We had some visitors this weekend. Both visitors came from very different financial stories. Both are similar in one way.
One couple that visited are new friends and then the other group was made up of Grannie and her grandson that were here to have a sleepover. As us women drank my fancy new Americanos that I make from my new stovetop espresso maker, the new friend told some of her stories. She and her husband had owned three stores, a gas station, huge house, and lived a luxurious life that included a lot of shopping to the tune of $1,000 to $5,000 a week. Then the crash happened in 2008 and they lost all of it. He is now a realtor (ironic) and works at Bali’s gas station and she works in in the office of a rice company. They still have a 5 bedroom house but everything else was downsized.
Grannie is on a fixed income and has a little shopping addiction. That woman would be ordering from QVC all day if she could. When she lived with us I had her write out a budget and plan for paying off QVC and saving for her future apartment with senior housing. She is still on plan although she is not here for me to keep an eye on her spending.
Here is the point. When spending and buying are without sound planning and method, it can quickly become destructive. When we buy on credit and overspend we are walking on shifting sand and at any time that sand may be covering a manhole that we step on and whoosh!
Having a solid budget, living under your means, and paying with cash (this means you save for everything you desire) is the only way to live in peace and freedom.
Living above your means, not having a savings, over buying and spending will lead to a modern day tragedy.
Today I’m sitting at my cheapo laptop, eating my version of a vegan Taco Bell cheesy bean and rice burrito, while listening to some great music on an old radio someone gave me. My children are outside playing with tons of toys in a huge sandbox and riding bikes. All these things have been given them as hand-me-downs or thrift store finds. My desk was dragged from some free pile at the end of a garage sale and the plants that sit lushly on it were trimmings from the main houseplant, the pots free from a neighbor.
We live on one income…sort of. My husband manages a gas station in town. He is not making the big bucks as gas station/convenience store managers aren’t CEO’s of some large chain. Many people would choke if they had to live on our salary with a family of four humans and lots of pets. We have many rescues. Dogs, cat, hens (factory hens)…all free or cheap (not counting vet bills). I am making some decent royalties from my books and I have a separate savings account across the street from our bank that has the checking and household savings and secured credit cards. In this bank, I have all my royalties automatically deposited and we never touch this account.
I am frugal and penny wise but I have to set up tricks and safeguards for myself as I like to shop just as much as the next lady.
I love shopping. I love, love going to the health food coops and browsing, trying new foods and items. I love, love Amazon. And Amazon loves me. I love handmade or high-quality items and I love organic health food. These are all so very expensive…or are they?
We eat a lot of organics and we just purchased a cute cottage in town in Northern California, and as of recently I refuse to shop anywhere but my Briar Patch Coop in Grass Valley where my eldest son goes to a Native American/4 elements type outdoor school on Fridays in nearby Nevada City.
We look like we have money. We live well. How do we do this and have all this abundant living on so little?
How do you save money or at least make it on one income or a fixed income and not compromise your taste, clean food, and enjoy life?
I’m pretty good at this…not an expert and I won’t have any brand new advice a veteran hasn’t heard before because nothing is original but I have some great ways to live on very little because my family has lived on big incomes, tiny incomes, minimum wage incomes, no income…
The first step is the hardest to do because we live in a society of fashion, good looks, money, power, and keeping up. So, this step will improve your life vastly but it will require you to work with your ego, material wants, and social status issues…or not.
I’ll go with my personal experience so I don’t seem bossy or rude. What we do is not for every soul and I realize that. I just adore my life so much I’d like to help others live with such joy and peace. I realize this isn’t for everyone. Stay awhile if you want some ideas and inspiration.
Home purchasing and decorating, toys, clothes.
When we finally purchased our very own home, I went for a dirty, run down little 1941 cottage with a raggedy yard in a decent neighborhood. It is a small house with 2 bedrooms/1 bathroom. It had been home to squatters right before we found it. We had a lot of scrubbing, painting, and planting that followed but the house is now absolutely cozy, adorable, and its value has gone up probably $40K at least. It was a HUD home up for bid and we lucked out with Universal support. We now have a $918 mortgage. Actually, it’s a $500 mortgage but after MIP, insurance, and tax it totals to $918. Who has a mortgage that small these days? Or rent? Maybe in another state but not California…did I say Northern California?
