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Our path to cheapness

I’ve been a frugal/thrifty person my whole life.  Even when we both had good jobs and had this really cool thing called “disposable income”, I still worked hard to keep our feet on the ground.  Sure, we splurged and had a great time spoiling friends and family, but we never overstepped our reach in terms of financial things.

The “cheap” aspect came in to our lives last April when Troy was laid off.  That kicked everything in to gear and forced us to make some choices that we had not had to make before. 

I’ve thought about writing this post for awhile, but before it was always too raw for me and put too much of our business out there.  I think I’m ready now because to be honest I’m really proud of how we’re doing and I’m hoping that our path to cheapness will be helpful to anyone else going through a similar situation.  So with that, I give you the timeline that led to our path to cheapness!

July 2004 – got married.  I am working full time at a low paying job.  Troy was working very part time on small budget movies in Washington.  Our plan is to move to Los Angeles in 2005 so that he can explore the next stages of his career.

Jan 2005 – April 2005 – Troy got offered work on a really cheesy, but high budget movie in Spokane starring Cuba Gooding Jr.  He leaves for 4 months.  I see him twice during that time.  The movie allows us to complete my goal of a fully funded emergency fund before we leave for Los Angeles.

May 2005 – I fly down to LA and interview with an amazing company and am offered a job.  I do the “Dance of Joy” in the middle of a busy LA street because I’m wicked excited about this opportunity.  We get home and lease a LA apartment online that is 8 miles from my work.  We arrive back in in LA later that month.  We realize we live in the GHETTO.  Give our month’s notice then and start looking for a safer place.  Troy finds good paying work almost immediately, but it is sporatic.

June 2005 – we move to a better neighborhood that allows me to walk or ride my bike to work.  It’s expensive and tiny, but worth it.

July 2005-early 2007 – things are awesome.  We both have great jobs (I’ve been promoted twice at my fabulous company since May 2005 and my income has increased by a good amount), and are saving tons of money.  We decide to buy property back home to build on as we know at some point we’re moving back to WA.

March 2007 – we buy an amazing piece of property that we’re in love with.  I can picture the house, I can see the kids and grandkids playing the creek.  The papers are signed the same day we take off for London.  I found $200 round trip tickets to London online and at that point in time, we can’t think of a reason to NOT go to London for $400 for 2 people.

Fall 2007 – writer’s strike leaves Troy unemployed for 4 months.

Early 2008 – Troy has had it with the film industry.  His back is killing him all the time, it’s so unpredictable and we want to have kids.  We decide to move home at the end of 2008.

July 18, 2008 – Troy and I get in to a giant fight over the color of my SIGG water bottle (for the record it was PINK not red), and I am in tears.

July 19, 2008 – 2 lines on a pee stick.  That may explain events of the previous day…

Dec 15 – 20th – we drive home during the west coast blizzard of 2008.  A 2 day trip takes us 5 days.  We never speak of this trip again because I was beyond annoyed with Troy.  And 6 months pregnant.

Jan – April 2009 – Troy can’t find a full time job and is working little part time jobs here and there.  I find out in February that the company I’m working for remotely can’t continue my remote employment.  I’m given full maternity leave and until Dec 2009 to find another job.  See, I told you there were awesome, but I’m still devastated.  I loved the job.

April 4 2009 – J bone, the light of our lives is born.  He was born a week after my grandfather who was one of my favorite people in the world passed away.  I felt grandpa’s presence when Jack was born.  My baby is healthy and my grandfather is finally at peace.  All was right in the world.

May 2009 – Troy gets a job with a local HVAC company!!!  40 hrs a week and 5 days.  A normal job with a steady paycheck for Troy??  This is new for us.

August 27, 2009 – I get a new job a few months in advance of my end date with current company.  I take a 37% a year pay cut.  And now since I’m working out of the house, we have to pay for daycare  Ouchie.

April 1, 2010 – I come home from work to find Troy sitting in the carport home early from work.  Uh oh.  Laid off.  The company was wonderful, but they simply weren’t getting enough work with the economy.

