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.
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.