In late March when my husband, Julian was laid off from his job, we didn't worry for the first week or so. We thought things would even out, as they always seem to do during rough patches. By mid-April, Julian was working odd jobs in peach fields or the occasional day-labor with one contractor or another. We barely had enough money to buy groceries, much less pay our utilities.
One of our biggest monthly bills was our wireless phone service & internet through Verizon. With three cellphone & MiFi internet service, our bill was nearly $250 every month - only about $30 less than our mobile home payment. We struggled all through April to pay the most important of our bills (lights, home payment, food, gas, car insurance). I called Verizon weekly to postpone the bill and they were very willing to work with us.
By the first week in May, Julian still didn't have a steady, good paying job, so we had to make a decision to keep our Verizon contract or take our chances & let it go once and for all. It wasn't an easy decision. We knew what letting the service go early could mean to my credit rating, but we were skimming by as it was.
The second week of May, Julian got a job in a factory through a temporary agency. It meant - for now atleast - we would have a steady income and slightly more money every week, but we were already falling behind in ALL the bills. We let the service with Verizon go and after much research, I purchased a Prepaid cellphone with Straight Talk. I opted for the cheapest phone and the $30 a month 1000 plan - 1000 minutes and 1000 text messages. By the end of the first month, we had barely used 400 of the minutes & 150 texts. It seemed a waste not to have used the remaining texts and minutes when we renewed the minutes this month, but when we looked at the big picture, we were still saving money. One cellphone alone from Verizon was $79 (plus taxes) every month and the plan was lower than the $30 a month plan with Straight Talk. We also haven't had an issue with dropped calls with our Straight Talk phone.
We were also able to get a package from our local phone company that included DSL Internet service & unlimited home phone service for $59 a month. We are saving nearly $170 a month since giving up the contract with Verizon. We're learning to live with only one cellphone, though we may purchase another soon, since Julian will be starting a permanent job with a company that travels throughout the Carolinas & Virginias.
Another area that we cut costs was with our Satelite service. We gave up our Dish Network account & returned our equipment. Last week, we signed up for Hulu Plus (first week free trial) for $7.95 a month. Reducing our TV viewing bill from $89 a month saved us over $80 a month. The savings montly nearly adds up to the amount of our mobile home payment monthly.
Now, I would like to master this couponing thing. If we can reduce our grocery bill every week, it would be a tremendous household savings. We generally spend (on a good week) about $100 to $150 in groceries for our family of five. We do not buy microwaveable dinners or cereals. I buy flour, eggs, meats, macaroni, etc. and make most of our meals from scratch. Instead of buying poptarts, we make them. We normally eat one-course meals. I'm also learning to get extremely creative with beans - making veggie burgers from beans & mushrooms, refried beans with rice, etc.
We used to go out to eat Chinese at least 2 or 3 times a month. I don't think we've been in about 2 months now, but the upside to that is, I'm learning to cook some of our favorite Chinese dishes at home and getting better at it every time I try. We made our own little buffet a few weeks ago and everyone loved it. The Crab Rangoons were the BOMB !
With the economy being the way it is these days, the only way to survive is to give up the things we don't necessarily need. The Internet is a great investment. Online we can watch news, television shows, clip coupons, fnd recipes, buy at GREAT discounts (all sorts of things, from ink for our printer to household items) and sell things for extra income.
It's taking some getting used to, living a little closer to the ground and everyone in our household is having some withdrawl issues (no satelite dish, one cellphone...), but we are managing just fine.