Troy works odd jobs and eventually gets hired at a “warehouse” store.  During this time we’re pinching pennies and Troy realizes he wants to be a fire fighter.  Any idea how much it costs to become a fire fighter?  A shitload.  He gets accepted in to a great internship program that requires 24-36 hours a week of volunteering.  He turns in his new internship schedule to the “warehouse” store and is let go the next day.  Lame.  Tears and near-panic attacks for me, the keeper of the budget.

Between April and August 2010 our income was further cut by 40%, so we:
-reduced my Roth IRA contribution by $100 a month
-got rid of my Blackberry that my old company used to pay for
-cut cable and internet down to a cheaper option
-got more serious about our grocery budget
-stopped renewing any magazines
-gardened my ass off in hopes of saving money.  The horrible PNW summer was not helpful
-cried in the shower, in the car, and behind my closed office door.  A LOT.

I was also blessed during this time with a giftcard to a “warehouse” store courtesy of a group of women I know.  I was embarrassed to need help, but so humbled and honored at the same time.

August 2010 – I start this blog.  I need an outlet to try and help myself come to terms with the “new normal” in our life.  I’m hoping to reach others and try to help anyone who finds themselves in a similar situation.  I’m also hoping that writing helps calm the chaos in my brain.

September 2010 was a low point for me.  I won’t go in to it, but it wasn’t a pretty place to be.  My former nickname of “Pollyanna” was dashed in to the rocks and I could barely wake up each day and face the world.

October 2010 – Troy gets a new part time job.  Low paying, but very flexible with his schooling.  Hurray!

My parents call and offer to help us with our property loan.  Property loans have insane interest rates even for people like us with excellent credit.  I initially say no because I’m prideful and hate taking help from anyone.  We eventually accept the help, and our mortgage payment drops by $400 a month.  Phew.

November 2010 – February 2011 – some high points and low points.  Mostly low points.  Lots of mold in our apartment and our upstairs neighbors are the devil.  I lose my shit on the phone to my sister one day and have a horrible ugly cry.  Troy’s grandma gives us some money because “you’re going to get it from me eventually, why not take it now”.  We do a few car maintenance fixes and the rest goes in to our emergency fund”.

January 2011 – bye bye cable and DVR.  Hello Hulu!

February 2011 – a conversation that I imagine going something like this takes place at my parent’s house:
Dad – “Hey Barb, we have that rental house and our tenants suck and never pay on time.  What do you think about renting it to Sarah and Troy”?
Mom – “WHAT?  I can’t hear you over how loud the TV is.  Why do you like Two and Half Men so much?  This show is dumb”.
Mom – “Oh, that is a good idea.  Let’s call her.  And I’m changing the TV to Ellen”.

I get the call and say no.  At this point, all I have left is pride and it’s just hanging on by a thread.  I tell Troy and he responds “if we were your parents and Jack was us, would you do the same thing”?  I slam my head in to the wall repeatedly because of course I would, but it’s so hard to be an adult and keep accepting help when you KNOW you could do this on your own. 

I give in, and we accept the house. 

Our apartment lease is up April 30th.  My parent’s tenant’s lease is up June 30th.  After nearly walking upstairs to murder our douchebag neighbors one morning, I tell Troy “we have to leave or you’ll be visiting me in jail”.  We decide to stay with Troy’s parents from April 30th – until we can get in to my parent’s place.  We will save enough money for Troy to be out of work for 10 weeks next spring to attend the fire academy.  I unclench my fists and attempt to focus on moving away from the satan couple who live above us.

In the year since Troy got laid off we have:
-Gone from financially secure to often on the edge
-Had more fights and tears than should be had in 1 year
-Cancelled cable and anything “fun” in our lives that costs
-Gotten serious about making foods from scratch.  Our grocery bills dropped but we’re actually eating so much better
-Learned so much about ourselves
-Learned to accept help.  Many times.  Learned the meaning of both humility and grace.  Learned that in life all you can truly count on is the love and support of family and good friends.
-Put our dream property up for sale.  No bites.  Yet
-Continued to save fairly aggressively for retirement.  I would give up all the magazines, sparkling water, cable, and fancy cell phones to continue to save for our future.  Beans and rice is often our present, but I refuse to let it follow us in to our future.
-Maintained no consumer debt
-Continued to drive our ugly, but paid for 8 & 9 year old cars
-Realized that our son’s laughter when playing (for free) at the park is worth 1,000 times more than going to a movie or out on a nice date

March 31st, 2011 – I sit down to write this post.  I know it’s long and realize hardly anyone will actually read it, but it’s therapeutic for me to get it all out.  I remember 2 quotes that I used to love:

“We are all in the gutter.  But some of us are looking at the stars” – Oscar Wilde
“If the end of the world were imminent, I would still plant a tree today” – can’t remember

I remember these quotes, and for the first time in 12 months, I believe them.

