Author Topic: Frugal but no money?  (Read 11195 times)

APowers

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Frugal but no money?
« on: September 22, 2013, 11:06:11 PM »
Case study?

Not sure how to phrase this question, except to say that we're planning and working toward financial independence by the time I'm 35. Here's all the facts:


I'm 24, married, with 2 children (ages 2 & 1). I work at a grocery store and make $15/hr.

Assets:
  • $8900 -- Savings.
  • $2000 -- Emergency fund.

Monthly Income:
$2544 gross (on average)
$2250 take-home.
It varies throughout the year, but this is averaged over the past 12 months.

Monthly Expenses:
  • $800 -- Mortgage. $291 is the minimum payment, the rest is extra principal. We bought a $69k fixer-upper when we married 3 years ago. WAY cheaper than renting.
  • $275 -- Utilities. Water, power, sewer, garbage.
  • $150 -- Gasoline/bus fare.
  • $136 -- Food.
  • $118 -- Property taxes. Billed/paid every six months.
  • $75 -- Personal care. Diapers, Medicine, etc.
  • $56 -- Auto insurance. Billed/paid in full every six months.
  • $55 -- House insurance. Billed/paid in full annually.
  • $50 -- Household expenses.
  • $30 -- Clothes.
  • $20 -- Auto maintenance. Oil, license tabs, etc.
  • $18 -- Extra/Fun activities. Eating out, vacations, birthday presents, "let's go to the zoo", etc.
  • $17 -- Life insurance. Billed/paid in full annually.
Total: $1800
  • 10% of the take-home goes into a savings account. Not exactly a tithe, but close enough.
Total: $2025
[/list]

I work, wife stays home with the kids. Both of us working is not an option right now.

Yes, I know if I biked to work, I'd save about $100/month. I'd love to.

Our town population is 20k, I work in the neighbouring town (17 mile commute). I was hired while living with my parents less than a mile from work-- then I married and bought a steal of a house in the next town over. I totally would love to work within biking distance, but I have yet to find someone who is hiring locally for an equivalent rate of pay/benefits (I'm union, so full benefits). And I've tried. My interview-getting rate is about 2 in the last 3 years of applying for jobs. I don't LIKE working at the grocery store, so I want out ASAP; but out into something better, and not just out for out's sake.

I have a Bachelor's degree in management, and I feel like I'd be an amazing asset to anyone who'd hire me....but I have no experience, and therefore can get no (paid) experience.

What would Mr. Money Mustache do?


*I don't want to seem like a complainypants, but it seems like easy street when you have a $50k or greater annual salary to play with (as most all MMM's case studies do)-- but what am I supposed to do when I don't have a bzillion dollars to work with?

Guardian

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Re: Frugal but no money?
« Reply #1 on: September 22, 2013, 11:59:24 PM »
My (take it with a grain of salt) advice:

Can your wife do a tad bit of work from home? Even make things to sell on Etsy..

Break the experience loop and ask for Mondays off from work (work the rest of the 40hours on other days) and then volunteer somewhere that you can get Business Management experience (or whatever real experience you want). A lot of people advocate literally just putting your best foot forward and walking into a place and telling them you'd like to work for free. You can do that for 8hrs/week, then in 6 months you can see where it leads.

My main advice: be an example for your children as you grow and as they grow. Let them see you fight for higher pay and a job you give a shit about instead of just taking what pays best. My dad freaked out when I was born and threw himself into plastics...how boring. He hated it until we moved to a bigger city and then he helped develop the Epi-Pen and now he loves his job. So take risks now by heading out and facing fear with action. I believe in you

TS

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Re: Frugal but no money?
« Reply #2 on: September 23, 2013, 01:03:03 AM »
I think you are doing fantastically so far.  With a take home income of $2250 you pay an extra $509 on your mortgage and still have $450 let over after your expenses.  This means you already have a savings rate of just over 42%. 

