Finding Purpose in Challenging Times

Finding purpose in challenging situations can make them a little easier to endure, especially when that challenge involves drastically cutting expenses.

It’s a Saturday morning, and I hit the ground running doing what has now become my morning ritual: looking for a roommate to move in with.

The process has been very hard and depressing for me because I love my current apartment. To many, my little “Frib” is nothing special. It’s a very basic one bedroom with generic walls and carpet, and fixtures from the 70’s. I don’t have a dishwasher, and I still have to go to the laundromat to do my laundry, which is a task I loathe.

But it’s safe, comfortable, and all mine. As someone who works from home I love my coveted space. Oprah always said your home should “rise up to meet you,” and mine does. But the rent is killing me.

It’s $1,400 (less $170 because I rent out my attached garage), and lately it’s been nearly half (or more) of my income. While I’ve had great months income wise, since July work has been on the slower side, so I decided to make a tough choice and I’m looking to reduce my rent to less than $900.

So far the search has been tough. In the very limited options that come up on sites like Craigslist, one place I looked at was decent. It was a woman’s home and was spacious and tasteful, but it was all hers and she didn’t want someone who worked from home or had a cat (two things I can’t change).

In the second place, the woman was very nice and bubbly, but her place was super cramped and cluttered, and there were stains on the floor, and barely enough space to put a desk in the bedroom. The search continues.

Finding purpose


While I go through this process, I start to feel down or sorry for myself, which I think is common when a big change is happening in one’s life, so that’s why it’s very important to find purpose in challenging times. While I may be sacrificing my space and my things (I’ll probably have to sell 90 percent of my belongings), I’m gaining a lot less financial stress, and the ability to open myself up to more options. Maybe now I can quit one of my 800 side hustles to free up some more time for myself to focus on things I want to be doing, instead of have to be doing. Plus, this is not a life sentence.

what can i sacrifice?


If you are in a tough financial situation yourself, either by not making enough income or paying off debt, it may be time to ask yourself, “what can I sacrifice?” Many big changes in our lives are difficult at first, but become easier over time.

When I began my financial wellness journey, one of the first things I had to cut was eating out. I thought I’d lose all my friends and have to live life as a hermit. But nothing could have been further from the truth. In fact, many friends have told me they have emulated my frugal ways and have cut back on spending themselves.

And now a lot of my side hustles (like helping out at networking events, and working with a team building company), involve socializing, and the bonus is sometimes it includes free food and drinks! Win-win!

When I first cut cable, I felt the pang of sadness that I couldn’t watch shows on The Food Network anymore. But as many of you who have cut cable know, there are a plethora of options via Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Redbox versus going out to the movies. I mean, it’s a no-brainer! As the saying goes, “when one door closes, another door opens.”

Finding purpose in challenging situations can make them a little easier to endure, especially when that challenge involves drastically cutting expenses.

What not to sacrifice


There does come a certain point though where you really need to be cautious what you do cut.

In my apartment search, I looked for studios and 1-bedroom options in the $900 range. All I found were listings for places in very sketchy parts of LA. This is obviously not a reasonable option.

Another area of my life I refuse to cut spending is my health. I won’t eat fast food or processed junk to save a buck or two, because in the long run that will come back to haunt you, and you will end up spending a bunch of money in medical bills.

If you are currently facing making changes or cuts in your life, or have hit a rough patch, I implore you to take a moment to sit back and try to find purpose and meaning in the situation. There is almost always some kind of silver lining you can find.


How do you make the best of a bad situation? Have you rented out your home or apartment to lower your monthly expenses? How did it turn out? What are some expenses you consider off limits or won’t cut?

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Tonya Stumphauzer

Tonya is a video editor/producer and writer living in Los Angeles who enjoys beach volleyball, playing ukulele, and running. Visit her blog Budget & the Beach!


  • I totally love this one Tonya!! Right now, I’m currently making a very big change in my life that I never ever imagine that it would be happening to me now. Thanks again for this one.

  • First, good luck on your search. I know something will turn up for you that you both like and feel comfortable in.

