10 Tips – Living Below Your Means

Welcome. I hope this post finds you well. In the last post, I stated that I would cover some things we do to help keep costs in our home down. Times being as they are right now, we need to make every penny stretch to get to most out of it. I know with prices rising every time you go to the store, that is hard to do.

If you are going through hard times now, don’t worry, you are not alone. My husband, Cliff, and I have already been through it. We completely understand. That is why I know how to be so frugal now.

My Story

A little over two years ago, Cliff, got laid off from his job in the plants as a Heat Treater. After a month, the company gave him his ROF to file for unemployment. Once unemployment got filed, they told us it would be another month before he would receive any benefits. The amount he received was only a quarter of what his check normally was. Needless to say, we lost the three-bedroom home we were renting. We vowed after that, never to be in that situation again.

It was apparent some significant life changes needed to be made in our life. The lifestyle we had was lovely. It was great to have a big house to have guests over for holidays. Was it worth it? In the end, the answer is simple, no. Don’t get me wrong, we love our friends. Now we just invite them over for different holidays in the summer.

Below are some things we have done and are still doing to make sure we survive.

Home

We knew there was no way we could afford to buy a home outright. Instead, we looked into travel trailers on Facebook marketplace and found a 1970 Holiday Rambler Travel Trailer. It was perfect with three closets, one for each of us, a two-door pantry with nine cabinets and four drawers, a good size stove, and a large refrigerator in the kitchen. Now, we had to drive all the way to Sulphur, Louisiana to get the trailer, but it was well worth the trip.

This cut our housing down tremendously. How, you ask? Well, lets break it down our rent in the house was $1,200, electric $175, gas $60, trash/water/sewage $65, and cable/internet $120 for a total of $1,620. We now only pay rent for the lot $375, which includes the internet/water/trash, electric $125, gas $15 for a total of $515. As you can see that is a significant savings of $1,105 a month.

Yes, our home needed some TLC, but with the money we saved it wasn’t a problem. We are still adding and changing things to make it our home. Now, we own something that can’t be taken away. If we decided to move. We hook onto it and pull off with minor packing.

I even have set up my office in the corner of the living room. I used milk crates to make bookshelves where I keep my books, planner, and printer. My desk is a foldable television tray which is big enough for my laptop, phone, and a cup that contains my drink. Everything else that I don’t need readily is stored above my head.

It was the best decision we ever made.

Our next goal is to buy some land then we can have a shed, and a green house to grow our own food.

Food

The number one thing we do in our household is not to let food spoil. There can be a rare occasion something will get shoved to the back of the refrigerator that gets lost in the wind that spoils. However, we do our best not to have this happen. How do we keep this from happening? We do a meal planner where we schedule for the week what our dinner will be each night with one designated for leftovers, which is where we take out all the leftovers. Then make them into a meal.

Food has gotten was too expensive, and with the media talking about food storages coming at every turn, we want to hold on to as much food as possible. Another thing we do is buy stuff on sale and stock up. When I can find vegs for $.44 a can, I buy as many as I can afford. I search the internet to see what store is having the sale of can goods and meat. Usually, we shop between two stores Walmart and HEB. Both stores are not far apart, which is great so we don’t use to much gas in our truck.

If you don’t think you have room, no worry, here are some ideas to help you. Place the extra food/household items in a storage container, stack them up, place a piece of wood on top, then place a tablecloth over it—instant table. This table makeshift table can even get done with cases of can goods. Another excellent place is under the bed to store dry/paper goods in a low container.

I buy the single packs of lemonade, crush orange, crush strawberry. I used two of the single bags in a half-gallon jug for my family to drink. The best part they are sugar-free. My family likes the taste. It goes a long way and is cheaper than buying Cool-Aid packets, which I have to add sugar two or the can that already mixed. The other thing I keep on hand is tea bags which I can get a whole box for $1 I can make ten gallons. Yes, I definitely add sugar about a cup.

Cheaper

I have come to where I refuse to pay an arm and a leg for paper products. Yes, there are ones you can find that work just as good as the expensive ones. This will save you a lot of money. I used to buy Charmin nine mega rolls for $12. Now I have found toilet paper that is still soft in a four mega roll for $2 at Dollar General. That cut the cost in half. Now, if you want to get really cheap, you can buy some fabric, cut it into squares, use it as toilet paper, rewash them for the next use. Use more kitchen towels instead of paper towels.

