I don’t like using government assistance. I want to be a self sufficient individual, work hard for my money, and pay my debts. I think many people feel the same way that I do. There are times, however, when I have needed to learn a little humility and seek the help that is luckily available to me.
Medical Care While Pregnant
Nothing screams financial emergency like having a new baby. This counts double when you don’t have health insurance. It doesn’t matter if you are a student, married, single, or unemployed. The joy of this occasion can be marred by the worries that come with medical expenses. Getting in touch with a pregnancy center is a good way to find out what medical benefits you can qualify for with the state. It will keep you out of thousands of dollars of debt and ensure you and your little one get the quality of medical care you need.
To Feed Our Children
When we are students and/or newlyweds our diets may not be the best. We live off instant noodles and celebrate the good paychecks by ordering pizza. As adults we know that it’s not a healthy way to live, but often groceries are the sacrifice that gets made in our financial decisions. When we become parents this just doesn’t work anymore. Children need the right nutrients to grow and rely on us as their guardians to provide healthy meals. It’s for this reason we find a way to humble ourselves to use the tools that the state provides for us (like the WIC program) to feed our children.
No Other Way
When you have lost your job, are struggling to get anywhere near paying rent, behind on bills, family is unable to help out it may be time to realize it’s time for help. This is actually the reason many state programs were developed. They had the truly struggling in mind. Take advantage of these programs until you can get back on your own feet.
Most of us like it when the pantry is full. Having a good stock of groceries is on the to do list of most people I know. The problem with stocking up on food can be keeping it fresh while you aren’t using it.
It’s terrible to look forward to eating some potato chips through the day. Then you open them up, take a bite…and they are stale. The flavor has disappeared. It’s almost like eating greasy, cheap cardboard. Instead of dealing with this disappointment, try putting your chips in the freezer. They remain crunchy and the flavor lasts longer.
Cereal kept in the fridge takes months to go stale. I know this from experience. It doesn’t matter if it’s Cheerios or Corn Flakes. It doesn’t matter if they are in a box or in a bag. As long as your container is closed the cereal doesn’t go stale. I have kept these products in the fridge for two months, and still had a great bowl of cereal when I chose to eat it.
Having a large freezer that you keep in the house or in the garage is a great way to stock up on meat and have it last a long time. Just make sure that it’s packaged correctly to reduce the risk of freezer burn. It’s also important to date your meat and use what you first bought first.
Meat isn’t the only product that can be frozen for a rainy day. Bread products and milk can last quite a while when frozen. Bread products can include hot dog and hamburger buns as well as sandwich bread. One bread product I wouldn’t leave in the freezer would be tortillas. It has, in my experience, left them wet and pasty. They stick together. They aren’t great to eat. It’s better to keep tortillas in a dry, sealed container.
Few costs can be more daunting than hospital bills. They are high even with insurance! Some people don’t know what to expect. Others even avoid getting medical treatment because they fear the cost. It is important to get the care you need and many hospitals want to make your care possible.
Call The Insurance Company
The insurance company is able to explain how much money is needed to pay as a deductible. They are also able to explain what percentage of hospital costs are your responsibility to pay. This helps us be able to better prepare and plan how to pay our hospital bills. If you have two types of insurance (a primary and a secondary) you will need to know how much each company will be paying and what cost that leaves you. It’s important to make sure that you and these companies are all on the same page.
Talk To The Hospital
Hospital expenses can be broken down in a number of ways. There are physician expenses and actual hospital stay expenses. They can tell you the actual price of these services. They can also tell you how to contact the services that they either outsource or don’t have costs for. They don’t just help you get your financial planning together, they can also register you for planned procedures so you don’t need to fill out paper work while going into labor or surgery.
In some medical cases you aren’t sure how much medical care you may need. In cases of pregnancy there may or may not be a cesarean or epidural. When it comes to dental you may need to be asleep. Other times a numbing agent will work fine. In either case, there are costs that you may or may not have to pay but won’t know until the event happens. In these cases it is best to plan as though you will be paying for these services. It’s better to plan for more than you will need to pay than not have saved enough money to pay.
