Friday, February 13, 2009

Living On Love

When I first became a SAHM my husband and I were making over $50,000 when I quit our income dropped to $26,000. A few months later my husband decided to change careers and our income dropped yet again to almost $20,000. We went from spending money on whatever we wanted whenever we wanted to counting spare change to put gas in our car. How did we make it?

I think the biggest help has been that we've always had just one car. We were lucky when I worked that we worked at the same place and the same hours. After I started staying home I just planned my errands around my husbands work hours. Having one car saves on car insurance and really saves by only having one or NO car payment!

Grocery shopping also became a challenge. Our monthly budget was about $200 for four of us and that included baby formula. I diligently planned our menus around what was on sale. My husband loves snacks so I started baking all his treats from scratch. I packed his lunch every day and my son and I ate leftovers.
My husband is a meat and potato kind of guy so we don't do the beans and rice diet. I just recently started using 1.5 lb of hamburger in our tacos and sloppy joes and that feeds six of us with leftovers! I also save all our leftover chicken no matter what flavor to make into chicken noodle soup. We do have meat usually at every meal. I buy pork tenderloin, boneless chicken breast, hamburger, roasts, pork chops, and steaks. I only buy beef or pork if it is under $2.99 a lb, I know some can find it much cheaper but here that is a great deal. I can find chicken at $1-1.50 a lb so that's what I aim for. Our side dishes are usually rice, a vegetable , and bread. I can often get frozen vegetables for free and rice is a cheap side dish. I try to make most of our bread from scratch but sometime I use Pillsbury frozen rolls if I can get them for $1 or less.
I also make breakfast and lunch for all of us because my husband works next door he eats with us,and since he is a meat cutter I try to always have a hot breakfast and lunch. I plan my menu for two weeks at a time for breakfast and lunch. I try to make lunch something in the crock pot so it's ready whenever he might get home. Some examples of our lunch menus are sloppy joes, tacos, meatball subs, hamburgers, chicken nuggets/fries, grilled cheese/soup, and baked potato bar.

I save on baby items by buying used or borrowing from friends. I also save all my girls clothes to pass on down. We love handme downs. I think homeschooling helps so they don't know what they're missing. My oldest daughter (7) and my son (10) are shocked when they see the prices of clothes at Walmart!! We do use disposable diapers, for a long time I only bought generic but then I found Cvs so now I rarely pay for diapers or wipes!! I only wish I'd found out how cheap the drugstores can be before I was on child #5!! I don't do a lot of baby food. I try to always have something I can smash to feed our nine month old every time we eat. I also buy jars of applesauce and divide them into smaller servings.
Our nine month old only has five sleepers and four "go to town" outfits. It is the same for the rest of us also, we each have "play" clothes to wear at home.

Another way we save money is by not going to the doctor every time we are sick. My youngest two have never had any vaccinations. We rarely use antibiotics. Now, I do have see my doctors regularly because of my health issues. If your family uses a lot of prescription drugs make sure you take advantage of all the gift cards offered by changing pharmacies!! You can easily make enough to buy groceries or household items this way! Don't be loyal to any pharmacy and change to whoever is offering a gift card each time you need a refill!

My husband and I have only had 1 credit card and it's limit was $1000.00 We have little debt so we don't have any debt payments. We currently do not own our home. Our rent is a little over $700 a month and our utilities run us about $300 a month. If you are struggling with debt I've heard great things about Dave Ramsey and Mary Hunt.

If you are still working and hoping to stay at home this is the best thing you can do... live off of your husband's salary and save all of yours! It will show him that it is possible without an argument. Show him how serious you are by cutting your grocery and utility bills now instead of later. My husband was hesitant at first, there were many things he didn't want to give up. We found ways to compromise. My husband loves his pop so I collect coke points to earn coupons and buy it when I can earn Extra Care Bucks at Cvs or Walgreens Register Rewards. I also "buy" him candy with my coupons, usually for pennies or free! I have learned not to fight about the satellite bill, we are on the cheapest package until OSU football starts and then we up it but it only lasts six months.

