Posted by: Admin | September 10, 2009

Frugal Living & Smart Spending

A somewhat serious post today…. about financially surviving unemployment.  With proper planning & budgeting you can hopefully prepare for even the worst circumstances.

I have learned many things over the years, that have helped me improve upon that bank account I started with my paper route money when I was 11.   And, please don’t misunderstand me.. I’m not suggesting you stop “living a happy life” or doing things you enjoy just to sock away every penny you have.

So today, I’d like to share some basic things with you. Will you be able to do all of these things, every day?  Maybe not. You may hit some financial hardships (cough, cough.. like being unemployed) but, for the most part… smart spending & planning can help save you if your own pink slip should ever arrive at your desk. 

No matter what your situation is, you should be paying closer attention to where your money goes, how you are saving for retirement and looking at every day items where you can make better money decisions.  Quite a few years ago, I read a book by David Bach called Smart Couples Finish Rich. It’s a simple & easy read that can help you get on the right path for your future.  And, if you’re not already unemployed like me, it can help you to better prepare for a future lay off or other life changing event (although, I’d never wish this on anyone!).  I have lived by many of my own principles over the years and now, sitting where I am, waiting for a government check every 2 weeks, I’m thankful that I was living by these “rules” (Hubby is thankful too… since without any savings we could never have bought him that new fridge that can fly him to the moon!) 

I’m sure my system won’t work for everyone, and some of these may need to be modified if you are already struggling but hopefully you’ll find something that will help you  (Disclaimer:  I am not a trained money professional, and all suggestions are my own personal opinion)Frugal Living

 1)      Do NOT buy something you cannot afford. There’s nothing worse than credit card debt. If you have c/c debt, do everything in your power to pay them off. Once they are paid off… don’t use them if you cannot pay the bill, in full, at the end of the month.  (Unless of course you are dealing with interest free credit cards ..which is a whole other conversation). 

2)      Be Frugal. Don’t always buy the “best”.. buy the “best value” until you can easily afford the “best” without going into debt. 

3)      Accept FREEBIES especially when you are just starting out. When I moved into my first place I took every free piece of furniture that was offered to me. I had mismatched rooms and stuff that I would have never picked out for myself (like a pink flowered sofa) but little by little I was able to replace pieces one at a time with stuff that I loved.   This same concept can apply long after you are “starting out”, this way you can get what you NEED now and what you WANT when you can afford it.  Use sites like Craigslist & Freecycle to find items in near perfect condition. 

4)      Do internet research before you buy stuff. You can almost always find the best price on-line.. just do a search… You’ll know which retail store has the best deal or, you’ll find an on-line store that sells it cheaper than a local retailer.  Once you’ve found your item google coupons.. you can often find a store coupon and/or a free shipping code.piggy bank

5)      Save money every month.. a liveable amount that you can stick to. Set up direct deposit so that a fixed % of your paycheck goes into a savings account.. and vow to never touch that money.  Now, I realize emergencies come up but, make sure it really is an emergency (like you’ve just lost your job or rain is pouring through your roof) not an emergency like.. I saw a fantastic handbag on sale at the mall.  (Try to build up an “E-Fund” of 6 months salary)

6)      Don’t buy an expensive car. I know this is a touchy one for many people since people “love” their cars.. but there are tons of cars that work just fine that don’t cost an arm and a leg. I have owned 2 cars that I’ve driven until they died.. which gave me a few years where I had NO car payments and that’s an awesome feeling (that’s another $300-$400 a month that went into savings)

7)      Negotiate with vendors and shop around. Any time you need to have work done don’t accept the first price you are quoted.. you can almost always talk them down. Always comparison shop.. you can leverage one offer against another (and, if you’re unemployed like me.. you have plenty of free time!). Also, many times you can even negotiate with service providers (and this can be done EVERY year) 

  • We called our car insurance and threatened to change insurance companies and they knocked off almost $800/yr
  • Call your phone company every 6 months or so and ask them if they have any specials or if they can review your phone bill to lower your monthly cost 
  • Call your cable provider and tell them you’re considering switching to another company… they will most likely find a way to lower your bill.

8)      Contribute to a retirement fund.  So many people over look this one!  Contribute the most that you can comfortably afford but, always try to max out any employer contributions…. Don’t leave money on the table! 

9)      Sell all that crap laying around your house on eBay.  Especially if you are unemployed!  You have nothing but time and.. “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”.  It never ceases to amaze me what people will buy on eBay!

10)  If you do find yourself unemployed… call all your vendors & monthly bill companies to explain your situation to see if they can adjust your payments/interest etc.  Remember these guys want to get paid and many of them will indeed try to work with you! 

So… those are my basic tips I hope that at least some of those suggestions could help. It’s certainly not a new concept but the key is reducing your debt and finding small ways to save more. Any time you owe someone else $$ (like with credit cards) you’re just throwing money out the window… and the more money you are keeping in your own pocket, the better you’ll be when you find yourself unemployed, on your couch, in your pajamas.

Feel free to share your favorite tips below!



  1. Check out my recent finding a job post in my blog for 24 resource pages on all aspects

    Also, my best tip would be to continue to earn and learn – the company I have listed first in my introduction page is taking all people old enough to work online offering free training, competitions, contests, various tasks, and some money so you can save on continuing education by getting that free and earn as you learn.

  2. This is all good advice. Thanks for sharing. Numbers 7 and 10 are particularly poignant. One of the advantages of being unemployed is that it does give you leverage to negotiate some things down.

    I have done several posts on the subject of frugality over at my blog (linked in my signature) by the way. Feel free to pop over and swipe ideas.

    Keep up the good work!

  3. What a great post! i have put this on the Recession Camp twitter

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