Tuesday, March 5, 2013

How to Save Money (When You Don't Have Any Choice)

As of this month, we are entering our fifth month of unemployment! As I've mentioned before, we're really enjoying unemployment - but unfortunately, it comes with one big drawback, namely no money. A slight impediment to financial progress, for sure!

However, even that is teaching us lots of good lessons and drawing us closer together as a family! Specifically, it has been a tremendous blessing to have both DH and I on board with non-spending. Usually one or the other of us is trying to spend and the other is trying to save, which can definitely be a drawback and a source of conflict - now that we are drawn together in the "spend no money" mode, it's been a great way for us to grow as a couple.

In that spirit, I thought that I would share some of the ways that we are saving money! Some of these changes are temporary; some are permanent. All of them have been a great exercise in self-control and in personal growth, and we're both loving it.

Ditching the Luxury Services

Goodbye, cable TV! Hurray!!! (Added bonus: Not having to guard our kids from the filth that is put into commercials. Even better!) Now when we want to watch something, we utilize our home video library, the public library, and Netflix.

Downgrading Services

Some services we still need, but have been able to drop package type or service quality. For internet service, we dropped from the mid-package to the lowest available package and are now saving $25/month. For DH's cell phone, he dropped data from his plan and is saving that cost per month.

Grocery Shopping

We have completely changed our shopping habits when it comes to groceries. We used to shop the grocery store and the produce market - we now shop the discount grocery store (where they sell outdated, damaged, and overstock) and the throw-away produce market, plus bulk purchases from Honeyville Grains and Azure Standard. (We still shop at Sam's Club.) This has been so much fun! I love looking for awesome bargains and making things work. Love this - we won't be going back.

Postponing Ideals

Like many of you, I have certain ideals in mind for our home eating habits - buzz-words like pastured, grass-fed, organic, raw, etc. But right now, those ideals are on hold. Not gone, just temporarily shelved. I'll get back to that. I am, however, keeping up with my (mostly) all-natural habits - we're not switching to junk food just to eat more cheaply.

Lowering Standards

Where we can, we're lowering some standards. For example, we went from name-brand coffee to the lowest-of-the-low generic. And guess what? We can't even tell the difference! We should have done this years ago!

Meal Planning

I have usually been pretty good about meal planning - but now I'm getting even better! I'm even adding breakfasts to the plan. And in that meal planning, I am being even more aggressive in planning low-cost ingredients, shopping sales, and using leftovers. Good stuff, and fun! (Though time-consuming!)

Amish Proverbs

I have always loved this saying: "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without." We're doing our best to apply this in all areas. Craft supplies? We'll find it around the house or do without. Leftovers? We'll eat them or make them into baby food. Need something? Unless it's essential, for now we're doing without.

Ditching Debt

We used some available funds to pay off debt, thus saving ourselves the interest and the monthly payment.

Downsizing Our Vehicles

Prepare yourself - we're down to one vehicle! Yes, I know - amazing. I never would have believed that we could do it. But this past January, both vehicles came due for registration - and neither would pass the smog test. After a lot of thought and discussion, DH made the decision to sell one car. I dreaded it - who has only one car nowadays? - but it's actually been great! Fewer cars to clean, more room in the driveway, fewer repair bills and gasoline bills (especially since DH's commute has been eliminated), less stress. It just requires a bit more in the line of logistics planning! Hey, if people from the 1950's could do it, so can we!

Stopping All Extras

Spending allowances for DH and myself, book purchases, fast-food purchases, travel, field trips or activities that cost money.... NOPE.

Relying on God

This is the biggest one, of course! We believe that we are following God's plan in this new venture, and we are trusting him to bless the outcome and provide for our needs along the way. And he has - in some great ways!

For example - a sweet friend contacted me and gave me all of her daughter's outgrown diapers, which provided us with diapers for one child for an entire week. (No, I don't cloth diaper. I know, I'm a miserable sinner!)

Another example - I was able to take a piano substitute position this past month, which paid for all of our car repair expenses - plus a little bit more!

There are many more examples, but the truth is that we are totally reliant upon God - as always, of course, but times like this make it even more obvious. We are so thankful for his care and provision.

If y'all have any more ideas and suggestions for saving money, please pass 'em along!

Love to everyone! Have a great night!


  1. When we can't squeeze another tiny drop of toothpaste from the tube, I cut it open and at brushing time we stick our brushes in and scrape the sides. We can last about 9 days on a tube that was absolutely "squeeze empty"!

  2. Becky! Good idea! I will be trying that tonight - I had one that was just about to hit the trash can!

    Christina - I will check that out right now - thank you!!

  3. Diana,

    Sounds like you are doing a fantastic job during this time without work for your husband.

    Will be praying for a job for your husband soon!

  4. Janet - thank you for your prayers! Much appreciated! :)


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