Dirt poor by choice. And having fun with it!


I wrote a book called Dirt Poor and Lovin’ It!  I now feel like I’m living the experiment.  We are not dirt poor, however, we are preparing for an unstable future with not knowing if and when Bali will have to return to India and how long before we can bring him back.  In the meantime, I am doing so many things that I have written about and now living my advice and my books in their full glory.  It is crucial that we save every single penny for the future or we may be poor and not of choice.

I know this sounds strange but I’m really having fun with it and I’m inspired right now.  Hard times, if worked to your advantage, can help you grow and soar, to learn new skills  in life and discover depths of your own being that you would never have found had you not been forced to seek your true strength and faith in God.  I feel like my life is very rich with life right now, despite the great unknown.  I have happily discovered that I do have incredible faith and I have seen so many blessings and miracles as of lately that there is no way I could sit about and mope.

So, let’s talk about money saving and being poor but rich.  I would like to start by saying that I don’t need or want anyone to send me a grocery card (Sara) or set up a GoFundMe account.  I’d like those of you that need some lifting up and inspiration to get it from my sharing…not sympathy.  I am learning so much right now so let’s learn and save!

I am now in that zero spending mode that I talk about in my books.  This is an idea I got from Ruth Soukup’s book and my past experience from paying off large debts.  Right now we are in a great place. We have a savings and no debt at all.  We have two secured credit cards that are now almost full and a Home Depot card that I just paid off with my book royalties.  Our cars are paid for and our mortgage is tiny.  I have canceled all my extras and donations (this did make me sad) for now.  I did keep my boy in El Salvador because he’s like a far away child that we adopted and we need to see him through school.

Internet and cable are stripped to the bare essentials and the phones are super cheap.  I debate having a home and cell but cells are for when I go out with the kids and emergencies (mostly just a camera) and the house is so cheap and we can call India all the time for pennies.

Our heat wave has passed and I’m no longer using air conditioning.  I have an energy wheel from PG&E to see what cost the most to run.  Air conditioning can be anywhere from  .68 cents to $1.37 an hour to run.  The cheapest way to stay cool in hot weather is the window ACs.  They aren’t that expensive and cost .22 cents an hour instead of  $1.37 an hour.  That is a saving!  Water heaters are pricy so turn that thing down and use cold water as much as you can (I draw the line at showers). The next most expensive thing is surprisingly a TV and cable box.  Energy saver TV’s and a DVD player are much less.  Personal computers can be up to $27.48 a month.  Shut it off when not in use.  I think laptops are less money.  A dryer can be $1.18 a load.  I’m going to the high end.  Energy efficient things are less and if you have a discount for living in a lower income bracket, that helps.

We are watering much less as well.  There are a couple months in summer when the AC and water bills will horrify a penny pincher, however, all the rest of the year can be very low cost.  I hear that gas for the heating of the house is much less, we will see since this is my first year on all PG&E.

For now, windows are open and ceiling fans are whirring.  Joette and I started our winter garden and in September we will be able to finish.  I’m amazed at how much produce we can plant in the fall.

The chicken coop is now complete and I have all the feed and grit for my hens that I am searching for in craigslist.  I’m determined to get free hens and it seems many other people are also on this mission because the minute a hen is advertised…she’s found a home.

Joette started her herb garden in the window and I am doing sprouts.  Sprouts at the store can cost around $5 for a small 3 oz. container.  A bag of alfalfa seeds is $7.95 at our outrageously expensive New Earth store, however, it only takes 2 TBSPs to make a quart jar of sprouts and that is around $10 worth of sprouts as it makes two containers worth.  You can make 7 jars from that bag saving you $62.  Wow!

Frozen fruit is what my boys are loving right now with the summer.  Mangos, blueberries, and strawberries are in season, affordable and when frozen the kids will eat tons.  If you have an extra freezer really stock up this season.    Eating with the seasons is affordable and produce taste SO much better when in season and local.

