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Builders and construction related businesses have been hit especially hard during the recession with the sharp downturn in the housing industry and business construction. Companies are forced to reduce employee’s hours or terminate employees to cut overhead. Unfortunately, my husband is one of those employees whose salary has been reduced to a loss of hours. His income is now only a fraction of what it was two years ago, forcing us to reduce our household spending to lower expenses. My husband just gave me the bad news that his company is reducing hours again and he will now only be working three days a week. This further reduction in income will cause our family to have even less money to stretch over our household spending. Because of the permanent income reduction we have experienced over the past two years, we have been forced to find ways to cut our expenses.
Unfortunately, just giving up my daily cup of coffee, rolling loose change and buying cheaper toilet paper would not be enough to make up the difference in my husband’s income. We had to make everyday changes to our lifestyle like cutting out the extras but we also had to make other changes to our budgets in order to be able to keep our home. I gave up my Starbucks coffee but I also gave up eating out at lunch in favor of a brown bag (as did my husband). Instead of having my hair done every six to eight weeks, I learned how to use the hair color from a box to do it myself at home. My fingernails are no longer perfectly manicured and I have learned that makeup from Wal-Mart is just as good as the department store brands (or at least good enough). My husband purchased hair clippers at Big Lots for $11 to cut his own hair rather than going to the barber every month (he keeps it very short). Our teenage daughter has reluctantly learned that she can wear clothes without designer labels and feel just as beautiful.
Small sacrifices in our personal habits and shopping preferences were not enough to make up for the permanent cut in pay so we moved on to slashing our utilities to save money. The easiest way to save money was to cut our cable television to the basic channels although it was the hardest thing to do without when we began to miss some of our favorite shows. However, a lot of them are available online so we now just watch them online at our convenience. We also cut our telephone service to save money. To save money on energy costs, we added weather stripping around doors and windows, unplugged appliances that were not in use and installed low-flow showerheads.
I wish making these cost-cutting changes were enough to offset the loss of income; however, both my husband and I have had to seek part-time employment to supplement our income. I began writing more often to generate extra money and my husband got a part-time job on the weekends. We will continue to do whatever is necessary to supplement our income and cut costs until the economy picks up and my husband’s employer recovers from the recession.
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