How to survive an economic crisis

Finally something in the news that I have expertise in.

I am an expert on the subject of economic crisis….no really, I am!  I mean after all I have lived most of my adult life (except for a few short “glory years” of phenomenal success with my home based business) in a state of economic crisis. (which perhaps is why I am not stressed out by the constant news reports – it is life as normal for us!)

Every time my dear darling hubby and I get his social security report showing his earnings since he was 16,  I look to see if he has yet to make the income level he made the year before we were married (1985) when he was in management for a wine cooler company. (not to diminish the love of my life’s leadership skills but he has said himself that all you had to do to be in management was to not come to work high.)

Don’t get me wrong…“I am NOT complaining!”.  This is the life we have chosen and honestly we would not have it any other way. 

  • When we got married we committed our lives to the service of others in full time ministry to teenagers.  We spent the first four years of our life together as youthpastors before moving on to becoming teachers & counselors in Christian high school education.  After 10 years in one school just when we were beginning to “get ahead” financially we both left our jobs (Ok, I got fired….another story for another day) and lived by faith for the next 18 months as we forged ahead to start a new Christian high school in our area which emphasized discipleship and Biblical world view training.  We chose to work for a lower salary in Christian education because we are passionate about the lives that it touches!
  • We have also chosen to give the Lord control of the size of our family and have been blessed with seven children to love and provide food, shelter and clothing for.  According to the national poverty level guidelines – we have lived at or just slightly above poverty level for much of the past two decades.  (although I will argue with anyone that what we consider “poverty” in the USA is nothing close to poverty at all)
  • We have also chosen to live in the Central Valley of California, which despite it being one of the least expensive places in this state to live…it is still has at least a 15% – 20% higher cost of living than most places that we could live in this country.

So yes, I am an expert at surviving economic crisis.  Here are my timely tips for those who might be wondering how they are going to survive the trying times being predicted ahead of us.

How to survive an economic crisis 

1.Learn to live with inconveniences or without what some may consider necessities. (but really they might be luxuries) Currently, we have a big hole in our bathroom sink

our shower faucets have to be turned on with a vice grip

 and we do not have a working air conditioner or dishwasher.  In the past we have had a myriad of things that others might see as necessities that we just have lived without or postponed fixing or purchasing.

What we are saving this year 

  • not purchasing a new bathroom sink – $150
  • not replacing the shower fixtures – $300
  • not purchasing a new dishwasher & washing dishes by hand – $400
  • not using the air conditioner this summer (since it does not work anyway!) – $600
  • not purchasing a new air conditioner $5,000 – $7,000
  • not using a pest control company to get rid of the varmints in the attic & under the house (we did have to take care of the termites!) – $600


2. Drive older used cars(even if they are “beat up” and unattractive) or if possible drive only one car. 

 We actually have had only one vehicle several different times in our lives and we survived just fine. (fond memories – I use to walk home from work when I was pregnant with number one and Dan was in bible college with our only car.  Another time we could not even fit our entire family in our one car to go to church together so a friend came and picked up some of us. For six months one year, I got up and drove Dan to school each day and he got a ride home with a student – anyone want extra credit?  Were these times inconvenient? Yes…but we survived then and could survive again)

What we are saving this year 

  • driving an old/beat up car with no payments, cheap insurance (yes it costs much less to only have liability insurance on a 12 year old car) & low registration – $5,000

And this photo is 8 months old – the trunk is now tied down with bungee cords – looking quite amusing.  Every time you hit a bump in the road, it bangs so hard it makes you jump (not that I am often found driving Dan’s car) But still it gets Dan, our two high schoolers and three other teenage gals to and from school everyday!

3. Get rid of cable TV– yes that is right – just cut it out.  We have never had cable television and have lived quite happily without it. (although that is not to say I wouldn’t enjoy the history, hallmark and cooking channels)  Other extras you could consider cutting out – extra telephones, extra services on those cell phones etc….

What we are saving this year

  • not having cable TV – $500 to $900

 4. Take a “vanity” inventory.  Do you and or your children really need those new/stylish clothes, manicures, pedicures or regular hair cuts, color and styles?

What we are saving this year 

  • on never getting a manicure or pedicure and only getting my hair cut/colored every 8 months (as opposed to every 4 months which it needs!) – $250 to $500
  • the kids wearing hand-me-downs and never buying anything new but shoes & underwear – $1,000 – $2,000

5. Eat at home and pack lunches for school/work. Be prepared and find inexpensive meals that still fill up the family. (and do not eat out – probably one of the single greatest expenses for many families – this adds up faster than you realize!)

