Tips for Surviving a Furlough

When times get tough, you've gotta start trimming the fat, and in reality, we should be trimming fat all throughout the year. So, if you are affected by the ongoing government shutdown (which we all are, in one way or another), it's far beyond time to start checking your finances and seeing what you can do without, or what you can get, cheaper. And then, after the shutdown as ended, be sure to keep some of these new money-saving habits going. Here are a few ideas...

Ways to Save:

  • Skip pricey stores like Whole Foods, and shop at less expensive grocers like Trader Joe'sand farmers markets.

  • Stop eating out and start preparing all your meals at home. Pack meals and snack for work/school each day.

  • Use couponswhenever and everywhere you can.

    • Download the Retail Me Not app, and set it to always use location services. It will alert you when you walk into a store where there are savings to be had, as well as save you money online

    • Sign Up for the new Honey app, which is currently in pre-order, and check for savings on any and everything you purchase online. If you don't have the application on your computer's desktop, do that now. It's amazing!

  • Cancel memberships that you can live without, like monthly retail subscriptions (Fix Stitch, Shoe Dazzle), as well as gaming, music and other entertainment streaming that doesn't get used every single day. Now, in a world where alot of what we do are connected to memberships and subscriptions, I'm not suggesting you disconnect all your TV streaming, andyour gym, andyour vitamin subscriptions. Just take a good, hard look at what you're shelling out, and keep the ones that do the most good and get the most use, and then...

  • Call all your debtors and ask for discounted services or bill forgivenessbased on the furlough and subsequent change in income. This includes your utilities and credit cards.

  • If you or anyone in your family receives public assistance(EBT, MediCare, etc.), utilize these benefits to save money on Amazon Prime memberships, utilities, and even outings! Some public venues, like museums and cultural centers, give discounts or free entry to people and families who receive benefits from the state.

  • The above point also applies to military, AAA, and AARPmembers. Now is the perfect time to take advantage of your benefits.

  • Now is also the perfect time to "cash in" on some of those credit cards points and benefitsyou've been accumulating.

  • Cancelcable, disconnect your landline, lower your wifi and mobile phone bills. Cancel and lower everything you can. Be sure to contact customer retention departments to make this happen, and don't take no for answer.

  • Skip the premium gas at the pump, and opt for regular gasoline. Plus, skip the Shell and head over to Arco, or another discounted provider. Google 'cheap gas near me,' or download the Gas Buddyapp to find the cheapest gas near you.

  • Join and visit your credit union to discuss switching your car and home insurances to their services or partners. Their rates are usually way better!

Do you have any other survival tips? I'm sure we could all use new ideas on how to save money while the government shutdown is happening, and beyond.

Elisabeth Ovesen