Monday, June 2, 2014

How Am I Still Broke? (Part 1 of 3!)

Hi everyone! So, I've mentioned in a previous post that I'm broke. Can I emphasize that? I am B-R-O-K-E! There are a few reasons: Unstable hours at work (Yay retail), Bad Spending Habits, and Leaky Spending Habits. What's the difference? Where do we start? What am I rambling about?!

I want to break this into three parts, and really go in- depth with why I'm still broke. Maybe you're broke, despite best efforts. If I can just pinpoint that one thing that's draining our money, there's hope to fix it.

The first one is something I don't see many of my fellow Mommy Bloggin' Ladies talk about: Unstable income. When I first started my journey on the frugal path, the one thing I always asked (*cough* complained) about to my husband was 'Why aren't there any budgeting tips for people who DON'T have a salaried income?' But then it hit me. Why don't -I- try to do that?
Well, let's just say I've got two left feet for the budgeting tango. But I'm trying! I really am.

Joe's job picks up during the summer, but slows down a LOT during winter. My current job slows down a LOT in the summer, but stays steady during winter. You'd think our incomes would even out, and budgeting would be simple. I'm telling you, it's definitely difficult.

Tiny background story:
I used to work in healthcare as a PCW, or Personal Careworker. It's like being a CNA, without the certification. There's usually on-site training you go through, but not much more. The pay was nice, the shifts pre-set (30 hour weeks, plus the chance to pick up shifts), and I adored my clients. Some health issues arose, and after a scary collapse in a home, and some serious talking with my doctor and chiropractor, a diagnosis of Scoliosis was reached. Well, as you can imagine, helping 200+ lbs people get in and out of bed or a wheelchair was not the best choice for a career after my condition was stabilized. But, I was stubborn, and stayed in that line of healthcare until I became six months pregnant, where I went into retail with the local video store, and have been there ever since.

A few tips Joe and I learned to take have helped, such as:

*Enroll in a budget for your electric/gas bill. With our local company, we had to wait six months before we could enroll, but it was worth it. Our bill was out of control, but now we can expect $90/month, every month. We run the AC, have 2 computers, and night lights for the girls, and still the bill is affordable.

*Our tax refund pays forward on a few bills, like the internet, and our car/renter insurance. We try to do either 3-month or 6-month payments.

*We switched to a cheaper cellphone company, known as Lightyear Wireless. We buy gently used phones on ebay, and only pay $64 a month for unlimited talk, text, and data.
Back before our move to Wisconsin, Joe and I used Sprint, and my bill alone was $180. This has saved us,  not only in standard rates, but with overage fees. (I was a huge texter!)

*We purchased a Playstation 3. Now, hang on a minute. How is a purchase supposed to save money?
-Instead of cable, we have Netflix, and we watch it on the Playstation.
-Perk of my job means a couple free rentals, and prescreening movies. Talk about a night in!
-Youtube is accessible through the Playstation Network, and this is where I watch my workout videos, as well as tutorials for my crochet hobby. And Youtube is free!
-Our Playstation3 was from a friend who happened to be buying an upgrade. For 4 controllers, a wireless charger, the system, and 4 video games, we paid $200. That's a sweet deal.

*I do what I can to make homemade things, like spaghetti sauce or cleansers.

*I wash and reuse containers. Well, OK, most of 'em.

These wonderful tips aren't enough, however, when something happens and we miss a day of work. One day without pay is detrimental to our budget, and things get shifted around in a panic. With unsteady paychecks, we seriously balance on a wire, and sometimes, a budget just puts us in a world of stress, instead of handling bills as they come.
It's both wonderful, and annoying, to have our income, and a budget. I've yet to see anyone really talk about how to save money with my type of living arrangement.

Hats off to my wonderful Blog Mommies, because y'all can do so much with what you're given. :)