My husband, son, and I are moving in a month. We will be without an income for the entire winter. We own this house. Once we move, this house will be put up for sale, but until it is sold, we will need to keep the utilities on here. The house and store we bought both need quite a bit of work, which we will do ourselves. We never eat out, we all have all the clothes we need to last until next winter, and we shop frugally at the grocery store. What are some ways we can further cut down? We will have roughly $20,000 to last us until this house is sold or our business is ready to be opened this coming summer. This has to cover moving expenses (we are only taking what can fit into one moving van), living expenses, utilities for two places, car insurance, monthly loan payment of $500, child support of $105 per month, and repairs on the house and business. Any ideas will be appreciated.
One suggestion I have is to shop around for the best deal on car and/or homeowner's insurance. Often times, great deals can be found when combining the two or just carefully comparing offers for them individually. Recently, my husband and I switched insurance companies and were able to get significantly better coverage for less money than we were paying our previous company. In addition to his own professional knowledge, our insurance agent has a computer program that he used to help us figure out the best deal as well as what additional discounts for which we were eligible.
Elaine in NC
After asking around for references about realtors, put the house up for sale immediately. Check the site of the realtor, making sure they do an excellent job of showcasing their properties. Then help them out. Read the article by Kathy Wilson, "5 Frugal Fall Fix Ups for Your Home Decorating" . Have soothing music on, candles burning, and cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg stewing in a pan on the stove when the house is shown. Better still, have a pie in the oven or bread in the breadmaker. Serve prospective buyers hot tea or fresh coffee, and welcome them into your home. Obviously, make sure the house is clean. This works!
Bev in Arkansas
I have a few ideas that might help you get through the winter without any income. First of all, could you temporarily rent out your present home, or have someone housesit for you with the understanding that all utility costs are their responsibility? If this is an option, you might look for someone through the Caretaker Gazette, a wonderful publication that advertises housesitting opportunities, as well as people seeking housesitting opportunities. I believe that you can access them at Caretaker.org.
Also, do you have the SHARE food co-op program available to you? This is a nonprofit co-op widely available in the U.S. and in some foreign countries as well. Check the white business pages of your phone book, or inquire at a local church. You do not have to meet any income requirements in order to qualify for it, and you will realize very substantial savings from participating.
Lastly, perhaps you could barter for the groceries and other items that you need during the winter. Can you offer childcare, house cleaning, tutoring, or any other type of service? You might be able to trade your services, or any of the goods that you are going to get rid of, to cover any expenses that you will have. If you are moving near a major city, check out Craig's List online and look under the barter column. You can also advertise your services or goods for sale free of charge.
Finally, check with your local utility companies, both in your present location as well as the new one, to see if they will put you on budget billing. This is a system whereby the company looks at the typical amount spent every year, divides it by 12, and gives you a fixed payment due every month. This is an excellent way to avoid huge monthly utility bills during the winter.
With the holidays upon us, what comes to mind immediately is have a homemade holiday. Make your gifts. Do what you are good at. Make jellies and jams or make muffin and soup mixes and package in jars made pretty with ribbons and bows. Give someone a scrapbook of memories. You get the idea. The time and effort put forth for these kinds of gifts far outweigh going to the store a purchasing something that the person may not want, may not fit or may be the wrong color.
The first thing that comes to mind is to keep the utilities at minimum in the house you are not using. You don't need to keep it warm and cozy during the winter. You just need to keep the pipes from freezing. Turn your thermostat all the way down. Depending on how long the house is expected to be on the market, you may want to turn the water off and drain the water lines inside the house. Make sure you shut down the water heater. Sometimes pipes just break. A broken pipe can cause a lot of damage, particularly if you are not there and it runs for a week before anyone sees it. Also, clean out and then unplug any refrigerators and freezers you are keeping with the house. Prop the doors open to keep them from smelling bad when prospective buyers look at the house.
One area of great expense in moving is the cost of boxes. We just moved and received over $200 of boxes for free. We obtained them through different sources. The best of which is to find a household that has just moved into their new place and ask them if they would like for you to take those empty boxes off their hands. (New home developments are rife with new move ins.) Many people are glad to have someone haul them away for free. Another source is if you work in a large business park. Ask the resident janitorial service if they would collect boxes being thrown out by the tenants. Many offices get large supply boxes delivered to them weekly. Many of these are smaller for office paper, etc. and may have those convenient handles in the sides as well. Also, new tenants moving into office parks may have leftover boxes too.
I am in the same predicament, having moved from one state to another (to be closer to family). My suggestion is regarding medical/dental insurance. Do not pay for COBRA insurance until you check out getting an individual plan. You can go to any insurance agent and ask for an individual plan. Had I taken the COBRA plan offered by my former employer, I would be paying $400 a month in premiums (just for myself). With the individual plan, I only pay $67 a month (and the coverage is better). I knew of this because my background is insurance.
Also, I volunteer at a local outreach center and the local Panera Bread company donates free bread/desserts every Wednesday. The grocery stores also donate produce. Volunteers are allowed to take from these donations. So, for a few hours each week that I volunteer, I get my bread and produce for free. And volunteering does wonder for one's soul! It makes you thankful for all you do have.
One thing you might consider if your child is school age would be investigating the requirements for free or reduced lunches at school. You can call the guidance office or school counselor for that information. This alone could save close to $80 per month (if lunches are around $2 like at our school).
One small change made a big difference for us. If you take a Navy shower, turning the water off after you get wet and then turning it on again to rinse off, you will see a reduction not only in your water usage, but also in the amount of hair and bath products you use. I didn't realize how much shampoo, conditioner and body wash was going down the drain until I started doing this. I found that I could use less body wash because it stayed on my skin instead of getting rinsed off by the shower. A smaller amount did the job when I let it stay a few minutes.
One other thing we do is to use an indoor clothing rack to hang small clothing items to dry. I've found it works best with shirts and underwear, but the jeans and heavier items need to be dried in the dryer a little first.
Go to your local library and read any books that they have on saving money/thrifty living. The book that I learned the most from is The Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn. It has so many useful ideas that it probably would be worth buying.
Other books that may be helpful to you include Miserly Moms: Living on One Income in a Two-Income Economy by Jonni McCoy, How to Survive Without a Salary: Learning How to Live the Conserver Lifestyle by Charles Long, Pinch A Penny Till It Screams: Everything You Wanted To Know About Frugal Survival Skills But Didn't Know Where To Look by Madeline Clive, and Your Money or Your Life: 9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin
Visit your library and see what you can find. I personally go to my library every few months and check a book like this out and read it as part of my "continuing education."
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