Friday, April 2, 2010

March Madness Leading to April Showers

Well life can certainly sock you some punches. Mine has been pretty turbulent over the past month. Hubby lost his job and possibly they will not give him unemployment, we'll see. Of course when one looses a job in the States, it's not just a job and income, but also one's health insurance. For a western country this is insane, but there it is. So now comes the scrabble to get on some kind of State health care. Pennsylvania has Chip, so hopefully Rob will get on that. There is an adult health insurance plan for low income people, but the waiting list is two years. One could die in the mean time. And the paperwork, well I won't even go into that, but it's overwhelming. I was just going to take my files for the last two years and copy everything and send it to them.

I have always been thrifty, well always needed to be. We've had leaner times, but not as lean as this is going to be. You rack your brain what can I cut back on and cut out.

  • Energy Use - I always have been thrifty on that putting in the wood stove a couple of years ago, and we do have a least a cord of wood left. Electric, well turning lights off etc, but there's only so much you can cut down there. Water usage the same. Although I would like to have some rain barrels, but they are expensive to buy in themselves, but will keep an eye out.
  • Petrol - Well hubby is not driving to work, so that's a savings. And if you're not buying anything, you're not driving anywhere to buy it.
  • Food - Yes, here comes the biggest bill you can cut back on. You hate to say this. but it's true. I probably spent $150.00 per week for three people. I've cut that back to $50.00 per week and I have sustained that now for five weeks. You might ask 'how can you do that?'
Cook. Well of course I did have some reserves of food built up and it's amazing how these now become an asset. We've been going through all sorts of older things that have been sitting around in my pantry for a while, or on my basement storage shelves.

Bo used to do a certain amount of his own food shopping for work, which consisted of some microwavable products, they've all been cut out of course. I make a lot of soups and do not buy steaks anymore. Do not buy any take out foods such as pizza or Chinese, when you have more money they don't seem so much. But when you are living on one part-time 3 day a week wage, they are. Don't even think of buying coffee out. If I feel I want a take out I take it out with me.

I phoned around locally to see if there were any food banks in town, and it seem there are several. I found one where all they wanted was ID. This seemed amazing since everybody else wanted to know you financial situation inside out and how much life insurance do you have? What a cheek. So they give you a card and you can get one bag of groceries once a month. Plus they usually have bread. Every little bit helps. A couple of friends have given me groceries and this helps. But it has been my experience that you must keep aside money for dairy products, meats and veg because mostly whats given to you is dry and tinned.

When you're on an austerity program which obviously we are, you need some little treats, for us that's sweet and baking. Using up a lot of things, pudding mixes, crumb pie cases that were just all sitting around, are now gone.

About twice a month I go to a fresh produce store. Rob says it reminds him of Spain, because of the images and a picture of a Barcelona soccer team. It's a breeze block building more in the country, people take a number and sometimes you can have quite a wait. Do make a list, because when it's your turn it goes at quite a speed. Some things you can pick out yourself, others are behind the very long counter. Bananas are so cheap. So needless to say a lot of our sweet deserts and cakes consist of bananas. I have quite a banana baking repertoire.

Meats I buy on sale. Last week I went $15.00 over on budget, meat buying, but I made up for it this week. All these are in the freezer and will last a month or more.

We probably get through three gallons of milk a week, which is I think quite a bit. As a gallon is $3.20 that represents $10.00 per week just on milk. Don't seem to be able to lessen that.
  • Clothes - Well to me, you don't have to buy clothes. We have an older house with very small closets, so why buy more. Just route around and use what you have. The only one who does need clothes at different times is Rob. And he's a good boy because quite often he'll sell something on Ebay and buy what he wants with that money. I'm glad he's never been spoilt, because cutting back is taken in his stride.
  • Pleasure - What does one do for that with no money? I've always enjoyed our library and reading so that's free, plus they have different programs there that can be fun. I recently attended one on Rain Gardens. Rob has his friends he goes over and visits, plus it is now the season for him to cycle more, which he loves.
I like to go to the thrift and so does Rob, so for a couple of dollars you can treat yourself to a little something, but not too much.

I love my garden and gardening, so this year, as I know I cannot afford bedding plants I have started everything from seed. Four packs of seed at the Dollar Store, for a dollar. So hope they sprout and I'll have veg and flowers. Bo has done a lot or almost all of the garden work which I usually do, which has taken a great deal of work off me. Just coping emotionally with the turmoil is a lot.

  • Credit Card - We have always paid our credit card off each month, but as hard as I try it adds up. We charged our drivers licenses on there, plus our two vehicles road title, plus my vehicle needed inspection and Bo's does next month. So they were all extras. But as anyone knows there are always extras every month that come up. So keeping an eagle eye on the credit card balance.
  • Mortgage - Our only debt is our mortgage, thank goodness. But in our situation, to lower the monthly payments, we found the need to re-mortgage. I didn't want to, at out time in life, as everything was ticking over nicely, but needs must.
As of today our family does not have health insurance, we'll see what happens on that.

And March madness has led to April showers, or should I say storms, because now it seems we need to have a new trap on our sewer system which will cost $3,000.00. When things go wrong it seems everything goes wrong. Plus to do the work you need a permit from the Borough and now they have a new tax on work you do 3% of what the job will cost you, you have to pay to the Borough, as if it isn't enough to have to pay for the job.

Unfortunately there is not much of a social government network in the States, so in hard times you're pretty much on your own and you'd better pull yourself up by your own boot straps or sink.

It is nice to see the sun and my seedlings are coming up.

Will keep you posted on the Frugality not of wanting to but having to live that way.


1 comment:

  1. Try the money saving expert web site. Martin Lewis has a free web site with loads of help and info. Lots only applicable to uk but still the old style forums useful. You can sign up to weekly newsletter. We do take a lot for granted in this country!


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