Need Help With Money

by tamera
(Texas )

I need help with money problems. We're a family of four - my husband, 2 wonderful children and me. Oh, and a cat and dog.

We have had money problems our whole marriage. Never been able to save it for that long without having to pay a bill or a quick grocery stop or an emergency med run.

We are only getting $500 a check and have one car, so I can't work to help out. So we are stuck with living from check to check and almost every time no money in between them. With our bills, car payments and not always having insurance cause we can't always afford it.

I want to be able to take our kids to do stuff, get another car so I can work, be able to go out on dates. Get new stuff when we need it, but we can't and it sucks.

Someone please help give me advice on what could give me help solving money problems.


Thank you for sharing your financial situation and asking for help. There are so many people in similar situations, just living paycheck to paycheck, one step from financial disaster. And with the current economy, finding jobs is even tougher than usual.

So we have to be creative with finding solutions to money problems.

Is that $500 paycheck weekly, every two weeks, or once a month? You can follow this link to see if you might be eligible for food stamps in Texas. Enter the amounts requested, and it will tell you if you might be eligible. This tool is merely an estimator, and your actual eligibility is based on your application for assistance, but if you're not already receiving food stamps, this might provide some additional assistance for you.

You might also be interested in these tips on ways to spend less.

You've recognized that one way to solve money problems is to make more money. But you've also acknowledged that presents some challenges for you, because you don't have transportation to get to work. So you have to think outside the box and find a creative solution.

First, let me suggest that you follow our recommended budgeting steps to keep track of your family's spending habits to see where your money is actually going.

That exercise is usually an eye opener for people, who generally don't realize how much money they "fritter away" on things they don't really need.

Then create a family budget and make personal budgeting a family habit. Here are some additional tips on budgeting.

You didn't mention what types of jobs you are interested in, or qualified for, so I can't offer much help there.

You also didn't mention where you live in Texas. So I don't know whether you might have access to public transportation (a bus, for example) to get back and forth to work. Or maybe your husband could take the bus to his job (which would be safer and less scary for you) so you could take the car.

If public transportation is not an option, you could share the car you have, and one of you drive the other one to work. Or find co-workers you could carpool with, contributing a few dollars to help pay their gas bill since you don't have a car that would allow you to
drive sometimes.

In your situation, with money so tight, I would caution you against taking on the expense of a second car until you have a steady income and a solid emergency fund.

Remember that in addition to car payments, you'll have to pay for insurance, gas, tires, maintenance and repairs.

Many times, unless you possess job skills that are in demand, you may not make enough money to make it worthwhile for you to work outside the home.

That sounds counter-intuitive, but there are expenses associated with work that many people don't take into consideration when weighing their options.

For example, if you choose to work outside the home, you can expect these additional expenses that you do not have now:

  • Child care expenses. For most working mothers, this is the largest single expense they have.

  • Wardrobe expenses. Depending on the job, you may have significant expenses to purchase a new wardrobe of clothes you can wear to work.

  • Meals expenses. Eating out at lunchtime can become very expensive in a hurry. Unless you're willing to make and take a brownbag lunch, you'll have to really pinch pennies to keep from spending more than $100 a month on lunches (that's just $5 a day x 5 days a week) and snacks (coffee, cokes, etc.). And if you have a Starbucks habit, that expense will quickly double.

  • Transportation expenses. We've already covered these above.

  • Income taxes. Don't forget that a portion (usually about 20-25%) of your income will be withheld for payment of income taxes, social security, etc. And your additional income may push your family into a higher tax bracket, meaning you'll pay a larger percentage of tax on all your income.

When you estimate all those expenses and subtract them from what you expect to make, sometimes you'll find that it may actually COST YOU MONEY to get a job!

If that's the case, you'll want to investigate opportunities to work at home. If you can do that, you eliminate most of the expenses we've listed above.

That means you'll get to keep much more of your paycheck, which in turn means that you can make a smaller paycheck and still end up with more net cash for your family's expenses.

AND it gives you the added benefit of being at home with your children and not having to worry about who's taking care of them, or run the risk of them getting sick from another kid at their child care.

As you explore ways of making money from home, be careful to avoid get-rich-quick schemes that don't deliver what they promise.

Many of them are simply ripoffs, so be sure to go online to investigate any company that offers ways to work at home. A good way to search for that is to type into Google a search that includes the name of the company + scam.

You didn't mention whether yours is a military family, but if so, I may be able to offer you some additional information about assistance that may be available.

We commend you for asking for help. Most of us have needed help with money at some time in our lives.

Just remember, where there's a will, there's a way. If you are determined to make your family's situation better, you will find a way to do it.

Please keep us updated on your progress.

Best wishes,
Janet (Editor)

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