M.S. asks from Mansfield, TX on June 12, 2010
Husband Lost Job - Need Money Saving Tips
My husband lost a very good job yesterday and it was a total shock. We have lived comfortably and we have some money in savings. We are already looking for ways to cut back every way we can. I know that some of you mamas have some great ideas. Here is what we are already doing: change tv service (saving $50 a month), changing electric providers, finally going to put some baby stuff we no longer need on Craigslist, and more coupon shopping. I dabble in coupons, but I want to know where most of you get your coupons from - online sites? My husband had also just gotten a membership to Cosco. Is it really worth shopping there or should we drop it and get the money back? You can't use coupons there can you? I am a teacher so we do have my income so the house, cars, and most bills can be paid without dipping into savings. I can pick up insurance through my work, but if I do the whole family it will wipe us out. If I do just me and the kids we can definetely manage. Should I not add my husband (he's got a dr. appt. this week on his old insurance and he's pretty healthy otherwise). My other question is about childcare. I had my kids in two days a week for the summer. We will pull my oldest out (she's starting kindergarten in the fall), but we just put my son in last week. If we pull him out, too, we may not be able to get him back in there if and when my husband finds a job. Should we bite the bullet and leave him in a little longer and decide later on if we need to pull him out?
Please let me know if you have any ideas that could help us save money or any opinions about the insurance or daycare.
So What Happened?™
Thanks for all of the advice. A lot of the things suggested we already do (like eating at home, short showers, etc). But I have already checked out several of the websites mentioned and racked up on some really good coupons. Unfortunately we can't do some of the things mentioned (like get rid of home phone) since my husband's cell was through his work, so now he has nothing. It looks like he will be getting more in unemployment than we first thought so I think we will put him on my insurance and we can leave our son in daycare for just 2 days a week (even when I go back to school). That way my husband can schedule interviews, etc. without worrying about paying a sitter. I am starting to see a silver lining to our situation - we will get to spend a lot of time together as a family this summer and my husband is going to volunteer with me at our kids Vacation Bible School in a couple of weeks. I appreciate all of the ideas and support. It does help to know that lots of people have been through this and there is a way to make things work (and still be a happy family)!
P.M. answers from Dallas on June 15, 2010
CareNOw has a discount card. We needed it when my hubby was out of work and he fell and bruised his ribs. It is something like $18 a month and then a visit is only $68 instead of $115. It was worth it to us. It was nice to have in a pinch. Hubby has since found a decent job with benefits, so we just cancelled it.
G.A. answers from Dallas on June 13, 2010
I have a home day care and I would try to keep the little one in as re enrolling would cost admission fees and or supply fees. I ask two weeks up front so I would try to hang on plus if he likes it there it is a great adjustment to start over. I know if kids leave me I try to fill it as fast as I can. So you are right, you probably could not get him back in. I would cut cell phones if you can. tv is great but I cut it once and there was nothing to watch so then I upgraded again. But it is a big expense. I also have gone with Green Mountain Energy and Atmos and they so far have not cost me an arm and leg as others have. My electric has only been $108 the hightest billl and so far am pleased with them. G. W
D.H. answers from Indianapolis on June 12, 2010
Hi, I've been going through this for a year, but I've been unemployed as well.......
1. Plan your meals, that helps a lot of impulse buying..........I too buy at Sams......
2. Join MyPoints.com..........you can do surveys, but basically you look at ads and they give you points........the more points, the more you can buy.....it doesn't take very long and if you and your hubby do it, you can use them like we do.........I just bought a 25.00 gift card for a restaurant and so did my husband by using our points.....we are going to give them as gifts for a couple of birthdays coming up........you can also get Wal-Mart cards, clothes, you name it, they have a bunch of choices..........it takes a bit of time, and you have to look at the emails, but they have some good deals too.....check it out. They have coupons too and you can get points for using them at the stores as well.
3. Go to www.mccormick.com for recipes and coupons....
4. Check out....www.CouponCabin.com
I could go on, but that should get you started..........We also only eat twice a day.....I fix a BIG breakfast around 8:30 and then we eat dinner around 5......with that said, we have popcorn, or chips, if we get the munchies, the ones that are on sale and cheap....same with cookies........nice snack, and cheap.......
Good Luck and take care.....hopefully we all get jobs soon!
