Fun Monday time again, and this time I'm hosting!
I don't know what happens where you live, but this morning's paper was full of stories about layoffs and business strategies and state and local budgets and all the cuts that are coming our way. We have two big industries here - the State government and the University. Cuts have already been made in anticipation of smaller budgets, but with the session that started this past week, the news seems to be getting direr by the day.
With all this on my mind, I ask you:
What are you and your family doing to deal with the current economic situation on a personal level? Obama's got a plan for the nation, but how do you/will you deal with your own economic stress?
I do not fear for my job. I do a lot of different things and most of them are needed to keep this station running. But if for some reason I wound up laid off, I would find ways to make money. I am not too proud to flip burgers or clean houses or mow lawns if that's what it took to put food on the table.
But I also haven't had a real raise in years. Every few years, we are thrown a bone of 2 or 3% increase, but that hasn't kept up with the times in any way, shape or form. And as a result, we usually live within our means and tighten our belts when necessary.
It looks like it will be necessary. For the first time in a long time, I was concerned about getting to the next paycheck. That little shocker came as a result of forgetting to write in a car payment. So we are close enough to the line that we need to look at ways to save money:
1. So easy to go out to lunch! No planning ahead, just hop in your car and go! And spend between $5 and $8 a day on something you can easily do without. Fat. Salt. Extra carbs. When I went grocery shopping this week, I planned for lunch at work. Sandwiches. Soup. Leftovers.
2. Leave the spare change at home. The vending machine can eat up your money faster than you can down that pack of M&Ms. Or that diet coke. We have ice trays in the fridge - and water is free... And a heck of a lot better for you. Snack time is going to be an apple from home and a tall glass of ice water.
3. As long as we're on the subject of food (because honestly, when you have to feed two dogs, four cats, a fish, a man and a boy in addition to yourself, it's a big expenditure), I'm watching the grocery bill. More store-brand products. Less overbuying. I had to throw out a perfectly good roast a couple of weeks ago because we never got around to it. Pissed me off. Why are we going out for Greek when we've got pork chops in the fridge? More planning of menus and appropriate buying will nip that impulse to just get carry out in the bud. And save us a few bucks in the bargain.
4. The mortgage is going to be what it's going to be. But we can lower our utility bill! Turning off lights when we're not using them. Leaving the heat set low (62 in the winter) and the AC set high (80), or opening the windows when possible helps. But I know there's more. Our city does energy audits on homes with low interest loans to cover fixes available. I'm getting one of those. I suspect we have a lack of insulation under the house, and possibly in the walls. We replaced windows and the roof since we've been here but obviously there is more we can do. My electric bill tells me this every month.
5. Last fall, our above-ground pool sprung a leak. All winter we debated about fixing it or pulling the whole thing out. We have finally decided to pull it out, saving us the money of chemicals, maintenance and filling the thing up again. In its place, we will be installing a garden - hopefully growing some of our own food this summer. It won't be big, but it will help. That, along with eggs from my father's chickens - we should do pretty well with the food bill this year.
6. Spring break and summer vacation are going to be a little different for my son this year. I'm not quite sure we can pull off a camp every other week like we did last year. Perhaps a city-run day camp at one of the local parks will be an alternative. We're still exploring ideas at this point - but I know we can't do the same camp he did last year.
All of these are little ways we can stretch our dollars. If the unthinkable happens and one of us loses their job altogether, there are other things we can do away with. Satellite TV. Telephone. A car.
I don't have to think about that yet, but it's comforting to know that as deep a cut as I'm going to make this year in our spending, we can go deeper if we have to.
Visit everyone else and see what they have up their sleeves! I don't know about you, but I'm looking at all ideas!!!
AOJ and the Hounds
Alice in Wonderbread
Lil Mouse Jill