Your Questions About How To Live On A Budget And Save Money

Charles asks…

how did you save your budget during college or rough times?

I am planning on going to a school in Oregon. If I am able to get the resident’s tuition, I already have enough saved to pay for that. My boyfriend is a firefighter so he will help, too.

I have always been excellent with money management and I am doing a lot to live as green as I can and don’t buy disposable products so that helps. However, I do eat organic which can be pricey but I’m not willing to give that up.

What are little things you can do to save money?

richmama answers:

I don’t understand what living “green” has to do with saving money or being on a tight budget. As a matter of fact, in many ways living “green” is more expensive than living otherwise as you point out when buying organic food. Alternative “green” sources of energy are typically twice as expensive as traditional sources.

As far as having a tight budget, I have always lived under a tight one whether I needed to or not. During “good” times I would save more and during tough times save less. But I always tried to save. The key is not to buy things you really don’t need and not to live extravagantly unless you deserve it and can afford it. Buy things you only truly need and buy them on sale.

As far as living “green” it’s OK to conserve and use less energy. Turn the thermostat back, drive less and more efficiently carefully planning your trips, use only fuel efficient cars. But solar power, wind power, ethanol, organic foods, etc. Will all cost you more than traditional products.

Joseph asks…

Will I save money doing the prep work for new tile and carpet?

Hi all. My husband and I live in an 1100 sq/ft house with two bedrooms, 1 bathroom, 1 hallway, a laundry room, small kitchen and big living room. We want to have the whole house tiled with carpet in the two bedrooms. When our puppies were growing up they discovered the worn holes in the old carpet and decided to make them bigger, tearing into them like an Easter Ham. (The house is about 26 yrs old and the carpet is at least 10 yrs old)

We are on a budget and are looking for options to save money on installation and materials. We are looking at tile and carpet that costs about $1 per sq/ft and would like to get it installed by someone.

1) Would we really save money doing prep work ourselves? How much would this entail?: Im imagining pulling up the old carpet, pulling out the wood bits and nails, clearing out all the furniture, sweeping… cant think of what else. Is it worth the savings?

2) How much would it be to get it installed? We live in Bakersfield, CA.
BTW thats tile throughout the house and carpet in the two bedrooms (not carpet tiles)
We have thought about doing it ourselves. Maybe we need to revisit that. We have both laid tile before but not carpet. Id rather leave that to professionals cos I dont know it. The main reason why we wanted to get it installed is because it is the whole house not just one room and 5 professionals can come in and do it a lot faster and easier than my husband and I ever could. It would take us weeks and weeks. But maybe we can get relatives to help.

richmama answers:

Unfortunately there isn’t a whole lot of labor involved in pulling up carpet, so you really won’t save much. If you do pull up the carpet leave the tack strips in the bedroom where you are having carpet put down. Also wear a mask old carpet can be bad when pulling up. I did it once in a rental house I was fixing up to sell, just to get rid of the smell. I saved a whole hundred bucks minus trip to dump. Depending on the quality you looking at 2-4 dollars a ft. For carpet and about the same for tile especially if you want a diamond or brick pattern laid down

Mary asks…

How can I save up to study overseas for a year?

Any tips for saving money would be great. I study full-time, work casually as a waitress 2-3 shifts per week, more in the uni holidays, and teach piano as well.

I budget and try to save but have difficulty with unexpected expenses.

I want to study on exchange in Paris for a year in 2010, and will need to save quite a significant amount to live in central Paris and support myself for the year.

I cannot work on a study visa and would like to have money to travel in Europe as well.

richmama answers:

If you enjoy teaching piano, could you increase the number of lessons you give? The rate per hour is likely to be more than the waitressing. I know one person who had part time work on Saturdays but gave it up because he was earning much more from a full Saturday teaching music. And he did this right through uni.

If you can live on what you earn from waitressing, save every penny from the piano. There are lots of ways of cutting down yhour expenses. Google ‘Oprah Debt Diet’ for examples.

Good luck!!

Carol asks…

How to save money in this economy?

