After 18 years, my sister-in-law walked out of her drug-testing-athletes career forever. She along with others were terminated. No sports. No job.

Although she’s been jobless for three months, her attitude and outlook have been remarkable. 

It donned on me that with a practical plan and action steps, a person doesn’t have to be a victim of their circumstances.

I’m veering away from my typical blogs posts to share this example of being “at the effect of life” but choosing not to set up camp there.  Tension and stress are rising in the world, and feeling strapped for money adds to it. Here are three practical ways to use straps––the ole bootstraps––to move forward.

Here are my sister-in-law’s practical steps with a family of four.


  1. Make a new budget. 
  2. Lower nonessential living expenses.
  3. Save what you can.

Make a New Budget

Even if you have not lost any income due to Covid-19, make a new budget as your expenses
during this time should be lower since there are limitations to fully getting out into the community safely.

Monitor your new budget and adjust as needed.

(Here’s an example of a monthly budget template she uses. Click here to get a budget template.)

Lower Nonessential Living Expenses

Categorize your expenses into two main categories…  

  1. Essential Living Expenses (mortgage, utilities, groceries) and
  2. Nonessential Living Expenses (entertainment such as eating out, clothing, athletic memberships, etc).  

…then seek ways to lower nonessential living expenses, like the following:

  • Eliminate all memberships or monthly payments you cannot actively participate in due to Covid-19.

For us, it was activities such as gymnastics, dance, and CrossFit.  Find other
ways to be active.  We take lots of bike rides, walks, swim, and go on nature
trails.  I signed up for an online workout app and there are also many free ones

  • Contact your current cell phone provider and let them know your situation and see if they will lower your monthly fees.

Also, price other cell phone providers and plans. This could save a hundred dollars a month.

  • Shop around for better auto and homeowner’s insurance.

I do this twice a year, but this was extremely important during this time. I saved nearly $400 a year by switching insurance companies for the same coverages.

  • Cut the cord and cable if you are able.

Get an antenna for local channels and a low-cost media-service provider such as Hulu or Netflix.

  • Unsubscribe from store emails.

If you do not see the “sales,” you do not know they are there!

  • Only buy the necessities, shop second hand and eat out minimally.

We (try to) only buy what is needed, not wanted. I cut out almost all clothing expenses because we are home 99.9% of the time and the girls (ages 6 & 9) love looking for bargains. We eat out minimally and cook at home. Before this happened, we took for granted eating out, and now it is more of a fun surprise for the girls to order out or go get a treat!

Save What you Can

If you have not yet been affected financially by Covid-19, save what you can. You should have
more net income monthly if you have lowered nonessential living expenses. I cannot stress
enough to have 3-6 months of emergency savings on hand. If you have been affected
financially by Covid-19, save what you can. Try to invest what you need to get your employer
match for your 401 or employer plan. If you can continue to invest, now is the time to continue if you are able.

Find other ways to make money. Find part-time work if you are able. Grocers, most healthcare, and labor jobs tend to be doing well during this time. Also, look around your
house and list items that you and your family do not use or wear. I love simplicity and being
organized – and if we do not use it or wear it, I am listing it to sell.


When it feels as if there are no other options when rapid change happens, a closer look can uncover opportunities that efficiency, possible lifestyle changes, and a little organization and budgeting can make go a long way.

My first practical step is starting a new budget plan this month. I haven’t been as intentional as I’d like to be, so I’m looking forward to crunching the numbers.

Reflect: What would you add to this list? Which action stands out as something you can begin doing today?


Rachel is a Professional Certified Coach (PCC) through International Coaching Federation (ICF) for INspired Leadership at ESSDACK. She helps professionals get where they want to be, faster. Contact her.


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