by Kelly A. O’Connor-Salomon
Until recently, I was one of the lucky adjuncts. I taught regularly for just a couple of schools and had a full-time administrative position at one of them. After seven years, I came to believe that these classes would be a constant. I was wrong. Because of drops in enrollment, full-time hires, and budget reorganizing, by the end of 2012, I had lost everything—including my full time position, which was eliminated.
This new development in my life required some quick thinking and a whole new type of juggling. While I do still have one online class, that isn’t enough to pay the bills, but it is enough to decimate my unemployment, which is another story. So, the option left to me was to cut expenses—without asking my family to sacrifice too much. Believe it or not, it hasn’t been that bad, and some of these changes have actually been for the good—but I doubt we would have made them if not pushed by economic necessity.
The first place I looked was groceries. Coupons I already used, so that didn’t change. I am vegan and gluten-free, and I prefer to eat organically whenever I can. I was determined to maintain by dietary principles even with my more limited funds, and, so far, that has been possible. The main things we cut were processed foods and snacks. My husband was a big fan of Weight Watchers frozen dinners, but I could make dinners that he could take to work that were just as tasty without all the preservatives. Since switching to more homemade meals, he has lost close to ten pounds. These aren’t fancy meals—most of them are variations on rice, vegetables, tomato sauce, and tofu or veggie burgers—but I keep getting Facebook messages from him telling me how delicious they are.
The other thing I started to rely on was my pantry. I had a lot of things on hand, so I decided to start using them up. Why buy cookies when I could bake them? And did I really need cookies anyway? I would look at what I had on hand, check my cookbooks, and then buy fresh ingredients to make whatever I put on the menu for that week. That means I have a pretty busy Sunday, but I’ve been at this for almost two months, and we are doing OK.
The next target was cable. Let me preface this by saying that I love TV, and my husband is an even bigger fan, so it could not disappear all together. So, after many phone calls to the cable company, we cut our cable back to the Basic package, which is local channels plus a few others. My husband misses CNN, but that is the only complaint I have heard so far. We were dependent on our DVR, so we switched to streaming shows through Hulu. We already had a Roku which we used for streaming Netflix. Yes, these are expenses, but it is far less than what we were paying for dozens of channels we barely watched anyway.
The next target is the landline. We have mobile phones, so this month we are experimenting with not using the landline to see if we could live without it. I am guessing we can.