These are photos of all the fun…well, only a few of all the fun things I do with my sons. I am so very fortunate to have the luxury of staying home with my boys, to be a housewife and to have the choice to homeschool. I realize that this life is not for everyone. It requires huge financial sacrifice, patience, lots of coffee, and the taste for repetition and monotony. Never boredom, I never get that, however, some days feel like that movie Ground Hogs Day where the character wakes up to the same day over and over and over.
95% of this life is great because it is what I always wanted. I never was career driven. Not until I started doing this mom and home thing and then I did start writing and that became my outlet. I suppose that is a career at this point. But I was never the corporate gal on her way up the ladder. I detested the corporate world. I always loved being home and sweeping the floor while listening to my favorite music and pondering the wonders of life or out in the sun reading a book and watering my plants. I enjoyed the home life, however, I never knew how truly well matched the life was for me until I started growing my family and I became an official housewife.
One of the biggest things I had to learn was how to budget. We went through some hard times early on in the marriage and right after the first child was born. I was so into being home and being with my baby that I wanted to learn every trick I could to live off a tiny single income. I write about this all this time and I have a stack of books on Amazon all about this subject. I love this topic.
I first got the idea of living frugally and simply from my aunt and uncle. They live on a fixed income and they live well. They rent a nice little home on the coast with a view of the forest and ocean (a million dollar view really) and are the healthiest people. They have daily routines that are very cozy and they have some of the modern luxuries of internet and Netflix. They eat delicious meals and entertain guest. They live off very, very little. They live in paradise and live a perpetual vacation.
I also had a girlfriend that lived off very little and raised two children alone. She had a nice home and used to put on the best holidays. She celebrated all birthdays and seasons. It was her thing. Her children went to private school. She lived off way less than a thousand a month.
We, now a family of four, have lived on one income that was minimum wage. We have always lived well. We dress well, we eat well, we have a cozy home, we do fun things all the time.
So, what does it really take to make a life where you can quit your job and stay home and raise your children? Or just live on a fixed income and enjoy the quality of life?
I will take it from our life experience and how we do it. I have gotten advice from all the wisest and most frugal people and sewn together our own little life of simplicity and thriftiness. Here are just a few ideas. Only a few as there are hundreds of little and big ways to save and I have written books for that.
First, we chose a small home that was affordable. We rent and rents are absurd in California right now. Here in Sacramento, we have the highest rent increases Nationally. In the past year, the rent has gone up $200 to $500 in a year! So, I get it. We live in a nice and safe neighborhood. It has some ugly parts to it here and there and we deal with graffiti and police helicopters. We are in rural sprawl and that is how it is. But if you look hard you can find little paradise’s in the rubble. Our home is $1120 a month. It is a cute and tiny place at 860 square feet. There is a sizeable yard that we have converted to a part playground for the boys, a small garden for me, and room for the dogs. We have only 2 bedrooms and one bath and there are 4 of us. We fit just fine. We take the dogs on walks and runs because they are big and a small yard is not suitable for their energy level. The boys and I go out all the time. We can walk everywhere now, the library and parks, the grocery stores and chiropractor.
I have our utilities and bills down to nothing. When we were really tight with money I used an antenna for TV and we just paid the basic utilities and car insurance. I allowed $400 to $600 for groceries a month and this included dog and cat food. I did give us an extra $100 for toiletries with diapers and such. If you are really intense you get cloth diapers. I tried it and just couldn’t keep it up.
The groceries is where you can save the most. Any frugal person will tell you this. You cut out all the junk food, soda, juice, premade, convenience foods. That right there will reduce the bill greatly. You buy the ‘clean’ foods only. Produce, rice, beans, meat, eggs. That sort of thing. I’ve gone into detail in other blogs. We only drink water (and coffee for the adults). We don’t even buy beer or wine. That may be too extreme, however, when you get rid of all the vices you also save a ton of money. We shop at Winco, FoodMaxx, Grocery Outlet. I can still get organics and nonGMO’s, even cage free eggs. I will go to Costco or Sprout’s to get clean meat. You can find this almost anywhere now. Maybe it’s harder in other states but you can always request it from your local grocer and start a new movement toward organic in your town!
Some quick ways to save and stretch groceries: Buy and cook whole chickens and then use it for several dishes. I made a chicken the other day and I’m still using it for chicken alfredo, chicken in our green salad, chicken burritos. One chicken lasted all week. Rice, beans, and potatoes are very filling, load the plate, have plenty of vitamins and fiber. Frozen vegetables can be less than fresh, just as good and a real time saver. Stock up on sales! Create a stockpile pantry.
As for toiletries, I use Ivory soap and coconut butter on sale. We use this for everything. Now that I don’t buy 50 kinds of creams and oils for our bodies and face, hands, it saves a bundle. Ivory soap and coconut are great for kids and you can even make laundry detergent from the Ivory soap.
I make my own cleaners and laundry detergent. All you need is vinegar and dish soap for cleaning everything. Laundry soap takes ivory, borax, baking soda, and washing soda. There are recipes in my books. I do still love my Ajax for sinks, tubs, and toilette. I do have a bottle of bleach that I use sparingly for mildew and chopping boards that I cut up meat.
We go everywhere and play for free. Forest preserves, trails, parks, libraries. We can play outdoors every day for free. We also live at the library. They have computers for the kiddos and we get all our books, movies, even music.
Pandora. Pandora is this great music station online and it’s free. I listen to great music all day without commercials and I can create my station with everything from classical to country, Cuban to Christian.
Coffee. It’s my cheap and legal drug these days. It brings me much joy and inspiration. I am having a cup right now as I get this blog out.
Netflix and Pureflix. These are great for movie time. Popcorn and a movie on a weekend night. When I went out to the movies recently it cost me alone $30 for ticket and snacks. Netflix is $7.99 a month and a bag of popcorn is a couple bucks. Your movie night will top out at $2 plus with popcorn made in an air popper or pot on the stove (don’t forget butter and salt), movie, and maybe some water with cranberry juice and ice.
Dollar stores and thrift stores for the holidays and birthdays. You can stock up and store all your decorations for all occasions. I decorate for everything and then you just add some good home cooking and a homemade cake and you have a party. And music and people of course.
Most pleasures and good times are really about being with family and friends and cost nothing. Reading in the afternoon, taking long walks with the kids, going to a forest and having a picnic made up of pb & j’s….these are free and make for the best life.
We have two cars, however, they are paid for and my insurance is limited on them. The boys and I walk everywhere and I could live without the car. I would get rid of it but the spouse is not down for that.
I don’t get my hair or nails done and I have gone to two movies recently in the last 4 years…or more. But I can be home baking and playing with boys all day and that trumps a salon and theater any day.
For tons of great ideas, recipes on food and homemade cleaners, budgets, rural farming, and much more check out my books on amazon.