them.

Following the Dave Ramsey way – the first thing you need to take care of is your 4 walls. Food. Rent/mortgage, lights, gas etc. You pay those FIRST before you even worry about paying anybody else. Get the Total Money Make Over book, he has letters in there that you can send to your creditors. Why and how did you get behind? Was there some kind of emergency? Divorce? Change of job? Change of income? Medical etc? Had this changed? These are all things you need to ask yourself so that you can decide which method and how to go about attacking your debt.

Welcome, I am new here also

One thing I have learned over the years is that communication is VERY important. Keeping in constant contact with those you owe money to is always the best thing to do.
My suggestion to you is:

Keep paying the bills that you are not late on
Figure out your budget and how much you can pay toward each of those bills you are late on.
Then call them and negotiate. However what ever arrangement you make with them be sure to stick to it and don’t be late or all bets are off with them.

At one time I was late on so many bills and had so many late fees it was like having a whole new bill I called “THE LATE FEE BILL!!” Eventually we caught up on each of them one bill at a time. As one gets caught up your new “LATE FEE BILL” will start to shrink. Eventually I did not have anymore late fees and was able to take the money I was spending on the “LATE FEE BILL” and put it toward paying off my smaller debts. I think it took me almost a year to get caught up.
I understand that sometimes it looks like you will never get out but as you get caught up one bill at a time you will start to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Remember, One day at a time, One bill at a time.

Hope this helps

Yes you can likely do this

It will not be easy.
You will need a lifestyle change.
It is an entire family effort.

You have to admit ALL of it to yourself and family.
1. List all the debt $ amounts.
2. List all the asssets $ amounts.

What can you get sell? Everything from books to cars. If you can sell it at a garage sale, in the paper or online DO IT NOW.

Call your creditors, tell them what is going on. Propose a plan. can they stop the late charges? reduce the interest? DO NOT USE ANY MORE CREDIT CARDS……EVER!

Any other ideas folks?
You can do it.

Hi, I have just joined this blog-forum

and have been reading the past messages of how some of you have paid off so much debt you all are inspiring! We have a huge amount of credit card debt and I was on the verge of either filing bankruptcy or going with a debt settlemnt plan (was actually going to do one of them this week). Now I am wondering if there is any chance we can get this paid off on our own? Right now we are 2-3 months behind on our credit cards and of course they are all over the limit with late fee and over the limit fees adding up fast. Do you think there is any hope for us even though we are already late? I am thinking of calling up the credit card compnaies at the end of this week and seeing if they can work out a payment plan with me.

Same here on budgeting for food

I redid it as I had been budgeting 125 every other week but it had to include pullups for my daughter and a large diaper pack box for my son, over the counter medications and vitamins-when needed, all personal care items, pet items and food for 4 people and I always went over-of course some of it is all the stocking up on sale needed items. But what do you do when there is no Share or Angel food ministries where you live and most of the stuff I buy doesn’t ever have coupons like fresh fruit and veggies? I always pay the bills first then buy food so should I be doing the opposite? Cause I hate it when there is never enough food or I cant think of anything to make. (hubby wont let me cook so we just make quick things like sandwiches, soup, lean cuisine meals-I tried to plan meals but he’d rather just make something quick) We need to eat healthier but cant make anything that takes longer then 10 mins to make and he’s also really picky about his food thanks to parents that always eat fast food- doesn’t like veggies or the way things are done like I cant buy tons of hamburger meat on sale as he will not eat it if its been frozen. Help. any suggestions? I am stocking up on staple items like pasta and spices and sauces and other stuff so that I can whip up a really good lunch but not dinner. Oh yeah he gets home at 2:45pm so I cant make dinner before he gets home as he’s already home. Also does anybody have an opinion about Costco, is it worth the membership? Can you check it out without having the card?

I was just like you!

I was like an ostrich with its head in the sand. When things got bad, I’d just stop looking at the bank balance. My credit cards were going up every month instead of down. I realized that even though I was paying on them, I wasn’t doing it consistently and I had hundreds of dollars in interest, late pmts, and over limit fees increasing my balance, not decreasing it! If I didn’t have the money to pay bills, I’d stop looking at the bank and then I’d bounce lots of checks, sometimes up to $300 a month in bounced check charges. It was ridiculous!! I couldn’t even pay the bills and then try coming up with all those charges. It was a vicious cycle.

