My Story: Getting Back On Your Feet When the S Hits the Fan

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family job lossLife is going along comfortably and predictably, and you think “it” won’t happen to you, not really. Then it does.

A family job loss.

In my case it was a phone call that, at first, seemed to be a typical call from the boss, except this time it’s different.Your main bread winner has just been told they are being let go. This recently happened to my husband, and in spite of a severance package, he had no clue what or where his next job would be.

The Stuff Hit the Fan in our life, for real.

Luckily, over the years we have discussed what we would do in this sort of situation and how we could live well within in our means. We have little debt beyond a car and the house. As preppers, we have whittled down a lot of our bills and are mentally prepared to do even more. And we have things in the house that will enable us to reduce regular monthly bills quite a bit, like food storage.

Utilities, Cable, and More

Right now we have two cable TV boxes. One is definitely being sent back. We talked about getting rid of both and switching to Amazon and/or Netflix for all our TV, but we need to keep the internet service from the cable company anyway so it makes sense to keep the bundle and the lower pricing.

The router for our internet is plugged into a surge protector. That’s a good thing, of course, but if we change where it is plugged in, then we can flip a switch and all those “vampire” electronics like the PS3 that are plugged into the same surge protector will cease drawing current all the time. That will help, too, especially if we hunt down all the other “vampires” in the house.

We have a programmable thermostat. (They range from simple to Wi-Fi enabled; we really, really like our WiFi enabled thermostat, even though it’s a bit more expensive to buy.) Over the last few years, we have made our home warmer in summer and cooler in winter, but we can adjust the main floor a little bit more. Every degree helps!

TIP: Have you thought about paying ahead on your utilities in order to have a safety cushion, just in case? Here are a few details.

When we moved into our home years ago, there were a few utility service companies we selected, but we haven’t re-checked prices in several years. We’ll be doing that now.

The kids and a family job loss

In most ways (for them), this will just be accelerating / implementing things we have already discussed. They know we want to sell a bunch of their old toys on eBay and there is a stack of movies and video games pulled for the same purpose. Seeing some car parts and other things added in won’t seem terribly odd to them.

More info: Deluttering can not only help make your everyday life easier but it’s also a great way to identify items to put up for sale. Here’s The Survival Mom’s guide to decluttering and getting organized. It’s a FREE ebook!

Our kids aren’t in any expensive activities, mostly just Scouts, so we don’t need to take them out of any expensive lessons or clubs, but we can’t add anything, either. Also, they know we just had to replace the HVAC so they can blame any decreases in spending on that for awhile. (Yep, great timing on that. Sigh.)

It’s not good for kids when their parents are panicky, so we waited a week or so to figure out some things ourselves, then talked to them. This included the fact that we may need to sell our house and move, possibly even to another state, if that’s where the new job is – but that isn’t our first choice and won’t happen soon, if it happens at all.

We aren’t big spenders and don’t go crazy with Christmas and birthday gifts, plus I do have some gifts I bought ahead and have been waiting to give. We will do the same thing we always do and buy things as we see them, on sale (with an extra emphasis on sales this year). I already found a Woot sale on t-shirts, so my youngest child bought fun tshirts for everyone. Total shopping for five Christmas gifts with shipping and tax: under $30.

More tips for celebrating in tight times: 15 Ways to Celebrate Good Times in Tight Times

In addition, I buy school supplies on clearance every year, so I have more than enough to cover most of what they need for the new school year. The ever-elusive 3 subject and 5 subject notebooks are the main things I will need to buy. (Why on earth they are so tough to find in the store remains a mystery to me.) So, all in all, the kids should be OK for now.

Read more: 7 Tips For Raising Secure Kids In An Insecure World

Eating

We’ve been eating out too much the last few months. I know. It’s bad for the budget and the waistline – but the summer has just been insanely busy and, well, you know how it goes. Chik-fil-A / Dominos for dinner sounds great! Clearly, that’s over and done with.

We will be eating some of our food storage food, but it will be supplementing what I pick up at the grocery store — using coupons and store sales! We aren’t anywhere near a point where we need to completely upend our diet to the extent of not grocery shopping. The dehydrated ham will be added to omelettes and stir fry dinners, for example. The kids will suck it up and eat home-made pizza bagels instead of their favorite pre-made brand. In short, we’ll be switching from store-bought to homemade. (Read the mini guide.)

