Living on a reduced income and a no spend summer.


We’ve created some changes in the last few days. The first big change was asking my husband to quit his second job. The other changes had to come after that big executive decision. If a business (aka household) needs to cut cost then they have to come up with ways to reduce cost in the business and without sacrificing quality…if they are a smart company.

I made the decision to eliminate the second job because, upon careful observation of my husband’s behavior, I decided all this work was not good. I’m no psychologist but the man used to be pleasant and now he sleeps everywhere he lands and is very grumpy and complains too often. I’m the official nag, he’s stealing my thunder here. Then when I showed him videos of the boys and it was meant for amusement but only brought forth a sad face…well, I felt that his days of long hours should be halted immediately.

We have a project in mind and we need money for it so if he isn’t going to have the extra job for building savings than we will have to use my royalties to do this task. That means we go back to living on one. Small. Income. Drat.

We are a family of four living in Northern California. Life cost here. But we can do it on $2300.00 a month (because that is the monthly earnings). I did the budget in full detail and if we cut out the Health Club when our membership expires in August we can pay our mortgage and all the bills for under $1600 a month. This does not include groceries and gas. However, it does give us over $700 for groceries and gas.

How can we live on so little and with a mortgage? Well, some of you know what I’m gonna say…buy a cheap fixer-upper and you’ll never stress about the mortgage (sing song voice).

We only have two luxuries and that is the health club and Netflix. I will miss the health club but Netflix is just meh. Crackle,, Tubu, Vudu, and YouTube replace it just fine. I will admit that Amazon Prime has about four movies I’m dying to see though.

The health club has pools, saunas, jacuzzi’s, Kidz Club and so much more. I feel a bit depressed about this but I remind myself it’s temporary. We can walk everywhere and save on gas and exercise. I have exercise equipment in the garage, in the living room and you can get so much on YouTube, why, I even found The Firm workouts today!

As for groceries, I refuse to give up our quality, organic, grass-fed ingredients. I’ll have to start cooking from scratch more than ever before and stick with the basics, the bulk foods, and seasonal produce. It also means giving up animal products and moving toward more plant-based. This will be excellent for our health and if the children need or want some occasional goats milk, fish, or meat that is affordable and fine.

The two kitchen gardens I have going right now can produce plenty of free organics. I’m already harvesting mustard greens, spinach, zucchini, and small tomatoes. If I keep learning and rotating the crops, harvesting, and replanting and learning to utilize small spaces, I can learn to really feed my family for a little labor and some seeds. I’m also going to try planting fruit trees in pots and from the seeds themselves. I’m learning to save seeds from the foods we eat and soon the number of trees and seeds we buy will be reduced.

I got the idea merely from my compost and tomato plants and a lone avocado seed. I am careful about not having seeds in the compost but I’m sloppy with leftover tomato scraps and now I have tomato plants growing all over the place; with the onions, in the side yards, with the zucchini, the melon…everywhere. It’s the seeds from the compost. As for the healthiest and fastest growing avocado tree? it was simply a pit from an avocado being used one night for burgers and Bali threw it in the raised bed outside my laundry room and it has thrived.

Recently I was gifted with a pressure canner and huge dehydrator and most recently the same woman gave me more rain barrels, more containers, boxes of canning jars, a sealer, a hand-cranked wheat mill, and hard wheat berries! She’s like my fairy godmother! I had just put some of these items in my Amazon cart wish list. She is also a Master Gardener so I get this fantastic advice on everything from trees, and gardens to canning. I have everything, and I mean everything to be sustainable.

But what does it mean to really cook from scratch and grow your own food? It ain’t easy at first sisters and brothers, but after a while, it gets easier as we learn from mistakes and practice, practice, practice.

It’s like running an organic food cafe that grows most of its own food. You have to be on top of things always. Once you harvest one food, you immediately plant another, you have seedlings going in the greenhouse, you know the Farmers Almanac growing schedule for your area (BTW, the Sacramento, Yuba City areas are 9b) and you keep researching and educating yourself. At some point, you will be able to relax because you’ll have it down in your sleep.