Unfortunately most of the people today worrying about the economy, sky rocketing gas prices and the cost of living, I think very simple things can have a big impact on our budget for instance using coupon each day you go for shopping. Anytime you can find a coupon for a product that you use, clip it and take it along on your next shopping trip. Some stores even offer double or triple coupon days once a month. Find out if your local store offers this service and check the newspapers you can save a lot in a month.

richmama answers:

In addition to the above I would also recommend putting any long term savings in a physical asset that will retain its value like gold or silver or other commodities, things you could potentially use for trade. Inflation will render cash or bank savings worthless.

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Your Questions About How To Live On A Tight Budget Food

George asks…

How to live off $20 – $30 a week on food?

Hey im on a really tight budget and i need ideas for really cheap recipes. But i dont eat many veges so need quick simple and easy.
Ideas for cheap breakfast, lunches and dinners?

I also live in New Zealand so dont have some of the things you guys might.

richmama answers:

$20-$30 a week for one guy should be no problem, you just have to be creative.

Your first week or so will be the toughest as you begin to stock up on staples, After that it will get a lot easier over time since you have the bases already.

Things to buy whenever you see them cheap whether you need it or not.

dried pasta
ramen noodles (similar to pasta, but a cheaper brick o noodles)
anything canned

all of those things will keep nearly forever in the pantry, and you can use rice and pasta with just about any bit of leftovers you may happen to have in the fridge.

2 eggs, scrambled and tossed with some white rice and sauteed green onions makes a great breakfast for under a buck.

Now you live in NZ, so you probably have access to a lot o markets and foods that we don’t. If you shop in larger markets get to know the folks in the meat/seafood department there. Just stop and chat for a few minutes about the specials when you are in. That can go a long way towards getting better deals, and knowing what is on special.

With meats always look at the other options. Most markets will be happy to break down packages for you if you ask. If you need mince look at some of the other cuts for a decent price per pound. Many markets will gladly grind any cut for you. It may sound silly to ask for 1/2 lb of the stew beef minced, but it can save a dollar or two.

If you are purchasing chicken, seriously consider purchasing whole birds to cut up yourself. Once you know how this takes only about 10 minutes. You can often purchase a whole bird for the same price as a couple of breast fillets. If you boil the carcass you get a great stock for later, and can usually pull enough meat off of it to throw in some rice and make a great chicken and rice dinner.

One of the biggest keys is to know what is available in your area, and where to get it. Take some time to look around and talk to people while you are at the market. You will be amazed at the things you may find.

Hope this helps!

Richard asks…

I live alone and pay a lot of bills. How do i eat healthy on a budet?

Where do i go to buy the cheapest foods. What kind of food are best for breakfast, lunch and dinner, on a very tight budget? Which foods are healthy yet a cheap approach to eating so i can not really be a health nut but not go through the day malnurished?
My budget i guess was 50$ a week and that is just too much i think i wanna find a way to reduce it.
My budget i guess was 50$ a week and that is just too much i think i wanna find a way to reduce it.

richmama answers:

Fresh veggies are the best. And relatively cheap.
Basic whole grain bread, eggs, cheese, pasta, sauce, potatoes and rice and you have meals for days and days on v. Little cash.

Avoid brand names. Avoid empty calories (and wasted dollars) on over packaged foods with lots of white flour or sugar that will just make you more hungry later.

For dry goods that will last a while, go to a big box store and buy in bulk. It does save money.

Make a big batch of healthy hearty soup/stew from a favorite recipe and freeze it in individual baggies for easy meals. Can cost next to nothing if you stick to the basics.

Oatmeal makes a great breakfast becuse it sticks to you and keeps you fuller longer. Drizzle some honey on top. Add a piece of fresh fruit and you’re good to go for less than a dollar.

Dont waste your money on bottled drinks. Drink water. Pay for food. Its a hundred times healthier too.

Spices can make ordinary ingreadients great. Steak seasoning, thyme, fresh ground pepper, chili flakes, oregano, etc are all good additions to the basics.

And invest in multi-vitamins. Seriously. They rock.

Linda asks…

Getting married on a tight budget, looking for ideas.?

