Here’s How I’m Adjusting to Lower Income and Higher Prices

(Psst: The FTC wants me to remind you that this website contains affiliate links. That means if you make a purchase from a link you click on, I might receive a small commission. This does not increase the price you’ll pay for that item nor does it decrease the awesomeness of the item. ~ Daisy)

Reading Daisy’s article about how 92% of Americans are eating poorly and having ever more trouble paying the bills was rather shocking. These people are making what I’d consider decent money, but inflation on pretty much every front is really putting a kink in our budgets. I’ve noticed it, too: I purchased bagels on sale only yesterday. When the package was delivered, I saw that my bagels were 2/3 the normal size. So now I need to eat more of them or stay slightly hungry until lunch. Ugh!

I lost a third of my income over the past few years.

The past few years have been years of adjustment for me. I lost a client representing 1/3 of my income during Covid. My lying eyes tell me that prices are up a good 20% on grocery items, and that’s if the item in question is on the shelf. In this article, I’m going to discuss my own experiences adjusting to this in the hope that others can benefit from ideas that might not have been thought of. I am no paragon of budgeting virtue, and in many ways, I’m lucky this happened in later life and not when I was in college. But for what my experiences are worth, please read on.

The loss of 1/3 of my income hasn’t been the easiest to deal with. However, as a freelancer, I’m used to client attrition. What we do is work to replace that income.

Here are a few ideas for replacing lost income.

I found a job writing blog posts and taught kids online for a while. Selling yard sale finds and items I no longer use on eBay can help, but keep in mind that fees add up. I spent one afternoon making voice recordings for use in training chatbots to understand human speech.

Even after I coughed up the 20% fee to Upwork, I had more money than I’d had that morning. Every little bit helps! Daisy gives some great ideas for replacing income here and how to deal with the immediate aftermath of job loss here,  99 ways to work from home are listed here, and I’ll tell you about the nuts and bolts of doing so here.

If you’re really hurting, you can apply for no proof needed class action lawsuits. Be aware that those do take time to resolve but every little bit helps. Check those out here.

Forage yard sales and thrift shops for things you need or can sell at a profit. I’ve borrowed books and videos from the library rather than buying them. When I was living in Seattle, I bartered my cleaning services to a bookstore for books rather than money. When I was done with the books I sold them to another store for a few bucks. I acquired a beautiful copy of the Tao Te Ching that I still have and could never have afforded back then. What can you barter your services for?

Simply not having enough money is the hardest thing to deal with. What can you do to raise your bottom line?

Other ways I cut my budget

So what else did I go to cut my budget while still living decently? Let me count the ways!

I broke out my trusty copy of The Tightwad Gazette for some great ideas, like cutting my dryer sheets in half. That certainly stretched out a box of sheets! Eventually, I paid $6.99 for a dryer ball and haven’t purchased a box of dryer sheets since. The only drawback is keeping my cats from playing with the ball. What items could you replace with items you can reuse for a lifetime?

When my favorite body wash doubled in price, it was time to go back to good old Ivory soap. Shampoo has always been the cheap Suave, no need to rinse and repeat. Tightwad Gazette has some tips for frugal soap use on pages 237-238. Apply this idea to everything else you need.

When I broke a soap dish, I didn’t rush to buy a new set. I’m using one I had in my closet. Free is good.

Speaking of which, there are many free things available, from books on the Internet to samples in stores. Even a bite of food can help! My Aunt Joann would go to every food stand in a given store and take a sample. I thought that was crazy until I realized that we no longer needed lunch. She raised my 5 cousins on a very tight budget, so I found this worthy of note. Maybe she wasn’t so crazy! Free is good, and she took full advantage of every freebie she could get. Perhaps you could too. What items can be swapped out for cheaper versions? How many things can you get for free?

I’ve definitely cut down on eating out, and having food delivered is simply out of the budget! That was a treat at $25 per meal. At $30, it’s gone. I went from eating out 1-2x/a week to once per month. My birthday will be an exception, and you can rest assured: I’m paying cash. I make larger dishes on the weekend, such as a roast or squash casserole, and eat that over the course of the week. Check out this article on eating well on $30 per week.

Acquiring food

Growing and preserving my own food has really made a difference, even though I also pay for a CSA share. I haven’t purchased fruits or vegetables in the store for years unless it’s something I can’t grow, like oranges. I have 2 tabletop hydroponics units, a garden in my yard, my CSA share, and a community gardens plot. The CSA share isn’t cheap, but it’s for the entire year.