    You are so right about sacrifice. When I was 80K in student loan and credit card debt, I had to sacrifice a lot to reach my goal to be debt free. It wasn’t easy and the first to go was getting my nails done. Boy I really missed it but I learned to do them myself. If you’re not willing to sacrafice, you can’t reach your goals.

    • Tonya Stumphauzer says:

      Oh man I hear you with the nails. I loved getting pedi’s and because I spend so much time in the sand they get gnarly pretty quickly. I’ve learned to DIY for the most part, but there is only so much I can do on my own. 🙂

  • We cut expenses when getting out of debt. We cut wants out of our budgets to free up money each month to help pay off our debt. Facing a job lose now we are looking at what items we can cut to keep our budget to a minimum.

    • Tonya Stumphauzer says:

      That’s always so tough. Thinking about your Brian and wishing you nothing but the best!

  • In Central Indiana, you could rent out a 3-bedroom home with a two-car garage and back yard for $900! =)
    I hear ya, there are certain things I wouldn’t cut. I definitely wouldn’t feed my family cheap junk food to save money.

    • Tonya Stumphauzer says:

      Man that’s crazy, but I hate the midwest (no offense, it’s just where I grew up and it’s just not for me), but the money does go a long way. I’m not opposed to moving out of state though to a lower COL place, but I have to manage it because if I leave, I have no current way to make income save for some sponsored posts.

  • Astronomically high rents for small apartments always leave me flabbergasted. Where we live, rents are dirt cheap and allow for people to actually take advantage of what the area has to offer.

    Good, healthy food and dance lessons are two things I wouldn’t cut out of the budget. They both fuel my day and allow me to find pleasure in life. Best of luck on your continued search.

    • Tonya Stumphauzer says:

      Yeah that kind of goes along with the health thing. I loved dance classes but haven’t taken as many as I did when I was in my 20’s. I still loved it though!

  • I think you bring up an important point about the temporary nature of cut backs. It’s much harder to eliminate those things when we think of them as forever. When it’s temporary, it’s easier to implement change, giving us the chance to stumble upon a new discovery.

    • Tonya Stumphauzer says:

      So true. It’s a mindset thing. You can get through just about anything in a short time period. 🙂

  • We bought a house and rent out a portion of it. It’s been a great perk and honestly we would have had to buy a smaller home if we didn’t go this route. I feel like most of my expenses – mortgage, student loans, gas (to get to work), utility bills, health bills, etc. are things I have little choice over. I can lower some of them, but for the most part they are what they are. Health care is the one area I will always be willing to pay and not cut.

    • Tonya Stumphauzer says:

      Yeah my rent is really the only thing left to cut from my budget, or drastically cut. I’ve cut just about all I can in other parts of my life.

  • I know this is a tough time for you, but I totally agree that it helps to find purpose in the tough times. Sometimes we get caught up fixating on the wrong things during a difficult time that we miss solutions that could be staring us in the face. This past year I have cut so much in an effort to keep finances afloat while I started my business and I didn’t miss anything I gave up because my business is my purpose and it makes all of the other choices irrelevant.

    • Tonya Stumphauzer says:

      It’s crazy though Shannon because now that I’m so driven by this particular goal, it’s really frustrating me how limited my options have been so far. It’s like I embraced the change, but now it’s not happening as fast as I’d like. Makes me feel unsettled…I smell another blog post coming on. 🙂

  • When it came time to make some changes, the hardest part about it was the change in attitude. Once we changed out attitudes toward restaurants, it was easy to stop going. Now, cutting the cord was a little tough–not going to lie that I don’t miss HGTV!

  • It may be a no-brainer, but there’s a kind of med that vastly helps Tim that I won’t do without. He could survive without it, but his skin would itch. Every inch of his skin.

    The cost of it recently doubled and it’s not covered by insurance. But it had to be done, even though it put a crimp in our savings plan.

    Also, we could save a little money by going down a tier on our Internet. But most of our entertainment (and my work) comes from that, plus Tim’s parents use it sometimes too. So I’d rather keep the speed a little higher.

