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Posts tagged with: frugal living

Housing – It’s All in Name and Our Plan

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Update: Read below for my original post.  But the day after I wrote this, I was offered a significant enough local contract to decide to stay put.  It’s not enough to pay the bills yet, but it is enough to make staying put the best decision financially for now.  We will be going with Option 2 for the time being as far as housing goes; the kids are thrilled for a number of reasons!  I won’t start the new contract until sometime in March so still scrimping to get by for now…but I am so grateful.

As of May 1st we will be homeless, meaning we must move out of our current apartment and without a job, I will not be able to qualify for any other housing.  This has been a HUGE stressor for me since learning about it in December.

You’ve probably figured out by now that I am willing and open to most anything as long as I have some time to get used to it.  I’m very open to thinking outside the box.  So here is what the plan is currently:

Option 1: If by April 1st, I do not have a job that keeps us here (or forces us to move elsewhere):

We will be packing most of our stuff and putting it in storage.  We will then hit the road to travel for 4-6 weeks, staying mostly with family and camping.  I currently have a route mapped out which takes us across the center of the US via St. Louis and Denver, down the California coastline and then to my parents in Texas via New Orleans.  I hope to take the kids to the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone and other places that they might not otherwise see, some I haven’t seen.  We will then return to VA for the summer while I continue looking for a job and doing odd jobs.  Income at this time will consist of adoption assistance for the twins and my part time income from my current part time job.  Yes, we will have gas expenses, but we will no longer have rent, utilities and several other monthly bills.  It will not be a luxurious trip, but I think it will be a lot of fun.  We are calling this plan….The Nomad Experience!  See below on where we will live when we return to VA.

Option 2: If I have a job by April 1st that requires us to stay here and/or when we return from the Nomad Experience:

A family friend with quite a bit of land and a couple RVs has offered to let us live on their land in a 10 person RV (where they have a hook up for water and electricity) for FREE.  So we will be putting most of our stuff in storage when we have to leave the apartment and moving with just the necessities to the RV at least temporarily – I am thinking the first two months of the summer.

Now obviously, if I get a job out of state, etc. we will move there and rent a place.  But since our #1 goal is to stay here if at all possible, this free living situation will either 1) let us live here while I continue to look for a job or ideally 2) let us live for a couple of months on a much smaller budget letting me catch up and get ahead a bit.

So right now…that is the housing plan come May.  RV living is certainly not ideal but with far less stuff, a summer with activities and the twins working and driving themselves, I think it will be manageable and even a fun adventure.  Did I mention the land we will be living on has sheeps, pigs, goat, chickens, turkeys…how fun will that be?  Or at least a new experience for my city dwelling kids!

 


No Spend Month by Default

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Needless to say, with my job loss, we are tightening our belts financially…

  1. We’ve stopped our weekly fresh milk and organic food deliveries.  Returning to bulk purchases as much as possible.
  2. All entertainment is out  the window – no going out to eat, movies, etc.
  3. I’ve redeemed all my stockpiled points for items needed while I had the cash to supplement them and so I didn’t lose them.  Items purchased include: stockpile of toilet paper (remember when I ran out of toilet paper?) new winter jacket for one of the twins, ink for the printer, Brita pitchers (2) to cut down on buying water.
  4. Cutting back activities where we can to save on gas costs as all activities have been paid for, so just limiting them…so one robotics practice a week rather than two, etc.
  5. Lots of other little changes….

And that has led us to a No Spend Month!  I have paid all the bills for the month, stocked the cupboard with the help of a friend’s Costco membership (I cut our Sam’s Club renewal,) and have laid out the entire month financially based on what we have going on.  The ONLY extra this month will be Little Gymnast first meet which is up near DC so it will require a bit of extra gas money.

So here is our budget for this month (with all bills paid already:)

  • Gas – $150 (includes some extra for travel to the gymanstic’s meet)
  • Food – $50 (will have to restock eggs, milk and some fresh fruits/veggies towards the end probably but we’ll see, I’m going to try and push it but am prepared just in case)

When I first started reading blogs I followed a mom who did not spend months every year and I was always fascinated by the things she did…so here I am looking for tips on making the food stretch, finding meals I can make for days we are gone all day and looking for free activities we can do to entertain ourselves.

So here’s to November…our No Spend Month!  I’ll keep you posted on how it goes!


Ashley’s Top 5 Favorite Blogs

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I’ve been an avid blog-reader for years. I have lots of different “genres” that I enjoy reading about (e.g., personal finance, healthy living, mommy blogs, etc etc etc).

