How do you Mums budget?

in MoneySaving mums
12 replies 4K views
I'm pretty new to this forum and I'm feeling really motivated by other people's success stories and all the encouraging posts on how to make your money go further. I have a little bit of a complicated situation and I'm constantly trying to plan for the future without really knowing what that is going to be - but who does, right? Right now my main challenge is realigning our monthly budget because I'm about to lose my job AND have a new baby, right at the same time. I'm really nervous about managing the family finances with only one fixed income coming in and I guess I was wondering how other people manage theirs?

My husband and I are both British but we are have been living in Iowa, USA for the last 4-5 years. Our DS has just turned 2, and we are expecting our DD on October 1st. The terms of our VISAs have changed meaning that I can no longer work, as of September 30th. Good timing for staying at home with the new baby, but also pretty stressful having only one income. I have maintained a budget spreadsheet for the last couple years, but to be honest we haven't ever been too strict about meeting it every month, mainly because I always knew my wage was a little flexible and there was usually a little more coming in that I had budgeted. Once I stop working though our income will be fixed every month with no leeway for extra expenses and this is a little worrying. I'm making a big push to challenge myself in August to meet all our goals but I know there's a difference between managing this for one month, compared to every month! I'm also concerned that I am going to need some spending money for getting out and about with the kids but I have no idea what this costs on a monthly basis. In addition to this, we are trying to figure out a move back to the UK, with all the mega expenses that will entail, AND we still have a mortgage on a flat in Glasgow - in my name only - that we would like to keep, pay off a little more quickly whilst saving for a deposit for a house wherever we end up when we return... *sigh*. It just seems like a lot, and I'm really motivated to try and save as much as I can, but I really don't think we have much give in the budget now we are down to one wage.

Anyway, this is a little rambling, but I feel positive having just written one post. I'm hoping that tracking things and being part of the forum community will really help me make our money go as far as possible. I guess I'm thinking I need to redesign our budget, and I do plan to sit down with the Budget Planner tonight and see where that gets me. How to you guys do yours?
Deposit Fund = 9754/20,000
OP Fund (2016) = 250/700
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Replies

  • S-liS-li Forumite
    3 Posts
    Hi!

    You've come to the best place, budgeting is really about be honest, and going back to basics. To start you off, get all your bills in one place by the computer (or whatever device you use) be 100% honest about your out goings. Input your incomings and outgoings into the budgeting tool on the main website.

    After that, see your result. Remember that if you really want to save, you have to cut out any non essentials. Whatever are your biggest outgoings, do some digging to see if there are cheaper alternatives. With all the least costly outgoings, check that they are needed at all.

    Another way to save money is to check before you buy, and that goes for anything, if you've seen something you want, check that you need it, if you do, check that you're about to pay the best best price possible. There are always hidden offers, and that can go for anything from your food shop to your broadband provider.

    What I do each week is check my bank accounts, I see if I've paid off everything for that week, and whatever is left over goes aside to the monthly savings pot. I do two things, I have my overall monthly budget, with all incomings and outgoings, and I have my weekly budget (this is the most important one) as I have money come in at different times of the month. I need to organize myself financially, weekly, and whatever I have that week is planned out, as are the weeks after.

    Being a mum, you want to feed your family well and not go over the food bills, I have restricted myself to £45 a week on food for a family of 4, my children have a very balanced diet, and that's mostly because there is no money spend on unhealthy luxury items. What I'll also do is take into account, if there are any family get together or parties where we will be fed for free, and again, whatever I haven't spend in the food bill for that week will go aside to the savings.

    If you do your budget and really feel like you've done all you can to get the outgoings down, I'd love to hear back. -
  • SmlSaveSmlSave Forumite
    4.9K Posts
    Part of the Furniture Combo Breaker
    I found it really useful to go over the last 6 months of statements to see where money actually went. It was pretty enlightening!
    It allowed me to create a pretty accurate soa which I then got the debt wanna be board to look at to suggest cuts

    My budget only works though when I keep an eye on it and put the effort into keeping the food bill down.

    I have a Google spreadsheet where I input the months spends.

    I found taking out a certain amount of cash for weekly spending, going out with kids etc, works well if you can resist the cards.

    I have a 4 year old and 1 year old. Our favourite days outing is to the coffee shop, library then park. The only activity we pay for regularly is swimming.

    Ummm.... hopes this helps
    Currently studying for a Diploma - wish me luck :)

    Phase 1 - Emergency Fund - Complete :j
    Phase 2 - £20,000 Mortgage Fund - Underway
  • Thanks very much for your input SmlSave and S-li. I put all our information into the budget planner and the results weren't wonderful, but not terrible either. It estimated that we overspend by about $98 a month, and I can see that is definitely possible. The awful thing is that adds up to $1200 over the course of a year, and our new income will absolutely not allow for that at all!

