Q&A Tuesday: Is it possible to save money when we’re barely keeping our head above water?

Audrey left the following comment on my post on renting (I’ve edited it a bit for space reason, but you can read it in it’s entirety here):

I know you talk about all these ways to save money, and anyone can do it, but it just doesn’t seem possible for us! I use coupons to save money, but even then we have no wiggle room in our budget for anything. We never have. My husband makes $1400/month (sometimes $1600) after tax.

I guess I just feel discouraged a lot, because we want so badly to save money (we don’t ever want debt), it just doesn’t feel possible. We’ve been trying for four years to save money and it just gets depleted because my husband’s hours get cut (which seems to happen to us a lot, no matter who he works for) and he can’t find more work. Any advice or encouragement for those of us who do rent because it’s cheaper, but have to use up more than half our income on our housing?

We’re paying $900/month here (water, sewer and garbage included). That leaves $500/month to spend on the rest of our bills — phone, electricity, internet, etc. We don’t have cable (for obvious reasons), and we have a great deal on internet and phone, and I use coupons like crazy to save money on everything, but with our two kids (3 and 1), it’s just barely enough to get by (well, it’s not right now, we’re getting behind on bills).

I hate how broke we are all the time (and always have been). Thankfully, the only debt we have is a bill we’re a couple months behind on. But we don’t have a car payment (our old car is desperately in need of repairs though — I’m afraid the tires are going to fall off, but we can’t afford to fix it!), we tithe, we don’t have credit cards, etc. But it just seems impossible to set money aside for big purchases (or even little purchases, like getting the car fixed!).

I have no idea how to remedy this situation. I do odds and ends from home. I clean houses when I can, and that sort of thing, but that brings in an average of $25/month, and my husband is already burnt out working as often as he is. He’s had no luck finding a second job (he’s already working so much already), either. I’m just not sure how to get ourselves out of this hole!

I wish you lived closer, Audrey, and I’d have you over and give you a big hug and sit down with you over a cup of tea to try and encourage you. I know how it feels when it seems like you’re working so hard and getting no traction. You’re wondering how on earth the ends are going to meet at the end of the month or what you’d do if your car breaks down or how you’re going to pay your utility bill.

Five years ago, that’s exactly where we were. And it was really, really hard. I’d grown up being taught to trust in God, but in those first few years of marriage, the rubber met the road and I realized that actually trusting God was a whole lot harder than it sounded.

The lessons we learned during those times of feeling pretty desperate financially were so hard but, oh so good! And we wouldn’t trade them for the world. It strengthened our trust in the Lord, it strengthened our marriage, it matured us as individuals and it inspired us to learn all sorts of creative and entrepreneurial things we never dreamed we’d learn or attempt!

Here are some things which helped us to pull through that time and start making traction little by little:

1) Pray

God delights in providing for those who trust in Him. Claim His promises. Pray His Word back to Him. Cry out to Him for provision, for wisdom, for guidance, for creativity, for open doors. Pray about the little things and the big things; nothing is too small or big for God.

And realize that He will never, never, never, no never leave or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5)!

2) Stick To Your Budget

Be very, very vigilant in adhering to your written budget. While it might seem like you’re not getting traction, sticking with your budget will ensure that you’re not sliding backwards or getting any farther behind than your possibly have to.

3) Realize That Your Attitude Can Make or Break the Situation

I wholeheartedly believe that you’re not stuck unless you choose to be. You can always be learning, growing, improving yourself and seeking to improve your financial situation — even if it seems that your actual income is staying the same.

Have a cheerful, grateful spirit. Focus on counting your blessings rather than all the difficult things in your life. And determine, by the grace of God, that you are going to do all you can to make the most of your situation, to stretch your resources as far as possible and to use any extra time you have in your day to increase your income.

4) Set Microscopic Goals To Begin With

No matter your income or financial situation, you can set goals, even if they are microscopic. You likely can’t save $100 this month, but I’m guessing that if you squeezed, you might be able to save $2 or $5 — or maybe even $10. Start there and set this aside in a savings account as your Emergency Fund (or however else you want to designate it) and add to it each month. Over time, you just might be surprised at how it will grow!

In addition, don’t just set goals for saving money, set goals for earning money, too! You said that you’re usually doing around $25 per month cleaning houses. What if you were to challenge yourself to bump that number up to $35 this coming month? And then little bit, by little bit, continue to bump it up.

I also recommend setting goals for improving yourself — such as skills to learn and books to read. Choose things which will help you be able to increase your income, make wise financial choices and which will encourage you in your current situation.

As always: don’t bite off more than you can chew. I’d suggest starting by setting two to four tiny goals each month. Once you accomplish those, add a few more. When you feel ready, increase the goals by a tiny little bit and then a little bit more. Setting goals — even if they are teensy-tiny — and then actually reaching them can give you enormous encouragement and you just might be amazed at the momentum it gives you!

