Balancing Bills & Babies

It’s not easy balancing a check book while balancing raising kids. I know this 5 times over. Did you know the average child will cost a parent approximately 180,000 dollars to raise to the age of majority and sometimes beyond? This does not include post secondary schooling either. It’s been a heck of a ride from dirt poor to hand to mouth to pay check to pay check. A lot of people will say well, living from pay check to pay check, isn’t that still hand to mouth? Not for us, pay check to pay check is fairly comfortable living compaired to where we were almost 7 years ago – 8 feet under the poverty line and that was with only 3 kids at the time. Spending 4 months living off of crackers and water to feed the kids better quality food was a sacrifice I made 7 years ago. I ate little to nothing so that I could stretch a grocery budget so my kids could have what they needed. Now, with proper budgeting and sticking to it we all eat comfortably and all have the sustenance we need.

I know a lot of people ask me how I do it with budgeting with such a large family. It’s all about the priorities, what is more important, what is luxury and what is neccessity. For example, television is not neccessity while electric bill is. You can’t watch television if you can’t turn the t.v. on right? Food is more important than your cell phone bill. You can’t talk on a cell phone if you are sick from not eating. Rent is first and foremost, can’t have utilities without a home. Then it’s food, then it’s neccessary utilities (electric, gas, water\sewage, ect). It’s always about the priorities, what gets payed first and what can wait that extra week or two.

I’ve cancelled things like cable and internet in the past to save money when our budget was very tight. That is what one should do when they know they cannot afford the luxuries (as hard as our digital world makes it, we rely so much on technology and connections through digital signals in our phone lines and cable lines to make contact with each other). It’s also about balancing bills against each other. Pay the credit card off to pay the line of credit off to pay the rent for that month. Some bills are necessity in the fact that it makes your credit look good, for example, we’ve never once missed our line of credit or vehicle payments ever. I know that if I pay the credit card off and use it to pay the whole sum of our line of credit that the money is still there to use as I need it. This makes us good payees, in good standing with the companies we do business with, still leaves me with cash flow (albeit on credit) and makes our credit better. Some may say, well that’s not the best way to do that, you’re just setting yourself up with credit failure. I don’t believe so, as long as you are aware of what you are doing and doing it strategically with your eyes wide open about what you are doing – it is less dangerous a strategy than not paying it at all.

There are many ways to save money, groceries are a good area to save money with. Yeah not too many people like the “no name brand” stuff but it’s food. Food is food, no name brands are exponentially less in cost than the name brands. When you are on a tight budget you can’t be picky. Feeding yourself on no name brands is better than not feeding yourself at all or feeding yourself for 2 days as compared to 2 weeks.

Dollar stores now carry name brands now a days, for a buck no less. Then there are the Asian markets for your meats. Completely cheaper than the grocery stores, so find yourself an Asian market for your meats. You’ll also find more organic products (if you spin that way for food items) at a much cheaper rate than grocery stores. Some products you might find there on the cheap are produce like fruits and veggies both fresh and frozen. You’ll also find whole chicken, be able to ask them to cut your meat the way you like it at no extra charge in the price of the meat and t-bone steaks go for 10 bucks less there than at a grocery store. For example, I’ve bought t-bones, cut the way I like it, for 4.57$ for 8 t-bones. We’re talking big, honking sized, could fill up two adults and one kid t-bones.

For clothes, hit the thrift stores. It’s not that bad and sometimes you find a unique find like a leather jacket that would normally cost 400 dollars for 20 bucks. Hit your local church charity drives and sales. Hit garage sales and if you can’t do that. Go to programs like furniture donation places and clothing donations (ie: Salvation Army, Church Charities for Disadvantaged, Food Banks) and ask for extra help. It is not a shameful thing to need help, we all need a helping hand from time to time. Call Planned Parenthood, they have the contacts for all the charities and helpful programs that can assist you in getting an extra step up. Planned Parenthood also has a program for new moms where they supply a new baby to be basket that has things like diapers and clothes. They also have a crib and baby furniture program where you can get a crib or baby furniture for little to no cost (usually no cost). So new mom to be, if you are worried about making it, call your local Planned Parenthood chapter, they can and will help you.

We all deserve to live comfortably and without fear of not being able to eat or pay a bill. We all deserve to know there is help out there and that all we need to do is reach out and ask for the help. It is not shameful to go to a food bank or get a furniture donation or even to call it quits and claim bankruptcy and start over (been there, done that). You do what you have to when you have to, there is no shame in doing what you have to do to survive and make it out there.

To all those struggling, you are not alone. I’ve been there, I’ve been through the roller coaster of poverty and beyond it and I’ve risen above it. Everyone can rise above poverty with the right resource information and the will to do so. Keep that chin up, keep striding forward because for every step backward there are always two steps forward!

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