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May Budget – Hope


I have revised my monthly budget for our current circumstances and for this current month. While it doesn’t completely eliminate the drain from my savings. My stable of clients who require work every month is growing steadily.

Monthly Budget – May

Hope's Monthly Budget - May

Eliminated Expenses (temporary)

You will notice some line that were included in previous budgets have been removed at least temporarily:

  • Gymnastics – I have worked out an arrangement with the gym for four months (April-July,) buying me a little time to get back on my feet.  I am so grateful for their willingness to work with me.
  • Health Insurance – After draining the bulk of my savings over the last 3 1/2 months, we now qualify for Medicaid. The qualification is good for a year (based on income) and just began this month. Again, a temporary measure.
  • Food – In addition to the health insurance help, we now qualify for food stamps.  It’s a six months qualification, also beginning this month and also dependent on income. I don’t imagine we will qualify for long if I am able to continue to grow my business steadily. But for now, it takes a huge load off.
  • Credit Card – I continue to roll the credit card. This means, I am paying on the credit card and then turning around and paying bills with it. It is definitely my #1 debt goal to pay off this credit card as my income increases.

Annual Payments

I did not include quarterly or annual payments in this snapshot budget. First, none of them are due this month. Secondly, because with such a high deficit still in income versus spending, I can only take one month at a time. I can’t look at the big picture right now.

The payments I am referencing are:

  • Life Insurance (paid quarterly)
  • Certain Business expenses (most paid at the end of the year)
  • Amazon Prime (renews in September) speaking of that, what do you think of the increase in the cost for the Prime service?
  • and more that I can’t even thing of right now.


I have broken down my income based on my three current clients who require regular work. These amounts are the minimums contracted for each month and in each case the amount may vary. And by vary I mean may increase. For instance, one client has contracted a minimum of 10 hours per week at $17 per hour, but this past week, I invoiced for over 25 hours.

In addition, I continued to seek out and pick up project work such as website development. I have just completed a brand new, large e-commerce site and am finishing up a local flooring company’s site. The project income will vary from month to month.

Expense Elimination

I realize there are still some extras in my budget, specifically, Netflix and Universal. To be honest, Netflix is something we use ALL the time. Since our extra budget is $0 with a capital 0…having the option to watch movies or shows is kind of nice.

As for the Universal passes, it’s me clinging to the someday when travel returns to our lives. But I know I need to cancel it. If I can’t return to the black back the end of the summer, I will cancel it. I just need to cling to that hope a little bit longer.

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  • Reply Hope |

    Because i forgot to add this to the post…I have called the Georgia Department of Labor every day this week after my call last week indicated there was movement.

    To date (Friday) still no update. Although on my call today, they said they had contacted the state as we were WAY past three months now. The state said they released a decision yesterday but the local office could not see it in their system.

    Waiting on pins and needles. They have said if decided in my favor, I will get the approved weeks (supposed to be 14) payments in a lump sum. Send up a prayer for us. That would be life changing right now.

    • Reply Emily N. |

      Fingers crossed that it’s in your favor–you definitely deserve it!

      • Reply Hope |

        Thank you, Emily, I’ve been told by a “supervisor” that my packet will be processed today. Please pray for the decision to be in my favor. I should find out tomorrow.

  • Reply csdx |

    Honestly I’d not stress about netflix, it’s well within a rounding error in your budget and if that’s the only real entertainment expenses, that’s not really living high on the horse there.

    Is the cell phone line item just for business lines or does that mix personal ines in there too? If you shop around that might be a quick way to trim that down, more so than quitting netflix could save you. If you’re not currently tied to your company (contracts or needing to pay off phones), you should be able to find options for around $20-$40 per line.

    Though wow that car is really eating up the budget, more than the cost of rent when you include all the expenses for it.

  • Reply Laura |

    I hope you hear about unemployment soon. Good job cutting expenses. Stretch the food stamps as much as you can.

  • Reply Maureen |

    Is the income before or after taxes? Does this include the editing job? I hope the unemployment news is good!

  • Reply Shanna |

    Just a quick note, Amazon Prime comes with a lot of access to TV, movies, etc. You would be better served cancelling Netflix and cable (if you have it) and using Prime for entertainment.

