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Old 02-14-2018, 09:05 PM
char_hart80 char_hart80 is offline
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Question How do you Budget?

Just out of curiosity, but how do you budget everything while your loved one is in prison? ... I have been looking up budgeting tools and so forth, but I am curious to see how all you ladies and gents budget everything.
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Old 02-14-2018, 09:30 PM
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I’m MWI. I feel probably less obligated to be financially obligated to someone that I met as a pen pal than someone who knew them before they went in. I pay for calls and at first I spent quite a bit more than I do now. I now budget 3 calls a week which is about $20. I will buy some magazines and books but I do that on my own and when I have extra money. When I visit of course I pay for that.

I actually don’t like to see those that are MWI all of a sudden start supporting and budgeting their money for the inmate. It’s not your responsibility to support them, imo. Especially if you have children you are raising. I would never do without what I want to support someone in prison. And yes, I said what I want. I give when I want and he’s never asked for anything except a book here and there. Every once in awhile I will send an Ecomm package. So I guess the short answer is I don’t budget anything except $20/ week for calls.
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Old 02-14-2018, 09:45 PM
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AndyS is absolutely right.

I always hate seeing people taken advantage of, those "outmates" who are spending hundreds of dollars per month on their prisoner... taking money away from their own needs, or that of their young children.

If it's getting to the point where you're having to budget, then you are spending too much, IMHO.

The truth is, a prisoner doesn't NEED more than $50 per month tops to get by pretty comfortably in there, since most of their needs are already met in there. And not much really changes in there from day-to-day, so there's really no point in daily phone calls either. One a week was plenty for me, and snail mail letters to talk about the more in-depth stuff that couldn't be easily relayed over a 15-minute phone call.

If you really feel obligated to contribute more than that per month, it would be far better spent investing in a savings account for when he gets out. Because that's when you really need the money -- getting back on your feet once you are released, not while you are being clothed, housed, and fed while in prison.
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Old 02-14-2018, 09:56 PM
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When life was normal my husband and I had a "nut" that we lived on every month. Anything excess went into savings and/or to pay for certain fixed expenses annual expenses like property taxes and income taxes since he was self employed.

For the months leading up until he was leaving, I started making lists of what expenses would go away because he was gone - cell phone, iPad data, decreased health insurance, Rx costs, gasoline, food bills, dry cleaning, etc. but also added back an adjustment for commissary and costs for my visits. From that I got to a new "nut" of what I would need to live off of while he was gone.

Once the realization had hit that he was going to take a plea, I had really made an effort to save as much as I could from my work to have to live off of while he was gone, because I knew we would need every penny of his income beforehand.

I am very rigid about staying within that budgeted amount that I move into my account every month because if I don't, then I won't have enough to live off of while he is gone. I will also need to make sure there is enough to get through for when he gets home to cover us until he starts earning some money. My goal is to avoid going into savings at all costs, but if necessary, that is there for a rainy day.
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Old 02-14-2018, 10:19 PM
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The first month my husband was in prison I wrote every expense down. Phone calls stamps visits money for visits commissary etc.
It costs me a total of 400$ a month for everything for him which meant I had to get a third job because the first two pays our bills with money left over for food and whatever I need or my daughter needs. When he comes home I'm quiting the third job because I need a break.
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Old 02-14-2018, 10:23 PM
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Originally Posted by nygirl17 View Post
The first month my husband was in prison I wrote every expense down. Phone calls stamps visits money for visits commissary etc.
It costs me a total of 400$ a month for everything for him which meant I had to get a third job because the first two pays our bills with money left over for food and whatever I need or my daughter needs. When he comes home I'm quiting the third job because I need a break.
Wow. Three jobs. No way I’d work three jobs. When do you have time to spend with your daughter? $400 a month sounds crazy to me. I live alone and only support me and I wouldn’t spend that much. I know you love your husband though and do anything for him. You are a much better person than me. lol.
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Old 02-14-2018, 11:06 PM
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Because he is only going to be in there for 90 days, he hasn't asked for anything other then a few dollars to be able to call me and if my budget allows and he's asked his mother also, that if we can afford it just to throw $10-$20 on his books so he can get some essentials like deodorant and such. He did emphasis not to put anymore then $20 on his books because he said he doesn't need much, he just doesn't want to stink lol!

Only thing that bothers me is how much phone calls are and such which sucks! ... So I am budgeting at least $10 a week, so $40 a month.

I am mostly asking how do you generally budget with out your loved one home and obviously not being able to help contribute to the home, like rent/mortgage, Utilities, car payments and such.

