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by the author of The Ultimate Guide to Frugal Living
Right now, you may be watching the news (or avoiding it because holy cow!!!!) and feeling like everything is out of your control. Prices are increasing, jobs are vanishing, and everyone knows we can’t really count on the government to bail us out.
You’re right – a whole lot of things ARE completely out of our hands.
I hate that feeling.
I find it helpful to focus on the things I CAN control.
Here are the things you can control right now.
If you focus your mental energy on the things you can do something about, it’s a lot more productive than wallowing in stress and uncertainty. So let’s take a step back from the news and think about how we, as individuals and families, can take back some control over our financial lives.
1.) See where your money is going.
It’s time to do a quick audit of your budget to see where your money is going. You want to figure out exactly what you have coming in and exactly what you have going out. This step can’t be skipped – it’s the basis for your entire strategy. Here’s a detailed article on auditing your budget.
2.) Figure out what you can cut.
Just because you cut something out today doesn’t mean it will stay gone forever. But a lot of folks have been kindly trying to help out their local businesses by keeping unused memberships and subscriptions going and it’s time for that to stop. If you cannot go to the gym, you need to cancel your gym membership. If you can’t take the kids to their extracurricular programs, make sure those payments are no longer coming out. Take a look at your fixed expenses and see if there’s room to slash anything.
3.) No, you don’t “deserve” a treat.
That sounds pretty harsh but we’re talking about some serious financial hard times here. So no, you don’t “deserve” a treat if you can’t really afford that treat. I like to get my toesies done just as much as any other lady but now is not the time for spending frivolously if you truly have concerns about your personal economic future.
Cut out everything unnecessary for a couple of weeks: pizza delivery, drive-through dinners, manicures, coffee from your favorite shop – you know the drill. Put that extra money aside.
4.) Start building up your emergency fund.
I keep three months of living expenses in my emergency fund. These aren’t fancy living expenses. I’m not going for brunch and mimosas with these living expenses. But I’m keeping a vehicle in the driveway, a roof over my head, and food in the fridge.
5.) Think about bigger changes.
I’m not saying you need to go move into a shack in the forest with no electricity to survive the upcoming financial woes, but you should start thinking about what you could do if you had to go into full emergency mode. Could you move someplace cheaper? Take in a boarder or roommate? Go down to one vehicle? Get rid of all but one phone?
You don’t need to do these things right now but have them there, lurking in your mental money-saving arsenal just in case things do get worse.
6.) Start producing.
I have long waxed eloquent (or annoying, depending on one’s perspective) about how we’ve become a nation of consumers, not a nation of producers. This is true on a personal level too. If you go and buy every single thing that you need, you may be spending a lot more money than you have to. You can DIY and produce all sorts of things:
- Grow a garden
- Make your own cleaning supplies from simple ingredients
- Build things
- Make your own laundry soap
Honestly, the sky is the limit once you begin to produce things.
7.) Wait – don’t throw that away!
We throw away so many things that we don’t need to toss. Start looking at your trash differently.
- Reuse and upcycle items that were destined for the trash
- Ask yourself if the item can be mended or repaired
- If it can’t be repaired, are there useful parts you can salvage from it? Fabric, fasteners, hardware – if you have room, stash away things that might be useful.
8.) Line up some additional streams of income.
Unless you are truly in a recession-proof field, start considering adding other streams of income to your family budget. Can you do childcare, fix things for others, or clean? Can you sell things on Etsy or eBay?
And don’t stop with little side-gigs. Look at the new economy and think about some vacuums you may be able to fill. Anything that can be done online that used to be done in person is fair game. Companies like Zoom and Amazon are thriving right now while brick and mortar businesses are struggling to hang on. This might be exactly the right time to launch a bootstrap business.
Focus on the things you can do – not what you can’t do.
We all have small things within our control. When we place our focus on those instead of the television news or the bill collectors who are calling, we can accomplish a whole lot more than if we sit around and fret.
Think about the new economy and figure out what is in your hands. What are some things you can do to battle this that are entirely within your control? Share your ideas in the comments!
22 thoughts on “The Economy Isn’t Looking Great: Here’s What you CAN Control”
I had to giggle here, we were at the doctor’s today and the doctor’s, beauty therapy are right next door to each other. We were waiting to be buzzed in to the doctor’s (covid19 precaution) the lady next to me pitched a fit . Her husband had cancelled their credit card. And she was on the phone losing it, last statement was I’ll use the food shopping money , how’d you like that !! Turns to me and says I can’t believe he’s trying to control when I get my feet and nails done serve him right. I stated I hadn’t had my feet and nails done since 2010 I’m saving for some land . Luckily we were buzzed in before she could answer !
