Getting Through Tough Financial Times

You all know that I’m not a stranger to financial strain. My husband has lost his job a few times, and we’re pretty much a one income family. Yes, when you lose your only income, things look interesting. So I try to remember a few things when times get tough.


1. Money isn’t Everything

Yes, a certain amount of money is important to pay the bills. But most families have areas in the budget that can be cut. Cutting the budget to the bare bones is hard, but it’s not the end of the world.

I’m a big fan of historical stories. When we didn’t have the money for satellite television or even a computer, I would remember that entertainment for families way back before technology hit, consisted of playing musical instruments together. I tried to think of fun things to do that didn’t involve money. Some of our top choices were:

  • Taking walks together
  • Watching our daughter play at the park
  • Playing board games (except Trivial Pursuit, because my husband wins every time, and that’s no fun)
  • Reading books together

The funny thing is that these free activities are often the best for encouraging good family relationships. Not having access to expensive technology can actually be a benefit for the family.

2. Family is Important

More than anything else, I learned that during tough financial times, it’s important for family members to support each other. My husband needed to know that I still loved and respected him, despite his unemployment. My husband needed to remember that I needed some space during the day, when he would normally have been at work.

During a crisis, the needs of each individual family member tend to be magnified. Emotions run high. A crisis is the time to step back and be particularly attentive to how each member of the family is feeling and try your best to accommodate those needs. Again, if done well, this can strengthen family relationships, which something that will last well beyond the crisis.

3. A Financial Crisis Strengthens Faith

Like I said before, my family has been through many tough financial times, from low salaries to no salaries. Each time has been incredibly scary. Each time we’ve had to rely on God to get us through. And each time He has come through, sometimes in big ways, and sometimes by providing just what we needed for the day.

But looking back on each financial dry spell, I can see that my faith in God has grown every single time. And as each new problem comes up, I handle it a little bit better, because I have experienced God’s provision and have every reason to trust Him.

And despite the pain we went through at the time, if I had to do each crisis over again, I would. Because the stronger relationships with God and my family that grew out of those difficult times are not something I want to give back.

Do you try to look for a bright light during difficult financial times? What do you focus on?

Photo by csr02083.


By , on Mar 9, 2009
Lynnae McCoy I'm Lynnae, wife of one and stay-at-home mom of two. I'm committed to getting out of debt by being frugal with my choices in life.


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  1. I like this article. I think a lot of the time things are made worse than they need to be by the media who over dramatizes everything.

    There is always a positive side to every situation and the people who focus on that will have a much easier time even when things aren’t ideal.

  2. allhisblessings6:

    I’m a sahm to 6 children and my husband has been unemployed for over a year now. Unfortunately it is so easy to get discouraged and depressed in today’s economy, but encouraging/uplifting articles such as this one does help to brighten things up. Thank you for this inspiration.

  3. Munchies:

    A good supply of basic unprocessed foods and seeds, enough poultry in the barn to carry me for three years, off grid power, water and heat, enough real money to pay my existing bills for about a decade…. AND three pieces of real estate, NO DEBT, NO LOANS, NO MORTGAGES! Me worried? naw.

    Okay, life is a no ostrich zone, with head in the sand, hoping that things get better. We are only part way through this mess!

    How about some preparation for plan B and/or plan C before everyone closes their eyes?

    I follow for unbiased news on all the economic issues before SFTF! Translation something hitting the fan.

  4. Lynnae, you are right on with this post. Life is too short to look and listen to the negatives . . .

    My wife and I appreciate what we have and look for quality in our lives– we look at and appreciate:

    Do we eat healthy, nutritious food at a reasonable price?
    Do we enjoy a variety of foods?
    Do we make memorable dining experiences the kids will remember when they are older?

    Do we have clean, fresh clothes that fit properly and don’t break the bank?
    Are the clothes appropriate for work and play?

    Do we have a safe, warm/cool, reliable home?
    Is it comfortable and nicely furnished with crossing over into excess and clutter?

    Do we have functioning, reliable vehicles that get decent mileage?
    Are they appropriate to our needs (moving six people and excessive daily business travel)?

    Do our kids get a good education?
    Do the kids learn outside of school with us?
    Do we adults continue to learn and grow?

    Our Relationships
    With the kids?
    With each other?

    The glass is always half full . . . if you see it that way.

  5. marci357:

    Gratitude not resentment. And look for the positive.
    The other thing to remember is that Time changes all… in as little as 24 hours, things will look different – not necessarily better, but different. Focus on the CAN DO, not the Can’t.

  6. Glad to see you’re keeping perspective. It can be hard to do when everything is doom and gloom.

    My husband and I have been living on a combination of his unemployment benefits and my disability/part-time contract work. It’s kept things interesting. And they may get more so if he doesn’t get a benefit extension. (It’s still up in the air.)

    On top of all that, our health conditions are acting up and he’s been diagnosed with a severe form of depression.

