Monday, September 13, 2010

Fighting the Blahs

I wasn't expecting this severe an economic downturn in my own household so soon. We were coping with our current jobs and chipping away at our debt to the point that I could see it being gone within a few months. We had no idea my husbands hours would drop so severely. It really hit home recently when I put our checks in the bank. His was $37.00 for two weeks. Granted that will be the worst one since hours have picked up since those bad two weeks, but he is still scheduled for no more than twenty four hours.

I've gone in when others call out at work, so I've added a bit to my check. We have been super frugal in order to make ends meet. I bring lunches from home, and cook all of our meals from scratch. My husband doesn't need to bring a lunch as he is only scheduled for three hours a day. We do not go shopping much normally but now we don't go at all. Even groceries are really thought about now. I make sure the bills are payed before I buy juice and popcorn. Micro-frugality is practiced where I plan out each little expenditure.

We still enjoy one anothers company, read, and well we obviously still have all the American basics electricity, Internet, a car... We will survive. I'm glad we have these skills that enable us to live normally when our income has been so damaged. My husband was discouraged when he looked in the Sunday classifieds and there were no jobs. None that he qualified for anyway. Something will fall into place for us, it always does.

I was on the phone with a friend the other day who does make use of "the system" for medical reasons, plus she has children and honestly cannot work at this time. She asked me why I haven't applied for food stamps. I told her that my dad had gifted my husband and I with an IRA, plus I had a little savings. From my understanding you have to be rock bottom and have no savings at all. I once knew a woman who lost her job and became divorced and was very nearly homeless but was turned down because she had a newer vehicle. The social worker told her to sell her car (which she needed to find work!) and come back and reapply.

My friend seeing no other alternative said, "Can't you make that IRA disappear?" I gently explained to her that I'd rather be micro-frugal for a while until better opportunities show themselves. Programs are in place to help people who need it. The families that come to rely on assistance for generations must feel a sense of hopelessness and not see a way out of it. They may come to see it as a normal part of their permanent lives. I would turn to temporary help if needed, however, we're not there yet.


  1. You are SO SMART and SO WISE, me love.

    I so admire your attitude; you seem to understand on a gut level that 'this, too, shall pass' and I betcha a nickel you and your husband will emerge from this financial crisis as better people. You do have things for which to be grateful-power, for example. And one another!

    It is an honor to sit in your circle. I would love to meet you two one day when gas is not so pricey and expendable income is not so hard to come by!


  2. Hi,

    just wanted to let you know that IRA and other retirement plans are not counted as resources for SNAP. See this link for confirmation:

    Good Luck!

  3. WP: I love your phrase about micro-frugality. I am going to use it at some point!

    I just got my hours cut due to lack of projects and tighter funding (I am an "independent contractor"). So I have been practicing micro-frugality. Like you, I know we will get by and come out of this, but it is going to be a lot tighter at a time when I could use some "give" in the schedule and finances.

  4. Connie, thank you, it's always a pleasure when you stop by.

    Elizabeth, thank you for the correction. I do sometimes make assumptions or listen to other friends assumptions and take them as fact. :) We'll be fine though.

    April, my micro-frugal independent contractor friend, hang in there.

  5. If there's a food bank in your area, see if DH could volunteer there. These places are often in need of extra hands.
    Not only will you get some extra food this way (some of it canned or otherwise shelf-stable so you can build a pantry), you'll hear some stories that make you feel even more grateful for what you have.

  6. Whoever told you that bit about the car is a liar. You're permitted one vehicle when applying for food stamps, regardless of value.

    Apply for them--the worst that can happen is you'll be turned down. It'll only take a few hours to do it, too.

  7. Donna Freedman, thanks for stopping by. That is a very good idea. One upside to the downturn in work is we are getting all of our projects done around our home that we kept putting off. I'm greatful for the time we have.

    Anonymous, this was an older coworker who told me a story from her past and it was a new car she had purchased in better times. She seemed truthful, perhaps there was more to the story.

  8. Anonymous, I double checked just to make sure I was giving you an honest answer. I don't qualify. :)

  9. Me again. If it's kosher to post URLs, may I suggest these articles from my MSN Money "Living With Less" archives?
    1. Freelancing opportunities (and NOT just writing/editing):
    2. Moonlighting tips from the pros:
    3. A financial fire drill (aka, basic budgeting/survival budget -- although you may live like this already):
    4. Basic services, part 1 (you may qualify for a free cell phone, believe it or not):
    5. Basic services, part 2:
    Sending positive thoughts your way.

  10. Has your husband applied for unemployment? The first week you have to sit out, but after that anytime your income is lower then their requirements they will pay you and you can apply for it and they pay. We have had to use it quite a bit in the last couple of years and it sure helps.

    Keep up the great work.

  11. Donna, thanks for the links. Hey I read a few of these already. :) Great work!

    Renita, we've been meaning to gather check stubs and see if there is such a thing as partial unemployment for his reduced hours. As you may have guessed my husband and I are both battling the same condition.... procrastination.

  12. i don't know where u live but in Philly u can buy food stamps for .50 on the dollar.