Step One……Consider a Heloc.
Step Two…..buy a truck & trailer or 5th wheel
Step Three…..outfit both. Make sure you have plenty of food & ammo.
Step Four….have your escape route planned (back country roads)
Step Five…..be mentally prepared to walk away from you existing residence.
Step Six…..do not take the vaccine which includes the MARK OF TH BEAST.
Step Seven……Buy pre-1965 US silver coins and if anything left over buy some gold 1/10 oz coins. USA, Canadian, AU
If people have that kind of money laying around they either would have done it or are too stupid to. Second all food and ammo, no water, shelter, medical supplies etc?
Step 6, I can see you and I wouldn’t agree on much, I won’t say more on that.
Step 7 If you have money for that, why not buy land and stuff go grow food?
TOM, How do you know for sure 100% that the vaccine contains the mark of the beast spoke of in Revelation?
Why are you suggesting a truck and trailer or a 5th wheel. You need someone that knows about RV’s. Somebody that knows how to tow it safely, set it up and take it back down and where are you gonna park it in a campground on out in the middle of nowhere on private land, you have to have a septic system, and a well for water and power unless you already know how to live off the grid, (not easy living for sure).
Hunkering down in place will be ALOT easier than planning an escape route.
How does one prepare mentally to walk away from pretty much everything you own and have worked for?
What good are the US silver coins and the gold coins going to do you? Are they are bartering or what? Remember when you’re hungry/starving you won’t be able to eat your silver and gold coins…
Just my 2 cents… Whatever good luck.
It might be time to start praying really seriously.
I feel sorry for that woman you spoke of. When she is finally forced to accept that money is tight these days, she’s going to crash, and crash hard. I can’t even imagine the thought processes it takes to justify getting ones nails done, over having food to eat. WOW!!
Thankful that I was taught many of these things when I was younger, it certainly takes discipline to put these into practice.
People who have some money don’t seem to respect it as much as those who don’t. Great example of no respect in previous comment about husband canceling her credit card and she couldn’t get her nails done. I believe that every woman (person) should be responsible for at least some of their money. This woman probably does not work and unfortunately is at the financial mercy of her husband. Not good! How many people, especially woman, end up with nothing because they did not have their own “rainy day fund”. If your partner leaves or dies or is abusive or controlling, you could find yourself in a very dire situation. Saving money is not only for job lay offs or appliance breakdowns. Please find a way to save some money. This was one of the first things my mother taught me. Earn your own money and don’t put every thing in the other persons’ name. I hope this is something that will help.
I don’t know about that woman being at her husband’s mercy. If she will use the grocery money on luxuries, she doesn’t seem overly concerned about family finances…
Heck, I could be wrong. Wouldn’t be the first time. But I see her as somewhat entitled, and get the feeling that she spends money like a sailor on shore leave.
I have never had my toes or nails done. I will be 60 next month. I also have no debt and an awesome almost 40 acre homestead. I would rather have the land, cows, pigs, chickens and timber than nails I can clip and paint myself. Priorities.
PA MOM…what I would give to own 1 acre much less 40, how blessed you are. I own a nice travel trailer that is my own. 35ft. X14 ft. It’s just myself and my dog. I don’t smoke, drink, do drugs, have any tattoos or piercings and don’t gamble. Been living alone since 2001. Husband cheated, I divorced him and he remarried. That was in June (divorce) of 2001. I live now on my SS. Been trying to find a man to share life with but that’s like finding a needle in a haystack once you past 60 they think you’re to old. Would like to find a best friend, a companion and a lover but it hasn’t yet happened. A plus is if he has any land so I can have the camper taken to his place…Wish me luck or send me your suggestions. I agree with you the land, cows, pigs, chickens and timber are super important…Some people especially the ones with lots of money don’t know about saving, or budgets or priorities either, however they seem to be really good at spending and getting their hair and nails done…Gosh, must be nice. Count your blessings b/c you have what A LOT of us don’t have.
If I could afford to be out in the country on just 1 acre I would be a super happy camper and so would the dog hahaha.
WKR in North Carolina
I thought I had it all figured out. We own 4 acres with forestry around us. We have a huge garden where I preserved jars and jars of food. My husband and I have many skills that can be used in a SHTF scenario. We have our own well and just got 2 huge tanks for water storage.
