Most people have trouble saving money. Others live paycheck to paycheck. While there are many reasons why a family may be indigent, it’s especially trying when one parent gets hurt at work. It’s difficult to save money, but it’s a lot more trying when one parent is out of work and a significant portion of the family income stops coming in. Here’s what to do during tough, financial times.
Put Credit Cards in the Safe
Spending is a habit. Some people are good about staying on a budget, but a lot of people spend money because cash or credit cards are in their pocket. It’s so easy to see something you want, know you have the immediate means to buy it, and then make a purchase. However, if you only have limited funds on your person, then you can’t buy at will. Place your credit cards in the family safe and only take enough money from your bank account each week to cover gas, groceries, and minor expenses.
Exhaust Your Current Resources
People spend money even when they have enough resources at hand. For example, it’s common for people to buy new clothes each season. However, if your former clothes still fit, there’s no immediate reason to buy new clothes. Sure, newer fashions are attractive but you need to wear the clothes you already have when in a crisis. The same philosophy applies to eating out, ordering in, or buying extraneous groceries. Go through your cupboards and eat all the food you already have stored. Only buy what you really need when you really need it.
Use the Library for Entertainment
People spend a lot of money on entertainment. Going out to a movie, mall, or outlet store seems like a simple solution to cure boredom. The problem is that those places either cost money or inspire you to want to spend. Alternatively, use the library as a source of entertainment. Rather than purchase books from a store, you have the entire library’s catalogue at your disposal. Aside from books, you can rent DVDs and music CDs. When you’re feeling bored, rather than go out to a mall, take the family to the library and learn to pass time without spending money. While at the library read about financial solutions and what to do when a family member is involved in a work accident.
Don’t Fear Extreme Measures
Some families make a financial crisis worse by refusing to change habits or lifestyle. For example, while it’s convenient to have two cars in the family, it may be wise to sell one during a financial crisis. If you sell, you’ll have the immediate lump of money or will save by not having to make car payments. Plus, you’ll save more money on gas, oil changes, and other means of maintenance. Family members will have to share one car, which means making changes and sacrifices. Alternatively, consider downsizing your living space. If you sell your home and move into a smaller one, you’ll pay less in utilities and have a cheaper mortgage or rent payment.
Leave Your Savings
During a time of crisis, it’s tempting to tap into your retirement savings, but this should be avoided. Forget that you have savings in the bank; that is for another time, and should not be considered a solution for your present situation. Make tapping into your savings a last resort. Start with modifying your lifestyle, which means eating smaller meals, forgetting about luxuries (vacations, eating out, etc), and downsizing your living space and major expenses. Using your savings creates another problem for yourself in the future; your savings may help you get out of trouble now, but what happens in the future when you want to retire and find that you don’t have the money to do so?
Talk to Your Kids
Many parents feel awkward or ashamed about being truthful with their kids when it comes to money. It’s true that kids don’t normally think about spending habits but that does not mean they will not understand what it means to be in a financial crisis. Explain to your kids that money is limited so that may mean buying less clothes, not attending summer camp, and being satisfied with the toys they already have. Kids will surprise you regarding how well they understand grownup topics. Depending on their age, some kids may even do their best to chip-in and help by getting a paper route or a part-time job.
Jude Hutchinson is a keen blogger who writes about family life. She has an 8 year old son and a 15 year old daughter, plus a step-son who is just 2.