What To Do For Unexpected Financial Hardship

by Texas Homesteader ~ 

What do you do when unforeseen circumstances cause you financial hardship? All at once there’s too many expenses & not enough money to pay the bills. I’m reflecting on our own financial journey and steps that helped us take back our financial freedom to make ends meet. 

People are struggling financially due to circumstances unforeseen & out of their control. I'm reflecting on our own financial journey. #TexasHomesteader

Unexpected Financial Hardship

I know several people who are struggling financially right now. Many are struggling due to circumstances completely unforeseen & out of their control.

Maybe they find themselves with a large unexpected medical bill. Or maybe they’re laid off, either temporarily or permanently. And BOOM!

Financial adjustments must be made sooner rather than later.

Family Financial Needs Differ

Of course families are varied and the journey to a more secure financial future might be different based on each family’s circumstances.

Family units vary such as:

Single-member households

Parents with very young children or teens 

Extended family members living together

Empty-nester couples

Some families must work extended hours or deal with long commutes while others may be stay-at-home parents or are disabled.

But there are some aspects of financial wellness that often remain the same no matter where you are in life.

Isn’t it true that by just cutting waste, your finances are much more positively aligned?

I certainly found that to be the case when we were adjusting our finances due to shortfalls. 

When RancherMan & I were pouring over our finances trying to see if we could make the leap from cushy secure corporate-career employment with regularly-scheduled paychecks and bonuses to make-your-own-way self employment, it was a scary time indeed.

So believe me when I say I understand how at first the prospect of financial insecurity seems completely overwhelming.

Saving money during temporary financial hardship. #TexasHomesteader

But if you take a deep breath and look at things with a new more-frugal perspective you can keep a clearer head. You stand a better chance to react positively.

And surprise of surprises, many times the result ends up being not nearly as bad as you had feared. Stay with me now…

Lifestyle Adjusts To Match Income?

I’ve discovered that we often just naturally live according to the income we receive.

When there was a hearty salary jump it increased our monthly income, yet we never really saw it. Perhaps it just got gobbled up in extra fast food, shopping trips and/or convenience items. 

I have no idea, the extra financial cushion just vanished. There was more money coming in, but no more money left at the end of the month. Have you noticed that as well?

Easy steps to take when financial times turn tough. Simple things to save money NOW! #TexasHomesteader

But I was pleasantly surprised to discover likewise when income was slashed that the same principle materializes. We simply lived according to our reduced income. And although adjustments had to be made I never really noticed a severe hardship because of it.  

So the lesson here is that often people automatically adjust at least somewhat to their income. But if you can grab the bull by the horns and make adjustments now, your transition will be made much easier.

Helpful Financial Tips For Saving Money

Here are some articles I’ve previously shared about dealing with crunched finances:

How To Make It Without A Corporate Paycheck – If you’re looking for ideas of ways to cut back expenses check out that post. A few of these ideas take advance planning. But many can be incorporated right now.

In our case since I was  moving to self-employment, I was able to act on a great many money-saving features. That’s because of our lifestyle changes I found myself with more time than money. 

Grow a Veggie Garden – Our garden provides us with healthy nutrition for pennies on the dollar. And it offers me some mood-lifting sunshine and exercise as well.

As a matter of fact, I’ve written before about how Gardening Can Be Life Changing.

Healthy vegetables & produce from the garden in a wicker basket. #TexasHomesteader

Edible Landscape – Many edible plants are actually quite lovely to look at and can be easily incorporated right into your landscape. I even fully landscaped our porch addition using mostly edibles.

Learn to Preserve From Your Garden – This includes freezing, dehydrating or canning. That garden goodness can be preserved and enjoyed weeks or even months later.

Reduce Non-Food Needs In Your Kitchen – Quit buying things that were meant to be thrown away. Come up with ways to make do (very well) with reusable options from materials you already have.

Eliminate paper products – paper towels, napkins and plates.

Use rags for cleaning

Repurpose glass jars for food storage

Use cloth napkins. (I even made cute red/white gingham cloth napkins from a $1 garage-sale tablecloth!)

People are struggling financially due to circumstances unforeseen & out of their control. I'm reflecting on our own financial journey. #TexasHomesteader

Reduce Food Waste In Your Kitchen – Ideas such as planned leftovers and Cook-once Eat-Twice cooking. It’s also easy to make things such as mayonnaise, spice mixes and homemade yogurt.

Reduce Electrical Waste – No we’re not sitting in the cold and dark to save electricity. We just cut the wasted usage. And we learned to use FREE passive solar principles as well.

MYO Household Basics – I’ve learned to make many of the household basics like powdered laundry detergent  And it’s easy to simplify your cleaning process – What do YOU use to clean?

Save On Television – See how RancherMan & I have survived comfortably without cable while still enjoying plenty of TV entertainment.

Earning Money FAST In An Emergency – Tips for raising a little cash fast when an emergency comes up.

Beware Of ‘Boredom Shopping’

There are other important changes that will help stretch your dollars. Be aware of shopping for shopping’s sake.

And before you plunk down your cash on that item ask yourself if you really need it or do you already have something at home that would work just as well?

