With the current government shutdown, I am now looking at an immediate future that does not include a paycheck for my husband. While I earn a small amount blogging and working as a pharmacy technician it is barely a drop in the bucket. My income may buy a week or two of groceries but it isn’t going to pay my mortgage. I don’t think the Republicans would have been so quick to okay a government shutdown if THEY weren’t going to be getting paid. But, this post is not about politics. I am not touching that with a ten foot pole! This post is about how this government shutdown is going to make me rethink our spending habits. Over 800 thousand families are now feeling the loss of a federal salary . I have a feeling that people are going to be looking to find ways to pinch their pennies and stretch their dollars. I used to be frugal. Back when my husband was a graduate student we were thrilled with finding the discounted and over ripe bananas and much of our furniture was found abandoned at the curb. We worked with what we had, which was almost nothing. We did not go into debt because we had nothing and I am determined that no matter how long this government shutdown lasts that I will not be going into debt over it. So, if you are feeling the impact of the government shutdown like I am, here are a few tips and reminders for making your financial reserves last as long as possible.
Frugal Living Tips to Stretch Your Budget
1. Reevaluate every purchase: We have gotten lazy over the years about buying more ‘wants’ than we should be. While we were not buying out Target every week there are definitely things that came into my house that were not ‘needs’. I have informed both children that during the government shutdown, unless we need it to survive and keep a roof over our heads we don’t buy it.
2. Be frugal with your food budget. I admit, I like my once a week lunch with my girlfriends but eating out will NOT be on my list of needs during the government shutdown. I will have to see if my girlfriends want to do a lunch IN and offer to bake some cookies instead! Other things that are no longer on my list of purchases are the organic foods. This one might kill me, I swear! There are things that I ALWAYS buy organic…milk and apple juice are biggies for me. I might keep those, I haven’t decided yet…. But, every other food will have to be conventionally raised. I will stick to simple and natural (fruit, veggies, whole grains, etc) but can’t justify spending twice as much on organic apples when the regular ones will feed my family just as well.
3. Grab your scissors: I will be relearning the art of couponing. I used to do this quite a bit but started to realize that I was spending hours on clipping coupons and saving only $20. It really didn’t seem worth my time. I will have to start looking around for coupons on things I KNOW I am going to need to buy anyhow.
4. Make it homemade: This week I will be trying my hand at baking bread again. You may think that sounds fun but really I am HORRIBLE at making bread. I make bricks, not bread. But, we eat a lot of bread, bagels, English muffins, etc so making bread from scratch will definitely save me a significant amount of money on my grocery bill. Cookies, granola bars, and other baked goods will also be on the baking agenda. Homemade pizza dough is incredibly easy and so much cheaper than ordering delivery. If you want to check out the recipe for my Grilled Margherita Pizza I can honestly say it was delicious! Stay tuned for more recipes as I explore and create. Unless the bread turns out like a brick, then I promise I will not share it!
5. Reevaluate your bills: I will leave the bills alone for one month and see if things get worked out with the government shutdown. After that, the cable will be the first thing to go. Calling other companies like insurance and gas to negotiate lower rates may also be an option. If you have ‘optional’ bills like a Sirius XM radio subscription, a newspaper, a maid, gardener, or something else that is not a necessity you might want to consider canceling it. For things like heat, water, gas, and electric try using LESS. You will be going green while still saving yourself some money. Dry your clothes on the line, wear your jeans a few times before washing them, unplug appliances that you are not using. Great ways to cut utility bills and your carbon footprint.
I am hopeful that this government shutdown will not last long. We are fortunate that we have planned for a rainy day and can pay our bills for the next couple of months as long as we are frugal. I know not everyone is as fortunate and if you find yourself in need, the US Department of Labor seems to indicate that federal employees may be eligible for unemployment benefits. This will depend on what your job was, your salary, your state laws and a few other things but it is something to look into. You may also be able to wave your mortgage payment…some places have a program where you are allowed to put off a payment for a month if you are unemployed. Call your mortgage company to discuss your options. And talk to your kids about the changes you will be making. Kids are smarter than we give them credit for and they are going to sense that something is wrong. Let them know about your financial situation and why you are rethinking your expenses.
Do you have any other frugal living tips for people during this government shutdown?
Diane is a professional blogger and nationally certified pharmacy technician at Good Pill Pharmacy. She earned her BS in Microbiology at the University of New Hampshire and has worked in cancer research, academics, and biotechnology. Concern over the growing incidence of human disease and the birth of her children led her to begin living a more natural life. She quickly realized that the information she was learning along the way could be beneficial to many others and started blogging and freelance writing to share this knowledge with others. Learn more about her HERE.