5) Look For Any Extra Cash You Can Come Up With

You mentioned that you clean houses, if you are looking to expand, consider contacting local multi-unit rentals to see if they need someone to clean their units when a renter moves out. Or make connections with realtors and ask them about cleaning foreclosed homes for them or having them recommend you to sellers who want to have their home professionally cleaned after they move out.

Think outside the box of what normal professional cleaners do and you’ll likely land upon some really successful ideas. Contact business owners and offer to clean their office space. Advertise your business on Craigslist. Offer a discount to your current customers if they refer you to others who then end up using your services.

You also said you have a blog and that you’re currently making about $2 per month off it. I’d suggest you try to learn and implement some of the suggestions on BloggingWithAmy.com in order to steadily increase that each month.

While some may disagree with me, I think almost anyone who is willing to put in some time and effort can earn at least an extra $50 to $100 per month by spending three hours of blogging each week. You already have your blog set up and running, so I’d encourage you to work on monetizing it and growing it — if it’s something you enjoy.

6) Improve Yourself

Seek to make the most of every opportunity to learn, to grow, to glean. Always be learning new things, trying new things and coming up with new ideas. Don’t be content with the status quo.

Read good books which challenge and motivate you. As much as is possible, remove negative influences from your life which just suck time and energy. Replace them with things that encourage and inspire you.

7) Don’t Give Up

Finally, do not give up. Your situation will not change overnight; gaining traction is not instantaneous. But if you’re willing to keep working hard, to keep experimenting, to keep setting goals, to keep pressing forward, to keep sticking with the budget and to keep going when the going gets tough, it will pay off.

Don’t lose heart! Keep looking to the Lord and asking Him to provide and guide you — and see Him do amazing things!

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Comments

  1. Carrie says

    I wanted to chime in the same as Stephanie. I work 3 days a week outside the home. When my first child was born, my sister-in-law’s oldest was 9 mos old. She didn’t want to go back to work, but the family budget needed some extra $$. I proposed her watching my son for 2 days a week while I worked. I paid her $40 a day (10 hours a day) and brought him to her house.

    5 years later, she was watching my 2 and her 3 children. It was a lot of work for her, but it was a great situation for both of us. There is no one I’d rather have watching my kids, and it enabled her to stay home.

    Start with your church and find out if any new moms are in a childcare bind. It is such a blessing to place your little ones in the arms of a caring Christian mom while you work. There are many daycare centers that are no doubt wonderful, but it’s not the same as a home with a mom you trust.

  2. chassidy says

    Check out angelfoodministries.com tons of groceries for cheap delivered to a local church for very little money! You just choose what you want pay a small price and pick it up.

  3. Jenni Georgeson says

    Thank you for this amazing post; I’ve recently come to a very similar realization, given our current financial situation. We try and try and try…we’ve found almost free way to have fun that exists, we focus on buying necessities first, and we just have to keep plugging along right now.
    But you know what? My commitment to being the best wife, the best mother, the best friend I can be, has made all the difference over the last few weeks. You can truly find joy in the journey, no matter what point you’re at.

  4. Lorraine says

    I agree with those who advise you to keep tithing!This is a totally different application of the Scriptures, but here’s my story.Sunday afternoon,I had a car accident(no one hurt, thankfully!)My husband thinks the car is probably going to be estimated totalled.
    We personally believe the other driver was at fault, but it has yet to be posted on our state’s dmv website.So anyway, I was starting to wade through all the paperwork,ect.I contacted the other driver’s insurance company, and they told me that she hasn’t been with them since Dec of ’09!
    Now, this was scary for two reasons.One, we don’t have collision on our car because we feel that it isn’t worth it to pay the premium for a 15 yr old vehicle.And two, we strongly believe that Matthew 18:22-35 forbids us to take someone to court.So it looked as if this would all be coming out of our own pocket.
    But we did make contact w/ the other driver, & she gave us her current insurance(she had mistakenly given the officer an expired card).And even if it had turned out that she was negligent on her insurance,God still would have made a way for us.If we follow & trust Him,He will never leave us nor forsake us!

  5. Jenna says

    Audrey,

    Do not loose heart.

    I would add like Brooke said let the entire universe including thoses closest to you know that times are tough.

    As one of the older ladies who reads Crystals blog. (I am 60) I have been the rubber to the road several times in my life , I let my church know when my children were young and everyone pitched in donated clutter from their homes proposed a yard sale and we netted $1,500 to save the car.

    God sends help where and when it is needed most. Just understand that even if you believe it is your turn he is working on someone who is lower than you at the moment, he will swoop in and save the day when it is your turn.

