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Sunday, August 22, 2010

Managing Missing Money: Budgets?

Everytime I hear someone talk about a budget, I go a little ballistic. When I add up my fixed bills--telephone/internet/cell; utilities that include water, sewer, garbage; gas and car insurance; and personal items/care, I come out with more debt than money. In other words, I am in the red all the time. So, how does a budget fix that?

It doesn't! My car and home are paid for. If the car needs a repair, I am really out of luck. Savings? What is that? I paid for my home rather than put money in the bank. Hey, my mortgage was less than $200/month. Rent would have been higher by far.

The implication (explicit and implicit) of the budget gurus is that management of money is the entire problem. No, it is not!

I really need the cell. I decided to give up the home phone that I was keeping for dialing 911. However, giving up the house phone and line meant I could not get the internet, Part of my patching together an income depends on making money from the computer and internet connection. There is an option of getting a line for the computer connection that would cost the same or a bit more than the house phone line. The cell uses a cheap plan that works with my calling habits. Yet, I have 3000 to 5000 rollover minutes each month. My home phone is no-frills--no long-distance, no caller ID, nothing. My children and grandchildren all live 1000 miles away. So, the cell and internet are two mediums of communication that I need. Plus, all my news and weather are from the cheap DSL Lite.

The utility bill is not negotiable either. I must have the ac when it is 100 degrees out because of breathing problems. Period. Heat is not used in the winter at night or if I am out of the house. I use half the water a single person should. I cook in batches. Clothing is washed in cold water and most wash is line-dried. It costs more for sewage each month than it does for water. Each household MUST pay for garbage pickup. There is nothing for the elderly or disabled or poor to get lowered rates.

I am only 63, but I take anything offered for seniors. I am applying for a disability but am not in a wheelchair or bedridden. Even with my income I do not consider myself poor!

I put myself on a gasoline diet. No matter what the cost of gasoline may be, I will only put $20 of gas in my car. That is 3/4 of a tank and must last for a whole week. Sometimes, my $20 worth of gas lasts 10 days, sometimes 5 days. It all evens out. Insurance for the car only covers my medical needs, other cars and other drivers, and uninsured drivers.

Personal items are at a minimum. Thankfully, I just don't like, don't need, and don't wear makeup. A lipstick and lip gloss each fall are about it for makeup. I do get my hair cut each month and I color it at home. Really, you do not want me to get depressed, do you?

Absolutely no paper products enter my home. This is a tree-hugger move, but it saves money along with trees and the environment.

Did anyone notice I have not mentioned a cable bill? Well, that is because I do not have tv from any source. I bought the box last year, but maybe I need an antenna. Paying $50/month or thereabouts for cable or dish is not going to happen around here even if I had the money. I check out dvds from the library. But, none of this consoles me. Lack of TV is a lack that really bothers me.

Patching together the rest is the goal in my life! Yes, I have sold things. I have bought things to resell and have done well. However, none of this is steady income.

Gifts for children and grandchildren are bought new on deep discount, second-hand, or with Coke rewards. So far, my gifts have been well-accepted. Then, I must mail the boxes to the ends of the earth. (Remember? 1000 miles in opposite directions.) By putting all gifts in one box, I only have two boxes to mail with gifts for 9 people.  However, I get the PO boxes that are flat rate. I know the limit is what the box will hold, no matter how heavy and I live within those limits. I am never shocked by shipping rates.

Even after all frugal measures, this leaves me the job of managing missing money, money that is not in the budget even though the expenses still roll in. Little by little I will get out of the hole, but it is hard down here, shoveling, shoveling, shoveling before the hole falls in on me. Now, this is not to be taken that I feel despair. Not at all. I just have my work cut out for me.

Do you find yourself in a hole and shoveling desperately? Share with me, please.


  1. I do feel this way each month... I try so hard to cut back where I can. I have tried paying myself first with my paycheck, only to be taking out of my savings account before the end of the month. Lately I have been saving all of my change, and if I have 20-30 dollars at the end of the month.. I put that in my savings account too. I recently got a bag of books from my grandpa... So entertainment for me has been really cheap. I really try hard to just get by on what I already have. Have a Fabulous and Frugal day!!!
    De-ette C

  2. I understand. My paycheck was just cut, so this is getting harder by the month.I enjoy your blog!


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