What we are saving this year 

  • for eating very “inexpensive” meals like beans & rice several times a week – $1,000

 6. Nix the nice vacations! Go on camping vacations or be creative and swap homes with someone if you live in a vacation destination (which we do not!). Kids do not need fancy hotels, resorts, cruises or even Disneyland to have a good time – in fact I am willing to bet that the best memories are made on simple “back to nature” vacations. Of course many years we saved even more by camping in our back yard!

What we are saving this year 

  • for taking a week long camping vacation instead of a hotel/cabin rental vacation – $1,200+ (of course we are saving $5,000+ by never going to Disneyland with our family of nine)

7. Live in a house smaller than what you “need”.  And you do not need a bedroom for every child and most families could survive quite well on 1,500 square feet or less.  In the towns we build homes for in Mexico – a family of 6 to 9 live in a 320 square foot home with no indoor bathroom or kitchen. (and they are quite happy I might add!) I could live in a tent if I had to! 🙂

What we are saving this year 

  • living in a 1400 square foot/ 3 bedroom home – the 6 girls in one bedroom, 1 boy (but hopefully soon a few more) in the other room  and Dan the Man & myself in the 3rd bedroom as opposed to living in a 4 or 5 bedroom home – $12,000 – $15,000 (includes extra mortgage, taxes, insurance & homeowners association fees and utility expenses)

8. Skip the fancy birthday parties, professional photos, gifts for extended family– this always seems “harsh” or sad to people but really these are all negotiable expenses.  A backyard birthday party with homemade cake (costs $2.50 to make), free games & no goodie bags sent home (when did this tradition begin? – not in my youth!) is perfectly ok!

You do not need to order those school photos, sports or prom pictures. Get out your camera and take a few photos (if you need photo tips – they are out there everywhere!) – more formal & fun ones.  The only professional ones we splurge on are the 1 year old & senior pics!

We have more than three dozen extended family members alone – although we would really LOVE to purchase gifts for them all at every birthday, Christmas and special occassion we just don’t have the funds –  a phone call, email greeting or simple card sharing your heartfelt love – is a blessing! We do try to save up a little money for the “milestone” events (25th, 50th anniversary’s, the big decade birthdays & weddings)  Now..please don’t think we are “stingy” – we do sponsor every short term missions trip that people ask us to support, give to World Vision and a couple missionaries as well as blessing others as the Lord touches our hearts (which is often).

What we are saving this year 

  • on only purchasing birthday and Christmas gifts for our children but not extended family members –  $700
  • on birthday parties (if this looks skewed – remember we have 7 kids) – $700
  • on not purchasing professional photos around every corner – $200 – $500 

9.  Stop the Starbucks habit or at least cut back.  For years this was about the only “luxury” we gave ourselves several times a week since we live fairly “bare bones”.  But since doing the fat flush, we are down to just a couple times a month. (for those not coffee drinkers – perhaps it is Jamba Juice or fast food french fries or your daily soda addiction that you could cut out or reduce)

What we are saving this year 

  • not drinking Starbucks 3x a week (x Dan & Myself) – $800 (we drink the “cheap” stuff – $2.55 a cup)

    10.  Since 10 tips sound better than 9 this is my personal favorite (and please do not hate me – I am just not an animal person) Do not get a new pet! (sorry girls, I just found another reason in my long list of not getting a puppy for Daniel)

What we are saving this year 

  • on not having a dog (food/vaccinations/vet bills/paying for him to be cared for while we are on vacation/grooming) – $500-$800

 Ok so how much have I saved just this year by living in a state of personal economic crisis??

anywhere from $30,000 – $33,000

(with at least $22,000 of that being annual expenses not one time purchases/replacements that just might be a once a decade expense, like replacing an air conditioner or dish washer)  

Wow…that is an amazing amount of money – another whole salary.  Of course it is a good thing that we “save” these expenses since we do not have this money to spend in the first place.   And honestly….even though we live a pretty “bare bones”existence, I know there is still much, much more we could cut back on and still survive. (yes, if I had to I could eat beans & rice 5x a week, live without cell phones, drive less & walk more, not get my hair done at all, decrease electrical/water expenses….and on & on & on)  

If you are fretting over the future or being stressed out that your financial future is in peril – be encouraged – there are probably multitudes of things you could cut out/sell/change about your current life that would help you weather the storm quite easily. (I would love to hear about them – do share!)

So take a big breath and relax – we can all survive an economic crisis!