Quite honestly I would never take on a third job just to pay for my bf's prison stuff, and I highly doubt he would even want me to, he get's ticked at me even thinking about ordering him a book or something lol if anything he would rather me put that money on phone time because he likes to call me. He's pretty frugal, even keeps old butter containers to store left overs in O_O which I thought was odd and annoying at the same time because I would keep picking up the container thinking it was the one with butter in it -_-
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Old 02-14-2018, 11:26 PM
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Well you’re MWI aren’t you? How did you pay for your expenses before you met him? If he’s only there for 90 days when did you meet him?
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Old 02-14-2018, 11:31 PM
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Originally Posted by char_hart80 View Post
Because he is only going to be in there for 90 days, he hasn't asked for anything other then a few dollars to be able to call me and if my budget allows and he's asked his mother also, that if we can afford it just to throw $10-$20 on his books so he can get some essentials like deodorant and such. He did emphasis not to put anymore then $20 on his books because he said he doesn't need much, he just doesn't want to stink lol!

Only thing that bothers me is how much phone calls are and such which sucks! ... So I am budgeting at least $10 a week, so $40 a month.

I am mostly asking how do you generally budget with out your loved one home and obviously not being able to help contribute to the home, like rent/mortgage, Utilities, car payments and such.

Quite honestly I would never take on a third job just to pay for my bf's prison stuff, and I highly doubt he would even want me to, he get's ticked at me even thinking about ordering him a book or something lol if anything he would rather me put that money on phone time because he likes to call me. He's pretty frugal, even keeps old butter containers to store left overs in O_O which I thought was odd and annoying at the same time because I would keep picking up the container thinking it was the one with butter in it -_-
It can be hard, but in our case we knew for quite awhile he was going to be going away. At one point we were told he could get a 3 year sentence, so every penny I made from working was saved for that. We didn't live on any of my income and only on his. It was tight there at the end because he had to shut down his business before he was sentenced and the sentence kept getting delayed. I thought I would have to go into those savings to support both of us for quite a few months. Fortunately, he was able to do some consulting for the last few months and while it didn't replace the income he had been making prior, it was enough to cover us until he went away.

You just have to do the best you can, and cut where you can, while you can. The night I came back from dropping my husband off at the prison, I literally walked in the door from the airport, and cancelled his cell phone and HBO. It sounds nominal, but it all adds up. I wouldn't get an extra job to pay for stuff for him either, and he would never let me. I would cut something else if need be, but everyone has to do what works for them. When he left I got a hotel points card because I could get 50,000 bonus points just for getting the card, which had no annual fee. That was good because that equated to almost 2 nights at a hotel when visiting him, so I look for things like that so it isn't as costly to see him. It's really all a balancing act and making choices.

My kids however, are my priority and they always come first. I am not going to ever make them pay the price for what has happened as they didn't ask for this. So, their needs always come first. Of course, I didn't either, but I chose to marry him, they just came along for the ride!

I should add also, that I divorced my first husband 10 years ago so I have been through the process of learning how to budget on less income/funds, paying bills etc. so that helped for this go around knowing how I would adapt on having a lot less income and only 1 person contributing to the household, because my child support certainly wasn't going to cover all the expenses.

You'll figure it out!

One other thing, my husband was spending $10 every other day emailing me. We weren't using the phone that often because it is sort of annoying getting cut off after 15 minutes. But spending email at that rate was going to be too costly. I finally told him he needs to check it less because every time he checks it and emails me, I email back, so of course he's going to use it more. So, ultimately that's what he did. Checking it less, equated to spending less. Now I think he only spends $20/week. So little things like that do make a difference.
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Old 02-15-2018, 05:31 AM
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MANY would benefit from laying out their monthly expenses in a self-created Excel spreadsheet. When everything is out there, including minimum and balance, to include housing and utilities, it gives a much better view of what is actually available for discretionary spending.
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Old 02-15-2018, 05:35 AM
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I'm actually doing this and I'm always surprised what I pay for stuff... still spending too much...
But this helped me a long time ago after my divorce when I left the US and moved back home and had to start from ZERO... I had literally nothing but a few boxes of dishes and my dog.
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Old 02-15-2018, 07:57 AM
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Well you’re MWI aren’t you? How did you pay for your expenses before you met him? If he’s only there for 90 days when did you meet him?
Long story short lol ...... We met about 6 months after his first long stint in prison. And at that time he had been absconding, (his first parole violation). I didn't know at the time about the absconding bit till after about 3 weeks into dating, he did tell me before we started dating that he had been in prison and told me what for. This was the same time he showed me his papers and all his court documents and such and told me about him absconding. He just didn't anticipate that he was going to fall for me so quickly and didn't want to lose me.

