Friday, June 15, 2012

Waste not, want not.

The past few months since I've left the military have been a real adventure. New home, new job, new circumstances. To put it bluntly, we are attempting to live on Brett's PhD assistantship alone. Yes, I am marketing for doula clients, but networking is hard work, and I'm not having a lot of luck so far. The birth community is a lot different here than in Florida (likely at least partially due to the crappy homebirth laws here).

What that means is that we are bringing in approximately 1/5th of the income we were a couple months ago. That's just gross income- doesn't include the loss of my commissary benefits, health insurance, etc. 

Now, we are very lucky in several ways. First, we don't have a house payment. Brett's parents decided to invest in a rental property, and that's where we're living now. After we move, it'll be rented out to college students here. If this wasn't the case, there's no way we could be making it right now- our income likely wouldn't even cover the rent on a house. Second, we own our vehicles and thus don't have car payments. We also don't have much in the way of student loans (Brett has none, and mine are very nearly paid off), and we don't carry credit card debt. Just wanted to explain these points, as I'm sure some people will argue that it would be impossible for most to live the way we are now. Given the average debt load that most families carry, they're probably right. 

I admit that although I am absolutely loving the stay-at-home-mom gig, I would be even more content if we made just a bit more money- you know, to pay for things like better health insurance and the occasional vacation. I grew up in a very, very modest home and am used to getting by- but it's a little harder for Brett. He's a bit spoiled :-) 


I've been making a game of finding little ways to save money and still enjoy the things we enjoy: time together, good, nourishing food...Those of you who know me in real life know I'm a Little Women freak, and probably romanticize the idea of being happy with the little things you have. So here are some of the things I've been working on:

1. Things I refuse to buy (as I make them myself):
   a. Yogurt and kefir
   b. Ricotta cheese (important, because pasta is cheap!)
   c. Bread (if you haven't already, PLEASE check out "Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day").  I also buy bulk flour and other essentials at Sam's. 
   d. Expensive clothes for the girls (sewing most of the cute dresses is fun and easy)
   e. Most processed foods in general (pasta and granola are the exceptions)
   f. Disposable wipes. I DID buy pull-ups for Lucy's potty-training and it killed me. Spending that money every week hurt, and reaffirmed my preference for cloth diapers. However, Lucy was big on the pull-ups and it really helped.
2. Other money-saving strategies:
  a. Getting the girls signed up for Peach Care (Ga's insurance for kids)
  b. WIC (hopefully taking care of this this week). Not ashamed to take advantage of it if we qualify. 
  c. The garden. This is huge. And time-consuming. And saves a CRAPTON of money. Also helps with forcing us to eat seasonally, preserve food for later, etc.
  d. Getting Brett used to the idea that the a/c doesn't need to run ALL the time. Luckily he is working all day, so I can get away with cranking the thermostat up.
  e. No cable. We do have Netflix and internet, though. 
  f. Home birth! My planned home birth cost a fraction of what a hospital birth would. Money wasn't the driving factor here, of course, but it's a very nice perk.
  g. Making a menu for the weekly, shopping once a week, and sticking to the plan! I used to be terrible about running out to the store for every little thing. Now, if we run out of something or I forget to buy it, we improvise. 


I'm sure I'm forgetting lots of things...will try to edit as I think of them.

What does your family do to save money?

Can you tell I'm excited for tomatoes?


Erin said...

this is humbling and inspiring to read. this is a season in your lives that won't last long, and it looks like you're making the best of it! i made a batch of granola today, and would like to get better at menu-planning an growing some veggies in pots (we're renting and have a tiny yard). the reason i sell my vintage items, is to use in my own home, mark them up and sell they're essentially free! home decor made simple ;) i go on Banana Republic runs every couple of months from the free points on my credit card. i don't know if there is an EarthFare near you, but kids eat free (up to 6 kids) when the adult spends over $5. have an awesome week, em!

Emily said...

Oh wow- there is an EarthFare here in Athens. I had no idea about that deal- thanks so much for sharing!