    So, taking the advice of my therapist, I am focusing on just getting by and being kind to myself (and to my husband). As a Type A personality, it can be hard to remember. But when one of us starts bemoaning something that just seems beyond our capabilities, my current response is, “Well, then don’t do it now.” Dishes can wait a few hours, or another day or two. Non-perishable groceries in the car can definitely sit there for a couple hours while we rest up.

    It’s a revolutionary idea, that we don’t have to do everything NOW NOW NOW. It’s also helping us better get into the mindset of waiting, because we’re dealing with so much bureaucracy and uncertainty.

    Yes, our place could be a little cleaner. Our chore list could be a bit shorter. But we’re doing remarkably well at staying sane. And not taking our stress out on each other. (Though admittedly he’s better at this than I am. I’m working on it.) In the end, staying together, staying sane and trying to stay relatively happy are the end goals. Compared to that, what’s a sinkful of dirty dishes?

  7. I couldn’t agree more. And I agree also with Kate above. They’ve been saying lately that this is worse than other recessions back however many years and I firmly believe that one of the reasons why it may be worse is back then we didn’t have 24 hour news stations. You had the morning news, the evening news and the late news, usually half hour local and half hour national. They had to fill those minutes with the top news stories of the day… there wasn’t time to analyze and re-analyze. There weren’t hour long shows replayed throughout the day, with panels of “experts” rehashing details of every swing of the stock market.

    I am limiting my TV watching and my on-line news reading because if I took to heart all the dire predictions, which by the way, no two “experts” seem to agree on… I too would be tempted to hide out in some hole until things get better.

  8. jill:

    We are also a one-income family, and a homeschooling one. My husband has been unemployed twice: three years ago for eight months, and currently since early December (Merry Christmas!!) Of course there was depression and anxiety for the first weeks. Of course I had thoughts of homeschool suicide (sending my kids to school, so that I could take a day job – anything). But I won’t do it, because I’m very stubborn – I hate admitting defeat – and because I truly believe that staying home is the best thing I can do for my children. Unemployment checks keep us afloat, and although we aren’t able to continue paying down our debt the way we want to, we aren’t going under. The last time we were “income challenged”, my husband rediscovered his woodworking skills, which unintentionally prepared him for this next bout of joblessness. In fact, he suddenly had time to finish many projects that had been causing him to feel neglectful of our home. The neighbors took note of his handyman skills, and this year when the layoff came, he had customers lining up. He now has a little business making custom wood storm windows for homes in our historic neighborhood. I noticed, too, that he had far less resentment of me – no more of those incendiary, hurtful “what do you do all day?” cracks, when he was very literally right in the middle of it. That right there was worth it for me! He remarked last night during an impromptu pot-luck dinner (yes, we still entertain! Shameless, I know) that “the stress of being unemployed is nothing” compared to the stress of his former job. And that wasn’t the cheap wine talking; the first time he lost his job, he shed years of pent-up frustration and regained the easy humor I fell in love with. In fact, after eight months of relaxed joblessness, without even looking for a job, he was offered a dream position at a family-friendly company just ten minutes from home. No more dreaded commute! Better pay! Generous benefits! And my brand new, ulcer-free husband became a breadwinner again, just like that. Now I don’t think we can expect those kinds of magical results this time (the stars just kind of aligned for that one) but I do know that we were better prepared for this layoff, and experienced far less anxiety. This time, we knew to grab the museum passes from the library and use our days together to do things the employed dads can’t do, before somebody offers him another pesky dream job!

  9. I love the tone of this post. There is always a silver lining in there somewhere, no matter how dark things get.
    Sometimes being laid off can actually be a good thing in that it forces good people out of bad jobs so they can find better jobs that they were equipped for. It doesn’t always turn out that way, but going in to a layoff with that attitude certainly helps.

  10. Kate:

    I am deliberatley not listening to too much new on the TV, mainly because i think all this doom and gloom is actually making things worse.
    if you tell people that things aren’t going to get better for a while people will panic and stop spending and guess what things won’t get better.

    instead i think it is better to get on with your own life, being careful with money but not going into panic mode.

  11. Angelsong:

    I try to limit my consumption of the news as much as possible. I like to focus on the ‘human interest’ type stories of how people are dealing with the economy and succeeding, because it gives me ideas I can incorporate into our home and family situation. Like you, I am a Christian, and relying on God is a major help. I remember when I was a single parent of two children, with no job and very low income from public assistance programs. We survived then, and will do so now. In fact, I strongly believe we will thrive, not just survive. Is it easy? No. Is it pleasant? Not always. But, with God, all things are possible.

  12. I’ve realized how rich I am just having a job. But also, it makes me appreciate all the things that I can thoroughly enjoy without worrying about the cost–reading, writing, taking walks with Micah, chatting online with family.

  13. More and more I am feeling these things. Like most other people, I’ve taken some major lumps over the last 8 months, I find myself accepting the things I have no control over and being much more aware and grateful for the real treasure I have – my faith, family and community.

    In a way, this experience has provided me with a great deal of freedom that I would never have gotten otherwise.

    Thanks for a great post.

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