Yo yo, head’s up, this post might contain affiliate links which help to support my site. And my canning, seed buying, and aggressive saving habits.

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95 comments on “Our path to cheapness”

  1. I really enjoyed this post. It made me laugh and cry…and I LOVE the last quote! You inspire me in so many ways…and I’m sure this post will help others too. Going through tough times lets you know how tough you really are and gets you through future hurdles. Love you!

  2. Ditto my mom.

    You are amazing. I am so happy that you are moving into your parent’s old house. You all deserve a nice, safe place without mold and d-bag neighbors.

  3. You’re an inspiration to those who want to be frugal. I’m hats off to you. And also, I enjoyed reading your blog.

  4. I love your post. It puts life in perspective and makes me feel hopeful and good to know there are others out there like me. We all feel alone at times and especially when life throws us a clinker, and your strength and perservearance is a tribute to your character.

  5. LeAnn, that is so kind of you. Yes, Troy has experience, but we’re much too far north of your area. I couldn’t find an email on your blog, but I have your number and will call you tomorrow to thank you “in person”.

    I’ve deleted your comment since it contained your personal information.

  6. I think more people probably read it than you’d think. ๐Ÿ™‚ We’ve been going through a lot of similar things over the past two and a half years, and even in the midst of the recession, with so many people having hard times, it’s really easy to feel isolated because people don’t talk about it. Or if they do, it’s in sort of this forced-upbeat way, where they talk about how much you can save shopping second-hand or skipping lattes, and not about the more difficult things, like the strain months or years of this can put on a marriage, or about what you give up when the “easy” things like cable are gone, or about dealing with boredom when you can’t just easily buy entertainment, or the emotional toll of taking help from friends and family.

    Thanks for your honesty — it’s very refreshing!

  7. I think I found your blog while searching for “Homemade Chicken Nuggets”! I have been a fan ever since. I love your writing style and I have learned a lot besides how to make my own chicken nuggets! I often wondered how you came to “be” where you are and so I love that you took the leap and shared this history. Thank you!

  8. I saw PNW and had to find out where you are… too bad Spokane is SO MUCH further north (I’m on the coast N. OR)… I like your blog, and loved reading this first page… I grew up “on the edge” and although no longer a necessity, frugality is in my core… I’m not too proud and still find fabulous bargains at Goodwill – – why pay $80 for designer broken in jeans when you can have them “organically” softened? And who discards cashmere?! I also love to forage and made a fabulous pie last night with red and black huckleberries picked yesterday. My blackberry wine should be “of age” this Dec… I clam, and love harvesting mussels… Talk about a champaign life! Oven roasted mussels, salad, a crusty baguette, and a glass of good wine – – and we start speaking French! The beauty of the PNW is that virtually 2/3’d of your backyard (or state park) is edible… and it’s organic without the $$ ๐Ÿ˜€

  9. This reminds me of my first 10 years of marriage. The Carter Years early 80’s, husband was out of work for 10 years. Still is very under employed. But I had to learn to live with it and be happy. It is hard. Good post! We are no longer on edge all the time as I am trying very hard to get out of debt.

  10. oh I can so relate to this post! sometimes it just seems that you hit one problem after another. I’m glad I found your blog, look forward to reading and well done on what you’ve achieved so far despite the setbacks!

  11. Intriguing and insightful story. Thanks for sharing.

  12. i loved the blog! thank you for opening up to everyone. for some its hard to let people know whats really going on. but when people like u open up it helps alot of people realize things are bad but at least we have some insight on it and that maybe we dont need all the things we THINK we need. again THANK YOU!!