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P.P. answers from Dallas on June 13, 2010
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W.E. answers from Sacramento on June 12, 2010
do a price comparison on your vehicle insurance. we saved a ton by switching to progressive for our trailer and boat and geico for our vehicles. see if there is a WinCo grocery store near you. WinCo and Walmart are typically the cheapest. Costco is great if you have a large family, having to buy and store large volumes of product at one time does not work for us. you can save a ton on cleaning products if you use what they used in the old days...vinegar, baking soda, borax, citrus peels. google how to use them if your not familiar. I have a book called "Miserly Moms. Living on One Income in a Two Income World" by Jonni McCoy. she has a lot of recipes for home made cleaners, stuff for the kids to play with (my son loves the monster goo and shaving cream paint), all kinds of tips. If you can manage it, maybe by saving enough money cutting back, I would seriously consider adding your husband to the insurance. Hospitals are going under because of people's inability to pay, and they are a lot tougher to get to consider hardship status. a big medical bill will wipe you out for sure. good luck!
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P.W. answers from San Francisco on June 12, 2010
About Costco -- it's really great if you have 4 or more people in your family. The savings on some items are really worth it. If you get the $100 membership -- I don't remember what it's called, it's more money up front but you get enrolled in the cash back program, which will pay you back after the end of the year, and will usually reimburse the cost of the membership plus give you another hundred or two, depending on how much you spend.
In this job market -- childcare seems like a luxury, unless it's really necessary.
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K.B. answers from Dallas on June 13, 2010
I have not shopped much at Costco, but I have shopped a lot at Sam's over the years and personally, I do not think it is worth it for groceries. My husband gets a membership to both through work and he loves Costco for things like tires, big ticket items, etc. It is not convenient to me to go there for groceries. If you had a really large family and needed to buy in bulk, then maybe Sam's or Costco would work, but I found most items at Sam's to be MORE expensive than Walmart. Like at Sam's you can get two large bags of name brand chips for $7. Big deal! They are regularly on sale at Walmart for that or less and I don't have to buy two bags when I only need one. Yes, you can buy a huge container of Heinz Ketchup for much cheaper than the same quantity in smaller containers, but do you really need, want or have room for a huge container of Ketchup? Do you really want TWO family size boxes of Cheerios? (My husband believes that when we have bought in bulk on items like toilet paper or paper towels, that we tend to use them less conservatively, because we have so much.) You really have to bargain shop and compare the prices. You cannot assume that Costco will be cheaper on most items. But you also have to consider your time and gas, so you shouldn't be going to three different stores to buy everything. I have found Walmart to be the BEST deal on most items and they will honor other stores sale prices. Most grocery stores have door busters on certain items like soda or ice cream, but make up for it on other items. Take the store flyers that you get in the mail and Walmart will honor those prices plus take coupons. I have been really pleased with most of their store brand items also, which are much cheaper than name brand.
Shop at Thrift Stores, Resale Shops, or Garage Sales for kids clothing, toys, etc. You will be amazed at some of the deals you will find. When my husband was unemployed and my kids were babies, I would shop garage sales to buy all of their toys and clothes for next to nothing. Then I accidently discovered Thrift Stores and am hooked on them. It is harder to find things for older kids, but especially for little girls, there is usually a lot of nice things. I even began buying stuff for me and my husband! My kids were always well dressed, even when my husband was out of work, because of this. People would compliment them all the time on cute outfits and I would just smile and think, "I only paid $2 for that outfit!"
Insurance is a gamble. We went for several years without any insurance and we were lucky. We have never met our deductible, so it seemed a safe bet. Then we got a policy that had a very high deductible, but was much cheaper monthly. It was just basically a safeguard for a catastrophe. That is a personal decision that you have to make. You might also need to consider the new Health care stuff. I am not up on all the ins and outs, but it could be that if he is uninsured for several years, he will not be able to opt back into private health insurance and will be required to do the National Healthcare. Just something to consider and check into.
Please remember that this is very devastating to your husband and his ego. For most men, more so than women, their self worth is tied up in their job. He is very likely to go through some depression and difficult times. Try to be encouraging and supportive. It is hard, because there may be times when he seems to be goofing off or not doing all he could to get another job and you will be very frustrated. Hang in there! Avoid making comments to friends or even to your husband about having to save money - just do it and don't through it in his face on a daily basis. Best of luck and hopefully he will be employed again soon!