Buying other foods in bulk, such as family packs of meat, also saves money in the long run. I divide those into single meal portions using my FoodSaver, which has more than paid for itself.

I grow mushrooms and have bartered them for eggs in the past, as well as dehydrating what I can’t eat fresh for use later. Kits can be cost-effective here if mycology isn’t your thing. I’ve seen mushroom kit sellers at farmer’s markets. Buying locally not only saves shipping costs, but you support your local economy. Your neighbors need the help too. What can you do to grow even some of your own food? Check out this article on apartment and condo gardening.

I know, not all of those options are available to every person. Use what you can, and consider urban foraging. Never heard of that? Read about it here.

Speaking of gardening, there are many ways to repurpose household items to serve in the garden. I’ve used old food containers for seedling pots and watering collars. Milk jugs, soda bottles, bedsheets, plastic utensils and more serve in my garden in various capacities.

Do you need an expensive tool that you’ll use only once? Consider renting it rather than buying. Tools can be great time savers. For example, I used to use a hand sander to prepare my 12’ x 6’ deck for painting. It took me an entire day and many sandpaper packets, not to mention a sore back. I borrowed a belt sander one year and had it done in one hour. Tightwad Gazette has some great rental tool advice on page 765.

Get out of debt.

I turned 59 1/2 on a Friday last year and paid off my house 3 days later. Debt-free is good, and not having to pay a mortgage has definitely eased the stress on my budget. Keep in mind that taking money from your IRA before your time is an early withdrawal that will trigger a huge taxable bite out of your income!

This is one place I’m benefitting from pure luck of the draw. If our current situation had happened while I was in college and renting, that would be a problem. I got lucky and took full advantage. What can you do towards becoming debt-free? What are the positives in your situation?

How else can we adjust?

These are but some of the ways I’ve adjusted to meet the demands of living in today’s conditions. Above all, I’ve kept my attitude positive and changed my thinking, and that has made all of the difference. When there’s simply not enough money there are two things that can be done: increase the bottom line and decrease expenses. How that’s done is a matter of an individual’s skills and what opportunities can be found.

Have you had to adapt to new financial circumstances? What have you done to adjust to the new conditions? Let’s talk about it! Share your tips in the comments section.

About Amy Allen

Amy Allen is a professional bookworm and student of Life, the Universe, and Everything. She’s also a Master Gardener with a BS in biology, and has been growing food on her small urban lot since 2010.

Here\'s How I\'m Adjusting to Lower Income and Higher Prices

9 thoughts on “Here’s How I’m Adjusting to Lower Income and Higher Prices”

  1. An elderly friend told a neighbor that he was going out to lunch. The neighbor decided to go too and found that he was going to Sam’s and making several trips to the places that gave out the best samples. A really cheap trip out for both.

  2. After living thru the ray-gun, bush one, bush two recessions and the drump covid mess (which continues today), we’re not experiencing any financial hardship. We too paid off our house and had (for a number of years), no other debt. We think an item is not worth the increased cost, we don’t buy it – same as we’ve done for the last 40+ years. Living well below our means allowed us to weather the recessions/mess. Sad to say not everyone is taking a financial hit these days but some of us realize that and have increased our charitable contributions. But not enough of us (and our tax rate is too low truth be told). Few our age are in the prime earning years of our lives – not like it used to be.
    While I’ve never been into body washes, good old soap – be it for body, hair, dishes, and/or laundry usually works fine. The more basic a product, the less chance of skin irritation. And you don’t need to be a chemist to know the ingredients!

    1. Thanks for the comment Selena! I’m glad you’re in good shape. Really, I am too and it’s due to the things you’ve mentioned: living below my means and shopping around for the best price. Paying cash to stay out of debt as much as possible. However, I’ve also experienced what it’s like when there’s simply not enough money. When I lived in Seattle, I was literally flat broke. I’d lost my job, unemployment had been denied, and I was close to living on the street. That’s how I got into the cleaning business. I invested my last $100 into window cleaning supplies and some business cards, and went door to door asking businesses for work every day that I wasn’t standing in line at the food bank. Eventually I worked my way out of it but it took time and effort. It’s my belief that if necessity is the mother of invention, than motivation is invention’s twin sibling! And oh boy was I motivated! And I won. Others can too and I hope my experiences help.

    2. Selena, I consistently find your comments to be divisive, very opinionated, and hard to understand. You don’t write very clearly.

  3. Sometimes conserving your financial resources means taking measures to prevent some future catastrophic expenditures. One example could be some hugely unmanageable medical cost that 1) your insurance won’t cover, or some medical remedy 2) that the medical mafia and its captured federal agencies (FDA, CDC, et al) won’t allow, and that 3) you might have to travel to some other country that actively invites medical tourism.