Then there is cooking from scratch, canning your own food from the garden, and keeping a pantry stocked and rotated so you don’t eat anything rancid. It means cooking ahead and prepping, making dry batches of mixes for the shelves and casseroles for the freezer. When you cook truly from scratch you can’t just whip something up, it takes time so if you have hungry children this can mean drama.

I asked my spouse to put in his notice Saturday. Sunday I rested. Monday I wrote out our complete budget. Tuesday I processed it all and found free mulch on Craigslist. We drove all the way to Sacramento and loaded up the truck. Today I cooked a lot of food since we had no easy to make convenience foods. I find that a big pot of beans, a loaf of bread, a pan of cornbread, a huge pan of baked potatoes, and a batch of homemade granola is a good start.

And off we go!






24 thoughts on “Living on a reduced income and a no spend summer.

  1. You will be fine! I think it was a wonderful decision to have Bali quit his second job. No amount of money will ever be worth the time with your babies. Also, the more money we make, the more we spend. You’re the queen of penny pinching and will be fabulous at this, as you know. Many, many hugs. Xoxo -Crystal 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hello Kate, I agree it’s hard to cut back on the budget but with your creatively and positive outlook on life I know you will be a great success!! I know you have already looked into all the fun and inexpensive things to do for the summer…I have a few suggestion s I found around here in Washington like…$1 summer movies at Theaters…they are 2nd run kids movies but on a really hot day or a rainy day it makes for a nice change of pace. Then I found many free things to do at city parks and recreation departments they have water play areas, movies in the park, concerts, kids activities all for free! I will be taking the grandkids to some of these activities for some wonderful memories.I also am working in the garden this year…next week our cherries will be ready, I have peas to be picked and meat canning to do. Canned a small 10# Turkey last week to add to the pantry …it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be…So I’m going to can some pork, ground beef, and maybe another Turkey (I have 3 in the freezer bought after Christmas for 29 cents a #) so we don’t have to worry about power outages and such…always look forward to your blogs and I never miss your YouTube videos..wishing you a wonderful week…Gaila in Washington state


  3. Good evening Kate. Your days are sounding like mine but I enjoy reading how you cope with all this. I’ve learned through your experiences and now stick to my budget and cook from scratch. It’s amazing that your family of four can live on $2300 a month. That’s how much I make and I’m single. Well, it’s more expensive to live in Vancouver, BC, Canada. lol Thanks for all your ideas and expertise. I will continue reading your blogs. Take care and have a great summer.


  4. Hello from Norway Kate. Sounds like a very wise decision for your husband to reduce his work load. Time goes so quickly, years fly by. Time with you and the boys is priceless.
    A tight budget Summer ahead here also. My garden is doing very poorly due to a very cold, rainy Summer, my big teenage boys are eating me out of the house and my health keeps me in bed during long periods. We have tried to sell our house for three years to get a cheaper one, but noone wants to buy in this remote location. Blast! Having to re-think a lot of things. We are very blessed to have an older caravan. All five love caming and the simple life, so we are able to have some lovely holiday experiences very cheaply. One of my childrens’ fondest Summer memories is when we got on the wrong ferry, ended up on the wrong island, had to sleep in a tent in a storm and everything was a little damp. The following morning was sun from a clear blue sky and breathtaking scenery revealed itself.
    Wish you all a lovely Summer with special memories, and best of luck with everything. Blessings, Pam


    1. Lol, love the story of the wrong boat and island. I’m truly sorry for the poor garden and health and house sale not happening. I hope to hear all this turn around in the next few months, keep me posted please.:)


  5. Hi Kate

    This sounds scary and exciting. You always make me feel so inspired and like I can do anything! As long as you can have your coffee and good food and happy times with your family 🙂 I find that at my most difficult times I see the results of my hope and faith so much more, and have blessings in abundance (for instance the gardening lady giving you all that stuff). I hope more comes your way and Bali feels happier soon.

    Sending you love from England!


    1. Thank you, Rachael! He will have two more weeks and be happy again. He really liked the job and boss so it’s a bummer he can’t stay there instead, but it’s too many hours away from home. The minute I called him and said, “quit” all this abundance came in. The Universe provides if you ask and believe. 🙂


  6. Yes, I agree with Gaila, you are very creative and resourceful. You’ve got this!

    As a woman who was blessed to stay at home for many years (14) and homeschool my boys, I am familiar with pinching pennies, and agree, your husband’s well being is vitally important too. My hubby worked at a job for almost 20 years that he hated. He’d wake up each day, and say “I hate my job”…how it hurt to know how unhappy he was in his job, but he worked hard to support us and give me and our children a good life.

