Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Cutting The Household Budget Down To Size

It's no secret that California is in a financial crisis, and well as the rest of the nation. In fact, it seems to be a global epidemic right now. I wish I could say that it's just a small bump in the road, but I'm afraid it's more like a mountain on the path ahead of us. 

Photo Credit: M Skaffari

I was visiting with a friend today and we were discussing family budgets. Seems she has already tightened the family belt as much as she can, but it's still not enough to keep their head above water. Just to be sure she was doing all she could, she asked two different financial counselors to take a look at her figures. Both told her they couldn't find anything else to trim. Sometimes our best efforts just aren't enough - the income is too little for the out-go.

This isn't the first time Americans have had to go through tough times. But it is new for this generation. Glenn Beck recently commented that we have been fortunate to live at the zenith of civilization with the best of technology, wealth, education, entertainment,... you name it. But he also stated that he believed the era of "having it all" was coming to a close. The only thing now was to find out if we, as a nation, can endure hardships as well as times of plenty.

Photo Credit: stopnlook

When times are tough, it isn't always a bad thing if you are willing to be flexible and make changes, work together as a family, and get back to basics. Financial hardship can cause us to re-evaluate what is truly important and of eternal value. And it can force us to trim away those things that are actually a distraction. 

My friend needs help, and truthfully, many other readers do, too. Would you be willing to help by answering this question?

What are your best two or three tips for trimming the family budget and getting it down to size? 

Here are some things I'm in the process of cutting out...

1. Did you know that you can put your Direct TV service on vacation for several months? This is a good way to see if you can actually live with out it (in case you're hesitant to ax it entirely). 

2. I had my girls grow their hair out long so that they didn't need haircuts as often. I think I'm going to learn how to cut it myself to save even more. If I can really get brave, I may stop coloring my hair as well. Yes, I just made a confession! As health conscious as I am, I still color my locks (short as they are), but I'm going to really try to make the transition. 

3. Eliminate the grocery basics by making them myself. I bake my own bread (and mill my own flour from bulk grain), make my own cereal (and purchase ingredients in bulk), raise my own eggs, and a friend blesses me with goat milk. I hope to get our own goats someday soon!

4. Grow as much food as I can. This is a big jump for us and it may take a year or two to get there, but I'm working toward veggie independence! 

5. When my husband can do so, he's trying to hunt or fish. 

6. By utilizing more cloth items, I'm trying to eliminate the need to purchase as much paper products.

Okay, I just scratched the surface. I know you're a frugal group, so give me your best!


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