Lately, we’ve been trying to stretch our budget down to the penny. I mean, this isn’t anything different from what we have been doing, but it seems with the addition of Duchess, the rise in gas costs, the lack of awesome grocery deals like years past, and DH being on a mission to lose weight and eat healthier, that budget is screaming. We also found out that our rent will be increasing yet again starting in the fall, so we have to keep that in mind. So, it’s definitely time for a Budget Rennovation.
With all the the wonderful computer-based and online resources for creating a budget, this should be easy right? Well, yes and no. When it comes to our budget, I found that using those resources just don’t work for us. I don’t know why, they’re all great ways to keep track of what’s going where. I really liked the way mint.com was set up, but in the end that didn’t even help. When it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty, I take out a pen and paper and just go at it. I think the fact that I have to sit there and hurt my hand getting everything on paper helps to sink in that each penny is important. I’m a glutton for punishment I guess.
Anyway, I list all necessary expenses first: rent, gas money, electric, savings, tithing, and the phone bills. Then come the secondary bills: any credit card/medical/school bills, cable, etc. Then I list the “accordian” bills: money needed for my drill weekends and the grocery money for the month. I call these “accordian” bills because they can be increased or decreased depending on how the budget goes for the month. If we end up getting a check for 10 bucks somewhere, that can increase the grocery bill, but if a small dilemma pops up and we need an extra 50 bucks, I can take that out of the grocery bill or the money I use for meals down at the base.
Then I look at the assets. We only have DH’s paycheck and my small drill check I get every month to cover all of our bills. See? A very tight budget. If you notice, I don’t have any place in the budget to cover buying shoes, clothes, school supplies, etc. Because I coupon, most of that money has been coming from the leftover grocery budget per month, but that is starting to dwindle. Duchess is full into solids and eats like a grown man sometimes, so we are stretching meals even more. The meals I used to make just for the 2 extra days of leftovers, are now meals that are just enough for one night. This is where most of our issue is with the budget.
From all of the extra expenses we are going to have and the already high ones we do have, we came to the conclusion that we need to have 390 dollars more per month. This would be a great cushion for us; we can save more aggressively, be able to offset any(more) rising in grocery bills, and keep the kids in clothing that fit. Now, the question is: where are we supposed to get this money from?
I’m a stay at home mom, mostly by choice, so my first idea was to go back to work. The upside is that it would give us another steady paycheck to place into the budget. The downside is that daycare is so expensive, that whatever check I do get, it would all go straight to the daycare center, bringing us back to square one. The only solution would be for me to work overnights someplace that’s open 24 hours. This isn’t the best of ideas, especially since our neighborhood isn’t the best, so being robbed at 3am wherever I’m working would NOT sit well with me. Also, I’d be beyond tired everyday. There would be no way to get 8 hours and take care of both kids while DH works. And oh yeah, I’d never get to see my husband. And….probably not much time for blogging, which would kill me.
Next idea would be to monetize my blogging. I’ve been doing some extra blogging at other blogs, and doing a few reviews right here on 4 Hats and Frugal, but some readers, ahem, expressed that they did not like me doing the paid reviews. So….yeah. Don’t know where to go on that one. I love that you all come and read my blog, and I don’t want to lose you because I’m trying to make an income on here. But, we really do need the income. It’s a definite Catch-22.
Another idea was to have DH start back up his music production business. He has most of the equipment already and we have the room for him to do recordings with artists. If we can make it a real weekend business, it could diminish that 390 dollar gap. The only problem with that is gettting the bookings, wondering if people will cancel or not, and putting in another 300 dollars, at least, for DH to upgrade some of his equipment. Like a real business, we’ll have to spend money to make money.
Lastly, we can always turn to the want ads, and places like our church bulletin and craigslist for odd jobs and side hustles. I think I would like this the most, but it might be difficult to make sure we reach that 390 every month. Some months may be lean with odd jobs and some may be bustling. Also, I’d have to think of the childcare issue again. If it’s something I can do at home (like word processing) or with the Duchess hanging in a sling while I get it done (like cleaning or babysitting), I would love it. If not, then I probably wouldn’t be able to do it. We still view it as an option though.
So, now I turn to you: do you have any ideas on how we can make a bit of extra cash, with all the restrictions listed above? Do you do any odd jobs to increase your cash flow? Anyone ever worked an overnight job? Any ideas would be appreciated!