    10 days shy of his 20th work anniversary the plant closed its doors. It was at this time (we were aware it would be closing, thankfully, so had time to prepare) we decided it was time for hubby to go to college. I went back to work (boys had graduated and were in college), and supported us for that time. (Now work at home very part-time). So my guys… hubby and both sons all went to trade school together! God provided, though on paper…it should never have worked. God is good!

    And now, hubby loves his work! It is a joy knowing he finds satisfaction and joy in his occupation. I’ll pray for you all ((((hugs)))


    1. That is so sad about him suffering a job 20 years!! I know that feeling well, I detested many a job. But how fun he went to a trade school with the boys.:) Life is too short to be miserable in anything.


  7. Hi Kate, thanks so much for this post. My husband and I recently made the decision for me to cut back to working part-time. Luckily this opportunity came available through my employer so that we can continue to have health benefits and such but I will be able to be home with my family more so that my husband can work to grow our handmade businesses. We are making a lot of the same decisions to reduce our costs but are also doing what we can to prepare for this decrease in our income by anticipating what expenses will be upcoming and keeping our pantry as stocked as ever. Our pantry is really security on so many levels.


  8. Good morning, I know it’s hard but I think you’re making the right decisions about Bali working too much and stopping the membership.
    You’ve still got a month+ to enjoy the health club so do that and then come August, you’ll be busy with homeschooling and such anyway.
    Life is so much sweeter when we aren’t grouchy from over work too.

    I had 5 of my grands the last couple days and we found so many free things to do. We went to our local children’s play museum for free Tuesday nights.
    We visited my parents retirement home.
    We went to our city’s free splash pad and while there, the children played at the adjoining park, got free sack lunches from the public school program and free books from the bus mobile.
    I know every town is different but I think most towns of any size have some free programs if a person looks for them.
    We aren’t on a shoestring budget right now but I truly appreciate these very fun and free activities as even small admission prices times 5 adds up to a Lot!


  9. As usual, your post rocked. I am happy that Bali is giving up the second job. I sometimes wish the Redneck didn’t have to work so many hours, but he does enjoy his work, and right now it’s nice to have surplus funds to enjoy. For years we were in survival mode. We made the bills, and we did manage to have enough to go to the occasional movie and eat out, but sometimes it was a little depressing. I found it funny this week when I realized that even though my income is about to increase a lot due to some ingenuity on my part–I am becoming CHEAPER. I was in a thrift store Tuesday with a friend, and after a few moments of looing around, I felt like, ‘what am I doing in here? I don’t NEED anything, and I have been given lots of goodies from decluttering friends lately–why am I even looking around?” I realized that it was an old habit to shop in order to kill time until we could go to lunch. I told my friend how I was feeling, and she said she had been wondering that too, as she really didn’t have the money to spend. We decided that if we wanted to browse until lunch time, we would do it at the big Christian book store, where at least we would be seeing lovely things with scripture to inspire and encourage us. What was really funny is that after w


  10. Hi Kate hello from Nova Scotia . I have watched you since your first day on YouTube. I love how you can turn any simple house task into a pleasure and how your boys give you so much joy in your life . Thank you for all the great videos


  11. Amazing blog Kate I cant help but I’m more of a reader. I just picked up 2 of your new books today and I’m going to have to find more ways to save. Getting 136.00 a month is going to have to feed myself and my oldest son. We have now moved back home to Northern Ky. And rent is alot higher we found a nice place and moved April 1st and loaded up a 17 foot haul and it was a success! My car ran hot a nice little 05 Ford Focus I paid 1200.00 dollars for but it was broke down 200 miles away and I still managed to sell it for 200.00 so we dont have the added expense tigjjt now of owning an automobile but I do need to find moreeays to save I’m glad to be home and be living where my kids and family are so well see I’m hoping your og and utube help me tremendously. I’d love it if you would share a blog and video about what you do cook and buy to feed your family. I need help on the frugal train have a great weekend Kate always reading from afar here In Ky.


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