I am getting married on September 23rd of this year. We are on a tight budget and are looking for ideas on how to have a nice wedding without spending a fortune. We are doing everything ourselves. Outdoor wedding will be nearly impossible as we live in Louisiana and we have horrible weather year round basically. Just any ideas on decor, food, etc. etc. would be great. It’s our first marriage so we don’t even know where to begin.

richmama answers:

Do your own decorations. You don’t have to do anything crazy, maybe just some nice centerpieces on the tables and some white christmas lights with tulle wrapped up around them. This would be for the reception. For the ceremony, maybe just pew bows on the first three pews. Those you can make yourself pretty easily. The church will probably already look nice, so you may be able to get away with a couple of flower arrangements for the front of the church. It will be simple, but look nice!

For the reception, rather than hire a DJ, make your own CD’s with music to dance to. This will cut costs a great deal! See if the reception hall has a stereo system that you can play the music through. By making your own CD;s, you’ll have all of the songs you want, and not the chicken dance or electric slide!

If you have a friend that takes good pictures, ask if they will take the wedding pictures for you. I took pictures for my nieces wedding and they came out great! Not only did she get great pictures, but I gave her all of the negatives and proofs (this was before digital cameras!) That is a bonus because many photographers do not let you keep all of the proofs.

Get your family to help.. Make favors, invitations, etc! The more you can do yourself, the less expensive the wedding will be!

Hope these help!

Donald asks…

I put too much salt on my food, how to fix it.?

I do not want to throw away the food cause I live on my own and on a tight budget, but I put too much salt on my eggs and grits this morning and it tasted ok but too salty. How can I fix this mistake? Can I add parsley or something to tone down the taste?

richmama answers:

Add more eggs (only really works if eggs are scrambled) and grits, then divide the portion in half and eat some today and some tomorrow.

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Your Questions About How To Get On A Budget And Stick To It

Lisa asks…

How do i get a budget and stick to it?

Ive never really had to learn how to budget before now. I need help on how to really stick to one and not get tempted to get off track.

richmama answers:

The budget part is easy. Sticking to it is all up to you.

I use a zero dollar budget. It’s easier to stick to it because every dollar has a name and a mission. You can control your money or your money can control you.

The first lines in my budget are essentials: mortgage, food, utilities, etc. Then I list all my debts.
One of my lines is a ‘blow’ line. I know I’m going to blow some money so I just put a dollar amount in the blow column. I also have a savings line, and a holiday line.

Every dollar I make is spread over those lines. I use the envelope system to track my spending.

If I put fifty bucks in the blow column then I write down there where, what, when, and how much on the envelope. Once that fifty bucks is gone then there’s no more blow money to spend.

Carol asks…

How do you make a budget, and stick to it?

I am a student living at home and have got myself into a bit of a financial problem. Thankfully living at home it means If I stick to a very tight budget I will clear the debts by mid March. I feel like I’m learning a lesson and hope that because of this I will be far more careful in the future….

The question is though how do I decide on a budget and make myself stick to it? all tips will be much appreciated 🙂

richmama answers:

Write down have much you have each week or each month to spend (after tax). Whether you choose to do it weekly or monthly should depend on how often your job pays you or you get benefits payments or whatever.

Write down how much you have to spend on ESSENTIAL items (rent, utilities bills, course books, etc). If you have debts to pay off, you’ll also want to include the payments that you’ll be making for these in this section.

Subtract the second figure from the first. That is how much you have to spend on items which are non-essential. So, you can have that amount as your “spending money”, or you can break it down further and have x amount for entertainment (cinema etc), x amount for socialising (beer and eating out), x amount for clothes, etc. You might also want to set an amount aside for savings.

The best tips for sticking to it are:

– Don’t set your budget too tight. If it’s impossible to stick to, you’ll become discouraged and won’t do it. If you have no money at all for non-essentials, you won’t be happy – even if your only luxury is a can of lager in front of the telly, you need to treat yourself sometimes.

– Whatever amount you have to spend each week, withdraw it from the bank IN CASH and put it in your wallet. Leave your cards at home. When you’ve spent all your cash, that’s it – you have to wait until next week to buy something.

Richard asks…

How do you set a budget and stick to it?

