Sunday, September 25, 2011

Saving Money on a Low Income


What a beautiful week we have been having. Beloved has been home for
his 6 days off. While home, he had the truck in the shop for
maintenance & repairs. Unfortunately, they didn't even begin some of
the repairs until the day he was to head back out. This has given him
an extra 4 days home. We love the extra time, but as anyone familiar
with trucking knows, this is a mixed blessing. You only make money when
the truck is rolling. His dispatcher is not happy with the situation
either, so is trying to get him into another truck on Monday. Will take
some doing, but we hope it will happen. This is one reason why we are
so fervent about the issue of stocking up the pantry and supplies we use
regularly. In situations like this when you know there will be a week
without pay, it is a blessing to know that you have stocked up on
everything you need. It is also one reason why we live a plain and
simple life. By not being loose in our spending, not having loans, and
being off-grid, we are able to handle these challenges without too much

I tell you about this to give you a real-life example of why we stress
the idea of self-reliance and being prepared for hard times. We never
know when these situations will come. They are not something that you
can pencil in on the calendar and prepare for. You must prepare for
them always! Unexpected job changes, illness, and such can throw a
wrench in your family's financial well-being. We knew going into
trucking that it is a feast or famine career. When the truck is running
good and loads are abundant, you can make a very good income. It is in
those times that we stock up, buy any shoes/clothing needs that are
coming up, and take care of repairs. We know that each winter, for
example, that there will be fewer loads and the pay won't be as good.
It is similar to the life of a construction worker who lives in a
climate where winter interferes with the amount of construction jobs
they are able to do.

One skill that I am working on is the one of living below our means even
when income is below normal. This takes a lot of planning and work. It
isn't something that you can just jump into in most cases. The goal is
to have spending so low that even in the lean times, the money made will
only need to be used for the things that I cannot produce at home.
Kerosene for our lamps and propane for the refrigerator are two of the
things I always have to spend money on each month. But there are so
many ways to get by on other things.

Gardening, hunting, fishing, canning, or buying foods in bulk when on
sale are a few ways to take care of your pantry needs. The higher that
I see food prices going, the more important I am finding that gardening,
hunting, and fishing will become. Learning to cook from scratch and
eating more simple "farm style" meals can help greatly. You don't need
to eat fancy, just basic foods that are nutritious and filling are
sufficient. If you have a favorite food that you like to eat at a
restaurant or fast food store, look online and find a similar recipe to
make that food at home. I have often bought the large restaurant sized
(#10) cans of tomato sauce or puree to use as the base in making
homemade spaghetti sauce to home can. It costs less than buying
tomatoes from a farmer's market and works as a great back-up when my
garden doesn't produce as well as I hoped. You can also "re-can" things
like the #10 cans of relish, ketchup, fruits, and anything that can be
water-bath processed.

Learning to recycle clothing and other fabric items is another wonderful
way to save money. Cutting old towels into smaller squares and binding
the edges to prevent unraveling will make wash cloths or dish rags. Old
t-shirts are good for cleaning rags. Cutting up old clothing to make
quilts or up-cycle to make into other clothing items is a good
resource. One easy project for a little girl who has out-grown the
length of her jeans but not the waistband is to either add a decorative
cuff to the bottom of the pant leg or cut off the legs to use in a quilt
and add a length of gathered fabric to the upper portion to make a skirt.

The fact is, with some thought, creativity, and a willingness to work
you CAN lower your expenses and live below even the most modest of
incomes. The issue comes down to one thing - are you willing to put in
the effort that it requires. The true waste of resource comes in the
form of conveniences. The easier we make our lives, the higher the
cost. Meals made from scratch require a bit more effort than a packaged
or frozen meal. Sewing is more effort than buying new. Buying paper
towels is easier than having to wash cleaning rags every day. The list
goes on and on. It comes down to the this - you must look at yourself
and decide if the lower expenses is worth your time and effort to do
things in a more cost saving manner.