Tag Archives: frugal

When Budgeting Is Not Enough

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photo (38)I stared at the list before me, hopeful that as I filled it in, we would somehow be able to play the limited numbers in order to make ends meet. We had paid the home mortgage off the year before, and still, things were tight. At least we were not financially drowning before, and we felt paycheck-to-paycheck now. I didn’t see us stalling bills to buy groceries or cutting groceries to pay bills, as we had before the mortgage was paid off.

I filled the list in, waiting to plot out the most fluctuating category of groceries last.
Netflix and Hulu, while affordable, weren’t affordable for us. Those got cut off the list. For schooling reasons, both for Melody and for myself, I chose to keep our $30/mo internet. I cut one of our two cell phones – we’ll just go without talking on Daryl’s lunch break… I’ll miss it, but we have to survive, I told myself. I glared at the $200/month credit card bill that wasn’t mine. It mocked me and told me “your family isn’t important enough.” I tried to just fill it in and move on, but it dug at me.
When all the categories were filled in, I realized “yes! This is doable! We spend about $200/week on groceries for 5, but I can manage this remaining $175/week. We can do this!”

OH, wait. I forgot the first thing we choose to take out of our income – tithe. It’s a non-negotiable to trust God with the things He gives us.

The final category, groceries, dwindled from $175/week to $125. My heart sunk. I don’t see almost halving my grocery bill as a reality, when I already cook everything from scratch to save money and fill us up, and I have to eat Paleo to curb several genetic issues that effect me holistically. I sat and urged tears to come that wouldn’t.

The next day, Daryl told me he wasn’t able to get a check into the bank in time, so he would have to before he went to work. He said there was about $1 left in checking. I knew all he had to get the day before was gas for the car, to get to work. I had saved up $1.76/gal in fuel credit, on $1.99/gal gas. It should be just over 20 cents a gallon, for a 13 gal tank. The $9 left in our checking should have been more than enough. I specifically asked him before he left to get gas, not to spend money on anything but gas, because the next paycheck was going to be tight and we needed every penny we could spare, on groceries.
I asked him how much the gas cost and said the remainder didn’t seem right. He quickly threw out that he bought cigarettes.

It was then that I realized I never factored in his smoking habit, the thing I loathe for many reasons. Our grocery bill dwindled in my mind from $125/week to $110. “Your family is not important.” The heartbroken tears that I wanted desperately to roll still would not come, and instead turned into resentment and anger.

I know our well-below $30,000 yearly could work and well without the credit card bill and the cigarettes, but those are realities forced upon me.
I told Daryl that my supplements for genetic defects were on the stretched-thin budget, but his cigarettes were not – that I was going to put in his hands whether I could buy my genetic supplements, based off of if he bought cigarettes or not. It was not something I said lightly, but something I knew had to be a reality if we had any hope of… you know, eating.

This is the point where many people tell you to “trim the fat,” but that is a place we’d already passed. I had run out of trimming places, unless we stopped using a car… and then I questioned how Daryl would get to work.

It was then apparent that pulling more income in was the only way to get adequate funds to cover all our expenses. He talked with his supervisor at work about overtime opportunities, which would spare us from spending more gas to get him to a second job and allow him to work less hours since it would be 1 1/2 times the pay. 6 hours of overtime a week, tacked onto the end of normal work hours, cover our grocery needs and give us a very small amount to start saving. Or snowball more of the credit card debt. Once Daryl’s credit card is paid off, he won’t need to work overtime anymore. Or, with “inflation” of groceries, by the time it’s paid off, maybe he will.

While budgeting is vital, sometimes it’s not enough. There needs to be more.

Going Green, Saving Green

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Sewing machine cover made from the bottom of my handmade t-shirt wedding dress. Reuse and recycle!

 

Going green absolutely saved me financially, when I was a single Mom to an only!

Before Doctor Horrible left us, I had decided to start thinking of ways to save more money, as he didn’t work often and when he did, a lot of his income went to tobacco, alcohol, and drugs. Many weeks I would be handed $20 for groceries for 3 people.
After Daryl and I married, I kept these money-saving things going.

Here are many of the ways I saved money as a single mom and continue to as a married momma to several more children.

 

Kitchen

Eating healthfully is my number one priority. It’s the most vital thing to be as healthy as possible. It keeps us active and moving, keeps up saving/making money more, and serving others. πŸ™‚ So, I am willing to spend a little more on food than any other area… though, our food budget per month for three was about what my friend’s spend on their standard American diet for three… so we’re not spending “more” in the end, but less (I’ll get to that later). I haven’t done cost-comparison since we’ve added two more, but I doubt we’re spending a heap more than Standard American Diet 5-person families.

We order from a co-op here in town, shop farmer’s market in season, get raw honey in bulk from a local beekeeper (it’s cheaper than the high fructose stuff in the store, too), garden, get raw milk from a local farmer for $3/gal (for those that can drink dairy), and are able to get bulk grass-fed beef from a rancher nearby, at $3.50/lb no matter the cut. All of those things have saved us money when we made the change-over to them.

