Happy New Year’s! I apologize for the length of time since I last wrote. I hope that everyone has met as a family and set their family goals for the year. As the economy continues to get worse and more people are being laid off families have to learn to be tighter with their money. Depending on your need and willingness to make ends meet it can be done. It may be really, really hard and it may require a lot of sacrifices. It may take several months to see a difference. It may also require asking for help, don’t be ashamed. There are a lot of places you can contact and get the name of someone who can help you with your budget. Below is a few things that may help you tighten your budget.
$ Credit Cards- If you already owe on them you can try to negotiate with the company for a lower percentage rate. If you have the money, pay more than the minimum each month. If you don’t have the money to pay it when it comes due, don’t use it. I’m not sure if you are aware or not but if you negotiate a payoff with the credit card company it can effect your tax return. Depending on the company you may receive a letter or form stating that you paid off a certain amount. The difference in that amount and the amount you still owe may need to be added as income on your tax return. Most credit card companies including store credit cards will turn the difference in as a loss. And you are responsible for turning in the income that they consider you made. Check with your tax professional and get advice on how to handle the situation.
$ Electric Bills- I don’t know about you but my electric bill alone this month was $300. That is pretty average for December and January though. But yet I still only budgeted $125 this month. Why? I called my electric company and asked them if I paid the same amount all year what amount do I need to pay? They looked at my bills for the last 12 months and my average was $125. I could pay that amount every month to the electric company and then at the end of the year if I owed more I would pay the difference. If I had paid too much they would credit my account for the next month or two. Since we use the envelope system and I like having that money at my disposal just in case, I budget that amount every month. We did dip into it the month that gas was $5 a gallon. But I put it back in over the next couple of months as we had leftover money in the gas envelope.
$ Not life sustaining needs- Ok, I know I’m going to catch flack here from some of you. But I would not sleep well if I didn’t remind you what you already know. Satellite, cable television, Internet, cell phones, movie rentals, movie theaters, etc, are not life sustaining needs. Yes, they make life a little happier but they are also very expensive. If you don’t need it get rid of it. We have an antennae with a converter box. No, I’ve never seen Jon and Kate plus 8 except in Today’s Christian Woman magazine; which was a Christmas gift. Yes, we do have Internet and cell phones but it has been in our budget for a long time. And we don’t have to have them so we could get rid of them if need be. The last movie we rented was The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe when it came out. The last movie we saw at the theater was The Pink Panther. Only because we chaperoned our youth group trip to the movies.
I know not everyone is willing or can be as frugal with their money. But think about something that you don’t really need or use that cost you every month. And do something about it. I don’t think the economy is going to turn around anytime soon. So we all have to learn to live a little tighter and be willing to help others.
I have another blog ready to go. I will post it at the beginning of next week. It has some free, cheap and fun ideals for family time. Have a great weekend.