Home > What can I cut....

What can I cut....

June 6th, 2012 at 01:57 pm

I'm starting to get nervous about hubby getting laid off, so it's time to get out the scalpel and see what I can cut.

The big one is food. We eat out a lot just because we are too harried to cook. I laid out my first weekly meal plan on Sunday (first in I don't know how long), and did all the grocery shopping on Monday (forgot coupons-- working on that). So far, it's going great.

We had
meatloaf and carrots on Monday
stuffed pasta shells, salad, and garlic bread last night
tonight, chicken fajitas, tomorrow, bratwurst, Friday baked ham and cheese potatoes.

We are always running to the grocery store because we don't have something. I'm tired of wasting time running to the store, so it's once a week plus the Saturday farm pick up from now on.

And next week, I'll actually clip the darn coupons.
We're also cancelling cable. And I'm going to just not buy anything that isn't absolutely essential.

And, buy used before buying new, etc.

I won't give up the Y membership though, as we really do use it-- me to workout, kids for swimming and cheap swim lessons. We use it so much.

The construction work on my office has been delayed, and not I'm wondering if I should try to do part of it myself. Like put the insulation in the wall and start hanging drywall. I guess I'm just afraid to mess it up. And, I know I can't drywall the ceiling all by myself. My contractor friend doesn't charge that much, so I'm wondering if I'd really just be giving myself a cheapache at this point.

The possibility of me taking on more work will have to wait until fall, when both the kids finally are old enough to go to preschool 3 mornings a week (essential-- for my work, can't cut it!). I'm already swamped with assignments, which I know if a good problem to have, but it's exhausting considering I have to do most of my work at night when the kids are sleeping...

If you have any more advice on how to prepare for a possible layoff? Should I keep concentrating on paying off debt or put more into savings? We could maybe live for 9 months on our savings, paying all of our bills, not counting my freelance income, which would continue.

23 Responses to “What can I cut....”

  1. Bob B. Says:

    If you've got about 9 months expenses saved up, I'd say you're doing well.

    If I were in your shoes, I'd shift extra cash from debt payoff toward savings. Obviously, continue to meet your minimum obligations, and save the rest.

    It seems as if he should be able to find something before your 9 month reserves are tapped, but maybe not replace current income in the short-term.

  2. ThriftoRama Says:

    I like to plan for the worst-case scenario. Having been through a hurricane, I find that is the best way!

  3. ceejay74 Says:

    If you have that much, and will still have freelance coming in, I guess I'd try to keep paying down the car loan. It'd be one less bill to keep up on if you got it paid off.

    One coupon tip from a very lazy couponer who doesn't get the paper: If you have brand loyalties (whether because they're the cheapest, the best-tasting or the healthiest), Google for coupons on those. It takes less than 10 minutes and quite often you can find printable coupons online. Last week we saved over $5 just by taking a few minutes to Google products that were on the grocery list anyway.

  4. ThriftoRama Says:

    Yeah. I keep stacks of coupons, I just don't always remember to check them before going to the store. I'm terrible. My friend is one of those extreme coupon people and she's always on me about it. Sometimes, I just plan on buying store brand, but then realize when I get there I had a coupon for something that would have made it cheaper. It's frustrating.

  5. My English Castle Says:

    They always say shift everything into saving when you're worried about a layoff, but you're pretty darn close on that car loan. The grocery savings really do add up. I've also been using the coupons you can upload to your grocery loyalty card, depending on the store etc. It helps my scatty brain! And when I'm in anxious mode, I do all the Moneysaving Mom store matches. And I get hyper scrupulous about energy saving.

    Do the boys have anything they've outgrown that you can sell? I love that cash in hand!

  6. Monkey Mama Says:

    What is the interest rate on your home loan? I'd consider a refinance. But it depends on the interest rate. IT may be cutting it too close to refi too (couldn't honestly sign the papers if dh was laid off during the process). But just thinking of a way to lower fixed expenses in a time of low income. Interest rates are so absurdly low at the moment. & I thought of this because you paid a chunk off since you started the loan. Just an idea - not an easy one. I think your self-employment status makes these things a HUGE PITA, so I kinda of figure you are thinking "no way in heck." But I throw it out!

  7. snafu Says:

    Meal planning, having ingredients on hand gets easier fast. Does DH take lunch/snacks from home? If not, what will make him happy? Include home take-away in your plan. Wa-aaay healthier when you control fat/sugar/unpronounceable chemicals.

    If you can identify the worst day[s] it helps to use your slo cooker/crockpot so that dinner takes care of itself. Try making a bigger meal for Sunday dinner to form the base for Tues. 'planover' that turns leftovers into something else. For example baked chicken & rice on Sunday becomes Spanish rice or Paella or Pilaf on Tues.

    If Monday is often the day that everything runs behind, it's great to have assembled ingredients in a container for fridge while finishing Sunday dinner. Alternatively, make your meatloaf in a muffin tin and pop it into the oven while Sunday's chicken dinner bakes but reduce time for re-heating Monday.

    Friday is always 'Left-over Buffet' here. Containers are set out for family to pick & choose. If there's not enough, I get a package of Pita bread to use as a base for home made, personal pizzas. Omelets, Fajitas, Chowder, Tetrazzini, Pot Pie, Ragout, Enchiladas or Quiche are easy, inexpensive use-it-ups for leftovers.

  8. Joan.of.the.Arch Says:

    Will basic expenses go _up_ by having to pay for cobra insurance?
    I'm in the camp that says save and save hard immediately. Hopefully DH will get some severance and also be eligible for UI.