My fancy Miele vacuum decided to quit after over ten years of service to my mother and then myself.  It’s amazing to me how the house and the equipment can sense when you are on a budget and everything goes on strike.  This vacuum ranges from $299 to $900 and therefore will not be replaced anytime soon.  I have taken up the broom and I’m grateful for the wood floors and tile bathroom.  I have two area rugs and my carpet vacuum still works.  Praise it!

I had opted for cheaper dog food.  You can find a decent grain free at Winco.  Unfortunately, Clyde, my hound mix dog, is ultra sensitive and was getting hot spots from it so I needed to go back to Taste of the Wild (really high quality).  This is very expensive but I discovered Grange Coop right here in town and the dog food is at least $5 less than a feed store.  I purchased Diamond grain free as well since it is a middle of the road food and much less.  I know Clyde does well with this one too.  I just mix the super high quality with the good but cheaper brand to make it stretch.  Even if your dog can handle cheap food be careful.  Some of that dog food out there is like feeding them fast food and junk food daily.  They will suffer in the end.  Diamond is a good brand and well priced.  I was told that chicken and rice are the high allergens with dogs.  Try to go for a grain free and fish or lamb, even beef.

We have a huge bag of wheat and 10 lbs of white flour I had purchased when we belonged to Costco.  We are making all our own bread, muffins, biscuits, and tortillas now.

Easy tortillas off Taste of Home:


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil (or lard, shortening)


In a large bowl, combine flour and salt. Stir in water and oil. Turn onto a floured surface; knead 10-12 times, adding a little flour or water if needed to achieve a smooth dough. Let rest for 10 minutes.
Divide dough into eight portions. On a lightly floured surface, roll each portion into a 7-in. circle.
In a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray, cook tortillas over medium heat for 1 minute on each side or until lightly browned. Keep warm.Yield: 8 tortillas.

More Tips:

What else?  Well, we do a lot of home activities like reading, playing outside, walks in the nicer neighborhoods.  I am studying chickens and gardens right now and I love my blogging.  Working on another book.  The boys play all day and we found an educational LeapFrog for a couple bucks at a garage sale that entertains and educates them during an afternoon down time.  Other than that they play outside most of the day.

Now that we don’t eat meat and dairy we save big.  I make big pots of pinto and black beans with tons of fresh garlic and sea salt.  With homemade tortillas this is heaven.  Peanut butter and jelly quesadillas are a kids favorite.  We definitely eat much better because junk food is not in the budget.  We stick to clean and simple foods that are much more wholesome.  Brown rice and beans, inexpensive fruits like apples and bananas, salads.

I’m really into finding free things that I need.  I’ve joined a swap in this area and search the free section of Craigslist.  That is how I found the chicken coop.  It was a little funky but we painted the whole thing with left over yellow paint and now it’s adorable.   I’m now in search of chickens, a pantry shelving unit, and a wheelbarrow.  You have to really search but it’s fun.

Last thing on this agenda is homeschooling.  It’s time.  Arjan is 5 years old now and I have to make a decision.  I first chose CORE Academy but quickly became uncomfortable with it as there was so much structure, he was expected to do 2 to 4 hours a day of schooling and the curriculum offered was so dry.  I have been researching styles and techniques for homeschooling for years and I really want to do something more free range, as some call it.  I want him to learn through his passions and do a lot of field trips and hands on learning.  We already get stacks of educational books from the library and he loves ABCMouse and that program is fun, games, colorful and covers everything from reading, math, science, geography, and so on. I’ll get more into this in another write up.  But fun, easy, and interesting is how we are going.

Enjoy life while you work toward big goals and don’t get frustrated with hard times.  It’s all temporary and gives you the opportunity to grow and get creative.  Turn it into a game and play with it.  Take it on as a challenge.  Find the blessings in challenging times.  We are so busy lately building, finding, cooking from scratch, that I have been feeling great lately.




