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At wits end

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    At wits end

    I am seeking advice on how to help myself get out of a hole.

    Let me explain, I am a mother of six wonderful children, and the fiance of a hard working man. Though he only works as a convience store clerk, he is the hardest working man I know. Yet still we manage to fall somewhere between homeless and on the verge of becoming homeless. Despite how hard we work, we always seem to fall somewhere along the way. We can not afford to help anyone when they ask, so we don't. Unless of course it is simple thing's like sewing clothing,or running a non profit charity we call Mrs. Clauses Christmas Extravaganza. We take in gently used items, clean them up and give back to the community in need as christmas present's.

    Anyway, financially we are not wealthy, our monthly income between the two of us is $1,700 a month.
    Our bills are $700 Rent(We live in Pensacola, FL where rent is not the cheapest around it seems.)
    $400 Electric,
    $500 Food (this covers the basic dinner meal a day mon-fri and three meals for the kids a day sat and sun)
    and our Cell phone bills are 50.00 a month each (We do not have a home phone)
    Personal hygene items usually run us about 150. (Shampoo, Conditioner, body soap, etc..)
    The city bus getting to and from Dr.s Apts 4x a month runs me on average $32.00 (Dr.s Apts are necessary for my Autistic Son)

    As i'm sure most of you have noticed we don't have enough income to cover our everyday expenses. Most of this I have cut as much as I could, I took out the snacks, as well as the afterschool activities for the kids. even us adults have lost our "game" night due to the cut back for finances. What I want to know is can anyone help me see where I can cut back more? Maybe give me some options i dont already know of.

    thank you very much.

    Have you looked into public assistance? Food Stamps, HUD, Welfare? It looks like you qualify.


      Any chance your fiance can find a better paying job? If he is as hard working as you say, I'm sure he can find an employer who can recognize that work ethic and compensate accordingly.

      For cutting expenses, the only thing I see that you have listed is going to prepaid cell phones. But there is only so far you can trim expenses, which is why I asked out getting a job with better income.


        Your budget already sounds really tight. So, I think you should focus more on getting your income up rather than making cuts. Working hard is certainly admirable, but as you're seeing, all the hard work in the world doesn't do much good if it's not used efficiently. Convenience store clerk isn't exactly a high paying career path. Has your fiance given any though to what he would like to do that would earn him more money? You said $1700 is combined income, so what do you do to earn money and could you be earning more? Have you guys considered doing more work along the lines of what you do for your charity to earn more money? Perhaps you could try finding used items at garage sales, cleaning them up, and selling them on eBay. It sounds like you have a talent for seeing value in items that others overlook that you could be putting to more use.

        The only budget category that looks to me like it should have significantly more room in it is the electric bill. Have you looked around your house to see what might be using all the electricity? Are there appliances you leave plugged in all the time that you could unplug? Do you have an air conditioner that you run more than you need to? I suspect that part of the problem is that your rental is old and drafty and filled with old inefficient appliances. If that's the case, you might want to try talking to your landlord to see if he can do anything to update some things, or you might want to look for a rental that costs $100 more but would save you $200 on electricity.


          I think this video sums up my thoughts about the matter. (About 4 mins long)

          Jim Rohn - How to have Your Best Year Ever (1 of 3) - YouTube

          I have no doubt that your fiance is a very hard worker. However, I feel that his effort could be used in a different direction.

          And just a quote for thought:
          “There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.”
          -Peter Drucker


            $400.00 Whopper

            My house is 2050 sq/ft and the electricity bill has never been higher than $160.00, and i live in Houston we keep the thermostat on 72 so im not "cutting back". what is the deal... $400.00 dollars seems to be EXTREME, does that include any other bills, cable, Internet... because these things should be cut from the budget immediately if so. i feel your pain, and hope you the best.



              Check parks department newsletter for free activities to do with the kids -- in my city there is hiking, biking, even kayaking and camping run by the Parks department. Local museums have free days, and museums that receive public funding only allowed to have "suggested" admission, you can pay what ever you can afford, even 25c.

              I'm sure that there are organizations that have free activities for kids, and those with nominal fees can waive them for very low income families if you ask them. So it is possible to give your kids educational activities.

              Find out if you have a food co-op or a farm in your area -- very often they have volunteer positions and compensate with fresh produce. It is a really good deal, for as little as 4 hours you can get a large amount of very nutritious (often organic) food for your family.

