Getting through Financial Hardships: Part 1
Surviving Financial Hardships: Part 1
Have you ever had to deal with financial hardships? Whether you are going through them right now, or have in the past, I thought I would share some of the things that I did to get us through those times. I know that my ideas will not work for everyone, but maybe they will give you something to think about. I will also share some of the mistakes that I made during that time, things I wish I had or hadn’t done, and where I am at now.
This is one of those post, that as a blogger, you go back and forth asking yourself, how much do I tell about myself? How much about my “real” life do I want my readers and the world to know? I have always been an honest person, and more of an open book in person. I know it is hard not to judge someone else, but I ask that you be kind in your comments. I tend to wear my feelings on my shoulder.
There are different ranges of financial hardship. For one person, it means living on the street and not having a stable income, for someone else it means living paycheck to paycheck, and/or not having enough money to pay the bills, or buy food, whereas for someone else it may mean not having the money to buy that big toy or be able to go on that family vacation they have been wanting to go on. In all honesty, my experience would be somewhere between living paycheck to paycheck, not having enough money for bills, and not being able to buy that “toy” or go on vacation. I have never had to experience not having a place to live and not having an income. I pray to God that I never have to. I have been lucky enough to have family that have always been very supportive, emotionally and financially.
In the early years of my marriage, my husband worked for a local pulp mill. The pay was good, when they were working, but for the most part, they worked a couple months and then were laid off a couple months. It was a very stressful time. Our children were pretty young and I am sure this stress effected them too. Although, we tried hard to not let it. Kids should not have to worry about grown up issues.
When we first had our kids, we made the decision that I would stay home with them. I felt very strongly about this, and so, when my husband was laid off, I didn’t go out and look for a job. I did do a couple side jobs, clean my dad’s house, clean my mother-in-laws house, help both of them with their business bookkeeping. This brought in a little bit of money, which we were thankful for. I felt that my staying home during this time, would help our kids feel like life hadn’t changed. Looking back, I really don’t think that I would have changed this decision. I know some of you will disagree with this and think that I should have gone out an gotten a “real” paying job. Maybe I should have, I don’t know. What I do know, is that this was the right decision for us.
One of the things that I did, and still do to this day, is stock up on groceries and other necessities. I know it is odd, but I have this need to buy items in four’s. Why four? I don’t know. (Yes, I can buy less of an item or more, but this tends to be my “magic” number.) Keep your eye out for coupons and sale items, and buy more than you actually need. I love when I can find buy one get one free. Those are the best times to stock up. In fact, I just bought 12 jars of Bertolli Sauces. I paid for 6 and got 6 free. The only thing that would have made this better is if I had had coupons! It will be months before I will need to buy any more! I also love places like Costco where you can buy in bulk. How was I able to do this during those rough times? I was able to do this a couple different ways. I always used our tax return money to stock up on all of our “supplies” and then would buy more through out the year when we got down to two of an item. I was also able to stock up during those times when my husband was working. How did this help us then and now? We always had food to eat, personal hygiene products, and paper products. I didn’t have to worry about buying groceries, or any of those other items during those months that he was laid off. That made for one less stress! This has really become something I just do without even thinking about it. With there just being two of us now, I don’t have to go shopping as often. Not only does this save me time, but it also keeps me from buying any unnecessary things that I might spy and “think” I need or have to have.
Another thing that I tried to do with our tax return money, or during those times my husband was working, was to pay ahead on some of our utilities. This was a huge help during those times he wasn’t working. Just being one month ahead would make it easier on us when we only had unemployment money coming in. This is also one area that you have some control over. You can cut back on the things that aren’t necessary, or at the very least minimize them. We never paid for cable. We either watched what we could with an antenna, watched movies we owned, or rented movies. All of those were substantially less money than paying for cable tv. We also didn’t have cell phones. Of course, this was before cell phones were so popular! If I was in this position now, I would most likely keep my cell phone, but look at my plan and see if there was something cheaper. Of course, it could also be canceled if it was at the end of its contract. Electricity and water can always be lowered by being conservative. Instead of turning the heat up, put on a sweatshirt, or cover up with a blanket. (Snuggling helps warm you up too!) When washing dishes, fill the sink up with water, instead of keeping the faucet on the whole time. I also hang dry most of our clothes. I hang all of our shirts and pants, and only dry socks, underwear, towels, and bedding.
Do you live in a state that has a bottle deposit? We had several family members that either threw their pop cans/beer cans away, or just hated taking them in to the store. I asked them if they would save them for us, and we would take them in. All of them were happy to help us out in this way. It wasn’t a lot of money, but it was enough to buy a couple things at the grocery store. On one hand this was a humbling kind of request, because we had to admit to someone else that we were having a hard time financially, on the other hand, it was freeing to tell them what we were dealing with.
Did you just walk by change that was on the sidewalk, and not pick it up? Go back and pick it up! Every penny counts! Don’t be to proud to do this, no one is going to think any different of you. In fact, I like to think that God had someone drop it their just for me!
I thought that I would do this article in sections, since it is a lot longer than I had first expected! Part two will be about financial things to try and avoid, and things I wish I had done differently!
What are some idea’s that you have done to get through tough financial times?