    God Bless do not loose heart or faith!
    Blessings to all!

    • Stephanie says

      @Jenna,
      Thank you for the comment about the yard sale. I will keep that one in mind for in the future. It is a great way that we can help on another, even if we don’t necessarily have the cash on hand to do so.

  6. says

    I love this post. It is probably one of my favorites so far and I’ve been a reader/follower of this blog for about 2 years.

    I guess I love it because it fits so many of us. My husband lost her job a year ago. He has since found a replacement job making ALOT less money. We have been struggling! Saving money doesn’t seem like an option for us right now. Paying bills is my main goal. Should we have another setback we are in BIG trouble. I am just trusting that the Lord will continue to provide….while I trust I need to learn to step back and let HIM handle it ALL because HE is always in control.

  7. Becky says

    I’ve so been there!

    I haven’t read all the comments, but I did read a few of them encouraging you to get WIC or food stamps. I’m going to risk being controversial to tell you what I wish I had thought of years earlier. I’m not at all being judgmental of those who use those programs. We were on WIC and Medicaid for several years. But I would encourage you to not use them. I wish we hadn’t. I think government programs are a way of putting your trust in man and not in God. When you trust God, he performs miracles. Every time we made the decision make another step to stop relying on the government, even when we had no idea how we were going to do it, a way was provided and we were blessed, so that we ended up better off than we had been with the extra help. That’s why I wish we had had the faith to not use those programs in the first place. I think we were cutting ourselves off from blessings because we didn’t have the faith and trust in God to accept them. It’s like tithing. It doesn’t make logical sense, but it works.

    I have a couple specific savings suggestions, too. For one thing, try to save all of your income, except for tithing. Even if you’re saving it for the next car repair for now, just don’t spend it on a monthly basis. Also, save your change. If you pay for something with cash, save the change. If you don’t, pay with a check and round it up to the next dollar. Then stick all that change in a savings account. Even if you only do it once a week, it will still start adding up. And third, do stuff to save money, and actually save the money. For example, if you walk somewhere, instead of driving, or you use cloth diapers, or drink water when you would have drunk milk or juice, then take that amount that you saved, even if it’s less than a dollar, and stick it in savings.

    Good luck!

    • Tracie says

      @Becky, I totally disagree. This family is at, or close to the poverty level. Using government assistance right now in no way diminishes your faith. Receiving food stamps, filing for the EIC, using state funded medical insurance, will increase the amount of money you have left over every month, allowing you to stay home with your children!! It will help ease the pressure and discouragement you’re feeling. It sounds like you have a great family, and husband who works hard. Do not think for 1 minute that God will not bless you if you receive help from the government.

      • Rachael says

        Perhaps WIC and Foodstamps are a way that God is working, as well. I would like my tax dollars to help families like this one.

  8. Becky says

    Amen.. I just had to get another loan (husband had 3 bad tires and drives 50 miles to work) and the loan officer told me that when you look @ me individually my debt income ratio is horrible but together we are fine.. That is not how I want to be.. I want it to be fine with just one of us so we don’t stress if we miss a day of work.. Reading this was very encouraging..

  9. says

    Thanks Crystal for this post, I think this is the best post I have read on this site. So many people can relate! Thanks Audrey for sharing. I love your blog, Audrey (and Crystal) have them both marked as favorites. I’m going to keep following Audrey’s blog…I bet good things are in her future. Such a beautiful family :)

  10. Amy says

    A few comment authors have suggested giving more and giving less tithing.

    The logic behind giving more tithing seems odd to me.

    The reasoning seems to be: you should give more of your money to your church when you’re really in need of money (or goods or services) and God will provide more for you in return for your larger sacrifice.

    My question is this: if you’re really really in need of money why shouldn’t you give all your money to the church? The logic supporting the more tithing suggestions would suggest that giving all your money to the church would compel God to provide more for you than he would if you gave a little.

      • Katie says

        @Erica @ Just Call Me Cheap,

        I don’t understand tithing either. It isn’t something that I’ve every heard of until reading this blog. What is the money that is tithed spent on? What does the church spend the money on?

        When I was little we just gave money into a collection and then to charities. The Church’s upkeep was relatively small so most of the money was given away.

        After reading this blog and the comments I think you must do what you feel is right. It is true – God does always provide. I think you should be praised for such generosity in times of such hardship – it shows a great strength of character which will only stand you in good stead

  11. Kate says

    I assume this mother stays home? I would maybe suggest babysitting other people’s children. My mother watches my son while I work, but sometimes my mom get sick or can’t come and then I’m in a panic trying to get someone to watch my son for 6 hours one day. I would haply pay another mother for the occasional babysitting job. Maybe this woman can let some of her working mother neighbors know she is available since she is home anyway. A full on daycare would probably be too much but the occasional babysitting job might be okay. I would happily pay $30-$40 for a day of babysitting.