  13. I know this post is old, but I just found it…

    OMG – We are exactly where you were in the middle of 2010, but we’re now 6 months pregnant and up a creek with 2 small, deteriorating paddles. My husband was a real estate investor, and unfortunately, didn’t structure all of his deals in the company name… I was laid off from a construction company 2 years ago. Fortunately, we both found new jobs in the last couple months, but at much lower pay with much higher personal debt loads. I don’t know if it makes me feel better to have found commiseration or worse that there are so many people who have gone through/are going through this situation lately.

    Let me say a most sincere THANK YOU for all your tips and tricks on frugality in general, and on this entry, the very real sense that there can be peace in the future.

  14. Thank you for your story,so honest and truthful. Have you thought of WRITING? I thnk you have a talent for it. Sharing the “down”side….maybe childrens stories

  15. This is so timely for everyone…I’m just catching up on your blog. The economy has forced/ blessed us all with an opportunity to simplify.. I really enjoy your posts which detail how to deal with financial hardships with creativity and grace. Your blog is an awesome inspiration to everyone!!!

  16. Just stumbled on your blog today and am really enjoying it. I am self-employed, so we are often in a feast or famine kind of life. While I love a convenience product from time to time, I also love know ing that I made/did/created it myself…from bread to a baby gift for a friend to the gardner’s hand scrub I made for my mother-in-law this week. There’s a lot of personal satisfaction in that. Good luck!

  17. Just stumbled on your blog today – your story is like my story. It is amazing how being frugal in the 90’s when my husband and I got married was laughed at. But no on is laughing – now they ask for advice. Hard work and frugality are core values that this country is severely lacking. And those are not left-right, republican – democrat values but American values. Living within your means to achieve your dreams not putting yourself in hock to keep up with the Joneses. If we all practiced the simple value of thrift how much better would our world be on so many levels. Keep up the good work. Happy Easter too!

  18. I’m one that was taught to be frugal and cheap all my life. My parents had a situation similar to yours. We have always gone to garage sales, Goodwill, etc… We reupholster and fix furniture for ourselves, do all our own home improvement… I cook large amounts and freeze, on the weekends, so I don’t have to all week. Buy in bulk, and on sale… My husband just decided to buy an 18 wheeler this year. More income, yay! Not, more like 80% goes to paying gas and stuff on the truck. We will always be cheap… Even if we ever have $$.

  19. Stumbled on your blog from Pinterest and it is nice to know there are people out there that have problems much like the ones we all face every day. I appreciate your honesty.

  20. Also just stumbled on your blog from Pinterest. You seem like such a hardworking, beautiful person and I wish you happiness and the best of luck on your journey through life. I am a soldier and the financial supporter of my fiance, an ex-soldier, who is now studying full time to make a better future for us. I totally understand how hard it is to make ends meet sometimes but I believe that having the right person by your side makes it just that little bit easier. Thanks for such an honest and heartwarming post – Jasmine ๐Ÿ™‚ xx

    • Thank you so much (and your finance) for your service to our country! I’m constantly amazed and impressed with our service members!

      Best of luck to your fiance in school!!!

  21. Found your blog via pinterest (aka visual crack) today and I love it! You are an inspiration … YES YOU! Thx

  22. Honestly do not know how I found this blog (thorough… google reader perhaps?).

    Fun. And yes, I read this post. Keep on keeping on!

  23. Just had to do some sleuthing to recall how I found your blog in the first place… It was through the lifehacker article. But the important part is that I DID find your blog — and now I very much enjoy it! I appreciate your honesty, humor, swear words, and great tips. I’m sending positive thoughts out into the universe that you are able to make this a full-time gig, as you are definitely one of the good ones ๐Ÿ™‚

  24. Wonderful post- thank you for sharing such a difficult part of your lives to inspire others! It seems to be working!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  25. Don’t you just love Pinterest! I found your blog today, and can’t help but notice we have similar stories. My husband is a firefighter, but is about to retire (not by choice,his city is changing the way it does firefighting) and we are faced with a very reduced income. We have cut out cable and our landline, downsized to one car (paid for) and eat in most times! I am going to keep up with you for some great ideas and I will be praying for your journey.

    • My thoughts and prayers are with your family as well! I hope things work out and you’re able to land on your feet and your husband can find a better position.

