Being Frugal or What to Do Before You Lose Your Job! part 1

It was inevitable, a certainty through my life or just fate  but it was bound to happen sooner or later. It has been the pattern ever since I started working when I was thirteen. I would get a job, work for less pay than anyone else doing the same work, knock myself out trying to please my employer and wham bang I get fired if I ask for equal pay! So it came as no surprise when I was let go from my employment.

I earned $5 an hour going out to a home to take care of  two pre-school children. I also washed clothes, swept floors and cooked meals. A day’s work varied from nine to ten hours, two to four days a week. It wasn’t a lot of money but was located close to home so I could walk to work.

The day before school started here I was informed my wages would drop to $3 an hour from  seven-thirty am to two-thirty pm. From 2:30 to five pm. I would get  $5 an hour when the oldest child came home from school. I protested because whether there is one child or two home I am away from my home the same amount of time. There are also many in-service days at school  when kids don’t attend and storm days when school is closed and I would have both children. My offer to baby-sit at my home  for $3 an hour was refused and I was told not to come back.

Minimum wage in Nova Scotia is just over $8 an hour and going up tp $9 next year. According to the government web site it does  not apply to domestic work if the person works under twenty-four hiours a week in someone’s home. Over twenty-four hours the employer is obligated to pay minimum wage. I worked more than twenty-four hours some weeks and less other weeks. The bottom line is my job is gone and I miss the children. But I figure I am worth more than $3 an hour as an employee. I earned that much thirty years ago!

From past experience this is what I have learned about having a job. When working save, save and save as much money as you possibly can and still meet your obligations. There is never a time to live beyond ones means with credit stretched to the limit. Jobs can be here today and gone tomorrow. I know we who live in a North American society  seem to want everything. In many cases the last two generations have a sense of entitlement to have everything just starting adult life that  their parents worked a life time for. What young people need to be taught is to live within their means what ever those means are.

No jobs are secure these days with the economic upheaval  going on in the US that has a boom-a-rang effect around the world. Canada and other nations that deal economically with the US may be temporarily in a better position but that can change suddenly. When financial institutions collapse  it affects everyone. We are more of a global village than we may realize. Now is the time to prepare for an uncertain future.

Take it from someone who has lived on the lower end of the economic  wage scale all my life. No matter how little you earn put away part of every pay-check for a rainy day. For those already caught in the recession in the US [which some still deny is a recession] it may be too late to save anything. For many people their homes have foreclosed or were lost in tornadoes, floods and hurricanes.

These suggestions are for people who still have a job and possibly a home what ever country they live in.  First thing is stop using credit cards and start paying them off. If you can consolidate the cards and get a low interest loan do so but try to pay those cards off. Take stock of how you are doing financially. Every six months I go over our finances. There was a time we had payments, children at home and much higher expenses than we have now. I borrowed on a credit card to start a small fleamarket business. It did alright until dollar stores came here and I couldn’t compete. I owed on two credit cards and it took three years to pay them off. I haven’t had a credit card since and might add I never will. Credit cards are too easy to use and too expensive to pay back. All that interest could be savings in your rainy day account.

I realize the modern world expects credit cards for travel and shopping on line and a host of other things. If you need a credit card get a pre-paid one that is backed by your own money. Here a Cash Store charges $7 a month for the use of a pre-paid credit card. That way you have a credit card when you need it and no monthly bill with interest. It is like using cash  and if you can’t afford to do this maybe you shouldn’t have a credit card at all. We don’t but if we did need one it will be a pre-paid card.  It takes a long time to pay off credit card debt but it will never happen if you keep using it.

Another thing to consider is getting rid of your cell phone. There was a time before cell phones people managed to communicate by land lines. If you feel a cell phone is really necessary one can be bought that uses purchased minutes. That way you won’t get a huge cell phone bill every month and will be less tempted to use it.  If there are teenagers involved maybe  they should have after school and weekend jobs if they want cell phones to talk on and text message on. It is good to start teaching children things aren’t free. If they need a phone for safty reasons a pre-paid one will work for them too if used only for emergencies and necessary calls to parents. The money not spent can be added to your savings.

