Editor’s note: With many American families feeling the pinch of the current recession, more and more people are turning to the internet to find ways to survive on one income. Some are even learning how to get by on no income due to a recent or impending layoff of their family’s breadwinner. What would you do if your husband lost his job?
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We’ve been talking to stay at home moms and dads about the measures they are taking for recession-proofing their families. What can you do now to ensure that a financial hardship would have the smallest possible impact on your family’s well-being? This week, Amy is giving us her take on how she recession-proofed her family.
The following is a guest post written by Amy, from The Finer Things in Life. Amy is a Tiny Town coach’s wife and mom of three littles who is convinced that living a life rich in The Finer Things will bring much more fulfillment than anything money can buy.
It’s not about how much you make. It’s about making that amount, however large or small, work for you. My husband is a teacher and coach in a small town. Without getting too specific, his salary qualifies our kindergarten daughter for reduced lunch prices at school. It’s not a lot of money, but it’s working for us. We chose to live on this income. We chose for me to be a stay at home mom. We are thriving. In the event that your income is reduced for whatever reason, maybe some of what works for us might just work for you, too.
1. Ditch the Joneses. They are not your friends. They will tempt you to spend money that you don’t have on things that you don’t need. Surround yourself with like-minded frugal friends. Make it a game… who can find an item for the least expensive price? Network and help each other save money.
2. Learn the power of contentment and gratitude. Truly, we have so much. Our vehicles are old, but they are paid for and run well. We don’t budget for big vacations, but there are many activities we can enjoy as a family for free. Don’t waste your time worrying about the latest and greatest that you don’t have; rather, focus on your many blessings.
3. Swallow your pride. If you shy away from second-hand stores, clearance racks, or garage sales, get over yourself! My daughters are constantly complimented on their fashions, and I’m always willing to report that we receive fantastic hand-me-downs. Without a doubt, I have spent less than $300 TOTAL on children’s clothing in the last 6 years.
4. Just because you have it doesn’t mean you have to spend it. In the days when we both had jobs and no children, we did our best to live on one income while saving the other. That made my transition home so much smoother. Even now we usually have extra at the end of the month. Sure, we could use a new (fill in the blank) but we could also save that money. We choose to save. We refuse to be caught with a new TV but no money to pay for an unexpected emergency.
5. Take up a “lost art”. Don’t know how to cook? Learn! Can’t sew a button? Figure it out! So many things that we pay for can be done at home, saving countless amounts of money. Last year we planted our first garden. While much intimidated by my proven black thumb, we were pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to produce crops of potatoes, peppers, tomatoes, and even pumpkins. I smile every time I pull tomatoes and peppers from the freezer to add to soups or casseroles this winter. Not paying store prices for mediocre veggies is definitely a Finer Thing! We plan to expand our garden this summer.
6. Use your talents for profit. Even if you have no desire to start a home business, you can make money from home. While I would never want to commit to running a daycare, we do have a couple of sweet preschoolers who stay with us a few days a week. They are very little extra work for me, and my son gets a kick out of having playmates at the house. The extra cash I make from babysitting really adds up! Another idea… if you’re cooking for your own family anyway, why not make a few extra meals for someone to pick up on their way home from work? It’s amazing what people will pay for convenience!
Living happily on one (smallish) income is possible. Focus on the Finer Things and thrive!
How have you recession-proofed your family? Are you thriving on one income? What recession-proofing tips do you have for other stay at home moms? Feel free to let us know in the comments. Read about how Phoebe recession-proofed her family, and get a great checklist for determining needs vs. wants for grocery shopping.
Check out Frugal Friday for more frugal tips – thanks Crystal for hosting! Retro kitchen photo courtesy mrbill.