Sometimes we find ourselves in challenging financial situations, despite our best efforts to budget and manage our money. For my family, one of these times came in 2009 when my husband was laid off from his job. As the primary wage earner, his salary accounted for 70% of our income. Little did we know, it would be nearly three years before he returned to work.
You may be in a similar situation. Amazon announced this week that they would be laying off 9,000 workers in addition to the 18,000 layoffs that were announced in January. Yahoo plans to lay off 20% of its staff by the end of 2023, and Zoom has recently laid off 1,300 workers. Even if you are in no danger of losing your job, your budget and finances may have been negatively impacted by the steep increase in interest rates or rising prices for food and gasoline.
When my husband called me at work to say he was packing up his office belongings, I did not panic. I was filled with an amazing amount of peace. My faith has never been in the government or the economy; it is in God, and God takes care of His people. I am comforted by the words Jesus spoke to His disciples in Luke 12:27-28. Jesus told His followers, “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith!”
If you find yourself negatively impacted by rising costs and your peace shaken, the first step is to put your faith in God. If you have been tithing and managing your money in ways that honor God, He will bless you during this challenge. However, He also expects you to use wisdom to evaluate your expenses and make cuts where possible. Godly principles apply to all areas of our lives, including becoming financially sound during unstable times.
Here are some of the steps we took that helped us survive without my husband’s salary:
- Examine your expenses. Be ruthless in cutting all unnecessary costs. Our first cut was the daily newspaper. Our second was trash pickup service. There is a convenience center near our home, and my husband could drop off our trash. We did not cut out cable and Internet, but we reduced our cable package to save money.
- Apply for unemployment. You have been paying into this fund for many years for just such a circumstance. You will likely receive 25% or less of your previous salary, but you will appreciate having it.
- Update your resume and start your job search. Let your family and friends know that you are job hunting. They may know someone who knows someone who has a job for you.
- Commit to cooking at home and not eating out. Home-cooked meals are healthier and less costly than eating out. Make a list of low-cost meals you like. We “dusted” off the dozen or so meals we fixed regularly as poor graduate students when we were first married. In college, we saved money on food by eating meatless meals occasionally for a week, and we did that again during this period.
- Freeze all discretionary spending. Do not spend your new-found free time shopping on the Internet. Only buy what is absolutely necessary, and then shop for the best deal.
- Make a list of all the ways you can have fun without spending any money. Invite friends over and pull out the board games and puzzles for hours of free leisure time. Visit free venues like public parks, museums, and community events. Re-engage in activities you have been too busy to enjoy, such as biking, fishing, and hiking.
- Finish projects you started. You may have home repairs that you never got around to doing or unfinished crafts/sewing/needlepoint projects that could be completed and given as gifts.
- Sell unneeded items. While you are unemployed, clean out your closets and basement and have a yard sale. You may have higher ticket items, such as furniture, that you no longer need that you can sell to generate some extra cash.
These are just a few tips to help you survive financial challenges. I would also urge you to (1) continue tithing on any income you receive during this period and (2) record God’s faithfulness to provide for you in unexpected ways during this time.
To learn more about how to honor God with your money and build treasure in Heaven, please click the Finances categories tab to find many blogs on money management, budgeting, and stewardship. My book Honoring God with Your Money is a great tool for financial money management.