  26. Bless you

  27. I found your blog on Pinterest (I’m obsessed). I am now just learning to be frugal. A few months ago my husband left his job to start his own business and I was just laid off. With two boys who are constantly out growing their clothing and a new business to support, it’s time to learn to be thrifty. Most frugal type blogs are so preachy….I’m frugal and you’re not, nanny nanny boo-boo ๐Ÿ™‚ I laughed out loud when you talked about fart joked and your dislike of people who are douchebags! Finally someone with great frugal tips and a sense of humor ๐Ÿ™‚

    • I don’t identify with people who are preachy or try to get us to believe they’re perfect, and I can’t imagine anyone else who likes that. So I try to show what real life is like. Warts and all!

  28. Thank you for this blog. I found it through pinterest (a recipie initially brought me here). I’m almost 27 and learning to be as frugal as possible and have been getting frustrated as of late. I know it was hard to put this info on the net but look at how many people you’ve inspired! Great job! It just seems to make SENSE to me to be frugal after all my younger years of blowing all my money and having nothing to show for it. Also my long time boyfriend is unemployed right now so it FORCED us to spend little to no money on fun stuff. But thankfully, he has an interview this week! I know it’s time to get serious and actually start saving for the future as well (I have 0 savings) But I also don’t have children yet either ๐Ÿ™‚

  29. This post made me laugh and cry- you are fantastic! I read a bit of your blog everyday abd think WOW! Amazing stuff your Jack and my son are aroud the same age. suddenly being cheap and frugal are so different you and your family lead a quality life but don’t pay over the odds! All this achieved with a sense of humour! Well done!!!

  30. I just randomly found your blog via Pinterest last night. I have no idea what post brought me here, I read it and started poking around. I read this whole post start to finish. I love your honesty, and I love everything I’ve read so far. Thank you for sharing your story and letting us know we are not alone in all of this.

  31. Thank you for sharing your story! I love your honest, that you drop f*bombs and other colorful words. You’re my kind of girl!

    I’ve been in the fire service (Fire Engineer) with the FD for 12 years. I wish your husband the best in his quest to start a career in the fire service. It is the best job in the world and am I forunate to say I LOVE GOING TO WORK! Please tell your husband not to get discourage if he doesn’t get hired full time immediately. (it took me 1.5 years to go full time.) It’s a good paying job and benefits/retirement are a great. For you, you will enter a family like no other. During good and bad times, we will always be with you. Your husband will learn “2 in, 2 out” and we always do this. No one gets left behind….just ask my husband! Best wishes! Thanks again for sharing!

    • Thanks so much for this. We’ve been talking to so many fire fighters and they all tell us it’s going to take awhile. I’m doing my best to keep that in mind and keep my chin up.

  32. I just wanted to say I stumbled upon your website from a post on Pintrest.. I love the way you write your posts and you have convinced me that I can do some of what you do.. I also was wowed when the first quite you listed is one of my favorites as well…

    keep up the fun and thanks for sharing your ideas with everyone

  33. You never know what path life will take you down. We have had unexpected deaths in our family, businesses fail, job lay-offs, foreclosure on our dream home. But, we have each other and healthy, happy children who have learned big homes, new cars do not make you successful. Working hard, lots of laughter, supporting each other are all that matters. I now think really hard about what I purchase and find I love and appreciate even the smallest purchases. We had fallen into thinking bigger meant better and expensive gave you some sort of power. How sad…so happy we were forced into a better path. We feel enlightened and proud we are much stronger.

  34. We have been in the same place you and your husband have lived: despair, anger, crying. Reading your post brought it all back to me. I don’t wish those days on anybody, and I’m glad to hear that your dark clouds are beginning to part. Good luck and keep your head up. Your blog has helped me remember what we should be most thankful for.

  35. “It will be ok in the end. If it is not ok, it is not the end” – Henry Ford

  36. I read your post through laughter and tears. We are in the same place as you right now so I feel your pain (minus the douchbag neighbors). It has taught me who my real friends are, that I still have so much to be thankful for and I have tapped an unknown source of strength that keeps me going. Good luck and I look forward to reading many more of your posts.

  37. So…I found your blog through Pinterest and have been reading it since this morning! It’s AWESOME! I am totally enthralled with your methods of saving …and living. Please keep it up…fart jokes and ALL!

