Every once in a while, you may wake up to find that you have lost your income. Income loss can happen for a variety of reasons. Sometimes you know that it is going to happen. Other times, it is a total shock. Regardless of how or why it happens, losing your income is a crisis that whips you into survival mode.
Fortunately, once you get past the vomiting and pissed-off stages, there are many simple steps that you and your family can take to get through the lean times ahead. After all, this is one of the reasons that you have been planning to be resilient! 😀
For the past three months, my income has been severely and progressively reduced. I’m not sure that I will make anything in October.
My family and I are changing how we live to deal with our cash-flow problem, that remind me of how people lived during WWI, WWII and the Depression. Back then, nobody had much money or anything else. So, they very contentiously “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without (- Boyd K. Packer).”
Here are a few of the things that we are doing to cope with the cash flow problem while I am looking for a new job.
- Eliminate all non-essential services and insurance.
- For example, I had two extra life-insurance policies that we purchased when our daughter was born. The life insurance policies were to protect my income, to raise my daughter, if I had died prematurely. Now that she is grown up, I cancelled these two policies, and am down to only one life insurance policy.
- Reduce utility bills.
- Electric/Gas: Turn the thermostat temperature up (in Summer) or down (in Winter) as appropriate. Use fans when it is too hot. Bundle up when its cold. If you must use the oven, try to cook several things at once. For example, choose to serve baked potatoes with your meatloaf, instead of pasta. You can cook the potatoes with the meatloaf, and don’t have to boil water. If it is really hot, serve cold sandwiches for dinner. Or, cook double batches and freeze half for a later meal.
- Water: Take a shower every other day, instead of every day. If my hair can go three days without washing, I can stretch this out by taking a cat bath in the sink. In the garden, I planted crops that were drought resistant. As a result, I only watered the plants that were in pots.
- Reduce gasoline consumption.
- It usually costs me $50-per week for gas. While I am looking for work, I am restricting my driving and combining trips. I also drive only 55-mph on the highway (anyone remember the oil embargo of the 1970’s?). That way, I won’t need as much gas.
- When my husband and I both have to go someplace, we take his hybrid car, which uses half as much gas as my car.
- Reduce food expenses.
- Eliminate processed foods.
- Purchase produce a the Framers’ Market: Fresh produce costs much less at the Farmers’ Market than at the grocery store. So, I attend my local Farmers Market weekly to purchase my produce there. I can also purchase eggs and meat there. We eat some and I preserve the rest.
- Buy and preserve seconds: If I can get seconds (i.e., the less than perfect produce that is usually canned) this is especially cost-saving. For example, last weekend, the Amish farmers from whom I purchase a lot of my produce called me up to tell me at the end of the Farmers Market to tell me that they would sell me the firsts (tomatoes) for $1 per pound, instead of the usual $2.75. They needed to get rid of what was left, before they went back home.
- Buy food in bulk and aliquot it out into meal-sized or storage sized portions. This generally includes cooking and some sort of preservation such as freeze, canning or dehydration.
- Give up storing food in plastic zip-top bags. Use washable plastic or glass boxes and glass jars saved from pickles, spaghetti sauce, etc.
- Make my own bread, crackers, muffins, yogurt and kefir from scratch.
- Eat cheaper cuts of meat or use eggs.
- Eliminate soda, beer, chips and ice cream, and switch to the cheap coffee (purchase in bulk at Costco).
- Buy the store brand.
- Give up paper towels, paper napkins, tissues or disinfectant wipes. Switch to cloth, which I already have and can wash.
- Avoid unnecessary expenses.
- I never speed and try to obey all traffic laws, so that I won’t get a ticket.
- Wash and cut the dogs’ hair myself.
- Grow out my hair and don’t get it colored.
- Don’t go to the movies.
- Check out books from the public library instead of buying them.
- Read e-magazines through public library services instead of buying magazines.
- Don’t purchase any new clothes or shoes, music, things for the house, garden or kitchen, etc. Instead, use what ever it is up and/or make do with what you already have.
Here are a few resources for surviving your income loss:
National Foundation for Credit Counseling: Surviving Job Loss
The Dollar Stretcher.com: Surviving a Job Loss
Super Money: 6 Steps to Surviving on No Income
Credit Union National Association: Surviving A Job Loss (pdf)
Northwest Edible Life: Income Resilience (Surviving a 20% Pay Cut)