    I think money pots might be a great way to help. There's no point using a credit card for rewards if it means I allow myself to spend more than I have. I also think it might be really helpful to put money aside on a monthly basis for birthdays, holidays, Christmas, rather than just having some months that cost a lot more than others. Again maybe a money pot or separate savings account might be good for this.

    The one huge outgoing we have is our mobile phones. $170 a month!! I am correspondingly horrified by this and I'm trying to figure out how we get this down. Mobile phone contracts are complicated here in the US and my husband and I are both locked into contracts. I'm trying to figure out if the early cancellation charge is worth paying in the long run if it starts bringing our monthly bill down now. Since we are planning to move back to the UK in the next year we will need out of these contracts at some point anyway and it seems like we would save most money by getting out asap. I absolutely HATE dealing with our mobile provider though, but that will just have to be done if it is going to save us some cash. This really seems like the most obvious area where money can be saved!

    do some digging to see if there are cheaper alternatives

    *sigh* after we had our son we switched to buying more organic options that are definitely more expensive and I guess we are going to have to think about compromising on our ideals to make our budget stretch as far as possible. It's not the end of the world but some things work out double the price of regular items and we just won't be able to afford them.

    How do you guys account for unexpected expenses? Friends unexpectedly come into town, or there's a medical bill you hadn't anticipated? I don't really have any sort of pot for this type of thing.
    Deposit Fund = 9754/20,000
    OP Fund (2016) = 250/700
  • you need an emergency fund for those unexpected costs even if you start small it makes a difference.
    could you post a budget here?
  • SmlSaveSmlSave Forumite
    4.9K Posts
    Part of the Furniture Combo Breaker
    We started buying organic with DS to start with and then reduced it as he started going to grandparents/nursery. Now we only buy organic milk. I'd love to buy organic/British consistently but over the last 2 years our food bill has gone up another £100 a month.

    The first thing we saved up for was our emergency fund. We use it to pay unexpected stuff, such as the boiler breaking, and then every penny goes to pay it back.
    Currently studying for a Diploma - wish me luck :)

    Phase 1 - Emergency Fund - Complete :j
    Phase 2 - £20,000 Mortgage Fund - Underway
  • edited 9 August 2015 at 7:58AM
    jackieblackjackieblack Forumite
    9.9K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Name Dropper Photogenic
    Forumite
    edited 9 August 2015 at 7:58AM
    I've always budgeted using a book with lots of columns and allocating money to each column for different things, similar to having different pots or using envelopes to separate money, but keeping it all in one account. One of these columns is for things bought using my credit card, which I use for all day to day expenditure to get the rewards. When I buy something I just move the amount out of the relevant column/s (groceries/petrol/ clothing/presents etc) and into the credit card column. When the direct debit for the balance goes out I deduct that from the credit card column.
    I've done it this way for over 25 years and it works well for me :)

    Regarding buying organic, when my DD was small I read that if you could only afford to buy one organic product it should be milk, followed by meat if you could afford that.
    I switched her to organic milk after she had an infected insect bite which took 5 different lots of antibiotics to clear and the doctor said that she may have developed a resistance due to low level presence in ordinary milk.
    DD gave up buying organic milk when she went to Uni (as student loans don't stretch to buying organic) but she never had another problem with antibiotics on the few occasions she needed them subsequently, so I felt it was well worth the little extra cost
    2.22kWp Solar PV system installed Oct 2010, Fronius IG20 Inverter
    South facing (-5 deg), 30 degree pitch, no shading
    Everything will be alright in the end so, if it’s not yet alright, it means it’s not yet the end
    MFW #4 OPs: 2018 £866.89, 2019 £1322.33, 2020 £1337.07, 2021 £1250.00
    2022 (offset) YTD £875.00
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  • Income
    DH: 3575.50
    Me: 2152.00

    Total: 5727.50

    Outgoings
    Rent: 985
    Car insurance: 49
    Phone: 170 (working on this!)
    Bus pass: 32
    Internet: 56
    Electricity/Gas: 120
    Netflix: 7.99
    Student Loan: 150
    Childcare: 953
    Life insurance: 25.47
    Taxes: 800

    Pocket money DH: 60
    Pocket money ME: 30

    Food Shopping: 360
    Gas: 50
    Beer: 50

    Savings
    Deposit Fund: 1000
    OP Fund: 50
    DS Savings: 70
    Laptop Savings: 70
    New baby Savings: 60

    TOTAL: 5107.46

    LEFTOVER: 620.04

    Allocation of leftover money

    Medical Bills - this month: 98
    New crib mattress: 61
    Sleep sacks for new baby: 32
    Water filters: 20
    Birthday present: 15
    New baby monitor: 40
    Dinner out: 70
    Clothes for DS: 25
    Swimming: 17
    CC from previous month's overspend: 140
    Car tax: 80

    FINAL LEFTOVER: -17.96

    So this is a rough budget using this month as a template. AS you can see, I am already over before anything unexpected comes up and there isn't much room to put any extra pennies aside.