Chicken coop with 9 hens and a rooster.
Got a 38’ RV, snowmobile and ATV.
Problem is my husband is battling 2 Aggressive stage 4 cancers. Got news this week it’s overtaking his body. So good bye to all of the above except my jars of food. Without his income we cannot stay here. I dread moving back to the city. The RV has everything I’d need but not a good option in winters in Canada. With Covid closures of borders I cannot even cross as a Snowbird. Really concerned about extra cash from sale of house in a bank account.
Checha, I’m so sorry to hear about your husband’s diagnosis. Hang in there – I hope sincerely that you will find some answers.
I will keep you in my heart and in my prayers. May you be surrounded by hope and peace. Blessings always.
I’m disabled, and I keep coming up with little things I can do or sell, perhaps as an Etsy business, but my mental and physical energy vary wildly, so it’s been hard to decide on something. Also haven’t had a lot of support for going all in on one product to make. I think I’m going to set up a shop with lots of different things I can do – beadwork, crochet, knit, crystalized flower arrangements- and rotate what to work on so I don’t overwhelm myself.
Another thing we’ve been doing is using these stimulus payments to clear up bills and buy a small number of high quality durable products that’ll save in the long run. I finally got a Kitchenaid, it saves me time and money, it’s well built, has tons of accessories, and if I care for it, I’ll likely be able to pass it to my kids.
There’s a great book called “Locusts on the Horizon ” that posits America may end up like in the 30s where you’d have to travel far to find work, and came up with the concept of a “mobile homestead” where everything you have has been pared down and streamlined, buying practical things of good quality from decent knives and guns, camp kitchens, canvas tents, wood stoves, setups for container gardening, cast iron cookware, and so on, in the event you could pack it all on a small trailer and head out somewhere, find a place to set down, grow your own food and live in relative comfort and be able to save money for the future. Now might be the time to get some of the smaller things on that list – can’t hurt could only help.
Respect for money must be taught to children. When my girls were approaching junior high, naturally they wanted certain clothes and shoes. I worked hard for my money so I would give them their “back to school clothing allowance” funds and drive them to the mall with a buddy. “I’ll pick you up at 4pm in this spot and please have some underwear in the bag.” They had to make the choice of how far that money would go. I felt liberated – if the outfit was the wrong color, or didn’t match what they already had, it wasn’t my problem. They were very smart shoppers, and brand names suddenly weren’t important. Today, decades later, they are college graduates (no student loans!), and excellent with their finances.
not sure what good money will do – so paying off debt and reducing expenses is good – stocking up on useful things like food and bartering items is good. – If you can move to place with land, security and privacy, probably good too. Books with useful info “How to” probably good too. Tools, materials for general things and stuff, repair what you have, replace what needs replacing. Consider how to cook, stay warm, stay cool, source water in any event.
I’ve been enjoying your suggestions on how to be frugal and save money to use for getting prepared to live in a different reality. Just a small suggestion. When wanting to “reward” yourself, consider free or almost free ideas such as getting together with friends at their home, yours or having a picnic. Or go hiking, meet with friends , and explore the free sights in your area. Maybe if you’re into it have a ladies spa day where you give each other nail and foot manicures. Or for guys hang out with friends doing something productive, building, hiking, practicing survival skills , etc. To feel special, get a break or do something enjoyable doesn’t have to cost money.
This is a great idea for an article, Sis – thank you!
Dear fellow Canadian–
Consider New Brunswick. Really.
Cheap land and farm friendly! We love it here.
I buy things out of necessity more than %90 of the time due to a 2 year and 9 month layoff.I did what ever odd job I was capable of.Mostly preventive maintenance on heavy equipment,trucks and small engines,demo bathrooms for a contractor.the guy I worked for doing the maintenance for was a cheap SOB and his wife would give me an extra $25 without him knowing otherwise I was being paid $80 a day because she knew he took advantage of my situation, and even then $10 per hour was a really low wage.Having 3 kids no unemployment and no health benefits .We made due from our savings which was wiped out over time.I learned from my Mother And Father who lived the great depression how to survive and buy whats necessary only. Being laid off for that amount of time Scars a person for life and you never want to spend money on things you don’t have to.Just my 2 cents pardon the pun.
Being raised in a Italian home with parents who survived the Great Depression it was a way of life for them and they were not depressed.My mother and grandmother made simple delicious meals with whatever was available.Its times like these that having much less makes for a happier life.