After my husband lost his job of 5 years due to a struggling economy and cuts in the hospitality industry, we were forced to reexamine our budget and expenses. This proved to be a task which neither of us were prepared to complete, but unfortunately, we were unwillingly thrown into it all. I still had my part time job and luckily I was able to pick up a few more hours thanks to the fact that my husband could watch the boys after they got out of school each day, but we still had to make some drastic changes if we didn’t want to deplete our savings.
At the time, our boys were 6 and 8 and while as adults my husband and I were prepared to make some sacrifices, the kids could not understand what was going on. How were we supposed to save money and keep the boys involved in tennis, karate, and their other favorite activities? How much would my husband and I have to give up ensuring our kids still got to enjoy all the things they have grown fond of? Surprisingly, the little changes and sacrifices that we made were not difficult, and we even became closer as a family. The things we did were small, but the savings significant. Here are a few of the things we cut out to save, and what we did in return. Now that my husband has a new job, we are still doing most of these things so that we can put more into the boys’ college funds.
We gave up our gym memberships. This one was tough for us at first. My husband and I both frequented the gym. I loved the group exercise classes, and he liked to use the free weights, so finding alternatives was tricky. We started walking to a local park as a family and playing tag together or doing other activities. My husband found a used weight bench at a yard sale that was practically given to him, so we learned to be creative and improvise. Doing just this saved us close to $100 each month. For some, getting out of a gym membership may be tough, but we were honest with the gym. My husband explained the situation, and they obliged to cancel our memberships. Hopefully, if you are trying to cut back on costs your gym will so understand.
We changed up our “family nights.” Prior to my husband’s job loss, we would try to take one night a week to spend together as a family. We used to go out to eat dinner or go to see a family-fun movie, but this proved to be a huge toll on the wallet. We didn’t want to sacrifice our time together, so we started to have at-home “nights out.” Instead of going out to see a movie, we rented one through our tv provider. I know you can do this with direct tv, dish network, and some cable providers. For around $4 we could all see a movie and pop a $1 bag of popcorn to share. Just having movie nights at home saved us over $50 a month and that does not include all of the dinners we had at home as opposed to at restaurants.
While we are not doing this currently, when we need to scale back the expenses we spoke with the boys’ tennis and karate instructors about price. We really did not want them to have to quit their activities mid-year, so we thought it wouldn’t hurt to let the instructors know what was happening and see if the price could be adjusted for the time being. Again, we were so fortunate. Since both the boys had lessons, both instructors gave us a discount. With this discount and finding the accessories second hand, we ended up saving around $60 a month. Today we still look for materials and supplies that they will need at second hand sports shops to save extra money, and we are so thankful that the boys got to stay involved in the sports they love.
It turned out that my husband being laid-off from a job was one of the best things that could have happened to our family. We are so blessed that he has found another job and that we can continue to live a little more frugally than before. It was the smallest things that made the biggest difference. If your family happens to be going through a similar situation, I urge you to stay positive, and take it one day at a time.
P.D. is an on-the-go mother of two boys, eight and ten. She loves writing and sharing ideas on parenting, like, books for kids, direct tv for kids, and sharing personal experiences on her life as a parent.