Share Your Emergency Budget Ideas

Heather says:

I talked about this yesterday on the Facebook Fanpage, but I thought it would be a good idea to continue the discussion over here. is an apolitical site; this means that neither party will get an endorsement, political bashing is not allowed, and for the most part I really hope that political discussion will happen somewhere else -anywhere else- on the internet. Sometimes specific laws, events, and policies are important to discuss. The comment policy, look in the navigation bar, remains in effect at all times.

Right now I am furious, but it’s an empty, helpless rage.

I don’t think the people in DC live in the same world as everyone else. If at one point in their lives they lived paycheck to paycheck, they have forgotten what that means. I don’t think these people have any concept of what delaying a week’s pay can do to people on the brink of poverty. They do not realize that the only people who win will be the payday lenders. Payday lending operations are predatory, they take advantage of people who feel they are in a desperate situation. For the record, I do not mean the clerks, some of them haven’t been able to find another job and are just working to put food on their tables. I’m only talking about the lenders themselves.

Right now, my heart hurts most for young military families. Young men and women signed up, willing to put their lives on the line, for guaranteed pay. Many of them have kids and it’s hard enough to be separated from your family without having to worry about your next paycheck, too.

Home Eccers, many of  us have been in desperate situations where the only concerns are about your next meal, keeping the lights on, or not losing your house. Please share your knowledge in the comments.

Help those that may be facing difficult choices know which bills can slide for a month with the least damage.

Share your best emergency menu plans.

But most of all be respectful, civil, and do not judge. Many of the people who will hurt the most, if this shut down happens are young. Please remember your late teens and early twenties when it was hard to look past the next week.

*UPDATE* The Happy Housewife has an excellent post with advice specifically for military families who may only receive half a paycheck.


  1. CouponSave$ on April 17, 2011 at 3:54 am

    I make what I call "Dump Soup". I take all of the leftovers that haven't been eaten and need to be eaten and make soup. Veggies, chicken, sausage, you name it and it is lunch on the weekends.

    I am also the coupon queen. My co-wokers laugh at me until I tell them that I can feed my family of 3 for less than $200 a month. Every Wednesday I will sit in the break room on my lunch break and make a list, complete with coupons, for all of the local stores (there are at least 6). I don't necessarily go to each store, but as I am out and about over the next week, I have a list in my purse so I can run in and just get what is on sale.

    Pork Roast is my go to budget meal. I have found pork butt for as little as $1.67/lb with potatoes and a good sale on potatoes and carrots and I can feed my family for at least 2 or 3 meals. We run late more than I like to admit and he needs something that he can eat on his way to school, so we make Peanut Butter Tacos. Put peanut butter on a tortilla and roll up like a taquito.

    Get creative. Whatever is on sale or you get for free from friends, google it for a recipe. I had a ton of celery that my husband brought home from a farmers market, and I had no idea what to do with it (you can only eat so much). I discovered a great recipe for veggie stock that I will be trying tomorrow.

  2. Sistergirl on April 10, 2011 at 8:13 pm

    So the leason for all moms. Do what you have to do in the next six months t make sure you have some saving for those riany days that will be coming soon.
    My recent post THE ULTIMATE BLOG PARTY

  3. ondiac on April 10, 2011 at 7:15 pm

    I know that by "people in DC" you mean politicians but please keep in mind that there are TONS of federal employees here in DC who would have been struggling in the event of a shutdown. I personally would have been furloughed and unsure if I'd be paid or not when the whole thing was over. I was luckier than many of my friends because my husband is not government or military so at least we'd have half of our income.

    • HeatherSolos on April 10, 2011 at 7:56 pm

      Yes, it was an overly general comment on my part. My intent was really to only implicate those responsible for the issue at hand. I'm glad it was resolved, I'm quite thankful that you were not furloughed.

  4. aleasha on April 10, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    Thankyou so much for the comments and the help being a military wife and having to be worried about my husband fighting for our FREEdom i wouldnt want him to be doing it for FREE..I not only would be stressed about him but about how my children and family would suffer from this.Thankyou so much heather for this post i am glad i am doing a review on a chapter in your book because i LOVED chapter 20 and PLAN to purchase to READ what else you can help me WITH THANKYOU SOOO MUCH FROM A MILITARY WIFE AND MOM..

    My recent post NEW DESIGN

  5. BevE on April 9, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    For those who may find themselves truly in need of food because of whatever circumstance you can ask for help at churches in your area. Many churches even though they don't have a 'food program' per se do have emergency pantries set up and will help out families in need. This is something that you can do without having to go through appointments, paperwork, etc. Our church has such a pantry and will open it's doors to those who need it. Hope this helps someone : D
    My recent post Before Ever After- A Novel

  6. Amy P on April 9, 2011 at 8:47 am

    I know this crisis has been temporarily averted, but since I wouldn't be too surprised if things go awry and people are in panic mode again next week here's my two cents:

    We have had a reprieve and should be getting a full paycheck next week–use it wisely! If a budget is not passed we could potentially not get paid on the 1st. Spend only on necessities and bank the rest just in case. Don't eat out, go anywhere that isn't free, or buy convenience foods. Pay the minimum payments on bills you normally would pay out of this paycheck but nothing extra. Sit on as much money as you can until the budget is actually passed and signed.

