Thursday, July 31, 2014

money worries: a few solutions (part 1)

I posted in June about how we have already started worrying about not only the cost of a second child but also about some new costs with Sawyer going to PreK and a few other payments coming up. We sat down and met with our bank and looked at what we spend money on each month and were pretty shocked to find that we actually should have $1500 left over each month after bills. How we spend that "left over" money was mystery though and we had to find a way to reign in what we're spending.

We looked at areas we couldn't change such as our utilities, mortgage, tithes and cell phone plans. We have a set payment plan with our utilities company (that Josh refers to as the "po' folks plan"), we certainly aren't going to downsize our house and we have a pretty decent cell plan, nor are we going to deny the Lord money that belongs to him. We then looked at some areas where we could possibly make some changes.

  • Takeout/Fast Food
Problem: We realized that while we don't spend a lot of money on luxuries like new clothes, gadgets, going out to restaurants and movies or travel we do spend a lot on random weekday lunches, lazy night takeout and quick breakfast runs to BoJangles or the local cafe.

Solution: We made a grocery list of lunch and breakfast foods and decided those little trips have to stop. We also set an "allowance" for the nights we both have meetings and have to make quick drive thru stops. I realize we could technically pack dinner on those nights too, which we will do some times but a little wiggle room for when we don't is nice.

  • Hospital Bills
Our next task was to figure out a better way to handle our extensive hospital bills from my & Sawyer's recent (and not so recent) visits and procedures.

Problem: We don't have any control over how much we owe nor over the probability of one of us ending up in the hospital again, but we decided to try to do something about how often/much we pay. Our hospital sends us five separate bills a month just for Sawyer on top of the ones we get from the radiologist and ENT.

Solution: I gave the customer service number a call and had a rather stern conversation (to put it nicely) about the way our account is handled. I finally got the representative to combine three of the bills into one so we can send one payment to the Greenville location, one to the Tarboro location and one to the Surgicenter verses five separate payments. One thing you may or may not know about a hospital, they can not send a collections agency after you over your bill as long as you make some amount of payment on time each month. We talked over taking out a personal loan to cover our hospital bills, but since the hospital cannot charge interest and can't get us when we can only pay them $10 instead of $30 a month, we decided to just leave them the same.

  • Cable/Internet
Problem: Here is where we hit a major snag. We pay around $150/month for our cable/internet services. We don't have a choice about the internet since we do have to take work home with us occasionally and Sawyer enjoys playing fun (educational) games on Nick Jr. and such. When it comes to the TV, I realize a lot of the shows we watch are available on Hulu or on the actual TV channel's website - but our sports are not. We have no desire to watch a football game after it has already happened.

Solution: We thought about canceling the service in all rooms but the living room and just letting Sawyer watch his shows on the iPad and then streaming Hulu to our TV in the bedroom but then realized that with our bundle it wasn't going to save us that much money. So, we haven't quite solved this issue yet.

Stop by tomorrow to see how we tackled our next biggest financial issues: our love for Pirate football (and how much it costs us) and the need for a car with better mileage and a lower payment!


  1. I had no idea about the hospital not being able to take you to the creditors until Joe and I had ER visits within the same month. I am so thankful that my mom told us about it and we ended up making small payments over several months. The cable issue sucks. We did without cable and just had internet for awhile but it caused huge arguments during football season. Any other time it was no big deal. We had talked about just having it during football season or subscribing to just ESPN or something but never did it. When we move into a house again, I'm sure we will have the same conversation again!

  2. Oh, girl. When we moved here, we dropped down to one (not very big) income. The changes we made were almost second nature--and we're still stretched pretty thin (not to mention hospital bills, ugh). But you're right. The things that suck our extra money are almost shocking! I think back to how much J and I made back in Charlotte and I'm like WHERE DID THAT MONEY GO!?!?!?! It helps there isn't a target here. We eat all of our meals in (and if we go out, it's to a budget place--but rare). I think we could probably cancel our cable--but J refuses to let his sports go. I work from home--so losing the internet isn't an option. I bundled my cell phone plan with my parents (they were kind enough to let me do that). J has a business phone, so I was on a solo plan which was HELLA expensive (like $150/mo). Now it's $30 since it's an added line. Maybe that could help?

  3. The cable is the hardest thing to come up with. I only have it in my living room and office. I stream netflix on the tv in my bedroom. I know y'all will find a resolution to it like you have the other items.