Living on One Income and it Feels So Good! Just Kidding, it’s Terrifying – Feeding Pets and Ourselves on a Limited Budget

Hi all! Well first, Happy New Year! I hope you had awesome holidays. CAH and I literally just sat around the house in our pajamas, opening presents, cooking and drinking. It was flippin’ awesome!

Holiday Laziness

Holiday Laziness

My job recently got downsized and so CAH and I are looking at living on one income until I find something else. It’s part exhilarating and part terrifying. I’ll explain the exhilarating part:

We decided awhile ago that I would take classes where I can because I am changing my career. Taking classes with any regularity while you work is tough and I day-dreamed of getting to the point where I could just quit working and go to school full time. Now that we are going to be on one income, it has forced us to completely change the way we budget. We have the logistics down, but execution is always nerve-wracking. But if we can do it successfully, then we’ve decided that whatever income I do bring in, we are just going to bank for the next year or two so that I can just quit working and finish up school. YAY!

But that means that I really have to scrimp and save to make just CAH’s income work for us. We are lucky in that we don’t have kids to worry about, but we still do have some tiny, but rather demanding mouths to feed.

I’m new to this kind of extreme budgeting and here is what I’ve done so far. I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE any of you out there who are living on a budget to share what you are doing!

The Culprits – what you don’t know about your spending could kill you. Well, kill your bank account.

1) Restaurants – food is our biggest budget item. When we met with our financial planner to look at our food spending budget for November/December, we had spent over $500 eating out in November alone. WHAT? It’s not like we are eating at the finest restaurants San Francisco has to offer, and there are only two of us. Aside from frequency of eating out, what the hell is making the eating out expense of two people so freaking high……

Drinking AND Eating out - who are we, the Rockefellers?

Drinking AND Eating out – who are we, the Rockefellers?

2)….seriously kid, lay off the wine – Yeah, my 3 glasses of wine at dinner may have something to do with it. Luckily I am off of wine pending an upcoming 5K, so that has not been such an issue as late. But from this point forward when we are allowed the luxury of eating out, I’m getting hammered at home first (friends should take note of this and expect me to see me show up to dinner dates HOA – Hammered On Arrival).

3) Amazon.com’s Prime Membership – Amazon Prime may seem like just a convenient free-2-day shipping service on the surface, but it is a gateway service to the seedy underbelly of impulse shopping. Pinterest and Amazon are an especially deadly combo. What’s that Pinterest? Biotin supplements will make my hair grow longer and faster? Well hello Amazon Prime, you have Biotin? *click*, purchased. (Qeueu CAH two days later, “You ordered something ELSE?!?”). Sadly, I have disabled the Amazon Prime instant renewal. It was a symbolic gesture of impulse buying sobriety. ((sob))

4) Food – I love cooking and so our grocery bills can be quite high. That, coupled with the apparent $500/month we are spending eating out, is a problem.

The steps I’ve taken so far:

Took my nails off (AKA bye bye luxuries)

Essentially, and obviously, all luxury is out the door. I had my Shellac manicure removed and replaced with plain old nail polish. Home manis/pedis from this point on. Le sigh. Obviously all travel, shopping therapy, and impulse buying is out for me. CAH’s $500/week strip club habit has to got to be stopped, too. I kid, I kid (he’s going to kill me for that one).

Groceries

Ok this is the biggie. We have to eat, and I refuse to fall victim to cheap and processed junk. It’s a lot easier to buy pre-made crap (think Hamburger Helper, Country Crock mashed potatoes, Velveeta) to eat on the cheap, but saving money on groceries like this means more money spent on bad health. I think that this is a trap fallen into by many, and many studies show that this is a huge factor in why many low-income families are also obese.

I am a vegetarian and CAH is a meat-eater, which will keep our grocery budget lower if only buying meat for one. Due to cholesterol issues with CAH, we recently switched him to grass-fed/grass-finished beef. It is important that it is grass finished and not grain finished. We found a small, local farm, Brandon Natural Beef, that delivers CAH’s beef right to our door. We are also going to do the same thing with local produce through a local organic produce delivery system, Farm Fresh to You.

Additionally we bought a chest freezer so that we can buy in bulk and freeze. With CAH’s meat and our produce being obtained from local farms, I am going to supplement the rest with grains and beans. With this grocery plan, we will get our grocery bill down to about $50/ week, so we’ve more than halved our grocery budget.

Pets

Those damn demanding mouths to feed! This is especially tough because one of our dogs has food allergies and so needs a limited ingredient food. We were previously spending about $32 on a 28 pound bag of dog food that didn’t give our dog a 24/7 scratch-a-thon. We were trying to figure out if there was any way we could find a limited ingredient food for even a little cheaper and scanned the Web for ideas. While I was at Costco, I popped over to their pet food aisle just to see what they might have and lo and behold, their own brand, Kirkland, now has a limited ingredient, grain free dog food! The cost was the same, $32, but it was for a 35 pound bag. 7 extra pounds of food – we will take it!

Demanding Mouth (Damn! Eating out AGAIN)

Demanding Mouth (Damn! Eating out AGAIN)

That is where we are at now, and I know that we are far from finished in figuring out this whole budget thing. I will resume making our laundry detergent, body wash, etc once those things run out. In the mean time, I would love to hear from you all – how do you care for your family on a budget?

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2 thoughts on “Living on One Income and it Feels So Good! Just Kidding, it’s Terrifying – Feeding Pets and Ourselves on a Limited Budget

  1. Me and Matt just recently bought a membership to BJ’s which is just like costco. Buying in bulk has certainly helped free up the grocery shopping budget, Especially for the odds and ends things that you need.
    For gas, we generally go to the indian reservation. We both have to drive a good 40+ minutes to work, so we are generally having to get gas every few days. The rez is generally a good .40cents cheaper a gallon. This summer we are definitely going to garden! fruits and veggies 🙂
    When the weather is warmer and the family wants to get out, I google “Free Family Activities” It is a huge help. You would be amazed at all the places you can go without spending a dime and bringing your own picnic.
    Youtube tutorials on nail polish designs are amazing! I watch those all the time. I figure, I have the nail polish colors, why go to the salon and have them done when really, I can do them in my house.

  2. We are doing the farm fresh to you service as well. In addition to the benefits of this service that you cited, it has forced us to try new foods and eat seasonally plus more than once we’ve been tempted to eat out, but we had veggies we needed to eat before they spoil so, stayed in (money saved) plus getting a deilvery and you never know what you you’ll get in the box kinda satisfies that feeling of getting a gift in the mail (replace the desire to order other stuff)- fun.
    I have also become a fan of Thift Town http://www.thrifttown.com/locations/california/ for when you need a new whatever.
    Another tip, we quit cable a while ago – we just have the free Netflix so we are always a few seasons behind on series, but small price to pay – plus you escapte commercials which make you crazy and encouage kids (if you have them) to beg for crap they don’t need.
    Next tip, i had a work cell phone and a personal cell phone. I don’t do lots of texting or phone calls on my own and I was sick of carrying two phones around, so I asked if I could use my work phone as my private phone (and pay if necessary any overage each month) they agreed – so no more personal cell phone bill.

    Last tip, try to use cash as much as possible – its more real. Using credit cards allows you to pshycologically justify extra costs via the delay in reality.

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