Budget question

How do you budget when your checks are extremely variable?

both my husband and I work on a “commission” basis. I have a job selling medical supplies and work from home – before I am flooded with requests, this is not your typical work from home, this is a local company and you have to work there for at least a year in the office, and be in sales for a year, and have a minimum amount of sales. But I have no hourly wage to fall back on. Hubby is a truck driver and he is paid by the load.

His income can be to bills as little as $150 to as much as $800 each week. My income varies from a low of $600 to a high of $1400 every two weeks.

We are moving to a cheaper property with more land for the horses which will cut our feed bill, and our rent bill. I am also going to work really hard at paying off 3 things that will bring an additional $600 free to the budget, and after the rent decrease of $371 – that’s almost $1000 per month less than we have now.

My problem, I really need to have $20K or so saved over the next 2 years, we want to purchase this property and she will owner finance, but we need about that for a down payment. So I need to get my budget TIGHT

But it’s so hard to budget when our income is so variable.

I would say to budget on what you both make at your lowest income. Figure out (prioritize) what will be paid from those amounts.

Then, make a second list. What to pay if extra money comes in (from work income or whatever the source). Also consider applying for installment loan from www.mtploans.com or similar website – these are new type of loans, better than payday loans. Then, when you get paid more (or hubby does), pay off the first list first. Then, go in order down the second list until the money is gone. That way, if you only bring in, for example $500 a month, you are prepared and when you bring in $1500 a month, the extra is already planned for.

Bankruptcy was set up to serve a purpose

Thanks for your enlightening post. I agree with alot of what you have to say. I disagree with your opinion of bankruptcy however- most creditors will force you into it if you cant meet their expectations. I know, I’ve been there. Bankruptcy was set up to serve a purpose- not necessarily “shirk” your debts. Living within your means is the answer tho. You are right about that. I am not so nice. I have given up cable and many things. I dont see a need for them. There are many who still “blur” the line of “want” and “need”. Most people will argue you to death how they “need” a cell phone. They will come up with one reason after another. Its all bunk. No one NEEDS a cell phone. That is nothing more then a NEED our society has manufactured to make us buy. No one NEEDS cable or satellite TV either. Nobody NEEDS 100 plus channels. You dont. Get over it. Nobody NEEDS Netflix or Blockbuster. Your local library will keep you up to date if you just work at it. Nobody NEEDS Sirius Satellite Radio or anything else. People NEED to wake up and realize that their financial situation will not change unless they do. I had to come to that realization myself and since I did my life and quality of it as well as my financial picture have improved. Make no mistake, sacrifice IS involved.

I agree with MOST of what you said.

BUT my hubby does NEED a cell phone. It earns us more money than it takes out of our pocket.

How? He’s a truck driver, I would say over the last year, it has probably increased his income by between $10,000-15,000. How? Dispatch can get in touch with him anytime they have another load come up, they know he will take it, and not complain.

Also, if his truck should break down, he can be in areas that it could take HOURS for someone to find him, and way away from civilization. So he would lose money by sitting, because he cannot get help.

Most don’t need a cell phone, or at least the fancy plans that they have.

IF we didn’t have to have his for work, I wouldn’t have anything but a cheapy prepaid for emergencies. But since it doesn’t cost anything extra to have it, we get 2 lines for the same price, I do.

Am I willing to give up my cable and such? NO, but I find OTHER ways to get through my bills. I have become very determined to pay off my debts in the next 6-12 months.

I am moving in a little under 2 weeks, cutting my rent by over $500 and getting more. I am going to work harder, earn more money. I will also have 3 debts paid off by the end of the year. So by the first of next year, I will have at least $1000 extra for me. That will be going into savings, and a bit extra on the debts, since he property we are renting, we will be purchasing as soon as we get a down payment saved up.

We all need to live within our means, but there are more than one way to do it. I do agree that sacrifices need to be made, but that’s an INDIVIDUAL choice that each person needs to make.

