Have these difficult economic times affected you and your family? Have you or a family member lost your job? If not, you are very fortunate. If so, you are one of thousands. And if so, how are you coping?
Today, I want to talk about ways we can continue to provide for our families even in the face of losing a job.
Last year I lost my job, a career spanning 21 years. My husband and I lost half of our household income. It was a devastating blow. So many things we took for granted were cut completely out of our lives. And just like many of you who were faced with that heartwrenching call to the little conference room where our bosses gave us their good-byes, we’ve had to figure out how to continue to pay for the basic necessities of life: keeping our home, paying our utility bills, buying groceries, and providing for our kids.
Six ways we provided for our family
- First of all, buying new clothing and toys became impossible. We now look at the thrift stores for what we need. And our son actually gets a kick out of it. (He is only eight years old though, and if he were older it may be another story altogether!) When he outgrows his clothes, we find “new” ones at a second hand store. The selection might not be as cut-and- dried as the clothing stores, but we eventually have found everything we need for clothes, even down to shoes, boots, and backpacks. And of course he always has fun choosing a toy which he has earned through helping with chores around the house. But what’s more is that I have found other things we need like dishes and utensils, even comforters.
- Secondly, we had to look at our bills. What could we do without? Many things that we love and define ourselves by had to go. My dance and pilates classes. Our YMCA membership. Cable. Cell phones. Full coverage car insurance. Our oil furnace. Costco membership.
- Then, we had to take a look at our other spending habits: Eating at restaurants (even the fast food ones), going to movies, my MaryKay account, vacations, golfing, trips to Riverfront Park and Silverwood, gifts and extra money for our other family members, and splendid Christmases. And we thoroughly enjoyed all of these! But they were no longer affordable.
- Then, our grocery bill had to be cut in half. We used to enjoy lots of food, and the ability to stock up on everything, even cooking for other people. Now we were beginning to see our own pantry shelves and refridgerator becoming empty. The solution? We stopped shopping at the regular grocery stores and began going to bargain markets. We kept tabs on the prices between the discount stores in town. We stopped eating so much meat. Where we used to have steaks (remember the mobile steak guy driving up to the door and selling scrumptious cuts of sirloin?) and chicken, and we now find more things to do with hamburger, vegetables, eggs, tuna, and pasta. We’ve made vegetarian pizza, and its great! And with all of this downsizing and having to cook at home, we may even find better health.
- Also, our child care bill had to go. Where we used to be able to pay for child care expenses, we now were no longer able to afford it. To solve this problem, my husband (bless his heart) was able to switch to the night shift.
- I had to get creative about how I looked for jobs. I asked my vet if I could help out in their clinic, and they actually said yes. While working there I continued to search. I eventually got a job at the same hospital that laid me off, only in a different department for half the money. But every little bit helps, right? And now I am writing this article! Tough times force us to get creative, and in the long run it may make our lives even better than they were before.
With making all of these changes, we were able to keep our beloved pets, our child’s taikwondo lessons, and most of all, our house, and food on the table. With my husband working nights and me working during the day and evening hours, we’ve managed to avoid child care expenses.
This year I will be finishing up my clinicals for a new job, making our future outlook a little brighter.
Even though losing our job may seem like the end of our world, getting rid of the extras may help out more than we realize, and taking whatever work is out there in the mean time will only help us get back on our feet. In these tough times, we are taking the term “think outside the box” to a whole new level!
Could you use some parenting help?
One tool that we’ve used is Total Transformation by James Lehman. It’s given us a lot of solid, common sense ideas for parenting our challenging children.