Surviving Financial Hardships: Part 1

Getting through Financial Hardships: Part 1

Getting Through Financial Hardships

 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? 


  1. says

    Great tips, thanks for sharing. My hubby is laid off for the summer months and if he’s really lucky, he gets some part time work… so we have to prepare during the year for the summer months. We do use our tax return every year to pay rent ahead of time along with the utilities… that helps.

  2. says

    I love all your tips especially the coupons tips.Right now I am slowly trying to cut down on things I dont need like cable and eating out.Maybe I will follow the rest of the tips

  3. says

    I always pick up change on the ground – in the street, where-ever. From the time I was a gal, I would collect it and put it in a big dish and then when it was full, sort out all the coins and put them in paper wrappers! Luckily now, I just take the bowl (or the plastic piggy banks that every bank gives out at street fairs) to my local bank and put them thru the penny arcade. That money always goes right into my Christmas Club – yep, I have one of those too (my mom always had one!).

  4. says

    Thanks so much for this useful post. I’m sure there are a lot of people that can take advantage of these tips right away. Keeping up with bills is always a huge priority.

  5. Eva says

    I grew up dirt poor and my spending habits never changed, so I do pick up change I see and have a history of odd jobs in addition to my regular jobs. I have donated plasma for some time, worked for free in a gym in exchange for full membership benefits. I regularly shop the reduced grocery item aisle since I cannot get myself to pay full price for anything. Goodwill has been my clothing stores for 2 decades. I thought that at one point I would overcome that anxiety, but never have and now we as a family have gotten used to my frugal ways and enjoy the fact that we will be able to retire early with rental houses and no mortgage.

  6. says

    These are some great tips. I think it’s important to be frugal-minded at all times, even when you aren’t going through financial hardship, because you never know what can happen that is beyond your control. Even though my husband and I are doing okay in the money department, we still use coupons and act as if we were struggling in order to be safe in case something happens to us. Great post!

  7. says

    we line dry too – most of the winter even. i think a lot of people think they can’t “afford” things but really, they don’t want to live without luxuries. i’ve been home since our oldest was born- it’s been a lot of sacrifice and shopping very much like you do, and while I have a blog that does generate a steady income now, it didn’t for a while. being creative and really truly looking at what things cost vs what you need helps.

  8. says

    Amazing Tips!!
    My hubby was a student and we had to pay the loan he took,so we decided to cut down lot of things.
    cable went first ,then eating out and then grocery.I started making things from scratch and we were able to pay of loan in couple of months

  9. christy karch says

    we use coupons as often as possible, lol magic number of “4″ I never buy in singles always in multiples because it always seems better having extra than too little. I taught my kids to recycle as much as possible from cans and bottles to compost to save money and provide us the ability to garden.

  10. says

    My husband and I are hitting hard financial times right now. We’re finding stuff to sell in our home to make some money to pay unexpected bills and get food. No point in worrying about it, though. We know things will be okay. :)

  11. says

    I’m a SAHM as well and am lucky we haven’t had any layoff issues, though with the near presidential election we are getting ready just in case. I look forward to more tips, every bit helps!

  12. says

    Great tips! I’m a writer so I tend to look for extra writing gigs to do in the evenings or weekends to help make ends meet – several hours of work can add up of the course of a month, and for me it’s easier than coupons or just cutting back on my daily latte. :-)

  13. says

    It was nice reading that all of the things you said to help live within your means, we are doing. We choose to, so that neither of us has to work long hours, or do something we really don’t want to do. Our kids no longer live at home, we are grandparents, and we like having the time and stress free environment to enjoy each other, as well as our family time with the kids and grandkids.

  14. says

    Thanks for sharing great tips! We air-dry our clothes too. Paing ahead utilities is a great idea, sadly, we can’t do it here in Spain.

  15. says

    I applaud you for your decision to remain home with your children. Going out and getting a job may have made things a little easier financially, but you can never get that time with your kids back.

