Anticipating furlough days or a loss of income? Consider these ways to prepare for and weather the storm.
All of us either know someone or are someone who has faced a furlough or other decrease in income. These are tough, economic times. No one, except maybe the politicians, is immune.
Our nation has been through this before. The Depression, the 70s. Mr. Mom actually comes to mind. There is plenty to learn from the past and Michael Keaton, especially when it comes to making ends meet.
If you anticipate a furlough or a decrease in income, here are some steps you can take:
1. Realize your priorities.
Food and shelter are your top two priorities. I don’t care who you are. Paying the rent or mortage and keeping food on the table come first. No, you don’t need cable, a new iPhone, or any fancy gadget. Come to grips with the fact that for a season, you will make do with fewer luxuries. No, it’s not fun, but it’s important to realize what are true necessities and what aren’t. If it is not a necessity and it doesn’t fit the budget, then you need to live without it.
(Yes, if only the government saw it this way.)
Audit your expenses and find things that you can cut. While we all enjoy luxuries, know that you’re going to need to tighten the belt for a season. You may need to defer further retirement investing in order to make ends meet. You might need to stop buying organics or whatever higher end food you love in order to stay under budget. You might need to find a cheaper appartment.
There are numerous ways to cut corners and save on almost everything. With a little creativity, you can keep some of the fun and spend less money.
2. Stop spending money you don’t have.
Consider cutting up the credit card or at least putting it on ice. Yes, that seems drastic. But, I know too well the siren song of plastic. It makes you think you have more spending power than you really do. Plastic gives you debt, nothing more.
We quit using our credit cards back in 2007 at a time when we had no income coming in. We lived off the little cash we had on hand. This helped us realize the value of a dollar and we were very careful in how we spent each and every one. Spending cold hard cash was a more serious endeavor than just swiping a card. We were able to live on a lot less because we didn’t rely on plastic.
Today we live without using credit.
3. Increase your income.
If you’ve cut every expense that you can cut, then your next logical step is to make more money. Plenty of people desperate to get out debt or simply to stay afloat use creativity and hard work to increase their income. I know it’s not as easy as it sounds. But, I’ve been there. I’ve been “hungry” enough to try all kinds of crazy — but also legal — means to boost the budget.
- Get another job. Talk to everyone you know, ask at relevant businesses. Even a part-time job in a local shop or restaurant can be a short-term solution to boosting your income. If you are good with kids, see about doing part-time daycare or babysitting. Take a paper route or sign on with a temp agency.
- Sell something. When we were getting out of debt, I sold LOTS of things that we didn’t need either through eBay, garage sales, or Cash4Books. No, I rarely got its “worth” back, but I figured it was more important to stay afloat. My husband unloaded a lot of guitars and music equipment, even though he loved them. That was a better choice for our family. When we got out of dire straights and saved the money, he was able to buy replacements that were even better than the ones he sold. Don’t feel the loss too hard, just get through the now.
- Barter. A job might be hard to find. But, if you’ve got the time, you may find that you’re able to barter your services with someone who can give you something valuable in trade. Be creative and just ask. You may surprise yourself with the opportunities you find especially with small businesses or those in agriculture.
- Reenter the workforce. This is hard, very hard for me to say. I have always been a diehard supporter of one parent being home to care for the children. That is me. Yet, when we were deep in debt, I doubled or quadrupled my efforts as a freelance writer so that I could supplement our income and help us get over a rough spot. SAHspouses can often generate some additional income without having to drastically alter the home environment.
4. Keep your chin up.
Like I said, this isn’t the first time our economy has been down. It probably won’t be the last. Having survived our own personal economic crash, I know that it can feel desperate. Hang on. Poor is a state of mind. Lord willing this situation won’t be permanent. Do your best, keep your eyes open for opportunities, and keep your chin up.
What advice do you have for someone facing a loss of income?
This is Frugal Friday. In an effort to make these weekly financial discussions more interactive, I’m no longer posting a link-up. Feel free to leave a link in the comments. But better yet, chat with us on today’s topic.