  12. says

    I also would suggest promoting your cleaning services everywhere possible – community boards in grocery stores, libraries, etc. Send emails out to everyone you know!

    I also consign clothes – that helped me bring in an extra $25-50 here and there, and that helped me a little.

  13. Robin says

    Have you thought about taking in a few kids to do daycare for? You could potentially be a blessing to a working mom (as regular daycare are expensive and filled with germs) and they could be a blessing to you. Get the word out through your friends, church, moms groups, neighbors and even craigslist.

  14. Keelie says

    Like many others here, I have been in the same position as the one who wrote the letter. My husband and I struggled a lot last year because we were in a position where we had to pay two house payments. I had a terrible attitude toward our financial struggles for a while. God worked in my husband and me so much. He showed us that He is the provider. Also, I was made to reconsider what things were true needs. One of my good friends is a missionary to Romania, and he works with the gypsies. He told us that the gypsies are very poor and unskilled. They steal food so they can have anything to eat. They don’t have the money to buy things we would consider essential, like dish soap. They burn any type of paper they are given to keep warm in the winter, including Bibles. Even in the despair I felt, I always had dish soap, food to eat, and a little heat at least. God taught my husband and me to trust Him more. I hope that during this time, your faith can grow, and you can trust in the Lord more.

  15. says

    This is probably my favorite post ever. Great reminder of how not to get discouraged. Thanks so much for an uplifting post!

  16. Mary Kate says

    I agree about the EIC. If you are overpaying your taxes with each paycheck you can change the with-holding to adjust the taxes paid (or not paid) to a more appropriate level.

  17. ann k says

    Audrey,
    Wonderful advice given by all in the above comments. I would also like to add a few. These are redundant and may or may not work for you but definitely do give them a try.
    First, get a job! The best way of getting out of this situation is to work for at least 6 months and earn as much as possible. Try asking your parents or inlaws if they could take care of your children for a few hours a day. Getting that extra income will instantly solve a lot of issues. You will emerge as the winner.
    Second, Plant a few seeds in your backyard/container. I have a container garden and grow my own herbs, tomatoes, blueberries and peppers. Even if you start with 1-2 basic vegetables, you will save a good amount of money.
    Lastly, having no wiggle room is a very scary situation because one may be forced to get into debt due to any unforseen circumstances. So, I encourage you to take that extra leap as soon as you can to get out of this situation. Think for yourself what works for you and make that extra Effort. Praying may help but Effort combined with Prayers is a sure shot at success.
    Wish you the Best and May you and your family be happy!

  18. Anon says

    Crystal, you give great, Bible-based advice, and I really appreciate that!

    I’m in a similar situation…but the difference is I’m single.

    What I’m curious about is…what do you suggest people do for ‘fun’ when their head is barely above water? As a single woman, I struggle with having fun sometimes, because my church group always does things that cost money (even if it is just a little). I’d like some ideas on how to have fun by myself too :)

    Thank you for ALL you do!!

    • says

      @Anon, When my DH and I had no money as students and newlyweds, we’d go on walks together. We’d make dinner together and watch a movie at home afterwards. As students our campus was on Lake Michigan so we’d go for walks around the lakeshore. We’d play board games, just us or with friends. We’d watch sports games with friends. By myself, I did a lot of crafts. I’d go to the library, get comfy and read. I enjoy cooking so I’d bake up goodies and share them with friends. I’d go for walks (I didn’t have a car). Now, even though we have more $$$… we still do all those things for fun!!

    • Sherri says

      @Anon, You could do a board game night for people from your church. Our ladies do this every so often, and each person brings some munchies to share (you could ask someone to do cups and drinks). Doesn’t cost a dime!

      We get movies from the library all them time. Some are older, some new releases (have to get on the waiting list). Pop some popcorn and you’re good to go, with or without someone else.

    • says

      @Anon, my husband lost his job more than 2 years ago, and while we found a part-time job this year, we are underwater every month.

      Here is what we do for fun (keep in mind we have little kids):

      Library movie rentals are free.

      There are lots of fall festivals.

      Check out your visitors bureau web site for free events and days at the museum, etc.

      Games! (Watch them, play them…)

      Invite friends over to cook dinner.

      I hope that helps with a few ideas. Best of luck to you!

      • Rachael says

        My community has a blog that has a lot of free events. Recently, free museum admission and a free outdoor movie.

  19. says

    Great post!
    Here are a couple of more points:
    1–Put whatever money you have in a high-interest savings account.
    2–Put some money in an Emergency Fund.
    3–Sell some stuff.
    4–Visit the library! Grab a resume book and update your resume. You’d be surprised how much you can improve your resume with a little professional help and it pays off when prospective employers view it.
    5–Ditch the gifts. Gift giving is expensive and surely now with the holiday season approaching. If youw ant to give gifts you can host a stocking stuffer xmas and shop the dollar store.
    6–Snow shoveling season will be approaching us soon (depending on your state of course)!!!