The biggest part was that I didn’t care about ever paying off my debt. I lived for the moment and when we had money I felt I deserved to “finally” spend it. It just got worse and worse.

Finally about a year ago, I went to my husband and fessed up. We had a big fight and he was really mad. Once he cooled off, he started helping me. We setup a spreadsheet with all the bills listed. I started actually “looking” at the credit card statements instead of just the minimum payment line. I listed all our debt, whoo was it a shock! It was slow going, but the debt was going down.

I was in a similar situation

paying all the bills doing all the worrying and my husband being mainly clueless to what all was going what we owe to who and what our monthly “budget” is. I told him that I had to have his input and his understanding. He has known we had a lot of bills and he knew of all the accounts — but basically he was happy to be blissfully unaware of how tight things are. He always would complain every payday if there was not enough money for the things he wanted to buy but he had refused to talk about it or help me with it. We both agree that he is too busy to do the actual bill paying and the last time we tried that we had to pay a lot of late fees because he didn’t get the bills paid on time. Anyway, it helped me a lot to put down all the money we owe, the house, the car, the credit cards and the loan. That way he could see it in black and white. On another sheet I put down the functional monthly budget.
We found out we are just barely breaking even and mainly we got the credit card debt because of lack of savings & having too many emergencies. We didn’t save and we overspent. It is a big relief that he is willing to participate in Dave’s Money Makeover plan. I expect resistance from him at Christmas time. But after initially arguing with me about starting the savings first — he now agrees and sees that is mostly why we got so much debt. We never seem to have money put aside when something breaks or needs repair. We had a water heater break, plumbing repairs, truck repairs, etc. etc., even a very expensive electrical problem with the house all this year — but the debt is 4 years worth of it so it is big. I guess I just mainly nds to participate in the budget decisions too not just leave it all up to us! After the 3rd “talk” my husband agreed to sit down before every payday with me and negotiate how it’s all going to be spent and saved. I hope yours will too.

I was just reading over the posts of the past few days

Wow, I’m impressed with how helpful everyone is with Shannon’s predicament. I am tired of worrying about money all by myself. I pay all the bills. My DH doesn’t really know all the bills we have. I have ordered the FPU kit and have talked to hubby about getting our finances straight. He is willing to look into it, thank God! I can’ t wait to get started. I have been extremely lazy, not paying bills on time, especially if it was going to leave us slim on funds til the next paycheck. I am also terrible about instant gratification, I buy what I want…even if it’s just a cd or a scrapbook paper.

Welcome to the blog!

I’m no budgeteer myself, my wife’s the accountant.
I’m sure you’re software would work, but I recall Ramsey recommending doing a spreadsheet where you can see all the ins and outs of your money.
I believe he also recommends you spread your income evenly through months to figure out the budget, though I also recall he has an irregular income budget on his site, if you go into the free forms area.

Here’s our budget template if it will help.

Hypothetically speaking, let’s say the bills are:

#1. Food $200
#2. Mortgage $800
#3. Electric Bill $100
#4. Car Payment $250.00
#5. Macy’s $25.00
#6. Bank of America: $10
And your take home was $1200

You would pay: up through half the car payment. When it’s gone, it’s gone. Macy’s & BofA would just have to wait.

He also says to have a “hill & valley” account, so that on good months, you stash some extra in there, so when a bad month comes, you can meet your monthly minimums.

I’m hoping to learn from others and apply it to my life

I’m a wife and mother to 2 ds’s that I homeschool. Dh and myself are each self employed. I work part time at home. DH is full time at his at home business also. I read Jhons book older version and slowly learning to apply it. Still overwhelmed with the big picture.
We’ve don’t have much debt but, no saving or retirement. I know this has been something on my mind for awhile to learn to not spend as much. I had a real wake up call when I was injuried and could not work for three months. Living only on dh income that had a slump in profit at the same time.
The lessons I learned was I wasted alot of money before. My business is not as profitable after being off so long and I have to live by what I learned. That said we are better off now than before so I want that to continue. Wrapped change to pay medical bills. Need to build emergency fund again.
Budgetting??? I just don’t get it. So I started writting down all extra’s I spend and the rest is organized by my computer program that show where money is spent. Even with this I still don’t get it. I think this is because the income can be $0 to $$$$’s a month . No weekly set income. I’m trying to get money a head then pay bills as they come in.
Anyone else live with up and down income never knowing what you will make that month?
I’m set for digest so it may take me a while to answer any emails.