When we remodeled we kept its original style and just did the cleaning, painting and tearing out of carpets. The fences and handyman were our highest expense. We did as much as we could on our own and just did the electric and plumbing that actually needed the work and nothing extra. We did all the yard work and planting ourselves. It totaled to around $15,000 of our remaining savings.
When you tour my house you will see that it is delightful and decorated in a very charming way. It cost me around $250 to redecorate my living room with new furniture recently and ad some touches to the other rooms. Everything was chosen carefully at a very upscale thrift store where the rich like to get rid of perfectly good furniture. I don’t even think my couch or chair was used or they were covered in plastic slips. I add to that all the lamps, paintings, and lots of Christmas decorations and tree decor.
The rest of the furnishings and TV, along with kitchen cookware, towels, and pot holders were all given to us. Not out of sympathy but because people like to declutter and they know I will say yes. I never turn down gifts or abundance in any form. I accept it all heartily and give away what I don’t want. In turn, I declutter and gift others or take to the thrift stores. It’s a cycle of no waste. Some things were actually birthday gifts and I even have and still use some useful wedding gifts. I registered for knives, a vita-mix and crockpot for my wedding instead of fancy sheets.
Our clothes, toys, and books are from the thrift store, hand me downs, or used items on Amazon. The children do get new toys for Christmas and birthdays. They want for nothing, however, I don’t buy junk. The toys they have are dinosaurs, blocks, legos, wooden tracks, trains, and books. Anything they will build and create with for years.
We get stacks of books and DVD movies from the library and if I really like a book and it will be handy over time, such as a backyard garden book, I will buy it used on Amazon for a dollar or less sometimes. I’ve gotten books for a penny but the darn shipping is what cost. I just signed up for Amazon Prime to see if it really is worth the $99 a year. I’ll let you know.
Good food and organics on this tiny budget or food stamps.
Look up the clean 15 and dirty dozen and know that you can still be healthy and not have to do 100% organics.
Food stamps are around $300 for two and $500 for three family members and go up to $600 for four. I can do a lot with $600 and I’m vlogging about it every Friday on YouTube so tune in (a video and link will be at the end of this article). Last Friday I spend $130 for a week’s worth of food that was all organic and clean. It would have been less but I stocked up on tea and vinegar.
We are mostly vegan. My boys and husband still eat eggs from our hens. And they should, that is what I got the girls for and I, personally, feel eggs are fine and have some benefits. We don’t have a rooster so no egg is a baby waiting to happen and the hens are spoiled rotten. Did I mention they are factory farm rescues? The least they can do is give us an omelet now and then. I don’t eat the eggs because I’m not so into eggs now for some reason. Oh well.
So, how do we afford good food? I joined the Briar Patch Coop and I order in bulk a lot. I can save up to 50% with the wholesale price and extra 10%. I only buy produce in season and now that we don’t eat meat or dairy we save a bundle. I do a lot of comparison shopping.
What we do buy is cheap. Brown rice and beans, potatoes, vegetables, fruit, flour, wheat, yeast, steel cut oats, nuts and dried fruit. I buy the cheapest and it’s still quality because it’s all organic and nonGMO. Then I take those boring sounding items home and whip up burritos and soups, brightly colored salads, casseroles, homemade loaves of bread and tortillas, granola bars, oatmeal bowls, french fries and pizza, ice cream. All healthy of course.
Seasonings can be as simple as olive oil or coconut oil, salt, pepper, garlic, onions, and some herbs you can grow in pots even in your kitchen or tiny balcony.
