So. Everything has hit the fan. You’ve lost your job. Your health is screwed. Something major has happened. You are freaking out. Overwhelmed.
Pick a place to start.
Here is my suggestion for practical, actionable works.
Take inventory. Of everything.
How much food do you have in your house? Pantry and freezer?
How much pet food do you have?
Medications? How many refills will you need?
Actual cash? Find those change jars. Look through pockets. Do you have quarters in your cushions?
Figure out exactly where you are. Do you have enough shampoo/laundry soap, etc?
Then, figure out what you need to get through a predetermined period of time. For myself, right now, it looks like through the rest of 2019. What do I need to get through 2019?
I make clear lists. I have dog food through October 15th, 2019. Except! I have an emergency go bucket, with another 10lbs in it. So that pushes me out to maybe November 1st. You’ll be surprised what you find when you actually look and start cataloging your home.
So now I have a short fall of about 60 days. Kirkland bag of food is about $40 all in with tax. Add that to the shortfall list.
While inventorying your home also sort through it. What do you have with value? What can you sell? Some people see this as an extreme view. Selling your belongings. I don’t. I’m not telling you to sell them, but have a list of things that you could sell, if you need to. Sometimes just having that to look at – just knowing you have $500 available in your house – is comforting during a difficult time.
That said – I’m selling things.
I might not need to. I could wait and see, but I’m not that kind of person. I need to feel safe going into the unknown as much as possible. Knowing I’ve enough for X amount of time, is priceless. With surgery and recovery coming up, I won’t be as able to do things as I am now. Meeting up for sales may be difficult or impossible. So I’m doing all I can now. And as kind and generous as people have been I need to do my part too. I’m not secure through the end of the year. I’m secure through about mid October at this point and I can’t count on other people to do that for me. I can hope for help from my community, but nothing is guaranteed. I will do all I can, as long as I can, to gain more security.
This means selling things.
Making shortfall lists.
And then, filling in those shortfalls. One at a time.
My change jar (a standard regular mouth mason jar) usually has $40-$50 in it. Dog food. Check.
I have sensors for my meter through October. I need $66 per month for Nov/Dec. I have some items listed I hope will cover those. If I need to, I can skip a week here or there.
I’m checking my refills for prescription meds, but I’m also on a lot of OTC meds and supplements which are vastly more expensive as I’m blessed enough that most of my meds have very low copays. Do I have enough for the rest of the year? Where are the short falls? How can I source them cheaply or in bulk (Costco sale? Generics?)
This can seem like busy work. And it can be if you want it to be. But I also find it incredibly reassuring to know exactly where I am, what I have, and what I need to get by.
This would also be a great time to go over your paper/excel budget. How far can you get along on your basic bills? What can you cut temporarily? Hulu? Prime? Netflix? No one is saying forever, but for now.
These are practical, actionable tips that will show you exactly where you are. Once you know where you are, and if you’ve done the work of the shortfall list you’ll know where you need to be. You can close the gap.
The most mutable expense is food. Cut it where you can, outsource it where you can. I’ve been to food banks, and I know it’s not always a good experience. The judgement can be difficult to endure. As a diabetic and person with chronic illness and food sensitivities, many times medicine is food. Telling them no when they try to give me food that is not good for me often results in looks and comments. I’m also overweight. So I must not be THAT hungry.
Let me make something VERY clear to you. Food banks throw away a huge amount of food. You do not need to be starving to go to a food bank. You can need to save your money for a prescription, a car repair, a new pair of work shoes, whatever, and go to a food bank. Most want you there, because they hate throwing away the food. We waste so much in our society that the food bank can’t even keep up. The exception being meat/protein options. The rest is readily available at most food banks. I have been “forced” to take home 4 huge bags of coined carrots that were frozen, because if I didn’t, they had to throw them away.
Don’t look at it as a final option, but a first option. You are saving yourself, and you are saving waste. And, it’s a very humbling experience that can only do you good as a person.
Would you like specific ways to save on certain items? Please ask below and I will do my best to answer and share. I’ve learned how to hack just about everything over the last 15 years. You don’t need to struggle to figure it out. Let me give you a hand.
This is such a wonderful, practical list of how to start in such a scary time. I just wish you didn’t have to be living it to share.
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It’s not my first rodeo. This is the fourth time since I bought my house (living independently) that I have had to take time off from work for a surgery. It’s down pretty rote for me now, LOL! If I can help other people weather their storms I am glad to share. I do want to say: All the things I’ve learned from MMM and the FI community have made each successive storm far easier to weather than the last. It’s not that storms will never come, but you can learn how to handle each one so its impact is lessened.
Thank you for the never ending support. I appreciate you!
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