  38. Hi Sarah! I’ve just recently discovered your blog (through Pintrest, maybe? I can’t even remember cuz I’m a dork!) and I’ve just spent about 3 hours sitting here at my computer, going through your archives. I HEART YOU! I’ve been laughing my ass off, and after reading this post, I’m wiping a few tears away, as well.

    I added you to my blogroll last week, so I’ll be keeping up with you on a regular basis ๐Ÿ™‚

  39. Holy cow! I can’t believe your water bill is so cheap monthly. Ours is a little over $200 every 3 months (in Portland) which seems to be on the lower end for the city.

  40. I see I’m not the only one who read all the way to the end! What a great post, so refreshing and inspirational for a newbie to the blogging scene like me. Lotion bars – how cool are they? I’m thinking Christmas gifts straight away…
    I’m loving your blog so far and I sincerely hope that the past year has been kinder to you ๐Ÿ˜€

  41. thank you.

  42. Love your blog and your brutal honesty! You make me laugh. I so hope that things will continue to get better for you and your family. You deserve the very best. Keep writing and sharing your great ideas!!!

  43. so glad to have found your blog (your outlet). i was simply trying to find something to do with a container of beeswax a neighbor gave me b/c ‘you’re creative, you’ll make something!”. My big secret: google and pinterest! Always appreciate those who post and blog – to include you! Continued luck on your journey of continued frugality….I’ve been practicing for years, but never out of necessity – yet!(so far…though I keep feeling we may be in a situation similar to yours if we run away from DC back to the PNW where the family lives.) Keep posting, keep loving, keep creating! oh, and i probably have a serious lead on tons of free garden veggie plants for you for next summer if you can make a drive to CdA!

  44. Just read this for the first time. Truly inspiring and also entertaining. Not that your struggles were fun to read about, but I do like your sense of humor. I have struggles with getting my husband on board to prepare for economic troubles. He doesnt seem concerned, says you cant take it with you. I still do everything in my power to save money. I am tight and shop thrift stores and clearance. I refuse to not be ready. Thanks for sharing something so personal. I enjoy your blog and always look forward to your posts.

  45. I used to be cheap…for many years…than I didnt have to…but these days I remember how much more value everything had and how much more grounding the process is to take note of what you have and what you do not. Much more organization helps you gain better control. You’ve done a great job saving and holding down your budget…but isnt it great that in these days you are part of a very big club?

  46. Oh my gosh. I am wiping my eyes right now because I too am on a journey to reduce the budget. I am keeper of the budget also, and a looking for ways to cut things down. Canning, freezing, dehydrating. My family isn’t always on board either, so it makes it hard. Thank you for your blunt and funny quips. I really needed to hear this this AM.

  47. Gday Sarah
    Thank you for sharing your story with us its livery to read something so simple and ‘real’. Speaking as a single mum who has had to battle with financial uncertainty and learn to accept help from others I understand how humbling it can be. I look forward to reading more posts and learning about how I to can be more frugal.
    Your new Aussie follower
    Tracy ๐Ÿ™‚

  48. <3 *hugs* Thank you for posting this.

    . . . . also, I think you should make a post about your douche-bag neighbors. Why were they satan?

  49. Wow… I could have written this post.. well except the son, the fire fighter husband, where you live, the lack of DVR (I consider that the only necessity I will splurge on lol), the property.. oh hell, okay, so nothing but everything is like my story! lol (Made sense huh?!?)

    Well, I’ve spent the last two hours on your blog and I’m not done yet, but had to tell ya.. I too read this~

    Keep on keeping on, you’re inspiring!

  50. Thank you for this post and you honesty. I always wonder about the people I follow and that inspire me through their blogs. And I agree with you on the lady on “Cold Case”, I just want to reach in and rake a comb through her hair.

