3 Tips to Stay Financially Afloat

The following post is by a good friend Steven Parks. Steven is a freelance writer who has been laid off in a series of layoffs last year. While struggling to find a new job, Steven has found ways to cut down on spending and eventually got into freelancing for additional income.

If you are unemployed or have been at some point in your life – I’ve been in your shoes.

While it takes some searching around to find your calling in providing an income for the family in these hard times, you can start being productive by cutting down your bills and reducing spending as much as possible.

Last year I lost my job that I will admit took good care of my family’s necessities. Luckily there was some money saved up but things weren’t looking up so great with job searching. With bills piling up and no hopes for a new job I decided to take drastic measures – cut down my bills and create my own job as a freelancer.

The following three steps alleviated my troubles and allowed me to focus on the important things and earning money once again:

1. Ditch The Unnecessary Bills and Lower The Ones That Aren’t Important

Cancel your TV and magazine subscriptions

The first thing I did was go through all of our family’s bills to determine which ones are just added conveniences versus necessities.

Cable bills, movie rentals, magazine subscriptions, yard and gardening services were all cut right away. My family hardly watched any TV with the exception of my daughter so I canceled the subscription and instead found an a-la-cart package that allowed me to pick and choose kid’s channels.

We stopped renting movies, because honestly the late fees were killing us all the time. No movies, no fees!

Magazine subscriptions were just an added bonus that had to go, while our neighbor kid mowing the lawn for some extra money wasn’t required either (I have a mower, I can do it myself). The goal here is to eliminate any expense that you can live without, and yes you can live without the ESPN sports package.

2. Take Advantage of Savings Opportunities When Shopping

When I decided that I would take steps to makes sure we never went broke, I realized that there is potential for great savings in bulk shopping. I had shopping club cards that I was not using and I have never considered using coupons.

Although I had no interest in becoming an extreme coupon clipper, I made it a priority to keep an eye out for coupons on items I purchased. Buying regular household items in bulk from Costco saved quite a bit of money over the long run. Even though I didn’t have a Costco card to begin with, it wasn’t difficult to borrow a relative for a day of shopping.

3. Buy Used

Kids are notorious for being careless with their clothing, not to mention the pace at which they outgrow them. Instead of going low-key and shopping at Wal-Mart we went a step further and began hunting down weekly garage sales.

Kids hate used clothing, but trust me when I say this – they don’t care about it as long as it’s not for school. School clothing has to be new and cool, that’s the rule!

As for my own purchases, I made sacrifices by buying used light weight jackets instead of shopping for design brands. I also purchased gently worn shoes at garage sales, you’d be amazed what people try to get rid of when they move (I think the pair I bought last weekend was in someone’s storage for its entire existence.)

When the dryer went out, we stopped using it entirely.

Luckily, the climate here in California is warm year-round. To avoid the energy costs associated with dryer use and the cost of replacement of the unit we simply purchased some strong rope and hung it outside.

It’s been working like a charm and I won’t bother to estimate the amount of money we’ve saved in electricity charges and initial replacement fee.

If you live in a colder climate, consider shopping around for deals on Craigslist. People are constantly moving and sometimes don’t bother taking older appliances, creating a perfect opportunity for you to buy great used products. I’ve bought so many things on Craigslist for huge discounts that it’s become my number one website to check before buying anything.

If you are able to, look for freelance work to hold you over until you can find a steady job.

In Summary…

  1. Cut back … a lot
  2. Shop smart
  3. Buy used
  4. … and … look for another job!
Have you lost a job and found yourself stranded? What are some things that helped you get through those tough times?


  1. Goods starting points. I like the dryer advice. Many people that read these financial blogs are seriously BROKE and need some real strategy. We are already living without cable, without air conditioning, without extras like magazines, lawn mowing, etc. We have been buying used for ages. Those are givens. What next? How to save when you have absolutely no extra money? Especially if unemployed….things can downspiral in a big hurry.

    • Once you’ve cut all there is to cut, there’s little you can do besides look for additional income. I know restaurant jobs are plentiful even in bad economy. I’m seeing an increasing amount of internet service jobs, so it can’t hurt to acquire new skills in internet marketing, social media and blogging. One of my goals from this blog is to hone my writing skills (although I’m not much of a writer now). You never know when that sort of talent might come in handy. There are freelance writing opportunities all over, some pay in excess of $100 per post if you’re good. I think this is what Steven is doing now.

    • I like how he bolded … and look for another job! Haha, savings can take you far, but eventually you hit a brick wall. Guys and their sports channels … *shakes head*

  2. I have never gone out of a job involuntarily but have had a low or no income for a while, and savings to stretch for months. I would always try to look for small jobs, helping neighbors move or paint their house, fix computers, baby sitting, anything that would put $20 or $30 in your pocket and wouldn’t prevent you from getting a real job.
    Pauline recently posted..One suitcase for one year of travel, what to packMy Profile

    • I try to help friends and family with internet services, but every time they want to give me money I can’t help but feel guilty and end up doing it for free haha. Why is it so difficult to accept payments from friends and family? Am I the only one who feels this way?

  3. You can hang dry clothes inside as well. I have a cheap bamboo drying rack in the laundry alcove and I dry half of my clothes on that as a matter of course.

    • That’s what we do :) we have 2 racks and dry things that don’t hold a lot of moisture in them (like towels) to avoid mildew buildup. This works particularly well in the summer.

    • I love Craigslist for used appliances and furniture! Why buy a new microwave that you can get for way less on CL because someone is moving? I did just the opposite when I moved – sold my microwave and someone got a heck of a deal on it!

      • I’ve gotten 60% off on items from Craigslist in almost brand new condition. It’s the first place I look after asking relatives.

  4. Buying used is a great way to stay afloat. Many times new homebuyers rush out to get all brand new items for their home when you can find what you want at a fraction of the cost on many on-line selling sites. I would also get rid of what we don’t need like cable, home phone and cut down on grocery spending by meal planning, coupons, and shopping the sales. There are so many ways the hard part is getting started for most. Great post. Mr.CBB
    Canadianbudgetbinder recently posted..What Products To Stockpile For Maternity LeaveMy Profile

    • Thanks, I’m glad you liked it. It’s tough having to cut back because you lost your job, but that’s what had to be done. It’s part my fault for not saving more. Lesson learned.

    • I did some freelance writing for quite some time, but did end up finding a job eventually. I won’t lie to you, it was a very stressful time and I’m glad it’s all behind now.

  5. It’s amazing when people aren’t willing to cut out the extras to survive. A woman I know had her husband lose his job. She would moan and complain about being the only person working and not having any money.
    Yet, every weekend they’d spend $20 on a fifth and still smoked. I bet they wasted 300-400 a month and that alone yet never thought to stop.
    She drained her bank accounts and now that business is slow she’s moaning that she has to rebuild those accounts.
    justin@thefrugalpath recently posted..Three Things I Wish My Parents Had Taught Me About MoneyMy Profile

    • They were addicted to smokes that bad? I’ve never faced an addition of that type so I can’t imagine what that must fee like “between smokes and a tough place”

    • Its amazing how fast money runs out if you don’t cut back immediately. For me it was a matter of finding new work as soon as possible.

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