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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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322 Comments

  • Josie says:

    Thank you for posting this. We are in the exact same financial/living situation and I enjoy your blog but I get stressed out sometimes–feeling we are stretched too thin with medical/student debt and a low income. It’s nice to know I’m not alone, and there are usually still ways to cut a dollar or two off here and there.

    • Kile says:

      Just to let you know, the government now has a income based repayment available to help with student loan debt. It is called IBR, (income based repayment). This might help, also ask about loan forgiveness programs. They ARE available. I used to work at a known student loan company.

  • Rose says:

    Crystal,
    I have to say that was one your best posts that I have read.
    The material is great information that I think we can all apply and sprinkle in our own life.
    My favorite was prayer, because you can never underestimate the power of it and also negative thinking. It is so true, think you can and work hard and you will. Love it.

    Awsome, awsome, awsome

  • {{{Audrey}}} Minus the children that was US 4 years ago!
    God is so very faithful and I just want to reach out and hug you and encourage you in that thought.
    We had moments of encouragement that were obviously straight from the Lord – we rejoiced in those moments. And continued rejoicing and remembering those encouragements through the tough times – because often remembering the good is all that pulled us through the bad.

    We saw no way out of where our lives were either, but God orchestrated and had it all planned. He loves you and, as Crystal said, will never leave you.
    {{{hugs}}}

    • Audrey says:

      @Jessica Lynette, thank you for your encouraging words! This post and all the encouragement coming from it is, in fact, straight from the Lord! I feel so encouraged by all this. I’m just overwhelmed with God’s love and reminded of His promise to provide all we need!

  • Lea Stormhammer says:

    What about trading cleaning the office space at the store for a while for tires? It can’t hurt to ask! (A friend of mine’s family got free car insurance for a time because she and her mom cleaned the office 3x each week and did the trash, windows, etc. every day.)

    Check with your church also – both for cleaning at church but also for elderly or disabled or otherwise unable (moms on bedrest, etc) people in the congregation who might need a hand with their cleaning and would be willing and able to pay. Have you thought about adding ironing? Basic cooking? Running errands? A neighbor has a cleaning woman who also picks up her groceries and she just loves it! A former neighbor had hers chop vegetables for her – a nearly impossible task with her arthritis.

    We were truly amazed when we wrote down where every penny was spent a few years ago – we were spending way more than we thought on several little things (less than $1 ea) – and were able to diligently cut back even more than we thought. It was a pain, but well worth it! If it’s been a while since you did that, you might want to try that too.

    God bless!
    Lea

    • Laura says:

      Sounds like income-producing ideas from Tawra (not sure how to spell it) from the Living on a Dime series. She has books, a website and many other well-written and practical resources.

      • Lea Stormhammer says:

        @Laura, LOVE Living on a Dime! I guess frugal minds think alike – or maybe I’ve just visited their site one too many times! 🙂 Who knew?

        🙂
        Lea

    • Audrey says:

      @Lea Stormhammer, another tough part of this is that we’re fairly new to the area we live in. We know a handful of people (not including the people my husband works with, we have maybe 10 acquaintances here), so we don’t have a lot of contacts (yet). And we are actually trying to find a church…. we go to a different one every few weeks, but God hasn’t planted us yet!

      Now that I think about it, we haven’t written down every penny we spend either. I’ll talk with my husband about doing that this month! Thanks for the encouragement!

      • WilliamB says:

        @Audrey, When I was dirt-broke writing down every penny helped me a lot. I didn’t get fancy with categories: recurring expenses (such as rent), necessities (such as food), semi-luxuries (things not necessary to life but usually spent, such as a birthday card or long distance fees), luxuries (everything else).

        I kept my grocery receipts. If I was having trouble making ends meet I’d scrutinize the bill to see where I could spend less.

        I recorded every bit of income, too – if I found a penny on the ground I put it under “misc income.”

  • Rose says:

    Oh and that link to read the orginal letter was not there.

  • Jenny says:

    Could you list Audrey’s blog address? I’d love to support her by reading it. Great ideas in the article btw!

  • Heather says:

    Crystal, that was such an encouraging post. Thank-you!

  • Susan J says:

    Wow, Audrey, my heart goes out to you! And I wish you lived nearby so I could have you come clean every once in awhile! (Any chance you’re in St. Louis?)

    Seriously, I imagine there are ladies on this site in your area who might like to find you and use your services. Just a thought. Maybe if Crystal puts up your blog link we’d know generally where you live.

    I’ll stop and pray for you right now. Be encouraged! God has His eye on you and your family!

    • Audrey says:

      @Susan J, I wish I was closer so I could come clean for you once in a while! We are in Washington state, in the Puget Sound area. If there is anyone who would like help cleaning or cooking or anything, please contact me!

  • brookeb says:

    I’d also suggest letting those close to you know that you’re having a tough time. They might be able to pass along people who need their house cleaned, or they might have some connection that lifts the load a bit for you. Our communities are amazing resources, and we don’t use them as often as we should sometimes.

  • Sarah says:

    Thanks for posting, Crystal. Here are my suggestions:

    See if you can move to a cheaper internet plan. We had Roadrunner standard (I think) and then moved to the cheaper plan and did not notice a difference.

    Go to the library for your entertainment. Most libraries have dvds.

    If you need help creating a budget, or other financial matters go to learnvest.com. It is an awesome personal finance site geared towards women. Here is a budget calculator they created: http://www.learnvest.com/pages/toolsAndCalculators/budget

    I’m not religious like Crystal and most readers of this blog but could you maybe think about decreasing your tithe? Maybe you could give to the church in other ways like volunteering.

    Hope this helps

    • Melanie says:

      @Sarah, I am a Christian and I would suggest to increase your tithe! 🙂

      As the scripture says in Luke:

      “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. ”

      I’m not quoting this to be disagreeable, but if Audrey is reading these comments, I want to be an encouragement to her. If they give to the Lord with the right heart, He’ll bless them for it!

      I highly recommend this sermon for encouragement:

      http://johnnythebaptist.org/campmeeting/Mystery3.ram

      God Bless!

      • Melanie says:

        @Melanie, (there’s some kind of pre-sermon talk and music on this link, but I was given a CD of the original message and it’s excellent — you can forward it up to the message to get to it)

      • @Melanie, I would find it very irresponsible to increase one’s tithe when they can barely make ends meet. Where are they to take money from when they can barely pay their bills and feed their kids? While there is not enough food to eat because they increased their tithe what shall her family do while they are waiting for the Lord to provide for them- what will the children eat? I’m not saying this to start something, I am just having a hard time understanding.

    • Kathryn says:

      @Sarah, I, too, agree with decreasing one’s tithe. I strongly believe that God does not want us to be in jeopardy (such as with a car that isn’t safe for our little ones) in order to contribute funding. Perhaps, instead of tithing direct money, you can use your couponing skills to contribute to the coffee hour after services, to the snacks for the kids in Sunday school, sign up to shovel the church’s walkways or mow the grass. These services are just as valuable as money. We all go through times were our time is more plentiful than our money (and vice versa) and both can be equally valuable if they are used wisely.

      • Crystal says:

        While I believe every Christian needs to seek the Lord and make their own decisions based upon what God is calling them to, we personally have been amazed to see how God stretched the little 90% left when we committed to give Him the first 10%. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills and, for us, giving Him the first 10% is our way of acknowledging that all we have is His anyway.

        • Kathy says:

          @Crystal,
          Audrey’s situation sounds similar to ours… and I agree with Crystal… don’t give up the tithe! You cannot out-give God! We decided that we wanted to give more and have increased our tithe (which is in addition to other charitable giving) by 1% each calendar year for the past 2 years. Our overall income has decreased and we’ve added another child, but God has blessed us tremendously and we haven’t “missed” that 2% at all!

          I’d challenge you to pray specifically for tires and watch God do a miracle! We didn’t know how God was going to provide for me to be a SAHM, but we felt that’s what he wanted for our family. The provisions were ones we couldn’t have imagined — and they didn’t come until we took the step of faith and I quit my job.

          I distinctly remember saying to God one morning (while I was still working and without children — my how I wish I knew then what I know now about couponing, saving, etc), “WHY CAN’T WE GET AHEAD? Just when we save a little, something breaks. WHY IS IT THAT WE ONLY HAVE WHAT WE NEED?” And that’s when it hit me — God has promised to provide what we NEED; not necessarily a large retirement or a huge savings account. We’re working toward those goals, but until we can get there (and even if we never do), God has never met a need he can’t supply. I’m much happier resting in his peace.

          I remind myself that this is a season — be it 5 years or a decade, or my lifetime. –but my eternal treasures can be laid up without ECB, +UP, or Catalinas (although they can help if it means I can save or share with another). 🙂

      • Jennifer says:

        @Kathryn,

        and Sarah…

        I couldn’t agree more!! I grew up in a church where I saw FAR too many families unable to provide for their children’s basic needs yet they were enslaved to that 10% tithe. I don’t believe that’s the way God intended it to be.

    • Megan says:

      @Sarah, Just wanted to weigh in here too – I think both ideas (tithing/tithing less) have merits and each person has to listen to God’s prompting in their lives. However, when my dad was on our church’s elder board they encouraged recently unemployed folks (and those who were in extreme financial straits) to consider giving of their time rather than money. In my view, if a family in the church is struggling, the church should be doing what they can to help that family!

    • @Sarah, That is what I was thinking. I do not go to church but I would think that if someone could not afford to feed their children that it would be ok to not tithe and instead donate your time. If my children were hungry I would do anything to make sure they had food in their bellies and if not giving a 10% tithe was what I needed to do then so be it. If a church gets upset because someone chooses not to tithe because of a situation like this then maybe it would be time to find a new church. In my eyes, our children’s well being should be our number one priority as parents, above ALL else.

    • Ashley says:

      @Sarah, I would encourage anyone wondering about tithing to read Malachi 3:6-12. It speaks of what happens if you don’t tithe, as well as the blessings and provision you will receive if you do tithe.
      Speaking from personal experience, tithing always helps! I have seen in my personal finances the differences when I tithe and when I don’t. When I do, even when I think I won’t be able to pay the bills, God does miraculous things to provide for me. If I don’t tithe, it’s like I turn around twice and all my money is gone and I don’t know where it went.
      Tithing should not be considered as giving God 10% of what’s yours. You are obeying Him by giving BACK 10% that’s HIS. Then he will bless the remaining 90%.
      Ashley

      • jennifer says:

        @Ashley, ((audrey)) Love you! We have so been there, crying as I type!! God is faithful, I can think of when we honored Him, truly gave to Him joyfully expecting, He always provided. For instance, we received one November, and I tell everyone about this, an insurance rebate check. This was pre-katrina, no one expected it, and I’ve never gotten it since. But God faithfully provided and that check brought us to our knees! I know this is a touchy subject, but listen to God, not man. He does not compromise, but is full of Grace.

      • @Ashley,
        We talked about tithing recently in church and my pastor pointed out that in regards to tithing…this is the ONE place in the Bible that God says you can “test” Him.
        Malachi 3:10 says:

        “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty,” and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.”

        My church is currently doing a 90 day “tithe back” guarantee. If your life isn’t more rich, full and blessed…they will actually give you back every penny you put in.
        A quick google shows that this is actually being done at church’s around the nation!
        Try to commit fully to it for 90 days and see where it takes you.

        • Melissa says:

          @Heather@Family Friendly Frugality,
          Actually, the 10% applied specifically to Israel, not the church. I think it’s important to “rightly divide” the Scriptures. (The Old Testament commandments are not directed at Christians.) Not to say that Christians shouldn’t give 10% (or even more,) but as some have mentioned, it should be as the Lord leads. Our church NEVER mentions money, which is how it should be, IMO.

        • Laura says:

          I have to weigh in with our tithe story. My husband and I hadn’t tithed for most of our marriage. After a looong season of prayer, frustration & tears, I felt God’s peace about not nagging my husband about it, but letting the Holy Spirit speak to him.

          Long story short, when news of an impending layoff hit us, we were on our knees more than ever and felt the need to tithe. We both committed to it and we have been tithing ever since. God has been amazingly faithful!! Yes, my husband did lose his job. Yes, our tithe was teeny-tiny some (okay, many!) months. But God did some incredible miracles along the way that, although the road was very difficult, I would not have wanted to miss.

          I have to say that starting to tithe was difficult. I just gave the whole 10% one month without figuring out where it was coming from. I just figured God would work things out, but it was devastating. After the first, gung-ho month, I slowly increased our tithe until it was at 10%. My sister told me her church has a ‘money-back guarantee’ on tithe. I told her I hadn’t heard of such a thing but I would have taken them up on their offer! LOL! No, I really wouldn’t, but I did use the opportunity to plan and budget better.

          Tithing isn’t a commandment, but when you do it you release God’s incredible showers of blessings.

          We now have steady employment again, and even though things were very tough for a few years, we made it through that season without losing our house & cars. I am confident we will always tithe now after that season of seeing what God can do.

          This reader is already tithing and I would encourage her to keep it up. As far as increasing it, she needs to follow God’s leading on that one.

      • Karyn says:

        @Ashley, does it say only giving money counts as tithing? Why can’t tithing of time and energy (e.g. helping the church save money through couponing, or handyman/secretary etc tasks) be considered tithing your 10% as well? I personally have a problem if someone considers they’ve done their duty once they’ve checked the box of giving 10% – that’s the letter but not the spirit of tithing. (I realize most readers do not subscribe to that theory of giving the minimum financially and nothing personally, but I know many people who do. They are likely the same people who I saw show up for just the sermon at my grandmother’s church and leave before the service was done, having done their duty and checked the box off.) To me, giving of yourself is so much MORE meaningful than giving of your things.

        • Meyta says:

          Ladies, By presenting your own opinions about tithe you are likely to cause far more distress than edification. Pray before liberally typing the first thing that comes to mind based on your personal experience or your partial knowledge of the scripture.

          Giving is not slavery but rather freedom.
          God’s promise is for your daily bread. No more, no less. He will give you what is needful to you and that is different for every person.

          There are over 800 scriptures in the Bible both new and old testament addressing the issue of money. If your family and church are not dealing with the topic perhaps it is time to go back to the manual.

          Audrey I am so proud of you for keeping your priorities in such a delightful and God-honoring way. I pray God uses this season of your life to show you his goodness in surprising ways.

        • Lyn says:

          @Meyta,Ladies, perhaps instead of getting off-topic and debating tithing it might be helpful to give some encouragement to the original poster? 🙂

      • Stephanie says:

        @Ashley, I would encourage Audrey to seek with her husband in prayer regarding their decision to tithe or not to tithe and how much. Let’s not forget the admonition in 2 Cor. 9:7 🙂

    • Audrey says:

      @Sarah, we have looked into internet plans, and we have the only one available in our neighborhood. And my mom is paying for it for the time being, so even if it was an option, switching plans wouldn’t save us money. 😛

      I’m not proud of this, but there are times where we haven’t tithed. In fact, some of those times have been very recently. But we have found that if we don’t tithe, we struggle more!

