How I kept saving even during a job loss

By Kristin Wong

Published: Thursday, Feb. 13 2014 12:00 a.m. MST

It was my goal last year to learn more about investing, and I seem to be reaching that goal so far. Sure, I know that things could change direction; those funds could lose money too.

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Editor's note: This article orginally ran on the personal finance blog Get Rich Slowly. It has been reprinted here with permission.

A few months ago, I wrote about a job loss. It was a first for me. To recap, a high-paying client let go of the majority of their freelancers, which included me. I felt rejected, but I quickly came to terms with it: It’s business. However, since I’d been focusing 90 percent of my work life on this client for the past couple years, I consequently lost 90 percent of my income when I lost the job.

It sucked. I went from saving a ton of money to only being able to pay my bills after drastically reducing my budget. But something surprising happened. Despite losing so much of my income, I was still meeting my savings goals each month. I thought that was pretty cool, so I figured I’d share how I did it. Yes, this is only what worked for me, and of course, these tips might not work for everyone. But hey, if some of them work for some of you, it’s worth sharing, right? Here we go.

I got over my fear of investing

Before the layoff, I’d started educating myself about investing. I invested in index funds. I researched them. I considered their long-term and medium-term return, buying accordingly. Throughout the year, I paid attention to what worked and what didn’t — and I tried to understand why they did or didn’t work. Sure, there’s only so much that’s dependable when it comes to investments, and I considered that fact, too.

One of my medium-term money goals is to save for a down payment on a home. For the past few months, I haven’t been able to set aside much toward this goal. But in December, I looked at my progress. The two savings accounts I have allocated toward “Home Down Payment” earned $966 in dividends. I thought that was pretty good, considering that, with holiday expenses, I was barely paying my bills that month.

It was my goal last year to learn more about investing, and I seem to be reaching that goal so far. Sure, I know that things could change direction; those funds could lose money too. But there’s no arguing that knowledge is better than ignorance. I’m certainly not an expert, so I don’t really feel comfortable giving advice on this topic — but here are a few articles that helped me get started:

And, of course, pretty much anything written by former GRS writer Robert Brokamp and current GRS writer Sam the Financial Samurai I also find incredibly helpful when it comes to the topic of investing.

Of course, I want to earn more and continue to save more of my income. But in the meantime, it’s nice to know that forcing myself to get over my fear of investing is paying off.

I cleaned my closets

The day after Christmas, my boyfriend and I cleaned out the apartment. Turns out, we had a few hundred dollars worth of junk collecting dust in various cabinets and closets. We donated some of that stuff, but we also put some of it up on eBay. Within the first two days, I sold a juicer, an ALF lunchbox and a pair of jeans for a total of $140. After a week, I made a few hundred bucks. And this was just stuff that was hiding — unused and unappreciated — in our closets. I put the money in my savings account.

I saved my ‘mad money’

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