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.
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.
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.
“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.