If I go back to the Shockingly Simple Retirement Math story, you'd need a savings rate of about 65% to reach financial independence in just over a decade (by the time you are 35).  This implies that if your expenses stayed the same, you'd need income of almost $3700 to achieve this goal (or alternatively be able to cut your current expenses to under $800 per month).  From what you've set out, it looks like you are already doing almost everything you can on the spending front (and your numbers put my own to shame ...) 

I would second Guardian's comment that it may be better to focus on how you and your wife could increase your income a bit.  With your degree in management, it seems likely you should be able to increase your salary over time.  Since you mentioned experience being the issue, is there any opportunity for you to take on some increased responsibility in your current role?  (Even though you don't like your current job, and want to leave, I've always found current employers more willing to let me try new things than prospective employers.)  You could then use this experience to help find a new job you like.  And anything your wife could do to generate an income would help (although I know this is difficult with two young children).

But really, you guys are doing fantastically well already, and it seems like things are only going to get better, and easier, from here!

gooki

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Re: Frugal but no money?
« Reply #3 on: September 23, 2013, 01:16:17 AM »
Shop around for auto insurance.

Hang tight, keep looking for higher payed work, or jobs closer to home, or both.

Be proud. Fro. Your numbers.

$500 extra principal repayment
$200 savings
$200 extra unaccounted for

That makes a 40% savings rate. Nothing to sneeze at.

Khan

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Re: Frugal but no money?
« Reply #4 on: September 23, 2013, 01:21:43 AM »
I can't give any advice on the home and work front, although I really liked Guardian's idea.

What I can say is this: Unless your interest rate on your house is really high(>5%), I'd recommend rotating some of that extra money you're putting towards the house into other avenues, starting to fund some money into a ROTH would be an amazing start(and that money is then accessible 5 years from now), maybe starting a taxable investment account for a safety "overflow"[vanguard is always recommended].

seattlecyclone

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Re: Frugal but no money?
« Reply #5 on: September 23, 2013, 01:58:55 AM »
Your spending is amazingly low. I can't really make any meaningful suggestions for improvement there. Well done!

Based on your income and family situation, I think your federal income tax should be in the ballpark of -$5,000/year. Your income is only slightly higher than the standard deduction plus exemptions for a family of four, so your tax before credits should only be a few hundred dollars. But then you probably qualify for an earned income tax credit of around $3,500 and a child tax credit of $2,000. These credits are both refundable. Did you factor this into the take-home pay you quoted?

I noticed you're contributing an extra $500/month to your mortgage. At that rate it should be paid off in just a few years, which is great, but I wonder if you could be doing something better with that money. Does your employer have a 401(k) plan that you could be contributing to? If they do, and there's a match available, try to contribute enough to max out the match. Don't leave free money on the table. Even if your employer doesn't match your retirement contributions, there's also a "saver's tax credit" for lower-income people who contribute to retirement accounts. At your income level, the credit could be good for a match of 50% of the first $2,000 you contribute. However, this credit is not refundable, so the match is also limited to the tax you already owe, before calculating some of the other tax credits (including the child tax credit). You would have to run the numbers to see how much you could get. Even a few hundred dollars of retirement contributions matched by the government is nothing to sneeze at.

I do think you would see a huge amount of benefit from increasing your income in some way. Could you maybe work as a handyman on the days you don't work at the store? Do you know any parents who need child care, and might your wife be willing to watch another kid or two during the day? Could your wife find part-time work when you're at home and could watch the kids for a while?

Again, I'm really impressed by your spending. Ignoring the mortgage you're only spending $12k/year. Once the house is paid off and you've saved $300k on top of that, you'll be financially independent. It may seem like a long way off, but you're already making decent progress. Any additional income will help get you there much sooner than you might think.

Half-Borg

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Re: Frugal but no money?
« Reply #6 on: September 23, 2013, 02:10:17 AM »
Do you actually NEED the car? You mentioned bus fare, so I guess it's possible to get to work by bus.

