When Financial Times Turn Tough Unexpectedly

by Texas Homesteader

I know several people that are struggling financially right now. Some because they went a little overboard during the holidays I guess. But some 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.

Of course families are varied and the journey to a more secure financial future will be different for each family’s circumstances. Some have very young children or teens living at home, some are single while yet others are empty nesters. And some families must work extended hours or deal with long commutes & others may be stay-at-home parents. But there are some aspects of financial wellness that often remain the same no matter where you are in life. You find that by just cutting waste that your finances are much more positively aligned. I certainly found that to be the case when we were adjusting our finances due to shortfalls.

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

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 it seems completely overwhelming.

But if you take a deep breath and look at things with a new more-frugal perspective you keep a clearer head & have a better chance to react. And surprise of surprises, many times the result ends up being not nearly as bad as you had feared. Stay with me now…

Adjust Lifestyle To Income

Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve discovered that we often just live according to the income we receive. I noticed that when there was a hearty increase in our monthly income we never really saw it. Perhaps it just got gobbled up in extra fast food, shopping trips and convenience items.  Or maybe the all-allusive the money-hiding boogy man! I have no idea, the extra financial cushion just vanished. There was more money coming in but no more money in the coffers at the end of the month. Have you noticed that as well?

But I was pleasantly surprised to discover likewise when income was slashed (hard) 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 people typically automatically adjust 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 things I’ve written about dealing with crunched finances:

* How To Make It Without A Corporate Paycheck – Some of these ideas take advance planning. But many can be incorporated right now. In our case since I was now moving to self-employment, I was able to act on a great many money-saving features. That’s because I found myself with more time than money. If you’re looking for ideas of various ways to cut back expenses check it out.

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

* Grow a Veggie Garden – I already loved to garden but when our finances began to pinch I learned ways to make our garden even more productive. It now provides us with healthy nutrition for pennies on the dollar.

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

* Edible Landscape – I love to use the edible landscaping principle because it uses beds and spaces you already have.  Many edible plants are actually quite lovely to look at and can be easily incorporated 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 – This would include eliminating paper products – paper towels, napkins and plates. Also using repurposed rags for cleaning, repurposing glass jars for food storage & using cloth napkins. I quit buying things meant to be thrown away and instead came up with ways to make do (very well) with what we already had.

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 mean that home-cooked meals can be as close as your freezer no matter how busy your day is. I also learned to make for myself those things I used to buy without a second  thought such as mayonnaise, spice mixes and yogurt.

* Reduce Electrical Waste – When times got tough we became more mindful of the electricity not only used, but electrical usage that was just plain wasted energy. No we’re not sitting in the cold and dark to save electricity. We just cut the wasted usage and learned to use FREE passive solar principles as well.

MYO Powdered Laundry Detergent – I’ve learned to make many of the household basics like powdered laundry detergent and a more environmentally-friendly fabric softener using scented vinegar (no, you can’t smell the vinegar when the clothes dry). And household cleaners nowadays are way too complicated, and they shouldn’t be. Different chemicals for different surfaces, really?  Simplify your cleaning process – What Do YOU Use To Clean?

* Save On Television – OK I know you’ve heard the ole “cut the cable” argument but you say you just can’t do without your shows?  There may still be hope. See how RancherMan & I have survived comfortably without cable.

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 that would work just as well? If it’s a necessity ask yourself if you can buy it cheaper elsewhere?

For us thrift stores are a great place for sturdy work jeans and various housewares. I love that I can obtain those items very inexpensively and without a new whatsit needing to be manufactured for my use. That makes my environmental heart sing.

I guess what I’m saying is that it’s helpful to stop & review things that may not be necessity or that you pay others to do for you. Things such as convenience foods, haircuts, services, etc.  Figure out how many of those things you can instead provide for yourself.

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 the problem. 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: We’ve been there several times & things always worked out just fine. Take a deep breath and look at this 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.

~TxH~

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32 thoughts on “When Financial Times Turn Tough Unexpectedly

  1. 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!

    Reply
  2. 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!

    Reply
  3. 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

    Reply
  4. 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.

    Reply
  5. Janet Garman

    Congratulations on being this week’s Simple Saturday Blog Hop winner! well done! Hope to see you again this weekend with the next amazing post from your blog

    Reply
  6. 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

    Reply
  7. Gina

    I love all of these money saving ideas!!! Definitely practical ways to conserve money and really stretch those dollars…. pinned and tweeted! Thank you for sharing on #ShareTheWealthSunday link up!

    Reply
  8. Elaine

    Great Tips!! Thanks for sharing on My 2 Favorite Things on Thursday – Link Party!! Hope to see you tomorrow !! Love your stuff! Pinned!

    Reply
  9. Joanne T Ferguson

    A great post for all and it’s the simple things that one shells out money for every day that adds up! Pinned all and thanks for sharing at the Say G’day party and look forward to seeing you next Saturday!

    Reply
  10. 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.

    Reply
  11. 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.

    Reply
  12. Lou Lou Girls

    You always bring the best posts to our party! Thank you. Pinned and tweeted. We feel honored that you take the time to stop by our party. I hope to see you on tonight at 7 pm. We love to party with you! Happy Monday! Lou Lou Girls

    Reply
  13. 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,

    Valerie

    Reply
  14. 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!

    Reply
  15. 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!

    Reply
  16. 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.

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Thank you for sharing your story Judith. I think it’s very common that those first painful lessons often catch us unprepared, but those lessons learned serve us (and often our children) well for years to come. ~TMR~

      Reply
  17. 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.

    Reply
  18. 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.

    Reply

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