Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Living Large on a Little

Living on one income as we do, can be frustrating at times. I know it was our choice, and there are no regrets for me staying home to take care of the girls, but it is still difficult when it comes to necessities and luxuries. We are constantly checking the bank account and making sure we don't overspend or having to say, "we can't have that right now, maybe someday." There are a lot of what-ifs and could'ves and should'ves; like if Hubby had been able to find a job sooner before we used up our savings, or we should have waited until a transfer came in, instead of quitting a secure job with benefits for a lower paying job or we shouldn't have bought that used car. Or, or, or, or....

It is a constant struggle not to think negatively and to learn to live without. There are so many things Hubby and I would like to do if money was not an issue. Hubby would love to buy a vintage car to fix up and turn into a classic hot rod car. He would like to get all kinds of "toys" for the yard: tractor, lift, bulldozer, ATV, etc... I would love to fix up my kitchen, gut the whole thing and put in vintage style cabinets, new flooring, new counter tops, turn it into a 50s style kitchen. I'd like to put in a pool for all of us to swim around in and a greenhouse for year-round gardening. But those are all luxuries. We can make do with the cars we have now. The kitchen works just fine, if not easy on the eyes. Someday, I tell Hubby, we will be able to get those things, but not now.

We have learned to appreciate the things we do have. We fix things instead of tossing at the first sign of deterioration. I replace missing buttons and save scraps for rags or rug projects. We make more of our own meals instead of relying on heat-and-serve food kits. We grow food in the garden and save money on groceries. We cut out coupons and look for good deals in the sales ads and stock up on sale items. We have become experts at making multiple stops on one trip to save on gas. We give leftovers to the cats and save a little money on cat food. We take advantage of the free activities out there; the local parks, the library, and the animals we "meet" at yard sales. Hubby says he feels like we have gone backwards in time a little, to the days where nothing was wasted and used over and over until there was nothing left to salvage.

When I am not stressing over how to pay the next car payment or insurance bill, I actually enjoy the challenges of making our money go farther. This is where the yard sales and thrift shops come in handy. This is where I can buy good items for a small fraction of the price. I like to think I am savvy at finding good deals and paying bargain prices for them. I have been wanting to set up a crafting area/school room in a large corner of the basement and have been thumbing through the sales ads for good deals. At a yard sale last week, I scored on getting 2 nearly new base cabinets with double doors, a drawer and slide out shelves for $5 apiece! This will be the base of my crafting island in the basement! I will be looking at the clearance section of counter tops at the hardware stores now for just the right size and color and then we are in business! Can't wait for it all to fall into place! Moments like these make me feel good about the lifestyle we have chosen, and I know that we can keep on doing it. I know that one day, one day, we will get the things we dream of, it'll just take us a little longer than usual.


Krissie said...

We have three people working and making money in my family but we basically live like you do, because mom works for minimum wage, dad just a bit above it, and even sister who is a nurse doesn't earn as a nurse in a hospital would, cuz she works in a private nursing home where they are treated quite unfairly. Anyway, my point would be that we have no luxury of ordering food or buying frozen meals, we also make it from scratch, and we have never ever bought a brand new car, in fact, we had an '81 Opel, then '83 VW and now it's a '99 Seat. We also feed our cat and dog to leftovers as often as possible and they don't seem to mind. lol Repairing instead of replacing, making instead of buying... all familiar and nothing wrong with that.

Annie said...

Great post! I sometime begrudge that feeling of not being able to just do this that and the other, and I know that feeling of watching the bank account carefully, all too well.

How much more satisfying, not to mention healthy is it to prepare your own meals from scratch? I know I certainly prefer it - and for you to grow your own produce - the icing on the cake :)

Mr Farty said...

What's a "car"? We either walk or take the bus everywhere. Still, at least the kids have all grown up, got jobs and moved out. So how come we're still skint? Ah, yes - grandchildren.

Could be worse - step-daughter's maid in South Africa feeds her own family from SD's kitchen leftovers. Count your blessings - we do.

Sparx said...

This is how I was raised - it's a talent to live on nothing and it's the sort of talent that always comes in handy.

jenny said...

Krissie-- I've often thought that people in the sports world got paid too much. A $38 million, 5-year contract to play football???? While teachers and nurses and factory workers get such low pay?

It's a bigger adjustment for me because at the post office, both Hubby and I were making close to $5 thousand a month and to go from that to barely $1600 is something of a struggle. We always shopped at thrift stores, but we had 2 new car payments to make, plus a new mortgage and then we maxed out the credit cards to furnish the house... we have learned our lesson. This was all more than 6 years ago and we are geting used to saving up for bigger purchases instead of whipping out the credit card.

Annie-- Yes, I know that feeling well! It doesnt help having a close friend that shops like there is no tomorrow and pays no mind to prices. I used to turn green with envy, but have since wisened up.

Hubby used to get heartburn a lot, but since I started to cook from scratch more often, his heartburn attacks have become nearly non-existent.

Mr. Farty-- LOL!! I wish I could say that!! But our choice of living in the middle of the mountains kind of requires that we have a car. We want to get rid of one, but cant decide which one.. Need the 4x4 for the snow, need the truck for the trash, need the van for the family car. More likely we will get rid of two and replace with 4x4 truck and keep the van. And believe me! I count my blessings every day, I know there are people worse off than we are.

Sparx-- How right you are!! I'd love to see some people make ends meet on my budget! I appreciate more now, knowing that I can't just skip to the store and choose what my little heart desires!

LaRonda said...

When I read your blog, I often think, wow, tat lady has it all together! The choices you make seem simple and rich. They are the stuff of meaning. You live like I wish I did at times. I get weighed down by the stuff of life. I would love to get back to living next to the land. It brings in the attitude of gratitude.

~ LaRonda

mutterings and meanderings said...

It can be very hard. I was stuck in a terrible job a few years ago thay I thought would be a stopgap for a few months but I was there for 18 months. It was hell. I used to spend a lot of time crying on the kitchen floor.

DJ Kirkby said...

Your lifestyle is good for the soul, shame the money is a struggle though, would be nice to have enough of both!

Iota said...

I think you are brave to say you "enjoy the challenges of making money go further". That has become almost an unacceptable thing to say. I think a lot of people do feel that though. The accepted norm is to say "if only, if only" and sigh with envy at designer-this and designer-that, which all makes for a very discontented society. What IS the point of that? Good for you.

jenny said...

Laronda-- Thanks for your lovely comments. It helps that I'm not at all fashion-conscious! I'd be just as happy with clothes from Walmart as I would be with stuff from the Gap.. In my younger days, it was all about the brand named stuff, but now I could care less. We do try to live our lives a little more down-to-earth and do our part for reducing consumerism, and so far, so good! :o)

M&M-- poor you!! I hated my job at the post office and the only thing good that came of it was meeting Hubby. Sometimes we get stuck in a dead-end job and it is a struggle to get out and do better. With all your crying on the kitchen floor, I'm sure it is cleaner now? :o) I hope you are much happier where you are now.

DJ-- sometimes it feels like a struggle and others, we breeze on through. We are doing better now and slowly getting adjusted to not spending so much.

iota-- It's true, though. I do find it a challenge and I like it! It always feels good to go to the food stores, my coupons in hand and watching the grocery bill fall from $138 down to $76. I love scoring a near perfect pair of jeans for $5 at the thrift shop and getting a Lord of the Rings DVD for $3 at a yard sale. We may not get the instant gratification, but I find that a lot of times, because we cannot impulse shop, we end up not wanting it after all. I wish more people would learn to "do without" and see how much lives would change... Thanks for your kind comments!