    • jen says

      @Lisa Phil, I like the point about gifts. I have had friends/cousins give my children homemade cards and the like and my kids love it. It isn’t too often that kids do that kind of thing anymore so when you get a homemade card or some other very inexpensive PERSONALIZED gift it is noticed and appreciated.

  20. lyndsy says

    this is by far the best article you have written! well worth reading and sharing! we can all take something from this.

    I would like to suggest selling stockpile items on ebay. also thrift store finds, yard sale finds…etc. can all be sold for more on ebay. just research what is in high demand and look for those things. sell cosmetics you get for free from drug stores too. i also surveys for pine cone research. yeah, it’s only about $12 extra a month…but i am able to use that money for clearance shopping. today i got the kids sandals at old navy ($1 each) for next summer. This is something i would have had to buy and spend $10-15 each. Multiply that by 4 kids, and i just saved about $40-50. And it didn’t come out of the budget.

  21. Charity says

    *Don’t* stop tithing!! God’s Word say He will “open the windows of heaven and pour blessing upon you”. I sure wouldn’t want to miss the blessings of God because we slammed the window and said “no God, I need this 10%…don’t you see all these bills? We are barely making it!”.
    He is faithful to us and it is HIS money that He has entrusted to us. Trust me Audrey, we have been there. My husband was unemployed for over 18months with no unemployment check, we did not use government aid (not saying it’s wrong, but my husband would have felt even less of a man than he already did losing his job and I understood that), and we had a baby during this time. Tough, tough spot to be but God provided for us and we wouldn’t take anything for that time! I am praying for you and yours….

  22. Nicola says

    What an encouraging & timely post for me!! We too struggle to make ends meet. We do not have any un-necessary spending to cut back on & quite often do not make the ends meet at all. My dh is self-employed & work is more scarce than it used to be. The issue I have is the “write a budget & stick to it”. Our income is different every week & in the winter it is alot less than the summer. We know what expenses we have & very often do not make enough to cover those expenses. I do not have a blog but am now considering starting one. I am also about to start a small business so I hope I will be able to contribute to the family income a small bit & take some pressure off my husbands shoulders

  23. Michele says

    Loved this post, Crystal, but I disagree with you on one point:

    I would never give a monetary discount to a loyal customer. If Audrey is getting a steady rate from a client, it could be detrimental to reduce the rate if she ever decides to raise rates in the future. I would suggest giving a one-time value item instead, for example if she usually does not wash windows, give one free window cleaning for referring a new client.

    I know it sounds like splitting hairs, but changing the bottom line on a bill can psychologically impact the customer when your rates go up (which they should on a periodic basis to keep step with the local market). Giving a value-add is a better way to protect your income while showing gratitude for your loyal customers and referrals. Just a few years of professional marketing talking :)

    Keep your chin up, Audrey!

    • says

      I was just referring to a one-time discount, not something long-term; my apologies if that didn’t make sense! Kind of like when there’s a great sale at one of our favorite stores — it gives you incentive to shop there. In the same way, if I knew I was going to save $25 on my bill every time I referred a new customer, I’d be a lot more motivated to refer new customers!

  24. says

    I have read all of your comments, and have a question about tithing. I understand the concept of giving 10% to the church, but I don’t attend church. I do, however, make contributions to charities I support. Is this considered tithing, too? Just curious to hear your thoughts.

    • says

      @Shonda, same here. I’m Christian but not a member of a particular congregation. I give to animal shelters, domestic violence shelters, goodwill, the kidney foundation, and I give over freecycle/craigslist.

    • Ann says

      @Shonda,
      Yes, donations of time and materials is also tithing. In our church we talk about tithing “Time, Talent, and Treasure.” Notice that the money is the last of the items! Tithing with your time is preferable than tithing with money.

  25. Erin says

    Crystal thank you for writing this it was so encouraging this post was just for me I feel like. It truly blessed me

  26. Jennifer says

    Thank you for posting. We weren’t as lucky (or smart) and ended up with a LOT of debt when it came to student loans. We have been looking for little ways to really keep cutting down on those bills. I really enjoy your blog and LOVE the fact that you post such personal items like this.

    Thank you again,
    Jenn

  27. April says

    Also you can sell your old books, magazines, and dvd’s to Mckay’s book store. If food is an issue contact your local food bank, sign your kids up for the free books from Dolly Pardon if the program is available in your area. Sign up for all of the restaurants that offer free food and discounts for joining their e-clubs and birthday clubs.