Before him, I was still learning as I was at the time 9 or so months and before the divorce I was a stay at home mother for almost 10 years, so I was re-entering the work field.

Right now I am wanting to learn other ways of budgeting, just to see how others do it, because the way I am budgeting isn't really working.
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Old 02-15-2018, 08:17 AM
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First of all, think about yourself. You don't owe him anything. Put aside a certain amount each month you think you can spend on him (calls, stamps, whatever) but put yourself and your family first. He's fed and housed so it's you first.
Just because you love him does not mean you have to "sacrifice" stuff (as in monetary things). But make a list with all your expenses and see what you have left per month - just for yourself. You then decide what's the right amount to support your love in prison. But it is not supposed to be a MUST... but you shouldn't miss out on anything on the outside.
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Old 02-15-2018, 08:43 AM
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Lmao I was so bad at first I sent $200. to him
$150. Securus
$400. visiting
$ 80. gas for visiting

This was just prison stuff. The only bills I had were car insurance $100. & cell phone $50. In 1 year I saved about $400. a month. I had about $5000. in the bank. So I actually was doing better when he was in. But only because I didn't have to pay for a place to live and all my cost of living was covered. So I really can't say how I budgeted because I didn't really. Oh yeah I worked my ass off at a hotel & did side jobs for this.
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Old 02-15-2018, 09:02 AM
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Wow. Three jobs. No way I’d work three jobs. When do you have time to spend with your daughter? $400 a month sounds crazy to me. I live alone and only support me and I wouldn’t spend that much. I know you love your husband though and do anything for him. You are a much better person than me. lol.
I only send him 50$ a month the rest is for everything else. 100$ for phone a month. visits and vending machine money and stamps is the rest. Visits cost alot because I have to rent a car everytime. My daughter is in college so I see her when she comes home but we talk everyday. When she was home last year and the year before she was barely home anyway because of school activities and her bf so we made time when we could. Believe me I never missed a game or a school function. I plan very well. It's tough working three jobs but I want to be able to do what I can do for him and he's very comfortable. He has everything he needs. There are some months where I can send more and I do because he doesn't eat the food they serve so he eats only what he can get through commissary. And yes I would go to the end of the world for my husband because he does the same for me. And the shocker to this is I've still managed to save $6000 and that balance will be bigger because I've taken on another house to clean so I have a full time job a part time job and a house to clean on Sat and Sun
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Old 02-15-2018, 09:43 AM
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I budget everything for 2 weeks at a time because I get paid every two weeks and I try to split everything so it's even. I split my truck payment in half so I pay half every two weeks and the same with the electric. I have all my bills in google calendar which is printable. Then I look at what's due in that two weeks and that's what gets paid. I try to have it budgeted, typed out and in a binder for 2 months in advance.

I'm a little crazy though because I budget EVERYTHING! Gas, groceries, all the bills, visit money, co-pays...
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Old 02-15-2018, 11:49 AM
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Right now I am wanting to learn other ways of budgeting, just to see how others do it, because the way I am budgeting isn't really working.
I live on a shoestring and one that never knots, so if something goes wrong I'm in trouble. That's not my choice, that's my health and being disabled by it. Budgeting is depressing because my basic living expenses eat up roughly 80% of my income. I live very frugally (no new clothes unless absolutely necessary, my housing is $180...that kind of frugal).

For me, envelopes work the best. I don't know how other people use them, but I had a friend from high school show me hers once and it just stuck with me. Because I have so little, it's pretty easy and I find I manage it better when I see the cash and not an abstract ledger. I have envelopes for *needs, *wants and *savings. The envelopes are labeled exactly for that thing, not generically.

Needs are specific-- car insurance that I pay every six months. Wants are related to my husband-- phone money, visits. Savings is a little odd-- I try not to spend a $5 bill. Every time I get one, I put it in the "$5" envelope. That is my emergency fund. Needs don't really shift, wants definitely do, and some months that $5 envelope is dormant.

