Last year, as we were going from 2008 to 2009, the American people thought that was our worst time. Well, it has stretched out into the current time of paying more bills with less money, so I would suspect that we should learn as much as possible about how to cut the costs in our households. This article is divided into separate categories so you can determine the best way to save in each one. It is going to take some determination and perseverance, but it’s not more than you can handle, with some practice.
Household saving tricks:
For power & light bill –
Keep your temperature in the winter when using heat, on 65* and wear extra layers.
In the summer, keep it at 80* and take off a layer. (this could be fun)
No need to keep all the lights on, turn some off.
Don’t use the oven unless necessary because it uses too much electricity. Find a small toaster oven at a Yard Sale for a $1 or $2 and use it.
Keep refrigerator set on less the half way mark; that is cold enough.
If you find you have gotten to the point where they are sending you cut-off bills, contact the Human Services in your county and ask for some assistance. Some churches also will help with electric.
For telephone, cable, cell service:
Obtain the lowest rates possible – you can always upgrade in the future. ATT has cable-lite for $19.95, and basic phone, no frills, for $18.00. No need for call waiting, forwarding and all that right now. You simply need a computer and a phone. Cell phone can be downgraded also.
Food and supplies:
Register with the Food Stamp program and see if you are eligible.
Research you area, local churches and Humanitarian programs and see how you can get bags of food. There is nothing wrong with this, so don’t tell yourself there is. It is about people helping people. Even if you got a bag of food a week from two different agencies, that would cut your food budget way down.
Some of these places will help with paper towels, etc. You just need to ask.
Learn to cook like your Mom did……from the real food and not running out to Mc Donald’s for every meal. You can prepare big pots of chili, or chix or vegetable soups or stews and feed many. Try it out.
Drink teas and water or coffee. You will be surprised at how much you save when not buying high-priced sodas or energy drinks. Consider a 6 pack of soda costs about $2.89 and if you buy 2 packs a week (most of the country will drink 3 a week)but that is $6 a week, $24 a month and that’s $288 a year – approximately 3 electric bills; and it is not good for your health AT ALL. Let the kids drink juice or concentrated drinks.
Pay rent first; hands down, so you have a roof over your head. Then take a calendar and write the amounts of each bill you owe on the date it is due and the name of the company beside it. Of course, pay each bill as the deadline is coming up, but if you are getting behind pay $20 – $30 on it and go to the next. This routine lets the creditors know that you are not just blowing them off and they won’t cut off your service. When you get another $20, just put it in, there is no need to wait until the next month.
If you have bills to separate agencies, like doctor’s offices or chiropractors, pay what you can even if it’s only $5.00. They will usually work with you too.
You may decide that you want to close your credit cards. That is probably an excellent idea and one where you can save on the total cost of repayment. Contact a Credit Card Counseling or Consolidation Agency and make sure that they are enrolled in the NCFF – the national agency for credit counselors.
If you belong to a church, most churches have a benevolent fund for their members where they can help you get through a tough space.
If you have a computer at home, you’re set. If not there are other places to go that will allow you to use the computers; libraries, universities, etc. and all you need to do for the most part, is register. Most jobs are listed on the computer and there are many different websites you can use. To name a few, your Employ_______.com (state name) Monster.com, Snagajob.com, and Indeed.com will get you started.
Make sure you have applied for unemployment, even if you believe that you will be denied. They need the statistics of those who are unemployed, and you just might qualify.
During these times, think of what you do naturally that could be used towards the household funds. Do you have children, would babysitting someone else’s be an idea. Do you like to cook? Maybe you could find an older person or someone who is busy and prepare meals for them for a price. Think about what season it is and how your town works. Is there snow to shovel, or firewood to cut, trash to pick up, or drivers or telephone jobs temporarily available. Does your town have fairs or neighborhood functions where you could perform some work for pay. Remember to keep an eye on Day Labor if you are out of work.
The key is to stay busy and out in the community, not to isolate and get depressed. You need to hear and to stay in touch with others going through this tight time. You are not alone and if the American public works together on this we will surely win – but we all have to help each other. So now is the time to be resourceful and keep your eye on tomorrow, because this too shall pass.