My family and I live very differently from the average American. We are a multicultural and interracial marriage for one. We are fairly new to accepting and claiming ourselves to be Christians with old Christian hearts that have been in the making for years. We live a very old-fashioned and frugal lifestyle. We also do not do drugs, smoke or drink (well, the husband does once in a blue moon and he seems to make up for lost time when he does). This alone saves a ton of money. I know because I used to do all sorts of naughty habits. This also makes us seem boring to most people and perhaps envied by others.
I like hanging my clothes on a line outside and baking once a week. I even wear an apron to save my already stained clothes from worse wear. I save and reuse many things and compost my scraps behind the garage out back. There are so many things I do and don’t do when I really get hardcore about not spending money.
It’s paid off, all those years of saving and not going out. We bought a great little fixer upper recently for $135,000 in today’s market (that is a miracle and God’s handy work right there). We spent half our savings on fixing it up, a mere $15,000 total. This is our only debt now.
We don’t go out much at all. Dining out with a 5 and 3 year old is not worth it and that money can go to a week’s worth of groceries instead. When we shop for toys and clothes or household items we do it at thrift stores and garage sales. Our house is adorable and cozy but we have nothing so valuable that I would faint when the children take a marker to it or decide that carving something interesting into it with a fork is just fine. My clothes and furniture are durable and of colors that don’t show dirt or stains…not much that is.
I’m just missing the cow and chicken coop. I also have yet to can but that is coming this year, I feel it. I also have a sewing machine that I’ve used twice in the 4 years I’ve owned it. I had no idea it was so hard to thread! I do crochet but only squares and triangles.
Hey, but I do cook from scratch! I make almost everything from scratch when I’m on a roll and I can save like no one else when I’m challenged by my husband. I love keeping a sweet, clean home and I love being a mother 90% of the time. I have no family to help, no mother or mother in law and Bali works a lot so, yes, I get worn out and these boys are full on wild, healthy, joyous, dirty, loud boys that seem to be always climbing, running, yelling, laughing, fighting, crying, hooting, and howling. For the love of the Lord!
I’m not a super crafty housewife nor am I the intense frontierswoman. I’m that in between wanna be that barely cuts it. I live in a quiet and funky neighborhood in a small agricultural town and I am trying to become an Urban farmer myself. I have also learned to live very simply and I now, after 6 years, have grown very fond of it. Just as long as I get a night alone at the Cinema 6 once a month with popcorn and milk duds.
I have also become a full-fledged writer in the last two years. I think that I’m fairly good at it. I’m still honing my skills at my fictional writing and don’t know if I’m that good so I created a pen name so as not to humiliate the family. I’ve been blogging for a year. I love blogging because it’s a way of chatting up a storm without boring anyone in particular. I love writing because it’s a way to daydream, challenge my creativity and imagination and make some money doing it.
Honestly, I don’t think I could just clean, cook and raise children without an outlet or hobby. If that is all I did I would become listless and blue. I do love cleaning because it’s therapy…or rather I do self-therapy when I clean and I love that house in order, yes sir. I am deeply in love and devoted to my children and they have a great life, I see to that. I enjoy cooking. But all this gets monotonous real fast and lonely. Especially when you don’t have a big extended family around to help or be supportive. Sure, we have friends that are pretty into us but they are a couple hours drive away or more.
So, I suggest having a hobby or home-based career that is flexible and fun.
I also suggest not being perfect and learn how to have fun. Even saving can be fun. Cleaning can be fun. Finding free activities can be fun.
So, I don’t drink, I don’t spend money (I try not to), I stay at home with little people that act like drunken and belligerent sailors half the time…what do I do to enjoy life? How do I make it fun and easy? How does all this staying home and frugal living improve the family life?
Well, for starters I cook a lot and from scratch as I said. This has this magical effect on the home. The kitchen is active and smells good all the time, the family is looking forward to yummy meals, we eat so healthily because all the chemicals and sugar is not in home cooking. My husband and I are still not thin but we are working on that. I know it’s the carbs and portions for us, we are no dainty folk.
We have planted all kinds of fruit trees: apples, avocados, lemon, mandarin, orange, pomegranate and a strawberry patch. we have buckets of melons, squash, basil, tomatoes, peppers and two huge raised beds of vegetables. It’s a start. I may have chickens one day but now I have dogs and they may think those hens were chewing toys just for them. All this gardening is definitely good for the soul, great for children, and eventually becomes a lot of free food to enjoy and share with neighbors.
With our frugal and simple lifestyle, we are debt-free (except the house now) and that means worry and stress-free. That translates to good nights of sleep and marital bliss. We only bicker about silly things. This means that we have money when we need it to buy things, go on a trip and even buy a house. We live well below our means on one income so if something happened like a job loss we could survive just fine even if Bali had to go flip burgers at minimum wage.
We follow a lot of Dave Ramsey advice such as we have the emergency fund and money to live off of for 3 to 4 months if we had no job. These steps and plans make life easy. Even in hard times.
We do go out but to free parks and libraries. We have joined a homeschool group and homeschool, or will be starting soon, with a local Independent study charter school. We will also be joining a new church this Sunday. All these things are free for the most part and bring us into the community and will bring us new friends, playmates, and fun activities. This is what gives us roots in this town and makes my family feel stable and connected. That is, as that commercial says, “priceless.”
I do a list of old fashioned great grandma tricks to save pennies, nickels, and dimes. It all seems silly until you really add it up and wind up sitting pretty with some savings.
I have found many replacements for what we used to do. Ordering pizza is something crazy like $30 or more. I make my own on a Friday night for under $10 and it’s healthy and we have fun doing it. You can even get $5 pizzas in the frozen section or Dominoes has pizza Monday through Thursday for a little over that. But it’s much more fun and delicious to just make it yourself for the same price and have better ingredients.
We went out to the towns first Thursday of the month this week. All the shops and art galleries are open, people stroll the old town, there are bands on the street. That was fun. We even stopped in the sweet shop and spent less than $4. Arjan got a free mini disco ball and said it was the best night ever.
We have a movie night and popcorn on the weekends. We love the library and stock up on piles of books. I listen to music and brew coffee on big housecleaning days. I work in my new gardens. I like to color with the kids sometimes. I even have grown-up coloring books. Very meditative. And I love a good chat on the phone once in a while.
I really look forward to our routines too. I enjoy our meal times, an evening when I can read a book that doesn’t have dinosaurs or tractor machinery involved, I love my mornings with coffee and doing some writing. I enjoy the little stuff. I mean really little moments because I’ve learned to enjoy being at home with my family and not out running about and spending money. Staying home really is the only way to save money. So, we now have a home we own so we are creating our own paradise here and it’s fun to be home doing projects. It also feels safe. Being out in crowds, driving in traffic…I don’t enjoy it.
“Ah! There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort.” Jane Austin