Thursday, January 24, 2019

When The Going Gets Tough

You all know the saying!  When the going gets tough the tough get going.  That means you do the best you can with what you have, and figure out new ways that work.  You don't give up - you get stronger and more inventive.

I am not a huge fan of A BUDGET per se'.  My idea of budget is:
You make X amount of dollars - therefore you spend less than that!  You don't spend more than you make EVER!

We always had a rule from day one of marriage - that our normal bills should never be more than one person's salary.  We pretty much made that work.  Now did we spend more than one salary?  Sure - but not on basic bills.
I had times when I got laid off from work over the years and we got by on G's wages only.  We have always been savers and had an emergency fund set aside - THIS IS HUGELY IMPORTANT for everyone!   You need to have a good 3 - 6 months saved back.

When G had to retire due to disability, it took almost a year to get retirement and disability for him.  We lived on what I made.  If we had to - we dipped into savings.  Basically, we lived no different on one paycheck than we did on two.

There are unexpected savings when you don't go to work everyday.  Vehicle maintenance and gas go down.  Laundry and clothing habits change.  You can get car insurance rates changed.  There is no lunches, snacks, or drinks being purchased.  There seems to be home cooked meals.  It seems money stays in your wallet longer!!!!!

We all have to be responsible for ourselves - we can not depend on others for our basic needs. 
Have an emergency fund
Stock a good pantry
Plan ahead - don't live beyond your means
Pay off things as quickly as possible - keep bills to a minimum
Get creative

There are so many things that will help - when you are in a dire financial pinch.
  • DON'T EVER eat out - no coffee, no bottled water or pop, no lunches, no snacks - take your own - nothing
  • DON'T use credit cards - unless you can pay off 100% each month
  • CUT SERVICES - cable, gym memberships, sports, internet, etc.  They are NOT always necessary for quality life
  • CUT BACK on utilities - turn off lights, unplug, less heat, etc.
  • Get MORE CREATIVE - look at using what you have, check out the library for options,  get inventive with recipes (you may come up with a favorite), barter with family, friends, and neighbors
  • STAY HOME - no movies, flea markets, sports events, thrift stores - nope!!!  If you need to get out go to FREE events in the community, play games at homes, entertain your own family!
  • NO SPENDING - no pay events, no clothes, no shoes, no gadgets, no snacks (make your own)
  • SELL STUFF - we all have so much stuff that we do not need.  It could be clothes, toys, gadgets, tools,  books, etc.  You can make grocery money or a utility bill money this way.
  • Use a FOOD PANTRY if necessary.  That is what they are for - to help those that truly need it.  Don't use unless you really need it - don't take from those that truly have a need.  This is a huge pet peeve of mine.  Use what is available if YOU NEED IT, but not to just get free things.  I see people doing that everyday - Grrrr.
  • IF NECESSARY get a part time job - to make a little extra for a while.  Sell your services - mow lawns, sew for others, babysit, yard work, cook meals, work from home services, etc.

If you live within your means, and save a little at a time, and keep a pantry - you should be good.
ALWAYS plan ahead. 
Misfortune can happen to any of us at any time.  No job is 100% secure - layoffs can happen and do happen - every day.  Life can deal us any number of stumbling blocks along the way.
YOU are the only person you can count on 100% of the time.
Be wise.  Live within your means = never spend more than you make,  Stock your pantries, Save for emergencies.  Get creative.



  1. Great advice!
    We have done many of these esp when dh was laid off during the dotcom bust. He was out of work for 6 months, but we had savings and we cut back on everything that we could.
    I feel sorry for the federal workers who are having to work without pay, but I don't understand how they can be in such dire straits after losing just one paycheck. People really do live paycheck to paycheck. Maybe this will be a wakeup call for them?

    1. I so agree!!!!!! Most govt. workers make more money than I ever anticipated making. Living beyond means for sure!
      If you are still doing your job - then you should be paid. But others have been laid off basically - as have we all.
      I sure hope that a lot of people wake up after this - but I am not holding my breath.
      The American public are very slow learners!

  2. Well said Cheryl. We all have been through hard times, it takes patience and cutting back as you have indicated.

    1. Thanks - common sense and patience is not something that there seems to be an abundance of any more.

  3. I have 3 people I could give this to. All I can do is shake my head.

    1. I hear ya! It is so aggravating that people just do not prepare.

  4. All this should be taught in school. Several times. Pay cash if at all possible. Nancy

    1. Yes mam. It definitely should be. All basic finances should be taught.

  5. There was a woman on our local news getting food from a food pantry saying she wouldn't eat so to feed her children and then mentioned she got two months of food stamps but they would all be hungry in February. No thought to stretch her money and after getting two months of food stamps why did she need the pantry now?