      Thanks for your encouragement and suggestions!

  • Jill says:

    Praying for you! My husband lost his job 15 months ago and we lost 65k in income. Talk about a life style change. But honestly, what a great one it was! We learned so much. The most important thing I learned was to be thankful that God was sustaining us during the time. Be faithful! Many people say they believe, but you really never know what believing and being faithful means until you have to APPLY it. Now that we are on our feet again, richer in so many more ways, with less income, I am a giver like I’ve never been before. Learning to be content isn’t easy, but I love walking out of a store knowing I didn’t need to buy that splurge because I am content! One day, I pray you will see the good from this!

  • Lisa says:

    Just wanted to encourage you, Audrey! May all of these responses bring joy and encouragement to your heart! Hang in there!

    PS: My husband and I put our spare change in a container to save up for something special–even something small like a new toaster, etc. when something breaks or we’d like something new. It takes a while, but it is fun to see the pile grow. You’ll be amazed how quickly you can accumulate a few dollars in just change!

  • RachaelP says:

    Thanks for sharing your story, Audrey. We are in a very similar situation right now and probably will be for a long time (hubby lost his job last year due to the economy and now he’s working and going to school to get a degree). He brings home about $1300/mo and we have two children as well. By the grace of God and generosity of others, we have not missed a bill so far.

    I’m working hard on building a couple businesses (one I’ve had for years and a new one) to help bring in some extra income.

    You’re doing a great job, keep your head up. I know it’s hard.

  • Becky Thomas says:

    I have discovered our church’s Mother’s Day Out program. I’m applying to be a substitute teacher there. It doesn’t pay much (7.50/hr) but I can bring my kids with me, work when I want to and earn a little money to boot! A good option for stay at home moms!

    • Stephanie says:

      @Becky Thomas,
      What a wonderful blessing it is to have an option like that, where you can earn some money and take your kids along. There must be others out there like that too, though it may take some looking and asking.

      Because of where I live, I can put a stand out in front of our house and sell produce. It doesn’t provide a full income, but it does give me several dollars every week and extra produce (I get it from my garden, a friend’s, and buy it from other local sources). This year my friend and I started doing it together to split time and costs and added flowers and plants to the mix as well as going to a market here in town. We bring along our kids when school isn’t in. There are others I know who go to a produce auction who bring their kids with them. It takes some training in how to behave properly, and a bit extra planning on our part, but it is cheaper than hiring a babysitter and it teaches them skills along the way (how to work with customers, math, working together, etc.).

      The reason I started doing this was because I had extra produce and didn’t know what to do with it. So I set it out front and tried to price it such that it could also bless my neighbors. It took some time for people to start noticing it and stopping by regularly, but now I get comments about it from people I don’t even know. =)

      I know what is working for me may not work for you, but I hope it encourages you to look around at what options you have and see them in a different light.

    • @Becky Thomas,
      I’ve worked 2 days a week at a local church’s mother’s day out program for the past 3 1/2 years (oddly not at the church I attend though!). My kids go with me and I get half price for them.
      It’s such a blessing to be able to work where I do. I am considering not coming back after the Christmas holidays so I can actually experience a “mother’s day out”, but I do LOVE working there!

      • Kate says:

        @Heather@Family Friendly Frugality,

        I do not live in a city that has one, but I have had several friends who have found exercise centers with in-gym day cares to work at. The hours are very part-time, and they usually let you bring your children for free. If there were one around us, that is the first place I would check to earn some extra money!

        Also, I would suggest to Audrey to talk to the pastor at her church about her situation. My husband is a pastor, and with the economy being so bad, our church is very aware of members of our church falling behind in some financial areas (such as the bill you are behind). I realize some people are uneasy about asking the church for help, but if you are a member of the church, that is our responsibility as your family in Christ! If she is very uncomfortable with it, she should still talk to the pastor…he may be able to network her with some job opportunities (someone in the church who needs part-time daycare, perhaps even cleaning areas of the church) to help them get back on their feet.

    • Audrey says:

      @Becky Thomas, What is Mother’s Day Out?

  • Brenda says:

    Thank you for this post. It helps a lot!

  • Caitlin says:

    Audrey,

    I would LOVE to help you with anything. I know what you’re going through. My husband is now making around $200 a week, after taxes. We have a baby boy who NEEDS me to be home with him because he has a heart condition, so my getting a job isn’t an option. We always seem to make it somehow.

    I am not a huge proponent of getting help from the government, but my best advice is to get in school if you have any desire to whatsoever. I had no idea how much money I could get in Pell grants, and I thank God for allowing me to find it and get back in school. It has helped us soooo much. I do all of my classes online and come out with about $2K extra in the end, and we use that for rent and internet, so I can continue going to school.

    I wish I could just hug you and tell you that it’s going to be okay! I get down about money a lot, but I just have to go with the flow and look forward to the things that are (God willing) coming!

    • Megan says:

      @Caitlin, Great point! If Audrey wants to go back to school – this might very well be the time to do it!

      Also, don’t discount government programs like WIC or supplemental health insurance for children (in PA this is called CHIP). A portion of the taxes you pay are going to these programs already and they are there to help people who are struggling. I am happy to pay my taxes knowing that some of that money is creating a safer, healthier lifestyle for our nation’s children.

      • Jolene says:

        @Megan, I’d also say not to discount chip state insurance. Just personal experience here but i had a baby girl in 2005 with a congenital heart defect. In 2007 she ended up needing open heart surgery, doing well now. But my insurance from work said because at that point in time we had that plan a few days less than a year, they wouldn’t cover her surgery. Thank God for state insurances like medicaid and chip or I wouldn’t have my precious 5 year old now.

      • Caitlin says:

        @Megan, Yes, WIC and Medicaid exist for this very reason. We could not afford the co-pays on my son’s visits (he has to have echos, EKGs, and X rays out the wazoo) so I applied for Medicaid. I know we couldn’t have afforded the co-pays even IF we had more money, because we spent a lot on the hospital stays and my pregnancy bed rest, etc. It really helped us out, and I know that since I’m in school, I am going to give back. Never, EVER underestimate your tax dollars. If you are paying taxes, you are entitled to anything the government offers, in my opinion. There are a ton of people taking advantage of government programs, people who don’t have NEARLY as great of a need as you do.

        Just food for thought. I know some people don’t want to have to ask the government for help, but as I see it, I’d rather ask the government, to whom I’ve been paying income taxes for the last 5 1/2 years, for help than ask my mom or other family members. That’s just me, though.

        Just keep praying and keep knowing that God is good and he will NEVER EVER put you through something you cannot handle. He knows you and he knows your strengths and will give you the power to use them not only for His glory, but for your own, as well.

        • Caitlin says:

          @Caitlin, Also, I didn’t mean to sound high and mighty in my original post saying “not a huge proponent of getting help from the government.” What I mean by that is I don’t like to take more than I need or see others doing that. There are a lot of people out there who take advantage of the system. 🙂

        • holi says:

          I work for Michigan WIC and the increase of new people using WIC is tremendous… & that is exactly what we want! Jobs are scarce & the ones available are low paying. We want to help as many Pregnant, Breastfeeding mom, infants, children 1-4 yrs old as possible. Benefits in Michigan are issued on a debit type card and that lessens the embarassment that some people may worry about.

          Please Please call your local WIC office if you have small kids or are PG. For example, the income guidelines for a family of 5 in Michigan are $47,712.00 per year. If you have friends, family, neighbors, tell them to call & ask how to qualify. The link below is a list of all the US WIC links by state.

          http://www.fns.usda.gov/wic/Contacts/statealpha.HTM

  • Paula G says:

    Have you considered supplementing your income with direct sales? Watch/Read this article from Good Morning America to find out more about it:
    http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/JobClub/direct-sales-success-inside-home/story?id=11619640

    I joined Usborne Books and More (selling children’s books) a couple of months ago and I *LOVE* it. I can work with my children (ages 1 & 3) right there beside me. Because it’s a company geared toward children, everyone is super understanding when I take my children along to meetings and home shows. I love having them there with me because it helps them see what “work” is all about, too. (Dad’s work is so abstract to them.)

    Anyway, there are a lot of companies out there that you might be interested in. Be sure to check what their startup costs are, what the selling minimums/requirements are, and what penalties (if any) are involved if you don’t make a sales minimum. (I picked UBAM because they don’t have minimums or penalties, and you can start for as low as $25.)

    Best of luck to you. I know it’s hard but money isn’t what’s important in life. Hug those beautiful children and remember that the sacrifices are all for them. Then suddenly it becomes worth it.

    • Audrey says:

      @Paula G, that’s actually one of the things I do to bring in some change! I don’t make much, but I do make a little bit (about $46 every two months, sometimes more), but it definitely helps. I sell Reliv, which is a WONDERFUL nutritional product. I just did a business fair a couple weeks ago with my friend and we’re still sorting through to see if it increased our business… and we’re praying it did! Reliv doesn’t require start-up fees (besides the $35 membership kit) or minimum sales either, which is great!

      Thanks for your encouragement!

      • Paula G says:

        @Audrey, I’m glad you have something to focus on and get you out of the house. I know that was an important thing for me with two small children. Mama needs a break sometimes!

        I have to say, I’ve never heard of Reliv, but I’ll have to check it out. I’m not trying to bash them, but you might want to compare their commission structure to other companies. For example, I just made over $200 in my 2nd month and I honestly didn’t work very hard. But in the end, you need to sell whatever you are passionate about and I *love* books so mine is a no-brainer.

        Anyway, best of luck to you. I took a quick glance at your blog and I loved what I saw. I’m sure I’ll be one of your newest followers. And I love your url! 🙂

        Take care!

        • Audrey says:

          @Paula G, To be honest, I don’t do much work! I have one client who makes a double purchase every other month, and that gives me $46 every two months. I’m still trying to build my business (trying to meet people where we live first), but I don’t get much opportunity for it. If I went to church or school or work I would have more contacts but I don’t! A friend of mine is steadily making $800/month and she’s been doing the business about a year and a half now. So it’s not a problem with the company itself, it’s me! 🙂

  • Allison V. says:

    This was us, and has been since we had kids. My husband made $10/hr, averaging 35 hours a week, with unemployment during his off weeks (he worked construction, dependent on the weather). His normal paychecks were about $320/wk, or about $1300 for the month. Our cost of living is cheaper here, but even so, there was no extra after rent, basic internet, basic cell phone, electricity, and cheap insurance on two old cars and the gas to drive them. Since I found MoneySavingMom, I turned what little wiggle room I did have into a lot! I’ve figured out how to work the deals, use Swagbucks, do online surveys…little things. I say all of this in the past tense however, because as of June this year, we have had NO income, and no savings, so at the end of this month, we have no new lease on our apartment. BUT, God has provided. The lights are still on, the rent still got paid, my car is still legal to drive. I may have to move in with my parents, but God is taking care of me, and the less I have, the richer I have become. I know I am following Him, and He is blessing me and my children. And that is all I really NEED.

    • Lyn says:

      @Allison V., Allison, I love your attitude. 🙂 So true when you say “the less I have, the richer I have become”. Richness is not always measured in money or things – you have your children and it sounds like you have a wonderful family. These are the things that really matter in life. I hope your husband will be able to find a new job soon. Your comment made me smile.

    • Audrey says:

      @Allison V., God is so good. It’s amazing how He provides everything His children truly need. Thank you for your encouraging words!

  • Dawn M. says:

    I used Angel Food Ministries ALOT! the meat was good and inexpensive!
    You should apply for WIC for your children you should qualify and food stamps. Don’t ever look at it as a handout. You paid into it for years and people who don’t deserve it are getting it, so why not make a withdrawal from that account 🙂 I wish we qualified but because my husband is in the military we don’t.
    I am praying for you. I know what you are going through. We are 3 months behind on both cars and our house should have been foreclosed on over a year ago but they cant since my husband is deployed. We are filing bankruptcy but don’t have the money for it. Know there are others in your boat and I hope that you can use the info given above! <3

    • Michelle says:

      @Dawn M., I recently found out about Angel Food ministries, and it looks like a wonderful organization! We started receiving WIC when our third daughter was born, and it has been a huge help. We, too, look at it as a “withdrawal” from the savings that we have paid into for years. It has allowed the room in my budget needed to stock our pantry for a year (or more) in case something does happen to my husband’s job. With the things I am learning here on MSM, I have been able to keep the same grocery/household expense budget that we set when our second daughter was born – even through price increases in groceries, and having 2 in diapers for a while! Thankfully, we have never “lived” on two incomes – from the day we were married (10 years ago), we counted only my husband’s income, so when dd #1 was born 6 years ago, we had comfort knowing that we could “afford” for me to become a full-time mommy. Comparing our financial situation to our peers, we don’t have much, but we are not for want! Things that others have found as a “must have” (monthly pedicure, a full, fashionable wardrobe, weekly date nights AND dinners out, and full-cable TV) have not been in our budget for years, and we don’t miss them! We live modestly, prayerfully, as good stewards of what God has blessed us with. We are thankful for His provision, and we pray that testimony shines to our unsaved family members!

  • celia says:

    Do not forget about swagbucks! I remember when I just graduated college and after I paid all my bills I would have 35 dollars left for a week. That was for gas, food, etc. My sister filled my fridge quite a few times. It was not an easy time. Things will improve if you put your heart in it.

    • Sharon says:

      @celia, What are swagbucks?
      Sharon

      • Brandi says:

        @Sharon,
        swagbucks.com is a great way to make money on the internet! I was very skeptical to try it out when I heard people talking about it a few months ago, but I am so glad I signed up! To earn these “swagbucks” you search their page as if it was Google.com throughout the day. Randomly, you will be awarded “swagbucks”. You can also complete surveys, polls, and special offers to earn more swagbucks. You can cash out your swagbucks for Amazon gift cards (there are many other prizes but Amazon gift cards are the best deal!). Personally, I’ve made about $90 since late July on swagbucks. I don’t spend that much time on it; you can make a ton of money if you do though! You get what you put into it. I definitely recommend signing up. I am very pleased with it and so glad I heard about it on these blogs!

        • celia says:

          @Brandi, http://swagbucks.com/?cmd=sb-promote

          Swagbucks is a great way for me to earn things painlessly. I have made about 20 dollars since I joined 2 months ago and my sister signed up too! It is a great way to get things like birthday and Christmas presents. I was skeptical at first but I heard so many good things about it that I had to try it. And, it’s fun since the points are randomized so you never know what you will get! I am going to have fifty dollars in Amazon.com gift cards by Christmas which is a HUGE help!