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M.B. answers from Dallas on June 12, 2010
I'm in the midst of this myself (a single mother with no job since March, although fortunately I've got a couple good offers on the table right now). As far as insurance, if your husband qualifies for COBRA, depending upon your income, he can get a big discount on that due to a law passed by Obama:
Otherwise, your idea is good - i.e., insure the kids through your work. I chose not to do the COBRA because I figured I could find a job within a reasonable timeframe and my income level excludes me from taking advantage of the subsidy. If your husband has any Rx drugs he takes regularly, then make sure he gets 3 mos. worth filled before he loses insurance. Also, the rules of Flexible spending accounts allow you to get reimbursed for the full amount that would be taken out of his paycheck for the whole year. You can use that for alot of OTC products, so I stocked up on those and Rxes before I lost both my insurance and FSA. The biggest thing you should be worrying about is making sure your husband has life insurance if his coverage was through work. Also, look into whether you can get life insurance for him through your work. I did not do this because I felt that I have enough in savings/401K and my sons' father is financially stable enough that if something did happen to me, they would be okay financially. If this is not your case, then you really need to do this ASAP.
I would suggest you leave your son in childcare. Even if your husband does not have a job by the fall, looking for work is a fulltime job in itself and he can't be expected to take care of your son. Also, I hope that you are already taking advantage of the childcare deduction of up to $5000. If that was coming out of hubby's paycheck make sure and add it to yours if you can.
As far as saving money, Costco can be cheaper for some produce, in particular organic and some other products, but you really do need to shop around and keep track of the prices at various stores for the products you buy most regularly. Costco has store coupons out regularly. As far as food, most coupons are not for the healthiest of foods - i.e., most of the time they are for processed foods. You can actually save money (and improve your overall health) by removing processed foods from your diet. Boxed cereals are the biggest ripoff. You can buy oats in bulk and make oatmeal - if you cook in bulk, you can easily reheat on the stovetop (just add extra water) or in the microwave. Eggs are a great source of nutrition and still very inexpensive. Costco has the large bags of organic carrots - those are great snacks. They have large packages of organic raisins as well as other organic dried fruits. They also have good prices on bananas and pineapple. The price of their organic chicken is reasonable and they have a good variety of fish quite often. On days when you need a quick and easy dinner, their roast chickens are quite reasonable - $4.99 I think. Costco has the large containers of organic salad mix for the same price everyone else charges for the smaller ones.
For dried and canned food products, I take advantage of my Target visa - I get a 10% coupon for one shopping trip for each $1000 I spend. You can usually get 15% off one shopping trip when you apply for the card. I use this to stock up on things like canned salmon, rice, dried beans, etc. And, on this topic rice and beans provides alot of nutrition for very little money. You can stretch your meat by also serving beans with the meal. Also, stir fries with meat and veggies can stretch the meat - serve that over rice.
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C.B. answers from Dallas on June 13, 2010
first off - give your hubby a big hug and you guys hold on to each other as you go through this! Then you two need to sit down together(with no kids) and make a budget. Write down everything you need to spend your money on for the month- starting with what is most important. ie: Food, lights, house, car etc. then write out(starting at the top) how much you need to spend for each until all your money is put to work. We have been in a tight crunch before- we have 1 paid for car, 1 cell phone(because the land line was actually more expensive) no cable, and no extra activities(like soccer, baseball or dance). For fun we go to the park, play board/video games, rent movies(or get them at the library) grow a garden and have friends over.
If you haven't listened to Dave Ramsey- I strongly suggest you check out his web site or his radio show(570am from 1-4pm) He has great advice for getting out of debt and for dealing with emergencies like job loss.
Good luck and God bless!
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J.M. answers from Boston on June 12, 2010
Wow - are you me? I'm also a teacher, my husband lost his job in april, we have kids the same age, etc. Thankfully, my husband is starting a new job in August; I wish you the same speedy turnaround.
As for money saving tips, I just strongly advise to "shop smart" I was never able to save that much with coupons, but just by cutting back on meat and chicken we cut our grocery bill by a lot. Same thing with really comparison shopping for things like cereal. Also, you can cut your electric bill by a bunch by line drying your clothes (if that's worth it to you - I really like line drying).
I would ABSOLUTELY include your husband on your insurance. It would be worth it even if you have to dip into savings a little. Heaven forbid something happen to him - if you didn't have insurance it would destroy you financially. Car accident. Slip n' fall. Unforseen medical problem. These things happen. Just not worth the risk, in my opinion.
Also, re: childcare, I would keep the little one in. But you might want to check and see if your daycare has a "right of first refusal" policy. You could ask if you could pull him for the summer BUT if someone else wants the spot they ask you first and you get first dibs on the spot for September. My center has this, but they don't really advertise it. That might be a way to save some money for the summer. But otherwise, if you like your center, it's not worth losing the space.
Good luck. I totally get how stressful this is. I hope he finds something soon.
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