Last week, I talked briefly about the varied emotions that accompany loss of a job. This week, I want to offer some tips for slashing bills.
When you have lost your job, you need to cut everything nonessential from your budget. This is what we did:
1. Eliminate garbage services and satellite/cable. Saying goodbye to the satellite wasn’t so hard for us since stormy weather destroyed the dish. As for the garbage, we purchased large, plastic garbage cans and began taking our garbage to the local landfill once a month. The savings were significant. We live in a rural area so this is possible. If you live in the city and this is a more difficult option, I would call the provider and see if you can get the lowest option. If you don’t have a lot of trash, you might even share with a neighbor.
2. Call your telephone and utility companies and ask how to lower your plans. They want to work with you. The representatives I talked with were very kind; after all, making that call is difficult and humbling. We did keep our internet because I needed it for my work; however, if things would have warranted, we would have had to use the library and cut that also. We didn’t have cell phones at the time. The pay as you go phones are economical if it comes to that.
3. When grocery shopping, buy generic. Shop at less expensive stores and watch the sales ads for deals. Clip coupons and go shopping on double coupon day. If you are able to have a garden or garden box, plant vegetables. That helps with groceries. Somehow fresh veggies you have grown yourself are tastier and nourish body and soul.
4. Always pay your mortgage/rent and utilities first. We didn’t want to lose our home so those bills were paid first. Food money can be stretched, and sometimes you can eat less.
5. Use your library. We borrowed movies and books from the library. It’s wonderful entertainment that is free.
6. Walk or ride your bike when it is feasible. We’d use bike trails to safely travel to town for small errands. You save money and get exercise!
7. Use cold water. I like to use hot water for certain laundry, however, if that utility needs to come down, using cold water will lower it. Remember, the trial is short-term. You won’t have to always be so frugal.
8. Take your kids to the free dental clinic, if you have one. Losing your job means losing your insurance benefits, but there is help available. It was hard for me when the unemployment period stretched past a year and my kids hadn’t seen the dentist, especially my one child prone to cavities. In our area, there are some dentists who provide free care at set times for children 12 and under. It was a blessing to our family. I know it is hard to admit you need that help, but the hardest part of the whole thing was getting past my pride.
9. Cook from scratch and don’t go out to eat. This not only saves money but is healthier.
10. Cut your own hair or visit less expensive salons. My husband cut our boys’ hair. I just let mine grow long.
11. Don’t buy anything unless it is absolutely needed—then shop carefully for the best deal. Shoes wear out, I know. Unless someone grows out of the sizes you have, you can wait to buy clothes.
12. Work for exchange or barter. Perhaps someone needs help fixing something or catching up on yard work or farm work—if so they might be willing to hire you to do the task for them in exchange for something you need.
When my husband’s company was sending jobs overseas and the ax hung over our heads, we also visited our banker who helped us to refinance and consolidate debt. Another time when we feared something was wrong with the company, we had a different banker who wasn’t helpful at all; however, it doesn’t hurt to ask. I would hope for you to get a banker like our first.
These are some of the ways we lowered our expenses when the main income was only unemployment checks. I hope you will find them helpful if you are trying to save money. Will you share additional money saving ideas with us in the comments below? Thanks!