BROKE. That’s me. My meager monthly income after salary deductions (to pay off loans), can barely keep my family afloat. Thank God for hubby’s income from his small veterinarian practice, we do get by. But only on a day to day basis. We have no savings, no emergency fund. We are barely able to do repairs around the house. This destitute reality hit me hard when my kids got sick and we had to get a loan so that we could provide medical attention.
That was just a low point in my life. It sucked to be helpless, and I wallowed in self-pity. I felt that I failed my children. I failed as a mother. One, for failing to keep them away from sickness and two, for not being ready when sickness comes to them.
I was so worried sick when Lucas was diagnosed with pyelonephritis (googling about it made it worse) and Joachim was having on and off fever after getting a viral infection just less than two weeks ago. I lost my focus at work and I became a nervous and emotional wreck.
I vowed to myself that when this storm passes, I will do my best to protect my children and be more hands on and strict. And most of all, to be financially ready for this kind of emergencies. After assessing our lifestyle and spending pattern, I have created a game plan with the goal of living off with our humble family income and being able to take aside something for savings and the emergency fund.
Here’s part 1 of my game plan:
No more toy purchases.
Now this is very hard on the kids, I know. However, I am frustrated on how much money we have spent on buying toys, and when it adds up, the money could have been spent on more important things or saved. It also doesn’t help that the kids are not mindful of their toys and does not seem to care for it after a few days when the novelty wanes.
Recently, I made a decision to buy Joachim a toy set worth 1,000 pesos. On a previous visit to Toys R Us, he saw this toy set with a hard plastic backpack, containing a road track and mini soldiers. He asked me to buy it but I declined seeing that the toy cost one thousand pesos. It is just expensive for a toy. I could see that the wanted it so bad. After a few weeks, we went back to the toy store, just after Lucas’s checkup, without Joachim. I had this impulse to buy him that toy. Truth be told, I wanted to see him happy when I finally hand him the toy. Also, I was a bit guilty that we left him at home and wanted to make up for it.
When we gave him the toy, he was ecstatic. But soon enough, I observed that he wasn’t taking good care of it and was not conscious about losing the small parts. I realized that at his age, he still cannot understand the monetary value that comes with the toys that we buy for him.
To compensate for the “no buying of toys rule”, I will be introducing crafts to my boys using available scrap materials around just like cartons from packaging, dried leaves, stones, twigs, old magazines and other stuff lying around the house. This is a good thing for the kids as their creativity is nurtured while bonding with mom and dad. I also told them that they can buy toys when they earn money from selling used plastic bottles to the recycling station. That way, they may learn the value of hard earned money.
Pay with cash.
One thing that has been dragging our finances is my credit card outstanding balance. I am guilty of online shopping and using my card for dining out with family. I have also used it for groceries when I was cash strapped, only to have the amount swiped earning interest every month because I wasn’t able to pay it off. Not a good way to use the credit card. It will send you down the rabbit hole of debt.
A better option would be terminating the credit card, however, I acknowledge that the credit card is very useful if you know how to use it. It was a lifesaver when I had to buy the IV antibiotics for Lucas’ medication when we were out of cash. I am keeping my card but I am determined to pay off my credit card debt as soon as possible. And that means I have to pay cash as much as I can.
Only buy what is needed.
I have bought make-up that I have never used, bike helmets for the kids when they don’t have bikes, bottle steamer, expensive cloth diapers, breast pumps and other baby stuff that I didn’t use as much. I also bought a lot of children’s books when the kids’ favorite bedtime stories is less than 5.
The money spent on things you don’t need adds up. And like money spent on toys, it could have been saved or used to buy the essentials.
I acknowledge that I’m a bit of a hoarder and I’m determined to overcome it and become more conscious of what I buy. I pledge to buy only the things my family needs and that means those “things” will be used frequently.
Turn down energy consumption.
When our refrigerator, rice cooker and the remote control of the TV broke down, our monthly electricity bill was reduced by 50%. I was amazed at the cut and paying our monthly electricity bill was always light on the pocket. It’s been 5 months since the ref broke and we are pondering on going ref-free or purchasing an energy efficient refrigerator. For now, we have survived without the ref so I guess, we can survive without it. However, there are times that we miss the convenience of having it, so let’s see how this goes.
It is really cool that the savings adds up and the extra money can be used for other things. Right now, I am looking for other ways to save energy, and I am taking advantage of the cooler weather so that we may minimize the use of the electric fan during night time.
There you go, my top four on my game plan to “survive” the “broke” spell. I’m just a broke mom, but not broken, so I’m hanging on! Stay tuned for part 2 of this post. If you have tips on how to survive the broke spell I am in, please do share in the comments section. I would love to hear it!
The Promdi Mommy