    When I stop working obviously our income will go down, but we won't have the $953 childcare cost... I have mapped out a budget using those figures too but because we never really have a cushion I'm worried we'll continue to spend more than we earn. :(
    Deposit Fund = 9754/20,000
    OP Fund (2016) = 250/700
  • jackieblackjackieblack Forumite
    9.9K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Name Dropper Photogenic
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    Ok, the things that jump out at me, are:
    Beer: 50 - an essential? You and your DH both have 'pocket money' for this kind of discretionary spending
    Savings: You're saving 1250 a month, when you're on a tight budget you may need to review these
    CC from last month's overspend: 140 - without this your income exceeds your expenditure. Maybe this was a one-off but if this happens regularly you're essentially borrowing every month already.

    These would be the things I would look at first
    2.22kWp Solar PV system installed Oct 2010, Fronius IG20 Inverter
    South facing (-5 deg), 30 degree pitch, no shading
    Everything will be alright in the end so, if it’s not yet alright, it means it’s not yet the end
    MFW #4 OPs: 2018 £866.89, 2019 £1322.33, 2020 £1337.07, 2021 £1250.00
    2022 (offset) YTD £875.00
    Quidquid Latine dictum sit altum videtur
  • Thanks for your reply jackieblack. I have to tell you, yes the beer is essential. :) My DH works long hours and has a stressful job and he needs a beer budget. A couple of years ago we realized we were spending over $100 a month on beer and we reduced the budget then and we've stuck to it. His pocket money he always uses for his work out of hours meeting so he doesn't even use it for any sort of frivolous spending. This is definitely something that could be reduced a little though, and I think he would be ok with that. And you are right - savings are going to take a major hit. :(

    The overspend from last month is what I am trying to address this month by really sticking to the budget. Going forward we CANNOT spend money we don't have, otherwise we will start running up a credit card bill that we can't pay. I'm just trying to figure out the best way to allocate our money so that doesn't happen. The budget I've set up for income starting in January looks like this...

    Income

    DH: 3575.50

    Outgoings

    Rent: 985
    Insurance: 49
    Phones: 170 - I hope this will be closer to 50 once I sort out our contracts
    Internet: 56
    Electricity/Gas: 120
    Netflix: 8
    Student loan: 150
    Life insurance: 25.47
    Taxes: 800

    DH pocket money: 60
    ME pocket money: 40

    Food shopping: 350
    Gas: 50
    Beer: 50
    Diapers: 30
    Medical bills: 20
    Kids clothing: 20
    Family activities fund: 20

    Deposit savings: 300
    OP fund: 100
    laptop savings: 50

    TOTAL: 3458.47

    LEFTOVER: 117.03

    My thinking with the allocation for medical bills/clothing/activities was that this would be withdrawn in cash and put in pots to be built up and used as needed. I'm not so worried about Christmas, but I'm wondering if I should make a pot for birthdays too. Only having $117 leftover for things that crop up is a worry but we won't have any choice other than to make it work. Months with multiple birthdays will be a problem!!
    Deposit Fund = 9754/20,000
    OP Fund (2016) = 250/700
  • jackieblackjackieblack Forumite
    9.9K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Name Dropper Photogenic
    Forumite
    Yes, months with multiple birthdays can be trying, I have a 'pot'(/column in my book) for anything that I know crops up regularly, like birthdays, christmas etc. I think if you had another pot for birthdays you would find it helpful.
    I don't know how the tax system works in the US, but is it correct in your new SOE that your monthly tax bill will be the same without your income?
    The income does meet the expenditure though, which is good. Sticking to a budget can be challenging but gets easier over time. As you say, it's the unexpected things that crop up that can be a problem.
    2.22kWp Solar PV system installed Oct 2010, Fronius IG20 Inverter
    South facing (-5 deg), 30 degree pitch, no shading
    Everything will be alright in the end so, if it’s not yet alright, it means it’s not yet the end
    MFW #4 OPs: 2018 £866.89, 2019 £1322.33, 2020 £1337.07, 2021 £1250.00
    2022 (offset) YTD £875.00
    Quidquid Latine dictum sit altum videtur
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