Monday, January 23, 2012

When There's No Money

It's hard being a single income family right now, it's even harder when the only income is self employment. Some months money is plentiful with enough to pay bills and even stash some cash away and other months there is an extremely slim cash flow. How do you survive? What bills must be paid? How will we feed our family and livestock?

Our current situation leaves much to be desired in the income area. There is usually enough but that's it- no wiggle room and nothing left for fun. I began babysitting to pay for gas for our van and my animals feed. It also covers any household needs that arise such as toilet paper, dish soap, etc. However, we are now seeing a huge rise in the cost of electric, gas for cars, and basic household necessities. How can we stretch an almost nonexistent budget even further?

I'm focusing on reducing our electric bill for the month of February. Our last months bill was $165 and is completely unacceptable!!!! I am making some major changes in February.

My reduce our electric consumption plan:
- buy each child a battery or solar powered night light. We currently have two bedrooms with night lights left on all night.
- unplug everything at night. We had been doing this but we got lazy.
- turn off the coffee pot and unplug after it's done. I'm going to keep in warm in a peculator on the wood burner.
- use the wood burner to heat up basic foods such as soup, fry eggs, and other skillet meals.
- our dryer broke so right now we are hanging all our clothes on a clothesline inside.

I'm looking to reduce our household budget as well. I need to start playing the drugstore game again if only for the toiletries!!! I can always donate whatever we won't use. My biggest concern here is spending more than necessary to get a good base of ECB's. Spending money just to earn ECB's isn't always cheapest.

Starting a price book again is also going to be done in February. I used to know the best prices for what we bought but since we've moved I haven't kept up on it. We've also started shopping at several new stores and we have also gone completely gluten free again. I have found that Marc's has the best gluten free flour prices around. I'm interested to see how many more organic/gluten free items they have and the cost. I still do one major shopping trip a month and with the cost of gas I don't think this will change. I have realized that I need to plan snacks better through the month. I underestimate how much my children eat!! I am going to put a snack basket in the fridge for each child and hope that reduces the " so and so ate all the apples or clementines".

One of the other changes I'm making is buying all our animal feed at our local mill. I have found it has the cheapest feed around. It will make my life easier to buy dog/cat food there as well. I will double check to make sure it has the cheapest prices for that. I'm optimistic that they will since their rabbit/chicken feed is $4 cheaper per bag!!

I would like to get our water tested, right now we don't drink the water so I'm buying a lot of bottled water. I'm looking into buying a Berkey because I do think it will more than pay for itself.

* This post is linked to the Homestead Barn Hop


Heather's Blog-o-rama said...

I found your blog via the Homestead Barn Hop. Some of the thoughts in your post really resonated with me. My dad and I are both out of work, living my aunt's home. So I'm looking to see if I can do some sort of work-at-home type of job, or figure out how to earn money from my crafts least till a job opens up. In any case, I also noticed that our b ill is going up and up every month, when it comes to utilities. So all lights are off, unless i"m actually in the room. I unplug everything that can be unplugged, including the washer/dryer when it is not actually in use. I'm hoping that will reduce the bill, even though our electric company keeps raising rates on us. Have a great week :) :) Love and hugs from the ocean shores of California, Heather :)

The Other Me Is Sane said...

Walmart has sensor activated night lights that come on when you get up and move around. I don't like lights on, so this keeps hubs from running into the door (he actually did that) and getting a black eye.

Dave Ramsey is the best. Check him out at or He saved us from debt. He has a radio show from 1 to 4 central standard time that's nationwide. good luck.

Dollwood Farms said...

Get the Berkey if you can! We have awful well water but after it goes thru the filter it is AWESOME! Best investment I ever made! We use the well for dishes and wash, that is it!

Jennyerin said...

I also found you through the barn hop. I feel your pain. Our bill has had an extra $40/month on it compared to last year and I really can't figure out where it's coming from. I just need to be more vigilant. And I love the idea of a price book to help manage household supply costs! I try to just remember it all but sometimes I have too many numbers floating around in my head and just buy it where I'm at. I think I'll give the book a shot in February.

Anonymous said...

Just a couple of things to help with the electric bill: Make coffee and keep warm in a thermos jug or one of the nice thermal pitchers. I have done this for 40 years. Also, a new idea we are trying at our house: Make a fun day/evening of it and call it Frontier Friday or some cool name, and use oil or kerosene lamps one day a week. Get the family to cook something on the woodsotve (soup) and congregate around the woodstove and the lamps and read or tell stories, etc. -just a night without electricity. Sort of like "meatless Mondays" back in the Great Depression. :-)