I also have a credit line attached to my checking account with a balance. In order to get ahead on that, I pay slightly over the min balance every month and whenever I open my checking account balance, I transfer the change over to the credit line. In other words, if my checking account has a $75.23 balance, that $.23 is paid toward my credit line. It's amazing how much that adds up over a month and I don't miss it.
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Old 02-15-2018, 01:14 PM
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I simply spend as little money as possible. Cook cheap, use re-usable stuff, second hand stuff, stay at home a lot. If I have money left at the end of the month half of it goes to the savings account and with the other half I'll buy myself something, eat out, candy, pretty stationary, something like that.
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Old 02-15-2018, 05:54 PM
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Go through the last 3 banking statements and high light your spending into categories. Housing/utilities, transportation, debt, etc etc

Once your done make a list of all your bills for the month and how much you pay. You can separate it weekly, biweekly, monthly, based on how you get paid. Spend your money on paper. You'll find the leaks you need to plug.
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Old 02-16-2018, 11:44 AM
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For him (we are MWI and I live in EU so cannot afford frequent visits) my budget is 80 dollars a month. He uses 80% of it on phone cards so that we can speak, and the rest for coffee

Oh, I do also put money on Jmail so that our letters travel faster. We've been speaking on the phone so much lately though that letters are not so many right now, so that hasn't really been a frequent monthly expense.
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Old 02-16-2018, 11:48 AM
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Go through the last 3 banking statements and high light your spending into categories. Housing/utilities, transportation, debt, etc etc

Once your done make a list of all your bills for the month and how much you pay. You can separate it weekly, biweekly, monthly, based on how you get paid. Spend your money on paper. You'll find the leaks you need to plug.
Many banks have this feature built in now. If you have a checking account that you spend all your money out of you can check out the online banking page and probably find a budget/money manager section that will break it down for you.

Still, I prefer to see everything in black and white on paper.
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Old 02-16-2018, 01:29 PM
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Many banks have this feature built in now. If you have a checking account that you spend all your money out of you can check out the online banking page and probably find a budget/money manager section that will break it down for you.

Still, I prefer to see everything in black and white on paper.
Me too. I like to physically write it out. I don't forget either once I write it down.
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Old 02-16-2018, 06:09 PM
char_hart80 char_hart80 is offline
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Thanks everyone! I like some of the ideas here and will defenitly give some of those a shot like the envelope idea and bank statement idea to ... great ideas!

This past two weeks, he turned himself in on the 2nd of February, I have only put $20 on his books so he can get essentials and some food, and $25 on the phone. He's told me he doesn't want me to put any more on his books because has what he needs now, and just to put what ever I can afford on the phone so he can call me. So I plan on just putting $25 a month on our pre-paid phone thing so he can call me, he said if anyone else wants to call him then they need to fund it themselves.

Right now, like miamac, my living/debt to income ratio is a pretty slim so I have to really watch what I spend my money on. So I did budget the $25 a month, and it works. I am also going to start monitoring everything proper over the next few months, and start writing everything I spend in a notebook. And start tracking all my spending so I can start to focus that every cent is accounted for by dividing those expenses into categories.

The boyfriend is actually really lucky, the company he used to work for offered his job back once he has completed his stint in prison. They said to him that he's a hard worker and one of the only reliable workers that they have had and would love for him to come back, so that's a plus
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Old 02-16-2018, 06:40 PM
onedayatatime13 onedayatatime13 is online now
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Originally Posted by char_hart80 View Post
Thanks everyone! I like some of the ideas here and will defenitly give some of those a shot like the envelope idea and bank statement idea to ... great ideas!

This past two weeks, he turned himself in on the 2nd of February, I have only put $20 on his books so he can get essentials and some food, and $25 on the phone. He's told me he doesn't want me to put any more on his books because has what he needs now, and just to put what ever I can afford on the phone so he can call me. So I plan on just putting $25 a month on our pre-paid phone thing so he can call me, he said if anyone else wants to call him then they need to fund it themselves.

Right now, like miamac, my living/debt to income ratio is a pretty slim so I have to really watch what I spend my money on. So I did budget the $25 a month, and it works. I am also going to start monitoring everything proper over the next few months, and start writing everything I spend in a notebook. And start tracking all my spending so I can start to focus that every cent is accounted for by dividing those expenses into categories.

The boyfriend is actually really lucky, the company he used to work for offered his job back once he has completed his stint in prison. They said to him that he's a hard worker and one of the only reliable workers that they have had and would love for him to come back, so that's a plus
Also, factor in visits and total costs when you look at your spending. It adds up quick. If you write, budget stamps and such.

Look up ways to budget based on how you get paid.
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Old 02-17-2018, 11:11 PM
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bellabelle bellabelle is offline
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I use the app mint , i put in all my accounts and it compares how i spend my money to others itll make a comemnt saying " you spend 30 dollars more on car insurance then others" or " you spent this much over your food budget"
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