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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Frugal Living: Living off of $1300 a month!

    I recently read another blog and the writer talked about frugal living and how their family of 6 lived off of $2200 a month.  I did the figuring and seen they live off of an average of $367 a person.  Heck, I can do one better.  Our family of four lives off of $1300 a month, which is an average of $325 a person.  Not trying to have a "I'm better" contest or nothing.  I applaud them.  It just made me realize how little we truly live off of ourselves.  I know many people who make 3 or even 4 times as much as we do and they seem to struggle financially worse than we do.  How do we do it? We scrimp and save and we make a serious effort to live off what we have.   Am I being boastful?  No, I am just sharing what we do in hopes of helping at least one other family get by on what they earn.
      I know many of you make a lot more and I am glad for you.  Our family made a conscientious decision to live on a smaller income for many reasons.  Each family must do what they think is right for them.  We are judging no one and hope no one will judge us either.  I know people who have a mortgage payment that is more than our take home income.  Glad for you but am also glad it is you and not me.
     First of all, we drive a car that is 15 years old.  It is paid for so we have no car payment.  We do not see the need for a newer car when the car we have works just fine for us.  This car has driven us from eastern Oklahoma to New Mexico two times and to Galveston, TX there and back.  We have had the car for 2 years now and my hubby does all the maintenance on it himself.   As far as insurance goes, we carry the state minimum.
      Secondly, we do not have television reception (no dish, cable, or nothing like that).  We have a Blu-Ray player and that is what we use to watch movies.  We have allotted $35 a month into the budget to purchase new movies (DVD/Blu-Ray) etc. so that is our entertainment allotment per month.  Wal-mart has DVD's for $5 and Triple feature Blu-Rays for $13 so we can actually get a good deal of movies each month to add to our collection.  Many people have suggested we use Hulu or Netflix but our internet is capped and we can not do this.  Besides, our family likes to watch movies over and over again so owning the movies on disc works for us.
     Third, I know soda pop or coffee is a huge amount of money for some families each month.  We rarely buy soda or coffee anywhere.  If we want coffee, we make it at home.  Soda pop, yes we occasionally stop at the store and buy a fountain drink but it is a treat and not an everyday occurrence.  We may buy a total of 3 two-liter bottles of soda a month.  The kids and I drink mostly water at home and hubby survives off of coffee.  We purchase kool-aid or make iced tea or drink milk too.
      Eating out:  We eat out usually just once-a-month and that is when we do our monthly grocery shopping.  We usually stop at McDonald's and we all get a meal.  It helps that we live in a small city that has no fast food restaurants in it but even if it did, we still would not eat out much.  The $20 it could cost to feed our family of 4 at a fast food restaurant could be better spent by buying $20 worth of groceries.  The key is asking yourself:  Okay, I can spend $5 getting us all a fountain drink or I could spend the $5 buying a 2 liter bottle of soda, a loaf of bread, and a pkg. of hot dogs and have a little left over.  Which is smarter?  Same with a meal out.  $20 can buy a LOT of groceries and feed your family for several meals.  I have received many rude comments about McDonald's should not be considered eating out.  It is eating a way from home so it is eating out.  Please be nicer.
      I have also signed up for Mypoints.com and regularly order free samples online.  I have heard all the excuses as to why others do not do this but it really helps out.  By only clicking on emails (never made a purchase yet), I average $100 in Walmart gift certificates a year from MyPoints.  I get free samples in the mail at least 4 times a week by only requesting them.  Some samples are for full size products.  In fact, I just got a free coupon in the mail for $9.00 worth of bacon or lunch meat.  It IS worth your time to do these things.
     If you smoke, quit smoking or buy loose tobacco and roll your own.  You can save yourself and your family a LOT of money.  My hubby used to smoke over a package of cigarettes a day but once we had to cut back, he took up smoking a pipe and we buy his bag of pipe tobacco for $15 and the bag lasts him a full month.  That switch saved our family a LOT of money. (Yes, I know smoking is bad for him.  Yes, I prefer he would quit but it is his only vice and I love him).
     Clothes and shoes:  Okay, don't freak but I own just 3 pairs of pants.   All three are black pants that can be worn with anything.  I own 4 dresses and probably 15 tops.  That's it.  Why?  Because I do not need more.  I can get by with that.  And shoes, well I own 2 pairs of shoes and 1 pair of boots.  My husband and boys have about the same number of clothes and shoes.  We do not need designer labels or a ton of clothing.  I try to buy from garage sales and thrift stores for our clothing but if I can not find what we need, we buy new from retail stores such as Walmart.  I could allot more money into the clothing budget but I see no need to.  We have learned to get by with less.  It was a personal decision that works for us.  I do not judge someone because they have a closet full of clothes.  It is just not what I need at this stage of my life.  I do not feel the need to come up with the Jones'.  :-)
      Household needs:   One of my weaknesses is my shampoo.  I love Pantene shampoo and that is one area that I splurge but I do buy the $1 conditioners.  Walmart always has White Rain brand or another good brand on sale for $1 or less.  When I buy household items, I buy what we need for one month so I do not have to run to a convenience store or another store and buy items for more than I prefer.  If I see toothpaste on sale for a good price, I buy 10 of them to last quite awhile. We never buy paper towels or napkins.  We use washable hand towels instead.  Same goes with paper plates and disposable cups.  No need for them, we use the ones in our cabinets instead.   We make our own dishwasher detergent, our own detergent for washing clothes, and our own fabric softener liquid.  I clean with bleach or vinegar.  There are ways you can cut out a huge chunk of your monthly bill here if you try.  We currently spend $50 a month on household items (toilet paper, etc.) and usually have money left over because we do not use that much.
laundry, country style,     Utilities:  We have a well and do not pay a water bill.  Our home is total electric so there is no gas or propane bill.  We try to keep the electricity bill down as much as possible but the bill gets to be close to $250 in the summer and about $150 other times of the year.  We turn off lights when we leave a room, etc.  We cook in a crock pot at least one meal a day so that cuts down on heating the house and on running a stove or oven.  I try to cut out process foods and "easy" foods so we do not use the microwave as often as many families.  Also, we do our laundry by hand outside and let them "line dry".  This saves on water and electricity.  When it comes to using the dishwasher, I ask myself "is this dish really that dirty?" If the answer is no, it is easy to just hand wash it and put it away.  No need to run every little dish through the dishwasher and use all that water and electricity if you don't need to.  We could save more money on the electric bill by turning up the thermostat in the summer time and down in the winter but I suffer from MS (Multiple Sclerosis) and can't stand the heat.  It makes my symptoms worse so this is one area we do not skimp on.
    Groceries:  We spend about $400 a month on groceries every month.  We eat breakfast (usually pancakes, breakfast burritos, cereal, etc.), then for lunch is usually a sandwich or soup and supper is a cooked meal.  We do not buy many "snack" foods or heavily processed foods.  If we snack, it is on popcorn or homemade desserts.   Instead of hamburger Helper, we buy rice, pasta, etc. and make our own. We have chickens for fresh eggs and grow food in the garden.  We can our own salsa, jams, etc.  I make my own chicken broth and chicken stock.  I buy whole chickens and use pretty much EVERYTHING!   I buy generic food items mostly.  Little cuts here and there really add up and we never go hungry.  In fact, we help out friends by sharing our groceries and still have enough for ourselves.  Also, we shop just once a month.  This planning saves us a lot of money because rarely does one run to the grocery store and only buy just what they need.  Every time you go, you spend more than you expect to.  By going only once a month, we avoid these extra expenditures.
    Gas:  Don't run to the store every time you think you need something.  Learn to slow down and think if you really need to run into town or whatever.  We rarely run into town for one thing.  If we run to town, we make it worth the trip.  We pick up the mail, visit family of friends, go to the library, etc. all at once to save gas and time.  Is it necessary to go to the post office everyday or can you get by with going just once or twice a week?  Plan your trips and save that fuel.
   For the people who are bashing my post right now, for so many petty reasons, I am just trying to help others.  Sorry my grammar and "writing tone" is not perfect.  I am a hick.  Hence the name of the blog.  Why you would come to my blog expecting anything other than country wisdom is beyond me.  Regardless, I forgive you.  :-)  Anyway, people have also commented on us using more water by washing outside.  No, that is not true.  We have figured how many gallons of water to wash outside compared to using a washer and we use less and the sun dries our clothes.  We do not even own a washer and dryer now so there's no going back.
     Does that help anyone?  I hope so.  Do you have any questions?  I would be happy to answer them to the best of my ability.  I am no expert.  I just know what works for us.
Hugs,
Melody

