Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Tightening the Belt

Domestic Partner had to go on furlough for his job a few months ago. It meant a ten percent cut in pay, but it also means three day weekends for him, every other week. The trade off seems to be worth it, so far. Even I appreciate it, two Mondays out of the month, when I go into work knowing that the pugs and the kitty will have extra hours of human company on those days. It sort of makes me think how nice it would be to have a traditional 50's housewife at home every day (that is, if I earned enough to be a traditional breadwinner).

When I came home from work today, Domestic Partner told me that further budget cuts at his workplace may force up to a forty percent cut in pay. It isn't confirmed yet, but he asked me to start thinking about where spending could be cut.

My first thought was that we could get rid of HBO and all of the extra channels we get on our Verizon satellite T.V. box. I waste too much time watching T.V. as it is. Sometimes I miss the days when we lived in Domestic Partner's condo and we didn't even have cable. I still watched too much T.V. back then, but having limited choices to only local channels made a difference in the amount that I watched.

We could also get rid of the land line for our phone service. We never use it anymore, only our mobile phones. We keep reasoning that we need to keep the land line in case of an emergency. Everything is bundled together though, with our Internet service, and I wonder how much of a difference it would make to remove those two items from our service package.

I donate a small, modest amount to charity every month. I would prefer not to cut that as one of my monthly expenses, but it seems to be an obvious choice to sacrifice.

What else? I told Domestic Partner that we could eat out less. He pointed out that we already go to the cheap places as it is, such as Pick Up Stix and Chipotle, and also to Sizzler for the Ultimate Value menu of an entree and Endless Salad Bar for only $9.99 (such a deal!). I told him that we could still afford to stay in and eat more frugally - and not just to decrease our spending output but to decrease our calorie input as well.

As I was jogging tonight I thought about what I could do to make extra income, take a part time job, perhaps. I could teach dance. Maybe I could audition and get cast in a paid gig, locally. I have been losing weight (again) recently. Maybe I could go-go dance in gay bars again . . . at the age of almost-44.

Maybe not.

But there ain't no one who knows how to survive on a tight budget better than a former starving artist/struggling dancer-singer-actor-performer type! In that department Domestic Partner got himself an expert.

I can easily access endorphins while exercising. It's a wonderful addiction because it helps me to organically manufacture 'the possible' in my life. Instead of feeling worried or discouraged about adjusting any monthly expenses, I felt up to the challenge, even when I thought to myself, What if lose my own job?

That takes me into precarious territory because my mind immediately goes into old thought patterns about finding a way to go away on contract to perform. I have a friend who works in casting at the Universal Studios theme park in Japan. What if he was able to help me get hired for one of their shows?

I had told Domestic Partner that I would not go away on contract anymore, as long as we are still together. Not after the last two times . . .

Besides, I think BFF Kathy would kill me if I went away again.

So, what else can I do to cut costs? I'm still clipping coupons from the Sunday paper.

What have you done to adjust your finances? How have you been able to survive hard times?


KK said...

The year the gas was so high, I started riding my bike to work once/week (50 miles r/t). It saved me just under a tank of gas per month (and cut down the weight a bit!). Don't you have a Vespa though? You might try driving that more or cycling.

You guys might also want to revisit your insurance on the house, car, etc. Maybe you can up your deductible in order to save a bit.

Good luck. It's a scary place to be.

The vision of you go-go dancing got me to grin, Peter. You nut!

Michael DeAntonio said...

Keep the landline, ditch the cellphones.

Mr.Macabre said...

Last year was a rough one for us in terms of finance. Besides the obvious of eating out less, shopping at Aldi, going on a staycation, we taught ourselves some new skills like gardening, preserving food, going to farmer's markets and things like that.
Over all, it was scary and sometimes still is. My thoughts are with you.

golfwidow said...

We are both working now, but at a fraction of our old incomes.

Here's what else:
1. No manicure if I don't sell an article. Which means sometimes my nails look like hell.
2. We tested both our cars and when we found out mine had lower gas mileage, that was the one we sold. We carpool now.
3. We ditched the cell phones and kept the land line. The bundle, which includes our cable and internet, makes it worth it.
4. I drink purified tap water instead of bottled water.
5. Staycation instead of vacation.
6. Coupons. Vouchers. Discounts.
7. Freegrabber.com. Free Suave shampoo is free.

Lion's Cub said...

Peter, not to take this conversation in a totally different direction, but this additional 40% paycut sounds *really* steep. If DP works in the public sector, this cannot happen without negotiations. So it would take a while. If he works for a private company, then it sounds like they are trying to find a way to cut employees back to part-time status, perhaps to avoid paying benefits. Lots of businesses right now are looking for ways to game themselves out of the new health care reform requirements, for example. Even if that's not the reason, this huge cut sounds like the company is angling for something else. I hope DP can get some more info before it happens.

Regarding ways to cut back, here is what we've been doing:
*hang our laundry to dry instead of using the dryer (the added benefit is that our clothes last longer, too!)
*never use the heater or air conditioner. Open a window, use a fan, put on a sweater instead.
*unplug appliances when they are not in use.
*pay off our debt before the cuts took effect. In effect it was like taking a smaller pay cut, because the payments were replaced with a reduced income.
*walk wherever we can.
*coupons, groupons, etc.

I wish you well, my purple friend!

Prince Gomolvilas said...

You can't forsake Sizzler!!!!!