      • Stephanie says:

        @Sharon,
        I thought Crystal had a post about it some time ago, so you might try searching for it.

        P.S. This one is from 2008, but she explains it well. https://moneysavingmom.com/2008/11/swagbucks-earn-gift-cards-for-searching-online.html

      • April says:

        You should also check out irazoo and mypoints. My points is slow but so far I’ve received $20 in gift cards. Oh and thru huggies rewards I’ve got 2packs of diapers and a $10 gas card. Join recycle bank too and pampers rewards. often times you can find free points for the reward programs online. With swagbucks I got my daughter a play gym and for christmas she will get a walker and possibly a high chair thru amazon. Some of the rewards aren’t that great I just hold out something great comes along.

        • Caitlin says:

          @April, Diapers.com is giving 30% cash back now, too. That’s awesome! While I usually get my diapers from Amazon, I have ordered from diapers.com in the past, and their referral program is outstanding.

    • Audrey says:

      @celia, I do have Swagbucks! For some reason, it’s very slow for me…. but since I joined in February I’ve earned almost enough to get $15 in amazon gift cards! I also do Mypoints and InboxDollars.

  • Thanks so much for this post, Crystal. We aren’t in the same income position as Audrey, but with the cost of rent and living out here in California, we too feel like we have very little wiggle room. As I’ve mentioned in comments before, it’s felt frustrating sometimes wishing that I could work, but feeling like it’s so hard with two boys ages 3 and 1 and one on the way, but I really liked your tips on starting small. It’s inspired me to get creative and do more with my time, even if it’s just earning a little extra each month, and then a little more, etc.

  • Camille says:

    Oh, Audrey! We were in that exact same position 6 years ago — only we had MOUNTAINS of debt! It has been a slow road, but we are finally (FINALLY!!) getting opportunities for extra income and had teeny tiny increases in pay raises. Crystal’s suggestions are fantastic. Keep faithful; keep trusting… God will provide!

  • tammy says:

    Audry,
    There is a woman in our area who bakes( cookies, pepperoni rolls, fudge, etc.) everyday & bags them in zip lock bags , puts 10-15 bags in a basket & drops these baskets off at local beauty shops, offices, hospital & school lounges ( with permission !) Each bag sells for $1.00,( she has an envelope & goes by the honor system for payment) multiply that by # of bags sold ( tax free ) x # of locations = pretty good income !!In addition to that, she also sells Avon & she drops Avon books off at these locations, too! She actually was able to help put her son through college with this little bit of ingenuity !! Worth a try, maybe you could talk to various members of your church (don’t be afraid to ask) to find out if they work somewhere that this would be a suitable arrangement. Good luck 🙂

    • Megan says:

      @tammy, This is a great idea! Though, just a reminder that in the U.S. we’re required to report ALL earnings to the government (whether from babysitting, mystery shopping or selling baked goods). Most folks don’t make enough from these ventures to have to pay quarterly taxes, though you will have to pay taxes on this income at the end of the year.

      • staci says:

        @Megan,
        I am suspicious that Audrey wouldn’t earn enough money to put her into a tax bracket that will make her pay any additional taxes, and if it does, Praise the Lord!
        I also want to suggest pulling weeds. I have a friend who does it for landscaping companies, because they hate to do that part. They already have a customer base, and you just keep the weeds out. Usually you can take kids with you, and they can play on the grass.

    • Stephanie says:

      @tammy, I think in some States you have to be careful with making from food from home, there are safety laws and such for those things. It’s a great idea, just may want to check on that first!

  • Mary D. says:

    Thank you so much for posting this Crystal. I actually printed it and plan to keep a copy by my bed. Somedays I feel like we’re drowning too, but your ideas are so uplifting. Thanks for the support.

  • Betsy says:

    I just thought I would mention, because no one seems to have….you would likely qualify for food stamps at your income level at the moment. I know it may be hard to consider but it could give you a HUGE hand in your budget.

  • kala says:

    very nice, “I also recommend setting goals for improving yourself ” It is so true..

  • Sharon says:

    This is great advice for all; you are “wise beyond your years”. I think the biggest block to “being poor” is discouragement, but with God’s help, we don’t have to stay in that pool of downheartedness. I would also like to advise the young lady to look for a cheaper place to live, if at all possible that wouldn’t jeopardize her family’s safety. It’s nice to have to live where you can walk to your needs if necessary, or have public transportation.

    PS: I did enjoy your comments on blogging and scaring up a little money that way. I’ll have to check with my website provider to see if it’s allowed (providing links, etc., that is).

    • Audrey says:

      @Sharon, We actually just moved in the end of August to a cheaper place. We are paying $900/month for rent (water, sewer, and garbage are included), which is VERY cheap for this area. The last place we lived in (which was 350 sq ft smaller than the place we have now, oddly enough, and didn’t include a garage, which is included in this place) was $925/month, and we had to pay all utilities (including gas heat, which is expensive!). It took us MONTHS to find a place this cheap. People are shocked at how cheap our new place is…. housing is expensive in this area!

      Thanks for your suggestions!

  • Linda L says:

    Crystal, this is an excellent article and I found it helpful for us as well. We started the Dave Ramsey FPU recently, and I go from being excited to being scared ant number of times each day. I know this is what God wants us to do and we are eager to get our finances under control.

    @Audrey, I will be praying for you. God is good, loves you and wants to bless you. The past 20 months have been difficult for us, I had to resign from my job which cut our income by two thirds and it has taken months for us to learn to live within that budget. There have been many ups and downs but the constant has been God. Without Him I do not know where I would be right now. He wants to bless us but sometimes we are looking for the wrong type of blessing. Keep your heart and mind open and you will begin to see the little blessings each day.

  • Kim says:

    This post was such an encouragement and my heart goes out to Audrey. We are in a similar situation with very little income and two small kids. Just before I came online tonight I was crying out (okay, more like whining) to God and came across Exodus 16, where the Israelites are grumbling that they don’t have enough. They are sure they are going to starve to death in the desert, but then God provides by raining down food from heaven! The catch that convicted me this evening is that it was only enough for THAT day. The people were to trust God to provide again the next day and not anxiously gather more than the current day’s needs.
    Thanks to others who have shared encouraging words.

  • Rose says:

    What a timely post! I was actually thinking the exact same thing today. We are in a very similar situation. I constantly feel like we are swimming to get our head above water, and right when we are about to take a breath something else happens. Im not asking to be rich, it would just be nice to breathe.

    The other ladies gave great advice. Just hang in there. This is a season of life, it will pass.

  • sara says:

    Hi,
    Probably you have thought of this already but just want to put it out there:
    -How about moving into another place even paying $20-$30 less in rent will help you towards funding your savings account.
    -Babysitting, if you can’t do it all the time, you can do “Date Nights” for the parents a couple of hours at night or special occasions like weddings.
    -Yardsales, since you coupon you can hit the drugstores very hard and sell the extras every other month, or at Fleamarkets.

    hopes this helps you, will like to know what is your blog, please.

    • Kris says:

      @sara,

      Go to http://www.care.com to find babysitting opportunities in your area. It’s amazing how many people are looking for help and you could bless them by watching their children and it would bless you financially.

    • Rebekah says:

      @sara, I have sold a LOT of my drug store steals at the yards sales my friends and I have every few months. I make $50-100 every time just on those items. It’s a great encouragement when things are so tight!

    • Audrey says:

      @sara, We actually just moved a little over a month ago to a new place that’s $25 cheaper. Our old place was $925/month, no utilities included (and gas heat…. which is expensive!), and our current place is $900/month, water, sewer, and garbage included. Housing is pretty expensive here, and at $900/month, we have a lot of friends comment on how cheap our housing is! The only way to make our rent cheaper (we spent MONTHS looking for a place this cheap) is by moving somewhere without a washer and dryer, but we wouldn’t be saving enough money to be worth the stress (we’d have to pay for a laundromat anyway because we don’t know anyone in our area).

      I’ve thought about babysitting, but I’m just NOT a kid person at ALL, and I wonder if it would be worth the stress for me. That’s one thing I’ve learned over the last few years (and Crystal talks about a lot). If it’s something that stresses me out so much that it makes it not even worth the money, then I don’t do it. As much as I’d love the extra money, I’m not sure if it would be worth the stress and anxiety for me.

      Thanks for your encouragement!

      My blog is http://everyurlwastaken.blogspot.com

  • Hugs to you dear friend. I have one tiny bit of advice. (I hope it encourages you and doesn’t discourage you.) I would consider looking for a different housing arrangement. Maybe you could find an apartment where you can be the manager and get a reduction on your rent or something like that. Even $50 or $100 less a month could make such a big difference for you. Consider finding a 2 bedroom place where your kids can share the master bedroom and you and your husband take the smaller room. Or even manage a small hotel and live in one of the rooms.

    Another small business that could be profitable is to take in some laundry. You might find some senior citizens in your community that you could do laundry for. Check at the senior center or put a sign up.

    I think the percentage of your income that is going towards housing is really tough for you right now.

    Crystal offered some wonderful encouragement.

    • Shari says:

      @Jana @ The Summer House, Jana, I agree with you and would like to add that God provides for our needs not our wants and sometimes we all need to be reminded of what those really are.

    • Daisha says:

      @Jana @ The Summer House, We managed apartments while my husband was in dental school. It can be alot of work, but as long as your pay meets the value of the task you are doing it is worth it. It was hard doing it with 3 kids in tow and there were times I wanted to run away screaming, but with faith, patience and hardwork we got through those 2 years and were financially blessed.

      Look for a small apartment complex where you are not required to do maintenance or yard care (that takes a lot of time when you have kids). We managed a 18 unit complex and got free rent for a 2 bedroom apartment plus $250 pay each month. It really is a great way for a stay at home to help the family financially!

      Best of luck!

    • Audrey says:

      @Jana @ The Summer House, we actually just moved a month ago to a cheaper place. Housing is not cheap here… $900/month is actually very cheap where we’re at. And we can’t downgrade to a 2-bedroom… we already live in a 2-bedroom! 🙂 We moved a month ago from a place that was $925/month, no utilities included (between water, garbage, electric, and gas, our utilities were about $200-$300/month) that was tiny to a place that has slightly bigger bedrooms, a garage, water, sewer, garbage included, and no gas heat for $900/month. Instead of our rent and utilities totaling $1125-$1225/month, they will only total about $1000/month, and we can use the rest for the bills we’re behind on (well, hopefully!) and the rest of the bills we have. The move is the reason we’re actually keeping our heads above water instead of drowning! 🙂

      The laundry thing is actually a GREAT idea. I will put the word out to the few people I know so hopefully I can do that! Thank you for your encouragement!

  • Ruth says:

    Thank you so much for sharing with us Audrey, and for your lovely, godly response Chrystal! So many of us are in the same situation. It helps me to remember to put my hope and my joy in Christ, and not in circumstances or things. And God does bless us when we give back to Him…just last Sunday I put in a certain amount in the offering, and later a lady came up to me and gave me a “gift” she felt lead to give us…it was three times as much as what I had just given…sends chills up my spine, the way God provides for us.

  • I too would be interested in knowing where Audrey blogs (if she would agree to allowing you to share the info). I would love to offer any encouragement possible, whether that be shopping though affiliate links on her blog or some other method.

    I also agree with the commenter(s) above who mentioned WIC and/or food stamps. WIC has helped us tremendously in times of need. I was astonished how much more food I we received (and could make it stretch SO far), thus alleviating the grocery budget some.

  • Lori says:

    I love the suggestions here, I love reading this blog but I also like to know that others are in the same situation as I am. Sometimes when reading accomplished blogs I feel like everyone is already out of debt except me. Thanks for the reminder that I’m not alone.

  • Kristen says:

    Hi Crystal,

    Your post says “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):” and you have two hyperlinks leading to the original comment – neither are working for me. When I click on either it says “whoops this has been moved”. Anyway you can provide the link to the original comment?

    Thanks!

  • Sheila Johnson says:

    I just went back to the original article and looked for her comment. Here is Audrey’s blog. I feel for her, we are in the same boat. It stinks!

    http://everyurlwastaken.blogspot.com/

  • Lyn says:

    Audrey, may God bless you through the days ahead. You may be surprised to know that there are many out there who can relate – my family included. We presently live on an average of $1,600 net per month (unless my husband is blessed with occasional overtime). I am able to be home due to my health issues (I don’t collect disability) and have not been forced back to work. God has helped us so much and I know He is with you too right now.

    There are many people who have health limitations and can’t work, and some who are single parents or are on disability and live on lower means. Sometimes things don’t get better financially for some (not to discourage you in any way) but rather to encourage you that it can be done – because there are many doing it! We have lived this frugally for quite a few years now, and there is no sign of things changing. What helps us is to keep a cash budget, work diligently as I can to be as frugal as possible – always looking for creative ways to stretch my husband’s income. When we get extra money it’s always put aside to pad expenses or put ahead for upcoming bills. We regularly have finance meetings and discuss what we can change or do better and we try to be on the same page.

    Since housing is usually the most expensive thing, can you move elsewhere? Is there anything you can cut back? Sometimes it seems like there isn’t, but there always is. I know Dave Ramsey is radical about such things and encourages people to downsize, or move to less expensive homes, apartments, neighborhoods to meet their goals. We choose to live in a modular home and we still feel blessed as we are able to cover our home expenses and take care of our “older” car as well.

    If there is a will, there is a way. Keep frugality fun in your life – make it a fun challenge, and remember your blessings. We don’t have the nicest, newest, or prettiest of things, but we are very blessed with all that we have and we are able to be debt-free as well right now, so life is good. Compared to many in this world we lack for nothing. I wish you all the best, and know that you are not alone.

    • Audrey says:

      @Lyn, Thank you so much for your encouraging words!

      We actually moved a month ago to a cheaper house. My husband (understandably) doesn’t want to compromise our safety by moving to a high-crime area, but besides doing that, we are in a place that is very cheap for this area. We moved a month ago from another place, and just by moving here, we’re saving about $200/month on rent and bills! This move is the reason we’re keeping our head above water and not drowning! 😀

      • Lyn says:

        @Audrey, Hi again 🙂 – I do understand high COL areas as we are in the northeast where it’s very expensive. I can surely understand that you don’t want to compromise safety. You certainly received a lot of responses today – which must encourage you! I certainly wish you all the best in life and hope your spirits are lifted a bit and that you feel a little more hopeful. Being older 😉 – as a suggestion it may help you to find someone in your life who can be a bit of a mentor and who has been through similar times. We “mature” frugalites often have a bit of life wisdom. Thanks for sharing your heart, you never know who it might help. 🙂

  • Lyn says:

    If I could add, just as Crystal mentions, a good attitude really helps. Although it is normal to get down sometimes (don’t we all?) it makes the journey a little easier if we try to see the positive. I try to remember that there are men and women who are seniors who are living on Social Security and don’t have a pension to fall back on. There are those who are much sicker than I am even who have to live on a disability income. Sometimes it only takes me to look outside of my own life for a moment to remember all the good that we have. Not only that, but staying with a negative mindset won’t change anyone’s situation. I hope you feel encouraged by all the responses here and know that there is hope – even if your financial picture does not drastically change. Living on less has made me a better person in many ways.