    • Tonya Stumphauzer says:

      I know I could cut out my $8 netflix but to me that is splitting hairs and I spend a LOT of time watching that as entertainment to keep me from spending money on other forms of entertainment.

  • Hannah says:

    Since your income problem is temporary, have you thought about trying to find less permanent housing situations that will provide a stop gap for a few months? For example, during college summers I would work during the day, but I would watch my friend’s kids most evenings in exchange for their extra bedroom.

    I’m not suggesting becoming a nanny, but maybe you have friends whose parents are still in LA who might be willing to let you have a bedroom if you do house/yard work. Or you could become a property manager for an apartment. Typically that will yield an apartment with discounted rent.

    These are not likely appealing long term solutions, but your housing fix only needs to last so long until your income picks back up- which it will 🙂

    • Tonya Stumphauzer says:

      I’ve been keeping my eye out for ANY kinds of housing opportunities. It’s just very few and far between. The nanny thing is out for me. I never even liked babysitting. 🙂

  • I hope you find a good solution soon Tonya! I’ve thought about taking on a roommate in my house to help cut my living costs, but I’m not sure I want to give up my privacy…

    • Tonya Stumphauzer says:

      I feel ya Kayla. I’m not too keen about sharing my space since I’ve lived alone for nearly nine years, but I’m doing my best to embrace it. 🙂

  • Kim says:

    Everything you read in real estate lately talks about how rents are rising and demand is shrinking, so it’s good for landlords but sucks for you. I’m glad you aren’t moving to the ‘hood. Safety is one thing I would never sacrifice.

    I think the caretaker idea is a great one. There has to be somebody who has a nice house by the beach who only shows up for two weeks a year. I just don’t know how you’d get connected to that sort of opportunity.

    • Tonya Stumphauzer says:

      I’m not sure either. There are TONS of houses on the strand that are second homes and seem vacant until the 4th of July…then it’s just for that day. It’s crazy. I’m discovering having a cat is a huge pain in the butt when looking for apartments.

  • Chonce says:

    $1400/month sounds high but it’s not unheard of probably standard in your area. Have you tried or thought about a studio? Finding a new apartment for my family has been a bit of a challenge since we’re moving to a large town with a few sketchy areas that I’m not interested in being around. Plus, I have to consider the school district since I want my son to go to one of the better ones, and we’re trying to keep our living expenses very low so that limits the choices. Since you don’t have as many of these limitations I’m really hoping you’ll find something affordable and worthwhile. Good luck!

  • Tre says:

    It’s always harder when you have a pet to find a rental. Some people just don’t get how much a pet improves your life 🙂

    It’s hard to give up your home, but keep positive. You may end up finding an even better home. Just stay out of the hood. Trust me, it’s not worth the cheap rent.

  • Kalie says:

    Figuring out what is and isn’t worth cutting can be difficult, but it’s kind of the essence of frugality, right? We rented from our friends and lived in their basement for a year. It was risky in the sense that we could’ve ruined our friendship if it didn’t work out, but I think we went in with a good foundation and understanding of the arrangement. We ended up growing even closer and buying a house on their street. Because of that experience, we’ve always been open to renting part of our home if the right person and situation came along, but that hasn’t happened yet.

  • Apartment hunting is the worst! I feel like the older I get, the harder it is. We have a dog now and I’m dreading trying to find a place that will take her. Good luck with your search!

  • For us, the pressure is from medical bills, and unfortunately I believe that will be a “forever” situation. But it just means that we need to cut back elsewhere and be creative. We have been fortunate to still maintain a decent lifestyles for ourselves. One of the areas we’re least likely to cut back on is housing. We purchased modestly and love our little home. But even considering that, we have a cutback strategy if we ever needed it. I think planning your absolute bare bones budget helps you to realize that even if the worst happens, you can make it through.

  • Meghan says:

    Have you thought about posting on Mr. Money Mustache’s forum for a roommate? I am definitely not living up to his standards but that community seems to be tight and I’ve seen house-sharing and roommate posts before.Good luck!

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