An unexpected government shutdown (or any unplanned financial challenge) can catch you by surprise and put families in very precarious situations.
Hopefully, you have been saving all along and have 3-6 months of living expenses saved up for this “rainy day.” You may be in the position to sit back, relax, and ride this thing out stress free. Unfortunately, this is not the case for many of the federal employees who are currently not receiving pay. While some may be able to maintain for longer than others, eventually we will all come to a breaking point if this furlough continues.
Here are 5 frugal strategies that are helping me to maintain during the shutdown.
1. Build Your Side Hustle
If you have been working on a hobby or side hustle in your spare time, now is a great time to kick that thing into high gear! Any earnings can be saved, and used to help pay bills that can keep pad your savings account.
2. Grocery Shop Smarter
Use the ingredients that you already have in your pantry and fridge in your meals before purchasing more food. Now that you have more time on your hands, plan your meals in advance and stock up on sale-priced items when you can.
Also, if you have freezer space available, consider bulk cooking. This is when you cook enough food for 2-3 meals of the same dish. You eat one of the meals on the same day that it’s cooked, and freeze the others to be eaten within the next few weeks (check out this blog post on the top 100 Food Items that Should be Frozen). The benefit of this is that you will have sensibly priced, healthy meals ready to pop into the oven (that could cost $5 per meal), which will reduce the need for “take-out” food (that would cost $40-$50 per meal).
3. Minimize Gas Usage
If you do drive, when feasible run all your errands at the same time to minimize unnecessary gas usage. Also, when appropriate, skip driving all together and use another form of transportation such as walking or riding a bike. Now is also a great time to take advantage of services that provide free shipping of goods.
4. Purge Your Home of Unneeded Items
Now is an awesome time to tackle the unused clothes, toys, and equipment that occupy your closets and storage space. Post usable items for sale online for extra cash. You may be surprised by what people will pay for gently used items. Recently, I was about to earn about $200 for a few gently used toddler items that we no longer need. You can also donate gently used items so that they can be put to good use.
5. Shop for Lower Rates
Call your insurance companies and utility (cable, cell phone, internet, etc.) companies to inquire about reduced rates. Now is a great time to truly research and shop around for better prices.
What are some other ways that you can make your cash stretch during a challenging time (or anytime)? Leave your comment below, thanks!