  • heather says:

    thank you for posting this! I feel the same way some times! I love reading these and it always puts a smile on my face when I’m done:-) love your advice!

  • I would look first for a cheaper place to rent…..
    I know how hard it is! We are a family of 6 with an income about the same as yours. It is wealthy though compared to before….it can be a matter of perspective.
    I think Crystal gave some good ideas on making extra money, but look for the things that can make some money and not take tons of time. Look for ways you can work for food….I often help out with harvesting people’s gardens and can food, take food that need to be put up quickly and can it, make jam etc. One year we got lots of plums, so we had plum jam that year…..paired with cheap peanut butter and bread, we survived!
    It is going on winter now, but even if you live in town or an apt. grow a tomato plant in a pot, a cucumber plant or two, some basil and other herbs. You will be amazed at what it adds to your daily diet and can save you money.
    I have been able to save some, but forgoing some extra things that are not necessities, but nice to have. if you just save even that extra $25 a week, it adds up.

    • Lyn says:

      @Martha Artyomenko, I would agree that the little things add up. I’m a big believer in that, and I’ve been able to be at home for years on a smaller income because of it. Our tiny garden did not fair so well this year but we did end up with some tomatoes (am presently ripening what’s left – they will go in the freezer for later). But every little bit helps. There’s still parsley, mint and basil I am harvesting and putting up (almost free is still cheaper than buying!) Extra things get frozen or put up one way or another, and I strive for as little waste as possible. This alone saves a lot of money!

      It’s amazing what one can do to make things stretch. There are so many frugal tasks that can be done as one has the time. I also do some of the programs like Swagbucks, it is not a lot, but it is still a help, and I can more easily buy some of the things we need, as well as groceries.

      Right now we have a stocked freezer, pantry and fridge, and are planning to live mostly off of it for maybe several months. This allows money for other needs with not having to buy so much groceries.

      If one looks at frugal living as a challenge and a game, it can be quite fun. I’ve been living frugally for many years now. Living frugally long-term due to necessity is not the worst thing in the world. I could think of many more things that could be worse.

      • Martha Artyomenko says:

        @Lyn,
        i love looking at it as a game! Instead of feeling deprived, I make it a challenge! We try new things! I think one thing it taught us that we can eat other things than we thought we could!

  • maya says:

    I understand living on a tight budget also. my husband’s pay is less than 1200/mo. A moneymaking idea is selling things on craigslist. I know it was mentioned, but here is how I do it. I pick up free things on the side of the road, fix up, clean up and sell them. It is amazing what you can find. Here are some of my past finds:
    A couch and chair that we used for 3-4 years after picking up for free and then sold them for $75. (I was sad to see them go but we needed the money) A bookshelf with glass doors- my husband screwed the back on again and fixed a hing, I cleaned it good and sold it for $15. A changing table/shelf combo, added more screws, cleaned up good, and sold for $45. all these were free on the side of the road!
    I also have 2 yard sales each summer. You might not be able to do that in a rental. I sold some of my stockpile last month and it went fast! I had always been afraid to try that, but people were happy to get good deals.

    • Caitlin says:

      @maya, I do the same thing! Except I go to area thrift stores and Goodwill and pick out name brand clothes and re-sell them. I’ve picked out several pairs of jeans for $4 a pair and re-sold them for $50. It can be a grueling process, but I’ve made $200 from a single trip.

    • April says:

      I have gotten free baby items on the Internet thru Franklin goose such as a wipe warmer, bottle warmer, travel bottle warmer and I plan on selling them on craigslist. Also the government has free cellphones from safelink or you can get cheap landline phone service if you receive food stamps or live in public housing the give you 250mins a month for the cell. Also I sign up for all the free baby samples I can find it helps out a lot.

    • Lyn says:

      @maya, Maya, good for you, that is a great way to make some side money – and very creative too. 🙂

  • Amy says:

    A few other suggestions for Audrey . . .

    If you have both a land-line and a cell phone plan consider getting rid of the land-line.

    If you have multiple providers for internet and phone service in the area, consider looking around and switching especially if your rate has been hiked recently. The introductory rate for my wireless internet service saved me $10 a month for the first six months. Do consider the cost of set up fees in switching services.

    If you have wireless internet and neighbors, consider sharing an internet service. I’ve shared my internet with two other neighbors in my apartment for 4 years. I’ve noticed that wireless signals travel between houses too. Maybe knock on some neighbors doors and ask what their rate is and if you can join their service. If they’re anything like me, they’ll like paying half (or in my case, one third) of the whole bill.

    When costs are really tight, consider having a yard sale. You don’t even need a yard. I posted a listing for my first “moving sale” on craigslist, listing my intersection as a location so buyers would know how far I was from them. I made a list of just about all the things I had gathered to sell and included this in the post. It may not be the case for you, but I certainly had some redundant household things that I was happy to get rid of (a dust pan and a vacuum, unused picture frames, gifted things I didn’t need as well as some furniture). Maybe you could sell some of your baby items? One factor to the success of my sale, I think, was living in a college town and doing the sale around back-to-school time. Since you have a car, you can definitely sell some things to college students who also need that microwave delivered and can charge extra for delivering it.

    If gas is a significant cost for you, figure out whether public transport or biking would work for you. Keep in mind that they will take more time for transport so it’s not a feasible option for everyone. I’ve happily been car free for 5 years, but still occasionally need a friend to drive somewhere.

    I gather that you’re not working much because of your little ones. Consider a few things you can do for work while with your children. I’ve known a single mom who worked at the day care that her son attended during the day. That way childcare time and work time can fit into the same time. You could probably also be a nanny and with luck you can find a family who will let you sit their children while spending time with yours. Pet-sitting would be an occasional job, but might fit into your schedule.

    Secondly, I would like to warn Audrey about the potential hazards of relying on wishful positive thinking. I think it’s always best to consider your situation and future prospects realistically and rationally. Delusional optimism is never good. Furthermore, forcing yourself to have a positive attitude while actually seriously suffering monetarily, energy wise, or psychologically, is a bit cruel. (For a really great talk on the harm of the “positive attitude” cult, I refer you this really great lecture from Barbara Ehrenreich that is accompanied by an animated cartoon created for the the UK’s Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA). One of their projects is putting animated cartoons to compelling talks. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u5um8QWWRvo )

    So I compel you to treat your situation rationally and realistically. What will the time and money put into this investment–more education, blogging, working, tithing–return? How much risk is in the return? Working for hourly wage has little risk, a lottery ticket has a lot. Figure out and pursue actions that have the least risk for return.

    All the best.

    • Christy says:

      @Amy, I would be careful about sharing an internet connection with anyone if you bank, pay bills, buy anything on the internet. I have been looking for ways to cut back on how much we spend on the internet and it has been fruitless. The time factor (which Crystal writes about a lot) of relying on old-fashioned methods for banking, bill-pay, Christmas gifts, photo sharing, etc. would just not be worth it for me. I am also a teacher in the public schools and do a lot of my school work after my son goes to bed (for obvious reasons). There can be security reasons and FERPA violations if I check my work e-mail (parent concerns) or use my on-line gradebook on an unsecure connection. It is not worth my time factor again to have to do all these things while still at school since that is time away from my son. I can do these things while he is slepping.

      • Christy says:

        @Christy, And the land line thing–we only pay $75/month for 2 cell phones–they only call, text (which we hardly use), and take pics (which we have used maybe twice). The problem is that we share 400 anytime mins. We get unlimited after 9 p.m. and weekends. I have been afraid to drop the land line and then go over my mins. or have to switch to a more expensive plan. The sprint guy already told us we have a really old plan they don’t offer anymore and they don’t have anything even near it in price. None of our family lives near us and I like my son to talk to family members before 9 pm (LOL!)! Also, we fax a good bit for my husband’s work, flexible spending account, etc. We went a while w/o a fax machine, but it costs soo much to do it at the stores, so I just don’t know how much getting rid of the land line would help. I would like to, but…

      • Amy says:

        @Christy, I’m not sure exactly what sort of secure connection you’re needing to access your work email. If you’re able to access it over your home wireless internet, it seems to me that you should be able to use it while your neighbors are also using that wireless network. When I’ve shared internet service, I’ve shared a “security-enabled” network with my neighbors. It wasn’t a public network. It was password protected. It works just like being connected to a wireless network in a house where every family member’s computer has the password to the network. The difference for us was that we had three front doors rather than one. I hope your work’s security restrictions allow for sharing your network if you’re thinking of trying it!

      • Amy says:

        @Christy, I’m not sure exactly what sort of secure connection you’re needing to access your work email. If you’re able to access it over your home wireless internet, it seems to me that you should be able to use it while your neighbors are also using that wireless network. When I’ve shared internet service, I’ve shared a “security-enabled” network with my neighbors. It wasn’t a public network. It was password protected. It works just like being connected to a wireless network in a house where every family member’s computer has the password to the network. The difference for us was that we had three front doors rather than one. I hope your work’s security restrictions allow for sharing your network if you’re thinking of trying it!

  • redheadmommy76 says:

    Audrey,
    My husband lost his job last April (’09) 3 weeks after our third child was born. 6 Months later, he was still jobless and we were pregnant again! It wasn’t until his 9th month of unemployment that we were blessed with a new job for him.

    Those 9 months were the hardest we’ve ever been through. BUT, I learned so much and I’m still learning how to live more frugally.

    I’m new to the couponing thing. In fact, I’ve only been doing it for about 3 months and I’ve saved hundreds. I use the Coupon Mom’s philosophy and methods and I LOVE Crystal’s blog… it helps me out SO very much. I also use ALLYOU.com for tips.

    I agree with Crystal, keep tithing. Tithe your 10%, then a little more as a “Thank” offering. I’ve found that it free’s my heart and mind knowing that I’m doing the minimal amount God requires and then thanking Him by going over a bit. Don’t get sucked into the trap of tithing after you budget. TITHE FIRST, then budget everything else.

    We’ve never gone without a HEALTHY meal. Never. My kids have never gone without diapers, wipes, etc… and during this hard season we weren’t couponing or using anything other than top of the line products. (duh) Anyway, the PDO idea is a great one, lots of my friends do that. And, I also recommend WIC and Food Stamps. You have been paying for everything you’ll get out of it, so it’s not charity. It’s sorta like insurance.

    Most importantly, be sure your home is centered around the Word of God. If you do that, dedicate your days to Him, and follow His leading, you will be blessed beyond words.

    I’ll be praying for you and looking forward to hearing about the good things God has in store for you and your family!

    Blessings,
    Rachel

  • Kit says:

    I have to thank you, Audrey, for sharing your situation.

    While I enjoy reading blogs like Money Saving Mom and others, it sometimes seems like most people are simply living lives of quiet minimalism, as opposed to the outright struggle for every penny. While I have no advice, as my situation is similar but with even less monthly income, it is helpful to know I am not alone in the struggle.

    • @Kit, I understand what you mean. Oftentimes, people talk about cutting back, but some of us read the couponing blogs for the free deals, because that’s all that we can afford. Many have a “blow” part of their budget, and some of us use any extra (after utilities and housing) to buy food, IF there is any.

      I agree that it’s nice to know that you’re not the only one! Oftentimes, as we look around us, it seems like we’re the only one, when others talk about the great deals they bought, when we can’t afford anything at all. The comments on this post have been so refreshing for me!

  • Betty says:

    That was a really, really great post! I could sense your passion and it was really encouraging! Thanks for sharing

  • Jennifer says:

    it is for situations like this that I think help from the government is a good idea. You have been paying into this system your entire working careers, so now is the time to get the help you deserve. Even if you just get help from WIC or food stamps, it could make all the difference in whether you can continue to make ends meet or end up in deep debt. You are barely hanging on right now and need the help. Good luck!

  • Barb says:

    Compare it to having a garden. How can I plant a garden if all that grows are weeds? Weeds always seem to grow faster/better than actual produce. Once the produce starts to grow it seems to push out the weeds. It takes time, persistence, and faith. I always notice that where I didn’t plant something, the weeds start to grow more abundantly. And there always seems to be some weeds but they start to get choked out by what was planted.

  • Delores says:

    This is one of the best posts you have ever written.

  • kim says:

    Audrey I’ve been in your position as well. Crystal and the other commenters have some great things to think about and I’ll add to it only a bit. Please prayerfully consider looking into WIC. It’s there for a reason and I want my tax dollars to support newer families like yours. Also, I urge you to prayerfully consider some type of employment for yourself. You never know what God has in store if you ask! When I was in your position, I had the opportunity to work as a secretary for my church for a few months while the main sec was on leave, and I was allowed bring my kids. I also provided child care for a friend of mine two days per week for two years. When those opportunities dried up I found part time evening work so that the kids always had a parent and never went to daycare. I have no family living nearby so Grandma wasn’t an option. There is no shame in working to help out your family, especially of that’s where God has placed you. Best Wishes.

  • I want to thank the writer for being so honest with her feelings. You provided great advice to her that will be useful as she and her husband tackle their money situation.

    As someone who coaches women on money issues I would like to suggest the following as well:

    1. Rrealize that how you do money is how you do everything in your life.
    2. If your bills are scattered about the house I encourage you to get a file folder and put “Bills To Be Paid” across the front. Every time a bill comes in put it in that folder right away.
    2. Pay your bills at the same time every month. Depending on how your money comes in pay weekly, biweekly or monthly – you decide. But make sure you pay them religiously at the same time each month. Pull out your day planner and actually write down the date each month or week you will pay you bills.
    3. Collect all the loose change and bills that maybe hanging around at the bottom of your purses, or on your dresser, under seat cushions etc. Convert that change into bills and put it towards your savings or spend it right away.

    These are just a few ways that you can start paying attention to money. Because money loves to be paid attention to and if you don’t pay attention to it and give it the respect it deserves it WILL get your attention in negative ways.

    Now some of this may or may not apply to you but if any of it resonates at all I encourage you to do these simple exercises and to start paying attention in a positive way to money. I hope this helps you as you move towards attracting more money into your life.

  • Allison says:

    One way to save might be to look for a cheaper phone plan. If you have cable internet there are some really cheap options. Ooma sells you a box for about $200 that you keep forever, and then you just pay about $4 in taxes each month as long as you have the service. Viatalk and Vonage have 500 minute/month and unlimited plans for $20 – $30 per month. We’ve tried all three– the Vonage service was a little spotty but we used Viatalk for a while and now we have Ooma. Or if you have cell phones, just ditch the land lines all together. (We make lots of international calls so it’s actually cheaper for us to have both.)