    This news item is just one example of the FDA’s hunger for power:

    Not just ivermectin: New FDA authority to ban off-label uses alarms doctors, 22 Feb 2023

    One solution that continues to work for many people is to keep their US passport current so they can pick from the world of other countries where medical care is vastly less costly and where such tyrants as the FDA have zero authority. The US government’s war against ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine as proven Covid-19 remedies is just one example. Predictions I’m seeing from the globalist crowd seems to forecast more and worse pandemics.

    Another gotcha to avoid is an adjustable rate mortgage. Its hidden purpose is to preserve the purchasing power of the revenue stream coming into the mortgage lender during a time of severe inflation — while gutting your financials. Don’t expect your prospective lender to be honest about such things.

    Finally … understand that inflation across the whole economy is mostly caused by central banks counterfeiting the money supply so its favorite government and favorite oligarchs get first use of such counterfeited “money” to spend on all kinds of “good deals” before the ripple effect cuts in and prices go way up for the rest of us.

    In the 1500s an English king was beheaded after jacking up the published tax rate to pay for his favorite war. The population clearly understood such theft of their money. So in 1694 the Bank of England was created to be able to print money whenever the Crown wanted … but in a way that the majority of the population would not understand. An individual who counterfeits to steal purchasing power gets a prison sentence at the least. Often there was a death penalty — as was the case for counterfeiting silver coinage per the US Coinage Act of 1792. But trying to hold a central bank (and the armed government protecting it) accountable typically doesn’t happen — until or unless the currency is destroyed and the empire collapses.

    In the US the third attempt to establish a central bank with such power took place in 1912 when England desperately wanted the US to enter the coming European civil war (which would later be called World War I) on England’s side. So they shipped a secret load of cash to New York to pay for Teddy Roosevelt’s third party presidential campaign to suck enough votes away from candidate Taft to guarantee a victory for socialist candidate Woodrow Wilson. That succeeded and as a result Wilson would sign off on the Federal Reserve, the ripping US Senator appointment and recall powers away from the states and to a high dollar auction among the oligarch class, and the creation of the IRS. Counterfeiting the US dollar was a major part of funding America’s part in “World War I” … and has been in every war since.

    The point of that history is to realize that whenever it is obvious that Federal Reserve counterfeiting is taking place, it is NOT transitory and will forever steal purchasing power from whatever US dollars you hold or will earn. The implication is while you may soon be stuck having to pay some major and regular bills with US digital money … you are well advised to preserve that purchasing power you have in some other form than US dollars ASAP before their worth goes to toilet paper. Whether that’s best done with precious metals (gold, silver, platinum, etc), or divisible commodities (grains, salts, chocolate, alcohol, etc), land, businesses (that you create, or invest in), personal skills, crypto currencies (where there is a stiff learning curve to make useful choices), or even barter skills … is a highly individualized set of choices to make.

    The preceding paragraph applies both to the present time and to the approaching time when US dollars become legally useless and are replaced with CBDC digital money which will destroy much of your constitutional rights to privacy, property, and the pursuit of happiness.


  4. We worked hard and lots of overtime and paid off our mortgage back in 2016. Best thing we did. It was a big chunk of our money every month. We also paid off all our vehicles and the zero turn mower.
    Now that we’re retired, we’re living on one third of our income. We wouldn’t be able to pay our bills if we hadn’t paid everything off.
    We make it a point to live within our means.
    Now I shop only specials and with coupons. I garden and grow what foods will grow here. I also dehydrate and can food.
    But I have to say if it weren’t for our stockpile, we would’ve been looking at standing in line at the local food bank.
    I make sure to replace whatever we use food wise and when things are on sale I stock up.
    We turn off anything we’re not using at the time. Fans, lights, etc. It’s saved us money on the electric bill.
    I made it a point to download and use cookbooks from the Depression and WWI and WWII. Great ideas for saving food wise.
    I shop cheap and we eat cheap.

    1. Absolutely! My garden and being debt-free are two things that have made my life MUCH easier. I was SO put out as a kid, having to help Grandma during canning season. Wash jars, sort and snip veg, run to the corner store 13x/day for whatever Grandma thought she had enough of and didn’t. But look now! That knowledge has been very helpful. And I’m going to look into those types of cookbooks. Grandma and Grandpa raised my father during the Depression and no one ever missed a meal. That’s good enough for me! LOL

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