    Five years ago, (at age 40) I was on vacation when I had to admit my husband into the hospital, His health (mental and physical) had been going downhill for 2-3 years before that, our marriage was suffering as well. Within 12 hours the doctors has transported him to the main hospital and placed him into a coma to save his life….he was in a coma for nearly 3 weeks. He had been laid off both his jobs (of 17 years) about the time his health started failing and our second child was born….the long and the short was he had fallen off the wagon and unknown to me started some very bad habits.
    I was working 50+ hours a week at a job I had come to hate. They were pretty good about me needing time off while my DH was in the hospital but refused to give me a Medical Leave so I quit 2 months before my 20 year anniversary to be a Stay at Home Mom. Now, we were a no-income family of 4. Thankfully we had money in the bank. My husband healed and cleaned up, we added one more to our family who just turned 4. Finally, after working through my 401k (paying penalties) by 90 percent and all our cash assets our free fall finally slowed. My husband went back to work at a low paying but regular job that he can handle with his remaining health issues. I am trying to relearn or rebuild my relationship with money and doing things in a more thrifty fashion. In 5 year we have gone from 100,000 year pay to 21,000 a year. The saving grace is we (my husbands doing) are totally debt free. Our house and cars are evident of our prior life, but we were only able to keep because they were owned outright, and my husband’s small inheritance was invested and untouched before the downturn.
    It makes me nervous we no longer have an emergency fund but we are stabilizing. We are considering a big move, out of state, to a more economical area, to be near my family which would include a housing downgrade, but I am looking forward to the purging and new start.

  51. Thanks to Pinterest I found your blog ๐Ÿ™‚ I am almost 41, recently separated with a wonderful 3 year old who I co-parent and a full-time job, but suddenly going from two incomes to one has been a MASSIVE struggle. Even with a full-time job – which makes me exhausted – money is a major issue for me. I am still paying off joint debt from my marriage, my travel bill to work is horrendous and I can’t see my ever being able to go on holiday anywhere sunny ever again! I have suffered from depression on and off all my life and these past few months have been especially dark…BUT…I have bought a super cheap bike to cycle as much as I can and my son LOVES the bike seat, I have planned out my food budget and found myself making more fresh food, am joining a college in a lunch club so we can split costs every day, bought a cheap tent (my son LOVES to camp and those holidays are much more fun!), we go to the park a LOT and find nature trails and take a picnic, I use every coupon / voucher I can find. Accepting help from even those closest to you can be sooo hard, but it makes you realise just how much you are loved by those around you. Even the small luxuries in life are out of the question for now – but don’t you get a major buzz when you have a brilliant charity store or car boot sale find!! And I love it when someone says “I really love your dress!” and I think “yes, that cost me £3 from the charity shop!!”

    But even in the darkest times I remember my wonderful son, Jack, who is a joy and to see his wonder at learning something new and the fun we have with NOTHING reminds me what life is all about ๐Ÿ™‚

    Thank you for this blog x

  52. I honestly don’t remember how I found your blog, but I stumbled on it through my travels on the Internet. And I’m so glad I did! Because of you I make my own brown sugar, eat a lot more popcorn, have visions of canning everything in site, am trying to reduce our household (mainly kitchen) waste, and have cut back our grocery budget by about 10% (it ain’t much, but it’s something).

    Thanks for being brave enough to put your life out there. It’s helped me out a lot.

  53. Boy, nothing happens by accident does it? Skipping @ the internet distracting myself from all of the stressors that just won’t back the f’ off and here you are. I am a mostly single (husband in law school a 3 hour commute away) mom of a 14 year old boy with cerebral palsy. We STRUGGLE financially and suck so hard on that government tit that we have stretch marks around our mouths!I was recently (4 days ago ) diagnosed with depression…no shit right? and was encouraged to find a creative outlet that allows me to employ my rather gifted if not morbid imagination and well…here you are! You have so many many wonderful ideas and tips that I am already busy organizing my day @ finding the time to actually CREATE instead of flounder. CHEERS!! Sister and welcome to my tribe! ~Sandy Brown

  54. Thanks to Pinterest I found your blog, and this post. I appreciate you sharing your story, and this blog, with the world. <3

  55. Eventhough I could repeat exactly what Kate (above) just said, I must comment myself. I found your blog tonight from Pinterest (the Vicks shower things caught my eye), then I got totally hooked on your blog! I love the way you write, you say it the way it is and we can like it or not! ๐Ÿ™‚ So, I thank you for this look inside what sparked you to write this blog and I can’t wait to spend more time reading what you have to say and trying some homemade ideas.