29 thoughts on “Dirt poor by choice. And having fun with it!

      1. Oh, me too–love a book in my hands, and you can’t take a laptop in the tub! I only download the books that really catch my eye. I save them for when I can’t get to the library in bad weather.


  1. Those are all awesome ideas to save money – I plan to try a few, to pay off some of our own debt. One idea I had for when my kids were young was to pick one country a month. They studied it (the kids were most interested in the toys, games, and animals from that country) learned a few words or phrases from it, made flag placemats, and I cooked a meal with recipes from that country. The trick was to use only the ingredients in the pantry and frig/freezer. I would find what I had, and then google “Japanese meal with chicken, rice, and carrots”. We found most of our information at the local library or on the internet. It was an inexpensive way for all of us to learn about another country, and keep busy!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I don’t know how much rain you get over the year, but over here in the U.K. I use a rainwater butt to collect rainwater – it is like a big barrel with a pipe leading from the roof guttering into it, channelling the rain. There is a tap near the bottom where I just put a watering can underneath it and turn the tap on to draw off some of the stored rainwater for watering plants – saves on the water bills!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I figured out what my perfect shower temperature was then set my water heater to that. No sense heating it hot enough to need to add cold. Turn water on, wet self and wash cloth, turn water off. Use washcloth to scrub body well. Turn water on and rinse. No soap unless I have been doing something that actually needs it.

    Blue Dawn dish soap is formulated to work in cold water. No sense in heating water for that, either.

    When I lived in an RV my water heater was on a separate circuit so I just left the breaker off until it was time to heat the water for my shower. No sense in keeping it hot when not using it.

    I also kept a bowl in the bathroom sink to use to rinse hands after washing. When it got full, I used it to flush the toilet.

    In our previous house the sewer bill was a percentage of the water bill so conserving water paid off twice.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. When I did the Weatherization Program with PGE they gave me this wheel that list all the appliances and what they use hourly, per load, monthly. It is not very easy to read but you can make guestamates. Call PGE and see if you qualify for the program. They dryer is the least of your culprits. AC is the worst, TV and cable is high too.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh yeah I forgot about tv. We have central air and I tried to keep it set higher in the summer but the heat usually got to me and I kinda gave up. I’ll have to keep better watch over the tv and computer. Not sure if we have PGE out here. Probably a similar program with a different company. Might be a good idea to check into.


  4. I’m starting to make my own dog food as I’ve gotten a little nervous about the bad dog food reviews lately. My dogs are loving it, and so far, it’s not costing any more than the better dog food brands. (we used TOW too, but our local Tractor Supply lady said their brand is just as good; and cheaper)


    1. I like that! What is the recipe? Is it online? My hound mix reacts to everything except that TOW and Diamond grain free. I used to just cook up veg, rice and chicken for Clyde but they say rice and chicken are the worst…I don’t know if I agree with the chicken. I used to give the dogs raw chicken and it cleared up all sorts of skin and breath issues.


      1. And Kate I ask The library and they don’t have The Tightwad Gazette and can’t get it grrr I’m waiting for the job I applied for to approve my paperwork the office then hopefully I can start work. I’ll have to purchase it when I can. On here looking for new post from you they always give me hope! Blessed day my friend just love to Blog!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Just wait for my The Homemade Housewife to be free again, I’ll let you know. It has a lot of the good stuff from TWG. If you do get the TWG get an old, used copy on amazon for a penny. It’s more for fun and inspiration but my books have all that good stuff and other stuff from everywhere. My blogs are filled too and free. Don’t spend you dough.


  5. You may or may not know this one already–but an empty refrigerator or freezer uses more electricity than a full one. So if you have large empty spaces, use old juice/milk jugs filled with water to fill in those spaces! And rule of thumb is anything that heats or cools uses the most electricity. (I used to work for a municipal electric company)

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