Stores & retail establishments pressure you to BUY even if it's not needed. #TexasHomesteader

If it’s a necessity ask yourself if you can buy it cheaper elsewhere? Price checking almost always saves money!

For us thrift stores are a great place for sturdy work jeans and various housewares.

Doing It Yourself Saves Money

It’s helpful to review things that either are not necessity or services you pay others to do for you.

Things such as convenience foods, haircuts, lawn services, etc. Figure out how many of those things you can provide for yourself instead.

You may be very pleasantly surprised at how easy it is.  And you’ll probably also be surprised at how inexpensive the alternative is.

And more importantly, you may begin to feel very empowered by taking these matters into your own hands.

New Skills Carry Forward Too!

So don’t fret. And don’t hide from a financial downfall. Meet those financial challenges head-on. Yes you’ll have to tighten your belt. But you’ll probably find it wasn’t as bad as you’d feared.

So you’ll give up ordering that home-delivered pizza or learn to cook healthier meals from scratch.

Maybe you’ll learn to cut leftover-food waste or to be creative making delicious meals with less expensive ingredients.

It will all work out in the end, and you may have even learned a new skill.

I’d like to offer this comfort: RancherMan & I have been there several times & things always worked out just fine.

So take a deep breath and look at this as an opportunity to improve your finances. It’ll benefit you now when your budget is crunched, but the lessons you learn now will serve you years down the road as well.


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23 thoughts on “What To Do For Unexpected Financial Hardship

  1. Candace Ford

    I always enjoy your posts – hearing what new things you are doing and how you are being kind and gentle on the earth in the process.
    A tip I learned from my mortgage broker in the days when I was over a million bucks in debt buying rental houses.
    His advice was – If you have a financial change and a few extra dollars a month to put against mortgage debt specify that it is applied directly to the principle and NOT just a higher monthly payment. It worked for me and I have been mortgage free for many years.
    Of course, the insurance and upkeep and property taxes keep on going up but I am able to manage my owns needs and help my granddaughter as she and I still grieve for the loss of her father, my son.

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      It is so good to hear from you, Candace. You are on my mind often, I can’t fathom the grief of losing a child. Just earlier this week I was thinking of you and wondering how you were getting along. Stay strong, sweet friend. Stay strong. ~ TxH ~

  2. candace ford

    I may have commented on this before because I see comments dated back to 2017. I think in my case growing up “poor” making my own clothes and babysitting for .25 an hour saving up for fabric and shoes has stood me well. I am now in a comfortable financial situation with a combination of the small pension from the teaching years, rent money (somewhat worrying because so many folks are out of work due to corona virus) coming in from houses I purchased over the years, and social security and being VERY careful with money. Then, of course, the birdman who lives with me has his own money and has always been very careful with it as well. We don’t live lavishly but we have everything we need. I even went out to lunch with a friend yesterday – it was SOOOO nice to go to a restaurant for the first time in a year. And to top things off, early next year I will be mortgage free!!! I got there by any time one loan was paid off I upped what I was paying on the others. It’s a great place to be in the retirement years.

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Like you, RancherMan & I “don’t live lavishly but we have everything we need” and I think separating wants from needs is key in achieving financial security. Not that you can’t have ‘wants’ that you can afford, just being mindful of them. And you’ll be mortgage free next year? That’s awesome Candace – CONGRATS!! ~TxH~

  3. Mrs Shoes

    We’ve had times when things were tight as could be, & times when we could breath easy. We found a lot of living on less was prioritizing what has true meaning for us (our family) & never forgetting why we do what we do.
    I came to visit you from Chicken Chick’s Bloghop – I hope you’ll take time to visit the 4Shoes & let me know you’ve stopped by – we’ve got a Give Away on this week!

  4. Bill

    Great post. We went through the same sort of adjustments and now live comfortably (and more happily) on a very small fraction of our city-life incomes. We went through every expense and asked ourselves whether we really needed it and whether it brought happiness or improvement to our lives. It’s amazing how much expense you can eliminate with that process. We started by getting rid of cable and eventually we got rid of television altogether. We started by getting rid of things like caller-id and ended up eventually eliminating our land line altogether. Etc. Of course the biggest benefit was to start producing our own food instead of buying it. Our conclusion is that it’s possible to live a very nice and comfortable life without much income. Of course being out of debt is a necessity!

  5. Janet Vinyard

    Great tips, especially for those of us in retirement! It’s amazing how you can cut down if you need to or have to do so! Thanks for the information and inspiration! Blessings, Janet

  6. Laura Lane of Harvest Lane Cottage

    Thank you for the ideas and encouragement. My husband closed his business before Christmas and is looking for work.
    …doing what I can with what I’ve got where I am
    on a short shoestring budget!

  7. Jamie @ Medium Sized Family

    Fast food is totally my downfall! I’ve decided to look it in the eye and actually deal with it. It’s such a giant waste of money and does no good for the waistline, either. 🙂 What a difference intentional living makes on the budget.