Our current income is still less than $25,000 and we are raising five children. It is hard. There are times when I wish I could buy whatever I want. I get tired of pinching pennies. You will have set backs and wonder if you have lost your mind when you chose this lifestyle. Other people will question you but stay strong. It does get easier the longer you are home. It is worth it!!


Samantha said...

wow, you have really inspired me. my husband and i are one of the many people in the U.S facing foreclosure and im trying sooo hard to save money wherever i can to help save our home. last year my husband and i made i think it was $46,000 [only $5,000 was mine] and if you and your family can make it work on 1/2 it makes me really wonder why we are so behind. especially since your rent is $100 more than our mortgage! im def gonna follow your blog and who knows, your tips might help us [:

Brooke said...

if we could do that we would be in amazing shape financially. that would allow us to live on what i make, and save his commissions. we don't need to rely on them any way - there are no guarentees with the real estate market!

momof4sweetsisters said...

Keep going your doing great! Your post has been quite an encouragement. Thank you

Rachel said...

I think the hardest part, like you said, is wanting to spend more and knowing you can't. My husband and I live on less than 20K a yr and it is hard, but soooo doable! Thanks for the encouragement to keep on keepin on!

Anonymous said...

I commend you on being able to live on a smaller income, especially with 5 children. Yes, it can be done, as you mentioned, even though it's not always easy.

My dh and I live on about the same right now. We live in a high-cost living area with one of the highest unemployment rates in the country with high taxes too.

It's frustrating to read sometimes about how people say they can't do this and they can't do that. Anything is possible if one is willing to do the work (cook from scratch, use what you have, etc.), and also if one is willing to not live a life of continual want/or an attitude of "I deserve this, so I will have it". Living beyond means is what has this country in the pickle that it's in!

Although it's challenging, I do think this time in our economy - when many people have to get back to basics is a really good thing.

Keep up the great work and keep sharing - it will help others to see it IS possible.

Also, if you would like to read it, I had a guest post on Crystal's blog a while back:

Prudent Homemaker said...

I love just having one car! We just paid it off, too, which was really nice.

I don't mind having one car at all; when I do get to go shopping I do it at night or in the early morning sans children, which makes it faster and easier for me. I have 5 small children.

I would love to understand more about the free diapers at CVS versus the price of diapers at Sam's Club (currently a litle over $28 for 160 diapers). I have 2 (and a half ) in diapers and would love to understand how you do it.

autumn said...

I used to buy all my diapers at Sams club. I also have two in diapers. I use CVS or Walgreens to get cheap/free diapers. The way I do this is by saving up my extra care bucks or by using register rewards from Walgreens. If you aren't brand specific CVS usually has deals on their brand of diapers and every couple of weeks Huggies will run a deal with ECBs. I can only buy Pampers with my youngest, but I rarely pay more than $3 a pack. If you check back later on Saturday I'll show you how to earn some ECB at CVS that you can then use to buy anything you need!!

Anonymous said...

Normally I just enjoy browsing the blogs, but today I must comment. I get so many good ideas from thrifty women such as yourself. But as a healthcare professional, I have to say that its heartbreaking to see children suffer from vaccine preventable illnesses. Please get your children vaccinated -- some things really are priceless.

autumn said...

To the anonymous poster,
We haven't had our youngest two get vaccines due to our strong feelings about vaccines, NOT due to being frugal. I would never tell anyone not to vaccinate their children, that is up to the parents. One of our children had a bad reaction to a series of vaccines so we just aren't big supporters of them.Please no flames for our personal beliefs!! Again it was NOT because we couldn't afford it!! My children have health insurance and we use it when needed. We just don't go everytime they get a cold, that's all I was trying to say.

Kelly said...

Yes, very encouraging!! It's helpful when Mama's are truthful about our praises and our struggles. Living on Love makes me smile!! Good job girl!!