Right now I’m building a backyard farm and food forest. I have nine fruit trees and 5 raised beds, along with those hens. We got a late start this year and I’m not having the best success just yet, however, I am now getting leaf lettuce and kale greens from my winter garden and 3 eggs a day from my sweet girls. Actually, those birds are sort of pushy. The lady I got them from said they would be skittish with humans after being locked in crowded cages over a year but they follow me everywhere and really complain if I don’t let them run the whole yard. They have a huge yard themselves but they’ve had a taste of more you know.
Eventually, the trees will produce and the gardens will give us more than just salad.
Even if you only have a small space you can container garden. We have a yard that is only a few thousand feet. Not even an 11th of an acre. We aren’t using even half of it. We could really go crazy and probably feed ourselves and neighbors…if Bali would only see the light.
Entertainment and travel.
We don’t do much of either. We eat at home, do coffee at home, have movie night with huge bowls of popcorn…at home with library movies (I just watched Sing 4 times the other day). Yes, I miss going out at times and now and then I find a way to go have a lunch or movie. It is rare. I have shopping sprees at thrift stores and I save up points with my bank card for Starbuck cards so I can have a cafe latte now and then.
I can order the latest popular hit at the library and even new movies as soon as they are out on DVD. I have to wait in the line of course but the waiting makes it all the sweeter.
If we travel it is to family and close friends for a day or weekend. We bring food and cook for our host and I bring lots of healthy snacks for the children. We watch movies, play, talk, cook. We don’t go to restaurants or out. Boring, I know but we love it and we have true quality time with people we love.
To Sum it up.
There is a lot about our life that seems boring as hell for some. We don’t drink, my husband does twice a year, we don’t go to parties, bars, dance clubs, we don’t smoke…anything. This saves a ton of money. Most people like their good brews and wines. My idea of exciting is my Italian stovetop espresso maker that cost $15 and beats a Starbucks anyday. I used to be a barista so I can get fancy.
We spend an unusual amount of time at home but there is a lot to do here. When we feel like going out we walk to a store, library, around the neighborhoods that have some charm.
I cut way back on most things so I have money for big stuff like our fancy health food store and doing things for the boys such as Fox Walkers for Arjan.
We have no debt, our cars are paid for and we try and use cash for everything. This creates wealth in itself. Lately, I have been buying things for our home and family. I’ve been treating us a bit because it’s the Christmas month and I feel rich. But that means a $15 stovetop espresso maker to replace a broken and ugly Mr. Coffee, a really great quilt for our family bed, and a couple farming books I want in my library, along with toys for Christmas morning.
I have been redecorating and shopping lately, however, I was Grannies caretaker for a few months and I used that extra money to do all the things I have been dreaming of such as replacing the old, stained couch and getting a lovely new spread for our family bed, replacing the coffee pot, stocking my library with backyard farming books to refer to. I have spent frivolously in the past and suffered. I really think about what I desire and why for weeks or months before I purchase it. Most things I wind up getting are for all of us as a family or home improvements. The biggest item I have indulged in was a brand new, top of the line washer that I bought during a huge 4th of July sale at Homedepot. That was worth it because the other washer hadn’t been washing our clothes properly for years and I was wasting water and time rewashing things and wearing stinky clothes.
The little steps that add up pennies to dollars.
I do a lot of weird little things as well. I add water to shampoo, dish soap, bubble bath. I used to reuse grounds and filters but now I don’t need filters with my espresso maker. I have all sorts of equipment that doesn’t need replacements. I used cloth rags for dishwashing instead of sponges, a steamer mop that I wash the cloth head, a vacuum that I dump out and don’t need a bag.
We walk when the weather permits and save on gas. I put a filter on my tap and we never buy bottled water. We cook from scratch and most of the time I make our bread and tortillas…we do get lazy and buy it at times.
I use cloth napkins and towels. Even at parties we use real plates and do potlucks. I make bouquets from our flowers in the yard.
There are fun things as the kids get older as well. In the summer they have dollar Tuesdays at the theater. Parks are free. A pass to forest parks are cheap if you get one yearly.
There are more ideas but that is a glimpse.
Here are some links to my YouTube channel. Enjoy and have a great and abundant life!