Have you completed steps one and two on this practical steps when the ish hits the fan journey?
Let’s get into it. Step three is all about bridging the gap between step one’s inventory and step two’s shortfall list.
If you are like me and created a spreadsheet you could easily create formulas in order to show the gap that needs bridging. If not, you just do some math on paper. You fools with working hands!
However you do it, you will have a list of what exactly you will be short from now until your predetermined end of need. Now is when we figure out exactly how to bridge the gap.
Your personal, specific situation is going to deeply impact how this is approached. If you are without a job, but able bodied – you will have an easier time of it than someone not working due to severe illness or short term disability. I’m writing this from the POV of temporary hardship and how to muddle through somehow.
As discussed in earlier posts, food is often the easiest budget item to mitigate. You can eat well while choosing less expensive items or you can also visit a food bank if you are able. If you cannot physically visit some will allow a family member to assist, or arrange for delivery to your home. This level of access varies dramatically from bank to bank, region to region. Unfortunately, I can only speak to generalities on this.
I recently went to my local food bank. I volunteered two sweat covered, exhausting hours before doing a walk through to pick out some food. I do not know how people stock like that all day. It took all I had to get through that, with breaks due to the tachycardia I am challenged with right now. I have SUCH admiration for food stockers right now.
This particular food bank is really lovely as it is set up as a small grocery store and you take your cart from section to section and choose what you would like within the item limits. As someone who experienced a great deal of judgement and shame at food banks where people acted as gate keepers between the food and you – this was a truly great experience. Not having to explain dietary restrictions, or your food choices is wonderful. I will say, there is often a long wait for this place. 30-60 minutes in line. Many people with disabilities or health issues cannot do that. Some have walkers to sit on. Some people give up. However, the food bank has worked really hard to streamline the process and increase the speed with which they serve.
I was very grateful to receive fresh vegetables, canned (unsweetened) fruit, and my favorite coffee. I was set for over a week between that and my freezer.
Another option for food is to see if you qualify for EBT or food benefits. I do right now, and that helps to cover the things not often found at food banks, like meat and specialty items. Between the two, I am spending very little on food.
What other gaps did you find? Pet Food? Medication? How can we bridge that?
You are at home with loads of time. Now is a great time to look into rewards!
You now know exactly what you need to bridge the gap. How can you do that?
One way is with apps. I recently signed up for JobSpotter. I have made $5 from just taking pictures of help wanted signs!
I signed up for the Chase Freedom Rewards Card. My labrador’s pet insurance has a remaining balance of $527. I was trying to find ways to mitigate this cost, or bridge the gap of what I have, and what I need. By using the Chase Freedom card, I was able to meet the minimum spend of $500 by paying his bill in full. I then received $200 as a sign up bonus, and around $7 cash back for the spend. By signing up for that card and paying that bill with it, I managed to cut what I was already going to spend by 40%.
This would also work with the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. It has a higher minimum spend of $3,000, but the 60,000 mile sign up bonus converts to $600. Whether this is a good deal or not would greatly depend on your current level of spending.
I’ve contacted all my utility companies and was able to reduce two of my bills through programs that accepted my new, lower income, and am in the process of applying for an electrical subsidy. My internet bill through XFINITY was reduced by $20 a month!
I sold things I didn’t need. I’m pretty much at the end of that supply chain though.
I also contacted the state and submitted my new income and proof of medical expenses, which increased my medical coverage and increased my food benefits. Thereby closing the gap further.
I made the decision to NOT refill my Freestyle Libre sensors. They are not truly a NEED. I am using up my emergency bucket of dog food and medications.
I cancelled my massage membership. This was difficult to do. Monthly massages keep me going in several ways, and I had 4 massages banked and not enough time to use them after I cancelled. So I forfeited 4 hours of massages, but in order to keep them I would have had to renew a contracted year long commitment totally $720. I just don’t know what is going to happen, and had to let it go. But, that closed the gap further for the rest of the year!
My GoFundMe has accomplished two things thus far: 1) I have an emergency fund of $1,000 that is put away and not easily available to me. 2) I was able to prepay my power, water, and internet through the end of 2019.
GAP IS EVEN SMALLER.
There is still a long ways to go to fully close the gap, but we’re getting there! How are you closing the gap?