When your income drops 70% you need to adjust fast
From being comfortable to almost broke in 12 months leads you to rediscover many of the forgotten arts of making ends meet, writes VERONICA FLYNN
WE NEVER THOUGHT of ourselves as a Celtic Tiger cubs with a lavish lifestyle to match. If anything my husband and I thought we were being sensible, investing in bricks and mortar rather then frittering away our money on weekends in Dubai like others we knew. If we knew then what we know now (and the whole country can sing that chorus) we’d have booked that first class ticket to Dubai.
So there we were both of us working away in good jobs, a nose bleed mortgage (yup bought a house in June 2006, how smart was that?) and two small pre-school children ... and then the recession came like a sledgehammer into our lives and in the space of 12 months our joint income fell by 70 per cent.
Now unless you are Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg I think most people would feel a 70 per cent drop – and it happened so quickly. My husband was made redundant (50 per cent), I lost all bonuses (10 per cent) and took a “voluntary” pay cut (10 per cent ). All in the space of six months and we remained that way for over a year. It was not fun, it was actually incredibly stressful. But we learnt a lot.
1 THE JOY OF HOUSEKEEPING
Being broke makes you discover the lost art of house keeping. Well in my case I couldn’t really lose the art because I never had it in the first place.
I was never raised to be a thrifty housewife and to be honest I think very few of my generation were. We were raised to study hard and do well in our exams. If the food in the fridge didn’t look appetising there was always the little restaurant around the corner or a healthy takeaway from Butler’s Pantry.
Over that period I learnt the art of taking soggy leeks and turning them into leek risotto, chopping up dodgy vegetables and turning them into a healthy soup and how to stretch an almost empty fridge on Monday night to last till Job Seekers Allowance day on Thursday.
2 MEAL PLANNING IS FOR POSH PEOPLE
I know, everyone is mad about it at the moment, it is so trendy it is up there with foraging or meat-free Mondays but the reality is that meal planning is for when you have money. When you don’t have money you don’t have the luxury of selecting all that you will eat in advance; you buy whatever is on the discounted shelf in the supermarket. And if that is turkey swizzlers as opposed to chicken breast then so be it.
3 NEVER EVER GIVE UP OR DOWNGRADE YOUR HEALTH INSURANCE
I shudder when I read articles urging people to cut costs by downgrading or cutting their health insurance because that is one of the first things we did.
My never sick, fitness fanatic husband decided to leave his previous insurance provider and downgrade at the same time. We might as well have put the money for the new policy in the bin. When he discovered a condition which caused him considerable pain and needed an operation the new policy did not cover him or even come close to covering him.