  28. Jen says

    Someone may have mentioned this but I just want to suggest food stamps and WIC. As a taxpayer you have already paid for any benefits you would receive and taking advantage of these programs can help you keep your head above water. Don’t allow pride to keep you from these programs which will benefit your children. Many people don’t realize that their income qualifies for such programs-no one ever thinks they live in poverty until you check the numbers. Check in to it!

  29. says

    I hope, hope, hope you are charging well more than $25 to clean someone’s house!! Your time is valuable and you are saving someone else the trouble of cleaning, so charge what you are worth! For my 3 bedroom house, I’d be willing to pay $75 or more if someone did an excellent job cleaning. Maybe you could drum up business by offering to clean a house my size for $50 the first two visits and then $75 thereafter if they are pleased with your service. You could adjust the pricing for different sized homes… and also consider homes with pets take much longer to get clean. Clients would be excited to get an initial discount and appreciate being able to make a decision about your service after a trial period. Just my ideas!

  30. Juli says

    I have 2 suggestions…

    1. Can you give plasma even once a month? I believe they pay you for your time. Anywhere from $25-40 I think.

    2. Food – please see if the closest Catholic Church has a St. Vincent dePaul food pantry. We do, and don’t advertise it. Depending on family size and age, you might be able to get 2 bags of groceries. I did put-away for my parish on Monday – the first time by myself. I’m not sure about other places, but we have everything from cereal (both healthy and sweet varieties) to cases of brand name veggies and soups to pastas to canned meat (ham, salmon!, etc). If you are falling deeper into debt, then you really could use that little hand up which could save you even just $25/month! We Christians who can give do so in order to help our brothers and sisters…. it’s what God expects of us, so don’t feel bad about taking in assistance. Just pay it forward! (And you don’t need to be Catholic, or even Christian, to take advantage of our food pantry).

    In addition, many local SVdP societies can assist with a bill if needed. It’s all at the individual parish level, but you don’t know if you don’t ask for some help.

    • Debi says

      @Juli,
      Yes, I second calling a Catholic Church to inquire about a St. Vincent de Paul conference, if that church doesn’t have one, they will refer you to one that does. It’s a wonderful organization! Blessings to you Audrey!!

  31. says

    Audrey,
    I had a few ideas while reading your story. Crystal’s ideas were excellent, and here are a few more things I thought of.

    First, here’s something I noticed in my own life. It seems that every time I have made a decision to improve spiritually, blessings always seem to follow. When you “draw near to God”, He will draw near to you. When I have made a decision to draw near to God by being more consistent with my Bible reading or by giving more attention to my prayer time, it seems that God is always right there waiting to bless me. I know that when you decide to honor God in some way, He is just waiting to bless you. If you’re struggling with money, one of the first steps I would take would be to see what you can improve in your own life to draw near to God.

    There are a few ways I have been able to make extra money online. Surveys are good to bring in a few extra bucks, especially if you have time to spare. Some of the best companies I have found are GlobalOpinionPanels.com, Lightspeed, Mysurvey.com, OpinionOutpost.com, Surveysavvy.com, Hotspex.com, epoll.com, and globaltestmarket.com. You won’t get rich from taking surveys, but I have been able to get free products and earn money by being consistent taking surveys for these companies. You could use your blog to refer others, which boost your survey income.

    Another thing that pays off in the long run is paid-to-click websites like mypoints.com, inboxdollars.com, and sendearnings.com. Every day I get emails from these websites, and I get a cent or two for every email I click on. It takes a while to add up (unless you do some of their other stuff, like buying something online through their site). But I love to occasionally get an extra $30 check or gift card from these websites for a second or two of my day each day. (I bought something I was already planning on purchasing through one of these websites, and I got a $25 gift card just from extra points.)

    Another thing that helps increase income is writing articles about anything you know how to do. Associatedcontent.com buys your articles and if you work hard writing articles, you may be able to bring in a nice little bit of extra money writing. Reviewstream.com buys reviews, too, and although they don’t always pay much, I was able to get $50 in Paypal money from simply writing reviews whenever I wanted to. (Cosmetics reviews seem to do pretty good on review stream and associated content.)

    If you are good at crafts, you could consider setting up an etsy shop and selling your crafts online (through your blog).

    I hope these tips help! This is what has worked for me. I pray that God will provide for you and your family’s needs and bless you!

    Renee

    P.S. Although I saw that some people were recommending it, I wouldn’t recommend stopping tithing. It is very commendable that you are continuing to tithe even when times are tough. The command to tithe comes with His PROMISE that He will open the windows of heaven and pour out such blessing that there isn’t room to receive it. I don’t think it is wise to stop tithing because then you won’t have God’s guarantee that He will bless you. (God calls it robbing Him when we don’t tithe, and that’s not a great place to be if you want to be blessed!) I encourage you to keep holding on even when times are tough and wait to see God come through for you just like He promised. God says to prove Him, so give your tithe on purpose with your heart, and tell Him you’re waiting to see if He will do what He promised! God bless you.

