Darren and I have lived with varying work hours our entire married life ( 23 + years ). We've always had a baseline budget to work with and any extra hours has always been a bonus.
At the start of the year when I was doing all the budgets, I thought it would be a good idea to write out an emergency budget just in case we are faced with the unexpected like job loss or illness. When the unexpected happened in the past, we've scrambled as soon a possible to cut our expenses. Having the emergency budget written out has given us peace of mind. We feel prepared for anything now.
The emergency budget is a bare bones budget that only includes the day to day expenses like food, petrol, chemist, and haircuts etc etc.
A starting point was to look at our usual budget that includes the above items as well as direct debits for our new car, Cook Island holiday and local holidays As I went through each item / category, I either cut it out of the budget or cut the alloted amount down to the bare minimum we could survive on.
Of course our holiday and car direct debits could be cut it we need to. There will always be another chance to go on a holiday. My new car is not needed for a few years so we'll have the time to save.
The emergency budget included a heavily slashed present / gift budget. If times were tough, I'd bake biscuits for presents, make items from my material stash or make boxed sets of greeting cards from my paper stash. I've always had an overflowing gift cupboard that could supply presents for a year. Of course there is my jars of jam and bars of soap I could give. This is an area I feel in control of.
Our wardrobes have plenty of clean, well looked after clothes and shoes with new socks and under things bought on sale and stored away. We could easily go a year without needing new clothes. If the emergency budget had to be put into action, clothing would not be included.
Our food budget at the moment is about $120 a month for the three of us. It sounds impossible, but if we needed to we could cut it down to $100 a month and grow more food and eat really basic meals and snacks.
Thankfully we are pretty healthy and rarely need to buy anything from the chemist. Sometimes we have too much money put away for chemist expenses. So if needed this area could be cut down.
We'd cut pocket money right down to the bare bones. In other words, just enough to buy one morning tea per month.
Once I'd written out the emergency budget I'd slashed over $1100 for our monthly budget with a possible extra $200 slashed if it meant the difference between sinking or swimming.