How do you deal with" very little" or "no money" situations?
I just read one of my friend Lara's post on how they managed a summer of no paychecks and it's amazing how when money's not a problem since it's not there, people get creative and become happier and more talented, if not wiser in the end. I, too, share that sentiment.
We've had our financial throw-downs over the past decade. But somehow, we have always managed. How?
We always PRAY for help. It gives us courage and open mind to rethink our situation and not let it overwhelm us. Back in 2004, when Mr. Man lost his well-paying job and had to be a cashier at a resort, our pleas brought us the decision to move to Mesa, AZ and he went back to school. Most of our school loan surplus went to paying the rent and electric bill during the hot spring and summer months! (you know I'm not exaggerating! AZ spring time is very warm and summers are brutal!) With coupons and careful math, our fridge, freezers, pantry, linen closet and room closet were full of what we needed. I was able to stock up diapers for my son and even help out a family for two full meals when their electricity went out due to a failure.
REINVENTING uses of what we do have help to stretch our dollars and creativity. Plus we get to spend more time together as a family. Our mentality of FREE is the best price for everything keeps us patient and courageous enough to ask for things that others discarded. We've also instituted the idea of "if we can spend money, we can find money". Ever heard of dumpster diving? Mr. Man, a total fan if there's a worthwhile coupon to hunt down.
ACCOMMODATING needs first have helped us focus on what's important and to live within our means. We have a needs list that we renew every year and is prioritized accordingly. We talk and research and then we wait. We even time our school shopping during tax-free days, money for shopping and deep clearance times to make sure our small budget hauls in big budget finds. Our children give up old clothes and shoes to be donated for new ones twice a year. It helps them hold on to their clothes longer and not have the "gimmes" in the store. "Gimme" whines are simply not allowed.
YOUR choices make a difference. During one extra lean year, I chose to hold a daycare for extra income and play the coupon game aggressively so that our cupboards never emptied, and it didn't! I ended up getting mostly free food and was able to use our then $20-a-week food budget towards other necessities that normally have coupons. We also no longer do gift-giving at Christmas time. Back in 2007, when Mr. Man's paycheck didn't even cover outside of our rent and car payment, we were blessed with amazing support from family, church members and friends. Miracles poured in left and right. We decided that we would focus the month of December in showing our gratitude to He who made our lives intact while living on practically nothing for 6 months. From that decision stemmed the January Shopping Spree where we save up $1 a day and use it in January for a "whole day shopping spree" of individual and family gifts, a movie and lunch.
We also make it a point to SAVE items with multipurpose potential for household "last minute" ideas and money from change, found coins and any extra from paychecks. We stick to a small budget and take advantage of unbelievable deals on items on our needs list. We literally celebrate when the bank is not screaming for us to pay any fees or when we have enough for an emergency dinner during a hectic night of "school functions".
I've learned that when we follow moderation and sensibility, our financial stress level does not go up (or even make a tiny hiccup) and we reap the benefits of being DIO (Do It Ourselves) people. We emphasize quality over quantity so that most projects are done once. I consult my pantry carefully for dinner time and always remind myself that we have enough food for the day.
So, how do you deal with your lean years?