Falling Income: How To Deal

Many families are in a situation where they’re dealing with job loss or reduced income due to less work.

For many, budgets are getting tighter and tighter. Even if the current economic situation hasn’t much affected you personally, you may still be taking proactive measures to be more frugal which is certainly a smart move.

You may be wondering how you can start saving some money in various ways that will allow you to free up some space in your budget.

It basically comes down to two things:

1) Make More Money

2) Spend Less Money

Everything else is just minutiae, isn’t it?

Sometimes the second thing is far easier to control. Frugality is more about what you don’t do than what you do do (you know what I mean!). When you whiz by Starbucks, when you pass the snack aisle in the grocery store, when you stay home instead of going out, you practice #2.

But let’s talk about #1 for a second.

How do you find extra money where it doesn’t exist?

All it takes is a good idea.

Everyone is good at something. Maybe you can make beautiful soaps. Maybe you sew. Perhaps you’re good at math and can tutor some kids. Whatever it is, start thinking of your skills.

Personally, I think every mom should have a blog.

It’s not a get rich quick kind of plan, it’s more of a long term thing, but still. It’s something that can bring in a side income and lead to other opportunities.

Just the other day I was talking with a mom who writes a fabulous blog. She works hard on it, she’s unique, she provides massive value, but she admitted that she’s not making much money.

My suggestion was for her to take some of her best posts and collect them into an ebook that she can sell. I told her the story of my first infoproduct, one that took me probably 6 hours total to finish up, but that has brought me passive income each and every month since.

Could you do that? Heck yeah.

I believe that every single one of us has a book inside of her.

There are also work from home job opportunities that require a bit of skill in some area  (writing, web design, bookkeeping, graphic design, etc). I belong to a site called Hire My Mom. I wrote a review of this site here.

While it does require a small investment to access the database, it is well worth it. The posts are organized nicely and you won’t have to search painstakingly through hundreds of scammy MLMs or paid survey sites or any of that.

I posted that on my first DAY of membership, I was hired by a client who I did some work for. She was a joy to work with and it was a great experience for me.

You can also browse Craigslist and other sites for free to find opportunities.

If you’re a writer, you can find opportunities to ghostwrite. Your blog can be a sort of resume for you.

If you are letting the idea of hiring a fancy blog designer or figuring out how to “do” a blog hold you back from starting, don’t.

Reliable Webs (my web host of choice) offers free blog installations for new hosting customers.

Go here to get more information and click on “Free Blog Installations”.

Now let’s talk about #2 for a second: Saving money.

Believe it or not there are a variety of do it yourself ideas that you can easily incorporate into your life that don’t cost much at all. Here are some great ideas to try out that will help your budget and free up some money for you.

Make your Own Clothes-ish

I’ll admit, I don’t have a creative bone in my body. I can sew on a button and almost do a hem, but other than that? Meh.

If you can sew, you’re probably already doing it. But you don’t have to sew your own clothing to save money on clothes.

There are all sorts of ways to make your clothes look new and different without sewing them from scratch or buying things new.

Just the other day while shopping at a vintage clothing store in my neighborhood, I was given a free printout with instructions on how to fix a T shirt that’s too big. I could totally do this!

Repurposing stuff is especially important if you have children, who need new wardrobes nearly every year. Search books at the library and websites for creative ideas. For example, you can buy a couple cheap tank tops at a thrift store and sew a twirly fabric skirt onto them, creating low cost sun dresses for your daughters.

My 6 year old daughter inspires me because she “shops” from her younger sister’s dresser. She will put on her sister’s cardigan and make it into a shrug.  She will put on a too-small tank top on top of another shirt and the effect is totally cute. (She didn’t get this creative dressing streak from me, but who cares?)

Got an old pair of jeans you don’t like anymore? You can turn them into a cute denim skirt fairly easily. Look at magazines like ReadyMade for inspiration.

If you need new clothes and you don’t know how to fit it in your budget, figure out ways to repurpose stuff you already have to save money. Or host a mom swap meet - where everyone brings stuff they don’t need anymore, and gets to shop for free! What an awesome way to keep stuff out of landfills and save money.