Buy the large refills of window washer, cleaners, dish soap, and hand soap instead of a fresh bottle each time.

Dollar Tree is an excellent place to get cleaning products, office products, plus it’s great for cheap gifts to keep on hand for whenever you find yourself in need of one. The downfall of this store is that you have to watch what you buy. Since everything is a dollar, it’s easy to forget how fast a dollar can add up quickly.

Recycle

Keep jars, empty coffee containers, among other things. Now is a time to reuse as much as you can to keep the cost of purchasing new items to an all-time low so you can put that money into things that may save your life.

The jars are great for storing items, such as buttons, grease, screws, pens, coins, other fun stuff like a utensil holder, toothbrush holder, and a candleholder.

Once thoroughly cleaned, empty coffee containers are great to keep flour, sugar, brown sugar, confection sugar, powder milk, pancake mix, and hot chocolate in for the lid seals. Then I use a black sharpie pen to mark each one with the name of its contents.

Mending

Yes, I said, mending like our parents did when we were little. Instead of buying new clothes, sew up the hole, or make patches out of the clothes that can no longer be worth keeping.

Also, I cut up the clothes that aren’t worth keeping saving the good parts to make a patch blanket. When we got rid of our old couch, I kept the stuffing and the fabric from the old couch. I can use the material and the filling in the blankets or make pillows.

Wash Clothes By Hand

Ok, this is not my favorite chore to do, but it helps keep money in the bank when times get tough. I either use my tub or my sink, depending on the size of the loads. As I wrung out the clothes, they get hung to dry while I finish the rest of them. Then I take the hairdryer to complete the drying process so they can then get put away.

One of my goals is to get a portable washer, which would be easier on the hands. Plus, it would cut down on the amount of time to do laundry.

Eating Out

We still go out to restaurants, just not very often. Every once in a while, we will plan a night in the meal planner to go out. If going out is not in the budget, we will pack up some food to have a picnic at the park or the beach—someplace to get us out of the house for the night.

Deserts

Everyone loves desserts. They are so tempting at the store. However, if you make them at home, it is much cheaper. Plus, it’s a wonderful treat for the family to come home to smell the freshly made treat for them to eat. If the kids are home, have them help you make it. Gives them time with you, plus they learn a little about the kitchen.

Snacks

You could make these at home. But, let me tell you I made potato chips, which took two hours. Only to have my family devoured them in less than thirty minutes. If you plan on making snacks at home, I recommend making quick snacks like popcorn, crispy treats, among others. I use Allrecipes for good snack recipes for the family. You will need to decide what is best for your family. I thought about linking some here for you, but I thought some of the snacks that didn’t appeal to me might appeal to you, so the decision is all yours.

Change

Take your loose change that is in your pocket, place it in a jar. At the end of the month, roll up all the change then take it to the bank and deposit in your saving account. You’ll be surprised how much you save this way. I know we were shocked.

Stockpile

If you have extra money, then put ten percent away in savings. That old saying save for a rainy day is wise. Our parents did it. They didn’t enjoy going into debt to live. We need to look back at the things they did in their time to keep our debt down. As the cost of living goes up every year, salaries don’t. Everything that has gone on with this pandemic has been an eye-opener for many of us.

I was taught to put in enough money to cover at least six months, six months of food, household storage, and medical supplies to include vitamins. I have come to find out that this is not enough. I recommend having as close to twenty-four months of money, food, household storage, and medical supplies as possible. Don’t freak out. Start out slowly but definitely put as much away as you can, especially with all the talk of food shortages all over the internet. It would be wise to do this as soon as possible. Note: always have some cash on hand in case of emergencies where the power is out cards can’t be used. Also, it wise to have wood or charcoal to be able to cook outside if needed.

Some of the main things you want to ensure you have plenty of are flour, salt, water, and blankets. Yes, blankets. They are good to have if the power goes out to hang on windows, place on the floor, and wrap around yourself to keep the heat in your home and body. If you haven’t learned how to keep food without a refrigerator, food storage, or survival food. I suggest you watch some of the videos on YouTube.

One of our goals is to get a couple solar power generators so if the power does go down for any reason we still have electricity to run the refrigerator and possible one air conditioner.

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Thank you

If you read this far, I hope it’s because you liked the post. If so, please like and share.

Should anyone have more knowledge that isn’t listed here, please share in the comments so people can get prepared as possible for whatever is to come? Have a blessed day.

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