I think you should pay off the mortage. You may lose some money to oppertunity, but you're freeing up a huge chunk of cash flow. I think it's more fun to reach a mile stone every few years: 1. mortage paid off 2. F-You Money 3. FI

I guess your wife is going to go back to work someday?

Peony

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Re: Frugal but no money?
« Reply #7 on: September 23, 2013, 07:12:29 AM »
If rents are, as seems to be the case for your own family, *way* higher than the cost of owning in your town, you might give some thought to a rental property. Perhaps your wife's job could be managing the property?

Dee18

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Re: Frugal but no money?
« Reply #8 on: September 23, 2013, 07:17:17 AM »
You may be in a state that has very high property taxes, but yours seem especially high to me.  Take a few minutes to make sure your taxes are based on the amount you paid for the house.  I did that and my tax bill was reduced by a few hundred dollars.

apennysaved

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Re: Frugal but no money?
« Reply #9 on: September 23, 2013, 07:20:15 AM »
http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/forum/ask-a-mustachian/who-has-a-side-gigjob-that-brings-in-extra-cash-share-with-us!/50/

Above is a post on side jobs.  You guys are doing great, but thought I would point this thread out because any extra money you make can be stashed.

Does your wife have any friends that would be willing to switch off child care which may free up some time for her to make some side income? My sister & I do this for each other.  My sister & I also get together to cook food in large batches, share coupon/grocery saving ideas we have seen, make homemade jellies & bread for gifts, etc.  We may start trying to resell books on Amazon from the side gig post.  One of us would shop while the other watched the kids & then we would split profits.  It is nice to have the help & the socializing for us & the kids.  We also feel like we get a lot more accomplished helping each other out.



Mr.Macinstache

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Re: Frugal but no money?
« Reply #10 on: September 23, 2013, 08:16:10 AM »
Depending on how much your wife likes other people's children, she would do a little daycare in addition to your own kids? Other than that you are doing pretty good it sounds like. With the kids 1 and 2 this time is the hardest, they seems to need less and get cheaper as they grow.

APowers

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Re: Frugal but no money?
« Reply #11 on: September 23, 2013, 08:18:20 AM »
Wow, thanks everyone!

Some further notes:

Wife is trying to pick up something she can do at home-- childcare, possibly piano lessons (once the kiddos are old enough to play in another room by themselves), etc.

Guardian-- About asking for a day off in order to work for free...I'm about to do just that. I'm going to request (insist, really) that I work only m-t-w, and use the other four days (th-f-s-s) to fix up my house, pick up another part-time gig I can do on nights/weekends, and work for free for a local property management office (a field I really want to get into) two days a week.

We're seriously open to moving to a city with more opportunity (thinking possibly Portland area), but need to fix up our current house to be rentable.

TS-- I keep trying to get some other experience where I'm at in the grocery store, but two things: one, I'm currently at the top wage-level in my department, and short of becoming a department manager (and none of the current department managers are likely to leave at this point), there's no pay raise in the near future, even if I could transfer to a department with a higher pay bracket; and two, the store manager says I can't work in any but two other departments because of some union rules (I'm trying to get a permanent dept. transfer, but that involves waiting until there is an opening).

Seattlecyclone-- Yes, our tax return is about $5-6k annually. No, I didn't factor that into my income. I would contribute to any plan that had a match ('cause hey, free money), but I'm not even vested into the retirement plan (I've only worked for the company 4 years, and you vest at 5), so no 401k or anything.

It's difficult with my current work schedule to do something part-time, because there is no consistency: random days off, random shift hours (anything from 8-4:30 to 12-8:30). I'd have been delivering pizzas or something long ago if I had a consistent early shift or consistent days off...

Half-Borg-- I currently ride the bus about 2-4 times per month. I'd use it more, but the schedule doesn't always coincide with my work schedule, and I often work on sundays when the bus doesn't run at all. So I'm stuck driving at least some of the time.