    More importantly, after the budget has passed sit down and plan how to get yourself into a position where the thought of no pay fills you with fear only for others. Make a budget if you don't already have one. Live on less than you make so you can pay off debt and build an emergency fund. Be purposeful with how you use your money–don't fritter it away (as I am too often guilty of!) Gradually build a stockpile of non-perishables, both food and paper products/toiletries. Because we decided several years ago to do these things (it's still a work in progress but we are in a much better financial/emergency preparedness situation than we were!) we not only weren't panicking about how we would survive, we were in a position to be able to help others if they needed it. This might seem impossible but even small changes can make a huge difference over the long term. There are tons of resources on the web that can give you ideas. And if your installation ever offers Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University–don't miss it! It is such a fabulous, life-altering program. 🙂

  7. Teddie on April 8, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    Growing up we didn't have a lot of anything: money, clothes, food. So, as children my siblings and I ate a lot of beans and rice. As an adult, I try to have at least that in my pantry. I keep at least one bag of rice in my cupboards. Anytime I'm at the grocery store I stroll through the aisle with dry beans and drop a couple of bags in my cart. They are only a buck fifty for a 1 pound bag of dry beans which give you twice as much soaked overnight and cooked. And, add canned tomatoes and spices a you have a deliciously good protein!

  8. Milehimama on April 8, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    Check with your cable company, newspaper subscriptions, and car insurance- you might be able to put the service "on vacation" for a month. If you had to, could you be a one car family for a few weeks, saving on gas and insurance?

  9. Awesome Mom on April 8, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    I think the best thing in this situation is to have planned ahead and already have emergency supplies in place. We have money in savings and have a closet filled with stored food. Luckily we also live in military housing so there is no cranky landlord to pay off. I am just irritated that it has come to this especially when the people involved will still be getting pay when they could more easily afford to do with out.

  10. casey on April 8, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    Sometimes cancelling cell phone, cable, internet, etc. comes iwth early termination fees which may be as much as 4 or 5 monthly bills. I know some companies will allow you to 'suspend' service for a period of time which may be enough to get you through missing one or two month's pay. Longer than that I"m not sure it would help.

  11. Milehimama on April 8, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    My comments from the FB page:
    My best emergency tip would be to cut back lunches. Start making meatless lunches. Make a pot of charro beans or black beans on the weekend and use it all week – you'll eat lunch for practically free!

    Next, gather your people. Put the word out, shared burdens are decreased. Help others and let them help you- you never know what might turn up.

    Then, start hustling now. Now is the time to put the word out that you'll mow lawns on the side, or you're looking for a little extra side money, or that you're willing to babysit in the evenings. Network because you never know where help can come from.

    Finally, start saving like crazy.

    I wrote about saving an emergency fund when you live paycheck to paycheck:

    About the hustling- you never know what kind of odd jobs might pop up. Once when my husband was laid off, I answered an ad and got a job helping recruit and screen families for a reality TV show because they were coming to my town to film. I got a job watching TV (writing episode recaps, someone's got to watch the shows first!) Not all "odd jobs" have to involve sweating!

  12. blossomteacher on April 8, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    The Hillbilly Housewife has emergency menus for 4-6. Granted, her prices are a little out of date, but she is also assuming you have nothing in your pantry, and most people do, even if it is just salt, pepper, and peanut butter. Just Google "Hillbilly Housewife Emergency Menu." She includes day by day instructions, recipes, and shopping lists.

  13. Jana on April 8, 2011 at 11:22 am

    These are all great ideas! Thanks Bahli!

  14. Bahli on April 8, 2011 at 10:57 am

    (My partner and I are both 25; all of these and more have helped us and our peers through lean times; hope they do someone else good!)

    *Books, videogames and DVD's are easy to unload on Ebay; search for the same title and condition as yours to get a feel for what other people are paying for it. Buyback programs in stores such as Gamestop are a ripoff; selling it yourself recoups more cash.

    *If you are paying for TV/satellite/cable, consider canceling it. If you can snag wireless from your job/school/apartment building/ city, consider dropping internet service too.

    *Take a look at your phone plan. Would a pay-as-you-go plan be a cheaper option? Are you paying for extras (a ton of minutes if you usually text instead, for example) that you don't need or aren't using? Also, ask about discounts; Sprint offers discounts for (among other things) military personnel, credit union members, and employees of the Wendy's fast food chain. You won't know unless you ask!

    *Skip the expensive neighborhood grocery and hit discount food stores like Save-A-Lot and Aldi. Bring your own bags, as places like these may charge for them. Also bring your friends; splitting cost of bulk items (50lbs of potatoes, a case of paper towels….) saves everyone money, and food items will get used up before they can go bad.

    *Eat less meat. Animal products are expensive; swap in beans or add more vegetables. Try one meatless dinner a week; familiar foods like chili and bean burritos might be a good place to start.

    *Use public transportation, if it's available in your area, to save on gas and car repairs. Some cities offer a discounted pass or fares for students, senior citizens, children and people who work in some downtown districts.

  15. Jana on April 8, 2011 at 10:39 am

    Whitney, my husband is active duty military and just this morning we were told by his superiors that we need to contact all of our lenders and give them a heads up that we will not be paying them because our monthly pay is being with held. So we are definitely being affected. I wish you were correct.

  16. Whitney Wilson on April 8, 2011 at 10:33 am

    I completely agree with your no politics on this website policy. So just to alleviate a little of your worry about the people negatively affected by the possibility of a shut down, military personnel as well as mail carriers and a few other select federal employees are listed as essential so they will continue to work and be paid regardless of whether there is a shut down or how long it goes on for. Regardless, I'm hoping congress can get it together!

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