One huge expense  is housing whether you rent or own your home. It may mean down sizing to live within your means. If you owe a big mortgage look at selling and buying a lower priced home or finding a less expensive apartment. After all how much better you will sleep knowing the house or apartment you rent or own is not strangling your budget.

In your home ask yourself if you really need that dish washer when washing dishes by hand is cheaper? Washing clothes can often be done in cold water  or warm. Can you hang the wash on a line instead of using a clothes dryer? All will save money and help the environment too.

Do you really need a huge TV when a smaller one will do? Do you really need cable or satellite TV with all those hundreds of channels? I understand the old rabbit ears won’t work after February of next year in the US and 2010 in Canada. We have already decided if there is no more free TV  for the three channels we now have through our present system  we will do away with the TV and listen to more radio. TV’s are not necessities. There are many good news programs and other things on the radio. I was alive before there was TV at our house and we lived just fine without it. I will say here I refuse to pay  to watch TV shows that were always free before. Money saved on cable and satellite bills can go in the rainy day account.

You can save on electricity by using energy saving balbs. Keep lights off in the day time if you can see without them. Unplug computers and electronics when not using them.  Put water restrictors on shower heads and consider baths and sponge baths to save water and electricity. Is your water heater well insulated? Can you make do with a smaller one?

When washing save on detergent buy using half the amount or dilute the liquid kind and dish liquid. Rememeber to use clothes lines and drying racks instead of expensive dryers. All is money saved for that rainy day account.

Outside use a good push reel mower for the lawn if you are able or an electric mower. You will save money and benefit from ther exercise. Then you can save more by getting rid  of that gym membership.

Is your house insulated, weather stripping around doors and windows and thermal windows installed? All will save on the heating bill. If you can’t afford thermal windows, plastic made especially for window covers will work too. Turn down the thermostat and wear  warmer clothing in the winter. Close off vents in unused rooms and lower the thermostats in bedrooms. These things will all save you money.

Money can be saved shopping second hand for furnishings and clothes also. Or trade clothes with friends particularly for children. Trade services for elderly care, baby sitting, home repair and hair dressing. All money saved can go in the rainy day account.  -to be con’t

About lrose

Greetings from " Land's End" in Nova Scotia! My name is Linda Rose. My husband , Bill, and I have been living on and farming organically on a ten acre farm for 23 years now. Bill grew up dairy farming and I grew up and lived in both the city and country. We were married thirty years ago July 9th. and are former Light House Keepers. I am a writer, mother of four, grandmother of two, former dog groomer, hospital worker and now do child care part time. Bill always farmed but also did gardening for others . He was also assitant Light Keeper on Green Island and Bon Portage Island off the south shore of Nova Scotia. We live in what is now called Short Beach on the south shore of Nova Scotia. Many years ago before the first white settlers set foot from their sailing vessels on the rocky shores of Short Beach the natives called this place Kespoogwit. Translated to English it means "lands end" Appropriately named, the land does end a two minute walk from our farm. This is where the Atlantic Ocean beats the rocky shores holding us spell bound. Nature, ever changing, demostrates the puniness of man or woman to the relentless forces of the sea. The forefathers of many people who reside in this area sailed on vessels from England and Scotland. They journeyed to Nova Scotia to begin their lives afresh in a new land. They brought with them only the bare essentials of clothing and tools and in some cases animals. They came men, women and children. Challenged by the weather more than from hostility of the original inhabitants, many a stout man and woman carved homesteads from forested land near the Atlantic. The weather and rocky soil presented obstacles for the original homesteaders and the generations who would follow them. Bill and I came to Short Beach in 1985. I prefer to call our homestead "Land's End". Our journey was much different than that of the first homesteaders who settled here. However our lifestyle is not a whole lot different. We still till the ground and mow the hay with horse drawn implements. I sweep the house with a straw broom and cook on a wood stove. Although ;someone thinking I was missing something gave us an electric stove and fridg; I still prefer my wood stove. Our wood for heat comes from a wood lot and is hauled five miles home with our work horse. Our food is grown organically using mostly simple hand tools to work the soil. The Atlantic continues to hold its observers hypnotized by its sporadic beauty. Tranquil repose is periodically interrupted by furious surging tides, eroding and redefining the shoreline of Short Beach. This is Kespoogwit ; "Land's End". It is our home.