Motherly Collective

Unemployed—a scary word that has impacted my family for five long months and counting.  

For many middle-class American families with dependents to support, our situation would be their greatest nightmare. It used to be one of mine too, until we landed here. Instead of fear, I have a deep desire to reprioritize our familial values through this process. With our schedules stripped away, we’ve had a hyper focus on what matters most—time together. It also cut out our frivolous spending. 

As a mother, I believe we build resilience in our kids when we build it in ourselves. Instead of living in fear, I’m choosing to see the future as an adventure. And the present, a test of fortitude. But, that doesn’t mean it hasn’t come with its own bag of stressors. 

My husband is our primary breadwinner. Since becoming a mother 10 years ago, I’ve always worked part time for supplemental income but we rely on his paychecks. It’s the sacrifice we chose to raise our family. To date, he’s applied for over 100 jobs. As a hardworking, qualified candidate with more than 10 years of experience in his field, why hasn’t he landed another job yet? 

It’s a question a lot of Americans are asking themselves right now. According to Business Insider, many US companies are slashing their workforce in 2023, including over two-hundred thousand layoffs in tech alone. 

This summer, we lived off our savings. Each new week brought the promise of a prospective posting or, if we were lucky, an interview. To get by, I found ways of reducing our current overhead, and we freelanced work. Finally, in August, we applied for nutritional assistance, insurance and unemployment. It was hard to accept that it had come to this but then, I remembered that we have been paying into this system our whole careers. 

It helped us to have enough for about three-six months of our living expenses. Also, teaching kids about the family budget can help them learn how to handle money in their future too. Here are some ways I’ve learned to keep costs low in order to help us save.

Budgeting tips for families 

1. Car payment

Are you driving a vehicle beyond your means? Both my husband and I drive practical cars w/o car payments. In this season, I’ve never been happier to be the oldest car in the school parking lot. 

2. Health insurance

The middle-class is suffering through crazy high insurance premiums and deductibles that make it unrealistic to thrive financially. If that’s you, maybe it’s time to switch to a health share, or an independent plan, outside of your employer. I really wish we had done this earlier. Zion Health-share is one I found through an insurance broker, but do your own research to see what works best for your family’s needs.

3. Shop secondhand

Buying furniture through sites like Offerup, Facebook Marketplace or outlets has always saved my family a lot of money. We also thrift clothes and shop the “used” options on Amazon marketplace. 

4. Eat at home

Cooking meals at home is not only healthier, but cheaper. Make a meal plan for the week and stick to it. Buy in bulk and on sale items as much as possible. 

5. Get an updated quote

Consider getting an updated quote for car or homeowner’s insurance plan. After years of loyalty to one plan, we switched this summer and saved over $1300! 

6. Cut down on subscriptions

Do you really need to stream every single platform? It all adds up.         

Be prepared to apply right away for government assistance. 

The process to get accepted is not for the faint of heart. We had to show proof of documentation up to the wazoo and reach out to past employers to secure proof of termination.

We actually applied in May but were originally denied. If we had been tenacious and followed up, we would have learned that it was an error with our application. After a three-hour phone call and additional paperwork submitted, we got it resolved in August. That means, we lost out on nearly three months of help. So, don’t be afraid to make a call and dispute the decision. 

Contact your utility company, internet provider and phone carrier. 

I found so many government grants that help low-income families save monthly. For example, APS currently offers 25% off bills for those who qualify, and through a program called Lifeline, we receive thirty dollars off our internet bill monthly. 

If you think you’re about to be laid off—start saving.

I know with inflation that it’s harder than ever to save, but it’s also never been more important. I highly recommend downloading an app like Dave Ramsey’s “Every Dollar” to create a monthly budget. You’d be surprised to find where your money goes every month. I found ways to tuck away a little here or there, and it added up. 

As a parent, I believe that this season is teaching my whole family resilience and what matters most—being together. Yes, it’s a difficult time for our family but we’ll make it through. This too shall pass. 

This story is a part of The Motherly Collective contributor network where we showcase the stories, experiences and advice from brands, writers and experts who want to share their perspective with our community. We believe that there is no single story of motherhood, and that every mother's journey is unique. By amplifying each mother's experience and offering expert-driven content, we can support, inform and inspire each other on this incredible journey. If you're interested in contributing to The Motherly Collective please click here.

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