Meeting your obligations

I have recently completed paying down three of my obligations. My credit card, car payment, and a loan on an AC unit we needed badly but could not afford. I did not use a debt restructuring agency this time or take a equity line or other loan. It was cutting back, doing without, working a second job, and paying close attention to the budget.

Just a little background about me. I have experienced four separate unemployment periods in my 12 years in the IT business. Twice I was so close to foreclosure I could smell it. We even went 120 days one time. I still have no retirement savings and I am currently working on my emergency fund.

Back when we were unemployed banks were not so eager to “work” with you on your mortgage. You simply paid or they repossed the property. And a single payment would not make your problem go away. Remember, this was less than 15 years ago, not the 1940s. During many of these periods my salary would fall to a quarter of it previous level. Unemployment paid about a 15% of what my previous salary was.

I have read this blog each day for a couple of years. I found this place as I was unemployed again and needed to read the stories and suggestions of others. I decided I would take responsibility for my decisions and correct my ways in order to pay my way out of the problems I have experienced. I was commited to living the Jimmy Carter life style.

Our former president was never a great leader in my mind. However, researching the stories here, reading the bible, and reading about the way in which Mr. Carter urged our country to face the issues presented in the late 70 made me think differently about my approach to my position. Simply living within my means was the entire change needed.

I surmized that when I spent less than I earned I was able to meet my obligations, pay down my late accounts, and eventually retire some of my debts as I have reported here today. Your reading this thinking “Wow, this is the secret. He is going to show me how I can make the turn.” I am, but in the next few paragraphs you may decide its not for you so be prepared.

I want you to know I am not judging you and I decided to take the 25 minutes to write tis because I cared about you and the “slavery” that your debt has you in. I see some of your stories and wonder if your reading the post from others who have been sucessful or just venting. I wonder do you really think your position is due to poor decisions or are you certain somehow a creul trick has been played upon you.

I know things are not going well in the economy. I saw gasoline that was 5.25 a gallon the other night and it had been 3.39 the day before. More and more of us will be going through “hard times”. The outcome will be determined by your decisions today and the lifestyles you choose for the future.

My choices are not easy as I had mentioned. My little car is 2002 Cavalier and has body damage in the front. But she cranks and takes me to work each day and returns me home each night. As I drive 55mph and the SUVs flypast me I can see the looks on the other drivers faces. I imagine the thoughts are along the lines of: “The beat up junker! He should get a nicer car then he could go 80 like me.” I see the disapproval the judgmental glares. I could not afford to drive 70 mph. I save 5 dollars a day as you see I drive 180 miles round trip so that I can work a wonderful job.

I watch my coworkers go out to lunch and have lavish dinners in the evening before they return to complain about being “stuck” at work. I on the other hand plan and prepare for home made meal of left overs. Some people wonder how I can be happy eatting outmeal or grits each morning. They are above oatmeal or grits, they instead need the BK or McDs whatever is on sale. I quietly eat my homemade breakfasts, lunches, and dinners knowing that they are within my means.

Even though I have been in the IT business for 12 plus years, I have never owned a cellphone with a plan. I do have a cell phone but its for emergencies, real emergencies, and the occasional moment when I or my Wife want support in our struggle and it is a prepaid clunker too. I hear so many people talk about how the cell phone bill is killing them. I wonder, what is so important they have to talk about that they need those. I think that they probably just want them so they could “look” inportant.

Likewise, I hear of outrageous cable bills. I too have cable and as you might imagine some of the best connectivity because it is how I do my business. I just don’t understand why a factory worker (not picking on you specifically) needs the fastest cable connection or all of those premium channels. In fact if you were working a second job you would not be home to watch that TV.

You see I think when you file bankruptcy you are shirking your responsibilities. When you settle out a debt you a side steping the full commitment. You did get the full enjoyment from the things you bought on those cards did you not? Why should hard working people who choose to live with in their means be foced to shoulder the burdens of your decisions, weather right or wrong? If you are unable to meet your obligations because you have physical incapacities why do you believe you earned the cable or cell phones, for example?

