Thursday, December 2, 2010

How to survive and thrive on almost no income

Times are hard, right?  Unemployment is up, spirits are down and many people are focused on how to stretch a dollar and maybe make a few extra.   

I had a brief stint as a financial advisor in my late twenties and was astounded at how much money most people waste.  I feel very fortunate to have grown up with parents that were business owners.  I witnessed hard times and rich times.  I think survival is just in my blood.  

Honestly, the financial strain in this country hasn't affected us nearly as much as it has many of our family and friends.  I believe it may be because I am used to living as if we are broke, even when we are not.  

It isn't as bad as it sounds.  We live in a nice home on the "comfortable" side of town, we drive a fairly new luxurious SUV, and we buy the things that really matter to us.  We pick and choose what we will and what we won't spend our money on. 

Several things that are different about our family than most.....

1.  We don't have cable television.  (Up until today we didn't have cell phones, just didn't need them - however, we found a better plan for less money that includes 2 cell phones and internet service so it just seemed logical to change from our landline, etc.)

2.  We try to never work for anyone else.  It is scary at times to be in business for ourselves but we have found that we can utilize tax deductions that we wouldn't otherwise and therefore keep more of the money that we make.  It takes guts to be sure, but working for someone else creates a false sense of security.

3. We feed our 6 children plus up to 9 daycare children each day on a fraction of the cost that most spend on a family of four.  We do this by doing several things consistently. 

  • We grow a big garden every year.   We try to grow what we eat and we eat what we grow. Sometimes portions of it fail miserably but we always have something to freeze, can and dehydrate. I really try to waste nothing.  If I have more tomatoes that I know what to do with, I find ways to preserve it as sauces, and jams.  We have tomato in everything.  One year we had so much squash, it was put into everything.  I have gotten really good at disguising foods and tapping into my creative side.
  • We forage for foods in their season.  For example, there are mulberries growing wild everywhere during the late spring and early summer.  We pick them like crazy and freeze them.
  • We trade food with other folks.  I put ads on Craigslist to exchange my excess garden produce and homemade bread for eggs and milk.  I've also found that a lot of people can't or don't harvest their fruit trees any longer.  So I've taken my kids and harvested plums, apples and pears in exchange for some homemade jams and jellies.
  • We always look for meat sales.  One of our grocery stores has a two for one sale on chuck roast every couple of weeks.  It can be used as roast, cut into steaks, or ground for hamburgers.  We used to buy a side of beef every six months but this is a way to stock up on meat at a lower intial outlay of cash. 
  • We almost NEVER buy name brands.  I rarely use coupons because I've found that the generics tend to be less expensive than name brands WITH coupons.
  • We don't assume bulk buying is cheaper.  Take some time to do some comparisons.  $.25 an item may not seem like a big savings but if you are purchasing 100 items that's $25.00 saved.  That adds up over time.  And honestly, our savings tends to be much greater than $.25 an item.
  • We try to make as much homemade as possible . It's easy to do that if you cook in large quantities because you can freeze the extra for later meals. (I'll write more soon on reincarnating meals)

4.  My husband really takes the time to comparison shop on all of our big purchases.

5. We try to never hire someone else to repair anything.  There is a wealth of do-it-yourself information on-line.  I wouldn't recommend performing surgery on yourself or a family member but virtually everything else is fair game for a DIY project!

I will have more detail in future blogs on living well for much less!



  1. Are you sure you don't want to grab a copy of Grey's and wing it?

  2. Hi Poppy!
    You stopped by my blog today from Heather's blog o' Rama.
    I am enjoying your blog and by reading this post it seems we have a whole lot in common! :D
    I'll be back!


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