When my husband and I both got laid off on the same day, we both knew we had to change our spending habits and we had to change them fast. We had already taken a major cut in income when I was laid off from a previous job where I was making $55,000 a year. I started at the dealership at $10 an hour and I was making $12.50 when I was laid off with him three years later. We had already changed several habits. We had always gone out to eat at least one night a week, we worked hard and we deserved to treat ourselves. Additionally, we also probably ordered pizza delivered at least once a week. And about once a month we always splurged and got Luigi’s delivered (GREAT ITALIAN FOOD!). When times were good, we spent over $10,000 in one year flying our daughters and their boyfriends to visit us, taking them all to Busch Gardens and out on the town. We have friends in a local band and we never missed a performance. We went to Hooter’s every Thursday night for Bike night, we didn’t have a bike, but we had many local friends who did and we had a blast with them. We had a great social life and we had some really great times. While I do not regret those times, being where we are now it really makes me think a lot more about how we spent and didn’t save. We never used coupons, we never searched for the lowest gas prices, we didn’t purposely seek out happy hour anywhere, we just did what we wanted because we could. And in the process, we picked up some really bad spending habits. We paid the bills, but even then we struggled and shuffled to make ends meet. There wasn’t a lot of stress over money, we just managed to make ends meet day to day.
When we became unemployed together, it was a real shock. We had to do a really big reality check. We disconnected the cable tv and bought a digital box, we disconnected our high speed internet and I’ll let you figure out how we were able to stay “connected.” I let my Jeep get repossessed (we had to choose between eating and my Jeep and the Jeep lost). I started couponing, searching for sales and buying in bulk. John and I had both been employed for 35+ years and for the first time in either of our lives, we had to collect unemployment. Neither of us had ever been unemployed long enough to even apply. Suddenly, we are in a job environment where when you apply for a job you are qualified for there are 250 people applying for the same job. McDonalds posts a job opening and 1,000 people show up to apply. And let us not forget, we are both over 50 years old now and despite the fact that age discrimination is against the law, it happens. Instead of being told we are too old, we are told that we are “overqualified.” Nice politically correct term, don’t you think? If I was in HR, a 50 year old with experience would have me salivating. Responsible, trustworthy, loyal and experienced. You don’t have to teach them these basic ideals, they are inbred. Oh wait and intelligent, too? My goodness, I’d be close to orgasm. Unfortunately, it appears most want young and dumb. I’ve been told they think us older folks are too set in our ways and they won’t be able to steer us in the right direction. Ok, I really don’t want to work for people who think that way. One prospective employer actually told me in an interview that he was told by his top notch high mucky muck HR person to NEVER hire someone smart enough to replace you, because they will. To bad they don’t understand some of us do not want to replace them, we just want a damn job!
Being frugal is not as difficult as it may seem. It doesn’t have to mean lower quality or sacrificing taste. Being frugal is more about being smart and making the money you have last longer and go stretch further. It does mean that you many need to change your spending habits and in most cases reevaluate your financial situation and be realistic about spending and planning. It does mean giving up that “instant gratification” of getting something new and instead saving for it and planning for it. Your reward will be that you still get what you want, but you don’t go into debt to do it.
Here are some ways you can start saving money immediately. Click on the title to go to the link with more information on that subject.