I want to be able to improve my way of life and I know that the best way to do that is through education. I have a family, a job, and a limited amount of time and money to get that education. That doesn’t mean that I can’t still get the information that I want. CourseEra.org has two classes coming up that I have signed up for to help me take more control over my financial life. These classes are free unless you want to get the verified certificate of completion. Even those only cost about fifty dollars per class.
Personal and Family Financial Planning
This class helps us understand personal finance topics. There is a week on budget management tools. There is a week on taxes. There is even a week we will be studying investments. These are all things that I would like to know more about as I make a plan for my family’s and mine financial future. This class starts August twentieth and runs for eight weeks. If you aren’t getting the verified certificate, glean what information you have time for or what you want to learn more about week by week. You don’t have to learn every detail to learn more than you know now!
Enhance Your Career and Employability Skills
This class starts on May twenty seventh and last for six weeks. I know what I have to offer a job I want to apply for, but sometimes I have difficulty articulating that to the person interviewing me. This class can help me with that. It breaks down how to make a good impression. It also has a week about networking and building relationships that can help you in your work life.
The best part of both of these classes is that neither really require other classes or background experience to participate in them. Just sign up and work with them after the kids are in bed or on a lunch breaks. Free is a good price for learning financial skills!
Some people claim that using certain brand names helps them save money. Others swear that brand name items are the financial devil. I like to keep my opinion somewhere in the middle. Some brand names are so high quality they are worth their cost. Others would be foolish to buy. Here are a few ways we discern between the two.
Some products come with loyalty points. The two Point products I collect are from Coke and from Huggies. I have redeemed Coke points for magazines and a few gift cards to either restaurants or stores. Huggies points can be used to get free toys or childre’sn books. When choosing to go with a certain brand it’s best to see what perks can go along with staying true to your brand. If there are none, perhaps it’s time to see if another brand does.
We use some brands because other brands aren’t just less expensive. They are cheap. They fall apart, don’t taste right, or were made of the least expensive materials. Most store brands are just as good (and sometimes better) than the big name brands. Every now and the,n however, we come across a name brand that is worth every extra penny. Some of these items have been kitty litter, diapers, and soy milk. It’s great to try new items, just in case it is better than the name brand item that you purchase, but be sure not to spend more trying new things that don’t work rather than keeping to a tried and true name brand.
Coupons and Smaller Amounts
Some items that we buy wouldn’t be quite as expensive if we used the tools available to us. For example, if you can find a coupon for a product you usually use it would save you money to use it. Another trick is to buy brand name items in smaller amounts. How little can you get away with? This works particularly well with treat items like chips or chocolate. Not only will you save money and still get your snack, you will also most likely keep it to a more healthy serving size.
I love living in this modern age. Gone are the days that we had to go outside to the outhouse to use the restroom. No more do we have to go out to the well or river to get our water. We have climate control in our homes… and we have homes! Modern life is good.
With that said, I also think it’s important to remember how to live without modern conveniences. You never know when it may become a useful tool for you and your family.
Don’t Go Disposable
This one seems fairly normal until you think of all the disposable items we use in our lives. We aren’t just talking about paper towels or cloth diapers. There are female hygiene products, baby wipes, and even toilet paper. In this day in age it seems crazy to even consider using a reusable product in place of these items. Instead imagine the money that can be saved buying these items. In a month we spend at least $110 dollars on disposable items that get flushed away or thrown away. This isn’t including the cost of garbage removal.
Using items that can be used over and over again may mean that your amount of laundry will go up. It also means buying the items and having a proper place to store them when they are clean or soiled. These, however, are often a one time expenses that pay for themselves within the first two months.
Yes, you can grow a garden and, in the right living setting, keep a goat and a few chickens for milk, eggs, and meat, but that’s not foraging. Foraging is when you go out and find food in the wild… or at least at a park. Doing this requires knowledge of edible plants and berries. It also requires a recognition of plants that are dangerous, not just a passing knowledge, but a certain knowledge of these topics. It’s also important to have an understanding of what certain wild herbs can do medically.