Peony-- Yes. Rental property. I am actually currently trying to get a loan to purchase a nice little place just down the street. Unfortunately, we're so frugal, that we've never needed credit cards, and our current mortgage is a private note (with my parents), so we have no credit score. Which apparently is worse than having a bad credit score. Which is super-frustrating to someone who knows he'd be a no-risk loan opportunity for the bank. Hoping to be able to refinance our current residence and use that to pay cash for a rental. We'll see how it goes.

Dee18-- The real estate agent who looked at our house said the same thing: look into getting your taxes reassessed. We're already planning on doing that. Great thought.

Left

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Re: Frugal but no money?
« Reply #12 on: September 23, 2013, 09:17:46 AM »
Depending on where you are, I'd look to volunteer at a habitat restore if one is near you. I've done it before but not for these reasons (I had free time, wanted to pick up skills from the other people working there). The benefits are that you get discount on the items you buy there for reconstructing the house. They also promote/let volunteers handle office work/managing inventory. Not a whole lot of managerial skills but it's a move into a secretarial work that you can put onto resume. And they give fantastic referrals too if you need it, at least one I was at did. They didn't care about praising me since I wasn't in direct competition for them like "cubical politics" in the office.

even without asking for days off from work to do this, Habitat is pretty good at letting volunteers come in when they can. They prefer if you can be scheduled, but I had no problems calling them up and saying I had free time, could I come in and help out. This way your erratic work hours could be accommodated.

Are you by chance at a small chain/local grocery or a large national chain? It might be worth it to approach management saying you have a degree in management and if/when they have a position to transition you into it, that you'd be up for the new role. Just letting them know you would be open to it might increase a chance for promotion. Large chains might be less likely from what I hear, but I'm not certain about this.

oldtoyota

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Re: Frugal but no money?
« Reply #13 on: September 23, 2013, 09:21:03 AM »
Others gave good advice on the career front. I especially like the idea of your wife making items to sell on etsy or you working a compressed schedule so you can gain experience and connections on the other day.

One item I'd add is to network. Perhaps you've done that already. Sometimes, you just have to know the right person to get a job!

I wanted to pipe up and say kudos on the grocery bill. I don't know if you get a discount or not, but $136 is great for three people.


kkbmustang

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Re: Frugal but no money?
« Reply #14 on: September 23, 2013, 09:22:44 AM »

but I'm not even vested into the retirement plan (I've only worked for the company 4 years, and you vest at 5), so no 401k or anything.


I'd really suggest you talk to HR about this. Many years ago companies were allowed to implement 5 year cliff vesting, but that changed to 3 year cliff vesting (vest 100% after 3 years) or 5 or 6 year graded vesting (I don't remember off the top of my head which, and this vesting schedule does 20% per year until you reach 100% or something similar). The vesting schedule can be more generous, but cannot be any more stringent than that. IIRC, unions still have to abide by these minimum vesting requirements.

APowers

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Re: Frugal but no money?
« Reply #15 on: September 23, 2013, 09:47:41 AM »
oldtoyota-- The grocery bill really ought to be higher, but thanks! I know I look at others' grocery budgets and feel like we could eat like kings on just $200/month.

I'm not really sure what you mean by "network", and have no idea how I'd even start doing it.

kkbmustang-- I'll ask about that. I'm not sure how it works, and it's never really been explained to me (or if it has, it was way back when I was just starting and wouldn't have understood or really cared).

oldtoyota

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Re: Frugal but no money?
« Reply #16 on: September 23, 2013, 10:15:21 AM »
Regarding the 401K, this is your time to review EVERYTHING. Look at everything again! You will find ways to save, ways to optimize, ways to improve. Since you are in this forum, I bet you have "new eyes" that will show you what you did not see before.

By "network," I mean "meet people." Some cities have networking events where you can meet people, make friends, form business contacts, and so on. If your town is too small, then that will be a challenge.

Where I live are many groups that allow for business networking. I also network within my professional work environment (which might not work for you if you don't want to stay in retail). However, networking *outside* of work could work for you.