    1. People just don't seem to take any responsibility for themselves any more. I truly do not understand the mentality. We were taught to work hard for everything we wanted and needed.

  6. A few years ago, I became convinced that 3-6 mos was no longer enough. We hit one of those spells of getting slammed in the Oompa Loompas ( anyone else read the Pearls Before Swine comic?) repeatedly over several months. It all started the morning of my 51st bday. My mom had a stroke and was hospitalized/rehab for 6 wks. During and following this event, we went through the following... Twice a day trips to the hospital for the 6 wks., car died, rented a car for a month, bought a car in a hurry, paid for my mom's funeral, big vet bills and our sweet dog died, had to have the entire fireplace rebuilt after major rain damage, and two abdominal surgeries (one minor, one major, both expensive since we didn't hit our deductible and they straddled years).
    Are you still with me? We spent more than a year's salary in that time. Before taxes! Not counting the regular stuff. We literally drained every penny we had and it wasn't enough. A relative gave us a cash gift that was generous and it still wasn't enough. It took 3 yrs to pay back all the medical bills. 6 yrs later and we're still rebuilding from those consecutive hits.

    At our income, I don't think this was something we could've ever planned for entirely, I still wish we would've had a year's expenses in the emergency fund. It was a horrible emotional time and the expenses made it even worse.

    1. What a horrible time for you. I am sorry you had to go through all of that.
      Things like that are never planned, and generally can't be budgeted for. That would have drained most folks.
      It is not a horrible sequence of events like that, that I am speaking of.

      You have worked very hard to pay it back and get back on your feet. Many people today wouldn't have that kind of character. And yes that IS character.

      You went through hell and back and should be very proud of yourselves for coming through to the brighter side.
      You are the inspiration that many today should try to emulate.
      God bless.

    2. I hope that you didn't think I was disagreeing with you. I think your post is right on. I shudder when I look back. I'm hoping to share how one MUST be prepared to the max of their ability. Stuff happens! Dave Ramsey says that families face a major financial event every 10 yrs. on average. Maybe we used 3 of
      ours at once and we're done haha!!

      Thanks for the compliment. Here we are living the high life again on a typical Friday night. DH is sitting here playing the Wii and I'm going to read with my warm pooch on my lap. :)

    3. No, I didn't think that. I was just in awe of what you went through and bounced back A real inspiration.
      We sure never know what life has to throw at us - in your case a whole basket of s@*t!!!!!

      Preparation of any sort helps at least some. Life would have been even worse had you not prepared as much as you had.
      Thank you so much for the testimonial! I love how everyone shares, so others can learn!

  7. Cheryl I am singing in your choir.
    Bluey got very ill a couple of years ago. He was in hospital for 10 weeks. Our health system is different to yours and we did not end up having to sell a kidney to pay medical bills. What did have to happen is that I could no longer work. I needed to be here to make sure Bluey was OK.
    I cannot claim any benefits. We live on Bluey's part pension for one person and off any income(not much this year) from his shares portfolio. We live well. We dont have any debt and this helps. We do access a Food Bank through necessity. I shop at thrift stores and often repurpose what I purchase into what we need. Our income is well below the poverty line but we do not feel 'poor' or hard done by. Living within your means and having a positive attitude towards this helps so much.
    Even when we were on a very good income we banked Bluey's income each week and lived off mine. It meant we were able to pay off our mortgage when I was 42. It has since meant that such a drastic change in our income was not as difficult to live with as it could have been.
    Having an emergency fund has been a God send more than once. It is something I try and keep at a particular amount at all times. I would encourage everyone to build one of these. If it is only a few spare dollars a pay at least it is a start.
    Yep definitely singing in your choir.

    1. Jane I a glad so many understand. Same here - we lived on my pay while waiting for G's approval for disability. By then there was much he couldn't do - so I left work to take care of many things. I still do not get any retirement (hopefully that changes this year).
      I am sure we don't make what the govt. calls a good living, but we live well.

      We knew things would get wonky with his health and we planned for it.

      You and Kathy (above) are good examples of - you never know what may happen. You just preserver. You do what you must and move forward.
      You don't forget that you are your own responsibility.

      Yes everyone needs an emergency account - every little bit helps.
      Thanks for your testimony as well.

