No matter how careful or diligent we are, financial crisis can come to all of us. Whether it’s a long term illness, or unexpected unemployment, sometimes we find ourselves on a very limited income, or with no income at all. If you are in this position right now, I’d like to share some money tips to help you weather any financial storm or crisis.
If you have little or no income, every penny has to count. Your first priority is to keep a roof over your head and food in your belly. Find out exactly how much money you currently have. Use it to pay your rent or mortgage first, then utilities and food. All unnecessary subscriptions like streaming services need to be cancelled.
We have personally gone through a period of unemployment where we lived off our tax return. At the end of each month, I set out the money to pay the mortgage for the next month first. Then I paid the power bill, phone bill, and propane bill. I used my credit card to pay the bills, not because I was using credit to pay the bills, but because I used the reward points to add more money to our budget. I did my best to anticipate other bills, and set aside what I could.
The key is to use your money to stay afloat as long as possible while you search for a new source of income. This is the perfect time to evaluate your purchases and decide whether they are needs or wants. Hint: the list of legitimate needs is very, very short.
When you have no income, it’s important to let others help you. We had several friends give us food and gifts of money. We accepted their gifts with great thanks. God used them to bless us, and I will be forever grateful. Don’t be too proud to accept help. We all have storms in our lives, and we all need help sometimes.
A little side note: If you are in a position to help someone, be sure to do so. You don’t know the impact you may be having on them, and you will also be in for a huge blessing by helping. Don’t forget that bringing a meal or helping with chores can be just as helpful as money. Having no income is super stressful, and having someone come alongside in any capacity is a relief.
Eat from your pantry
My husband has always done the bulk of the grocery shopping for us. He had a habit of always coming home with extras. He would buy several canned goods, or extra hot sauce. It always upset me a bit, until we had no income. Then, I was incredibly grateful that he spent that little extra money now and then, and filled our pantry. I had to be creative, and got sick and tired of some meals, but we were able to eat out of our pantry and only go to the store for things like eggs and some fresh veggies.
When you are limited on income, always cook from your pantry before buying more food. You may have to get a bit out of your comfort zone and look for new recipes, but doing so will enable you to stretch your money a bit farther as you look for a new income source.
Did you know you can even do without products like toilet paper? I explain how in this post.
If you currently have an income, there are steps you can take to prepare for possible storms ahead.
Start an emergency fund
I have said it before and I will say it again. If you don’t have an emergency fund yet, start one. Many banks and credit unions give you the ability to have multiple savings accounts. Start another one and transfer some money into it. Then consider that money dead to you. It should not be used for anything but emergencies. You will need it there when the unexpected happens.
A good first goal is $1000. This can be accomplished a little at a time. Try to stay below a certain spending amount at the store, and put the remainder in your emergency fund. Sell a few things and put the proceeds in your emergency fund. Choose a staycation over an expensive trip, and put some money in your emergency fund. Get the idea? It’s better to make sacrifices when you have an income, than to wish you had made those sacrifices when you don’t have an income.
Buy a little extra
Just like my husband bought a little extra at the grocery store, you can stock your pantry a little at a time. If something goes on sale that you normally use, buy just a couple extra. Buying 50 is greedy and wasteful, since you are unlikely to go through that amount in a reasonable amount of time, and you left nothing for other families who are trying to eat as well.
Be sure to buy extra of items you know that you use regularly. It does no good to stock up on canned soups if you don’t actually enjoy eating them. We regularly use hot sauce, diced jalapenos, canned tomato products, etc. so those are the items we stocked up on.
Begin a side hustle
We discovered a bit late the importance of diversifying our income. 95% of our eggs were in my husband’s basket. I think it is wise and prudent to have more than one source of income. Preferably, you should have an income that you are in control of. Here are some possible ideas to get you started.
- Selling items on etsy
- Growing produce to sell at a farmer’s market
- Snow shoveling, or lawn mowing
- Blogging (requires learning some additional skills such as marketing, writing, copywriting, traffic generation, etc.)
Ask yourself what skills you may have that could be of use to someone else. Chances are, there’s a way to make money from it. Take the time now to start generating a side income so that you have your eggs in multiple baskets.
Have you found yourself in a financial storm? What did you do to get through it? Do you have some ideas for generating a second income? Tell us in the comments.