While I may be bravely going on with life as if nothing has significantly changed, I am also hard at work doing what I’m expected to do – making the best out of a bad situation. I have faced our new reality right from Day 1, and I have since taken these small, but necessary steps, to get us better prepared to survive, and with God’s grace, even thrive.
Assessing Our Current Situation
It’s true, what we need is a
great workable plan. But we really cannot make a realistic plan of what we need to do and which direction we need to go if we do not know where we presently are. So just as I did nine years ago, I sat down with my pen and notebook and created a list. I tell you, I’m really getting good at this. 🙂
So my first list is all about what we have. Bank accounts [bank name, account number, balance-to-date], investments, assets inside the home like the computers and gadgets, appliances, the cars, and the value of the house itself. It’s like, okay, if my kids are about to go hungry, what can I sell?
And then another list is of what we owe, like ongoing amortizations on retirement funds, credit card balance [which thankfully is not much], and the projected big ticket expenses like tuition fees. This gives me an idea of how much more we need outside of the day-to-day cost of living. And yeah, the emergency fund, which we need to continually add to.
On another sheet, which I have since transferred to Excel, are two columns – income and expense. Under income is my salary from my retainer gig. Well, that’s all it’s going to be, for now. And under expense are the usual suspects. 🙂 Food, toiletries, gas, internet, phones, electricity, car maintenance, etc. I added these to the monthly totals of the payables above, and what I ended up with is the amount that we actually need monthly. Since we do not have any clear prospects yet for the replacement income, we need to make short-term decisions, and those are basically steps that we need to do to lower our expenses and be within my income range.
What Are Our Absolute Necessities?
Another way of posing that question is: where can we drastically cut expenses? Good thing that school is out, so transportation expense is down to almost zero. We just need to plan our grocery trips more efficiently and cut back on lunches or dinners out. We have also talked to our 14-year old who has a cellphone budget of Php200 a month [that’s Sun’s Unlimited Text with 4 hours of calls monthly] and asked if it’s okay if Daddy will just pass a load to her as needed, until further notice. Thankfully, it was accepted without any fuss.
We have also agreed that we will let go of the older car, as it needs higher maintenance and consumes more gas. And it will not make sense to have two cars when both of us will be working from home, anyway. [That part about both of us working from home is still a work in progress.] The proceeds will be saved for the maintenance and upkeep of the remaining car.
For the utilities, we have already implemented power-saving rules around the house [which I may write about in another post]. All we need to do is to make sure that those are strictly implemented. Since it’s summer, my contribution will be the no-spinner policy in the laundry department. I’ll just take advantage of the scorching summer sun to dry the clothes. And a more efficient scheduling of wash days. Since a full and a medium load consumes just about the same amount of electricity, it will have to be full load all the time.
Keeping a Watchful Eye
You may think that it’s OA to be listing down every cent that goes out, but yes, that’s what we intend to do. This will help us determine how we are doing in managing what we have. This may also aid us in determining where to take our food from – the market or the grocery. We’ve also agreed that we will use purely cash from this day forward, to avoid unconscious overspending. Because I’ve always paid my credit card in full and on time, we’ve never paid for interests [nor annual fees] on our card purchases. But it is always best to err on the side of caution, so yeah, no more credit card purchases for us. What my brother told me resonates: If you can’t pay for something in cash, you can’t afford it. That has been my mantra, too, but I kinda have gotten used to the convenience of paying with plastic. But in times like this, we cannot afford to slip.
And so keeping in mind what Benjamin Franklin said, we do have to keep a watchful eye, even on the little expenses. 🙂
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