StarryC

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Re: Frugal but no money?
« Reply #17 on: September 23, 2013, 10:34:23 AM »
It sounds like you are planning to make some big changes in job and living location if the opportunity arises.  In order to make those changes easier here is what I suggest:

1) Get some credit.  Go to your existing bank and ask for a credit card.  They will probably give you one, even with a $500 limit.  Use it for groceries and pay it off each month or put some of your recurring bills on auto pay and pay it off.  After 6 months, ask for a limit increase.

2) I would advise not paying off the mortgage so fast and putting that money into a savings account.  This could be the - down payment on a house in a more expensive area fund and the "month off work while moving" or the "higher expenses for a short time for a better long-term job" fund etc.  It looks like you have $10,900 available now.  I'd try to get that up to $20,000 if you can (which is a solid down payment or many months of living expenses).  This is buying flexibility instead of returns.  However, your mortgage is with your parents, so that might be different?

3) What is the private mortgage arrangement with the parents?  I suspect this might be a problem.  If you wanted to move and sell the house tomorrow, would there be family issues?  With the equity you are putting in, will you get it all back if you sell?  Maybe it is just my family, but is it possible the mortgage arrangement is tying you to a lower earning place emotionally? 

snuggler

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Re: Frugal but no money?
« Reply #18 on: September 23, 2013, 11:04:32 AM »
Great job working with what you've got! I'd focus on learning a side hustle, then eventually moving that towards a full time income stream. Focus on something you can plan around even with a changing work schedule.

Some options you may want to look into:

- creating websites/blogs: become good at Wordpress
- landscaping: not glamorous, but is paid well and clients are likely to be flexible (anytime in the latter half of the week...)
- painter of houses and rooms: again, clients are likely to be flexible. Decent pay with low minimum investment

Your wife should also be able to teach piano, or do a different side hustle, when you are home to watch the kiddos.

I would also focus on increasing your income by moving to a different area with more opportunities, moreso than worrying too much about what to do with your house. If you contribute so much, you're likely to have enough equity either now or in the foreseeable future to sell it at FMV and be able to pay off the mortgage note. Also, if you can increase your income, but keep your expenses low, then if you wanted to keep the house and fix it up to rent it out, you'd likely be able to save the money to fix it up rather quickly.

markstache

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Re: Frugal but no money?
« Reply #19 on: September 23, 2013, 11:12:01 AM »
work for free for a local property management office (a field I really want to get into) two days a week.

I've been listening to the podcasts over at biggerpockets.com. The format is usually an interview with someone doing real estate investing: flippers, wholesalers, landlords, etc. Several of the interviewees said that got their start working for free/cheap doing grunt work for someone else in the area. I think many of them met mentors either through local real estate groups, and both the hosts and the interviewees suggest using the biggerpockets forums to find a mentor in your area. Could be worth a shot.

Stache In Training

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Re: Frugal but no money?
« Reply #20 on: September 23, 2013, 11:29:42 AM »
1) Get some credit.  Go to your existing bank and ask for a credit card.  They will probably give you one, even with a $500 limit.  Use it for groceries and pay it off each month or put some of your recurring bills on auto pay and pay it off.  After 6 months, ask for a limit increase.

+1.  This is what I was going to suggest.  I was in the same boat in college, and my wife was in the same boat all the way until we went to buy our house. (Luckily we went for a 15 year mortgage, so the credit score didn't matter. Although getting a mortgage on a property that you're going to rent out has slightly different rules.)  We went to our local bank, and got a credit card.  Yes the limit started small, but then it grew.  Also, you should be able to get at least a 1% reward card (or be able to after making payments for like 6 months.) So that will save you 1% too!  Just make sure you pay it in full. Auto-pay is the way!

I agree with you.  It sucks that someone who is so good with their money and never needed credit or to go into debt should be rewarded, not penalized.  But that's not the way the world works.  So you got to play the game.  But trust me, when you win the game, it's fun!