I am not saying you are bad. I am no better than you. I have come around to a point where living within my means is my focus. Be it frugality or self denial it is unfair for me to live at a level where I canot maintain my position should something occur. I am saying that you should think about your actions before you make the decision. You should review how you are living your life and ask your self the question, “Is this the right thing to do? Will I be able to meet all of my obligations and still pay for this if something happens?”. I only ask that you do not ask me to shoulder your burdens unless you are doing all that you can do for your self first.

Debt settlement advice

If your financial situation is restricted enought that necesseties are hard to come by, stop paying the collection agencies. Just STOP! I know that they can be very intimidating, but they are just people. And at the end of the day, there is only so much that they can do to you, infact there is NOTHING that they, the collection agency, can really do to you. In most cases it is up the original creditor, to choose to pursue legal action against you. The probability of that depends on what state you live in and the assets you have. In every case each of the individual creditors would determine seperately, if you are worth pursuing legal action against. They won’t spend the money and effort to pursue action if you don’t have what they won’t or have the ability to get what they want. And even then, if they choose to sue you, you will have the opportunity to explain to a judge why you can’t resolve the debts at this present time. Stop killing yourself trying to apease a stubborn collector.

ok, now let me make a comment about some thougths expressed in a recent post about sending $1 or $5 just to show effort and good intent. It doesnt work that way. Collection Agencies pursue the debt owed under the contract for the amount due. There is nothing in the contract that talks about making a minimal effort, which is what $1 or $5 is considered. They will always take your money, ALWAYS. That doesnt mean that it is doing any good. Because it isnt. Usually the fees that the creditor is charging you are still absorbing the small minimal payments and all you are doing is WASTING MONEY. SO DON’T !

As far as sending letters go, in most cases, when a consumer sends in a letter with a “sob story” explaining it, they laugh about it, pass it around and say look at this loser. Then throw it away. They might place the account in a file that doesnt get calls, only letters, but it wont stop the fees from adding up. And as for the accoutn balance that just disappeared. That really didn’t happen. Sorry but, trust me, it will resurface down the road with a higher balance. What happened is this, the small payments were seen as an “RTP” ,a refusal to pay the obligation, and the accnt was cancelled and sent back to the creditor to be burried in a file that isn’t worked for a while. If the agency sent you a letter saying it is forgiven, the creditor will dispute that and argue it is not valid. It can become a huge battle that will go on, until the account exceeds the statute of limitations, or the 7 years has passed and it drops off your credit report. Please don’t take offence to the tone of my writting, the collection business took a toll on me.

You can also write a “cease and desist” letter to the collection agency and they have to stop contacting you. Just google it and be sure to use certified mail. It basically says you refuse to deal with collection agencies and will only deal with the original creditor. As far as making minimal payments, that really pertains to original creditors, not collection agencies. As long as you are making a regular payment, in any amount, they cannot turn your account over to collecitons. Have you considered contacting an agency such as Consumer Credit Counseling Services? I know several people who have used this company with much success and they counsel you so you can figure out how how to allocate your money every month and they will contact the collection agencies/creditors and negotiate a repayment plan in addition to eliminating and/or reducing fees/interest.

Grocery game, cell phone bills etc

I use a cell phone cause I’m always going or coming. I’ve got kids in school. With the cell phone the school can get in touch when a kid gets sick, forgot lunch, etc. I don’t have a landline phone. But to save money my mom and i went in together and share the costs of a cell phone plan. Cheaper than us each having a separate account plus we can call each other free. I work in a grocery store so i keep an eye on sales and collect coupons. Used to buy groceries once a week. Then my kids became teenagers. In one weekend they ate an entire weeks’ supply of groceries. So since I’m in a store I buy enough to last two or three days with some extra to freeze. Works for me, may not work for someone else. And I’m still spending the same amount each week. Ss for selling gold, I’d love to do that. Unfortunately I don’t have any. My mom doesn’t either. Sometimes you just have to find what works for you and do that even if someone else says it’s not the right or best way. There is no one right way. I wish there was sometimes. But then something usually happens that reminds me it’s nicer having a variety of choices and viewpoints.