Filed under Attitude, Blessings, Determination, Economics, Life at the Lambdins, Lifes Challenges, My "take"

9 responses to “How to survive an economic crisis

  1. Mom, you and dad are pretty much amazing!

  2. Wow. You humble me. I’m complaining today because we cannot afford to get a plumber to fix our third bathroom and my guests had to run through my bedroom to use the master bath. I don’t make time to read every one of your fabulous blog entries… but today, I’m grateful for having taken the time on my birthday (read: day off) to take in some ‘me’ time and read your peice. I actually say with my mouth that we are all ‘spoiled’ Americans. But until you compare your circumstances with another in more difficult circumstances, it really does seem ALL ABOUT ME. Thanks again, Beth, for being an excellent example of contentedness in ‘every situation’.
    Just to bolster my ego, I think I’ll add up what I’ve ‘saved’ in all the make-up, jewelry, clothes, dinners and flowers that I’ve never required! Just kidding. Tracy

  3. wow, I feel better already!

  4. Bravo! Good reminder on how we can all cut back when we need to. I’m ready to implement #10!!! You forgot to mention how much you save by not having a designated “guest room” : ) See you this weekend!

  5. carrie

    The Friday newspaper and other local, community papers are a great way to find free activities for the family. Movies at the park, activities at the local library, small community theater productions, free days at the art museum’s, the list goes on. There is not much we pay for when it comes to entertaining the kids (or out of town guests). Other than or upcoming trip to Disneyland:) The other thing we are starting with our little ones is quarterly “Service Projects”. So much fun to do together and it is a great reminder of how blessed we are and what we DO have.

  6. bethlambdin

    My friend emailed me this —

    “Every year at this time my poor husband gets really stressed out about Christmas shopping. I always say we can cut back. But with all our extended family it’s virtually impossible. Everyone buys for us, how could we possibly not gift back? We usually spend a couple thousand! Did you gasp?? I know it’s crazy!. We usually buy for 50 people. Last year I typed up the list which was 4 pages long! We over bought for our children, too. This year I’m determined to spend a few hundred. I’m scared, but ready to make a change. I was just about to make my list when I saw your post! Perfect timing, Beth!! We also over commit ourselves during the holidays with parties, ect… So I need to cut those back, too. Wish me luck!!!!”

    I thought others might enjoy my ideas I sent her

    Here are some ideas —

    Invite all of your extended family & friends over for a game night with your family say like in January – with fun, food & fellowship. It will cost you much less than a couple hundred dollars to feed them all — and it will be memorable for all. Just include a cute wrapped invitation for under the tree

    Give “family” gifts instead of individual ones – DVD’s, games, ornaments, pictures, personalized calendars all make good gifts – you could spend just $15 – $20 per family (or even less if you have too)

    Have each member of your family write out everything specialabout each person and make a fun card on the computer or by hand. Words of affirmation often mean more than any gift. Or you could video tape yourselves telling them how much you love & care for them

    Donate to their favorite charity or cause in their name – I love this!

    As far as gifts for your children – I think the best thing is to just do stocking gifts & one “larger” gift period. It is also great to have a gift of togetherness where the family goes & does something together – bowling, amusement park, movies, a play etc….

    You can do it! I am cheeering you on. 🙂

  7. Beth,

    Thank you for your wisdom and encouragement! The biggest obstacle we have faced is the tendency do things or buy things to impress others. Our home is 40 years old and lots of our friends live in newer homes. We’ve updated a lot, but still have some items (ie: old bathroom) that need work. Seeing your sink and tub fixtures made me feel right at home! And you know what? Nobody cares about that stuff! I had a dear friend say “I come here to see you, not your house!” Amen!!!

    We need to get past that feeling that others are judging us by what we have or don’t have. Our homes should reflect our faith and love.

    Have a blessed day!

  8. Lynda Borden

    Great ideas Beth ! As a teacher I am always amazed at the great lengths parents go to to buy gifts for me. I know that many of them can not afford to buy them so they are proabably putting them on credit cards. I wish more people realized that we (Americans) do not need more stuff !

    Another Idea – In November our local Beauty College offered half off on all services. I was able to get four girls haircuts and two manicures (Kelly and Shannon paid for those ) for $22.00. And in our home these cuts should last a few months ! I usually treat my self to a manicure in the summer and I always head to the beauty college. Lynda

  9. Anita Swearingen

    I was so encouraged by your trust and your wisdom. We ALL live with too much and NEED less than what we have. Thank you for the reminder that building the Kingdom into our kids matters more that building another room (with the expenses) on to our home. I grew up in a 1200 sq.ft. home and I never knew that I had less than my friends. May I never lose sight of God’s provision in ALL things and to remind my kids that we have ALL that we need in Jesus!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s