  • Reply Katie |

    This post is causing me anxiety. Your income is not enough. This is the equivalent of a full-time job at $9.25/hour. I’m rooting for you, but more than any other blogger on this site, it feels like you have been treading water or losing ground a lot (most?) of the time. I’m exhausted reading about it. Living it must feel chaotic.

    And, I’ll say it. Demand child support. It is BS that your ex hasn’t paid it, and now you are on public assistance. Real men take care of their kids.

    • Reply Drmaddog |

      This. I hope the state required Hope to list the father to get benefits because they could go after him then for what they pay out on her behalf. I, too, am very interested in the absence of the part time job income she was supposed to have. I really hope it isn’t missing because it was a ‘corporate’ job that she decided she didn’t want.

      Hope, I too am rooting for you but find you make very frustrating decisions. You have been homeless with your children and now live in poverty, never mind saving for the future or retirement. I am so bothered for you and your kids. I believe in a public safety net, but I also just as strongly believe that you must be a wise steward of the taxpayer dollar, if you are on public assistance. I really hope those manicures and sports have gone the way of the dodo bird if they are costing you a dime.

  • Reply Cwaltz |

    It looks like you are paying more for the car payments than you need to. Is there a reason you are applying money there instead of putting the extra 90 something odd dollars into the credit card with a high interest rate of eliminating it from the budget to decrease your net loss? I would also look carefully at your phone costs and your personal gas expenses. Both of those numbers look high to me( My spouse commutes 45 minutes each way and we don’t spend $400 a month in gas). Even decreases of 100 to car, 100 to self lend, 50 to universal and decreases of $100 to gas and $50 to phone would pull your numbers down $400 to put your net losses below $1000.

    • Reply Hope |

      You are right. I continue to pay more than I owe on the car every month. It is a 3 year loan and I am determined to have it paid off ASAP. Having an asset that is free and clear is important to me.

      The gas continues to be high because of the hour long gymnastics commute; however, I am using that time in a larger city very wisely…looking for work, attending networking events and expanding my business outside of our small town. I believe it will pay off in the long run, business wise and of course, with gymnasts sport.

  • Reply Sue |

    I think every family has to do what works best for them. You are making changes all the time which is what you have to do if you are going to be able to get by. There is no point in setting a budget without any wiggle room – it just won’t work. You are a hard-worker and will do what is best for your family – some choices you make might not be choices other make but they aren’t walking your journey – hang in there and just keep doing your best – that is ALL any of us can do.

    • Reply Hope |

      Thank you, Sue. I do finally feel like I can balance the good advice I get here with the needs of my family. That balance is something I have struggled with forever.

  • Reply SMS |

    Fingers and toes crossed for the unemployment payments! If it is a favorable decision, can you PLEASE put some of the money into a rainy day fund? There is no room in your budget for the inevitable unforeseen expenses.
    I agree with the others that it is way past time for your ex-husband to contribute.

    • Reply Hope |

      Yes, my savings account is definitely looking pretty dismal. I am very motivated to rebuild rather than continuing to drain it with monthly expenses.

  • Reply Laura |

    So what is universal? I thought it was some kind of credit card since you listed it under debts but it sounds like you are paying for passes to Universal Studios? If that is the case cancel it now. Your income is half of what you need to cover your expenses, and that is even with being on public assistance. You won’t be able to afford a trip for a long time.

    • Reply Mary |

      Oh good point for noticing universal studios. Yes, I second you cancel this immediately especially since you’ll be on public assistance.

    • Reply amy |

      I agree that this needs to be cancelled. Not only on the cost front, but on the premise that you are on public assistance and should be doing everything you can not to be.

  • Reply Kate |

    I honestly have no idea, but wonder if there is someone you could discuss with to see if the rate you are charging is reasonable? It seems really low to me, especially as you are a consultant (i.e. no benefits). In our area (MA), which I know is a higher cost-of-living area, a lot of retail jobs start at $15/hour. Where you have a specific skill set I would think you could make more.

    • Reply Hope |

      You are right, Kate. I’m definitely focusing on low hanging fruit right now just to have some steady income. But my hourly rate is low for my skillset. Something to address as things stabilize and I become more clear on what I will focus on.

