A comment was left of my post entitled If I Had A Million Dollars by Darcey on August 31 that inspired this post. I decided to turn her comment into a reader advice so chime in if you want to.
Darcey wrote: “Hi Sandy. I am sure you get this all the time. But I am a struggling mother or 4 with debt coming out of my ears. My husband is a small town police officer and I work part time medical billing. I am begging you for $$. I am so afraid we will lose our house and have no where to go with our four kids. They are 8,6,4 and 2. It would be so nice to be able to provide them the basic necessities. I know this is probably ridiculous to you, but I thought I would try. Congratulations and all the best to you and your family.”
At first, I couldn’t understand why someone would post a comment on this blog where I am clearly trying to get out of my own debt nightmare asking for money. It wasn’t until Revanche from A Gai Shan Life pointed out that the comment was on that specific post and that Darcey had probably misunderstood the post and thought that I really did have $1 million laying around that I looked at it from another angle. It’s clear that there are millions of American living in the same situation that Darcey is. They are working decent jobs but might be underemployed and are having a hard time making ends meet. This is clearly why things like extreme couponing has become so popular. People are trying hard to stretch their dollars and don’t know where to turn.
Since I’m also in the same situation and am fighting the good fight against debt, I decided to respond directly to Darcey here and would love for you to give your advice as well.
Darcey, I am sorry to hear that you are struggling, but you are a two income family of five and I am a one income family of four. While I’d love to help you financially, unfortunately this entire blog is about me trying to make extra money to get out of debt. So, with that in mind I do have some suggestions that might help you. Trust, me I’ve tried lots of different ways to both save and make money and you can find information on all of these things on my site pretty much in the Save Money and Make Money categories:
- Children’s clothing is expensive. Do clothing swaps with other moms.
- Food is expensive.
Shop on sale and buy store brands. Len Penzo proved that they are just as good if not better and much less expensive.
Cooking as much of your meals as possible
Bag the childrens’ lunches and your husband’s too
Apply for the Federal school lunch program for the kids
Apply for SNAP (food stamps) or WIC for the youngest.
- Reduce your gas expenses by carpooling the kids, combining trips and applying other gas saving techniques.
- Cancel things that you might not need including cable TV. Kevin shows you how to live without it and Money Cone shows you how to avoid early termination fees when you do cancel cable.
- You might be overpaying for cell phone service. My plan costs me $29.99 with tax because I don’t use it much. Lots of plans have unlimited everything for $50. Switch! If that fails and you’ve been a loyal customer, call you provider and ask for their often unadvertised cheaper plans. They will often work with you to keep you.
- Consider ditching your home phone or switching to something like Magic Jack. My mom dropped her home long distance and now uses the Magic Jack for all of her long distance calls. When I travel internationally I take one with me and all of my calls back home are “local” and FREE!
- Scale back your living accommodations. If you’re in a 3 bedroom apartment, can you made do with 2? If you live in your own home can you make changes to reduce your carrying costs such as asking for a new tax assessment since property values have fallen all across the nation but tax assessments, strangely, are still inflated. Also, considering selling your home and renting.
- Play the CVS extra care game by buying stuff that you need. With three kids, you’ll need lots of stuff.
- Do a no-spend challenge where you try to not spend anything for a day, a week or even a month.
- Visit the Penny Saver at the Saved Quarter and for even more ideas. She’s in the very same boat that you’re in.
Make More Money
You can only cut the fat so much. Here’s the hard truth: YOU MIGHT NOT BE MAKING ENOUGH TO SUPPORT YOUR FAMILY. You might not like them, but here are some suggestions to make more.
- Your husband needs to make more.
If your husband’s job allows, he might need to get a second job, perhaps as a security guard. He should also try to pick up some more shifts by covering for others or seeing how to advance to a higher pay grade.
- You need to make more. You either need to pick up more jobs as a freelancer or if you commute into work and put the kids into daycare, you should see if you could work from home.
- Get a job as a virtual assistant from home. I just had a profile on someone that does work for me and there are lots of others making a side income from home as well at places like oDesk.
- Enter online giveaways. I’ve won more giveaways this year than in my entire life, combined. Why? I just simply enter more. There are lots of mom bloggers and financial bloggers literally giving away money, prizes and gift cards all the time. Go to twitter and do a search for #giveaway and see what comes up!
- Do some legitimate “get-paid-to” things. I did lots for Cash Crate and walked away with a decent check for over $65 one month. The advice is as good now as it was then.
- Do you have a spare bedroom or basement that you can legally rent out? Check out Mike at Renting out Rooms for advice on that.
- If your kids are in day care, is it actually costing you money to work and have the youngest one in daycare? Do the math and figure out if you should be working or not. You might actually be better off if you live on one paycheck if daycare costs eat up your pay.
- Have you trolled Craigslist for things to do? Short-term gigs pop up all the time. I’ve hired people to cut my grass and do other things right off of Craigslist.
- You have have stuff laying around your house that you can get rid of? Sell that stuff off either on Craiglist or eBay. If you’re not using it, it should go.
- Hold a yard sale. September is a great time to make a little bit of extra cash right from your garage.
One thing that you’ll notice that I did not include as asking people on the internet for money. It won’t work. These days everyone is wary of scammers, spammers and schemers. Even if your story is legitimate people want to help, they might be limited by not knowing you. Also, I believe quite a bit in pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps. I think that it builds character and a sense of pride when you look back and see what you’ve been able to accomplish. But I also believe in giving everyone that asks for it a hand up. I wish you the best of luck.
Finance bloggers, do you have any advice for Darcey?