This is a new series in the style of The Frugal Girl’s Five Frugal Things, where I’ll be posting weekly(ish) about what I’ve done lately to save money and make things stretch in order to further our financial goals, which currently include us paying off a decent hunk of debt. I encourage you to play along and post your own weekly frugal wins in the comments section below!
Welp, this week was a doozy.
On Thursday, I got a call from my husband saying that he’d (very unexpectedly) lost his job, which he’s had for the past ten years.
Obviously, this changes a lot of things.
While we love flower farming and it has been growing every year, it’s still very much a part-time side hustle…there is no way it could provide the income we need for our family of six. In fact, this year we’re just hoping to break even.
Before, we were pursuing a frugal lifestyle so that we could more easily live within our means and pay off the credit card debt we ran into last year.
Now we have to pursue even more of a frugal lifestyle just for financial survival.
It’s been a hard week in a lot of ways, as I’m sure you can imagine. Neither one of us has dealt with job loss before, so we’re working through a process we’re completely unfamiliar with, both logistically and emotionally.
But we’ve got a great support system, Matt’s got plenty of marketable skills and a great work ethic, and I know we’ll be fine. The next several months should be interesting, at any rate. Stay tuned for the endlessly surprising year for the Meidells! 🙂
Let’s get to our frugal wins though, shall we? (Other than obvious frugal wins, that is, like applying for unemployment insurance and trying to get to the bottom of the insurance nightmare that won’t quit.)
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I cut our budget down to the bare bones
Next to applying for unemployment insurance and SNAP benefits (which we won’t hear back for a couple weeks on either), I immediately cut all fat from the budget. We didn’t have a ton of extra to begin with, but we still had a few things, like my monthly rehab therapy appointment for my back (which isn’t covered by our medical insurance), some clothing and other things I’d planned to pick up this month, and most of the rest of what was left in our food budget for the rest of the month. Thankfully, we felt strongly about two years ago that we should aggressively build up our food storage, so we have quite a lot in our pantry — I’d say around 4-6 months of shelf stable food, if we are careful not to waste any and plan meals and such. We also were already on WIC from last month, so that will give us immediate (and free) access to dairy and produce. We’ve also already had family members and dear neighbors come and bring us groceries, meat, and produce from their gardens, and I’m thinking we should qualify for the SNAP program in a few weeks once everything has been processed.
We also cut out the small eating out budget we’d set for the month, and we canceled a few nonessential trips we were planning to make to the next big town (over an hour away) to save on gas.
I increased our thermostat by a few degrees
In the winter, we keep our house at a somewhat nippy 63-65 degrees, but in the summer this year, I’ll admit we’ve been a little spoiled. Usually in past years, we kept the thermostat at 76-77, but this year I’d set it to a downright refreshing 74. Within the hour of finding out the news about the job loss, I immediately turned the thermostat up a few degrees back to 77, and I know we could go up higher if it comes to that. We’ve also been more diligent about opening up our windows anytime the temperature outside is cooler than inside and using room fans where possible to cool us down.
We started harvesting plums from our trees
We are starting to officially head into fruit harvest season, starting with one of our plum trees. We’d already gleaned apricots from a generous neighbor last week, and then this week we added a plethora of plums to our produce options. I’m not a huge fan of store-bought plums because they tend to lack in flavor, but the trees we have growing in our backyard give us a few delicious plum varieties that come on at slightly different times, which helps us to stagger the harvest a bit. Once the urgent level tasks before us are done, I’m hoping to look into different options for preserving all this bounty and try at least one or two out. So if you have any favorite ways to preserve plums, send them my way! Thanks in advance 🙂
We took home a huge catering tray of rice from a party
Our ward (basically a name for our local church congregation) had their annual end of summer party this last week, and since we have so many people eating gluten-free in our home, we were offered the massive (unopened!) catering tray of cooked white rice. It’s a good thing I’ve become basically an expert at all (basic) things rice since Matt was diagnosed with celiac years ago because we’ve actually been able to go through most of it already!
One of the most useful cooking hacks I’ve learned is a trick my mother-in-law uses. Basically her rule of thumb is that pretty much any savory sauce will work well over rice, mashed potatoes, or pasta, and it’s totally true; I basically follow her rule all the time without even thinking twice about it anymore.
I made a return to Amazon
We have invested a decent hunk of money over the years into audiobooks on c.d. for our daughter, who likes to listen to them every night to help her sleep and also while she works on art projects during the day. The other week, her trusty c.d. player went out, and both Matt and I tried to see if we could fix it with no luck, so we ordered another one. Well, the new one ended up being defective, but weirdly enough, when we tried the old one again, it’s been working ever since. So I made sure to return the new one and got a full refund on it.
Other Frugal Wins:
- I combined several errands when I had to take the baby up north for a medical appointment last Friday. I also had Matt transfer her carseat base over to our smaller vehicle so I could take the one with much better gas mileage.
- I baked gluten-free banana bread to use up five of our brown bananas (using the recipe out of my favorite gluten-free cookbook again), as well as a loaf of our favorite gluten-free sandwich bread at the same time so I’d only need to turn on the oven once.
Obviously, the best way we can help ourselves now is for Matt to find employment. Thankfully, our support system is wide and we have friends and family with insane levels of talent and skill who have already given us help. More than that, we have complete trust in a loving God who we absolutely know is watching over our family.
We don’t know how long this new season will last, but we know we’ll be taken care of.
That said, we would always appreciate extra prayers on our behalf.
Now, send me all your plum recipes and your own frugal wins!