The economic downturn has taught us a lot about our economies and ourselves, but one of its hardest lessons is that lay-offs and downsizing can strike nearly anywhere. No one wants to think about that, but it’s true. We don’t want to imagine ourselves suddenly without jobs or in a tough financial position; we’d rather hide our heads in the sand and pretend that it could never happen to us.
Unfortunately, that isn’t going to leave you very prepared. We would all be better off if we forced ourselves to look honestly at our spending, our credit cards and our bank accounts, and identify the things that can be cut out easily and immediately. That will buy you more time if you do lose your job or take a cut in your income, and will help you stretch the money you have. Every family is different, but the list below will give you some ideas to start with.
1. Cut Out Disposable Kitchenware
Cut out paper plates and paper napkins. After all, you don’t need them; you can use regular plates and cloth napkins. Yes, that is going to mean a little bit more laundry and dishes, but if your money is limited, do you really want to spend it on disposable convenience tableware?
2. Cut Out Child Care
If you have children and can avoid sending them to day care or after-school care, give it some thought. That is an instant, huge money saver. It may be challenging to care for them if you’re job hunting at the same time, but it can certainly be done. Plus you’ll get to spend more time with your kids, and who doesn’t want that?
3. Cut Out Disposable Cleaning Products
If you use disposable cleaning supplies, stop. Those little dispensers with anti-bacterial wipes, the mop or broom with the disposable sweeper pad, etc, are not only bad for your wallet, they’re bad for the environment. The only reason to shell out your hard-earned money on disposable products of any kind is if you, literally, have money to throw away.
4. Cut Down on Electronics and Entertainment
Are you paying for a TV package with a lot of channels and features? A data plan for your phone that you barely use, or at least don’t need? Cutting out entertainment electronics and services is a change that can make a big difference. The only thing I would not recommend cutting out completely is your internet. I have job-hunted without internet access or a laptop before by using the computer at the library; but that was time-consuming, frustrating and inefficient.
5. Cut Out Unplanned Grocery Shopping
Do not walk into the grocery store without a list. Once you’re there, do not put an item in your cart until you have compared prices: could you get it cheaper by switching brands or package size? Be conscious of every decision you make in the grocery store, and your savings may surprise you.
Of course, none of these tips or changes you make at the last minute are a proper substitute for saving. You should ideally have enough money in the bank to support you and your family for at least six months if you lose your income. Don’t have that? Start saving whatever you can, whenever you can. Every little bit helps. Then you can rest easier knowing that if your job market crumbles, you do have a plan to keep costs down while you get back on your feet.
- Painless Budget Cuts: 4 Simple Ways to Save
- How to Cut your Food Budget: Beverages
- How to Cut Your Food Budget
- Holiday Helps: How to Plan a Budget-Friendly Getaway