We *sort of* follow the Dirty Dozen/Clean 15. I think it’s important to research every single item, even on that list. It can be a little misleading, at least with one particular item. Corn is on the “Clean” side, however while “conventional” corn might not be sprayed with or effected by pesticides as much as grapes, the GMO “fresh” corn hit produce aisles last spring. GMOs are just as unsafe as pesticides! So, research, research, research!! πŸ˜‰

I utilize the soaking/sprouting/lacto-fermenting methods from Nourishing Traditions in my cooking. It takes very little time to mix up a batch of lacto-fermented lemonade, the same amount of time as a regular batch, but it aids (for most people) in digestion and healthful body function. That’s how all of it is, whether it’s the gluten free sourdough, salsa, almonds, or whatever it is I am making – soaking/sprouting/fermenting helps substantially! πŸ™‚

We got a lot of pyrex food containers as wedding gifts. We invested $20 in a huge lot of Mason jars… we’re about to stop buying plastic ziplocs! πŸ™‚
I beeswaxed pretty patterned cotton to hold snacks and sandwiches, and I also use them to cover bowls with leftovers that don’t have lids (no more plastic wrap!). We use cotton cloth napkins, too.

I make all of our cleaning supplies with natural ingredients. Laundry soap, dishwasher powder/liquid, all purpose cleaning spray, window cleaner. Pennies on the dollar to buying the chemical stuff from the store and I don’t worry about my kids getting into any of it.

 

Health Care and Hygiene

We don’t do insurance for ethical and religious reasons. Have not had a need to see a dr. in years.

When I was single, living in a mold-infested apartment, I was sick about 4-5 times in the last year with various colds, flu, etc. My eldest daughter was sick about the same amount. Within a month of moving out of that place, we were breathing better and had better mental clarity. When we do come down with little illnesses, our botanical treatments re effective and very cheap compared to pharmaceuticals – things likeΒ GOOT (garlic olive oil treatment), tinctures, and deep nourishing nutrition.

Anyway, I notice that those who eat processed foods tend to be sick far more frequently. They spend a bit of money on cough syrup, decongestants, etc… AND they end up taking off from work to get rest, losing even more money!

I bought a menstrual cup and made soft cotton flannel pads. I made cloth bathroom wipes, one side old towel and the other side flannel shirt, with free material. Made old washcloths into cleaning rags. Cut up t-shirts for kleenex. Made little squares (about 1″, and 4-5 layers thick) of flannel to replace cotton pads for cosmetics.

As said above, I make herbal tinctures, teas and salves, which are VERY cheap (most of the herbs I utilize are common weeds that are found free where I live!).
We all used to wash our hair with baking soda and liked it for quite some time, but after about 6 years of this, I noticed my hair was drying out and I was struggling with dandruff. This is when I dug in and found out about using water only (it’s a link in Gems ‘Round the Verse, above). Due to this, and further studying, Melody and I swapped over to washing our bodies without soap – I had no idea how this would play out, after reading about it online… but there are NO hygiene issues or stink! In fact, it seems like our natural body odor is smelling better than it did before, when we were using soap! It’s a far-out option, but it does save money! (We do use soap to wash our hands.)

We do use “deodorant” to some degree. This consists of supplementing with mag-a-hol spray and using milk of magnesia (and no other ingredients) in a glass roller bottle with a few drops of essential oil.

Celebration

When my hubby and I married, I purposed that all our wedding decorations would be reusable for as long as possible in our married life. Table cloths were king size sheets. Our big “wine barrel” was a wonderful find on Amazon, that is actually a rain barrel! I made bunting banner (and friends sent in triangles with well wishes to add, so special!), that has now decorated our home several times in the 10 months we’ve been married.

I also made paper lanterns with popsicle sticks and tissue paper – they are beautiful little things and have been perfect mood-setters at various celebrations in our married life.

I made a canvas banner similar to the one in the Lord of the Rings movie, from Bilbo Baggin’s birthday celebration, with a Hobbiton font, from a laserjet print off backward and orange essential oil – we’ve hung that thing up for birthday parties, Christmas, etc (it says “Celebrate!”). Natural and affordable way to celebrate!

 

Baby Care

I had a tiny bit of leftover canvas from that, that gave me an idea for our homebirth….

I made a waterproof, reusable pad for our bed (72″x72″) and a smaller one for the livingroom, out of canvas and beeswax. A friend had given us the smaller canvas, and between making the two, at the cost of the larger canvas and the beeswax, it only cost $12!! They were easily cleaned after the birth, and are easy to be wiped down/sanitized (nothing goes through it, so it’s just wiping off the surface). The smaller one is like a small picnic blanket that our youngest children eats on while we sit next to them, and the larger one I made the dimensions that I did, so that I could turn it into a shower curtain!

I made flat diapers out of t-shirts people gave me for free and water-resistant/fire-resistant/self-cleaning-when-wet diaper covers from wool sweaters. We put a Moses basket and rocking frame on our baby registry, and when it came, it had a toxic foam mattress in it… so I traced the little mattress out onto poster board, and then cut 6 layers of old, soft towels. I sewed them together and they make the softest resting place ever.
We transitioned to organic mattresses on heat-treated pallets we found for free, for healthier alignment. I waited until these babies were on sale (they were BOGO), used a coupon for 15% off, and used Ebates to get “cash back.”

Electricity

 

We swapped over to all LED light bulbs. We unplug our appliances when not using them (with the exception of washer/dryer and fridge). I line dry as much laundry as possible. We own only one car, and I don’t drive it very much, if at all, on the days that I have it.

We’re contemplating a few more lifestyle changes, but they are certainly more in the “far out there” way than most people are willing to go. πŸ˜‰

 

I love swapping ideas on how to live frugally and eco-friendly at the same time! Some of this stuff seems like it’s expensive at first – and it is, if you have someone else prepare all your eco-friendly/organic stuff for you…. but doing it yourself actually saves a LOT of money, compared to even the “cheaper” non-organic lifestyle. I hope some of this can help!

Do you have any ideas to share for healthy, money saving changes? Share in the comments, please!