  • Reply Christa |

    Congrats on the progress with your contracting jobs! I know you will keep attracting new clients with all the positive mindset work you are doing! I do agree with the others about cutting Universal and trying for child support. Another thing to look into, when I had to use food stamps, I got a free cell phone plan through safelinkwireless.com. I’m not sure if they have restrictions on using it for business, but it was a big help to me!

    And as for retail jobs- I’m right next door in Huntsville Alabama and they only pay $10 an hour. Sending you prayers for the unemployment!!

    • Reply Hope |


      I’m with you on the pay per hour around here. Even admin jobs I have applied for that require bookkeeping and some other advanced skills only pay $10 per hour.

      • Reply Angie |

        $10 an hour is more than you are making freelancing once you look at it deeper. 30% of your income is “business expenses” . So if you’re charging $15 an hour, it’s eating 30% of your rate right off the bat. $10 an hour. Take off 7% extra self-employed FICA taxes next and you’re at $9.75/hour. And this is only the billable hours. How much additional time are you spending trying to get clients, doing paperwork, or networking that you aren’t billing? That all reduces your hourly rate.

        You’d be in the same, if not better position, with a $10 an hour, 32 hour per week retail job. You’d also get health insurance and 401k options.

        What happened to that part-time job you picked up anyway?

        • Reply Hope |

          I see your point, but you must also take into account the cost of the commute, the cost of clothes to work at any job outside the home, etc.

          The part time job…that is another story, for another time. I worked there until last Thursday, and let’s just say the job ended through no fault of my own, and there are now criminal charges pending (not against me.)

  • Reply JayP |

    Sounds like you are in a better mental state and congrats on putting these numbers out and making a solid effort! You may want to start looking at a larger picture on the full time job versus consulting. Even if your consulting increases, this doesnt appear to be nearly enough to cover all the ground you need(If you double the income that wouldnt be enough). So keep doing it, and keep trying to pursue new clients, but I would also keep actively searching for full-time employment! What you have to ask yourself is, “What is the best path that is going to take me from struggling everyday to a path to financial indepence?” If you can put a short term business plan together where you gross at least 5-7K per month, then shoot for that. Be honest about the prospects and not just hopeful. If that doesnt appear likely in the short term you must pursue a full time gig IMO. Good luck, everyone is rooting for you! PS – have you considered learning SalesForce programming? Another blogger put out there that he easily made 20K part time doing that and it wasnt too difficult. If you can design web pages, etc that may be something to consider.

    • Reply Hope |

      Hi JayP,

      Thank you for the well thought out advice.

      I actually know SalesForce…have supported it for years with various clients.

  • Reply Danielle |

    Also, I’m not sure if you know this, but you can get Amazon Prime for $5.99/mo if you have EBT. Cancel the Netflix and rely on Prime alone for entertainment, and call them and have them switch you to the EBT rate.

    • Reply Hope |

      It was a 3 year loan to begin with. I’ve paid an extra $92 each payment.
      I think if I can add another $100 to my monthly payment. I can almost have it paid off by this time next year.

  • Reply Angie |

    I’m not trying to argue with you but convince you to stop thinking of things in general terms only. You bring up the cost of clothes (which you obviously already have clothes on your back) so added cost is minimal. But then ignore the difference in cost of health insurance which could be several hundred a month. If you aren’t assigning values to these things it’s impossible to make a true comparison. It’s just talk and not tangible. Of course intangible benefits such as flexibility and comfort can sway decisions, but you don’t have that luxury right now.

    I suggest you take a detailed look back at all your business spending for the past few years. Make a total spent on a per year basis since you were contracting to give you a good idea of what your real expenses are. On top of that, you need to start diligently tracking how many hours and miles you’re spending on your business that are not billable (networking, accounting, driving, invoicing, proposals, etc). Get a true picture of what you are spending, not just monetarily but energy and timewise.

  • Reply Marcy Trost |

    Even if you decide to keep Netflix, drop it down to the 1 screen at a time option, which is only an $7.99/month charge instead of the 4 screens option at a $13.99/month charge. That is what my 4-person family (with 2 teen boys) uses, no issues!

So, what do you think ?