Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Financial Survival

So, have ya heard the economy is bad?

Seriously, I wanted to encourage everyone to just take a deep breathe. There are ways to survive this. This too shall pass. I have a few tips for saving a few bucks and cutting corners but first let me share the following stories.

1. Back in 1997 I was one year out of college living with my husband in a cabin within the hills of West Virginia. I got a very bad kidney infection. Together he and I made about $26,000 a year. We had $5 in our checking account. I couldn't keep food down. The doc suggested jello. Hubby took the $5 out of the bank and went to the grocery and bought me $5 worth of jello. Couldn't keep that down either. I kept the unopened boxes of jello for 3 years after that. I just couldn't get rid of them because I knew what paid for them.

We eventually moved and got better jobs, etc. Worked our way out of that situation until . . .

2. We moved down here in 2004. Hubby took a job that allowed me to stay home full time. Circumstances caused him to lose that job in 2006 - the day before our second child was born. Here we were, two jobless parents, with two kids.

Needless to say, our spending habits had to change OVERNIGHT! Trust me, I know it is hard. But one must evaluate their situation and change their mental mindset to accept the situation. These tips aren't just for those who are now on limited incomes, but also good ideas for everyone to incorporate.

Here are a few things we do. My family didn't have a lot of money when I was growing up so a few of these are just going back to my roots!

1. Borrow DVDs from the library instead of renting them.
2. Reduce restaurant visits to 1-2 times a month and choose places where kids eat free with reasonable prices.
3. Examine cell phone, telephone, cable and internet plans. Combine or change to save more money per month.
4. Examine home, car, health insurance plans to see if how we can save.
5. Make our coffee at home and splurge on $1.50 flavored creamer instead of getting Starbucks.
6. Only buy beer on special occasions or after a very stressful week. But only a small pack.
7. Only buy what is on the grocery list and nothing else!
8. Fix things. A shoe sole is coming undone - fix it instead of throwing out and buying new.
9. Stop buying things for the kids that they don't really need. Yes, it is cute and would be nice, but take a hard look. What do they actually need? Only one pair of tennis shoes is enough. One pair of sandles is enough.
10. Accept all donations from friends and donate as well. Don't feel dumb about doing so. I trade clothes with two college friends in different parts of the country. My boston friend sends me clothes for my daughter. I send her clothes for her son. I send my Dallas friend clothes for her daughter - many of which are being handed down a third time and are originally from my boston friend. I rarely buy clothes for my kids. Occasionally a new pack of undies or shoes or school uniform piece. It is OK to tell your kids NO!
11. Wait on coupons for oil changes. Going 1000 miles past the due date for an oil change won't ruin the car. I wait for that coupon to come in the mail.
12. Get honest opinion on replacing tires. Don't let them sell you tires too early if you can't afford it. Know it is coming and plan for it.
13. Freeze leftover food. Or plan ahead and make extra to freeze.
14. Hang clothes on clothes line outside or clothes rack inside and save on electricity. I hear unplugging appliances not in use saves electricity. I try to do this but not sure how much it saves.
15. Wash your car yourself - skip the car wash.
16. Shop for upcoming birthday gifts in advance. Scan the clearance aisles frequently and purchase boy and girl gifts that you think will work for any possible upcoming birthdays. I once gave someone from my daughter's class a scooter for their birthday that I scored for $10 at a Wal-Mart toy clearance.
17. Run air airconditioner a few degrees higher and heat a few degrees lower to save on your energy bill. Yes, it takes some getting used to but invest a small amount into some warmer jammies or bear a few sweat drops on your forehead. Your body will eventually adjust.
18. Buy store brands. One thing I learned in my marketing classes in college was that the store brands are actually manufactured by a name brand. So Huggies or Pampers probably makes Target brand diapers. Now, they may be of a slightly lesser quality, but still. Try it and see if the store brand really is all that different. Also, I used the Wal-Mart brand parent choice diapers forever and they were just fine. $5 for small pack, $10 for mega pack. Can't beat it!

19. Send the kids on the bus! Depending on where you live you should consider saving yourself time and money by just letting the bus shuttle your kids to and fro!

20. YES! Kelly, thank you for reminding me of garage sales. I just picked up 3 Ann Taylor ladies shirts for $1 each!

Have a tip or two to share? Leave a comment!


Jennifer said...

Great tips. I always have gumbo in my freezer! :)) And I trully agree with stop buying so much for the kids!! It's hard but really adds up.

mimosa momma said...

You forgot at garage sales! My kids wear Ralph Lauren Shirts that cost 25 cents!

I did hear that anything plugged into a wall is pulling 30% power to keep it on standby. I try to keep lamps, TV's and anything else I don't use often unplugged. My last electricity bill was still $500!!

Brandi said...

1. I don't buy birthday or any occasion cards; I have the kids make them.
2. I shop at the Samaritan Center (Grannies Attic). LOVE it! I buy all my jeans there, because I like them better- they are already soft and wearable, and they are brand-name like Gap and Ann Taylor.
3. Use your credit card's reward points. I have Discover, and I use my points for Borders cards to feed my book habit, and also to buy gift cards for other people. You can also get restaurant gift cards.
4. I reuse any piece of paper I can. If Elle brings home any type of announcement on white computer paper (even the colored ones,) I use the blank side by feeding it into my printer. I hardly ever use a new piece of computer paper for my printing by doing this and it is good for the environment.

I love all the ideas here!

Brandi said...

I also cut both my kids' hair and I get my own cut (and sometimes color) at the Aveda Institute in Covington, which is a training school for Aveda. Everything is CHEAP! But I've always loved my cuts and the products are great. But make sure you set aside lots of time when you go. It takes 2 or 3 times as long.

Greta Perry said...

You are a smart lady!

Clifton said...

I am going to extend my dad's 20.00 a week meal plan. The family will be full and may even gain 20lbs.