by Tammy Taylor
I know several people that are struggling financially right now. Some because they went a little overboard during the holidays but some are struggling due to circumstances completely unforeseen & out of their control. Sometimes people find themselves with a large unexpected bill or maybe laid off either temporarily or permanently and BOOM – financial adjustments must be made sooner rather than later.
Of course families are varied and the journey to a more secure financial future will be different for each family’s circumstances. Some have very young children or teens living at home, some are single while yet others are empty nesters. Some families must work extended hours or deal with long commutes & some are stay-at-home parents. But there are some aspects of financial wellness that often remain the same no matter where you are in life – you find that by just cutting your waste that your finances are much more positively aligned. I certainly found that to be the case when we were adjusting our finances due to shortfalls.
When RancherMan & I were pouring over our finances trying to see if we could make the leap from cushy secure corporate-career employment with regularly-scheduled paychecks and bonuses to make-your-own-way self employment it was a scary time indeed. So believe me when I say I understand how at first it seems completely overwhelming but if you take a deep breath and look at things with a new more-frugal perspective you keep a clearer head & have a better chance to react. And surprise of surprises, many times the result ends up being not near as bad as you had feared. Stay with me now…
Adjust Lifestyle To Income
Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve discovered that we often just live according to the income received. I noticed that when there was a hearty increase in our monthly income we never really saw it. I guess it just got gobbled up in extra fast food, shopping trips and convenience items or the money-hiding boogy man – I have no idea, it just vanished. There was more money coming in but no more money in the coffers at the end of the month.
But I was pleasantly surprised to discover likewise when income was slashed (hard) that the same principle materialized – we simply lived according to our income and although adjustments had to be made I never really noticed a severe hardship because of it.
Helpful Financial Tips For Saving Money
Here are some things I’ve written about dealing with crunched finances:
* How To Make It Without A Corporate Paycheck – Some of these ideas take advance planning but some can be incorporated right now. In our case since I was now moving to self-employment so I was able to act on a great many money-saving features since I found myself with more time than money. If you’re looking for ideas of various ways to cut back expenses check it out.
* Grow a Veggie Garden – I already loved to garden but when our finances began to pinch I learned ways to make our garden even more productive. It now provides us with healthy nutrition for pennies on the dollar.
* Edible Landscape – I love to use the edible landscaping principle because it uses beds and spaces you already have. Some edible plants are actually quite lovely to look at and can be easily incorporated into your landscape.
* Learn to Preserve From Your Garden – This includes freezing, dehydrating or canning. That garden goodness can be preserved and enjoyed weeks or even months later.
* Reduce Non-Food Needs In Your Kitchen – This would include eliminating paper towels, napkins and plates as well as using repurposed rags for cleaning, repurposing glass jars for food storage & using cloth napkins. I quit buying things meant to be thrown away and instead came up with ways to make do (very well) with what we already had.
* Reduce Food Waste In Your Kitchen – Ideas such as planned leftovers and Cook-once Eat-Twice cooking mean that home-cooked meals can be as close as your freezer no matter how busy your day is. I also learned to make for myself those things I used to buy without a second thought such as mayonnaise, spice mixes and yogurt.
* Reduce Electrical Waste – When times got tough we became mindful of the electricity not only used but electrical usage that was just plain wasted energy. No we’re not sitting in the cold and dark to save electricity, we just cut the wasted usage and learned to use passive solar principles as well.
MYO Powdered Laundry Detergent – I’ve learned to make many of the household basics like powdered laundry detergent and a more environmentally-friendly fabric softener using scented vinegar (no, you can’t smell the vinegar when the clothes dry). And household cleaners are way too complicated nowadays and they shouldn’t be – different chemicals for different surfaces, really? Simplify your cleaning process – What Do YOU Use To Clean?
* Save On Television – OK I know you’ve heard the ole “cut the cable” argument but you say you just can’t do without your shows? There may still be hope – see how RancherMan & I have survived comfortably without cable.
Beware Of ‘Boredom Shopping’
There are other important changes that will help stretch your dollars. Be aware of shopping for shopping’s sake, and before you plunk down your cash on that item ask yourself if you really need it or do you have something that would work just as well? If it’s a necessity as yourself if you can buy it cheaper elsewhere?
For us thrift stores are a great place for sturdy work jeans and various housewares and I love that I can obtain those items very inexpensively and without a new whatsit needing to be manufactured for my use. That makes my environmental heart sing. I guess what I’m saying is that if you’ll just stop & review things that may not be necessity or that you pay others to do for you (convenience foods, haircuts, services, etc) and figure out how many of those things you can instead provide for yourself, you may be very pleasantly surprised at how easy it is. And how inexpensive the alternative is & how empowered you begin to feel.
So don’t fret, meet those financial challenges head-on. Yes you’ll have to tighten your belt but you’ll probably find it wasn’t as bad as you had feared. So you’ll give up ordering that home-delivered pizza or learn to cook healthier meals from scratch. Maybe you’ll learn to cut leftover-food waste or to be creative making delicious meals with less expensive ingredients. I’d like to offer this comfort – things will probably work out just fine. Take a deep breath and look at this opportunity to improve your finances, it’ll benefit you now when your budget is crunched, but the lessons you learn now will serve you well down the road too.
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