When you step back from scary unknowns and ask yourself “what’s the worst that can happen”, the scary unknown really isn’t that scary. Usually the worst thing really isn’t that bad.
HSBC (my husband’s employer) has been in the news recently; the company is trying to sell their credit card portfolio and if they can’t sell it they plan to shut it down. Since 99% of the Tigard office is credit card servicing, this pretty much means my husband’s days at work are numbered. We just don’t know how big (or little) that number is!
Being faced with a likely job loss makes you re-evaluate your spending habits. But the problem with living a financially responsible and scaled back lifestyle (like we do) is that there’s really not much left to trim when trimming needs to occur!
Our dining out budget = $40/mo. Realistically the only “dining out” we do is if someone is having a birthday dinner and they call to invite us. Otherwise our “dining out” consists of one pizza (take-out) per month and two or three dinners at Costco. Um, that’s $40/month and feeding the whole family dinner for $10 each time is already a great price- so we don’t really count it as dining out expense since making a dinner at home would probably cost about the same! So there’s really nothing to cut there.
Our entertainment expenses are near zero as well. We don’t take the kids out to movies, we don’t buy movies, heck we don’t even RENT movies from Blockbuster anymore. We don’t buy books or magazines, we borrow books from the library. We don’t go to the local fairs or expos when they are in town. We DO have the $9.99/mo Netflix plan and the kids watch streamed movies frequently. I suppose we could cut that out, but otherwise there’s really not much cutting back in this category either.
Travel and destinations. We don’t take day trips to the beach, nor drive to the river or lake for a picnic. Heck, we don’t even go visit our friends who live in Tigard or Clackamas because gas costs too much! Shopping trips are consolidated so that we only go out if there’s multiple trips needed in the same general area. After all, a round trip to the closest grocery store costs me $1.20 in gas (at $3.839 a gallon). Driving to and from work costs $7.68 each day (in the Expedition) so Jim has been riding his motorcycle to/from work to save money there (only costs him $1.67). We’re starting to walk Trevor to his soccer practice since it’s less than a mile away. Um, not much else we can do to cut back in the travel department.
We don’t have a garbage bill (read that story here). Actually the only monthly bills we have are our utilities (gas, electricity, water/sewer, cell phone) and insurance (medical, life, vehicle, homeowners, etc.), our mortgage, and now a small home equity loan that we took out a couple months ago to cover 1/2 the addition.
We do have a landline (required by daycare regulations) but it’s a Vonage line so it’s cheaper than bundling with our TV/Internet. Speaking of….we have the cheapest TV/internet bundle available, so there’s no trimming back there unless we completely eliminate our TV altogether, which could be a very likely possibility. Or we can save $14 a month by eliminating the DVR and moving one of the HD boxes to a Standard box.
Our cell phone plan- we’re sharing the cheapest and lowest family plan. Only one smartphone in this house- couldn’t justify owning two of them.
We don’t buy prepackaged foods (Hamburger Helper, Frozen Dinners, packaged cookies or cakes or chips, ready-made burritos, individual yogurts, etc.). If we buy soda for special occasions it’s the knock-off brand. No juice boxes or kiddie beverages. I make almost everything from scratch (except brownies) and we buy a lot of food in bulk or on sale.
We get our hair cut at Great Clips and I color my hair from a box. I don’t have acrylic nails nor do I get facials or spray tans or manicures. I do indulge in the occasional pedicure, though….but that’s the $20 one not the $60 one.
Moral of my story….I’m not sure what we can cut back if we are forced down to a single income. Our lifestyle has always been such that we live off one income (Jim’s) and my income pays for our vacations and home improvements. My income alone can’t cover our normal monthly household expenses. And a family of five to insure (medical insurance)….OMG I don’t even want to think about that.
So that takes me back to my original question. What’s the worst that can happen?
I suppose the worst that could happen is Jim can’t fine another job and we end up losing our house. But I really don’t see that as a likely scenario. We have vehicles and a trailer and a boat we can sell before it comes to that. We would cut out our tv and get rid of our cell phones before it comes to that. Or maybe we don’t sell the trailer and we rent our house out and just park the trailer on someone’s property and live there for a year (gak). Jim would take any job he could get before it comes to that.
Another worst case scenario is Jim can’t find a job locally and we have to relocate. Not what I would like to have happen because it would turn our whole world upside down, but I know we would get through it. It wouldn’t be that bad.
So assuming we don’t have to move….and the worst case scenario is Jim not finding a job fast enough….really our worst case scenario is we have a tighter budget to follow and we live an even simpler lifestyle. No more Lucky Charms for breakfast- it’s plain old fashioned oatmeal or whatever bulk generic cereal we can find. We don’t eat Hot Wings or BBQ burgers or chicken or multi-ingredient dinners as often…..we eat more rice and dried bean dishes. We don’t go to Mexico next year with the kids like we promised. And probably no Disneyland in 2013. We drop the TV and if we have to we start selling vehicles, boats, trailers and anything else we can find.
But even through all of that, we have each other; we have lots of friends and family; and right now we also have good health. Times might get tough for a while, things might not be very fun…but it should be temporary and we’ll make it.
See, it’s not so scary…