I get it. You are pinching pennies. Money is tight. Here is a list (and the whys behind it) of 7 things to keep/trash when that big paycheck isn’t coming.
Do not get rid of your tools. Selling your computer or lawnmower is like selling your ability to make money away. (And tall grass will piss off your neighbors).
Instead use these tools to make extra money on the side.
2) Protein & Fruit
My six-year-old loves junk food. She eats a bowl of Lucky Charms and an hour later is clamoring for more food. And by more food she means chips and a soda. No dice.
Yes, meat is expensive. Fruit is expensive. Don’t feed your family crap for the sake of a buck, because you will spend more in the long run. Applesauce may be cheap, but apples have the fiber to keep your children full. Beans and rice are a complete protein, as is peanut butter and whole wheat toast. It doesn’t have to be steak, potatoes with a side of strawberries, but it needs to be real food to keep you and your family satisfied.
3) Internet & Netflix (or Hulu)
The internet is a profound source of information and entertainment. It also provides ways to make money. Places like oDesk offer those looking for work online an easy way to earn a buck.
Most forms of frivolity I would suggest to get rid of, but not Netflix (or Hulu…but you probably only want to keep one not both if you are really strapped for cash). Netflix/Hulu costs $9/month. The amount of entertainment piped into your home is endless. These programs can ward off “extra” spending on those nights when your or your children are “bored.”
4) Items you actually use
I know…money is tight, but don’t sell your couch if you currently use it. It will never make you as much money as you hoped and you’ll end up sitting on the floor or worse…sitting on a couch that you got for free off the side of the road that smells like cat pee.
I would love to say that “it will eventually get better,” but the truth is that it might not. With the economy going down the toilet, your expenses may continue to rise while your paycheck stays the same and you’ll need something more durable to hang onto. Our faith can provide us with so much comfort. In the Bible, we are promised that God will never leave us or forsake us. God supplies our needs (not necessarily our wants). Seek him in your distress and he will draw near to you. Check out my blog What Else Can I Sell on Craigslist?
6) Your best vehicle
Unless it is a no-brainer switch…like from a $700/month BMW to a $250/month Honda, keep your best working vehicle. Costly repairs can kill you down the road. Learn how to do some vehicle maintenance yourself. You will save so much money. My husband uses the Haynes Repair Manuals.
7) Your ability to look out for new opportunities
Change is the hardest thing to do when you are pinching pennies, but you have to keep your ability to see the good in a new situation. Whether you need to sell your house or find new ways to make a little extra cash, your ability to look out for new opportunities (and see it as an adventure) is a priority. You never know…a new job, house or location may be EXACTLY where God intended you to be all along.
7 Things to get rid of When Money is Tight
1) Cell phone service
Devices are our society’s sacred cow. But unless it is used for work, you don’t actually need it. I know you love it and you think you need it, but I assure you that you don’t. Our cell phones were among the last things we got rid of during our financial down time and my quality of life has risen tremendously. I didn’t say sell your cellphone. Keep it charged, keep it in your car because you can still use it to phone the police in case of emergencies.
2) Cable TV
Since I’ve advised keeping Netflix (or Hulu) and your internet, there is very little you need cable TV for. One of the biggest excuses for keeping cable is sports. But if you want to watch a game you can:
- Go to a friend’s house or
- Go someplace you won’t spend money (or at least not a lot of money) to watch it.
I understand sports is a touchy subject for many families, you can always put your account on hold (or cancel it) during non-sports-watching time, too.
3) Gym Memberships or Subscriptions
Your health is super important. But when money is tight you can make use of that $1000 elliptical that is collecting hangers in your bedroom, use workout videos (DVDs, Netflix, Hulu, YouTube all have workouts to motivate you), or (God-forbid) go outside. Buy yourself some barbells and a yoga mat at Ross, you’ll spend $25 one time and save $35-70/month.
Same goes for subscriptions. No more Martha Stewart Living or New York Times. Sorry.
Let the internet is your source for news, recipes, workout routines and other ideas.
4) Anything You Don’t Use
Have a garage sale and purge your stuff. Make sure you have good signage pointing to your sale (which is directly correlated to how much money you make). Just make sure you haven’t used it in the last six months, not even once. Remember that you will be selling your $50 items for $2, so make sure it is worth selling it. If it is a bigger item, sell it on Craigslist. But please do some research before posting on Craigslist. Just because you bought it for $300 doesn’t mean it will sell for $80. My tip is searching for similar items and price it according to the market.
5) The idea that you can live the way you’re used to
Get over it. If both you and your spouse made $50k or $100k a year but now he makes $40 and you are unemployed. YOU CANNOT AFFORD YOUR OLD LIFE ANYMORE. Stop trying! Stop saying “yes” to dinner out with your friends, no more Starbucks (except for special occasions), and no more mani/pedis. Life will go on.
6) Convenience Items
Using toll tags or relying on easy convenience foods can really put a damper on your budget. I’m not saying to peel your EZ tag sticker off your windshield, just don’t use it unless you are in an emergency. There are some convenience foods that are really worth the extra 50 cents, but there are some that you really could make yourself for much less. Only you can make those decisions. But in the end, if you get rid of your convenience foods, you will be healthier…both in body and wallet.
7) Poor-Me Mentality
I think this is one I still struggle with. My prayers sometimes go like this, “WHY? GOD, WHY? I just want to spend $2.99 on a journal to write my thoughts in, but if I buy it we will overdraft our bank account. Don’t you want me to write? Haven’t you called me to be a writer? Please…don’t you love me???”
The poor-me attitude that can quickly lead to a deep dissatisfaction with your financial status if left unchecked.
I’m the queen of “poor me,” but I have to suck it up, get a napkin and write a poem on it and hope it doesn’t get thrown out.
Should It Stay or Should it GO?
You are going to have to make your OWN decisions about what you need and don’t need. No list is going to be able to look into your specific situation, but keep these few questions in mind when making those decisions.
What things are costing you more money than necessary? Are your justifications valid or they just keeping you from making the right decision?
Our cell phone was the thing I held onto the longest, but I don’t regret the decision. I am able to spend more time with my family when out of the house because I’m not attached to a device. That’s something that I can’t put a dollar sign on!
On the opposite side, what are some other things that you’ve gotten rid of in a tight spot and regret? Was it a something sentimental? What are the standards for letting something go that you need to set to keep you from making the same mistake again?
Instead of selling things that I love but no longer need, I’ve gifted them to people in lieu of spending additional money on presents for weddings and birthdays.
Whatever choice you make, you are the one that will have to live with the outcome. Make sure it’s the outcome you want!
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