The low price of milk can take a toll on the dairy family. When cash flow is a struggle, the money needed to provide the basic family needs may not be there, or at least there may be at a shortfall. Not having the money to cover expenses causes stress not just in family relationships, but also affects the mental, emotional, and even physical health of all the family members.
So when money is tight, it is a good idea to review all of the family’s daily spending habits –every little bit that can be saved helps!
Make the time to examine what is spent every month. Cross out the items not needed for survival. No doubt, sacrifices will need to be made. Be frugal in all purchases. “Convenience” shopping can be a big drain on the wallet, so just reducing the amounts of extras spent at the local convenience store (coffee, snacks, a quick bite to eat) can save a lot of dollars every month. Can the monthly phone bill be trimmed? The TV bill reduced? Can monthly heating costs and utilities be lowered? Say “No” to compulsive buying; ask “Do I or my family absolutely need this?” Avoid taking on any new debt. As much as possible, do not buy items on credit. Buy only what you have the cash to buy.
Don’t charge more on your credit card than what you can pay for in a month, and pay the complete monthly balance on time. Late charges and interest add up super fast, and it is not you who is benefiting. If this is a huge struggle, consider the possibility of not using a credit card at all; pay with check or cash. Or, consider limiting yourself to only one credit card.
Eat healthy: reduce the amount of junk food you consume by making any sugar food, chips, or unnecessary snacks a small special treat on weekends instead of part of the daily diet. It is a common fact that many of us Americans are overweight. Ask yourself if you can reduce the total amount of food your family eats: smaller helpings at meals and no seconds or thirds. It is important, however, to be sure the food eaten is of a healthy quality and that everyone is receiving proper nutrition.
If there is a practice of eating out, or a pull towards bars or casinos (which can easily drain a wallet of $100+ in a weekend), find a new hobby or family activity to replace this social scene. Movies from the library are free. Have potluck meals with friends and family.
Lastly, it is important to stay mentally resilient in tough times. Changes are part of life. Current goals may need to be adjusted to meet the changes called for by the economic hard times. Accept there are things over which you have no control; things that cannot be changed or altered. But move forward, don’t get stuck in a hopeless attitude. Keep a positive attitude; negativity is not good for anyone’s mental health. Relationships with family and friends are extremely important; stay connected.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help if help is needed. When things get overwhelming and stressed to a max, talk to a trusted friend, or perhaps a pastor or a counselor. These trained professionals are there to help when things seem to be out of control. Asking for help is actually a sign of strength, not of weakness. Also, be supportive to others and reach out to someone you notice who may be struggling as well. Lend an ear; sometimes we just need someone to listen to our story.
Focus on the good things in life instead of what you do not have. Be grateful for what you already have. Maintain a hopeful outlook; the events can’t necessarily be changed, but you can change how you respond to them. Don’t count on someone else to save you. Use these tough times as an opportunity to foster your interests and/or your skills, and use your skills and to grow professionally and/or personally.
Temptations to spend money are everywhere. Know your finances. Spend within your means. Maybe even, when the milk price goes up, you will have honed your spending habits so that you may be able to save for a family vacation, a new vehicle, or a home remodel!
Hang in there! Getting through tough times takes hard work, persistence, and creativity. But remember: Tough times don’t last; tough people do! Here are some encouraging words from Taya Kyle: “Sometimes you will think you can’t take it another day. But if you hang in there, one step at a time, you will be able to accomplish more than you ever imagine.”