  16. says

    I work online full time and my significant other has a full time job outside of the home. However, I always make sure that we are stocked up on the things we need enough to keep us afloat for three months and I pay my bills up in advance. You never know what could happen. So, it is always best to plan for the future to try to avoid financial hardships.

  17. says

    As a financial coach, I have either done most of these or advised others to do so. It seems everyone goes through periods of relative financial hardship and you need to adapt your spending habits to get through the tough times.

  18. says

    That is an honest and straight from the heart post Robyn. I have also come up in life from an humble background and have risen in life, but the hardships in life have taught me wonderful lessons. I value every penny and am always ready for any hardships.

  19. says

    Thank you for this wonderful and realistic post! A couple years ago, we really had a big, big financial problems. We did some of the things that you have mentioned in this post in order to save some money and to get through. The penny thing, I like that! Some people won’t pick it up because they are embarrass that someone may see them. I don’t, I pick up when I see one. That counts, no dollar without a penny!

  20. says

    We’ve had our share of financial hardship over the last couple of years, but I’ve hesitated to discuss it on the blog, mostly because my close friends and family may read it and I don’t want to worry anyone.

  21. says

    Great tips. I’ve been so determined to ensure I have savings and no longer live in financial hardship. I love your tip on buying in 4′s.. it’s a smart way to not over indulge.

  22. says

    I know what you mean its hard to know what to reveal about yourself and your life… what some people don’t know is that for me my financial hardship was that when my 2 oldest daughters were babies.. I had to live in my car.. I worked all the time and I left the rent money for my sister to pay the rent.. come to find out after 4 mos of doing this she never paid the rent and used it on herself.. I got evicted with 2 young children and then I lost my job a week later.. I had to find another job and we lived in my car for 2 mos until I started getting a regular paycheck and I could rent and effeciency for us to stay in.. I cried every night and it is one of the hardest things I have ever done.. but we are out of that situation and those same 2 little girls are now 17 and 19 they were a few months and a year and something at the time.. I pay my bills a head of time I am 2 mos ahead on my water bill, light bill, and cable, I pay cell phones a week early and the rent gets paid a week before its due.. I have a nice stockpile of food, diapers, and I take advantage of great deals and buy a lot on clearance.. I refuse to be in that situation again. We even have 6 mos of rent money in our bank account in case we have to move or my husband loses his job just to have something to fall back on..

  23. says

    What a wonderful post and thanks for sharing some personal things as well as some great tips. When I am in a crunch.. the first thing I do is figure out what I can sell. I sell anything from video games to any unused gift cards online that I’ve received. It usually helps me out of tight spots in my budget when needed!

  24. says

    Thanks for sharing. After the birth of my 2nd child, my wife left her job to become a full time SAHM of our two boys. That left me to be the only source of income, so budgeting became even more of a priority

  25. says

    Going from situation where I was buying for 7 and now just buying for two, I definitely see how buying in bulk saved me more. I have to be more choosey about what I buy in bulk because there is a limit to what the two of us can consumer. Still, there are plenty of ways to save money. Great tips.

  26. says

    Great tips so far!!

    At one time or another, most of us have been through some rough times.

    I tend to “live” out of my freezer. I buy in bulk and I usually cook most meats before I freeze them.
    If I find a great price on a meat, I buy as much as I can afford. I figure that as long as I’m heating up the oven, I may as well cook a large “batch” at a time to save time and money.

    One week I may buy 40 pounds of ground beef. I’ll turn that into meatballs, meatloaf, and just plain browned crumbled ground beef. Another week, I may find chuck roast. I’ll pre-cook that with lots of onions, cut it into pieces, and freeze the batch of meat into meal sized portions.

    Having already cooked ground beef in my freezer ready to turn into chili, spaghetti sauce, shepherd’s pie, and having chuck roast ready to turn into beef & noodles, a quick stew, etc., saves a lot of time and money.

    We’re much less likely to eat out at a restaurant on a typically busy day if I know that I can have a fairly respectable meal on the table in less than thirty minutes by using my frozen stash of meats.


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