              Were you doing well when you decided to have child number 3,4,5,6? What changed? Can you get back to that field of work (even if you need to move to get a job in that field or have your fiance watch the children while you work)?


                I'm imagining those six kids continuously running in & out of the house letting your cooled summer air and heated winter air out the doors. Probably even leaving the doors open sometimes. In other words big leaks!

                Cut back on the need for cooling the house by using the stove and oven less in hot weather. Eat sandwhiches and cold meals more often.

                Train kids to turn off lights, TV, etc when not in use. Modern TVs are big energy guzzlers. Don't let it run all day just to have "company" or distraction for the kids. Train the kids not to window shop in the fridge, but to ask permission before opening it.

                Don't keep the house terribly cool in summer, nor particularly warm in winter.

                Offer to caulk windows and doors for the landlord, who will perhaps both buy the material and give you a small crdit on your rent.

                Actually, to me the personal hygiene budgert sounds high. Are there disposable diapers included? Have you ever run the numbers to see about using cloth?

                Are you using an electric dryer? Consider using a clothes line. My inlaws lived near Pensacola and used a clothesline, though it is very humid. They had to regularly treat their clothespins and clothesline for mildew (!), but the clothes did manage to dry without problem.

                Generally, try to wash full loads of clothes, rather than smaller loads so that you get more wash done for the money. Look up online recipes for making money-saving laundry soap mixtures, which have had a resurgence in popularity lately. (Grated soap + borax + washing soda usually).

                Probably you know all these things.

                What are you all doing for transportation other than taking the bus to the doctor? Is that affecting how mmuch you end up spedning for groceries--like maybe you just have to buy groceries at the convenience store since you fiance is already there? Usually very expensive? Could the two of you and any older kids learn some new cooking skills/ recipes to reduce food costs?
                "There is some ontological doubt as to whether it may even be possible in principle to nail down these things in the universe we're given to study." --text msg from my kid

                "It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men." --Frederick Douglass


                  There is also free birth control if you look for it. There are tons of organizations that give out free condoms to anyone who asks.


                    Originally posted by Nika View Post
                    There is also free birth control if you look for it. There are tons of organizations that give out free condoms to anyone who asks.


                      Unless your fiancé is also the father of all 6 kids (in that case why aren't you married and receiving the breaks that married people get?) you should be receiving child support for all those kids from their respective fathers and the state of Florida should be helping you with that. This is no time for the 'I don't want anything to do with him/them crap'. They have a responsibility to the child they created it has nothing to do with your feelings about the guys. I too agree that you should be applying for food stamps and other welfare support and unless he wants to own a chain of convenience stores, your guy needs a much better job. And I'm sorry girl, as one woman to another, you have enough kids and hopefully at this point you have done something to prevent more of them since you can't afford to raise the ones you have. I love children and would have wanted plenty myself, but even on a strict budget kids do add up the costs.

                      I know how hard it is slogging through the mud of living on basically minimum wage and never having enough to get by. I eventually found a way to go to school (during which time my youngest went to special school for his autism) and became an RN. Our finances improved immediately. Why does your son need to go to the doctor so often for his autism? It is not a disease like diabetes and should be treated more through therapy as I haven't heard of any medical treatment that works. Use what time you have on the internet to investigate that he is getting appropriate services as 4x a month seems very excessive for a doctor, not if you meant a therapist.

                      I don’t mean to come down hard on you as in many ways, I have walked in your shoes and I know how hard it is. If you sew well as you mention, you might want to hang out your shingle to do repairs and alterations and charge appropriately--not charge something silly like $1 to replace a zipper. That is at least a $10-15 job. When you undercharge people for work like that, they don't respect you or the work you do, they just want more work for way too cheap and then you won't have time for the customers that pay well.

                      Not sure what kind of access you have to the internet, but there are some legitimate ways to make money on line. A compelling blog about your struggles and your successes with Google adsense ads and Amazon affiliate spots, you might make some money, little by little. Some blogs and other websites will pay for writing which you could look into. My son (the autistic one, so have hope) holds down a full time job, a part time job and in his spare time does surveys, etc. on line and gets about $25 every month or two plus various reward cards. May not seem like much to others with lots of money, but I know what a spare $25 a month can mean to someone like you.

                      Wishing you the best!