Since there is still a lot of fresh summer produce available, we will try to buy fresh fruit and veggies and dehydrate them to use over the winter. I have done this multiple times before, but not to a large extent. We will do it to a much greater degree this time. Also, I may even try my hand at canning – for salsa and some other fairly easy items like pizza sauce. (At least, I think it’s easy.)

TIP: Learn more about dehydrating foods inexpensively.

Other ways to save

We’ll probably try to wait a few months before talking to our parents. Yeah, that. But it’s not gonna happen at all if we can avoid it. No point adding that extra stress into our lives. Even though we are fully grown adults, our parents still worry about us as though we were still youngsters!

On my husband’s side of the family, advanced age has led to his mom’s memory problems that are severe enough our explanations really won’t stick. Any attempts to do that with her will lead to confusion and delay. With my own parents, their worries will intrude and make us feel even worse and more stressed about the situation.

On the plus side, we should be able to make some real headway on all those little (and not so little) household projects that have just been sitting there. Late September into October is perfect weather for things like painting the house (with the windows open) and fixing things outside. We plan to take advantage of that and get our house in better shape, especially since we have the supplies needed to finish the projects. (It’s like the meme says: If a man say’s he going to something, he’ll do it. No need to ask him about it every six months.)

We are also clearing out things we no longer need and will sell most of them. This will give us some extra money, make keeping the house clean easier and faster, and just generally help us get a fresh start.

Final thoughts on our family job loss

Hopefully my hubby will get a new job quickly and it will pay better than his last one. Best case is that happens and he ends up with double-pay for a few months and a few weeks of time off in between. But worst case is, well, worst case. We are cutting down avoidable expenses, staying home, and generally saving wherever possible.

I have faith that it will all turn out for the best, but there’s no denying it is tough and stressful in the short term.

Resources for frugal living, especially with a family job loss

  • Check out my monthly series of past articles, “52 Weeks Savings”, with discounts, bargains, and deals for each month of the year. Here’s a sample month for June’s best bargains.
  • Learn more about the 52 Weeks Savings Challenge here and customize it to your own income and circumstances with these tips.
  • Join Survival Mom’s 52 Weeks Savings Club on Facebook. We’re over 2500 members and going strong!
  • Dave Ramsey has solid advice for taking control of your finances. I recommend his basic book, The Total Money Makeover for an easy-to-follow plan and a quick, motivational read.

family job loss

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I'm the original Survival Mom, and have been helping moms worry less and enjoy their homes and families more for 9 years.

5 thoughts on “My Story: Getting Back On Your Feet When the S Hits the Fan”

  1. Good tips, and I can relate. My husband, a casualty of the oil & gas business downturn, has been out of work for 5 months. I NEVER would have imagined that my college educated hubby with great experience would be in this position; the job market is flooded.

    So here’s the point–SAVE, SAVE, SAVE–money and foodstuffs. Even on a limited budget, put something away. We have survived to this point because we had been saving for a new roof; otherwise, we would have had to sell a car, look at selling the house, etc. We are about to give up the grocery shopping and live on preps for a few months if need be, and we have been getting rid of all the extras in our life (like cable). No one is immune, and I have a new respect for the jobless. He is either over or under qualified; and employers do not give over qualified employees the time of day, because they think it’s a waste of time and the employee will leave at the first chance of a ‘real’ job. Any tips on job search are appreciated, and good luck to the poster.

  2. I totally understand. As a single mom I was relying on my son’s SSI to supplement my pay. When I got the letter stating they feel he no longer qualifies I was a mess. A third of our household income would be gone in two months!! After I began breathing again I did some research and decided to sell the home I can no longer afford and buy a sailboat. We will become part of the live aboard community and I will be able to cut back on my stress and breathe again!!

  3. LMBO Some things never change. My mom died @ 96 and right up to the end there were things I withheld or just outright lied about. I was in my 60s & still lying to my mom! lol I understand what you’re saying tho.

  4. I feel your pain here we have been through this same thing twice! Once was a job loss the second was a “downturn” in the “market” and we lost almost everything we own. We have lived in 6 states and our children are very resilient. However, I fear they may be come hoarders (not really they just don’t part with much easily). We are in our forever home and no matter what we are determined to not move again. I have told our children more than once that we are putting down roots! I am taking my own steps to ensure that I will not have to up root my children. My husband is working on he own steps for this same goal. Hope all works out for you and your family. We didn’t have family to lean on and I am not sure if it was a blessing or not. We are a strong family, not perfect, but together.

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