  32. colleen says

    There are also some survey sites that can give you some extra money on the side. Pinecone research will mail you a $3 check for each survey you complete. Also, Ipsos say and opinion outpost have surveys to take for points. I usually am able to cash out the points once a month for a $10 check from each of those.

  33. tammi says

    My husband and I and our 3 kids have been in the same place. Some thing we have done or do is: 1) We currently do Apartment ministry in our area though apartment Life ministries, look to see if they have an apt in your area. We get free rent for a two bedroom two bath apt. Great oppurtunity to serve your community and share the gospel. 2) The other thing I did was run a branch of an organic fruit/veggie co-op in my area, I was able to get all my organic produce for free for running the co-op on my side of town. I know teach a few nights a week at our local community college to help save money. We have saved a lot by doing what we already love. Find what you love and make money at it!

  34. Alicia says

    Have you thought about an in home preschool? It looks like you have already done some of that with your own children- how about inviting others to your home for the same thing? This girl sells a package for starting a preschool in your home but she has ALOT of free information in her blog and how she supported 3 children by herself by having an in home preschool. http://tinyurl.com/28kmxef

  35. Tina says

    I just wanted to say it is great to know that we are not alone. Only now we are being forced to find a new place to rent for health reasons and we don’t have the money. For people who have children in diapers, there is a diaper bank that supplies diapers. Google “diaper bank” in your area and you should find one. We are allowed to pick up diapers once a month and it is a huge help. Good luck to everyone, may GOD be with you.

  36. amber says

    Crystal– great post! Thanks for sharing this!

    Audrey, perhaps you could find another mom from church or your neighborhood who would trade babysitting with you so that you could pick up a couple extra cleaning jobs per week or month. You could babysit her kids so she has a few hours to do whatever she needs to do. I would also recommend planting seeds. We have saved so much money by growing our own produce and canning/freezing it– even one tomato plant will save you money. I also like the idea of working at someone else’s garden or orchard in exchange for food– you’re helping them and they’re helping you. Trust that your faith will get you through this!

  37. glincoupon says

    Crystal that was a great response. I wanted to invite Audrey for a cup of tea too! Audrey, don’t forget to count your success’, You have no debt! (ok, temporarily a bill or two) but you are doing a great job of keeping the bills down and bringing in as much as you can. So many people respond to this type of a problem by borrowing and end up in a much greater mess. While it may be frustrating that you are unable to save to get ahead, you are able to save for when things get tighter, you must count that as a success. Keep up the good work, Crystal is right, walk with God, He knows you and he did not bring you along this far just to drop you! Bless you and I will keep you in my prayers. g

  38. Katie says

    Audrey – I really want to help you so I’m going to do the one thing I can do – I’m going to look at your blog everyday. I think you write really well and laughted at your post about not being a morning person.

    Please remember life changes quickly and your circumstance will change (improve) very soon. A few years ago my husband lost his job and we nearly lost our house but things are much better now (he has a job).

    Reading these comments moves me – what a lot of lovely people are out there. God bless you all

  39. says

    Please check with your crisis pregnancy centers in your area Birthright (www.birthright.org) is a national one but there are many local ones as well. They all have different policies but many will give you diapers and wipes if you ask them, and they may be able to help you with other child-related expenses.

  40. Kellie says

    I completely feel for Audrey. My husband and I were in the same position, but we had debt! You are definitely handling your situation well by never using credit cards. That really takes self-control. I was curious if there is any way you can find cheaper housing? $900/month seems really high, especially with only making $1,400/month. I guess it depends where you live, but it seems like there has to be something else out there.

  41. says

    Hi Audrey, I’m praying that God encourages your heart. My husband and I have six children, and money has never been super plentiful, even though we have been very faithful with our tithe throughout our 16-year marriage. God has always been faithful to us. We have never missed a meal and have always had a roof over our heads. Things have gotten tight before, many times in fact, but He’s always there. I think He allows us to go through times like that SO THAT we learn to rely on Him. :)

    I don’t know if this was already posted because I don’t have time to read all of the posts, but recently, this video was posted on Youtube and it floored me. Michael Pearl is an excellent teacher, so I hope you consider what he says here as far as giving money because you feel obliged. :)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xpdiHbbm8og&feature=related

  42. Margaret Lind says

    I’m going to suggest that you purchase (wherever you can cheapest …) a copy of the book THE DYNAMIC LAWS OF PROSPERITY

  43. Laura says

    I like the babysitting idea above. My sister-in-law in a similar situation, found two homes to clean weekly and set up the times to do them back-to-back one afternoon a week. She was fortunate and my mother watched her children for free giving the boys a fun afternoon with grandma and allowing her to bring home almost $400 ($50 per house) cash per month. Also, just weighing in on the WIC/food stamps/welfare debate. I agree with what someone said earlier, I would love to have my tax payer dollars helping this family! God Bless!

