Jefferson and I decided at the beginning of 2013 to venture down a different financial path in an effort to rid ourselves of debt. Not just "bad" debt, but all debt. As it turns out, it is a really long process (our fault) but we're doing it. Slowly but surely. A couple of my friends had posted on Facebook how they were debt free the Dave Ramsey way, so I decided to check it out. A couple of books from the library, and a few forms printed from the internet later, and we were on our way. We now use cash. Envelopes are made for about everything. The normal bills still come out of the checking account, but otherwise its cash. Groceries have an envelope. As does gas, offering for church, eating out money, basically anything outside of the mortgage, power, water, etc bills have an envelope. When its gone its gone. And you really do think harder about spending cash than you do about swiping a card. My life, especially, has been so much better the past couple of months because there isn't the stress of where are we getting the money to pay that bill? Instead it's, "I have this much money for groceries this week so I need to cut some things down. What do I already have that I can add to in order to make a well rounded meal?" Oh, and no credit cards. Ever. No borrowing money. Ok, we have broken that rule and will continue to break that one until Jefferson is done with his Masters, but i'm not willing to give up what he's already completed because we have to take out a loan. I do know we will pay more than the minimum in order pay it down more quickly when the time comes. I just hate that its taken us this long to get to this point. At least we're here and working it down.
One of the things I pride myself on is providing my family with (mostly) healthy foods on a pretty tight budget for 5 people. I'm relatively certain I have budgeted less than a family of 5 would get for food stamps. And my budget is for all household things. Not just food. Toilet paper, diapers, paper towels, dog food, etc. all come out of that budget.
After reading through a few blogs I have gone to tweaking some recipes to make them more healthy and stay as cheap as possible. Staples, for the most part, come from Costco. I buy rice and flour in 25 lb bags. We bought orange "Homer" buckets from Home Depot. I washed them really well a few times, then we put the extra flour and rice in them for storage. I got 25 lbs of flour for $8.39 and 25 lbs of rice for $9.99. This month we needed sugar. I bought 10 lbs of white sugar for $4.49, 7 lbs of brown sugar for a little more than $4, and 7 lbs of confectioner's sugar for a little more than $4. I don't have anything special for storage outside of my normal canisters and the orange buckets. The extra white sugar is still in the bag, sealed in a ziploc. The brown and confectioner's sugar both have zipper seals on the bags.
Rice (yes they have lids. I just didn't use them for the picture.)
My girls all like oatmeal for breakfast. Again, in my research, I found a recipe for making your own oatmeal packets. It took a little bit of time, but Ginny and I did it together so it was a good mommy/daughter project. I bought a huge box of oats from Costco for a little more than $8, used one of the two bags in the box, almost a 2 lb bag of brown sugar, a bag of raisins, and snack size ziploc bags. I ran out of raisins and ziploc bags, so there are a few bags without raisins and a few oats left in the bag. For less than $10 I made 65 homemade oatmeal packs that Jefferson and the kids like to eat. (I don't like oatmeal, so they can have all of it!)
1/3 C oats
1 tbsp brown sugar
a few raisins
Add 2/3 C water and cook in your microwave. I can't tell you specific times. My microwave has them done in a minute and a half at 50% power.
There are so many other things that hopefully I'll have time to add to the blog about. The main reason I decided to start writing again was because I figured other people want to do things the way that I am by saving money, so I can add in my tips as I come across them. I hope you enjoy. I'm going to leave you with a picture of Dori after she lost her first tooth because she looks so happy and innocent. Exactly the opposite of the way she acted this afternoon! :)
Until next time....