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, GoStream.com, 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!