But I want to share my…

Top 5 Favorite Debt-Repayment/Frugal-Living Blogs

5. Zero Waste Home. Technically not a finance/frugal blog, the purpose of this blog is to document a family who lives a life with no waste (they don’t have trash cans or anything!) I love the message of making do with less and the ideas for recycling (or “upcycling”) items. She has some cool tips about clothing (which she purchases all second-hand) and how she can wear a single outfit a TON of different ways so she can have fewer total wardrobe items. The website is a little bulky and I don’t like how there’s no “search” box (I wanted to link to a favorite post and I couldn’t find it!), and I’m more of an intermittent rather than daily reader, but still think its a great and inspirational resource for thriving with a more simplistic lifestyle.

4. Blissful and Domestic. A stay-at-home Mom’s homemade-cooking and frugal-living tips.This is another one I don’t check daily, but love to browse the archives. My favorites are the menu plans (and her ideas about how to plan rollover meals and grocery shop for a month at a time), homemade recipes, and thrifty living posts. It’s incredibly encouraging. This family of four lives on $14,000 per year and have no debt at all (owning their vehicles and home outright)! If they can do it, anyone can do it, right?

3. Blogging Away Debt. Okay, okay, I had to give BAD a shout-out. But for real, I have loved this blog for a long time (been a reader since the days of Beks) and really enjoy being able to read and follow along with the other bloggers’ journeys, too! It’s so motivating to be a part of this community! A big shout-out to YOU (the collective readers) because I have already learned a TON from you guys in the comments! Thank you, thank you, thank you! Keep the comments coming!

2. No More Harvard Debt. He’s actually well beyond his debt-reduction journey at this point, but its fun to read the archives of his story (this is how I did it). I love hearing about the great lengths he went to in order to make some extra money (pedi-cab driver! landscaper! taking on 2 roommates!), and the sacrifices he made along the way (selling his vehicles! foregoing friends’ weddings! staying home – alone – instead of traveling for Christmas!) He really went all-in and I admire his enthusiasm (and his financial transparency). 

1. The Fun Cheap or Free Queen. Another stay-at-home Mom who blogs about frugality. She’s got some great budgeting tips, and is really encouraging. Her tagline is “where frugal gets a facelift.” She’s got a bubbly, contagious personality (she does lots of video how-to’s and live streaming Q&As) and talks about how you can live frugally and within a strict budget, and yet not feel deprived! I don’t know about you, but it feels more sustainable to live a super-frugal lifestyle long-term if you find ways to still sneak indulgences by fitting them into your budget! This is the only one of my top 5 (other than BAD) that I read almost daily. Love!

I have lots of other personal finance blogs I enjoy too (Mr. Money Mustache, The Simple Dollar, Money Saving Mom, Saving Money in Your 20s, and Frugal Beautiful, to name a few). It’s hard to narrow it down to only 5 and I wanted to give a good mix of smaller/less-well-known blogs and larger ones, from the areas of debt-repayment and frugal living so hopefully everyone was able to find one or two new-to-them blogs that you can enjoy in addition to your daily BAD fix.

 

What about you? What are your favorite debt-repayment/personal finance/frugal living blogs? Anything fantastic I need to check out?

 


Fed Up With Frugal Living, Your Brain and Credit Card Debt and Paying to Drive

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I haven’t been around here much this week. We have been working so hard on our new business to get it ready for launch by the end of this month.

It’s been tough. We’ve hit some roadblocks along the way but we managed to get by them. It did set us back time-wise so we are working extra hard to meet our deadline. Lately I have been so pumped about working on it that I have been skipping my normal weekend routine of sleeping in. That is very unusual for me. I usually look forward to the weekend because I get to sleep in. Now I look forward to it because I can work on the business.

Of course, if we can launch before the end of June that would be great. The sooner it launches, the sooner the business can start making money 😉

Ok, now on to some articles that caught my eye this week:

JW’s family is fed up with frugal living. I feel for JW with having older kids in the home. With our son, it’s fairly easy to live frugally since he’s so young and doesn’t have a lot of peer pressure yet. He’s quite content with going out of the house with ripped, dirty jeans. He groans when mom tells him to change.

Jeremy has a guest article on his site about the connection between your brain and credit card debt.

Shana is wondering what is your threshold is for paying to drive. When I read this article I remembered a little news piece (I think it was from Wisconsin) where they showed people’s reactions when gas prices hit $2.00/gallon. Almost everyone they interviewed said they would start biking and walking more. I wonder how many of them did it. What do they think now that gas is $4.00/gallon?