A Family’s Guide to Surviving Layoffs – 10 Painless Money Saving Tips

My family’s situation is not only typical for this economy but may border on being a cliche given the current unemployment rate.

We’re a dual income, a middle-class couple raising a 4-year-old. My husband and I make comparable salaries give or take 3K to 5K and have survived 2 job losses (both mine) since 2008.

unemployedThe first one came 4 months after the purchase of a new home which doubled our mortgage payments.

I was unemployed for 7 months and then found a job as the banquet sales manager for a high-end restaurant. This more recent layoff only proves that no one has the money for private banquets anymore.

Like most of the country, we work hard to afford a certain lifestyle which includes all the normal trappings of a first world country and serves as a daily reminder that our college degrees were worth the money.

If your parents were anything like mine college was viewed not as a place to expand your mind but more as an insurance policy that would pay off upon graduation with a full-time job and health benefits.

Unless you were raised in the Great Depression no one really prepares you for what to do in a bad economy or how to deal with sudden job loss.

Here are some tips and lifestyle adjustments which allowed my family to emerge from the dark days of unemployment pretty much unscathed and a bit more enlightened.

1. Pull your child out of daycare or fire the nanny.

This simple act can free up anywhere between $500 and $1,000 a month.

2. Put your cell phone bill under a microscope.

We lowered our bill over $50 a month by switching to a cheaper plan and taking a scalpel to monthly charges for internet, GPS service and unlimited texting.

3. Research options in health insurance.

Unemployment doesn’t come with health insurance and Cobra is usually very costly. Spend the time to thoroughly research different insurance plans.

If you’re healthy choose a plan with a high deductible that will lower your monthly premiums. Companies like Golden Rule offer discounted plans for individuals.

4. Do you really need a satellite dish or cable?

We all love having hundreds of viewing choices but these services can run up to or over $70 a month. Join Netflix for $10 a month and watch as many movies as you want.

5. Cancel memberships to health or fitness clubs.

Family memberships to these places usually range from $70 to $150 a month. Forget it. Buy a jump rope, drag your bicycle out of the garage or start power walking around your neighborhood. It’s cheaper.

6. Eat at home.

This goes without saying. Even the most reasonable restaurants cost more than cooking at home.

7. Find free entertainment or at least cheap entertainment.

Museums, parks, and beaches are free. Matinees are usually 1/2 the price of evening shows.

If a show hasn’t sold out many live theaters will offer 1/2 price tickets for shows a half hour before the performance starts.

Invite friends over for a potluck dinner where everyone brings a dish.

8. Discover thrift stores.

If you love to shop but can’t afford it, seek out your local 2nd hand stores.

Shopping at consignment or thrift stores can be a lot of fun and will offer some surprising fashionable finds.

9. Curb gift giving.

Talk to your spouse about temporarily suspending gift giving for each other during holidays or birthdays.

Or at least set a dollar limit consistent with your situation.

10. Got stuff? Have a garage sale.

Auction off items on eBay or advertise it on Craig’s List. All easy ways to make a few extra bucks from stuff collecting dust in your basement.

Money Saving Tips for Your Wedding: Who Do You Know?

It seems kind of silly to pay tens of thousands of dollars for a day that only happens once.

For many people, the fact that a wedding only happens once is what makes it worth it.

For the thrifty and the frugal among us, though, that money could be better spent elsewhere. And one of the biggest money saving tips for your wedding is to figure out who you know.

Family and friends will probably be willing to help you out with your wedding – they can count it as their wedding gift to you!

Do you know any professionals, or amateurs?

1) The first thing you should do is think about who you know that might have professional skills.

Or even amateur skills. You know, like a hobby. Flower arranging, photography, decorating and catering are all items that you can cast about for friends and relatives.

For my wedding, someone in my church congregation decorated cakes for a local caterer. She made our wedding cake as her wedding gift to us. My uncle is an amateur photographer, as is my husband’s sister. Between the two of them, our wedding photos turned out great.

Another friend of mine offers to do wedding photos as gifts to her friends and family. She loves it. Her acquaintances get free wedding photos, and she gets exposure as a photographer.

A friend of mine knew a florist, and, even though she didn’t get all the flowers for free, she got them heavily discounted. And the florist threw in the arranging for the reception and the ceremony as the gift.

Sometimes, if a religious leader is close to a family, he or she will perform the marriage free of charge. But that isn’t really something you can ask for.

A seamstress might be able to make your wedding dress (my mom made mine and my sister’s) for a discounted rate as part of your wedding gift.

2) Get creative

Additionally, you can usually find relatives and friends that have decorations that will work for your wedding.

One of my dad’s friends had a lovely trellis that he let us use for the reception. A friend of mine had a cousin who owned a pet shop.

For the centerpieces of their wedding, the cousin brought over brightly colored tropical fish to swim in bowls.

Another thing you can do is use hand-made centerpieces. A friend of mine had a grandfather who whittled well. All of the centerpieces were beautifully carved wood pieces. Of course, some of these things require advance planning, since months might be needed.

3) Have the wedding earlier in the day

Instead of an evening dinner reception, have an earlier wedding.

That way you can have a brunch or a luncheon instead. You will save a lot of money on the food, and there will be no need to buy more expensive alcoholic drinks.

(Bonus: if you know a caterer it might help you get your food for less money.)