It‘s really struck me recently that I spend a lot of money on things that I don’t really need and I want to change. I earn a fantastic salary and would rather be saving a substantial amount of that money than just spending it on thigs for the sake of it!

My partner suggested that I work out the abosulte minimum that I need to get by for the week and stick to it, for example if I needed £100 for bills and food and everything with a little something extra for a treat then I should stick to that sort of budget.

What do you think?

richmama answers:

Personally I would leave myself with a little extra as there is always something that crops up! What I do is have a separate account which all my bills come off via Direct Debit, I have a spreadsheet that shows everything I have to pay for over a year and then divide by 12 so I knowo how much I need to put in that account each month (this helps me budget to pay for annual costs such as car and home insurance etc), then when my salary comes in, I have a standing order which takes this amount straight out into my ‘bills’ account. I also have a savings accout setup, so that a set amount goes into that every month again by standing order, so then I am only left with the money I have set myself to get though the month.
The thing is, you have to give yourself enough to actually get though the month and accept that you will spend some money on clothes and going out etc, so make sure you are left with enough or you will just dip into the savings and once you start dipping in you will find you keep doing it.
You could even set up more than one savings account and mentally assign them to something special you want to save for, e.g. One for Christmas, one for holidays, one for house / family etc.
Good luck, I think it’s great that you are making an effort to do this.

Ken asks…

What’s the best way to plan a holiday budget?

Over spending around the holidays is a real problem in this country. Got any advice on how to plan a budget and stick to it?

richmama answers:

Save now by not spending not at all and you dont overfill the landfill

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How to Budget – Single Moms Can Make it Work

How to Budget-Budget tips for Single Moms

Single Mom BudgetOne of the most important concerns for a lot of single moms out there is how to budget. Numerous single moms go through a situation of trying to manage a tight budget just to provide continuously for their kids. This can be extremely hard for them, especially when they are facing and doing this on their own, with no partner to help and support them. Learning how to budget can make financial struggles feel like less of a burden.

However, having a good budget is crucial especially when you can almost guarantee some emergencies to happen to you and your family. Learning how to budget can help a single mom learn how they can manage their money better without all the stress and pressure. These tips will help all single moms to establish a household budget:

Learn How to Budget for Your Family

•    Firstly, determine how much money you are getting every month. This is critical when learning how to budget.  Make sure that you include all sources of income that are promptly available to you like pay checks, social security, child support and even dividends on bonds and stocks. Anything that you are sure of coming to you should be part of the budget.

•    Next tip is to list all the expenses by starting with the most vital ones such as rent, car payment, insurance, as well as utilities. You may also include in the top list the groceries and then that is the time you begin with the other expenses like credit cards, incidentals and medical expenses.

•    Carefully look at how much money are coming in versus the money that is going out. Your priority should be the bills because these are the ones that keep you sheltered and keeps food always present on the table. Pay all of those bills out of what you have kept in your budget and take a look of what’s left. This is a key strategy of learning how to budget.

•    Determine the number of non-important bills that you can pay, and pay as many as you can. However, you must rank them in order of priority first, and after that, you can start paying them. If it is hard for you to pay the full amount, or if you need to make some payment arrangements, you can always try to negotiate with the person or office you owe and explain everything.

•    Lastly, take a look at the money that was left. Always keep in mind that unexpected emergencies will always happen, so you do not have to wait for the next pay day because you have extra money for any emergency situation that might occur.

Learn How to Budget – Spend Smart

When learning how to budget make an effort to squeeze in your budget every month until you know it by heart. Maintain trimming off costs here and there, and the money that you will be saving should be directly into your savings fund. Having a budget can help you keep track of where all your money is going, as well as get hold of steps to ensure that all of the money is going to the right places for your kids. How to budget for single moms is extremely important, so it is crucial that you pay attention with your budget. Learning how to budget will help you feel in control of your finances.

Your Questions About How To Live On A Tight Budget 2010

Donna asks…

October 2010 10 yr wedding anniversary & 40th B-day?

