CNN profiles a young family living in a Chicago suburb who have decided to carry out an experiment in frugal living—they want to see if they can reduce their expenses enough to get by on about half of what they made before the wife and sole breadwinner was laid off earlier this summer.
Kubacki, the family breadwinner, was laid off July 1 from a job she loved — software project manager at Accenture, where she had worked for 15 years. At first, she was stunned. “I had this impression that someone had grabbed a big vacuum and sucked all the air out of the room. It was like I couldn’t get my breath,” she said.
Her husband, a former schoolteacher who is a stay-at-home dad and a woodworker, feared for the family’s financial future.
“At first there is the panic, ‘Oh my gosh, we are going to lose the house tomorrow and live in a cardboard box,’ ” Chris Kubacki recalled.
Yet his wife was determined to make her loss an opportunity to spend more time with the family while taking time to find another job she would love as much as the one she had just lost.
So the Kubackis are trying to make Karin’s severance, unemployment checks and some extra cash Accenture provided to pay for an extension of her health insurance last a full year. They are determined to keep paying the mortgage on their home in Crystal Lake, Illinois, a Chicago suburb, and not dig into savings — all on an expected pre-tax income of $54,000, a little less than half of the family’s normal earnings.
One thing they’ve learned that could apply to anyone trying to live on a budget is that if you reduce your luxuries to only one or two things, instead of the half dozen you probably enjoy now without even realizing it, they expand to take up the extra space. Karin, for example, now says bubble baths and Hershey candy bars are her two special treats: “If you have a lot of luxuries, then they become necessities. But if you only have a couple, boy are they terrific.”
Other things to consider include making more use of your library system, finding free public and community events to participate in, and steering clear of restaurants.
The Kubackis have only been at this for a couple of months now, however. We wish them luck, and we hope CNN checks back in a year to see how those bubble baths held up.
“Battling recession with frugality, positive attitude” [CNN]