   
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138 comments:

  1. Yes, you must stay in cooler temps with MS!Thanks for connecting with me via FLock Together yesterday. SO glad to have met you!

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    1. Mikki, glad to see you here again. How long have you had MS? I was diagnosed a year ago but have probably had it about 7 years now.

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  2. Love this!

    My family does have a large income, but we live well below our standards. I don't buy clothes often. When I do I thrift. We don't go out to eat that often. It's amazing how much you can save in the food department by eating at home!!!

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    1. Priscilla, so glad to hear how well you are doing. Eating at home is probably the BEST way to save money each month.
      Hugs,
      Melody

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  3. Great post! Thanks for sharing :)

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    1. Thank you for stopping by. I hope it was useful to you!

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  4. Melody, I'm so very happy you linked this up tonight. Your ideas are wonderful. I shop thrift stores for clothing, too...that's one area I won't pay retail. I try to grocery shop every two weeks as well. You are inspiring me to try once a month now! Great suggestions!!
    {HUGS},
    kristi

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    1. Kristi, thank you for allowing me to link up with you. I really LOVE your blog hop so it is inspiring to know that you stopped by!
      Melody

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  5. Thank you so much for such an excellent post!!!! I need the reminders of these ideas right now, so really appreciate the thought you put into this post.

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    1. Judith, thank you. I got to writing it and when I was done, I thought "wow, that is long". Worried that it was too long for many people to read but posted it as is anyway. Glad you took the time to read it!
      Melody

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    2. I'm college "edjikated", but the country slips out all the time, lest I git mad. I really enjoyed your post, and I've done a lot of the same stuff you all are doing. Do you make your own bread? Ever try sourdough starter? It's kind of fun and another way to save money. And, it's almost like having another pet in the house! (Red Star yeast is the best, by the way).

