Sunday was our 11 year wedding anniversary. Since money is tight we agreed not to exchange gifts but we did order an electronic gift card for Claim Jumper thanks to our Discover cash back rewards. We love their steaks so we tend to eat there once every few years, typically on our anniversary.
Then inertia struck. Sunday evening rolled around and we didn’t feel like going out so we ordered pizza (using our Lou Malnati’s gift card) and decided we’d visit Claim Jumper on Monday evening instead. We reasoned it wouldn’t be as crowded and since we had errands to run that day we’d already be out. Except on Monday we got up early, got our errands out of the way, and when dinnertime rolled around were busy with stuff around the house and didn’t feel like going out again.
So that’s how we did absolutely nothing to celebrate our anniversary. Woo hoo, marriage!
On the plus side when we are in the mood for a good steak we have the $50 gift card and shouldn’t spend too much out of pocket if we split a nice filet and another entree.
A comment made on one of our earlier posts inspired this one.
As you know, the general wisdom is you should have x number of months worth of expenses saved for emergencies so if you lose your job you won’t go into debt before finding a new one. Perhaps I gave the impression at some point that we didn’t have money set aside for such things, but of course we do!
We have always lived below our means not just so we could save for retirement, but also to save for the unexpected. We could have spent more extravagantly over the years and saved less but we both feel more secure with money in the bank. There’s something to be said for that peace of mind. It’s certainly more important to us than a bunch of material possessions.
While it would have been easy to continue spending money as if nothing has changed, and we’d be fine for awhile, we didn’t feel comfortable doing so. We have no idea what the future holds, and I’m not being negative when I say that, just realistic. I’ve seen too many people remain unemployed (or underemployed) for years, and would rather plan for the worse case scenario than assume things will work out, not reduce our expenses, and possibly find ourselves in a bad situation. Not to mention the fact that it took us 15 years to accumulate our savings and we don’t want to burn through that in a fraction of the time.
That’s not to say we aren’t having fun, however! It’s just a more frugal kind of fun, like seeing movies at the discount theater instead of going on a big vacation. That being said, we’ll still go to Indiana Beach this year and spend $100-$200 for the day. And that’s ok, because that annual event is totally worth it to us. We’re being cautious with our money, but not cheap to the point of not enjoying ourselves here and there.
I hope that clears up any misconceptions regarding our current state of financial affairs.
A Day In The Life
Tuesday is actually more like the first day of my week. I say that because Nicole works three days a week – Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. I save all the cleaning aside from the daily dishes and things like that for Tuesday. I’ve reiterated before, whomever is home more should be doing more around the house. It’s not fair for Nicole to have to work and clean the house if I’m not working. That just doesn’t make any sense to me.
Our townhouse is about 1600 square feet. Not huge, but not small either. Fortunately, with just two of us and my son here only a few days a month, the house never really becomes what I would call dirty. It becomes cluttered at times, but that’s about it. Nonetheless, I do a pretty thorough cleaning on Tuesdays. I look at it as exercise as well; burning a few extra calories doesn’t hurt. I like starting early too. By the time Nicole leaves for work – around 6:45am – I’m already starting on the kitchen.
My morning today is dedicated to cleaning. It only takes about 3-4 hours to clean all of the “usual” things in the house including laundry. And each week I end up taking on something that is a little more time consuming, but it’s more of a once-in-a-while kind of item to clean. Today it’s the patio door vertical blinds. Our patio door has three sections to it, so there’s about a 10′ section of blinds I’ll take down and wash. Fun stuff.
As for dinner, slow cooker cashew chicken is on the menu tonight. I’ll post a review and my pics later this week. Yes, I found it on Pinterest, as always.
Well, March gave us a full month of Unemployed Joe. We pulled the reins back pretty hard on most expenses, especially dining out. We’re still working on rolling up our March expenses so we can compare to February to see the impact we were able to make with expenses, but we do have a peek at our dining out expenses.
February dining out expenses – $161.10
March dining out expenses – $82.47
Wow! What a difference. And the expenses we did have eating out were reduced further as we only went to places where we were able to get a discount – BOGO or coupon. Not too shabby. And the majority of the expense is because I’m a divorced dad and see my son a few times a month for dinner and of course we tend to dine out opposed to bringing food from home. Realistically, we would have our dining out expenses less than $20.
Nicole also has tracked our grocery spending. Perhaps we were a bit naive thinking we didn’t really spend that much. But considering March came in at about $325, I think that’s pretty good for two people. Our February grocery expense was closer to $285. We expected to see an increase in grocery shopping with eating out so much less in March. Something worth considering, however – we purchased quite a bit of food in bulk for use down the road – chicken, beef, sausage, etc. We would be able to cut back on grocery shopping even more, but it’s kind of fun and we only buy things we are going to use and are a good deal at the time. I know, that’s step one of a shopaholic. I mentioned to Nicole we should stop buying groceries for a month to see how much we can get through in the pantry and freezer. Not sure we could make it a month, but we may try a week or two.
Being thrown into a position where I had no more income coming in brings a host of thoughts to the forefront of someones’ mind. Nicole wrote about some of the things she felt. I’ve been compiling a list of things that came to mind, and some that dawned on me later. Here are those things and some of my suggestions.
Three big questions kept circling my mind – How am I going to pay my bills? – What do I do about healthcare? – How do I find a new job?
How am I going to pay my bills?
Don’t wait for any of this, you never know how long you’ll be out of work. The sooner you make lifestyle type changes the longer the money you may have saved will last. Of course, there’s always an option of finding another job. That’s not listed here under BILLS since I cover jobs further below.
Unemployment – First, be sure to file for unemployment benefits right away, regardless of how you left your position. Let the state decide if you qualify or not. Here in Illinois, you can start the filing process the day after you left the company.
Sell stuff – Ebay, Craigslist and garage sales are all decent ways to not only clean up around the house, but have a few extra bucks coming in. I was able to test the waters with Ebay and plan on selling more.
Expenses – look hard at all your expenses. Sure, cable TV is nice, but you don’t need it. Streaming services have much to offer as does your local library. Yes, you will still need internet service. But internet service alone is still cheaper than video and internet together. Cut the cord. Keep an eye out for any other expenses, not necessarily to eliminate entirely, but just to cut back on. Do you have any vices you can reduce/remove? It’s probably a good time to stop smoking or cut back on your alcohol consumption. Did you notice I said cut back on alcohol but quit smoking?? Can you guess which one is my vice which I’m not ready to give up? : )
Misc money items
Retirement plan – what to do with it? Did you have a 401k plan? Depending on your company and the plan holder will depend on your options. Typically though, if you have under $5k, you will have to cash it out or roll it into another qualifying account. If it’s over $5k, some companies will let you leave it while some will require you to move it as well. Check into what your requirements are and be sure to follow-through quickly to avoid any tax implications. Check with a tax pro to be sure which is best for you.
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Well, my phone interview was literally about a minute long. There wasn’t too many questions, the interviewer asked some things as confirmation. Then about what were the circumstances I was let go, if I did what I could do in my job, then he reminded me to ensure I’m keeping track of my certifications (job applications). He then said I would receive a written confirmation by early next week. That was it.
I hope everything goes well. Still crossing my fingers.