Making Ends Meet – The Essentials

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In an earlier post I identified the essentials for life as shelter, food and clothing.

I talked a bit about food and how you can immediately reduce your costs by creatively using what you have on hand and also the importance of not wasting precious food.

Now for the other 2 essentials before we move back to food.

Shelter

I know it is unwise to assume, but for the purpose of this exercise I will make the assumption that you currently have somewhere to live.  This means that you will most likely have the expense of either rent or mortgage payments.  These need to be your first priority when you are accounting for money and if you are unable to meet this payments then your situation is very dire.  You should seek financial counselling as soon as possible.

rising-housing-costs
It is not a good idea to try to sell or move to another rental property when things are really tight as there are costs associated with moving house, so, if it all possible, it is best to see if you can possibly maintain your current location by cutting back in other areas.  If it is absolutely essential that you move, you could consider moving in with other family members as a temporary solution or sharing with another couple or family to reduce the costs.  All of these strategies have been done before, and whilst not perfect, they are better than ending up homeless.

Clothing

“It is interesting, because I often don’t think of clothing myself as an essential. When I was trying to save for a deposit for a house, that’s the category I set to zero (save for a three week holiday I budgeted for overseas, and within that budget I was allowed to buy whatever, which happened to include lots of clothes!). Admittedly, most people have clothing, so can skimp for a while. And there’s free clothing, through hand me downs, swaps and freecycle. Or there’s op shops. Still, very interesting reading!”

This was a comment in response to my post where I placed clothing in the ‘essential’ category.  Having clothes to wear is essential – we are not in the Garden of Eden – but buying new clothes is definitely not essential!  In fact, like Sarah’s comment, in tough times the clothing budget should be set to zero.

Think about this:  You had enough clothes last week and nothing has changed so there is no need to go and buy more.  Children’s clothes can be let down, patched and created from refashioned adult items.  Check out websites and you will find many references to challenging yourself to buy no new clothes for a year.  It can easily be done.

A final tip:  Use it up, wear it out, make do or do without.

In my next post I will look at what meals I can create using the list of contents of Sarah’s refrigerator and pantry.

 

Making Ends Meet

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The Duke and I have begun planning and booking for an overseas trip in August 2014.  It has been a considered financial decision for which we have budgeted.  This is in addition to our day-to-day household budget, debt repayments (mortgage and personal loan) and savings (superannuation).

On the face of it, everything looks pretty rosy financially at the moment which is in stark contrast to some other stages of our lives.  But everything could change in a blink if one or both of us were to be made redundant from our jobs.  We do not really expect that to happen but nothing is 100% certain.  We just have to make the best of what we have at the moment.

making ends meet

As I mentioned earlier, there have been times when making ends meet has seemed almost impossible.  Unfortunately, there are many people in this situation.  I read their stories every day in newspapers, online and in magazines. I see it being played out in cities and small communities all over the world.  Sometimes it can be a problem of long-standing (spanning generations) or may be a small blip on the radar due to a temporary change in circumstance.

Whatever the reason, there is a problem when expenses exceed income.

I deliberately left that line by itself because that is the crux of the matter.  Read it again.  When expenses exceed income.  It does not matter what way you dress it up, if you spend more than you earn you will have a problem.  One day the credit card  will reach its limit, you will not be able to get more credit and the house of cards will come tumbling down.

Enough of  the problem.  We are looking for solutions.  There is no magic bullet and this is going to be hard work.  I plan to write a series of posts over the coming days to focus on each of the following points in more detail.  If you have personal experience, suggestions or comments please leave them here or you can email me directly at the email address in the ‘About Me’ tab at the top of the page.

1  Be honest

2  Create a list of expenses

3  Sort essentials from non-essentials

4  Make a plan

5  Accommodation

6  Food

7  Utilities

There will be other topics and the structure may change as the comments unfold.  However, the purpose of this will remain.  It is designed to share collective wisdom from all sources in order to help and support each other.

I look forward to hearing your stories and tips, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem.  What are the little things you do every day that save you money?  Remember, this may make the difference to someone else’s  life.

Until tomorrow.