On February 15th, I married my best friend surrounded by my family & friends in the lower Hudson Valley, one of my favorite places to escape NYC. I was on top of the world.
On March 2nd, I was terminated from my job.
On March 9th, we got notice that NYC was shutting down & my husband would be working reduced hours from home for the foreseeable future.
Over a month later, we’re still home, I’m still unemployed. And while, this wasn’t what either of us expected for our first few months of marriage, we’re hanging in there. We’re figuring out how to handle this new normal and finding enjoyment & happiness in the little things and in each other. I know a lot of others are also struggling with reduced income & unemployment right now. So I thought I would share how we’re adapting in hopes that it helps you as well.
First, I think it’s super important to note that having a solid financial foundation was always a priority to us, even before we were married. We have no debt, live within our means and have a fully funded emergency fund. I can’t stress enough how much easier this has made this time for us. I couldn’t have foreseen this scenario we’re in a couple months or a year ago. But I’m so thankful that we made saving a priority back then. If you do not have a sufficient emergency fund (3-6 months of living expenses) and have the ability to save right now, DO IT!
After overcoming the initial sadness & shock of being terminated, we got to work pretty quickly in calculating our new income. The provisions in the CARE Act allowing an extra $600/week for unemployment claims made a huge difference as it essentially doubled my benefits. We needed to figure out what was coming in to see what we were working with. Then subtracted our fixed expenses - rent, utilities, Netflix (this is essential!), etc.
Then came the not-so-fun part of cutting out our non-essential expenses. Now being stuck at home has definitely helped this - goodbye commuting expenses, dry cleaning, event registration fees, travelling, movie theaters, restaurants, shopping, etc. I decided to freeze my gym membership which hurt my heart because I love my gym and my coaches. But when going through this process, you unfortunately have to prioritize your non-essential expenses. We held on to the expenses that we see as an investment in ourselves - our continuing education (CFP for me & architect license for him), the hubby’s wood shop & drawing programs, and some website & marketing expenses for me. Then we actually had some things increase in our budget - my COBRA for example is $600 out-of-pocket which is still less expensive than being added to my husband’s plan (I was actually willing to roll the dice on this one but he said no way during a global pandemic...compromise!).
We also increased our weekly food & wine budget. Cooking together and experimenting in the kitchen is one of our favorite hobbies so we’ve really leaned into it during this time. Even though these are exceptional circumstances & times, life is entirely too short to eliminate everything you enjoy for the sake of your budget (just do it within reason!). So we spend money on more expensive ingredients but it gives us something to look forward & get excited about. Weekly menu planning is one of my favorite parts of the week.
This whole experience has really taught me to embrace the frugal joys of life - whether it is working out with my husband on our apartment rooftop, getting excited when my sourdough starter rises, or seeing my family during our weekly Zoom calls.
Have you had changes to your income? What adjustments have you made? And what are your frugal joys? Comment below!