  44. Margaret Lind says

    Forgive the computer blip … it does that a lot out here … I’m in Deming, NM, 30 miles from the Mexican border. Things go haywire…

    I suggest for anyone feeling discouraged the study of Catherine Ponder’s Christian-based book THE DYNAMIC LAWS OF PROSPERTY! Then when you give to her organization (tithe from whatever you receive based on her teachings …), request a copy of her affirmations. As you begin to say these affirmations, day in and day out, on a daily basis, you feel better…. I’m not saying that you’ll win a million dollars, because that’s probably not going to happen. Mrs. Ponder herself tells how long it took for her to get above a poverty level, day-to-day provision level… But I will say this: I have used her teaching for many years. Once, several years after I left an apartment, I was offered the whole duplex at a cost that was affordable to me. I always attributed that event to how many hours I had spent affirming prosperity within those walls. You just have to keep after it. I today am not wealthy. I’m going through “tough” times of my own, but they do not touch me mentally-emotionally inside… and I know things are turning around as I have made an important financial decision, following my own spiritual guidance. Yes, prayer is important. Yes, tithing is important, but for instant “feel better,” “feel like there’s hope,” try Mrs. Ponder’s books. Open Your Mind to Receive, Open Your Mind to Prosperity, The Prosperity Secrets of the Ages… Don’t react to any of the “new age” or other things you might dis-agree with. Go with what she’s got to offer. She’s talking about you and your husband coming up with an idea on a way to make money in this time now. Like a business. Starting out small, then growing a little, here a little, there a little. A new idea for both of you. That type of GROWTH in PROSPERITY!

    That’s my 2 cents worth! (Two pennies are valuable now …)

  45. AJ says

    Remember the on-line surveys that Crystal mentions from time to time. (You can also check them out on surveypolice.com.) All the little checks and points can add up!

  46. says

    Thank you for your comment on my “advice” to you, Audrey. Congratulations on finding the cheaper place to live. It must be very expensive where you live. It’s tough but following Crystal’s advice would be very good. Kiss those babies for me and hope to see you on the blog again, or you could mine, it’s a bunch of foolishness, really. God be with you, I know He will!
    Sharon

  47. Christy says

    We are so in a similar situation. We have listened to Dave Ramsey for a while now. We do not take on debt. “We live like no one else.” All our friends ask over and over again when we are going to get a bigger house, when are we going to get a bigger car (we really did need one, but saved for a long time first). We don’t go on vacations like them and we don’t attend most of their parties b/c we don’t want to pay for a sitter. We coupon. We don’t live extravagantly, but we have what we need. We both work. I am a teacher and make more than my husband. We never seem to be able to save a significant amount. We saved for the car, were so proud of ourselves, bought it about 6 months ago. That was mostly from banking tax returns and summer jobs, after school tutoring I did.

    I am due to have a second child in 2 months and my husband will most likely loose his job of 5 years in a month–great timing, right? His job seemed secure when we decided getting pregnant was a great idea. Before we had children, I worked summers (almost 40 hours a week) and sometimes had 3 or 4 part time jobs during the school year, afternoons, Saturdays–I paid off lots of debt. I have scaled back a lot since having a child so I have time to spend with him. Dave Ramsey is always preaching to increase your income. Now is not the time for me to take on another job. When I return to work after maternity leave, I will be nursing. I will not work a night job and be away from my children/give up nursing. It is hard enough to pump during the school day, but I made it work last time and my child never had a drop of formula. This is something I feel strongly about. If I end up having to supplement a little, I will deal with it, but I want my child to have as much breast milk and as little formula as possible and a second job is just not going to do it!

    I can so feel Audrey’s frustration because now that we finally seemed on a path to getting ahead–saved for car, got car, looked like we could afford 2nd child, now we will be set back significantly. We will probably have to take our son out of day care, which I am actually sad about. He loves it there and is learning so much and how is my husband supposed to find a job if he is staying home with 2 children? He won’t be able to job search until I get home every day, which means I’ll be doing the cooking and cleaning while he job searches. (Our 3 year old gave up his nap so no job searching time).

    It is frustrating and nice to know someone else is in a similar situation. It seems like no matter what we do, we cannot get ahead. We coupon, don’t vacation, save forever to buy a used car, etc. etc. just to make ends meet, not to actually reward ourselves with a trip to Hawaii or something! And now our income is going to get even smaller unless my husband finds something quickly!