  9. ceejay74 Says:

    One more thing about meals -- my daughter gets super hungry at around 6 pm, and we don't get home much before that. So a lot of times we prep whatever we can the night before (chop veggies and put them in the fridge, measure out spices & put them in a little tupperware, cook anything that tastes just as good reheated the next day, such as pasta sauce). Then you can throw the meal together quickly for the little ones. Since getting the meal done is such a breeze, you have energy left over to prep for the next evening's meal. It's an adjustment in thinking (more planning ahead), but it's no more work than rushing around the day of. The work's just done at a different time.

    EDIT: snafu beat me to it! Ha!

  10. LuckyRobin Says:

    I do a lot of my prepwork for meals on the weekend. I'll dice ham, garlic, onions, and peppers, cut up broccoli and cauliflower, cut the greens off carrots and radishes (and the ends on those), peel things that need peeling (like the carrots), cut up the celery, etc. I also keep on top of taking stuff out of the freezer however long before it is that I need to take it out to thaw. I'll mix meatloaves ahead of time and freeze one and bake the other. It really helps the week's meal planning go well and when it's easy to cook, the cooking gets done. Also, manage your leftovers well. Most food waste is leftovers, followed shortly by food you buy but never cook. So make sure you keep on top of that, don't overbuy and eat up all you make over the course of the week.

    Have you looked at minor things, like your telephone? Can you cut things like caller ID, call waiting, long distance. Or your cell phone program?

    If your husband does get laid off, talk to your car insurance company. Since he'll be driving less you might get a break there.

  11. ThriftoRama Says:

    DH works from home mostr days so commuting and lunch costs are zero. He rides his bike on the days he does go to the office. We've already cut cell phone bills and such. We live pretty minimally on that stuff already.

  12. ThriftoRama Says:

    And MM, the mortgage is at 4.875 percent. High by today's standards. I had considered a refinance before, but in the new loan, a much more significant portion of our payment would go to interest, rather than the balance, and with the goal of having it paid off in 5 years, that didn't seem to make sense to me. Right now, just about $1000 of our payment goes to principal. I doubt that would be the case with a refinance. And, considering what a nightmare getting the loan in the first place was , as far as documentation to meet underwriting, I do not want to go through that again. Or pay any loan fees.

  13. snafu Says:

    Terrific details Robin. Is it possible to cut mileage, planning driving to encompass errands with appointments or taking DKs to playschool? Never go shopping without a written list. Where do you keep coupons? Can they be clipped to your grocery list? Can they be kept in the car?

    I'd skip contributions to college funds until job status is firm. You also need to look at how retirement funds are managed/controlled should job loss occur. The penalties and tax consequences are horrendous if they are deemed 'cashed-in.'

    All the research confirms that most jobs are not advertised. A lot of positions are filled by word-of-mouth, that is someone at the firm hiring mentions/contacts someone they know for the job. DH needs to be pro-active with an up-to-date, polished Resume to shop around. Everyone you know needs to be aware that DH's current position is likely to be outsourced. 2ndly, DH needs to get all the information he can assemble about UI. His eligibility, likely income, when it becomes effective, impact of any severance/holiday pay, how many weeks of eligibility or any special factors in your region.

    I know it sounds boring but the more planning that goes into the problem, the less fear and lower stress level for you both. Prayers your way for a good outcome and suggestions attempting to be helpful.

  14. baselle Says:

    9 months does take the edge off a bit, which is fantastic. All the other posters made great points, which were basically assess yourself and your spending.

    I'd like to think outside the box a bit and assess your neighborhood. Treat it like a geographic pantry. In addition to the basics, I run through my routine and see what I can and cannot do strictly from the neighborhood. When times are tight, the less you spend on gas (for anything, not just the commute) the better.

  15. patientsaver Says:

    A few of the basics, never hurts to review...

    Also, why not have a big garage sale to drum up extra cash you'll surely need.

    I would also start tracking every expense and looking at the category totals monthly to help you find waste in your budget.

    This would be a really strategic time to apply for a home equity line of credit. Rates are very low, and you don't have to use the money if you don't need to, but would be there as a kind of lifeboat if you absolutely needed the money and had nowhere else to get it. Once hubby is laid off, you won't qualify for the loan.

  16. ThriftoRama Says:

    On the yard sale front, I am holding one in conjunction with my sister, but honestly, We don't have much to sell. Our closets are already bare due to the big pre-move decluttering we did last year. I also give boxes to Salvation army every month. I can't hold onto stuff long enough to save up for a yard sale.

  17. Thrifty Ray Says:

    Ive advised my kids when things get tough to 'challenge everything'. Car insurance, phone plans, tv, memberships, etc. Sometimes calling and asking can shave some off the expenses without changing too much. GOod for you for pre-planning.

  18. Jerry Says:

    I think Thrifty Ray makes a great point about challenging the costs (insurances, phones, cable, etc.) to see if that can lead to monthly savings on the bill side. Then just do the best you can on the budgetary items that lead to big bills but can be managed, like the food you mentioned. Good luck and keep us posted!

  19. Jerry Says:

    (Sorry for the double-whammy, there!)

  20. ThriftoRama Says:

    Thanks to all of you! I have my immediate plan in place, and we'll see how it goes.

  21. crazyliblady Says:

    If you have a store loyalty card, see if you can get e-coupons through the store's website. That could net you some discounts. I print out a copy of my e-coupons so I know which ones I have and what sizes, types they apply to.

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