  8. Nancy @ Little Homestead in Boise

    We also looked at our insurance, a big one. We downsized some and changed companies and saved a lot. W also looked at things listed here- /2014/01/how-weve-accidently-saved-lots-of-money.html

    1. Carol

      I have found that staying with a good company is the best: usually when another company wants to reel you in, they will offer a lowball price. BUT next year, the price goes WAY UP, much more than your last company. It is a ploy they all use…so…I stay with my current insurance because I don’t want to end up paying MORE….Just my thoughts. I have never found a true low price when I try to compare: they always want to know who you are with now so they can give a lower price.

      1. Texas Homesteader Post author

        I figure my job is to score the lowest price on a product or service I’m buying. Their job is to get me to pay the highest price. I guess there’s a balance between getting a good deal and allowing a profitable transaction and I’m fine with that, just don’t like paying more than I should. But you’re right, you can often get a lowball price to get you in & then they start raising the price each year. Thankfully by doing our research annually we’ve been able to either get them to lower their prices for us again or find lower prices elsewhere. It’s taken diligence, but that diligence has allowed us to live comfortably on our limited means here in a place that speaks to our hearts instead of being forced back into the corporate marketplace we hated.

  9. Patti

    Boy did I read this at the right time. We were looking at getting a central air conditioner but with a $2000 price tag it gave me the shivers. I just bought a new to us car as my 12 yr old one finally bit the dust and would have been more to fix than to replace. My window units will be just fine and my asthma won’t suffer a bit. I’m so glad that my answer came from my afternoon blog read!! Have a wonderful week, Tammy! Patti

  10. Emma

    These are great tips. I’m still trying to convince my husband that we don’t need cable!

  11. Rose @ Walnut Acre

    We have a large back yard so I had my husband put up a clothesline so I could cut back on how much I use the dryer. I love the extra time outside as well

  12. Silas Longshot

    “Murphy’s rules” apply to finances, among other things:
    Murphy’s rule of space and junk: However much space you have, it will be filled with a corresponding amount of junk.
    Murphy’s rule of finances: However much money you make, that’s how much you spend. Changing THAT rule makes the difference. Selling off a lot from the space and junk rule will also help.

  13. Angi @ SchneiderPeeps

    These are really great tips. Our family lives in a very oil dependent area and low gas prices are not great for our economy. We’ve seen families who have made a lot of money these last few years and thought the boom would always be there. Thanks for sharing at Simple Lives Thursday; hope to see you again this week.

  14. Valerie

    Oh I so agree it’s hard to make ends meet when you are self-employed. It looks like we are doing alot of the same things.

    Glad you shared at Simple Saturdays.

    Hugs from Oklahoma,


  15. JES

    Great ideas and ones we implement and have also lived to tell the story 🙂 It is very liberating to pass up many isles in the grocery store now! I will also verify what you mentioned, NO WiNDOW SHOPPING! That really helped us out. Out of sight, out of mind. Appreciating the little things in life like a cup of coffee on the patio instead of spending at Starbucks is also helpful…

    Thanks for sharing this also on the Art of Home-Making Mondays!

  16. Michelle

    Thank you for sharing your story about financial struggles. This tips are great ways to save cash! We cut off our cable a few years ago and only stream Netflix. It has opened up more time for us and saved us money at the same time. Visiting from the Treasure Box Tuesday Link Up!

  17. Judith C

    My husband and I started our lives together back in the early 80’s learning the hard way about the what-ifs. We were not prepared for the bottom to fall out of the Oklahoma Oil business and have the first of our two kids at the same time. We had to think about the survival of our family and let go of a lot of things, land and credit to be two of them. You do it for survival and you learn from it. We learned that we didn’t need credit cards, we could make do without lots of things. Even to the point of me not working to stay home with the baby, daycare was frivolous. We managed to get the bills caught up and then kept adding to the payments until everything was paid up 3 months in advance. My hubby discovered by experience that when you get laid off, it can take up to 3 months to get another job. To this day, 32 years later, with two grown kids out of the house, we STILL keep our bills paid up 3 months in advance. This was a blessing during the year that my husband was undergoing cancer treatment (living on 1/2 his salary which was about the same a my monthly paycheck) and then the company he worked for pulling out of the US and letting all the employees go. We would not have made it if we hadn’t been prepared. Our kids even learned from this and live with their rent paid 3 months in advance. We found when you learn that you don’t need a lot, you don’t want a lot.

  18. Taryn

    And don’t those “what-if’s” always happen when you really, really don’t need them to? (Not that there is ever a good time 🙂 ) A huge “what-if” happened to us last week, our 12 yr old puppy needed emergency surgery. I am proud to say that my family came through without a second thought. Everyone volunteered to do whatever it took financially to see our way through. Every time we have a “what-if” situation, the thought that goes constantly through my mind is that He always provides a way, always. Thanks for sharing such useful information.

  19. CassieOz

    Really, it helps if, even in the best of times, you don’t fall in to the ‘it can’t happen to us’ trap. If you have some buffer, even a few dollars each paycheck, and know how to reign in the spending (even if you’re not doing it now), then you’ve taken the first steps to being prepared when fate deals you the unexpected.


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