  • Kaitlin says:

    Thank you so much for the courage to post your story on Crystal’s blog, Audrey!

    My husband and I are both newlyweds and full-time students. I am in nursing school and he takes 15 hours online. There are many things we do to save money.

    We are both enrolled in a local community college that is less than two miles from where we live. We also have pell grants which help so much with education costs. I have heard negative things about pell grants such as they are a “free ride” to college that you don’t have to pay back. It is true that you are not expected to pay the government back, however, I worked hard throughout high school to earn the scholarships to pay for my first two years of college. However, when I got married I became eligible for pell grant and it is paying for my last year of nursing school. I am so thankful for the financial assistance and work hard to make the best grades possible so I can become the best nurse I can be and then pour out to others through my profession. Giving back through service is worth more than money to me! Also, we save a lot by my husband taking online classes. Enrolling in community college is probably the greatest piece of advice I have for anyone who is a student or going back to school! You will save thousands in tuition costs, fees, etc.

    I also use coupons, swagbucks, and answer surveys in my free time. This has been my “part-time job” throughout school and it has greatly helped our budget and often paid for gas, groceries, etc.

    I encourage anyone reading this to check out a copy of “The Tightwad Gazette” by Amy Dacyczyn from your local library. It shares so many creative ways to save & earn money even when you think that you have done it all!

    You can read reviews here –

    http://www.amazon.com/Complete-Tightwad-Gazette-Amy-Dacyczyn/dp/0375752250

    Above all, put your faith in the one who knows you better than you know yourself – the Lord and “cast all your cares upon Him for He cares for you!” : )

  • Daisha says:

    I’d love to see how to make $50-$100 a month blogging. I use advertising on my blog and have only made $50 in 3 month (blogging more like 8+ hours a week), but don’t even get a pay check until I make $100. How and who should I use to monetize efficiently? Please help . . . I’d really love some help with this!

  • Christina says:

    Hi Audrey- I didn’t have a chance to read all the comments, but have you considered working at a gym in the childcare? You can always bring your kids with you and it’s usually 5 mornings a week or you could do the early evening shift…actually at our gym, even the girls at the front desk can bring their kids for free, if the childcare is open while they work…good luck and if I have any more ideas i will post them here =) Psalm 61 has been really encouraging me lately- I hope it can give you a moment of peace as well!!

  • Michelle says:

    I just wanted to send you hugs across the computer screen. Although you are discouraged, I think you are doing well. You make a small income, yet you are only behind on one bill. You have no credit card debt. You are tithing. Wow! That is pretty incredible.

    I have been where you are. I remember the discouragement so well. Keep on going! It is great to set goals, but don’t allow your goals to discourage you. Start saving a small amount of money($2-$5) and work from there.

    You never know what is around the corner! I say that in a good way. Just keep on going, be faithful, and you’ll be surprised at the good things that will eventually come your way.

  • brooke says:

    I never know what I am going to need to hear when I wake up each morning. My husband and I have been struggling for sometime now to manage to save a little bit here and there, but we are no where that we want to be in saving. I have been praying and couponing and sticking to a budget, but the one thing that I needed to hear this morning was realizing that my attitude can make or break the situation. I see the single digit dollars in the checking account at the end of the month and I get discouraged. It’s easy to do. But I love reading your blog. It has helped me become a more savvy homemaker. Thank you for what you do. Today’s going to be a great day!!!

  • colleen says:

    Look at the website wahm.com (work at home mom). We were in a similar financial situation last year. I went to this site and looked at the homepage and thought there was nothing there for me but I stayed up all night and read everyone’s comments in the forum and I found a “job”. I work as a quality rater. I can’t get into too much detail because of I signed a nda but if you research the site you may find something that interests you. Good luck and I’m praying for you.

  • JennyManley says:

    I too wish I could give Audrey a hug!! My husband and I are in a very similar situation (as I think is the case with many people these days). We’re only putting $5 a week into savings, but it’s at least something, and like you said, Crystal, it adds up. That’s $20 per month MORE than we were saving two months ago, so it is a start!

    Hang in there Audrey, you’ve got a whole support system behind you, girl!

  • Have you all looked at Aubrey’s Blog? Her family is precious and her love for the Lord and her calling in life as a wife and momma is so evident! She looks like a joy and blessing to her husband and precious girls!
    Aubrey, I pray this day encourages your heart! I look forward to following your journey!

  • Kris says:

    Audrey,

    Please let your church family know where you’re at. I am a mom of grown children and have started couponing in the past 2 years. I have the time to put everything together and get all of the deals. I love to be able to bless the families in my church with all of my surplus.

    Blessings,

    Kris

  • Michele Sheriff says:

    I did not read the other replies, but I wanted you to know that you are not alone. I make $1400 a month myself I have 3 children. My oldest is 18 she lives with me but works and goes to school and takes care of herself for the most part. I am lucky, I live with my parents in a two family. I don’t pay rent (I wish I could) I have made a lot of BAD choices and now I am in debt. I would LOVE to know how to blog for money!?
    I have always heard that the best way to save money is to cut your food budget. I agree. Check out the grocercy game and others that save money on shopping. Check out books for budget meals or look online.
    Also, feel free to email me at sbjmom2002@yahoo.com, maybe we can work together to find ideas to help us both or if you need to vent.

  • Guest says:

    Have you thought about babysitting in your home. Since you are home with your children, this could work out well for you.

  • This was me and my husband while I was in grad school. However, 8 years later, we own 98% of our home and have no other debt, and have two beautiful, healthy children. So please know there is hope!

    Consider doing some other writing to earn $$. I write for examiner.com and I get $1 per post plus pay for traffic to my posts. I write on both health and frugal living. Send me an email for more info. It’s simple, doesn’t take much time and you can basically write what you want, as often as you like. I earn about $50-55 per month this way.

    I also write for Demand Studios Media, which owns Livestrong.com, ehow.com and others. I’ve written for them for 2 years and have earned several thousand $$$ each year. I get paid by the article. For my position I had to apply and they required at least a masters degree or 10 years of experience in a field of expertise (like mechanics, or nursing, or IT, etc). However, you can write for ehow.com in other ways. You can also write for associated content and other websites and get paid both by the article and the traffic.

    I get paid by paypal and have never had a problem receiving payment.

    • Caitlin says:

      @Milk Donor Mama, I write fro Associated Content and got hired to write for Yahoo! through them. I’m making around $75 a month just picking and choosing subjects that actually interest me.

    • Stacy says:

      @Milk Donor Mama, I was going to post a suggestion to write for Demand Studios. I just started doing this last month and I’ve made close to $400 doing it in the time I have after working my full time job. I know there are a lot of work at home scams out there, but this one is legit.

  • Denise says:

    This too shall pass. While it may seem like forever, you will find a way.

    One suggestion to increase your cleaning business is to go green. There are very few cleaners/cleaning companies that use natural/organic products. This would set you apart and let you possibly charge more for your services. And because natural cleaners (baking soda, ….) are less expensive, this would increase your profit. You would be surprised how many people would be interested!

    Good luck!

  • Deb H. in Wisconsin says:

    Hugs to you, Audrey! We were in a similar situation and nearly the same income level a little over a year ago (with three children: 15, 14 and 9). It was then that I found Crystal’s website and a couple of others that introduced me to couponing. I agree with the comments above that encourage you to let your church family know of your needs AND those that encourage you to use what government aid you feel comfortable with. We used state assisted insurance for the children and we did use WIC when the kids were little. I would also throw out a couple of other suggestions that we used:
    *question every dollar you spend, make do if you can, re-use if you can (I just kept thinking like my depression-era Grandmother did)
    *could you teach piano/voice or some other instrument lesson? There is great money in doing that
    *Could you daycare for one family? This also can be good money (but time consuming)
    *Let people know you will babysit in your home, you will probably be busy on Friday/Saturday nights!
    *Swagbucks!
    *Work hard at not focusing on what you don’t have (been there, done that!) but become competitive about the challenge you have before you ~ make a game out of how far you can stretch at dollar and how often you can make do with something else.
    *God delights in our total dependence on Him. He has a reason for this stage of your life. Quite frankly, you may never have affluence.

    Blessings!!!!

  • Mary Kate says:

    A ton of great input in the comments. One thing I didn’t see mentioned is to see if you qualify for a Habitat for Humanity house. If so your payment goes towards buying, not renting.

    I think that any opportunity that you have to make money you should embrace. A lot of little bits can add up to a lot.

  • Kristie says:

    Thank you for sharing this post. So often, it seems like the only people who have debt are those that make a fortune but spend unwisely. That is not the case at all. Audrey, be grateful that there are two of you. It is even harder and seems even more hopeless when it is just you (and two kids). All it takes is one medical bill to blow the budget. As for tithing, I always tithe, but I volunteer many, many hours as tithing too. Time should not be discounted! I teach Sunday school and assist with all special events. That is one way to give back that I can afford (and what I get in return is priceless). My prayers are with your family, and with families like mine who are treading water in an economy that does not support a lower middle-class anymore. Things will turn around, I believe that. I also trust in God to see us all through.

  • Mary says:

    Crystal that was an excellent post! Thank you so much! While not in as difficult a financial situation, we’re always tight and I loved your thoughts and trust in God!

  • Kelly says:

    As a full time working mom of two boys, my answer would be if you do not have enough money to pay the bills, then there needs to be another source of income. What goes out must be less than what come in every month to be able to save. If you read Dave Ramsey he suggests taking on a second job to earn more money. I think the answer is simple either your husband needs an additional job or you need to get a part time job. There is nothing wrong with a woman who earns money for their family.

    My husband and I both worked full time for many years. Within the past 2 months he was able to quit his job and stay home with our 2 young boys. This decision was made on soley on who was the main source of income which was I. You never know you may find a job that makes more than your husband especially in today’s society!

  • Heather says:

    Try working in a gym daycare. Can keep your kids with you, while making a little money.

    However, the best return on your investment of time and effort may be for you or your husband to go back to school, provided you study something with good job opportunities, like nursing. Many programs have night classes, and with your income level, you most likely wouldn’t have to pay anything.

    I firmly believe that women should be prepared to be substantial income earners, even if they plan on staying on home with their children. You never know what may happen, and unfortunately many women do end up supporting children on their own due to death, divorce, disability, or husband’s job loss. Trusting in the Lord is essential, but I think action and preparation needs to go along with that trust – are there any high school girls reading this??! Don’t mean to sound too preachy.

    • Kelly says:

      @Heather, Right on Heather! I am all about being prepared to earn an income. Just because you want to stay home with your kids, does not mean you automatically get to! Bills have to be paid, which means making an income!

    • Annie says:

      @Heather,
      I absolutely agree. I grew up very poor because my father didn’t think it necessary to work, and my uneducated mother worked for very low pay. Our economic situation actually improved when they got divorced. Even if you want to be a stay-at-home mom (the hardest job in the world and an admirable goal), every woman needs to have a marketable skill to bring in income if needed. You never know what life is going to throw your way.

  • Lorrie says:

    Great post Crystal! My husband and I were planning to make some goals for the rest of the year this week. This will really help. We also have a new business venture we are about to start on.

  • Jo says:

    Thank you for posting this. If nothing else, it is so encouraging for me to see that we are not alone! I think more people than we realize are probably struggling right along beside us and we don’t even know it. We are in almost the exact same situation and it is hard. I know it probably won’t be this way forever, but the day to day can get pretty discouraging. Thanks again!

  • Beth says:

    Have you considered applying to work at a daycare facility? Usually, worker’s kids get discounted tuition if not free. Or maybe alternate with your husband and you take up an evening job while he stays with the kids?

  • Holli says:

    I have no idea if this will help or you will think this is old fashioned. The “my husband is burnt out” made me think of this story. I used it as inspiration to keep my home a warm welcoming place when my husband was working 2 jobs and going to school. My son was too small for me do much outside the home and with 3 kids, creating a calm, organized, warm welcoming environment, I think is what got us through. We were renting, living at poverty level, all I could do was stalk the blogs on my neighbors internet, clip coupons and as msm said, mico manage our finances to the penny. We pinched pennies to a 10% down payment on our house.
    http://theprudenthomemaker.com/whenqueensrideby.aspx

  • What a post. You inspire me, Crystal. I feel for this woman, because I think at one point or another we have all been there or will be there. You can always feel your life about to take a turn. You’re not sure what it is, but you can practically smell it. You can feel this woman’s life just begging to take a turn. I love how you wrote take ‘MICROSCOPIC” goals. Great idea.

    Fantastic post.

  • Heather A says:

    Attitude may be everything, but sometimes no matter how hard you try you cannot pick your attitude up.
    My Husband and I and two children ages 8 & 10 are living in a one room extended stay place. I clip coupons like crazy and don’t have the money to use them. My husband had a good job traveling but he had to pay for his gas and hotels that became too expensive. He now works a $10 an hr. job and after taxes and paying for our room, there is not enough left for gas and food and phone and car payment and insurance.
    So sometimes it is really hard to get your attitude right.

    • @Heather A, It’s true that it’ sometimes hard to see past where we’re at. You’re at a really hard spot right now. There are others who do not have the $10 an hour job or a place to sleep at night. We’ve been underemployed for 4 years, and I know what you mean about cutting the coupons and not being able to use them, unless an item is free (and I have enough gas to get there). We’ve had an 80% cut in pay, and it’s hard to just have enough to get by. Here’s what I do to help my attitude.

      Also, pray for opportunities for food. Search freecyle for fruit that can be picked in your area. Here are the ways that we get food without money. Just last week we were blessed by a miracle in getting food for our family. My mom was going door to door for her business, and a couple invited her in. She saw their moving boxes and asked if they were moving in or out. They told her it was their sister’s place, and that she had just died, and they lived out of state and were packing up. They asked my mom if she would like the food in her pantry. My mom bought it to me. There were so many wonderful things, including powdered milk, beans, toliet paper, olive oil, spices, noodles, vinegar, etc.

      God is so good. I would encourage you to pay a full tithe, and watch the blessings fall from Heaven.

    • Lyn says:

      @Heather A, Hi Heather, I’m sorry for what you are going through. I just wanted to say though that although you struggle with having a good attitude right now, don’t give up. I hope life will get better for you and your family soon. As hard as things are though, yes, you still have a roof over your heads and other things that some don’t even have. I find when I remember my blessings and remind myself that there is always someone else worse off, it does help my attitude.

      I have never found that negative thinking or wallowing in sorrow has ever helped me, and I’ve had plenty in life too.

      Can you look for part-time work (maybe at night when your husband is home)? Go to a food pantry? Sell anything extra you have? Cutting coupons is helpful, but there are other proactive things that might better help you right now. Take whatever babysteps you can to get to a better place. Even if you have a mustard seed (tiny) bit of faith right now, that is okay. You’ve got little ones relying on you and they need you to hang in there. I wish you the best.