October 2010, our 10 year wedding anniversary, & my husbands 40th birthday, any suggestions, ideas, how to celebrate (on a budget). Party with friends? Vacation alone somewhere? Got to start saving now! Have 2 kids, & on tight budget.
We live in Winnipeg, MB, Canada so weather might be nice..or not.
My husband is leaning towards time alone together. I would like both.
(but some family members/friends don’t get along)

richmama answers:

I would say make it a second honeymoon, which means alone time. My guess is with 2 kids you don’t have an abundance of it, so take advantage of the chance. While you are away plan a special evening for him as a birthday surprise – whether that would be a night out or in, a special dinner, trip to a place nearby that particularly interests him, etc.

Good Luck and have fun!

Lizzie asks…

I need to improve my financial situation?

Where to start?

what is counted as debt? I live in Canada

I am on a very tight budget of $2010. where my my school check 1260 goes straight to rent (1189) and im left with 70 buckish! i have two young children, where i recieve 750 in benefits for them…lately some of this has been going to bills because my rent cheque sucks!. i have nothing saved. I am fortunate enough to put at least one toy under the tree this year for my children…
but i need help with saving ideas and which debt i should pay off first.
my other sources of money are either scholarships and bursaries, which i havent had any lately…
can you give me some suggestions on how to start here….i am trying to do this differently as 2010 is coming up soon
I get funded a living allowance from my first nations post secondary support program
i cant move until July, im screwed on a damn lease.

richmama answers:

It would appear you need to find at least part-time employment. You have 2 children and you are hardly more than a child yourself. If you do not form a healthy relationship with money, you will NEVER have any.

Life on the public dole is NOT the way to go…but that is where you appear to be heading…

Thomas asks…

How to have sensible conversation about moving out with irrational parents?

Here is the background information:
I am a 22 year old female, both working and in college. I got a late start to college due to family and personal issues (through no fault of my own), so I still have 2 years left on a bachelor’s degree. For the school year of 2009-2010, I went away to a university and it sucked really bad, I became depressed, isolated, and unable to succeed in classes. Consequently I was invited, and encouraged to move back in with my mother and stepfather, and commute to a closer college for the remainder of my college education. I am currently doing pretty well in school and in life. However, my parents home is a very stressful place to live, because my stepfather (though he can be very nice and helpful) can make things difficult. He has had a bad year, including the death of his elderly mother, the removal of a cancerous growth, and a forced retirement from his job; and when he is stressed out he tends to project his emotions on me. Despite my attendance of college, steady employment in a semiskilled medical field, efforts to help out around the house and keep things tidy, I feel he acts inappropriately toward me. He frequently comments (just “jokes” he says) about me moving out, and suggests in one way or other that I am irresponsible, hard to deal with, a burden, and strain on his marriage. He has extremely stringent rules about what objects should go where, which seem to change constantly, and acts passive aggressively when these “rules” are broken. For example, I had put a pair of my shoes in the front hall closet (a place it seems shoes should go), and later found them placed neatly in my bed sheets. I asked him in a non-accusing tone if he had put them there, and he denied it up and down. I asked my mother as well, who I know well enough to believe when she said it was not her. There are dozens of similar situations that take place on a daily basis. In essence, I am constantly worried about the next thing I’m going to unknowingly do wrong, and what his reaction is going to be. We have had “family” discussions on the matter, and the final outcome is always: It’s his house, he makes the rules, end of story. I have been feeling an increasing disconnection with my mother due to this, and feel it is time to get out and live independently. One of the problems with this is that every time I discuss with them how I feel uncomfortable living here and am looking into moving out, they get really frantic and tel me that I am not capable of moving out, that I have to stay here, and that they really don’t want me to move out. Their actions do not match their words at all, and living here is causing more stress that living on my own with a tight budget.
Here is the current Situation:
Since I have been unsuccessful at talking to them about moving out in the past, I have no idea how to approach them about this subject. I am currently signing a lease with a friend for an apartment a few miles away, still close to my work and school. I have bought and paid for my own car, so transportation is not a problem. We will be moving in in about 2 months. Before I tell them I am moving out I plan to have a full budget completed, so they will be aware that I am in fact responsible and able to afford it (though money will be tight). My student loan is in my own name, with my mother as the cosigner. She has offered to pay the 30$ a month interest for it, without my asking. I don’t have any fears that she will withdraw any and all financial help, she’s not that type of person. I generally don’t rely on them financially, anything they pay for me is of their own will.
How do I have a reasonable, adult discussion with them, when I haven’t been able to in the past?
Am I the one who is being irrational?
Any tips on moving out in general?
Has anyone had a similar situation, and have any advice what what to do/what not to do?
How do I proceed if they have an extremely negative reaction?
How do I keep my cool in this extremely irritating situation?
Feel free to ask questions if you feel I left something out, and to leave any comments or advice you have.
Serious answers would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks so much!