I did the grocery game for a couple of months. When it first came about it was widely reported on here in our local news and one channel even did a series on it where they played it and followed up with people who participated etc. Yes you can save money but most they interviewed were,or appeared to be, mothers and women who were juggling too many things at once already. I suppose if I was that person maybe I would view it differently. Watch this video:

I found no real savings in it. It was costing me to do something I already have been doing for years. Now, with the use of the internet I can do it myself and save even more by not paying the fee. I dont spend much time at all. I find it personally rewarding to do it myself. I’ve been currently challenging myself this month to stay around 25.00 a week for groceries for my family and I’ve been doing it so far and if I can continue I’ll be saving around 200.00 a month. I don’t need to pay someone else to show me how to do it. I have accumulated a huge stock pile and if I had to stop buying food tomorrow we could still eat for probably 3 months or more.

OMG! Thankyou!! From everything I’ve read and understood, making a minimal payment is just reaffirming the debt and dragging it out! Stop paying! There is a reason the laws are in place that if you stop paying they have to charge it off! Its for your protection as well as theirs! If you keep paying you keep dragging it out. AND if you dont pay the minimum amount they are asking for you are considered delinquent anyway! Don’t do it! You are’nt helping yourself!

Second job benefits

My husband took a second job 3 years ago and we are now finally realizing the benefits. The biggest thing you need to be concerned with is where it will put you in the tax bracket. My husband is just a couple thousand dollars short of putting us into a new tax bracket and it then may not be worth having the second job. With the second job we get benefits that are not available in the first job- like dental and vision coverage. Fuel costs can be an issue but then again trading down to a more economical vehicle can help solve that problem. Right now tho the second job is most beneficial and we reaping the benefits.. paying down debt and even investing and savings. The beauty of a second job is that you can take it on and then you can leave when you are ready …

The grocery bill is the first place someone can reap benefits. The grocery game is a joke. Why pay someone to tell you what is on sale when you can find that out on your own? If you know your local list/store stuff there is no need for the grocery game. Its not that hard.Once again someone making a buck off of YOU!

Cell phone is needed if you are on call. If your on the road all the time and miss calls for work, than you need it. In our company we had to have either pagers or phones. It saved us miles, and lots of time, and as you know they are both big money. Eating out is not needed, on the road,bring your home cooked meals. Eating out is one of the biggest exspenses people can cut out. Use Sundays to cook for the week. Forget the resturants, they are bad for you anyway. Eating out will get you broke , sick, and in need of surgery on your pocket book and your heart..

Everyone in America has been stocking up on things they don’t really need. Now is the time to use them. Go into those closets and drawers and organize and use up all that junk you have been collecting for years.Sell what you will never use, and make some space in that house.Use the extra cash to make payments.

Gold is high again, so clean out that jewlery box at the gold exchange. Junk pieces of gold can add up. One earring, out of style bracelet, old peieces of gold can bring in some well needed cash. Just make sure you go to a real gold exchange that will give you the gold value of your jewlry.Be surprised at what its worth.

I have got quite a bit out of the grocery game. Maybe when I get ambitious and get a coupon database up and running and find the time to input every week’s coupons I will drop them, but for now I find the extra few dollars a week is worth the time saved.

again, sometimes that works, sometimes that doesn’t. I have fuel effiecient cars, but where I live, by choice, I would have to drive at least 50 miles round trip maybe more, for a $7.00 per hour job, not worth it, I ran the figures. I chose to increase my income by working harder at my main job.

I disagree, I tried to do what she can do myself, I spent 5 times more time, and ended up spending MORE. To each their own, but when the first week of the cycle comes up and I save over $80 that week, I have well paid for the membership. To me it’s worth it….for some it’s not.