MrsPete

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Re: Frugal but no money?
« Reply #21 on: September 23, 2013, 12:10:25 PM »
Considering that you don't earn much, you're doing amazingly well . . . but I don't see how -- at your current rate -- you'll reach FI in eleven more years.  One of your biggest assets is your lack of debt. 

Your car insurance seems high to me, but that may be geography.  I live in the land of low-priced . . . well, everything. 
Your food costs are unbelievably low!  Wow.
Hopefully your diaper costs will disappear soon. 

What you need is more income -- duh, like you didn't know that already. 

First, you have a degree.  Have you contacted your college's career placement services office to see if they can help you?  You say that you may need to move to another location, where more opportunity exists.  This may be true, but at the same time you may not be able to find such an inexpensive place to live.  Volunteering, as other people have suggested, is also a good idea -- a way to get your foot in the door.  I hear you when you say that scheduling is a problem.  You're valued at this grocery store, right?  Could you go to the manager and say, "I need to pick up a second job.  I need a more set schedule."  Make it clear that you don't want to leave, but you need stability.  Likely you're not easy to replace.  You're not asking for anything extra -- just stability in your schedule. 

Second, picking up a second job would help for now -- you mentioned delivering pizza, someone else mentioned house painting.  Options abound.  The question is, Do you want to do this second-job thing as a way to bring in extra money for now while you search for a higher-paying job . . . or do you want to turn this into a serious second-job that'll eventually become your "real job"?  Either option is viable, but which is your goal?

Third, I understand that your wife may be saving money by staying home at this point so that she can avoid paying day care expenses, but she could bring in some money too.  If I were in her shoes, I'd investigate after-school care.  She can "take in" more school-aged children, which means more checks each week; and it'll still allow her the day free.  She should be prepared to meet the kids at the bus, feed them a snack, and supervise homework.  This can be pretty profitable.  Piano lessons also sound like a good option, and other choices abound.  You're not in bad shape, but if she were bringing in some income, your savings rate would improve.   

Good luck to you!  You're not off to a bad start, but I think you can grow this into something better as years go by. 

sleepyguy

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Re: Frugal but no money?
« Reply #22 on: September 23, 2013, 02:46:18 PM »
I concur... you are so well optimized right now the only way to make it go quicker is getting a "side hustle" going.  Look into things with low overhead where you can "dump" if you decide not to pursue it further and it won't eat much into your savings or time.  Something like craigslist reselling, or general snow plow guy... you get the idea.

Hadilly

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Re: Frugal but no money?
« Reply #23 on: September 23, 2013, 03:12:25 PM »
I teach piano as my side hustle. PM me if your wife wants some advice on studio set-up. I've been doing it a long time and have a smooth and profitable system in place.

kh

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Re: Frugal but no money?
« Reply #24 on: September 23, 2013, 03:30:20 PM »
The only real luxury expense I see in your budget is that your wife is staying home with your kids. Sure, daycare would offset part of her new income, but any income she makes above that is nothing but bonus savings with your pared-down budget. Also, there is an opportunity cost to dropping out of the work force for a few years, in that even part time work would put her further up the part scale in a few years time than starting from nothing when the kids go to school.

Now, that's fine if her staying home is a priority for the two of you. But that means you have to work that much harder at improving your own pay (probably through leveraging your education) and picking up side hustles to pay for that luxury. Optimizing another $5 out of your budget will not get you to your retirement goals. At this point, you need to work on the income side of the equation. Since you already have a job, your wife is the quickest way to improve this situation.

APowers

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Re: Frugal but no money?
« Reply #25 on: September 23, 2013, 11:41:46 PM »
Thanks for all the ideas and suggestions! I will be trying as many of them as are workable for me, and looking into some of the others.

I never thought about regular banks offering credit cards. Definitely will ask about that when I visit the bank tomorrow.

