Archive for October, 2008

Making Calls and Making Plans

Tuesday, October 7th, 2008

This weekend, the partner and I brainstormed a bit to figure out how to work the numbers so that we can stay afloat for a while longer. So far the current plan is to reduce fixed expenses as much as possible, reduce variable expenses as much as possible, and stop eating (oh wait, that’s not a serious idea.. but one we considered just the same).

We’re planing on bringing in $500+ less per month than we were before. I worked up the number for all of our fixed expenses that must be paid – mortgage, debt payments, utilities, insurance, etc — and that alone came out to more than what will be coming in. That didn’t take into consideration anything like food or gasoline. So, I think that was what the partner needed to see; finally my testament to the severity of our current situation finally made a little more sense. So one step is that we’re trimming where we can.

Yesterday I made a call.. in fact, I made a lot of calls.

I called our internet company because our rate had gone from 19.99/month to 39.99/month. I did my best to argue that down but didn’t get anywhere. But I did get the concession that I could call back in 90 days to re-request the lower rate; originally the woman had said I had to wait 6 months to call. So, that date is on my calendar to call back. Savings: $0/month

I call my home phone company. Their rate had been creeping up and it was already on my to-do list, now I had motivation to do it. This was the longest call of the day, probably taking about an hour to complete. While I was on hold, twice I forgot who it was I was calling. But I argued a bit and got the rate reduced along with some extra I really didn’t care about. Savings: $6/month

Balance Transfer. I don’t care much for credit card games, but I needed to get our monthly debt payments down a little bit. I actually called all four of our companies. The company with the best rate (5%) never spams us with offers but I called to see what they could do. They had the same offer as everyone else, but without a cap on the balance transfer fee — next call! Ended up transferring the balance from our highest interest rate card (17%) to our second lowest card (7%). This is a temporary band aid, it doesn’t really help us get above ground, as it just lets us continue treading water. But, it’s what we’re going to do for now. Savings: $300/month

We’ll also emptying our local storage shed and moving all of those items to Bowie. Savings: $145/month

We’d already canceled our plans to attend an annual camping event that is happening this weekend. We also nixed the idea of driving the daughter down to a soccer tournament 5 hours away as well. Luckily, we did find someone else for her to go with and my mom volunteered to send money with her — otherwise, the daughter would still be staying home as the cost would be too much even without the hotel stays.

When I looked at our numbers last month, I realized how much I’d been wasting on eating out. I’m please to say that we have basically eliminated that expense – having spent less than $20 eating out in the past 3 weeks – once a small special occasion funded by bake cookie sales and the other when we were out all day from 10am – 10pm and failed to plan ahead to bring food with. We’re getting much better at making sure to bring food with us while we are out.

Our dinners are getting much less elaborate and so far that has the support of everyone in the household. Eggs are a pretty big part of our diet now thanks to our 9 laying hens. We’re also doing more meatless meals and bean dishes. But, this also means that the quality of our meals is going down a little, so I’m trying to figure out how to still eat as cheaply as possible while still eating healthy.

To increase income, the partner plans to sell off more of his ‘stuff’ – this should work out to about $500/month in income for the next few months. And I’ll get more help from him for working on business stuff which should also bring in about $500/month in income as well. And the partner is working on his resume and looking for other employment options. A 15% pay cut hurts but losing his job will hurt even more and it seems obvious that is a probability on the horizon.

Also, clearing out debt is topping the priority list as well. We realize that we may end up using credit in the near future if pushed to it. But we also realize that debt has to be eliminated for us to make any real financial progress in the future.

Could you handle losing 15% of your income tomorrow?

Friday, October 3rd, 2008

How much of a hardship would instantly losing 15% of your income pose? How would you react if you were already struggling to make ends meet and had finally worked out a way to barely squeak by, how would this news affect you then?

I’m not really sure what my answers are because I’m still in shock. Come Monday, the partner’s company is striking 15% off everyone’s salary as yet another last-ditch effort to help them survive their financial crisis. The good news is supposed to be that we he still has a job, but at the moment, that isn’t cheering me up every much. 15% is a substantial chunk of our monthly budget that was already stretched way too thin. Also, I’d finally worked out a plan that trimmed off all the fat and kept us just within our means, and that was by cutting out everything I could think to cut. Now what?

We had a brief family meeting tonight about it and I’m really worried. I’m worried because I feel like I’m the only one that really sees what a giant issue this is. Tomorrow, the partner and I will sit down with the numbers because he says he needs to see them to understand the severity of the situation. The severity is, that a 15% reduction in income isn’t wiping out ‘luxuries’ (those were already wiped out), it wipes out gas money, grocery money, the electric bill, the heating bill. This isn’t a matter of eating out less, sadly.

Okay, sigh, breath. This will work out, somehow, this will work out. I need to go sew because I need my sewing business to not only bring in no only my conservative estimates to help us get by, but now it also needs to cover this short fall we’re facing too.