When I lost my job, I thought it was the end of the world. I had no idea how we were going to survive on half of the income we were used to bringing in. Even though I already had a good handle on our money, knew where our money went, and knew what items could be cut out of our budget, I still panicked. With a toddler in our home, 3 dogs, and a bleak job market, there wasn’t time to spend worrying about what we were going to do next.
Immediately, I cancelled any kind of membership we had, like the YMCA, a monthly massage I had for stress relief, the movie club, etc. I also reviewed where every dollar we were spending went. This took some time, because we really had to decide what was necessary and what wasn’t. Every situation is different, and each family has to decide what a necessity is for them and what isn’t. For us, our necessities were this:
Utilities: Electricity/Trash/Cell Phones
Car Payments & Insurance
Credit Card payments – I have 3, which is 2 too many, but we keep them for now.
2 Personal loans that were for medical bills we kept out of collections
I taught myself how to use coupons effectively, I learned how to make the most out of grocery store rewards programs, use my Target RedCard debit card to save 5% on things I have to buy anyway, and drastically changed the way I thought and felt about how we were living our life. No longer do we go out weekly, purchase the newest and best of everything, and go shopping just because we are bored. I cook at home every day, we make do with the electronics that we do have, hoping they don’t break, and we only shop when it’s absolutely necessary.
Do all of these changes mean we are comfortable? No. We are still unable to pay all of our bills on occasion, things happen that require money be spent, like a flat tire or other mechanical issue with a vehicle, or the dreaded and unexpected move that we recently experienced. It wiped out every penny we had set aside for the coming three months. Having that cushion was essential to our budget strategy, since I have quarterly income from grants and scholarships while I am a full time student. Unfortunately, with that cushion gone, again we are refocusing our budget, making it even tighter, and looking for ways to bring some income into our home.
I’d like to know, what do you do for extra income? How do you go about finding legitimate resources?