Here is our adopted grannie Joette and my son Arjan shredding basil for their homemade pesto. Joette loves to cook and has created an atmosphere of such comfort and warmth that only a grandmother can with all her home cooking and old fashioned advice. I’m learning so much from this woman and I thank God for being so kind as to bring her to us during some challenging times.
I have been writing blogs about money, being frugal, and the balance of enjoying your money and being wise with it. I have been pondering how we, as a family, should save and spend without being nutty coupon clippers or going the opposite direction of throwing money into the wind.
I had started spending money here and there and loosening the purse strings after so many years of penny pinching. I had a couple cosmetic boxes delivered monthly and I donate to 6 different local and global organizations. I also have a boy in El Salvador that I sponsor. I had a nice trip planned to the coast complete with the Holiday Inn. I just purchased a brand new washer with some of my royalty money.
Then Bali checked into immigration one day and they held him for possible deportation. I had a whole week of wondering how I would make it without the head of the house and our sole provider. We have this new mortgage and children, no family to help with them if I go to work and childcare would take up most of my earnings. I also have our furry children that need care and a safe home. We rescued these animals over the years and I would be heartbroken if they had to be placed elsewhere.
I went into survival mode…and I also took on this challenge as a way to really explore the options and go into all my frugal and sustainable learnings and teachings. I was living as a single mother would with limited resources. How could I remain a housewife and provide for my sizeable family, continue homeschooling, NOT put my kids in childcare or public schools, and stay home?
The first thing I did was move my friend Joette in. She needed a home and we needed a grandmother. I had known that she may have to come live with us before this all happened. Her family was moving and she was on some very long waiting list for senior housing. When Bali didn’t come home it just helped me hurry this decision. She offered to pay rent and I didn’t refuse. I had originally wanted her to just help with the boys if I had to work but as I got to know her various limits I could see that she could not be alone with the boys for hours. They exhaust me and I’m strong. So, she became a roommate and so much more in the way of comfort and solace. She is a bit disabled but loves to cook so she does some daily, amazing cooking from scratch and watches the boys for a little bit here and there while I make phone calls and take care of business and do my writing. She is a blessing from God as we are a blessing to her. Love those mutual blessings!
My writing provides an income so I have upped the writing, taking it more seriously than ever. By the time this blog post, I will have two more books out on Amazon. One is Every Penny, this is my story growing up poor and then our family learning to live on one income and sometimes not income…like now. The other book is to add to my fictional library on Amazon. The Healing of Rose by Katherine R. Devereux (that would be my pen name).
Next, I got rid of every extra. Cosmetic boxes, Netflix, all donations except my little Jose in Salvador, he is one of my children and I will continue with him…not that I didn’t try and adopt him out temporarily but then it didn’t feel right. I got rid of everything that wasn’t a water, garbage, or mortgage bill, stripping the budget down to almost nothing. I have to say it feels good and simple now.
Shopping at Whole Foods is out for a bit and Winco is back. Grocery Outlet is great for organics, surprisingly. We also have a farmers market and there are certified local and organic farmers that take the EBT card. You can also get fruit trees and seeds with EBT cards. That is a great way to ensure a future of abundance in produce for almost nothing. When you think about what one tree can produce or one packet of seeds, it’s less than pennies and eventually, you are making money on the food produced. For a family of 3, I receive $461. I signed up for Calfresh (food stamps) when Bali was taken. He is back now and I’m partially employed so you have to report in with new incomes.
I’ve employed myself with IHSS (In Home Supportive Services) and became a caregiver. Care giving is something I can do on into the future with my children in tow. I have also advertised for babysitting. I do NOT want to reopen a daycare with all the rules and regulations they have now, however, I can legally care for one family at a time without a license. These are all things I can do and not leave my children in the care of others.
I’m finally doing chickens! I just hauled home a chicken coop that I got off craigslist for FREE. It was heavy as heck and needs some work. We will paint it blue like our cottage home since we still have 10 gallons of paint leftover. I can get chickens free off craigslist also, I see them all the time, we just have to prepare their fabulous home and a big chicken run. Chickens are fun, great for fertilizing the soil, eating up bugs and snails (just found one in my strawberry patch this morning) and provide those tasty eggs.
I’m back to some very frugal living. We are almost vegan (still like eggs) at this time and eating lots of beans and rice, skipping the meat and dairy. It saves plenty. Turns out you can use saving apps and coupons with food stamps to make them stretch. I am being cautious with the grocery money but we still must eat healthily and I still do organics but I’m following the Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen list as I can’t afford all organics at this time. Here is the list if you are interested.
I’m considering looking into converting my garage to a little apartment. That would bring in extra money. I have one credit card from Home Depot in the amount of $5,000. I am curious if I could convert it with that amount available. I’m exploring that online now.
I also have a book from the library, Homesteading From Scratch by Steven Jones. I’m not new to this life. My mother and I lived up in the mountains when I was young and lived off a huge garden and chickens since we were very poor and had only a little market in a tiny town to shop from. That whole story is in my new book Every Penny (yes, I am advertising shamelessly).
Bali is back now and we have a few months to straighten out our situation. He may be able to stay and he may have to go back for years. He is no criminal but when an illegal immigrant is set for deportation and then gets married they still have to follow rules. I get it. People marry for green cards all the time. Our case is different as we truly married out of the desire to be together and we have children and own a home now. I have faith but I’m angry that I, as a US citizen, seem to have no rights when it comes down to it. I would like to choose to have my husband stay and be we with us but I seem to have no say in this because of a stupid law. That is all I’ll say for now and I will now put my podium away. We are talking frugal after all right?
While Bali is home he will work, we will save, and plan for the worst and pray for the best. I will be pulling out all the frugal tricks and my Complete Tightwad Gazette. Fortunately, we don’t have debt and we do have some savings started. If Bali is deported I can not get welfare or they will file a claim against him for child support. They do not have a “father deported against families wishes” button or section on forms.
It’s a little unsettling, however, it gives me a challenge and I love a good challenge! It inspires me to get going on that Urban farm I talk about in my books. We have all sorts of garden beds waiting. We moved in too late this year for a big garden but I do have some melons and tomatoes and I have my compost building and simmering.
Here are my garden beds and some fencing waiting for next spring. I need a Farmers Almanac to see what I can plant and when in this zone. We live in a very hot area so I could possibly do some produce now.
We have a serious situation but it can be very fun to see just how sustainable you can get, especially when you live in town. It is amazing what you can do with a yard. And now that I’m in emergency mode I won’t be thinking and hemming and hawing. I will be DOING!