Grow (At Least Some) of Your Own Food

Groceries are getting more and more expensive as well. It’s hard to swallow when you go to the store and you find that simple food items have doubled in price.  Growing at least some of your own food can help you to save money – even if it’s just your herbs. Planting a window box or some tomatoes in a container garden is not expensive at all. You can get seeds from a gardening friend or even plants that have already been started.

Do More Cooking Yourself

No discussion on saving money is complete without mentioning this tip. Not only should you do more of the actual cooking yourself, but think in terms of food preparation too.

Anytime your food is touched by human hands (cut carrots, sliced watermelon, etc), it’s going to cost you.

Train your kids to help you in the kitchen if you don’t want to spend your whole life cooking. Keep meals simple. I don’t know about you, but my kids don’t care if I make smoothies for lunch or prepare some elaborate meal for them. As long as their bellies are filled, they’re good.

Make Use of Used Objects

Making use of used objects in your home can save you money as well as keep stuff out of landfills. Here’s an example.

When I moved into my new house, I didn’t have a medicine cabinet to store our toothbrushes like I did in the old bathroom. At the same time, I had a cute red teapot with a missing lid. I didn’t use the teapot anymore because the steam would escape out of the hole and cool too quickly.

So I put it in the bathroom and it make a perfectly cute toothbrush holder (the toothbrushes go into the big hole, not the little one. In case you’re wonderin’).

My glass blender recently got smashed to smithereens. I’m going to locate one to replace it while I shop at thrift stores and yard sales, but in the meantime?

new-bitmap-image-3This works just fine for now. (Yes, that’s an upside down Mason jar. It fits perfectly.)

The more you stretch your frugal creativity muscles, the stronger they become and the more fun you have.

Our Grandmothers drew lines on the back of their legs when they couldn’t afford stockings. We need to get a little of that attitude back!

And there are certain hidden benefits to being this cheap. I’ll give you an example. One day I was at Target and happened to find a bunch of toddler girl’s shirts on sale for $2. I bought several of them, only to find out later that these very shirts had been found to have high levels of formaldehyde in them.

Thankfully I had washed them before my daughter wore them, but still… big ick. I don’t have to worry about this when I buy clothing for her at thrift stores and yard sales.

There are other ways to come up with quick cash if you’re feeling the pinch.

1- Host a yard sale. Do it with a neighbor so it’s not so depressing, and you can attract more attention (and maybe trade some items!).

2 – Sell unneeded stuff on eBay or Craigslist.

3 – Cancel subscriptions you don’t need (magazines, cable, gym membership, etc).

4 – Call your credit card companies and ask them to reduce your interest rate. You would be surprised (as long as you have a good payment history) at how eager they may be to please you as a customer. Better yet, use the yard sale, eBay and Craigslist money to pay off your credit cards forever.

5- Figure out how to lower your monthly bills. A couple of months ago I killed my land line, and I don’t regret it in the least. You can use Google Voice for free texting and voicemail instead, or use a Magic Jack.

More ideas:

Sell your dryer and commit to using a clothesline or indoor drying racks (I did this several months ago, and my electrical bill is lower than anyone I know because of this one thing). Reduce your utility costs by being more aware of your usage.

Of course, it goes without saying that the very act of tracking your expenses is HUGE. I just decided to starting using a tool at PearBudget. I’ve used paper systems before and they work fine, but the advantage of an online tracking system is that it does the math for you. :)

If you’ve written a post recently about your strategies to reduce your expenses, please link to it in the comments. Thanks!

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3 Responses to Falling Income: How To Deal

  1. Candi says:

    I love this post Carrie! I didn’t realize a Mason jar would fit a blender! I’m going to try it out! It’s just like a Magic Bullet…but cheaper!

    Thanks!

  2. Shelly says:

    Carrie, this post is wonderful! I am one of those mom’s who has had a blog and let it go,but is trying to do it again. I just want to say, I’ve been an avivd listener/reader of yours for about 3 yrs now,you’re so informative.

  3. Emily says:

    Oh, please please PLEASE blog about the magicJack soon. Neither DH or I had ever heard of it until now, and we would LOVE to be able to eliminate our $60/month phone bill.

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