  • guest says:

    This is why I read this blog!! Keep up the great work.

  • Paul says:

    8 yrs ago we struggled by on one wage as our children needed to be cared for by my wife. She discovered a Babysitting Group in our town, whereby each arranged to look after the children of other members at certain times of the week, which allowed my wife to get a part-time job without having to pay for childcare. If no group exists in your area there is nothing to lose by forming one yourself as many families are in the same situation.

  • Annie says:

    Not sure where you are, but $25 to clean house seems a bit cheap. I have someone come in twice a month and pay her $15 per hour for 4 hours each time (a luxury I know, but it’s built into the budget). Maybe you could advertise a little and get a couple of regular clients. Also, don’t be afraid to apply for governmental assistance. Your husband has been paying in taxes to fund those programs. No reason to not to use it when you need it. I would much rather know that my taxes are helping those who are at least trying. The Get Rich Slowly website recently had an article “Unemployed? Underemployed? Here’s How to Get Help” that has some useful suggestions. Best of luck to your family.

    • Lana says:

      @Annie, I agree that it would be okay for you to apply for things like food stamps. That would give you a bit of room in the budget. We have been there to and it is hard but I am now 50 and I can look back over my life and see that God always provided in the most amazing ways and we always had enough even though we raised 5 children.

    • Holli says:

      @Annie, That’s what I was thinking too. $20-$25/hour is normal here, make sure you are not getting taken advantage of.

    • Audrey says:

      @Annie, I actually don’t clean houses much. The opportunities I get (which are few and far between since moving away from our home town) are small, and between that and selling Reliv (a wonderful nutritional product… I’m an independent distributor. Contact me if you or anyone you know is interested! Yes, that was a shamless plug! :D), I average about $25/month income, sometimes more, sometimes less. I actually get about $50 every two months or so from Reliv and then however much for the cleaning job…. last time it was a 3 hour job at $20/hour, so I got $60 that month. So the wage wasn’t low, I just don’t get many opportunities to clean houses! 🙂

      Thanks for your encouragement!!

  • I would suggest babysitting other peoples children. Go to library storytimes and meet as many moms as you can. I am always looking for someone to watch my kids just so I can take a trip to the doctor or dentist…etc. I live in Florida and I pay $12 hour for my kids. I pray that God would show you easy ways to add to your income!

    • Also, if you go to church, work in the nursery, establish a relationship with the families that go there, they will be more inclined to use you as a babysitter. I think you can even print up some free business cards, pass them out to neighbors etc. You have the ability to change this situation, I have found that determination mixed with God’s help has helped me overcome many roadblocks. You are not a victim, in Christ you are a overcomer.
      Open your Bible and read Proverbs 31

  • Dreya says:

    First off, sending you hugs, Audrey.

    I looked at your blog briefly and had an idea. I see that you are homeschooling your daughter for preschool. I wondered about the possibility of you taking one additional child in for preschool time? I don’t know how much preschools are there, but in our area, they are around $90 a month for two 3 hour sessions a week. I’ll bet you could find a family that would gladly pay you half or three quarters of the going rate (so $45 to $65 a month) for preschool for their child in a lovely, Christian environment. You could advertise at your church. Not only would this be a boost for your income (though you would have a bit of materials cost for the additional child), but it would also bless another family that may not be able to pay for outside preschool, but is unable to homeschool due to their schedule or family situation.

  • April says:

    I am praying for you. Nearly four years ago I was in a severe mva that required surgery and hospitalization and left me unable to return to work. Things went from bad to worse my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer and while I recovered from my injuries she battled cancer for 18 months. I had to become her caregiver and fight for her to get tenncare and disability. Her medical bills were over 30k when one hospital dropped her as a patient because she couldn’t afford to pay. They were so cruel to her and as they were hanging up they told and by the way your cancer is not in remission. During this time my then fiance couldn’t find work our car had been totaled and we had to fight the other drivers insurance company for over a year. My family refused to help with my mother’s care. I was living in the house projects and couldn’t pay my rent and faced eviction and ended up getting sued. We had no food to eat and I ended up with the flu because I had to walk in the rain to see about my mother. Things got so bad that I attempted suicide my rational was it was easier than watching my mother die. Fast forward 4 years I pray without ceasing I lost my job in december because of a high risk pregnancy, my mom passed away in January 09. My family has disowned me. We are living in a one bedroom in the housing projects. But the one thing we did was literally put every dime into my hubby’s cleaning business and the Lord keeps blessing us. He just landed his first recurring contract and its just a little over 2k a year, and my unemployed was extended for 7wks. I am looking for work but I help him with his business paper work. 4yrs ago we were a week away from buying a home. Everyday I remind myself that we are better off than we were 4 years ago, we tithe no matter how small the amount, and we don’t ask anyone for anything. Our daughter is 3 months old and she is just so happy and carefree and she just trusts that we will provide for her and each day we trust that Jesus will provide for us. Oh sometimes we still cry and stay awake at night. Just hang in there if you were in my area I would get your info for when are business expands enough to hire employees.

    • Lyn says:

      @April, April, I’m so sorry you lost your mom to cancer and for all you’ve been through (and all she went through). Thank God that you did not succeed with trying to commit suicide. Your story can help others. There is always a reason for suffering in this life (and we all have our trials for sure). Keep persevering, and I really wish you and your family the best. 🙂

      I love reading about people like yourself who keep trying, work hard, and don’t expect handouts in life. Yes, I think God is blessing you for sure, and I bet that little one makes you smile every day, no matter what.

  • guest says:

    About tithing…My husband and I have a mountain of debt and were steadily decreasing our tithe, until it was probably about 2% of his take-home income. We were constantly worrying about money, and we had gotten to a point where we never seemed to make it to the next paycheck without putting something on the credit card. It seemed like our life was being squeezed tighter and tighter. I started couponing (I’m so thankful that God led me to this!), and we were able to quit putting stuff on the credit card, but still didn’t have extra. Over time, it occurred to me that we needed to start at square one when it came to trusting in Him, and I asked my husband if we could start giving 10% (thinking that he would probably laugh). He agreed to it automatically. We have been doing it for a few months now, and we have been AMAZED at the blessings that we have received from it. Somehow, He always makes it work for us. I have learned to be thankful for making it through today, and He takes care of tomorrow. We have no savings (although we are trying to work on that), but our life is ABUNDANT!!
    I don’t want this to serve as a discouragement to anyone. I just wanted to share my personal experience about tithing.

  • Lana says:

    When my husband and I were a young married couple and barely making it as he was still in college and we had a baby, we had a jar that we put all our change into. That was our fun money. It really helped me feel less trapped to have that option of taking a little out of our jar and getting out of the house and doing something fun. We went to alot of $1 movies (this was 30 years ago). These fun times were very inexpensive outings but they really helped my attitude. And it was fun to go somewhere and count out all that change to pay! My point being that there needs to be some recreation in your life and it need not hurt your budget.

  • Deidra says:

    Now this might be me, but where I live – if they are living in an apartment – 900 dollars is a bit steep. Even for a 2 bedroom apartment. So maybe that need to be changed. Also, there was no mention of a savings account.

    With my job, we have a benefit that allows us to take out a certain amount of money each paycheck and put it in a savings account for our dependent (child). At the end of the year – or whenever you decide, you can take it out and use it however you want. Mine require my child care center tax ID, but the check is mailed to you – so whether you use it for that, or for something else, that’s extra money you saved for your child without even knowing it.

    I also have another savings account where whenever I get money for a refund (income or school loans) – I put it straight in my daughter’s account (I also call it my emergency fund) and don’t touch it. There was one time when I didn’t have ANY money, and I had to take out a couple hundred until I got paid again, but I put that money back in whenever I got a chance.

    Another rule of thumb, for the savings account – make a promise to yourself to always leave a certain amount in there no matter what (like for me, I say there always much be at least $500 in there just in case something happen). If I know that it’s about to go under $500, I think “Okay, what am I getting that I don’t need” or “What can I cut back on”. Unless I have to pay the bill, that savings account never go under $500.

    Loose change – save it! You can easily scrap up $50-100 in a month if you save your coins.

    Couponing: See what you are actually buying – sometimes the brand name isn’t all that important. You can buy generic medicine as long as it have the same ingredient (like generic Tylenol, Advil and Motrin). Medicine usually work well no matter what you get (generic or brand). Same goes for brand name clothes – I don’t know where she shop – but we gotta remember that we are only paying for a name brand with clothes and not quality like 90% of the time. Also, buy in bulk on certain items like meat (you can freeze it) and canned goods (usually good for a year or two).

    And this sounds like a stretch, but maybe it’s just time for a new car if they can get one. A new car that you don’t have to fix for a while is better than an old car that you have to fix every month. If you’re paying more a month for that old car than you would on a new car, then it’s something to think about.

    Good luck!

    • Audrey says:

      @Deidra, thanks for your comment and suggestions!

      I would love to say $900 is steep, but it’s really not. In this area, it’s actually very cheap, considering it’s in a good neighborhood, includes a garage, and the bedrooms are big! We searched for MONTHS to find an apartment this cheap, and we love it. And water/sewer/garbage is included, which saves us a load of money!

      We do have a savings account, but my husband’s hours got cut earlier this year and our savings account was depleted. We now have $5 in it. We try SO hard to save money, but it’s so hard on what little income we have…. which is why I commented in the first place! 🙂

      The ONLY reason I would buy name-brand items is if the coupon I had made them cheaper than generics. Other than that, I don’t buy name brand anything. And clothing….. on the rare occasion I get clothing (which is probably twice a year the last few years), it’s either off the clearance racks (not the 30% off clearance racks….. but the last chance clearance racks… where shirts are $2) or at thrift stores. Trust me, I’m not brand-picky on clothes…. in fact, my parents took pity on me and bought me some new clothes for my birthday last week because my clothes are pretty worn out and we can’t afford new ones!
      And we’d love a new car…. we’re just waiting for God to provide the funds! 🙂 We’re not paying to fix our car yet (can’t afford it!), but we don’t have a car payment, and we like it that way.

      Thanks for your encouragement and tips!

  • Deidra says:

    I just want to say that I would NOT suggest decreasing tithes as a Christian. For all those testimonies I heard and as a witness myself, the blessing comes when you give your tithes as you should (10%). The only time you should give less is when that is all you have. If all you have is one penny, you give one penny. I promise you, you will see God bless you 3 times what you gave.

    • PrazNow says:

      @Deidra,

      I agree with you so much. It is so painful to see so many people suggesting to decrease your tithe. Will a man rob God yes….As Christians we should never suggest this even when times are hard.

      My husband and I quit our jobs back in June 08 in Georgia making over $70k. God told us to move to VA to start a ministry. This was a very hard thing for us. But we knew that it is better to ALWAYS do what God says instead of man. When we moved it was very challenging. Many people laughed at us because we were moving without having jobs lined up.

      We could not get an apartment because we did not have letters from employers confirming employment in VA or you had to have over $30,000 in savings to get a lease. Again we trusted God to make a way. A week after we turned in our notices we got a call from a lady whose mother had died and she offered us to stay in the house until she was ready to sell. Now look at God.

      IF you trust him he will work it out. We did not have to bring anything but clothes with us, the house had everything for us. A week after we moved God put a tenant in our house in GA. Again we trusted God to make the way. We lived on savings for the first couple of months and that went fast. Cost of living was certainly higher and we didn’t know anything about coupons. But we were still following Dave Ramsey. And yes we tithed. If someone blessed us with anything we tithed.

      Many nights WE cried because yes it was so hard because we didn’t have any income coming in and we were required to pay the utilities for the house we were in. There were months we weren’t able to pay bills or car payments. But we trusted God. We also held services in our home and bible study.

      Many times we ate twice a day, but God kept us. In Sept 08 God turned it all around for us. I got a job and then my husband. We just had our first child and now I am blessed to be able to stay at home with him. God also blessed the church with a building that we rent, because we will never mortage.

      My husband makes much less and we are happy. I am happy to make baby food, adult food or make juice from scratch and and birthday cards if it means I can be at home and raise my family. Be faithful to God and he will work it out.

      Pray this blesses someone….sorry so long.

  • Angie says:

    I’ve found that shopping Aldi and other discount grocery stores helps me a whole lot more than couponing. Since I quit my job to stay home with my boy, I’ve started making more and more of my things from scratch- brownies, cookies, wipes, laundry detergent, etc. I stock up on my meat, etc when the prices are super cheap. I took on keeping a little boy 3 days/week in order to help out our finances and also run an at home business, in which I do parties in the evenings. Your cleaning sounds great, and you might want to get your name out there more; tell people you’re looking for some office spaces, personal homes, whatever. I cannot imagine what you’re going through, and my heart goes out to you. Someone above stated that they took the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University class; we’re in the midst of that right now too, and we’re learning SOOOO much! Its amazing how much you can cut your expenses when you pay cash! I would buy extra things at the grocery store just because I could, I was using credit; now I know for sure how much cash I have to use at the grocery store for the week, and if I use it all… then no more groceries. I just pray that the Lord releases HIS blessings upon you and your family. And that HE will provide you with genius ideas of how to make more money or how to cut your budget. Its hard, but stick at it! Blessings to you…

  • Katherine says:

    In all my years of reading Money Saving Mom, this is my favorite post. Ever.

  • Jeannine says:

    These are some good ideas but I would also like to add that we should ask our husbands what he thinks. Make sure he wants his wants his wife working extra hours cleaning home. He may have other solutions.

  • Rachael says:

    One idea I have is to do some baby-sitting. If you just took in one extra child, you could probably make at least $5/hour while you are watching your children. You might even consider doing after school care for a couple of children, which would only be a couple of hours a day.

  • Deidra says:

    I hope I don’t get beat up about this, but this is a thought. I was reading her blog, and I noticed that she made the choice to be a homemaker at such a young age. I also noticed above that she said her husband is looking for a second job but he can’t find one or it doesn’t fit in with his hours. What about her getting a weekend job working at the mall or something like that? Maybe have her parents or someone she trust watch her kids for a few hours while she go and do that. It won’t be much, but you can easily bring in $200 every two weeks doing that. Or if not the mall, there are daycares on the weekend where you can work (I’m not sure how much they pay) and as a bonus watch your children as well. I’m not sure what her husband think about her working – but at this point, if you are really struggling, he would probably support her any way he could. It’s only temporarily.

    • Rachael says:

      I do agree with you! With Christmas coming up, many stores will be hiring extra help. I have done this to supplement income, and I thought it was actually really fun!