  8. I agree with so many of these. Did you know that people think cable is a basic utility. That one always shocks me. They can't believe that cable is not an option. When people find out we don't have cable they are absolutely stunned. How do DH & I survive? Serious, as can be we get this question all the time. I do know some HOA's require cable. Not including those in the cable shock syndrome, lol.

    The comments about Federal Workers. A lot of them are paid below poverty lines. $25,000 under. Some get lucky and can earn $36,000. You have the janitors, TSA, teachers for government based schools like Job Corps. It is very paycheck to paycheck existence. Have seen it since I started working for the government in the 90's. I haven't worked for the government since 9/11.

    Today's economy is challenging even for the best of us frugalites. Just read that only 10% of American's have affordable housing. DH & I are blessed that we do. Eighty percent, including the rich, are living paycheck to paycheck. Yes, I agree many American's choose to live beyond their means. Then there is a very large group that is growing that is exorbitant amount of student debt, Medical insurance they can't control because it's becoming outrageous (I am in that group) and housing that to live in is way beyond their means. A lot of Generationals have three-four roomates.

    I think those of us who are blessed to have emergency funds we are becoming the new rich. Emergency fund is a pipe dream for so many. Hopefully, in a few years things will change. Things like this go in waves.

    1. Isn't that something that folks think cable is a necessity? Crazy.
      I am still a firm believer that you can always prepare in some way to help yourself. Save a few bucks a week/month - add a few things to the pantry - go to food pantries when needed, etc. I never made $25,000 in salary myself.

      I understand that there are circumstances beyond everyone's control. But we all have to TRY.

      Personally, I don't see the mindset of the public changing much. It seems to be a daily occurrence that we are bombarded with propaganda that we do not have to be personally responsible, as others will take care of us. That is what ruffles my feathers!

      We all need to try - no matter how small the gain is.
      Take care!

  9. Since December I have been converting my mind and my feelings to this thinking, I did it a few years back and then relapsed, but now, now, I am more determined than ever to re-script how I think about debt...not there yet, but I am diligently working on it...Dave Ramsey has some good podcasts and you tube and apps...

    We cut the cable and what a Godsend! time to read, time to talk, time to do so many other things, and we do have an antenna for those times I want to sit and knit by television, Andy of Mayberry and Gomer Pyle have some nice lessons in being a good person...

    I wish I grew up frugal, but I will keep trying! ... without 'trying' my husband's patience with me, he has waited YEARS for me to join him in living below our means...

    I will keep working, and it really is just for the healthcare, our daily habits are what you recommend, now I'm using Pinterest for gifts and everyone has been pleased, Christmas was very low budget for our whole family (both married daughters, my husband and I) and it truly was not a problem, we still had a good time...

    what the Grinch learned, Christmas is not the gifts, but the loving hearts of those that we are with! Celebrate Christmas all the year long...

    1. Hi Ellen, so good to hear from you! You know I have been talking the talk for years!

      Good for you on cutting cable, and going in new directions. You are trying and that my friend is what counts!

      Family time, friend time, and 'me' time is the best. All the things and stuff REALLY makes no one happy.
      You keep plugging away, and working on and building up - then kick back and relax for a while.
      You got this.
      Hope to see you around more.
      Have a good weekend.

  10. Hi Cheryl, I am not bragging but before my father in law retired 10 years ago he never made over $8 an hour. He does not owe for anything and he never financed any anything in his life. He always paid cash, even for his (new) cars. He always has over 1 year or more of savings built up. He always had nice things but never at the sacarfic of going into debt. My MIL did not work but took care of the home. He had a sister who made lots more money than him, had two incomes, and always seemed to be in debt - owing for everything. I really believe it is in all how you handle your money. He taught his son the same money principals and I am so thankful, because that is the son I married. 😀

    1. LOVE this story. What a testament to the adage you can do anything you put your mind too. My folks never had a credit card either and they started a business without taking out a loan.
      Many times it seems those that have - never have enough! So there is where the debt comes in.
      I love being happy with just what I have - really need nothing more.
      I can tell you are PROUD to be his DIL and proud to have the husband you do!
      Thank you for sharing!

    2. My grands were the same as this poster's fil was. My grandpa was always a janitor. I had a HS friend whose dad had worked in the same plant with my grandpa. When I realized this, I told her dad. His response to the name was, "I remember him, but we didn't work together. He was just a janitor. I worked in the front office." OUCH. Like a good kid, I held my tongue. They lived in the same size house. Well, Mr. Front Office moved his family into a big fancy home on the other side of the hill. Time passes and 5 yrs and 3 mos. later, they move back to our side of the hill. I knew that their fancy house financing had bit them hard and they couldn't afford it. You have no idea how I had to hold my tongue and keep it from saying something about how "just a janitor" was a much better money manager. Again, I was a good girl. 😇 But no good comes from tooting higher than your own butt!

