When unemployed for long stretches of time, the biggest issue, of course, is money, or more precisely, the lack of it. While being frugal is more of a habit than not, I have to confess that I do spend more freely when employed as opposed to sticking to a household budget. Now, as we head toward Christmas, I’m re-evaluating my spending again and trying to find even more ways to stretch a tight budget.
I find that if I make a weekly meal plan and buy only those items on the list, I save money. Because I know roughly what I’ll need for seven days, I avoid purchasing too much produce that might not get eaten before it spoils.
I use my weekly meal plan to make my shopping list. Once I have a list of items I need, I can search the fliers for savings, in-store coupons, etc. I will only buy what’s on sale. A big chain grocery store offers customer appreciation day once a month where they give shoppers 10% off their total bill – that’s the day I purchase things like spices, vinegar, cooking oil, bleach, that I need but haven’t been on sale when I needed them.
When I’ve used up all of a particular type of cleaner, I don’t replace it. Instead, I buy a bargain size all-purpose cleaner and use that for everything. The first time I discovered this little secret, I was really surprised at just how much I spent on various cleaning products.
Bus Pass Equals Social Life
I buy a monthly bus pass for two main reasons. First, I don’t have to worry about scraping the fare together when I have to go to a job interview. Second, it motivates me to get out of the house every day – go to the library, do errands in a shopping mall, take a ride on the sky train, exploring a different neighbourhood – there’s a lot of things you can do that require little or no money. Since my transportation is already paid for, I can jump on a bus and meet a friend for coffee, dessert or even a movie without having to add a round-trip fare to the cost of the evening.