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    3. Yes, I make my own bread. Here is how I do it: http://countrifiedhicks.blogspot.com/2012/05/homemade-bread-in-hour.html

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  6. It is so true that so many live above their means. I can see your point we are a family of seven without counting the animals, and we live off of just one modest income. We bring in about 1200 a month after taxes. Yet we do have a vehicle that is being paid on simply because it is more feasible with the size vehicle we need to have a newer one that we aren't having to fix constantly.We do eat out occasionally, probably more than we should, but it is always dollar menu where ever we go. I thought this was a very interesting topic and loved reading it...

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    1. Kacie, glad you stopped by. I read your blog too and know you all do an amazing job living frugally. Next time you post, leave your web address so others can find you!
      Melody

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  7. You have a lot of great ideas for frugal living - good for you!

    My family and I share a lot of the same ideas: for example, we don't have cable TV or any other service, either. We use Netflix for unlimited movies.

    If you want to see my ideas (I have a lot of recipes including a crock pot section!) check out my site, Frugal Living Now. http://www.frugal-living-now.com/

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    1. Hi, thank you for stopping by Holly. Just went and checked out your site. You have TONS of useful information. I will stop by regularly. :-)
      Hugs,
      Melody

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  8. Thanks for the candidness with which you shared your tips and for connecting on Titus 2 Tuesday this week. I know I'll be incorporating a few of these ideas soon! Hope to see you again next week!

    Kathy

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    1. Kathy, I have had a lot of MS issues lately and have not been able to keep my blog up like I should but am hoping to link up with you again next week. It is always so great to read what everyone else has to say.
      Melody

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  9. What a great challenge. I would love to invite you to share this on Saturday Show and Tell: (www.cheeriosandlattes.com/saturday-show-tell-20/). I know that my readers would appreciate this and some of your other posts. Thanks and have a great weekend.
    -Mackenzie
    http://www.cheeriosandlattes.com

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    1. Mackenzie, thank you so much for letting me know about your blog hop. I have put it on my list and will be so thrilled to link up with you each week.
      Melody

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  10. Wow, that was a really long post and you know what? I read every last bit of it :) Those were some very helpful posts, Melody! And I'm right there with ya on so many of those points! Thanks for sharing this at Tiny Tip Tuesday! Hope to see you back next week!

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    1. Sarah, thank you for letting me know you enjoyed it and read it all. :-) Looking forward to linking up with you again!
      Melody

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  11. Hey Melody, this post is being featured tomorrow for Tiny Tip Tuesday! Thanks again for sharing!

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    1. Sarah, Awesome! Thank you! I just went and grabbed a button and have it right below the post now. I am HONORED!
      Melody

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  12. This is a great post. Thanks so much for sharing on Tout It Tuesday! Hope to see you tomorrow.

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  13. Thanks for taking the time to write all of this. I certainly could learn a lot from you and your family. We are definitely trying to eat out less!

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    1. Lisa, thank you and all it takes is a little change to make a difference!
      Melody

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  14. Hello! Thank you for yr lovely post!The message of not wasting even if you didn't say so overtly was beautifully clear. I also read every single word ... It is sad to see such unnecessary waste on things like ongoing soda, snacks etc etc .. or new shoes, clothes every week or whatever, irrespective of what one earns .. a little or a lot.
    Yup, it wld be best to pay for only what one can but so long as we know what sort of deal we are getting and paying it off, there hopefully would not be a problem. One can cut down on other things .. saving on electricity etc ...
    Thank you also for every one else's comments!

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    1. Susan, thank you so much. I wrote another post about not wasting in the kitchen that you might like also. It is under the heading (at the top) of "Frugal Living".
      Thanks again,
      Melody

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  15. I think that few trips to the grocery store has to make a world of difference. Once a month is amazing. Where you live makes a difference as well. Some places are just more expensive. Then there are diet issues. I have three kiddos with diet restrictions. I have to work hard not to be jealous that some can live more frugally and be thankful that we just have diet restriction and are buying medications or thereapys!

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    1. Tara, cutting down the trips to the store has made a HUGE difference. You are right, depending on where you live does make a difference. Living in NYC or some big city, rent, food prices, etc. all contribute to things. Having medical problems, allergies, etc. play into things too. I have MS and my hubby and I are both diabetics so we understand. Just make small changes and know what you can do and can't and adjust that way. Every little bit helps. Thanks for stopping by and would love it if you would follow my blog!
      Hugs,
      Melody

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  16. Not sure if you know--but the ad choice ad under the comment box is running liberal ads for my state (Nevada). I don't know if you're liberal or not, but if you're a conservative, you might want to know that.

