My husband was laid off from his job at the end of December, 3 days before Christmas to be exact. He is a union worker, so frequent layoffs are a reality for us. Although I do work from home part time, he makes significantly more than I do and the loss of his income is a big deal. I knew I needed to think about how to save money.
Before we knew he was being laid off, we had discussed the possibility of him taking time off from work to just relax and enjoy some family time. For the last 4 years, he worked a job that required him to commute 2 hours there and back (a total of 4 hours/day if there was no traffic), and worked anywhere from 10-12 hours 6 and sometimes even 7 days of the week. We have hardly seen him during this time we really wanted to make it work.
The only issue with him staying home, is that we would be mostly surviving off of unemployment until he started working again and that results in losing about 50% of our income. So it goes without saying that we have had to significantly tighten up our budget.
I wanted to share some money saving tips that we have adopted to survive my husband’s layoff and allow him to stay home for a while.
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Pick Up Extra Work
The first thing I started doing after my husband was laid off was picking up any extra work that was available. This helps offset the loss of income somewhat, even though I still make significantly less than he does.
Cut All Spending Except For Necessities
We knew that if we wanted to make this work, we were going to have to make some sacrifices. So we decided to cut out spending on anything that was not a necessity like bills and food. That is basically all we are spending money on for now.
Stop Driving Places
An easy way to save money is to drive less. Before the layoff, I drove places almost every day. Now, I only drive a few times a week and the trips are much shorter. This has significantly reduced my gas consumption as I have only filled up the tank once in the last 3 weeks.
Cut Back On Meat Consumption
I am very particular about the quality of meat that I feed to my family, and it can be quite expensive. Typically, we had a meat-centric dish each night for dinner. Now that we have less income, we eat much less meat. If I use meat, I try not to make it the main part of the meal.
Go To The Grocery Store Less
Grocery shopping is not one of my favorite tasks, so cutting back on the amount of times I went to the grocery store is not so difficult. When I do go, I make sure I have a list so I am buying only the things we need. The goal is to only go to the store once every 3 weeks.
Shop The Reduced Racks At The Grocery Store
When I do go to the grocery store, I make sure to check the reduced racks to see what they have available. The grocery store I go to has reduced produce and reduced meat set out on separate shelves. Often these items are close to expiring so you need to make sure you give them a good look over before you buy. I have found many organic items in the reduced section. When I get home, I either freeze them immediately, or come up with a plan for how to use them.
Food waste is one of my pet peeves. I do my best to try and use up all of the food we have, but there are still times when food ends up getting thrown away. Well, that has had to change. I really needed to start being intentional with what we had on hand and make a plan for everything and how we would use it.
Get Creative With Meals
Having no food waste and going to the grocery store less means I have to work with what I have. We have had many interesting meals but this creativity has actually led to us inventing some new family favorite recipes!
No Ordering Out
Every now and then I just don’t feel like cooking, and we will just order out instead. I no longer have that option. These days when I feel too tired to cook, I will make an easy meal like pasta or rice and beans.
Turn Down The Thermostat
One of the easy ways to save money on a tight budget is to turn down your thermostat a few degrees. This time of year, heating your home can get expensive. In order to save money, we are keeping ours turned to 63. We just make sure we are wearing weather appropriate clothing to stay comfortable.
Minimize Electricity Usage
Keep the lights turned off as much as possible, unplug charges and small appliances when you aren’t using them and limit screen time for your kids and family. These are all great ways to lower your electricity bill.
Use Cashback Sites And Apps
Before I buy anything, I check to see if I can get cash back by using apps or cash back websites. Some of my favorite apps are ibotta, Checkout51. I check to see if there are any rebates available for things that I will be buying. My favorite cashback website is Topcashback. If I need something, like dog food, I will try to order through the website and then use in-store pickup to save money on shipping.
Make Coffee At Home
I love treating myself to a coffee from my favorite local coffee shop at least once a week. This is one of the sacrifices I decided to make in order to save extra money.
Find Free Kids Activities
I try to make the most of the times I do drive and see if there are any free kids activities in the area. For instance, my grocery store has a free kids club where the kids get a snack and get to make a craft. This allows me to shop and find a fun, free activity for my little one.
If you want something badly enough, you will find a way to make it work. In our case, we knew the sacrifices that we were willing to make in order to allow my husband to enjoy some time off from work.
I would love to hear some of the financial management tricks you use when you need to tighten up your budget. What are some of the ways you cut back?