What To Do Now To Prepare For The Worst

For a moment, let’s look past the drama in yesterday’s post, and start thinking forward.  What can you do now to prepare for the possibility that military pay could be delayed sometime in the next few months?  More importantly, what steps can you take to build up an emergency fund so that the threat of delayed military paychecks doesn’t throw your world into a tailspin?

Cutting Back and Building Up Savings

As with every potential military pay issue, the key is to have emergency funds available and a way to cut your expenses sharply.  However, what should you do if you are living paycheck-to-paycheck?  My advice is to start making some serious cuts right now.  If pay is never interrupted, hopefully you can keep this money aside as the start to your emergency fund.  Things you can do include:

  • Immediately stop all unnecessary expenses on items such as meals out, entertainment, trips to the beauty salon, unnecessary purchases, house cleaning service, etc.  You might even consider postponing minor car maintenance, putting off your haircut, and delaying any large payments that won’t incur an expensive penalty.
  • Take stock of your pantry, refrigerator and freezer.  See how much you can cut your grocery bill by eating the things you’ve already got.
  • Look over your fixed expenses and see if anything can be trimmed.  Call your telephone company, your insurance company, your internet service provider, and your child’s school or day care to investigate ways to cut your bills.  Drop your cable and either your landline or your cell phone.  See if a neighbor would like to share internet service, if only temporarily.
  • Learn how to shop cheaply for food.  Become a coupon queen, seek out cheap meals, and learn to love beans.  I’m not kidding.
  • Check with your financial institution to see if they have plans to offer any relief during a debt ceiling crisis.  (Many banks and credit unions offered relief during the last serious debt ceiling crisis.)
  • Think of ways to bring in outside income.  Perhaps this is just the right time for your family to pick-up a part-time job, whether Dad delivers pizza or Mom teaches guitar lessons.  Start clearing out all the excess stuff your family owns and selling it on eBay, Craigslist, or at a yard sale.  Been harboring a small business idea?  Dust it off and give it a try.  Yes, I know that this not feasible for many people.   That doesn’t mean it isn’t a decent suggestion!
  • Get to know the services available in your community.  Many areas offer help for heating oil, electric bills, and food.  I know that none of us want to use these services, but don’t be shy.  If you have no emergency fund, this is an emergency situation.
  • Consider sharing your fears with friends or family.  You might be surprised how much they can help.  It doesn’t hurt to ask.

I’m sure that my readers have even more ideas.  Please share them in the comments, but also, please BE NICE.  I will delete mean comments.


About the Author

Kate Horrell
Kate Horrell is a military financial coach, mom of four teens, and Navy spouse. She has a background in taxes and mortgage banking, and a trove of experience helping other military families with their money. Follow her on twitter @realKateHorrell.
  • guest

    Thanks Kate! I’ll add one that I didn’t mention yesterday. I actually buy stuff at yardsales then resell it on Ebay, Craigslist, private sellers etc. Some of the best deals I’ve done, I bought a painting for $4 and sold it after I researched it for 3500 8 months later. I’ve bought TONS of gold and silver jewelry that I sell to scrappers and collectors (I sold one batch and it financed our whole trip to Kodiak AK a couple of years ago, total purchase price was 94 dollars, I sold it all for 2300 to a scrapper). Just last week I bought a gold enameled pin that I just had appraised for 800 bucks, I paid 5. If you’ve got antiques or heirlooms you no longer want get them appraised to find out their worth there are private people and website (there is a great one I use let me know if I can post the name)

    • KateKashman

      Post away! I don’t *think* there would be a problem, and I’d be very interested to know about it.

      • guest

        It’s called Value My Stuff, run by a bunch of former employees of the large auction houses like Sothebys etc from the UK. They are fairly new but I’ve found a lot of their appraisals to be spot on with stuff I end up selling, they give retail vs insurance values which I like and all you do is upload as many detailed pics of your item as you can then two days later they give you a formal appraisal that you can link to your Ebay auctions.

      • guest

        I did just notice they started an Ebay partner website…I don’t use that, I sell it on my own (less in fees) but I link to the appraisal they send me in the auction

        • AGo

          I so agree with that!! They are well of while we have to worry about whether pay is coming or not!

  • guest

    And that suggestion is doable starting this weekend, and it’s something you can do with kids. If you are familiar with baby stuff, you’ll be able to spot really good deals on baby toys etc, use Ebays Sold search to figure out the auction value then list it for a profit.