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  17. No, I did not know that. I will go see what I can do about it.
    Thank you for the heads up,
    Melody

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  18. Wow, Melody...you are frugal! I'm totally inspired except I will not wash clothes outside or stop using my dishwasher!
    Those are two luxuries I'm willing to eat beans & rice for. ;)
    My electric bill is over $300 a month & my water (we live in the city) is around $175. Both of those bills make me cringe every single month...so my family has been on a mission to bring them down. I have a hubby & 3 young adult kids at home. (1 HS & 2 college) Groceries are another biggie. We have always spent a large amount on food (2 of my family members have severe food allergies). Just this week, I issued a challenge (to me) to NOT go to the grocery store before leaving for vacation next week. I even took pictures of my pantry/fridge for reinforcement that we have plenty of food to make it.
    Cutting corners is a huge endeavor. With the way our economy is going there seems to be no other choice but for us all to be a little tighter with our money.
    Thanks for sharing your methods. You're on target! And I'm very encouraged!

    PS-paying for college kids sucks a budget too. Thankfully, both help with their bills and have great scholarships!

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    1. Wanda,
      It sounds like you all are doing pretty good yourselves. I really appreciate you stopping by!
      Melody

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  19. Hi! I found you through Pinterest and loved this post. A few months ago my husband's hours were cut in half at work (I am a SAHM) and we knew financial struggles were ahead. A couple of weeks ago he got laid off. :( When my husband's hours were cut I got antsy worrying about how we'd pay for everything on half the hours when we were barely making it on full hours. You know what? I decided to call on my backbone instead of my wishbone. I started googling, youtubing, pinteresting, and asking around for ideas for saving money...and then I got to steppin'...FAST! I found ways to cut down on utilities, learned how to coupon effectively, started stockpiling things we use and need when they were on HUGE sale, learned to make many DIY baking/seasoning mixes, canned goods, frozen things, etc. My husband built a rain barrel station the day he got laid off...and my 18 yo son plowed up a place for my new compost heap. The biggest money saver was learning to make homemade cleaning products like laundry detergent, fabric softener, "ajax", all purpose cleaner, and baby wipes. I made my own extracts (vanilla, mint, lemon), and planted a ton of herbs for cooking and making tinctures and infusions. We don't waste much now and I have found that being organized is a huge money saver in many ways. I used to think that we were "doing all we could"...but little did I know that there was a wealth of opportunity to learn how to save more and live on less. As a family, our life is richer now because we are working together to manage and save and I really think we live a much higher quality of life now! I am the wife of a coal miner and the mother of a son who attends Marshall University, a daughter in High school, and an "almost" 3 yo daughter. We live in rural WV. Thank you for your tips...I LOVE finding blogs like yours!

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    1. I am so very sorry to hear about your husband and his layoff. Hopefully he will be able to find another job soon. It sounds like you have a great head on your shoulders and are doing great things to save your family money. Congratulations! I agree with your statement that your quality of life has probably improved. Working as a family pulls you all together. Hope you will stop by again soon!
      Melody

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  20. Hi again...the WV "Coal Miner's Wife". I was thinking about how else I have learned to save....started using my clothesline and had my miner hang another one on our covered deck for extra drying space and rainy days...AND I hung one my little old self in our laundry room...take THAT Monongahela Power Co. (lol). I started washing clothes "one cycle down" from what I used to use. eg, if I used to wash on a medium cycle, I switched to low...Using a shorter agitation cycle uses a little less energy and things are still clean. I have asked everyone to turn lights and tv's etc. off when they are finished with them...I am switching to CFL bulbs as the old bulbs blow. (slow, but sure..lol) I am learning to meal plan to buy groceries in a more economical way. SO many things I am learning to do to save a little here and there...it DOES add up! :)
    Michele

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    1. Michele, after incorporating those tricks, have you seen much of a difference in your bills? Have you learned any other things? So glad you stopped by and hope you have found other useful tips on my blog!

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  21. Great tips! We currently live on a larger budget but my hubby is in the Army and after three year long deployments he doesn't want to cut back on certain things and I can't really argue with him on that! I do try to cut down my trips to the store because like you said every time you go you end up buying more than you intend. I am wondering if you ave your own cows or freeze milk though-I have three boys and milk is what drives me to make those store runs a lot of the time.

    Thanks for sharing your tips! I found you through the Sundae Scoop at I heart Naptime!

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    1. Melissa, thank you for stopping by. We do drink a LOT of milk. I go to the Dollar Tree and buy the boxed milk they have there and keep it on hand and we do freeze milk also. Right now we do not have any cows or goats but would like to get some in the future for milk.
      Thanks,
      Melody

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  22. Thanks so much for sharing. We live on a small income for our family size. I appreciate any tips I find.

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    1. Laura, thank you for stopping by. If you have any tips to share, we would love to hear them!

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  23. It is amazing what you can do when there is little other choice then figure things out, my family of 6 lives off of a grand a month to $1400 depending on month. I found you from following my Simply Homeschooled blog but I write about our frugal lifestyle at Poor to Rich a Day at a Time.

    I added you to my blogroll at Simply Homeschooled so I can follow your wonderful blog here way more often!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by. You are right, you can make do when you have to. I appreciate you so very much!

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  24. Wow, you are doing a great job! We tend to live fairly frugally but we could do a lot better than we are lately. We still eat out sometimes once a week after church, but we consider it a fun fellowship time with friends.

