Taking a realistic look at finances can help a family during a rough time.
Financial counselor Susan Bross suggests getting everyone in the family involved with ideas on ways to spend little to no money while trying to maintain the family’s lifestyle. Make a game of it, so that young kids can feel like they are helping out, too. Bross suggests these ways to save money during a family "emergency."
$ Dust off the recipe cards. Planning and shopping for a week’s worth of meals helps cut costs at the grocery store, while also providing a ready answer to "what’s for dinner?"
$ Leftovers rule. Freeze extra servings of meals to avoid the temptation to succumb to an exhausting day by ordering takeout.
$ Shop in your own closet. Image consultants claim that we only use 10 percent of our wardrobe’s potential. Take time to explore what you already have.
$ Cut out dry cleaning. This is the time to choose wash-and-wear outfits.
$ Organize a clothing swap. Bored with your wardrobe? Chances are, your friends are, too. An exchange can enliven a tired wardrobe without having to resort to buying more clothes.
$ Use this as an opportunity to teach your children to respect their clothes, toys and other possessions.
$ The more you drive, the more you spend. Before hopping in the car, ask yourself if the trip is really worth spending $4 or more a gallon on gas.
$ Want to go to the movies? Go to a bargain matinee or swap DVDs with a friend or neighbor.
$ Visit the library to check out books, movies and music. Many also offer free afternoon activities.
$ See what local community centers can provide in way of cheap entertainment and kids’ classes.
$ If you need a night out, try organizing a babysitting co-op, where you and friends take turns watching each other’s children.
$ Get to know your public parks. Pack lunches and enjoy the simplicity of a picnic.
$ Take day trips instead of overnight vacations.
$ Consider making changes to your medical insurance. Often, this means paying a higher deductible in exchange for lower monthly premiums.
$ Prioritize the bills that can hurt you if not paid promptly.
$ Rent or borrow. If something breaks in the house, like a vacuum cleaner, borrow one from a neighbor. Also, try to find passive ways to create income, like renting out your garage or even that extra room or in-law unit.
Read more: Surviving a Spouse's Layoff: Layoffs can happen, and these days it’s increasingly likely that they will happen. What becomes difficult to predict, then, is how long the limbo will last and how well a marriage can weather the storm.
Millicent Skiles is an associate editor with Dominion Parenting Media.