    • Audrey says:

      @Deidra, a struggle we have over me getting a job is that life works so much better when I am at home. My husband is terrible at housework, and having more than one kid with him, while doable, is very stressful for him. We live an hour and a half from any family, so I would have to get a job with hours opposite my husband’s. The problem with that? We love spending time together! We miss each other while he’s at work. If I got a job outside the home, the housework would still fall on me at least 80%, my husband would watch both kids while I worked, and we wouldn’t spend much time together. We would both be frazzled. As it is, I stay home with the babies (one of whom would also stress if I got a job…. she’s still nursing and is VERY attached to me….. my cleaning a house every few months is already too much for her!) and do all the housework, and try to make our home relaxing for my husband so he can unwind after a long day at work. I’m reluctant to turn all that upside down for a job.

      With that said, we have decided that if he can’t find a second job, I will get a part time job and we will pray that it will not stress us out! 🙂

      Thanks for commenting!

  • Nicki S. says:

    What a scary place to be! But you definitely aren’t alone.

    I am in my last month of employment at a job that I absolutely hated for many years. The check was nice, but crying after work 3x a week was not. I made a mistake in my career choice and now I’m going to make it right by doing what I have to in order to find a place that will make me happy. Unfortunately, $40,000 less per year for our house is going to be quite the hit.

    But, my plan is to make things positive. I’m sure you can do it too.

    The babysitting is a good idea, and you could also post some flyers in your church looking for cleaning jobs/errand running. The local library and college here offer classes for unemployed people, and I intend on taking them when I’m in transition. There is a coupon club I discovered at a library close by, and I’m going to check it out this month.

    Just remember that many communities have things out there that you can take advantage of. If you are worried about finding a sitter to cover you for more cleaning jobs, see if you can trade with a neighbor or member of church for a couple hours here and there.

    Keep your head up!

  • Caroline says:

    Audrey, ((hugs)). My husband and I were in a similar situation four years ago when he changed jobs. I encourage you to not be ashamed or embarrassed to let your church and your friends know that you need their prayers at this time. My husband and I were to a point where we would pray each morning that the gas in his car’s tank would last until payday. A few friends helped us financially with small cash gifts, and one friend helped me get a very part-time teaching job where I earned $500. We did not ask for them to give us money, only prayers. But we were able to accept the money unashamed because we knew it was given in love and we knew one day we would be able to help others in a similar situation. Praying for you, Audrey!

  • Julie says:

    Hi! I hope you see this but there are a lot of comments. I found a great way to make a little money! I started writing for my local paper. They needed people to cover small town city council meetings, school board meetings, clubs like civitan and others. I was assigned to three meetings which I attend on a monthly basis and they last about an hour. I then have to write a short article to report what happened at the meetings and I get paid $40.00 per article. They didnt require any experience or anything! I’m now bringing in an extra $120 a month that goes directly into my emergency fund! I’ve even been called a few times to write extra articles which means MORE MONEY! YOU CAN DO IT! GOOD LUCK!

  • stephanie says:

    I read this post last night; I don’t usually comment, but I had a thought. I am a single mom of a 2 year, so I have no choice but to work full time. I had my son in a daycare, but just felt like that wasn’t the best for him. I was praying that somehow I could find a Christian stay at home mom who would watch him. Long story short, there is a mom at my church who is a stay at home mom, and was looking to supplement her husband’s income; but it wasn’t worth getting a job and her having to pay someone to watch her 3 kids. SO…. she is watching my son while I work. However, she is doing it for only $2.25 an hour. It is a help to her and a huge blessing for me to know that he is somewhere where my values are being supported all day long. She also watches another little boy 2 days a week so that his mom is able to run errands and such. I know it doesn’t seem like a lot of money, but it helps her, and is a help for me. Maybe ask around church, see if there are any stay at home moms that would like a mom’s morning out and watch their kids one or two days a week; or a someone in a similiar situation as mine, you can be a blessing to each other On a side note, his provider now was a single mom for a few years until she met her husband. Not only has she been amazing with my son, she has also been a huge encouragement to me. My son has been there about 6 weeks and I can see a huge differance in him. He actually LOVES going to her house

  • Brenna says:

    I know it’s been mentioned here already a few times, but I do full time child care for a 1 year old and make almost $150/week doing it. It has been great because it allows me to stay at home with my own son, but gives us a little extra cash cushion that we have been able to use for savings. I am careful to put some of it aside each week, as I know we will owe taxes on it come the new year. The parents of the child I watch love it because they know their daughter is getting one on one care in a regular home environment. Each state has different laws and regulations on in-home childcare and you want to be careful to find a child that will be a good fit. I advertised a little, made up an application and had the parents agree that I could take their child on outings (in writing). Good luck with all your future decisions!

  • Risha says:

    Thank you for sharing this, as it is so great to know that I am not alone. Audrey’s story is almost exactly ours (down to the ages of the children and income and everything) except that we are still trying to pay off school debt as well. I was working from home, but I lost my job this summer, which was a blessing in disguise as my work was taking a toll on my ability to be the wife, mom and homemaker in a way that I felt was honoring to the Lord. My husband just finished his degree and is currently looking for a new job that will better provide for our family and free me from the burden of earning money for our family. So for now, we are waiting. God is providing great things for us, but at times I have a hard time remembering that when things seem impossibly difficult for us.

    God bless you, Audrey! And you too, Crystal, for sharing tips and encouragement to those of us walking through difficult times!

  • Tracie says:

    I haven’t read all the comments, so I don’t know if this has already been brought up. You need to be sure you are filing for the EIC (earned income credit) when you file your taxes. With your income you should receive a least a few thousand dollars back each year, along with the child tax credit. That would probably amount to over a $5,000 dollar tax refund each year. Also, I would be almost positive that you qualify for food stamps. I would not feel any shame in taking them, especially when you have kids to feed. I would call social services in your area or United Way, I believe the # is 211. They can help you figure out everything you would qualify for.

  • Missy says:

    *Raising My Hand Here* – me too, me too! I am a recent singled mother of three little ones age 2, 4, 6. My [soon-to-be-ex] husband moved out in May. I never, NEVER expected to be in this situation! Aaaack!

    However, I know this isn’t a surprise to God. He wasn’t shocked by the turn of events in my life, so He already has a solution in place. Here are some things I’m doing:

    – Sell what I can. This is hard as there are emotinal attachments to many things. But even as I let the kids swingset go last week, I’m looking forward to the new life for us ahead.

    – Commit to getting out of debt. It’s all on me now and I can’t blame anyone else for my financial standing. My debt is less than $1,000, but the idea of getting it paid off seems SO unrealistic when there is NO fudge room in the budget. Still, it’s a goal and I’m working towards it!

    – Attitude is HUGE. Not only for me, but for my children as I’ve had to say no to more than ever before. It is painful, but I’m trying to focus on what we have: each other, safety, freedom, fun! We go to the mountains for free picnics (even the gas for this is a sacrifice). We spend time weekly at the park and library, we “celebrate” payday with homemade pizza.

    – Evaluate Resources. I have a lawn mower and I earn $150 per month mowing yards in my area. It’s just a push mower, so they have to be close. My oldest get free school lunches and we qualify for WIC. I was encouraged to work just a few hours less each month to qualify for food stamps…I used them for a couple of months. But I didn’t want to live at poverty level forever, so I made the choice to increase my hours again and leave the path open for greater earnings. For me, it was a great safety net, but not a long term solution. I enrolled my children in Parent’s Day Out two days a week and hired a babysitter to come to our home the other days. She brings her own little girl and the discounted pay helps her stay with her daughter and me save a bit on childcare.

    I think my former spouse exected me to fall apart, and trust me – there are times I have been in a heap of tears on the floor. But things are only as bad as I allow them to be. Yes, it’s tough! Yes, I will have to work hard and much is set ‘against’ my children. But with God’s help, we can and WILL thrive! I just know it!

    Hang in there, rejoice over the small, give thanks for what you are given and trust God with what is lacking.

    • Lyn says:

      @Missy, Your attitude and heart are commendable. There’s no doubt that you’ll succeed in life and that God is with you. It’s easier to have a “victim” attitude than it is to rise above it. Loved reading your comment and God bless. 🙂

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • Elle 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.

  • 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.

  • 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..

  • Kelley 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 🙂

  • 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

  • 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.

  • Saver Queen 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.

  • 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.

  • Saver Queen says:

    By the way, Crystal, the two links you’ve shared at the top to read the comment on the original page are both broken.
    Thanks!

  • Elisa says:

    I will be praying for you Audrey!

  • 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.

  • Laura says:

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

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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!!

    • @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.

    • robbie 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.

  • Lisa Phil 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.

  • 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.

  • 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….

  • 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

  • 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!

    • Crystal 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!

  • Shonda 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.

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • angela 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!

  • 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!!

  • Renee 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Gina Leake 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

  • 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

  • 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!

  • 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 …)

  • 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!

  • Carol says:

    Although Apartment Life Ministries does not presently operate in Washington, you could request that it come to your city by visiting the page below.

    http://www.apartmentlife.org/GetCARES/tabid/487/Default.aspx

  • Sharon 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

  • 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!

    • Denise says:

      years ago there was a book out called the tightwad gazette and you may have to go to library and check it out or they can order it for you. Also books by Mary Hunt. I am 60 and it is just the two of us but our problem is the cost of medical, mine will be 617 per month and my husband is on medicare and we are both retired. My medical went up to100.00. and I am afraid to go to drs. I try to keep myself well but this puts a strain on our money because my income does not increase, I live on a flat amount each moth and do not get extra for cost of living raise. It makes it tough. I may be able to get social security at 62. maybe along with the retirement I will get caught up. I plan meals. Always looking for ways to do better in the grocery department. I have started my own cook book with a three ring binder and cook the things we both love to eat. I recently read that keeping a menu of what you fix and eat left overs during the week helps keep it down. I do look for bargains at the store and keep watch of the circulars and this helps a lot and I try not to take my husband shopping he put all kinds of junk into the cart. Always plan out the meals maybe this will save you money. I am going to start doing this too. Every little thing helps.

  • Traci says:

    Where there is a will, there is a way! I do have to work part time out of the home because I live in an expensive part of California and as much as I would like to move to an area where the cost of living is lower, I have a lot of family that I can not leave. But…things I have done on the side is, recycle cans, coupon my heart out, sell my stockpile, surveys, offer to be a personal shopper for a small fee, sell handcrafts, yardsales, babysitting, ebay..etc. These things (especially couponing) have allowed me to not have to work full time, which, as much as I would love to be home full time with my kids, is a blessing to me. I have learned so much following this blog for the last few years. The most important thing that I have learned is to be creative when trying to earn extra money and to challenge myself to stretch the income we do have.

  • Rachel says:

    Great post, Crystal:)

    Audrey, I suggest calling 211 to see if there are any other programs in your area that would be helpful for you. They will most likely mention WIC and food stamps, but there might be other resources that are specific to your state or even town that could give you that extra helping hand to be able to save a little.
    Freecycle can be useful in getting toys, housewares, furniture, etc if you need anything like that.
    Thanks for your honesty….as I’m sure you can see from all of these responses, you are not alone.

  • Darcie says:

    Yes! That is us too!! We live literally paycheck to paycheck. However, when we want to have a datenight or need that extra few dollars. We save and recycle cans. We have friends saving cans for us as well and it helps when you just need or want a few extra dollars. We also do the consignment shop thing. Instead of giving away my daughters outgrown nice clothes we take it them to a consignment shop and get a few dollars. We have also taken dvds or video games to a Game exchange place if we wanted a different movie or something.

  • Marcy says:

    Great post! It took me over an hour to read all of the comments. I think both of you inspired many.

  • Anna says:

    My thoughts and prayers go out to Audrey and her family. I have similar but different problems. I am a single mom of 4 children. I also am a professional. I have a decent income but one of my children and I have chronic health problems. I have asthma and my child has 2 disabilities. The kids’ dad is not responsible (does not provide income as he should). I pay for everything for us including child care and health care. My job is demanding and so is being a mom to 4 kids. My income would be adequate but the prescription and medical bills eat into my income so deeply (prescriptions are $400-$500/month). I even “budget” my health care benefits. Unless it is an emergency or something our family cannot do without I do not agree to any medical care unless I can afford it. I have turned down prescriptions simply because they cost more than I can afford. For me, I make too much money to qualify for anything. The saving grace is that we are Native American and can get some health care at the Indian clinic and also I go to the health department for some care. It is important for me to stay healthy but the demands of my job and being a single parent are challenging. Also, I often feel guilty for not being able to provide the top notch health care for my child with disabilities. I go without a lot but I learned last year after I also most died that I have to take care of myself too. I too feel like I never get ahead financially and it does get discouraging. I get bills paid and a little money saved and then another major medical bill comes along that wipes out all the budgeting and savings I have managed. I have learned that being healthy is so important and one can not under estimate how blessed you are if you have health. My health is better but I now have to really take my medicines and watch my stress level. My asthma got so bad, I could not breath and my oxygenation was poor. I remember thinking please don’t let me die not yet at least, my kids still need me. My near death experience taught me to take life a little slower and enjoy my time with the kids. I am still paying the medical bills for that illness and the medical bills for my child’s chronic health problems and I get a discouraged some times but being healthy is so important. I am working and taking care of my kids once again but my health will never be as good as it once was. I just have to learn to live within my limits and enjoy life as God has given it to me. Money can’t buy health. I have to keep up a good attitude but I do get discouraged sometimes. Next to finances, time is another stressor for me. MD visits alone take a big chunk of my time which run from 3-4/week. I don’t feel like there is enough time in the day to get it all done. I consider my self a SAHM and working mom. I do not have to work in the summer and get all the school breaks that the kids do so I “stay at home” and do all the things a SAHM does and then when I work I try to continue being a SAHM who happens to work too. It gives me great satisfaction to take care of the kids. Sometimes I feel alone because so many moms stay at home but I do not have that option; I have to work so my kids have what they need particularly health care. I am grateful for my job and I do enjoy it but I also like being able to take care of my family at home. I envy moms who can stay home full time but I don’t dwell on it because that is not my lot in life.

    • Heidi says:

      Here is a health website I use quite frequently and have had much success with the information given. I searched and saw that it had some free information about asthma and how to perhaps prevent asthma attacks (or greatly reduce them). Best of all, most of the recommendations they give will cost you nothing. Their website is:
      mercola.com
      You may have to give an email address in order to access all of the information. Simply type in asthma in the website search engine.

      My husband was very sick earlier this year (he is much better now). And although we know that God uses means to help us, our greatest “solution” was total reliance on the Lord.

      2 Corin. 12:9 – “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
      and James 1:2-3 says:
      My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;
      Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.

