Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Household Austerity Measures


I haven't been this concerned about household finances since DH was unemployed for over 6 months back in 2010. He is 100% commission and it has just been painful lately-more than lately. We're likely into our third month of his take home, including his car allowance which isn't really salary, of take home being less than half of mine, and all benefits and flex account spending comes out of my paycheck. This is not the time to get frustrated, though of course we both are. He is working so hard, and spends more time than I think the other staff do following up, and extending high quality customer service, and going the extra mile to treat his customers as good or better than he would want to be treated. There's a lot more to the background-power games between owners and managers, that just catches the staff in the cross fire. While I hope things turn around, and he has his eyes open for other opportunities, it is tough as men get older to find open doors.

What to do to lessen this hopefully temporary lull in our finances? Times like these call for me to bring some austerity measures into our own home budget. We have some commitments that we must follow through with such as the Alaska cruise, show choir, and DD2's choir trip. Bills have to be paid and we have money set aside for the home improvements, though some new furniture that was part of the budget may need to be reconsidered. Other than those, everything else is going to need to be cut to the bones the rest of summer, hopefully getting us through this rough patch and living entirely on my take home. It will mean tough choices for groceries, household, entertainment, and all other non-fixed expenses. I looked at our bills, and our spending patterns and think there should be room for cuts without resorting to rice and oatmeal every meal, though I am not opposed to more of either staple. Second and third thoughts before each purpose will help. If successful, this will mean anything DH does bring home will go to savings, and perhaps I can get us in a better spending groove for the long haul.

Home cooking will be the mantra along with no waste. I also need to keep up the purging and organizing, using up things that are perfectly fine and not waste money on stuff we can get by without.  I'm talking to you bathroom vanity and medicine cabinet, kitchen pantry and underwear and sock drawers! When I do need to spend, I will look for the lowest cost, perhaps not the cheapest, option. It won't do any good to buy watered down dish soap and use three times more, but I might have to settle for my 2nd or third favorite brands on things and throw aesthetics out the window. I need to use my clothes line, and chip away at the gas and electric bill. I have a few children's birthdays, and I will hunt for nice, but reduced price gifts.

As overwhelming as this feels, I am very fortunate. I don't know how single parent families or those living with one income handle the pressure when finances get tight. I have a team and I am racking my brains on ideas to reduce spending. DD is aware, without details, that belt tightening is in order. DH is bringing something home, and while we hope we can put it aside, it is at least there, plus we have savings so no resorting to credit cards for living expenses. I think I will be breaking out my old Tightwad Gazette books, and reading up on ideas from 20-25 years ago, that I probably shouldn't have left behind in the first place. Have you ever applied austerity to yourself? What were your tools to get you through, and did any of them stick with you?  

6 comments:

  1. I have found it is very easy for me to slip into total personal austerity. I can amuse myself using what I have around, plus my truly good friends can do the same. Plus I can always find some free entertainment if I just look for it. What has helped me most though is Book Bub. I snag a couple of free books for my Ipad every week. As long as I have something new to read that is moderately interesting I am good during the nighttime.
    I put a hanging drying rack in my laundry room and use that instead of a clothesline. I found the sun bleached my colors too much to use it for actual clothes drying. The clothes dry on the hangers in a day so I save dryer abuse of the fabrics, plus they don't fade.
    I found I wanted to go out to eat or do take out on nights I really just didn't want to cook. Batch cooking for the freezer really does help that. I always have greens washed and ready for a salad and having something ready to nuke keeps me from eating out when I am in austerity mode.

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    1. I would do better alone. I can amuse myself with my writing or reading or a movie. It's the eating out and unnecessary extra store runs that throw things off. Yes-need to batch cook.

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  2. I'm proud of you. Most people just run up their credit cards and never talk about it. It sucks but you are doing the best thing and facing it head on. I'm always trying to cut back here and there. But my problem is so much is taken out of Den's check before it gets to me. We try and max everything out. And that is why it is hard for us to make it at times. Someday when the house is paid off and Den has a really good retirement we will be happy but until then, we suffer a bit.
    And I agree with you that it isn't easy for older men/women to find jobs. You hit 50ish and just pray you can hold on until you can retire. The company that Den works for the owner if mid-80's. So if anything happens to her, her 4 nephews get the company which I know they will sell and then I doubt that Den would be there much longer. That is why we scrape by. I have the feeling that he is going to be looking for a job mid-50s.

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    1. Lately it has felt like one income earner, though I know that is not true, and he is still putting in for retirement. The one bright side of this, is even with his non-taxed bonus's. I doubt we will have to pay in next spring for taxes. 35.5% of mine, between automatic portion of my pension, and my 401K is taken off the top, and DH is still doing 30% of whatever he earns, but these make the cash in hand tight some months. I too think we will be comfortable in retirements unless everything tanks, and we are having conversations about what happens if the worst comes-no job at all. He has a few friends that drive bus-one is because of a very early retirement from the police force more for something to keep him busy, and the other because he wasn't willing to start over again at slave wages like companies seem to want to do to their new recruits. They seem to both like it, and the pay is enough to make it worthwhile, and the schedule is conducive to family life. All angles need to be considered, and it perplexes me that people are willing to just roll over and not look at every corner to cut, and understand every job is worth considering, and the best options might be unconventional.

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  3. We've lived on one low wage for such a long time that I've forgotten what it was like to have another income each month. As you know, we've made tough decisions in the past which included getting rid of our car. Eating out is a luxury very rarely afforded, but looking at the positives, that means it is a real treat when we do and we always enjoy it. Having a car now after 27 months has made me feel uneasy, despite the fact that we chose one which has very low running costs, has just passed its MOT and was recently serviced. Having it is a necessity at the moment, but it feels as though it has come at a price which is more than just a financial one. We're eating from the allotment and front garden at the moment, which means that I've been able to use some of my £100 per month grocery allowance to stock up on some things for the cupboards and freezer, and to make a food parcel for KL to help her out. It's K's 28th birthday on Monday, so we're visiting this weekend and her gifts are all homemade/ thrifted. The big expense is KL's 21st birthday next month, but we've saved up for that so her gift money is there in the bank.
    Good luck with cutting back - you can do it!

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    1. I've just gotten very complacent and not creative. This will be good for my family and I will be scouting ideas from you and others on how to live within these new to us again means.

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