    I love shopping at thrift stores, they are awesome and I love getting a good deal. Thanks for linking up to Making Your Home Sing Monday!

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    1. Howdy! Yes, I love thrift stores and garage sales too. I get so excited over some of the bargains I find. I think it is great that you can go out to eat after church!

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  25. I have been a stay at home mom now for 18 years, and I have never regretted it. It meant a conscious effort on our part to scale back on everything, but we are happy that way. We farm and have taught our kids to live "down to earth", and they can come up with some beautiful outfits at our local resale shop. I just took my daughter homecoming shopping and she found the most darling dress, shoes and pull over for $30.00 total! One her friends, spent $200.00 on her dress alone. We were so tickled that God led us to this very special treat:) We raise cattle and have our own meat, and can alot of our own food. My daughter raised some Monstrous pumpkins this year. One weighed 21 pounds and it was a smaller one. She is waiting for her prize possession to ripen yet, and we can't wait to see what it will weigh! We cut wood in the winter for our hot water furnace that is outside, and it heats our water during the Winter months. We make a shopping trip once a week, and put all our stops into that one trip. If we go out to eat it is with coupons at our Burger King or McDonalds from the value meal menu, and drink ice water with it. The kids have fun knowing that we can have a treat, but it doesn't have to cost a lot of money. This is the way we live and it works for us. So neat to hear how many others are doing the same. We have learned that Money doesn't define who we are, and it is what we are teaching our kids, because growing up in this day and age isn't easy,and whenever we can find a way to save a dollar, it is in our best interest. Our oldest is 18 and he is in his freshman year of college. He was excited to eat Mcchickens and drink ice tea when he got there, but he and his room mate decided they could get along much better and make their money go farther if they took that money and bought "real food", and so he has been cooking and showing his room mate how to cook. I am thrilled because evidently my son HAS been paying attention all this time!
    So great to have this opportunity to share with others. God bless:)

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    1. That is so great that you found such bargains. Don't you just love it? I know I do. It sounds like you all live very frugally and I love how you do it. I am honored you are here and love to hear your comments.
      God bless!

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  26. Our monthly budget is about the same as yours. And we do a lot of the same tricks. Only we use Amazon Prime or Netflix for our TV. (That's only $6.50-$8/mo instead of $35)

    I don't can though...I know how, I've just never done it. I'm more of a freezer than a canner :)

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    1. Sonita, I am just the opposite. I'm more of a canner than a freezer. :-) Whatever works for your family! Thanks for stopping by!

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  27. We are going to be living on less than $1000 a month for a few monthes, and tips or ideas to make it through?

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    1. Pamela, that will be rough. Read the posts on frugal living and my recipes and make changes. Don't be afraid or ashamed to ask for help from family and friends. The post "How to save money" http://countrifiedhicks.blogspot.com/2013/01/how-to-save-money.html will really help.

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  28. Love, love, love your blog and all the frugal tips! Dena a/k/a pennypinchinmeme :)

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    1. Thank you so much. I really appreciate it. If you have a blog, feel free to leave the link for my viewers!

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  29. Thanks for linking up at Homemakers Challenge today!

    I could have written your post, except for the washing clothes outside part. ;)


    We drive an older Burb (1991 and it's been paid for since we brought it home, used, in 1997. I cook our meals from scratch and can't see wasting money on food that probably won't taste as good or be as healthful.

    I love your idea about the monthly allowance for entertainment to buy movies!!! That's a great one! For Christmas, we bought a family gift of a new "smart" tv. (our first new tv purchase, the rest of what we've had over our 22 yrs of marriage have been hand-me-downs) What is neat about it is that we can stream things from the computer to the tv. We cut off the DISH and are saving that money to put towards debt payoff.

    LOVE your blog!!!

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    1. Laurie, I always appreciate your comments. You bring so much! Have a great week!

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  30. Great points! We are debt free and do lots of the same things you do.

    I'd love it if you shared this post and up to two others at Farm Girl Blog Fest #21, which is live right now. You would be a great addition to the wonderful posts that are shared!
    Farm Girl Friday Blog Fest #21
    Hope to see you there!
    ~Kristi@Let This Mind Be in You

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    1. Kristi, being debt free is awesome. So glad for you! Looking forward to linking up with you!

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  31. Super inspiring and helpful. Thank you for sharing!

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    1. Auroran, so glad that you found the post informative. I am holding a giveaway right now and you can win one of 6 great prizes. It is easy to enter so check it out!
      http://countrifiedhicks.blogspot.com/2013/03/giveaway-my-very-1st-giveaway.html

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  32. We raise or trade for most of our meat and veggies. cook from scratch. work for someone for milk, meat, eggs or produce instead of paying for it. wash laundry once a week instead of every day. raise heritage breeds that can reproduce themselves. use heirloom seeds so ypu can save seed. give seed away...youll most likely be given some of the produce. Fwiw I have a family of seven sometimes eight nine or ten lol. We raise goats, chickens, geese, ducks, turkeys have four cats and 8 dogs (one with a litter of eight right now all already have homes) and our budget is approx $1600 a month.