It’s also good to know what the community does regarding the area you are foraging. If you choose to forage in a place like a public park, know if they are sprayed with chemicals as part of their upkeep. Some places I have lived use fruit trees as decoration near sidewalks and roads. It’s important to know what the laws are regarding harvesting from these trees.
I’m talking about never buying anything that you can make. Make your own clothes, non disposable items, or even toys for children. Sometimes materials can be costly, but often the scraps can be used for something else. Learning to make certain items at the very least teaches us to be more self sufficient. You will almost always be able to give a unique gift with the skill you have learned. Most of all in times of financial hardship your skill can even save a good deal of money.
What old-fashioned ways do you use to save money?
Water is reported to be two thirds of the Earth. We have large oceans, flowing rivers, water that runs under ground. If that weren’t enough, it also falls from the sky. In spite of all this, water can be precious during times of drought and need to be saved. Let’s not forget it can also be very expensive to have water running to our homes. There are a few ways that we can save both water and money.
A leaky faucet or running toilet isn’t just an annoyance when you’re trying to get to sleep. It can also be an expensive little problem. Learn where you are able to turn off the water in your apartment or house until you can get in permanently fixed. Try to get the leak or toilet fixed as soon as possible. Not doing so could either run up your water bill or cause your apartment to change its policy on covering the water bill.
Water Filtration System
It’s enough to pay for the water that comes to your apartment. Do you really want to pay for bottled water as well? It’s good to get a water filtration system. Britta and Pur aren’t the only systems out there anymore. There are generic, less expensive options. It is also wise to carry a water bottle for each family member with you when you are out around town. You will know the water is clean and it will reduce the amount of bottled water that you will buy at gas stations and grocery stores. With that said, you may want to keep a little bottled water in stock at home, in case of emergency when the tap water is unavailable or unsafe.
Little tricks around the home can also save a good deal of money. For example, hanging a clothes line over the garden can water the garden and dry your clothes without spending money on energy or water. Instead of having a lawn, try having a rock garden. Using left over shower water combined with cleaning agents could clean your home just fine. Taking showers and limiting shower time can save a great deal of water and money. Even putting a brick in the tank of your toilet could reduce the amount of water that your toilet uses and save you money.
How do you save water and money in your home?
One of the more expensive grocery items that we have on our list is meat. While an important part of our diet, it can be unhealthy for our budget. For this reason we have found a few ways to save money on meat while still being able to enjoy it in our diet.
Canned fish and chicken are far less expensive than buying it from the chilled meat department. Canned meat in a chicken or tuna helper saves money. One can is the amount usually used per box. If canned meat just isn’t for you or your family, you can also try frozen skillet meals. These usually come with their own meat and cook up as fast as a chicken helper meal. These meal ideas don’t just save money when buying meat. They also save time at the end of a busy day and still give the family a well rounded meal.
Buying freezable meat in bulk is another way to save money on meat, so long as I am willing to put the effort in when we get the meat. I often get a large package of chicken thighs or legs. When I get home I divide the chicken into sets of three (the number of people eating in my family) and put each set into freezer bags. I then write the date I bought the meat onto the bag and toss them in the freezer. Doing this with one package of meat has kept our family stocked for two weeks. Doing this save us from freezer burn and wasted meat. It also helps provide portion control for those who just recently stopped cooking for a larger group.
A Meatless Day
Many families have instituted a meat free day. This means that we buy and use less meat. It can also be a little healthier for our bodies as well as our pocketbooks. This doesn’t mean that we avoid protein for a day. We could have a nice split pea soup or a meatless chili. We could even make it a stove free night, serving salads or other cold meals. If a meatless night isn’t for you or your family, instead try a leftover night. This will save you money on meat, reduce waste, and the food will only need to be heated up saving you time, too.