Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Surviving Paycheck to Paycheck

If you've been following a long with me for a while now, you might have read before that I was layed off ten days before our wedding in August of 2011. At the time, I didn't mind it much because I was planning a wedding and I had a honeymoon to go on... so I didn't think once all the wedding madness had died down that it would be very difficult to find a job. We had been living in the town we live in now before I lost my job and I had an incredibly difficult time finding a preschool job in this very religious and conservative community. I am a Christian with tattoos and rainbow hair, so it didn't matter if I had the beliefs a Church wanted a preschool teacher to have.. I look weird and I couldn't get hired anywhere. I started to branch out of my field; I looked for receptionist jobs, retail jobs, assistant jobs, organizing jobs... anything I felt like I could do I applied for and I never went on a single interview outside of the teaching field. Six months came an went and I finally found a job in an antique store in town and just a few weeks in to working, I was pregnant with Logan. The owner was verbally abusive and hostile to say the least so I left after a few months of working there and have not returned to a "real job" since.

Once Logan was born and the first hectic three months of her life went by, I started looking for things I could do at home. I know a lot of mom's work full time because they enjoy their careers and there's other mom's who work because they are single or their family cannot survive without two incomes.. right now, our life allows me to stay at home with Logan and I am grateful. I could probably go to work, but I don't trust anyone to care for Logan and I'd be working my ass off to only pay for childcare; to me, it's not worth it.

Rory and I have sacrificed a lot for me to stay at home with Logan and I wanted to share the ways we are able to do that:

We are a one car family. By having one car, we save on gas and insurance. Rory works very close to our home, so on days I do not drive him to and from work, he is able to walk or ride his bike.

We have cheap phones. Rory and I have our plans with Virgin mobile and pay about $70 a month for the both of us. I have a smart phone with unlimited calls, text, and data; I pay far less than any plan we'd have with any other provider.

No cable. We moved into our current rental in August of 2012 and we decided to not have cable set up. We knew we wouldn't be watching much TV with a newborn, and there are really only a few shows we liked in the hundreds of channels we were paying for with Direct TV. And seriously.. more than half of the channels we had were in Spanish! Such a waste of money. We currently pay $9 a month for Netflix dvd's and $7 a month for Hulu (we stream both through our PS3). We also are able to stream Amazon Prime videos as a part of our $79 a year Prime membership.

We keep our internet costs low. Attention: any time your internet provider raises your bills, threaten to cancel and they'll knock it back down! We have had internet through our provider for several years and moved our bill to our current address when we moved and our bill has stayed right around $30 a month. Last August, they tried to raise it from $29.99 to over $50.. we called to cancel it and it was brought down to $31. The provider wants your business, so take advantage and save money!

We turn off our lights. If you're not in the room, turn off the lights. If it's bright enough outside to see clearly, don't turn your lights on. Our power bill is usually less than $20 a month.

I sell things online. All of those shoes, clothes, art work, and other "things" that you're saving for one reason or another are a source of income. My rule is, if I don't use it on a daily or weekly basis, I don't need it and I am going to sell it. I sell things on Craigslist and local Facebook groups; there are people out there that want to buy your junk!

I work part time at home. I was able to create a relationship with an owner of a local vintage store and I have been doing PR and running an Etsy store for her. The work hours vary week to week, but it's something! I feel grateful that I have the opportunity to not only bring some extra money to my family, but also to work with really unique vintage items. Whatever you have experience in, network and find out how you can bring work home.

Meal planning. Having an actual plan and a grocery list to follow has helped tremendously. I used to go to the market and just grab things I thought we needed or thought I wanted, but then I'd end up throwing a bunch of food away.. money right in the trash. Having a meal plan and sticking to it has cut what we spend on food greatly; not only at the grocery store, but in general. If we had nothing we wanted in the fridge then we'd go out and spend money that way. Eating out is so expensive (and fatty), so with having a meal plan, we have no excuse to dine out or make multiple market runs.

We don't buy bottled water. Seriously, it gets so expensive! Right now we have one of those fancy refrigerators in our rental with an ice maker and water dispenser, but before we lived here, we used a Brita. The Brita and the filters more than pay for themselves and you're helping the environment!

Save the A/C and heat for desperate times. It gets hot here in the summer. Really hot. Our kitchen has stone tile and counter-tops that suck up the heat like nothing I've ever experienced so we invested (I say invested loosely because we got them from Walmart) in some black out curtains for all of our windows on the sunny side of the house as well as solar shades for our little courtyard just outside our kitchen.
Even if it's warm outside, opening the windows and letting the breeze flow through helps a lot. When it was cold here (ahem.. for that one week this Winter), we curled up under blankets or put a log in our wood burning fireplace. Not relying on the glorious central air and heat we have all the time really helps with the bill.

Use help where you can get it. Logan is on Medi-Cal and some utility bills offer a discount on your bills if you provide them with your Medi-Cal information. Just research what help you can "take advantage of" and use it; it's there for a reason!

We gift homemade items. It's kind of a bummer to be "those people" at Christmas who give the homemade gifts, but that's how it has to be. We have a child to clothe and feed and I'd rather be able to pay my rent than give a gift card to someone. If we do give gifts that aren't homemade it's because they were A) free B) on mega sale or C) I bought them with a gift card someone else gifted me.

I am always looking for ways to spend less each month and save more, so if you have any other ideas on how to do so, I'd love it if you'd share!


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