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    1. You all are doing a great job. I love bartering. We just found a new family that we trade eggs for fresh jersey milk and are so glad we found them. Sounds like you might wanna start your own blog!

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  33. I did not read through all the comments but if you already have this advice then I am sorry for the repeat. Instead of conditioner, even at a dollar, try apple cider vinegar. Two dollars for a gallon! Mix 1/4 cup with 1 cup water and pour or spray on hair in the shower. Your hair will be super soft, it helps with scalp itching dryness, and makes your hair shiney. I do this and I will never buy conditioner again.

    Love your posts!

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    1. Michelle, great idea. Thanks for sharing and you're right!

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  34. Melody some really great frugal tips! I am in the UK and save nectar points so that I can use them against my grocery shopping. I also use cashback sites for any online purchases I make where ever possible and have a bank account which gives me cash back on paying my utility bills. I have to pay the bills any way so I may as well get something back for doing it:)

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  35. Great Tips. May I add another one: Never go grocery shopping on an empty stomach and always shop when the kids are in school or at day care.

    AJ BLOGGER @ The Easy Button: For Managing Your Kids, Home, Finances and Life!

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  36. How good is the homemade laundry detergent. I work in a factory and hubby works in a lumber yard. so I was wondering how good is it for getting dirt out.

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    1. Jennifer, I think it works as well as any name-brand detergent. It definitely gets your whites whiter.
      Thanks for stopping by!

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  37. Hey! My name's Alyssa and I just wanted to let you know that this helps me out a lot. My husband and I are starting out on our own with a seven month old son. Money is tight so any tips helps. I don't think I'd do everything exactly the way you do but some of your money savers will help us. Thanks for this post!

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    1. Alyssa, I am so glad that my post helped you. God bless!

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  38. Bless your heart. I respect that fact that you are actually trying to make it without living off the gov't.

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    1. Thanks Thomas for dropping by and hope you find more posts worth reading here!

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  39. Great blog thanks for sharing your wisdom! Bless you :)

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  40. Well done! You are an inspiration and a reality check :)

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    1. Letty, aw, thanks so much! Hugs!

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    2. Darling, you are no hick, whatever that is. You are a smart and thoughtful person, who is trying her best to make sense of this crazy world.
      be proud of what you believe in, and what you are doing. I am doing the same. The side effect is happiness.

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    3. Kathryn, thank you so much for your kind words. They mean a lot to me!

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  41. Great post! Looks like you and your family do well on little income.

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    1. Caitlin, we do our best! Thanks for stopping by!

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  42. I love this post, my kind of people, even though I live in the city. I think your life sounds fun even though it requires a lot of work, thereby eliminating conveniences. God Bless You All. : )

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    1. Thanks for your comments. You are right we really do have fun and enjoy our life. Simplicity helps you focus on what really is important. Have a great week!

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  43. Texas country ladies

    We love this site. I think you are cool. Also do almost everything you just talk about the shopping once a month, homeschooling, laundry and soap, goats for milk, rabbits for meat, chickens for eggs and meat, garden, ect.. I am also like you I am me and I don't care what other people think. We love our simple life and feel we are missing out on nothing. Try to be prepared for the future. There are only 3 of us. 3 generations of hard working ladies a mother, a daughter and her daughter. We live on $1000 month, paid for cars, but we have a mortgage payments but trying to pay it off. It is nice to see I am not the only one that lives the simple life.

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    1. Howdy, Texas Country Ladies. So glad you dropped by! Thank you so much for your sweet comments. I do appreciate them. Love how you ladies live together and work together. Do you have a blog?

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  44. Loved this post, that is pretty much what we live off of and not too long ago it was for a family of 6, although both adult kids have finally moved back out on their own so now a family of 4 :) we do many of the same things. It was easier though before my cancer took hold as I no longer am able to wash laundry out by hand so hubby did buy me a washer and dryer. Before the cancer our groceries cost us $200 to $300 a month but when my health crashed we did go on food stamps but as I get stronger I am already making plans to get back off of them! My only regret about this income level was that we could not afford to buy private health insurance .......... but not for that, we live a pretty joyful life as frugal folk and have no complaints! Love your blog as always, enjoyed reading this today!

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    1. Thanks for the comments and love to hear about how others are living frugally too. Praying for you and your cancer!

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  45. I enjoyed reading this article. I am also trying to simplify my life a little.

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    1. Tamra, every little change makes a different. Hope you'll stop by again sometime!

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  46. Thats is awesome. I am Hoping to become much more frugal myself. I am hoping to get me and my wife down to $1000 a month.

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    1. Andrew, glad to hear it. If you have any questions or tips, please let me know and good luck!

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  47. Hi, so nice to read an article like yours. I am constantly finding ways to be frugal. Although I can very well afford to live much more luxuriously, it is my dream to be able to live sustainably.
    I live in the Philippines but is of Chinese descent.

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    1. Glad to have you here on my page. I hope you can drop by again soon!

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  48. I absolutely love your article... if people aren't smart enough to listen to your advice, then they clearly have no business reading it. You do a great deal of financial juggling that I am profoundly impressed with, and wish that so many more people would at least try. Your level of financial restraint is perfect wisdom for the times we are living in. Thank you for sharing this!

