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.
- Cut back … a lot
- Shop smart
- Buy used
- … and … look for another job!