I thought I’d start a series talking about the different parts of my family’s budget and what we do to save money.
Housing: We are currently renting. We live in California so housing prices are really high. We are living in a little house that I think is about 650 square feet. Part of me enjoys living in a small house. I know what Toddler Girl is up to all the time. There is much less space to clean and it keeps me from collecting everything that people offer to give to me like old furniture. But I have a hard time finding places for everything and organizing our place has been a work in progress for the past two years that we have lived here. I wish that I had a garage to put a few things in and a washer and dryer. I don’t like hauling my laundry. But it makes me feel like I grew up rich. I had it good living in that huge house with a nice washer and dryer. I may have taken it for granted back then but I’m appreciative of what I have got.
Utilities: We live in a granny house that shares water and gas with the big house. So we pay a portion of the water, gas and internet. We have our own electric bill. This is kept down by not having a microwave and trying to keep lights off when not in use. We don’t have a land line. We both have cell phones. But I got the cheapest talk plan with no extras to keep costs low. We enjoy using a free internet video chat to talk to out of town friends and family.
Healthcare: Costs for healthcare are outrageous. I mentioned before that Toddler Girl is on Medical but we didn’t qualify. I’ve been a member of a healthcare cost sharing ministry. Each month I send my share (kind of like an insurance premium but not really) directly to someone who has a medical need. This group covers maternity in full so my healthcare needs are pretty much covered for the next several years. A bunch of people are sending me their shares next month so I can pay the midwife. My husband is currently uninsured. We can’t afford to pay a premium. I guess if we could if we decided to downsize our house but that’s not an option. What I mean by we can’t afford it is that I think there are more important things to use that money for right now. So when my husband has to go to the doctor we have to pay cash for it. We also pay cash for the dentist. Oh my, dental bills really add up! Take good care of your teeth people or you are going to be forking over big bucks for the rest of your life.
Car expenses: At least gasoline is way cheaper here than in other countries because we sure do drive a lot in California. I started limiting driving and combining errands to save on driving time and gas. We do have a large car payment but hopefully we will get that paid off and a little saved up to buy a used minivan when our family outgrows our sedan. We set aside a little money each month to pay for car repairs. We also have the car insurance premium to pay as well.
Groceries: We get food stamps which can only be used for food. So we have a small amount of cash each month that we set aside for everything else. Toiletries, diapers, misc. household items.
Then we have to pay off our little debts each month. We have a couple credit cards, the doctor bill for my husband and the dental bill. Credit cards are a curse. We live in a country where they are a way of life. There are certain expenses that you have to put on a credit card and then you are punished by having to pay high interest and fees if you don’t have the money to pay them. Buying stuff on credit should never have been invented. Someday we will rise above the credit card debt and exclaim, “We are free, we are free!”
There is all the big expenses in our budget. In part 2 I will talk about the small expenses. Those will really add up if you don’t keep a close eye on them.