There are several circumstances in life that can result in not getting a paycheck, from job loss, to severe injuries, to the death of a spouse. For us, it was the transition to a new job that left us without a paycheck for two months. Just when I thought I knew something about finances, I suddenly found myself back in Personal Finances 101. Here are some lessons I learned.
Our God never abandons us
My husband was offered an amazing job flying people, instead of the boxes he has been flying in the freight business for almost 25 years. He desperately needed a change, for his mental and emotional health. We prayed and felt very confident that this was a good move. But, because he was sent immediately to training instead of to the company’s indoc program, he did not get put on the payroll.
For the first time in my life, I really started to understand prayer. Funny how necessity can teach you important lessons. In that two months, God never let us down. His timing wasn’t always our timing, but He never abandoned us. He never left us to starve. We never missed a bill. Even when my checking account was getting really low, and I wasn’t sure how to pay the electric bill, money would come from somewhere. Gifts came when we needed them, like a fifty pound bag of potatoes. Our faith was stretched, and even when we thought all was lost, we were amazed that our honest response was that we would continue to trust God.
Sometimes life gets very scary. But, nothing catches our Father off guard. He knows, and His response is neither late nor early. Trust that you are safe within His hands.
Never lose your generous spirit
Even when you are struggling, someone else is struggling more. Don’t forget about them! I wasn’t able to do much for those less fortunate, but I could drop pocket change in the Salvation Army bucket. I could rake my neighbor’s yard when she broke her leg. I never wanted to develop the mindset that I couldn’t help others. Even the widow in Scripture with a single coin in her possession chose to give it away. When Elijah came upon the widow and her son, they were ready to eat their last two cakes and die. But, they chose to feed Elijah first, and were blessed for doing so as they watched their flour and oil last and last.
Look for ways to help others when you are struggling. It blesses those who really need it, and it blesses you with a less self-centered mindset.
Priorities become clear
When you don’t know where or when the next income will find you, you learn to make important choices. When I had more than enough money coming in, it was easy to get sloppy. I’ll admit that I did. With no paycheck, however, I looked at the next bill, and set aside the exact amount needed. I cooked meals with beans and rice and macaroni and cheese. Wants were not even a temptation when I needed the money to pay for gas to keep the house warm.
If you are in a tight position, embrace the fact that you now know what is really important!
Preparation pays off
I’ve talked about emergency funds before. If you don’t have one yet, start one. My efforts to prepare for the future helped us immensely. I have an emergency fund in a separate bank that requires a two day wire transfer to access. When we entered this uncomfortable transition period with no paycheck, I was determined to make things work without touching that money. As of right now, I haven’t had to touch it, and I’m so grateful for that. I don’t know what the next year will bring, and I’m glad that our emergency fund is still there if we need it. I also felt better during these two months knowing that I could dip into it if I had to. Get an emergency fund! You don’t know what tomorrow will bring.
Another important preparation is having a second source of income. I have two blogs that bring in an income. It doesn’t support us by any means, but I was able to pay some smaller bills like the propane bill with my income. Having a second source of income, no matter how small, can help you bridge the gap when life throws you a curve ball. It’s even better if your secondary income is not dependent on an employer.
- Sell some items you don’t need. We plan to sell my husband’s motorcycle, for example.
- Save money with apps on your phone like Getupside, which saves you money when you fill your car’s gas tank. (Use the code: HEIDI2433 when you download the app to get 15 cents a gallon discount on your first fill-up.)
- Sell homemade items online.
- Use a skill you have as a freelancer. Examples could include proofreading, bookkeeping, writing, housecleaning, babysitting, etc. I will be offering bookkeeping services to small online businesses soon in an effort to diversify our income sources.
What could you do to bring in a little extra income? Every little bit counts when you don’t have a main income.
Have you gone through a period with no paycheck? What lessons did you learn?