When the paycheck stops

When the paycheck stops

When the paycheck stops, life takes a sudden turn. Especially when you did not see it coming. If you are employed by a small business, know that the owners are the last ones paid. Payroll and bills take precedence and a hurting economy can leave little or nothing left some months, such as those winter months when consumers have nothing left to spend after Christmas. As for unemployment, it goes without saying that you are faced with a huge challenge, especially when you aim to get through it independent of government assistance.

What steps should you take when faced without a paycheck?

1.   Stop spending

It goes without saying, but it has to stop.  Some of us may have the urge to throw our hands up and use what is left on dining out and maybe a little retail therapy. Not good. You gotta hold onto each dollar and stretch it like it has never been stretched before- challenge yourself to spend as close to $0 as possible.

2.   Go to your stockpile

I hope you have one. Systematically go through each cabinet, shelf, and drawer in the pantry, fridge, and freezer. Make an inventory list and menu, googling ingredients for recipes if necessary, and have a plan that uses what foods you have on hand. Get creative in the kitchen.

3.  Cancel services

After I left full-time work outside the home, we cancelled home phones, satellite TV, and trash service (to use my husband’s dumpster at his business.)  Try leaving service providers for now and they will want you back later:  when we turned satellite TV on again, they gave us months for free (we are now using a digital antenna for no monthly bills.)

4.   Find money

Gather loose change and roll it (or use the free coin machine at your credit union), contact service providers to lower monthly bills, and call your credit card companies to reduce rates.  Try not to cash out your 401K early, but accept that you may have to use your savings, bit by bit. Find more hidden money ideas here.

5.  Sell stuff

This one may sound extreme, but everyone has a little clutter, right?  Clear out each room and storage space in your home to have a mega yard sale.  But first, list large items on Craigslist and research what sells well on eBay by searching for “Sold” items, sorted by highest price.  You may even need to go to one vehicle for both the cash and the reduction in insurance- you can make it work.

6.  Have a family meeting

Gently explain that everyone will have to work together to help the family budget, and, so as not to frighten the littles, consider leaving out the part about having no paycheck.  If your children do not already do so, have them pay for extracurricular activity fees, uniforms, yearbooks, club t-shirts, and such with their own savings.  Suggest to grandparents that these would make excellent gifts at birthdays and Christmas.

Consider leaving expensive activities if your child is ready to try something new:  we left behind both ballet and horses- and I miss them more than my child!  She is happy with her new activities!  Our oldest is OK with leaving overpriced challenge soccer since it drained his savings, not to mention our gas tank.

7.    Change your ways

Cook from scratch, lower the thermostat, switch to cloth napkins and rags for cleaning, make your own cleaners, mend clothing, make gifts and cards.  Yes, it is a lot of work to be frugal, but it makes a tremendous impact in the long run.

Please do share in the comments your thoughts on dealing with a sudden stop in income.

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9 Replies to “When the paycheck stops”

  1. These are great ideas. You sort of mentioned it, but I specifically cleaned out our bathroom cabinets. I found soaps, lotions, shampoos, etc. Some were “fancy” from presents, and others were from hotels. I probably didn’t buy that stuff for a month.

    Also, we did “fun” stuff that we normally didn’t do. We had tons of candles – we ate dinner by candlelight. The kids thought it was neat and since we weren’t going anywhere, it was fun!

    I found you on Thrifty Thursday. Nice to meet you!

    1. Yes, the drugstore freebies stockpiled certainly help, as well. And your point about having fun is a good one. Mental health is very important during times like this and we can all benefit from enjoying time with family at home, as well as practicing faith-building activities such as devotional times.

  2. hi love the post very helpful I’m low income waiting on disability and these tips give me more ideas. Found you on thrifty thursday I’m lorraine at http://lorrainesresources.blogspot.com

  3. […] Strategies} 5. Natural Moms Talk Radio {Challenge- No Spend Month} 6. My Mother Mode {When the Paycheck Stops} 7. Whole Food Mom on a Budget {No Spend January- Week 3} 8. From This Kitchen Table {When […]

  4. We once had what I call the summer of no paycheck. I was amazed how we were able to make it through by doing much of what you said. I was thankful that I had built up a small food storage to see us through, and once we began to be paid again, our outlook on frugality was very different.

  5. Excellent start. We were there three years during the recession. We learned to do without much but it will still take time for us to recuperate financially. Have faith…every bit helps!

  6. Many great tips and as one commenter already mentioned my outlook on frugality certainly changed.

    On taking trash to work, I have worked for several employers who had strict policies prohibiting this practice. One past employer actually fired someone for violating the policy. I suppose this is because their fee for dumpsters was based on the frequency of pickup and extra trash increased their costs.

    1. I agree on the trash when you work for someone else, but when you own the company- and at times you take home no paycheck- you take any benefits from yourself that you can!

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