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One of the hardest parts of being unemployed was to stop spending money. I had a huge problem with shopping. Do you know what I’m saying? I love to shop. I love to buy clothes and go to Target and get stuff for the kids. Figuring out how to stop spending money was so freaking HARD!
I tried to only go to the grocery store so I didn’t know what I was missing. We didn’t have extra money for me to spend on frivolous things let alone purchase underwear for my potty training boy. Which I bought anyway.
So I had to figure out what I could do instead.
It was hard! Lord, knew I wanted new clothes, or a new toy for the kid, or even a hair cut. I hated being in the situation we were in. I hated the stress we lived with from not having a job.
So my husband and I sat down. We had a come to Jesus talk. And the bottom line was there was no extra money for stuff.
We had to stop spending money. Period. We didn’t have a choice.
So we brain stormed and came up with some rules.
These were the rules we came up with:
We got rid of credit cards. We took them out of our wallets and decided that even though we didn’t have any money, we couldn’t keep adding to our debt. That was our thought process, then after bankruptcy, we didn’t have credit cards and only had cash.
Cash is KING. When you commit to only using cash, you see just how much money you do and don’t have. It makes you think twice about if you are going to spend $56 on one brand new blouse. Or are you going to spend $56 on groceries for the week?
We set a spending limit. We weren’t allowed to spend more than a certain amount without talking about it. When we had no money, the amount we set for each other was $20. Today, we still have this rule but it’s more around the $100 amount.
We walked away. We gave ourselves 24 hours to think about the item. Usually within 24 hours we forgot about it. If we really wanted something it would be there the next day.
We did not buy anything without it being on sale or if we didn’t have a coupon. This was tricky. Sometimes we would wait for the item to go on sale. Sometimes by the time it went on sale we didn’t want it anymore.
Patience is a virtue
Ask for it as a gift. If it was really expensive we would ask for it as a gift. This was helpful for our family members because then we had a list.
Need of Want? We learned to think and see if it was a need or a want. We developed a strong understanding for what is really a need verses what was a want. Even today, we still use this as we talk about things we want. We also teach it to our kids.
Can I borrow that? We learned to borrow something if it was something that could really help us. This was humbling. It’s easy to ask a neighbor for a ladder or a drill. Asking for help in others ways is very humbling.
We entertained in our home. We had people over instead of going out to eat. Dining out was really hard for us. We love dining out and entertaining that way. But we learned that entertaining at Home allowed us to hang out longer with our friends.
We had friends who would have dinner parties with us. We would rotate homes every other month. This was awesome! We loved hanging out at each others homes and still connecting. As our families grew we just added chairs to the tables.
Simple living. We learned to live really simply during unemployment. We didn’t have any money so we couldn’t fill our house with stuff.
Even today we live simply. We don’t have expensive furniture and we have one vehicle that we bought used. We have just what we need and we are content.
Mindset shift. Shifting your mindset to adjust to your money deficit is challenging. Some days it was down right difficult. You do get used to not having extra money to spend, but it takes a while.
Not everyone wants to stop buying stuff. Getting a new outfit makes you feel good about yourself. Or buying something for the house to make it work better.
Save for it. We learned to save for the things we wanted. We still save for things. I wrote a post about how I paid cash for my Apple Watch. Saving money is something our generation doesn’t know how to do. We grew up with credit cards and to live without credit is a different mindset all together.
Learning to stop spending money
I know I struggled with it. I had lists and lists of stuff I REALLY had to have. But when it came down to thinking about if my kid would be able to eat if I bought the new shirt or if we would have enough money for the next week. I learned what was really a need.
Learning to stop spending money was a process. As I look back on the season where we were unemplyed and living off of unemployment and having food stamps, I can’t help but be thankful for what we learned. If you are unemployed and wondering how you are going to make it, I would like to encourage you to find 1 item on this list and take action.
Maybe you need to have a conversation with your husband about spending money, maybe your thoughts need to shift, maybe you need to set a spending limit. Only you know what you need to do and I would love to hear what your one piece of action you are going to start today. Leave me a comment and let me know and I will pay for you that you will find yourself on the other side, with a job and on your way to financial stability.
Stephanie has been blogging at Sticky Note Mom for 8 years. Before starting her blog, she worked in the finance industry working on the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade to working for major financial institutions with personal financial planning and the mortgage industry. Now she shares all she has learned about frugal living to help others learn how to stop spending and start saving more.