First, one of my friends lost her house that she bought 5 years ago. She's a single mom of two boys - one in college. She bought this house as an investment and got one of those adjustable rate mortgages. Not unusual at all for the Atlanta area because buying and flipping houses was quite the thing up until about a year ago. Everyone's house appreciated tremendously in this area and I guess few people saw that it would all come to a crashing halt one day. So her intention was just to refinance or sell her house. She knew the type of mortgage she was getting, but frankly, people have always been able to refinance or sell their homes around here. Her house was on the market for a year - no buyers. As a matter of fact, she was in a new subdivision and they never got around to finishing Phase 3 cause the builder ran out of money! Her mortgage payment ballooned to $2500 a month this summer. She has a steady job but there's no way that she (or many of us) could afford that kind of mortgage. She tried 3 different organizations that are supposed to be set up to help with this situation but it came down to the fact that her mortgage lender just didn't want to work with her. Even up to a few weeks ago with so much media coverage about how banks are re-writing mortgages. Her mortgage lender didn't want to work with her - so she lost her house and now she has a foreclosure on her credit report. A friend is letting her rent a townhouse for the time being because it's almost impossible to rent a decent apartment around here unless you have passable credit. Her son has to start a new school in January because the townhouse is in a different town and he was having problems in school as it was. It's all very sad. She's very discouraged. She really feels like a failure. She said it's hard trying to do everything on your own. You only have yourself to depend on should something happen financially.
I can't stress enough the importance of having an emergency fund! These are scary times. Recession, depression, whatever.....I've never lived through such turbulent times. Since my husband is in retail (and we all know how well that sector is doing), we're really not sure what the future holds. Will he still have a job after the holidays? Will his company be able to survive in this economic climate (we hope so)? I've loved being a stay at home Mom but it's times like this when I wonder if it wouldn't had been better if I worked also. At least if one of us loses a job at least the other would hopefully still have one. If he loses his job - that's it! So our only safety net is to have a savings nest egg built up to tide us over.
clipped and organized this stack of coupons
I think most of us are doing the really big things to save money like shop with coupons or buy generic, turn down the thermostat, hang laundry, cook from scratch. But little things here and there can add up, especially when you've taken the main things as far as you can go. Here a few little things to try to save money:
- Keep taking things down a bit, try two eggs instead of three, 3/4 of a stick of butter instead of the whole stick (I've never noticed the difference), reduce the amount of dishwasher detergent, shampoo etc.
- I cut open all tubes and bottles to get that last bit out. You'd be surprised how much is left!
- Use your imagination before you use your money!
- When a fruit or vegetable is sold at a flat price say $3 a bag I always weigh several bags since they don't all weigh the same. Some will weigh more than others. Same if lettuce is by the head I look for the biggest one. Bananas I usually buy the smaller bananas because the large ones don't get all eaten.
- Be careful about paying for bank fees. Know which ATMs you can use without charge
- Know when your library books & movies are due back so you don't have to pay a late fee.
- Save your change and either roll it yourself to deposit into a savings account or take it to a Coin Star machine and then deposit it.
- Look at what you can sell to make some extra cash. Can you make something to sell on Etsy or ebay? I sold a few things about a month ago on ebay and made enough money to buy some Christmas presents on ebay. Do you have a collection that you could sell? I have some Mackenzie-Childs pieces I'm thinking about selling and you know I have tons of transferware that I could sell.
- Take advantage of those drugstore gift cards if you transfer a prescription. I can't tell you how many times I've changed my prescriptions from pharmacy to pharmacy. They don't seem to care. Deposit the money you save by using the Gift Card.
- Try to stay healthy - WASH YOUR HANDS! In addition to the usual hand washing I wash my hands when I come home from any kind of shopping . I've gone so far as to wipe down my groceries before I put them away when I've had a bagger or checker that obviously has a cold! Get some exercise and drink some water. Our medical co-pays have gone up considerably from last year. So even though we can go to the doctor if we're sick - it's money saved if we don't.
- All those little trips to the thrift store, Target and Wal-Mart add up. No matter how cheap you're getting something, if you don't have any savings -that should be your first priority!
This week I also took the leftover turkey in the freezer and made turkey soup for dinner (we'll have the leftover soup for lunch today even though it's not our favorite soup - it's food). I baked some pumpkin bread and oatmeal cookies for afternoon snack. We've put out our outdoor lights but we're only lighting them from 5-9 instead of until midnight like we used to. We had a huge discussion about the lights - I didn't want to do them at all but my husband really felt that it would be a benefit to our community to do so. People always tell us how much they love the lights and bring their kids to see the animated deer and all. So that was our compromise 4 hours instead of 7 and we turn them off the day after Christmas instead of leaving them on into January. Can't say I had a marvelously frugal week, what about you?
What small money saving things have you done this past week?