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    1. Aw, thank you so much. I am glad my tips make sense. Have a great week!

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  49. It's inspiring and refreshing to see people being creative and thrifty and living within their means! Great post!

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  50. Well I just happened to have loved your post! :)

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    1. Deb, I'm so glad you did and really glad you stopped by my blog!

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  51. I got here via Deb's blog Frugal Little Bungalow -- so glad I did! What an excellent post! I had a temp job working for a loan modification company and one of the things I really saw -- it wasn't that people couldn't afford their homes -- they couldn't afford their live styles! If you can afford to go to the movies a couple of times a month, visit Starbucks on a daily basis and shop at Nordstrom -- it isn't your house payment that is the issue! Just had to add that. This really is a wonderful post. I am a city girl and can not do all of the things you are able to but I try! I also want to add I love your attitude! I love that you don't judge the lady with the full closet and you really wish she wouldn't judge you. Thanks again for sharing.

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    1. Thanks for dropping by. You make a great point and it is hard to get it across to many people. Any small step you make does make a difference. I sure hope you'll drop by again sometime!

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  52. Just read your blog and if I were to write one for our family of four, it would be almost identical. :) We do wash and dry our clothes inside, but with homemade laundry detergent, white vinegar for fabric softener, and aluminum balls in the dryer to get rid of static. I go to town once a week, but we only spend about $100 a week for groceries, toiletries, etc. Love the thrift stores for clothing! I could go on, but it would just be repeating most of your blog. :)
    Blessings!

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    1. So glad you dropped by and to know that we are so much alike. Hope you come by again!

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  53. This is really simple, my grandpappy always said live off of less than what you make life will come easier. The worlds crazy now everyone has to have stuff, they just can't be thankful for what they already have. My favorite tv show is not about somebody dancin or singing, it's me being on the porch with family everynight!!!!

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    1. Exactly. You have common sense and that is what is lacking in people now a days. I think you and I would get along well!

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  54. This blog was so helpuful and interesting! We are a mess with money and savings and I am trying to make major changes. You have given me so many ideas and I do appreciate it!

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    1. You are welcome. I am glad I could be of help. If you ever have any questions, I am here for you!

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  55. I found your blog through a link and then started clicking around and found this post. I would love to live in a country area where I could live on less money a year but as you mentioned, our mortgage payment is nearly the amount of your monthly budget. We do live below our means though and I have made cuts to stay at home with my son so I understand your message. Although, I know that I would have a hard time giving up the washer and dryer! Congrats to you on doing a great job!!

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    1. Alison, I am so glad you found my blog. I love hearing from like-minded people. Hope you look around more and find stuff to help or inspire you.

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  56. I think you're awesome and inspiring! i try to live a frugal life myself but I'm nowhere near where you guys are! It is great to see people who live the opposite of American consumer culture; I wish there were more families like yours out there! My only question: It seems like your life must be one of constant work with all you do to save money. do you ever have time to just relax?

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  57. thats awesome!! I've been challenged. Our society makes it seem scary to step outside the box of what everyone thinks we need (such as a washer and dryer) when in fact they're just luxury's. I'm feeling inspired to try the hand washing and line drying.

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    1. Sara, thanks for stopping by and for your kind comments.

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  58. Excellent concepts !

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  59. Great job Melody. Shame you've got to put up with people hating on you at times. But the truth is, your family life and style of living promotes love vs. capitalism. Everything you do, your kids will look back fondly on. And that what's it's all about. Piss on those jackals who value grammar more than life knowledge. Live your beautiful life and love those around you. Money is the ultimate slavery tool. The less you have the more you live. I love this blog. Thanks for sharing!

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  60. It's a shame you've got to put up with jackals putting you down over grammar. Pay them no never-mind, Melody. The truth is, they don't yet know the value of what you've created here. At first glance one might think this is a blog about being frugal. However you and I both know it's really a beginners guide to loving one another. Consumerism and money have torn us from one another long enough. Your frugality brigs your family closer together, teaches one another that it's people that matter, not things. You and your family have a strong bond with each other and know what really matters. Right on. I love this blog and I'd like to say p!$$ off to those who hate on you. They don't know any better is all ;-)

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    1. Chris, thank you so very much. It is nice to have someone confirm one's worth and contribution. Many hugs to you!

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  61. All in all a good and informative post, but hand washing the clothes? Yikes! I had to do that a while when our washing machine was broken - it was hell. :/
    There are economical programs on washing machine, so I'd propose using those or lowering the water temperature, rather than hand washing.

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    1. But that would entail buying a washing machine and I don't want to invest that kind of money when what we are doing is already working. Thanks for the input though. Have a great day!

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  62. Melody,
    I give you a lot of credit for making a family decision that best suits your needs. Too many people play the status game and end up in serious financial trouble. You are giving your children a terrific start by teaching them the value of a dollar.
    Congratulations!!

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    1. Thank you so very much for your kind comments. They mean a lot to me!