richmama answers:

Don’t trouble yourself any longer. Sure, make out your budget, but only for yourself so you know what you’re getting yourself into with the move & all.
You need to get outta there. You are an adult & they are not.
Bottom line: if they haven’t been rational with you yet, they never will be.
Sounds like they both like playing head games with you & are into manipulating you at every turn. Maybe you’re just too articulate & they just don’t get it. It’s not your fault.
If there’s a history of crappy times & they haven’t been able to come out more mature because of them, then they are a lost cause. JUST LEAVE.
If you reread your story, listen to yourself: it really sounds like you are giving them excuses for their erratic behaviors, especially step dad. They’ve made you believe that you cannot make it on your own…well, obviously you can. You are a student aren’t you? You’re doing well with that, right? Well, are “they” there doing the work for you? NO! So, you need to realize that moving out at the age of 22 is completely doable.
Moving out will be the best thing you can do for yourself.
No, you are not being irrational.
Moving out tips: make use of the items you have, you don’t need everything at first, especially since you are involved with school & a job, SAVE as much money as you can each month, enjoy yourself too.
If “they” react badly to your news, TOUGH! If you continue to listen to them & stay, you’ll be asking us all this same question again when you’re 25, 30 & on! It doesn’t sound like they are gonna be ready to hear it anytime soon, so just get it over with.
Keep your cool: tell them right before you have to go to school or work while you have you purse on your shoulder & keys in hand. Then just go.
You must believe in yourself, that you can do this on your own. You seem to have a pretty level head on your shoulders. At least YOU know the kind of adult you want to be…thanks to the “grownup kids” in your life.

Mark asks…

Does this sound like a good deal to you?

So I’m engaged to be married on September of 2010. I’m inviting about 150 people, including children, of which I may expect 100. I’ve been doing some research and I think (not sure yet) that I found a really good place. There is this hall that I found that only charges $600 (best deal so far, close from my house). Most places charge $2000 and up. But there’s this other place that I found that offers me this:

Hall for up to 500 people for 5 hours (I can choose a smaller hall for 125 ppl).
Decorated Food Line that Includes:
Beef or Pork Entree
Chicken Entree
Pasta, Rice, or Potatoes
Seasonal Vegetables
Green Salad
Two Dressings
Four Prepared Salads
Rolls and Butter
Iced Tea, Coffee, and Water
Includes all linens, china, crystal, flatware and servers.

All this for $23.35 per person (I’m ordering 150), plus tax and gratuity.

The thing is, I would have to rent security (two people), a dance floor (from them for only $175), a licensed bartender, and I would have to get a liability insurance. Also, I may need two extra hours from the hall which will cost me $500 (250 each additional hour).

Does this sound like a good deal? How much (approximately) would the security, bartender, and insurance would be. I live in Bakersfield, CA if that helps.

I’m on a very tight budget and at this moment I’m still deciding whether to have catered food or homemade :S

richmama answers:

Ha…I live between you and Fresno!

$23.35 isn’t bad per person. I was trying to go a cheaper route and ended up spending way more money. Try adding up ALL the cost and dividing it by the number of people you want.

Also, a lot of people probably won’t come. I invited about 220 people to mine and had about 140 actually come to the wedding.

If you are having a lot of kids, find out if they can do a kid buffet for cheaper. Chicken nuggets, pizza etc. That could cut the cost a lot!

The security, bartender and insurance all came with my venue and caterer but the venue should have an estimate for you or be able to give you names of some of them.

Most likely, you will be able to have the room with 125 people if a lot rsvp no which could also save you money!

Good luck and Congratulations! I got married September 2009, great month!

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