    3. What a wonderful story to share. It does seem that those who make the least - have the most. That doesn't always mean money - but they do seem to have more moxy and more common sense. They worked HARD for everything they had, and I bet their gratitude was to the sky and back.
      Thanks for sharing - I love these kind of stories.

  11. Just returning from back east I saw many people setting up food pantries for the federal workers. I was touched but also shocked. We could live for a year on what is in this house if we were careful. I guess I always had to squeeze a penny from the get go so I don't understand this. Great post.

    1. Glad you are back safe and sound.
      Same here, we are prepared for about anything. Money was not something we had an abundance of while working (or now), but we have lived a good life.

      I guess we just all assume everyone prepares. Now we know!

  12. Good morning Cheryl. I am in the same boat. My mother stayed home and was a homemaker, my father was in the navy. After my father died, we moved in with an uncle who didn't make a lot of money either. His wife and family didn't treat us well either. So I was pretty much on my own at 18 with my own expenses. I have made some nice money in the past, but most of my life it has been close to minimum wage. But I have made my own life and have been able to help others with food, clothing, etc. as needs arise. It is all a mindset and it is all living below your means. It is also pinching a penny until it yelps and being curious about what else can I do to help my situation, and then finding the right solution for you, and going after it. If hunting and foraging, and gardening for food is it, so be it, less to have to spend at the grocery store. If buying at yard sales and then reselling on craigslist or ebay is it, so be it. If coupouning is it, so be it. Any way you can save a few cents to use to keep debt away from your door - hey comparing auto insurance is also a good way. And the funny thing is, once you start on this journey of saving for whatever, or paying down the debt, it can snowball, and you can see the joy in life again, and not feel the burden of debt dragging you down.

    1. Absolutely. Once we LEARN (everyday), we have more sense to make cents!
      It is a constant learning curve, and we all do what we can to stretch them dollars. Yes, many of us can make those pennies scream!

      It is also a great game! I just love seeing how else I can stretch things, improve things, make new use of things, and save and stretch a dollar.
      We are a good group!

  13. Hi Cheryl,
    I've really enjoyed reading all the comments to your blog post.
    The shutdown has sparked a lot of conversation about a lot of things.
    I'm glad it's over so the people affected can get their footing back and move on.

    I will say that I was really shocked how quickly so many people were so close to the financial edge after missing one paycheck.

    But growing up with a single mom - my father ran off with another woman leaving her with 3 elementary school aged children - I realize how hard life can be.
    At that point, she went into the workforce never having had a paying job and worked hard to support us. God rest her soul.
    I can absolutely say she would've been devastated by missing a month's pay.
    This wasn't because she wasted her money or made bad decisions, it was because there wasn't anything extra.
    We always had plenty of food in the house and full cupboards so I don't think feeding her family would've been an issue but I can guarantee you paying the next month's rent without her paycheck(s) would've been a problem for her.

    So as I look around at my friends who waste money on a bunch of crap and charge everything they buy only paying the minimums on the cc bills,
    Then they announce how broke they are, I always try to keep in mind for every person I see making idiotic financial choices, there is some woman raising kids on her own just trying to get by.

    I'm thankful everyday I've made the choices I have.
    I'm thankful that the decisions we've made not to buy the latest and greatest, and to prioritize saving something- no matter how small - every single month now provide us with a comfort that money can't buy.
    Peace of Mind.


    1. Wonderful words! Your last 2 paragraphs speak volumes.
      Sounds like you had an angel for a Mom. How wonderful.
      It is amazing what we can do if we have to. You were her priority.

      I guess that amazed me too, that SO MANY were on the edge financially so quickly. I hope many of them re-examine their lives.

      I know when I was single, I still had some debt to pay on from my ex and I as well as paying for an apartment and utilities and food. I got laid off from my main job (I worked 2) My 2nd job was a few hours in the evenings about 3-4 days a week. I did the best I could.
      I often stopped at the lunch counter at work and got packets of crackers (free) and a glass of water. That was dinner! Can't count how many times I did that.
      Most meals at home were macaroni with ketchup. YEP! A bottle of ketchup lasted for a long time and pasta was like 39/box.
      My landlady worked with me, as I explained the situation.
      I got through it and I am better for it.

      We do what is necessary.
      I am proud of all you gals here - seems we have all learned some hard lessons and survived to tell about them.
      Thank you for your lovely story and wise words