By Lisa Jacobs
Like me, I’m sure many of you are looking for ways to lower spending and save money while unemployed or underemployed on in transition. The time between our last job and the next time we land can be a time of frustration. However, I have found that there are some ways I can feel a little more in control when it comes to spending money.
One thing I want to remind you all to do is to record all weekly expenses related to your job search. PSGCNJ’s Fran Day, a Training Committee member, told me she keeps a weekly record of her mileage and expenses so she can have the information ready when tax time rolls around. When I started adopting Fran’s program, I was surprised at how quickly the mileage & expenses added up!
Also, keep track of what you pay for: Résumé Writers, Career Consultants, mileage, tolls, and other transportation expenses, just in case you can deduct them from your 2013 taxes. Here is an article I found that may help explain what you can deduct when it comes to job search expenses www.bankrate.com/finance/money-guides/deducting-job-search-costs.aspx. Check with a tax professional to get the specifics about what’s deductible and what’s not.
When you are in transition it’s a good time to revisit, renegotiate, or switch your cable, Internet, and phone plans. I looked on the internet and found plans offered by another provider for my town. My legacy account was several years old and I was able to save close to $50 a month with a new triple play plan from a competitor. You should review your own plans because, in some cases, you may already be paying a very competitive rate.
You may also be able to save on your car insurance if you are no longer making a long commute. Check with your insurance agent. Companies, individual situations, and plans vary, but you may qualify for a lower rate due to the mileage difference, if large enough; and whether or not you have multiple cars, or if your car is not your primary vehicle. Of course, when you go back to work you will have to advise your insurer of the change in use of your car.
Also, take a look at any revolving monthly fees for services you may not really need right now and cancel, or adjust, to fit your temporary situation. My husband and I found we could save money just by switching to a different carrier to haul away our trash. We also canceled monthly-billed services that we decided we could do without, such as Ancestry.com, Luminosity, credit reporting, etc.
As far as saving money around our house, one of the ways I have cut back is on my food budget. Now, I buy the store brand version of the staple items I need, instead of purchasing the name brands. Even if you are a coupon clipper on the name brands, there are savings out there. Some of my favorite store brands purchases include: condiments, spices, frozen veggies, and cereal from Trader Joe’s. (They seem to like the $1.99 price over there at Trader Joe’s!)
By watching my food budget and shopping more often in places like Trader Joes and Big Box stores, like Target, I found I could lower my overall spending on food and my family likes the taste of the food better, too! A recent national morning show backed up my own findings and stated that the Market Pantry brand at Target as another good lower cost alternative to name brand products.
Another goal I have is to save money on household cleaning supplies. I have narrowed down my “weapons of choice” to several products; first on my list is vinegar. To find out all the different ways you can use vinegar visit www.vinegartips.com/Scripts/. I buy gallons of it and use it to clean my kitchen floor and windows.
To clean my bathroom, I use the Shop Rite brand bleach-based cleaner, but be careful about getting this cleaner on fabrics! Shop Rite also makes a decent orange spray cleaner for the kitchen & bathroom. If you don’t like the aroma of oranges, Trader Joe’s has a green spray cleaner that works just as well.
For now, let’s get out of the cleaning mode and switch gears so we can talk about how you can save money on clothing.
Before you get that job interview, make sure your current suit fits you properly. Be honest with yourself, here. You have to be able to button the jacket without causing the vent in back to split apart. You also have to be able to sit comfortably in your suit; to do that, seek the advice of a tailor or that nice lady at the dry cleaners. You will be judged within the first 30 seconds of any job interview, so, a clean suit and shirt that fit properly are of utmost importance.
If you’re like me, and have to purchase a new suit because you visited the Coldstone Creamery once too often at your last job, I have found great buys at Century 21 in Morristown, New Jersey. They have a suit department for men and I found significant savings on separates for women’s suits, too.
Lately, Lord &Taylor has been having some pretty great sales, too! In many cases, you can go online and download 25 percent off coupons to cover sale items. Lord & Taylor also offers tailoring at reduced prices for items purchased from them. Just visit www.lordandtaylor.com.
If you look around for clothing before you land that job interview, you won’t be scrambling at the last minute and spending more money because you’re in a jam, or worse, wearing a suit that fits poorly.
I am also going to throw shopping at consignment stores into the mix as well. I am not ashamed to say I frequent them. I like the consignment shops in hospitals. You can look online in your community and see what hospitals have consignment stores affiliated with them. You may have to visit a few to find one that has donors with your taste or size.
My most recent finds were a leather skirt ($8) and Ann Taylor wool and cashmere slacks ($12). I also scored pristine Brooks Brothers chinos for my husband ($8). Find a store with a donor who has your taste/size and your golden! Some items may still have tags on them!
Finally, and this applies to people as well, but I have four dogs, and one is very sick. I am constantly looking for prescription drug savings for my pets. If your dog is on long-term medication, talk to your Veterinarian about writing a script for your pet, then shop around at different pharmacies.
My dog Bailey has accounts at Walgreens and Wal-Mart; and, I just read in the Whole Dog Journal that Costco has very low overall prices on drugs and you don’t have to have a membership to use the pharmacy for prescriptions. When you get to the front door at Costco, and they ask for your membership card, just tell the Greeter you’re going to the pharmacy. Who knew!
Here’s wishing us all fast and happy landings!
By Lisa Jacobs