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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Two different views on the same problem

From Tim... [this was a work in progress when his last post was added here]

It has been a while since I have written a post. I started this post over a month ago after a conversation with an extended family member who had lost his cooperate job. He had been out of work for about six months when we had our conversation and now it looks like he has taken our talk to heart and it has helped his family.

Let me first give some background. The reason that he came to me was because I, too, had gone through a lifestyle change a couple of years back where my income had been cut to less than half. This is when my family truly started living a PREPPERS lifestyle. This family member had seen us pack up and move to a small piece of land in the country, living in our travel trailer while we built a small house. He had thought I jumped off the deep end. It wasn’t until he had been without work and was slowly watching his life crumble around him, and my family only thrive, that he started thinking that there might be something to what I was doing.

When he came to me he still wasn’t ready to take the big plunge into a prepper’s lifestyle, but he was looking for a way to get off the downhill slide. Both he and his wife had corporate jobs. They were the stereotypical American family living in the big house in the suburbs, commuting into the city, three children in private school involved in what ever activity the Jones’s kids were, all the newest things. You know them. This family had been blessed financially. They had been able to build up a good nest egg over the years and they’d been using it to replace his income since he had lost his job.

When we had our talk he was down to his last few thousand in the bank, and there was no hope on the horizon for new employment that matched his former income. What I am about to relay in this post is close to what he and I had talked about. Let me say that I am by no means a financial guru. The things that I bring up here are for the most part common sense. I believe that it is good for every one to take a look at what he or she has going on in his life and to see what he or she can do to make things in life better. For those that are just getting started down this road of preparedness, or for someone that is in the thick of the financial crises and needs encouragement, I hope this helps.

The thing that we looked at first was his expenses and what he could cut. The first thing on the list was the credit cards. He and his wife had cards at every store you could think of. Most of them had no balance but they were being eaten alive by fees. To their benefit they had stopped using them for the most part when he had lost his job. They had less than one thousand dollars on credit but when you added up what interest they were paying and the fees it was coming out to over $345.00 per month.

Next thing that we looked at was the food budget. I have eaten at their house many a times, and it always amazed me what was on the table and in the fridge. This family was always on the go like so many people today, the majority of their meals either came out of a box or a bag and the only cooking was the heating except when it was time to have friends over and cook something that made the TV chefs proud. They were spending over four hundred a week on food. After explaining to him that with some planning and actual grocery shopping he could easily cut the food bill down to four hundred for the month saving another $1200.00.

We then looked at were the extras that so many today think are necessities: the cable, the high speed internet, the fancy cell phone, and on and on. When we were able to get all this on paper and see what he could live without this came up to another $300.00 a month saved.

If I hadn’t made him bleed enough, I pointedly asked him why the kids were still in the after school program with him not working and it looking as if he wasn’t going back any time soon. His answer was that the kids got a lot of good out of it. What I said next will let some of my personal views through, but it is the way I feel. I asked if he thought that some underpaid person at a day care was better suited to give his children what they needed or was he. This brought a tear to his eye when he truly thought it through. Needless to say that the kids are now at home every day getting his attempt at home cooked meals. This cut another $900.00.

As we kept talking and I was on a roll, because it is always easier to help others than your self, we looked even harder into what he could do to cut back. The next thing that I asked about was his cars. He had three cars, they were making payment on two and had way more insurance than they needed. I talked him into selling they paid off extra and using that money to pay off the family car. He also cut the insurance down to the lowest that he could in his situation. This saved $560.00. We also looked into other areas that they could cut and found $275.00 more in monthly expenses to cut out.

Just the basic number that I have shown here come out to $3580.00. The amount that we cut out is more than many people make in a month.

I know that some are thinking about how there is still much more that can be cut, and others that think that these things are easy and why he hadn’t come up with this on his own. Just think how many times you have been frustrated trying to find your keys, you have looked everywhere to no avail, then your spouse comes in and walks right to the table next to where you are sitting and says are these the ones you are looking for. It is easy for people in the middle of a situation to not see the things around them. People have things in their lives that they know what the best choice of action is; it just helps to have another’s view to make it clear. Personal finances are a big part of being prepared, it is wise to always look at what you have coming in and going out. There might be things that need to be re-prioritized to get you to your goals.

P.S. in the early eighties there was a key ring that when you whistled it beeped back at you. Does any one know where to get one of those today I sure could use one.


Gen-IL Homesteader said...

Marica, that was a great post! And what a great help you were to that family!! I totally agree with your views on childcare. So many of the things that people pay for are just not worth what they give up to have those 'things'. Again, great post!!

Gen-IL Homesteader said...

I just saw that that was Tim's post, so great job, Tim!

Ken said...

...some real eye openers in there Tim,we learned it the hard way tho...GodBlessYa fer helpin'those folks out...i wished someone would've dropped a dime and told me this shtuff when it happened to us...

Worn Out said...

Great post! We live on one income and are doing fine. My husband asked my daughter would you rather have the latest thing out like your friends or have mom home doing everything. She picked mom hands down! We have already added what the cost was to having extra income and it doesn't add up now which enables me more time to garden and work on our food budget.

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