APowers

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Re: Frugal but no money?
« Reply #26 on: September 24, 2013, 06:09:13 PM »
Update:

I just told my boss that I will only be available (starting November) mon/tues/wed. Then I went to the property management office and left my resume and told them that I would love to intern with them. The owner/broker was out at the time, so we'll see what she says.

Now I just need to find a side hustle that I can do nights and weekends to make up for the fact that I'm only getting 3/5 pay. I've got applications in at all the pizza delivery places in town (3), and am thinking about posting an ad up at the local community college and high school offering tutoring for basic/remedial algebra/math. Any other suggestions?

snuggler

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Re: Frugal but no money?
« Reply #27 on: September 24, 2013, 06:19:39 PM »
Landscaping (or just mowing lawns)
Painter


BlackRat

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Re: Frugal but no money?
« Reply #28 on: September 26, 2013, 05:30:29 AM »
Could you put a notice up in a post office or some public place like that (in my town the post office window is THE place to advertise stuff) - for tutoring, or a managerial one, or gardening/handyman skills.
Could your wife maybe do some buying and selling - finding stuff in garage sales, then selling it on ebay or craigslist (I'm assuming you're american).
We just bought a bunch of trees in tiny tubes for $1.80 each... propagating plants could be very profitable (though if you're somewhere hot and dry it would be harder/more expensive).

I'm really looking forwards to see how you do, good luck :)

NestEggChick (formerly PFgal)

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Re: Frugal but no money?
« Reply #29 on: September 27, 2013, 10:03:06 PM »
Overall your situation looks really good. Others have touched on most of the income/expenses areas, so I'd like to talk about the jobs thing. I have a lot of hiring experience, and I'm concerned that you've only gotten 2 interviews in 3 years. How many jobs did you apply for? If you only applied for 2 jobs that's fine, but if you applied for 20 then there's something wrong. If you're applying for a lot of jobs and not getting interviews then it's for one of two reasons: either you're applying for the wrong jobs, or you're applying for the jobs wrong.

Let's assume here that you're applying for the right jobs - this means jobs that you're qualified for. A lot of people don't apply correctly. First, are you on LinkedIn? For management jobs you should be. Before applying for a job, see if any of your connections on LinkedIn have a connection there. I once applied for a job but checked LinkedIn first and found out someone I knew was on the Board! Another time, a friend of a friend worked at the company I applied to. It's always worth checking. If it's a friend of a friend, ask your mutual friend for an introduction. Go to networking events. Having a personal connection can make a huge difference.

Next, look online and in the library for tips on how to do a resume and cover letter (and there should ALWAYS be a cover letter.) Use clear fonts with good spacing. Don't overdo formatting. Your resume should be easy to read at a glance. If someone only spends 30 seconds looking at it (not uncommon) will they see your most important qualifications? Keep it simple and direct. This is not the place to get wordy. Your cover letter should explain why you're excited to get into this new field, and it should explain the non-obvious management experience you have. I bet managing finances for your household isn't easy. You take care of kids. Maybe you have side jobs that provide relevant experience. Maybe your grocery job requires you to deal with difficult customers. The cover letter is where you lay it all out. And ALWAYS have someone proofread your resume and cover letters, but make sure it's someone who's good at proofreading.

Finally, it'll be tough for your wife to work while taking care of two little kids. But if she has some free time while they nap (unlikely, but you never know) she can do some of this research for you. There are countless web sites, Facebook sites, Twitter accounts, and books dedicated to these topics. They tell you how to set up your LinkedIn account for maximum effect, how to network, and how to write the best resumes and cover letters. And after you get those interviews, they'll tell you how to interview properly (start practicing a firm but not vice-like handshake) so that you can get a job offer quickly.

Good luck and keep up the good work!

kkbmustang

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Re: Frugal but no money?
« Reply #30 on: September 27, 2013, 10:12:18 PM »
@PFGal- I want to second your comment about the firm handshake. And for women- please, please, please use a firm grasp as well. None of that limp noodle handshake crap. Such a turn off.