      I’m sure that you can attest that when going through terrible health struggles that it “tries our faith” but we can rejoice that he is working patience in us and that we can even “count it joy” to have learned these things. It doesn’t make sense that our “strength is made perfect in weakness” but yet the Bible says that it shows us the power of Christ and its sufficiency. My husband learned the reality of these things this year and though he doesn’t miss the physical side of things, he saw how Christ could work in the midst of his struggle.
      We pray that the Lord will continue to provide for you and that you will be an even Greater Blessing : ) to those you come in contact with because of these struggles. We rejoice with you that you love to take care of and provide for your children. Children are a great blessing! Be encouraged that our Father in heaven also loves to provide for His children. He loves us and He does care what happens to us.
      1 Peter 5:7 – “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”

    • Hello Anna,
      You have been on my heart all night. I just want you to know that you are not alone. I was a single mom for 10 years with very little outside financial assistance from the father. I had a career but still had to work a part time job a couple night a week to keep our head above water. It felt like every day was just treading water, putting one foot in front of the other. I felt like I dared not dream any dreams for fear they would not come true. I also deperately wanted to stay home with my kids. I did not have the summer off.

      My very best friend suggested I pry for God’s help. God has a special place in his heart for widows and orphen. Which I am not saying you are a widow, however, if you are doing it all on your own, in a way you are.

      Anyway God carried me through. I learned many things about myself, most importantly that I can rely on just God fully.

      Is it possible to order prescriptions by mail order? They maybe less expensive. Can the Doctor prescribe a generic version, that would be less expensive as well?

      God Bless!

    • Lorie says:

      @Anna, Anna, someone else below suggested this but didn’t know if you would see that. Check on Angel Food Ministries for you area. There’s no requirements whatsoever to order food for them and you can order as much as you need/want.

    • Donna says:

      I can also relate to your situation. My husband and son both have some health conditions that require regular medications and the dr visits that go along with it. I am the sole provider for our family. Health care costs can really take a chunk out of a family budgets. Healthy families do not realize the blessing of good health and the cost savings. Like you, I do not qualify for anything and while I make a reasonable income, supporting the whole family leaves me nothing left. I am trying to implement every cost cutting idea possible.

  • Alyssa says:

    While you’re being a stay at home mom- I think it is so important to learn skills and educate yourself. Going to school is probably out of the question, however you may be able to take online classes (I did the last 2 years of high-school online- and it was very convenient and I really did learn a lot!). You may even qualify for scholarships/grants to cover most of the cost. Also, teaching yourself skills (DIY books are great for this, also Youtube- I learned how to make dog bows by a video on there!), such as sewing, painting, computer software programs, etcetera can really open up more opportunities for you! Itunes U is also a great new program I just found out about. It is under a tab in Itunes (Itunes is free to download on their website), and it has a large assortment of college courses from around the country- all free! Most are lectures, but some also have instructional videos. This could all be beneficial to you, incase you can’t be a SAHM forever, or just so you can have a few more skills to use for extra income!

  • Gina Leake says:

    Audrey, here’s another video that might clarify the tithing issue. I hope this is encouraging for you. 🙂 Blessings, Gina

  • Pamela O. says:

    I would agree with the importance of keeping a budget. Know where your money is going. What a blessing to not be in debt up to your eyeballs (that is our situation) but life’s normal stuff has a way of draining the bank account too. Sounds like you are doing what you can to decrease spending but it never hurts to be sure about that with a written budget. If you could save on rent, get a housemate (we’ve recently done that) or something. Up your income with selling stuff or maybe you could take on part time work for a season.

  • celia says:

    Also check out Angel Food Ministry.

  • Vanessa says:

    I have read a few of the comments and I wanted to encourage you.I think you are doing a great job.At least you guys are paying the bills.I read alot of comments about you getting a job outside of the home.I would pray and talk with my husband before I would do that.With you still nursing and having small children I would look for more ways to make money at home.I save more money by being at home with the children than I would working outside of the home.I will pray for your family.

  • Elizabeth says:

    Audrey,

    You are doing a fabulous job staying out of debt in difficult situations. Be encouraged, you are already doing better than so many other people who make more money but are hopelessly in debt. In just a few years your little ones will be in school and things will be so much easier then. Just hang on to that thought.

    I’d encourage you to try to find a few more little cash jobs– a little bit of wiggle room makes a big difference in your state of mind. There are so many work-outside-the-home moms who need their houses cleaned or some cooking done– what about trying to find some women who would like their freezers filled with some heat-and-eat healthy foods? Do a little market research– I know I would love some freezer meals made with organic and natural ingredients that I could run home and pop in the microwave… for the price of hanging up some fliers (and maybe getting your foodhandler’s license– check with your health department) you could be on your way, and you can do it at home with your kids! Hugs to you.

  • Lena C. says:

    It is unbelievable how closely I can relate to Audrey. It sounds just like us! We live on a very minimal monthly income and there is zero space for wiggle room. There are many months that the bills we pay have to be picked out from all the rest because we just can’t pay them all.

    I do a few writing gigs online when I can to earn extra cash and that does bring in an extra couple hundred every month. Still, even with the extra money, it is very hard to set aside anything in savings simply because theres nothings left to set aside at months end. Some months it comes down to putting food on the table or a few extra dollars in a savings account and well…my daughter has to eat…

    I really feel for Audrey because I know the stress and frustration it causes to work so hard but not see your situation getting any better. In fact, I’d like to at least get her connected with the companies I write for so that maybe she could increase her own monthly earnings up from that $25. It would be great for her to contact me if she is interested:

    dealseeker1983@gmail.com

  • jerilyn says:

    We’ve been there too Audrey! My husband just got a promotion last month with a pay raise that gives us enough to save a little bit (not a ton).

    I would try not to get to worried about saving a lot. I know I can feel this way on blogs like these. I would love to pay 100% down for a home, but that’s not practical for us. Our down payment money is coming from our tax credits that we get every year- up until then that was our savings! I know you have practical issues that need to be taken care of, but don’t get too ahead of yourself. There is plenty of time to save for retirement, etc. later. Usually incomes increase with time and then you can save for that.

    As far as the car, I would maybe speak to your pastor about it. Churches often times have a fund for members if they need it. Also, some people would love to donate (often anon.) but don’t know exactly what needs people have. Ask for family members to give money for Christmas and put it in a mutual fund or savings account for your kids.

  • Jamel says:

    Audrey, just keep on keeping on as everyone else has basically been saying….and keep God first:)!! To save money, I hang out my laundry. Sometimes I have to laugh at myself at how red-necky everything looks to have laundry hanging all over the deck and the patio furniture……..but hey who cares right??? Every week God dries my laundry and not to mention it goes so much faster than waiting on a dryer as I have loads and loads to do (family of 6) I have not used a dryer now for a couple of years………I can’t believe it even as I write this that it has been this long……I haven’t missed it:) People tell me I should get a clothes line or do this or do that…….but what I do works for me:) I Also, I used my husbands spare change containers to buy energy efficient bulbs…….lower electric bill…….there’s other crazy things I do, but need to run………….Hope you have a wonderful day, and I feel inspired by your story!!

  • Dana says:

    Audrey, I will be praying for you and your family. You are not alone!

    I am tearing up reading your story and many others that are in your shoes.

  • Audrey says:

    Thank you SO MUCH for this post. This post has been a huge blessing to me! From the post itself, to all the encouraging comments and suggestions, to the people who have emailed me wanting to help. I am just feeling overwhelmed with love and encouragement! God has used this post to bless my husband and I more than you can imagine! You have all inspired us in so many ways, and encouraged us….. I can’t even explain how blessed we are! I tried to put it into words here:

    http://everyurlwastaken.blogspot.com/2010/10/his-provision.html

    Thank you so so so much! God is so great, I KNOW He will be lifting us out of this hole very soon! Thank you!

  • Melanie says:

    Don’t give up and remember….you CAN’T OUTGIVE God. God doesn’t need us to give money to our local churches. He CHOOSES to use us as a blessing to others. My husband went from $100,000 per year to being unemployed for 6 months and now has a salary of $55,000. We never once stopped giving and God has always supplied our needs (maybe not wants, but needs)

  • Marg says:

    That was so inspiring. It made me think how I could do so much better for myself! It got me motivated to keep self reflecting and trying to improve upon myself. Thank you for that! It helped me!

    I’m a single mom also living in expensive N. California! I also recycle cans and bottles and that adds up to a lot. Yard sales help occasionally as well. I’m very grateful for this site and others that are so motivating and have such great ideas.

  • Emily says:

    My two pieces of advice would be (as a few others mentioned) looking into state programs such as WIC or food stamps. . Those programs are there to be used by good honest people like you…. we used them for many years. I think back to the food items we got from WIC and how much it helped. Milk and cheese are expensive these days (even with coupons! haha) . Two: if it works with your husband’s work schedule, try and find an office building to clean. They often pay WAY more than residential homes. You could even find one that is just a few nights a week and make around $500.0o/mo. I have done that now for the past couple of years. You’d be surprised how much money office buildings will pay. It may take a little work to find one (tell everyone you know you are looking for a building to clean), but it will pay off in the end. And you are only gone from home for a little bit of time! I am usually FOR mom’s staying home with the kids, but it situations where you are barely scraping buy, I think it is ok for the wife to go and get a small job.

  • Alysia says:

    One thing you could do is barter services to cut costs. Say find a hairstylist to do your family’s hair in echange for you cleaning her house. Also something maybe your husband could do this holiday season: get paid to put up people’s Christmas lights….the wealthy neighborhoods are a good spot to put fliers on doorknobs, because they’d rather pay you than do it themselves ( a family member of mine did this last year and made about $2,200 in one month!). I know you said he already works so hard, so I’m not sure he’d have time for this.
    Your story and the responses were on my mind all day. It’s always nice to feel like we aren’t the only family with these problems. Money Saving Mom and your post and all of the responses puts things into perspective for me when I get the “why us?!” blues. God Bless you and your family!

  • Chantel says:

    I, too, can relate to this.

    My husband lost his job unexpectedly in January. While he didn’t make a lot, it was enough for us. We had no debt and lived carefully, but to me, comfortably with some to save and share each month.

    Living with even less or sometimes, with absolutely no income has been challenging. It isn’t easy when you feel like you’ve cut all you can cut, with out cutting out what you need to get back on your feet. It’s easy to start to worry, to stress about money and how it just doesn’t show up.

    But…while it isn’t easy, and honestly there are many times when I’m not sure how we’ll make it, it’s true. God provides for what we really need. I have been humbled time and time again to see His hand in so many little ways keeping us going, if only for another week, another month.

    Every day I give those worries to Him. I try to do my best. To stay positive, stay faithful and to keep waiting on His provision. He does make our burdens so much lighter.

    I don’t see a lot of change in the future. In fact, right now, just around the corner fate seems to be mocking and threatening, but I am determined that if God can keep us going for thus far, that whatever disaster appears to lay ahead, He has a way through, or a reason for.

    So… for us who wait, who struggle and pinch to get by during these hard times when jobs are low paying or…non-existent in my case, keep trusting. I put my confidence in the fact that God does provide…right when we need it most.

  • Shayla says:

    Thank you Crystal, for the taking the time to address this honest (and not uncommon) question/concern/sentiment. Thank you for the pep talk that also encouraged this gal’s soul. This post could be a description of your whole blog..it’s a concise reminder of what we love about you…and how we want to live. 🙂

  • Rhoda says:

    Thanks for the reminder that blogging, to begin with, requires such a small commitment of 3 hours a week to blogging. I can find 3 hours to beef up my over-neglected blog, and hopefully use it as a way to make a little more money.

  • Mena Mariani says:

    Thanks so much for your blog!!! I have had a terrible week that coincided with the week I got paid my first paycheck (I’m entry level too :T) and so many things have happened at once. I felt ten times better that I am not the only one going through a tough time. It gives me strength and courage to see women so strong getting through whatever comes their way.

    I feel like a hustler after having read the article. Thank you so much for your insight and wonderful faith.

  • Hannah says:

    Audrey,

    My heart goes out to you Audrey. I have felt like this too, many times even though both my husband and I work. I guess for me the struggle has been more that I have to work in order for us to “keep our heads above water” or at least, my husband thinks so, so that’s what I do. God has been so good to me though and given me so much joy lately. I pray he’ll do the same for you.

    I wanted to share a story from my parents’ early years of marriage:
    My parents hadn’t even been married a year when my dad started seminary in South Carolina and I was born shortly after. It was a new place for both of them and they had no family in the area. Even though my dad was studying full time, he was committed to my mom staying home with the baby (me!). They were really living by faith those years! There came a point where they literally had no food left in the house. My mom took down her jar of decorative beans and started to boil them for dinner. They didn’t know what they’d eat after that, but they were trusting the Lord for it! They also had some bills to pay and no money for them. So they were praying. While the beans were boiling, there was a knock at the door. They opened and in walked my uncle, who is not a Christian, never travels, and had not told them he was coming. He said he was on his way down to Florida, taking my cousin to Disney World. “What’s for dinner?” he asked walking into the kitchen and taking the lid off the pot. After seeing what was inside he announced that he was taking them out to dinner! He filled their car with gas (they had to move my carseat to my uncle’s car to go to the restaurant, because theirs was empty!) bought them some groceries, wrote them a check, and continued on to Disney World. I don’t think my uncle has travelled more than an hour from his house since then! When my dad looked at the check, it was the exact amount needed to pay the bills and my dad hadn’t even mentioned them to my uncle!

    I love this story. So do my siblings. In fact the first Christmas my husband and I were married, my sisters gave us a jar of decorative beans that they’d put together as a reminder of God’s faithfulness!! It was an occasion to hear the story again, since my dad had to explain the jar to my husband and the other non-family members who were at our celebration.

    I hope that is encouraging. God will provide for you, too. It will be beautiful. Trust in him and wait eagerly for what he will do.

  • Lorie says:

    This post was very encouraging to me as we’re also living paycheck to paycheck with no end in sight. I’m doing everything I can to make our budget squeal. I like to bake and decorate cakes and have even started a FB page but I need to add pictures then send it to all my friends so I can get a small business going. I could easily bring in an $100-$150 a month by doing just 1 cake a week. Thanks for the encouragement!

  • Gail says:

    we are a retired couple, because my husband decide that is what he wanted. We live on a very set amount each month & we try to cut wherever we can. one thing I started doing is since we get paid once a month, at the next pay check anything left in the checking acct goes in over to savings Started out at 1.80 cents. not much but it was a start. we cut back a little more, no eating out unless special times. Once I was able to put in $300. If we get sick we have co pays but after next month we won’t but I will have to find 105.00 for medicare, so we will see how it goes. Hope it helps so of the older retired people.

  • Heidi says:

    Bless you!! I have a friend who bakes cakes. Her husband works very hard and she makes GOOD money blogging. Keep it up, she is proof it works. Rosebakes.com is her “original” site, but she has grown. I think it will direct you to the “new” site. Believe that God has MUCH for you because you are such a good steward with little.

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