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  63. Thanks for sharing!! I'm a nursing student, my husband and I have been married one year and after a required move we are experiencing so very difficult times. We are expecting our first child in April, he was unplanned but is so very welcomed and we are anxious to meet him. That being said, I have not been able to find a job and come next fall I will not be able to work as the baby will be here and my clinicals start so I have class mon-fri from 8am -4pm can't really squeeze in work and being a new mommy. I'm use to having twice as much money as we currently have and now facing another person being added has been very scary!! So thanks for sharing, it is encouraging!

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    1. Congratulations on the pending birth of your 1st child. I will pray that your finances improve.

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  64. Wow, I was really inspired by this. Here I am, wondering how just me and my fiancé will get by on just $1300 a month when we have to move out from our currently cheap situation. I was factoring in so many things we really do not need. I'm already coming up with things we can very well do without, especially if its just temporarily, we both graduate college in about two years. I've never been a huge spender, but after I moved it of my parents, I haven't been all that responsible when it comes to saving, ill make this a New Years resolution then. :)

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  65. Thank you Melody, My husband also as MS, he has for 15 years. We have five grown children and six grandchildren, WE have chosen to live a frugal life style. We are currently building a small house, paying cash .we have one 25 year old car and one 10 year old car...we love not having a car note..glad to see other people who are as frugal as us

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    1. Lee, thank you for stopping by and sharing your story with us.

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  66. Pamela in Mo
    Thank you for your site. I live on 3/4 Acre I raise rabbits, goats & a lamb. I am trying to lower my budget. We eat at home turn our heater down to 67(I have Fibromylia). Sometimes we get a deer. I buy only sells & stock pile. I buy a pig from a farmer.
    I raise Shih Tzu's for Tax purpose. I have a washer/dry but I air dry our pants use those to dry our towels & other clothes. I can my own fruit & make jelly that I get from the farmers market. I will be planting my own fruit trees. We have a house payment $310 but our cars are pd off. In the winter time if the sun is out I open the curtains summer I have heavy blankets over the windows.I buy boys sweats & mens bluejeans they last longer have pockets & are cheaper 1/2 of womans clothing.

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    1. Pamela, I am so glad you stopped by. It sounds like you are doing a wonderful job of utilizing your property. That is great.

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  67. I enjoyed the blog. Thank you.

    If you're interested in saving more money on shampoo/conditioner, you can try the WO method or no-poo method for hair. I have been doing the WO method and I no longer use shampoo or conditioner on my hair. It saves money and it's environmentally friendly. You can Google about it. Just thought I'd throw that out there.

    Thanks again for the blog.

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    1. Thanks for providing some more frugal tips. They are always appreciated.

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  68. First I would like to start out by saying that I think you are amazing! Second, I would like to say that it is very disrespectful that people would come to your blog and leave nasty comments. We all got to your site because we are looking to live more frugaly right? If a more frugal life is not what you want, then why read blogs about it? Ok I feel better now :)
    Anyways, my husband and I just went through a lay-off, and let me tell you, it was a real eye opener for me. We bring in a nice income with two of us working in our professions (around 5k a month) but like many people we are in debt up to our eyeballs. Everything we own has a payment attached. So when he got layed off, we panicked a little (me alot) because we have all these payments. The layoff came a month before Christmas and I was devestated. But I got over it. I paid what we had to pay to survive and we had a Waltons Christmas with very minimal store bought gifts and lots of homemade gifts. It was the best Christmas ever! Just the time that my husband and I spent together making gifts and watching movies on tv cause we didnt have extra money to go out was worth it all. He now is back to work, and got a better job than he previously had, but we are right now working on paying off our debt as quickly as possible and starting some savings for a rainy day. Keep on doing what your doing! I am very inspired! Thank you so much!

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    1. Thank you for your kind comments and I hate that you all are going through some tough times right now. I do feel my children are happier and more rounded individuals because of living frugally. They enjoy the simple life and are not so "plugged" in that they miss out on stuff.

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  69. Thanks for sharing how you do thing. I always appreciate learning how others do things. For those that think you're being preachy, well that's their opinion. This is a YMMV (your mileage may vary) type of post. Keep sharing. Thanks.

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  70. I love this post! We are a family of 6 and I've been trying to find ways to help us save money as a SAHM. We make a good income compared to others but we struggle. And I'm often stressed and with my depression and being prone to anxiety attacks it's just not working for me to be stressed! I'm so glad my friend pointed me here. You have such great suggestions! No judging here girl.

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  71. Hi Firstly let me compliment you for your courage for posting all that you do to save money and the environment. There are many cruel people out there and I'm happy to see you stand up to them !
    I have done many of the tips you've given. Usually with the environment in mind, but also due to poverty in the past, those lessons learned I will never forget.

    I did notice what you've said about your electric bill...... I hope you don't mind a suggestion for reducing it. It would be a pain in the butt at first; but as with all things worth while you'll adapt and get use it doing it. Check out Vampire Energy loss .... basicly its leaving gadgets unplugged until you need to use them, and unplugging them when you're finished. Apparently some people have nearly cut their electric bills in half. For outlets that are difficult to get to..... use an energy bar that has a long enough cord to bring to where you can reach it to turn on/off.
    Good Luck to you and your family ... all the best
    mamalv

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