  56. I also found you on Pinterest and was first psyched about the cheap but yummy looking recipes, but quickly realized that I enjoy your sense of humor and sarcasm as much as your cooking knowledge! I love this blog and I love that you shared this story- I always tell my husband regarding our own struggles, these are the times that we’ll look back on fondly and smile, knowing that we got through them and we’re better for it and remembering when happiness was simple. My parents have stories of living in places with holes in the bathroom floor so big that they could see the people below them as they peed (sounds fun, right?!) and now as they sit in their huge house full of stuff, they always light up when they tell those stories! It sounds like you and your family have handled the ups and downs with grace and strength and I have no doubt that you will one day reap the benefits from making these changes. Good luck as you move forward and God bless Troy for following his heart to serve as a firefighter! Keep the posts coming, you are awesome!

  57. Totally read the whole post after finding you on pinterest. It was meant to be. My husband was laid off just 3 days ago. You inspire me to make the experience the best that we can. It will be hard but we are all healthy and together. That will be enough. Thank you.

  58. Pretty sure I came across your blog on Pinterest. Annnnnd two hours later, I’m still here! ๐Ÿ™‚ Seriously awesome stuff. Thanks for taking the time to share your story and tips for simple living. Keep going. — Maggie

  59. I, too, found you on Pinterest. I laughed so hard at that first post that I was hooked.

    Thank you for such an honest post and to all those who have commented. I am currently going through the same situation with the hubby being laid off, having health issues, and add to that a crazy daughter’s daddy, a teen-mom step-daughter, and a new grandbaby (grandmom at 30!) with MAJOR health issues. Sometimes I can’t get through my days without crying. Reading your blogs helps to remind me that there are other out there. You are like a soul sister (X-files, knitting, cooking… please move east and become my bestie). Thank you, more than I can say.

  60. I hate to be redundant, but I would have to say the same thing as Maggie. Found you through a link of a link through pintrest and have been here all night. I love your writing style, and you attitude.
    It’s amazing how sometimes the hardest parts of a person’s life can lead to the most amazing things, isn’t it?

  61. I found your blog a couple of months ago via Pinterest (the vicks shower disks maybe?) and I love it. I finally read the “about me” and stumbled onto this post. I love your blog and it’s refreshing honesty, plus your awesome money saving tips.
    My husband and I, since we first got married 12 years ago, have scraped and scrimped. We’ve been buying second hand for years and got rid of the cable before it was cool. Our friends and family think we’re weird, but it has helped us have zero debt (besides our mortgage). I love all of your tips and recipes and inspirations for saving money and they’ve inspired me to re-tighten the belt (again!)

    Thank you!

    By the way, that Cold Case actress’s hair bugs the stink out of me too and Go Cougs!!!!

  62. No, you are totally not alone! Did you know that “necessity is the Mother of invention”? It really is – been there, done that! Thank you for being brave enough to share your hardships. It makes life so much easier to live if you’re not pretentious. Who cares…Only the people that love you, right?

  63. I seriously do believe u r a better person and family for everything u have gone thru! I do remember that as a child when i went to school for the first few years, the kids looked at me differnt, of course i couldnt understand why, until just in the last 5 or so years, first i never knew i was “poor” until the kids told me at school, but in all actuallity they were jealous because i had something they didnt have! I was rich beyond my dreams with a family that loved me and showed me how to live without the material things! What u do is wonderful, love the blog and the “cheap” ideas! Keep ur head up and keep up the wonderful work!

  64. Thank you for posting this blog. I started a blog for the same reasons you have and it is comforting to know that someone else is going through similar hard times with my sense of humor. Thank you for the tips and laughs.

  65. I do not remember how I first found your blog. Over the weekend I found a note where I had written the blog name down and I decided to check it out. I’ve been reading back through your posts and I decided to check out this page. Funny thing is, my husband was just laid off last week. I’m a SAHM, and I’m on my way to becoming very cheap very fast.

    I especially love your meal plans and recipes. I try to serve my family healthy and frugal meals, and I always like finding new ideas.

    Keep up the great posts. I hope you are soon able to realize your dream of full time blogger/SAHM.

  66. I do not remember how I first found your blog. Over the weekend I found a note where I had written the blog name down and I decided to check it out. I’ve been reading back through your posts and I decided to check out this page. Funny thing is, my husband was just laid off last week. I’m a SAHM, and I’m on my way to becoming very cheap very fast.

    I especially love your meal plans and recipes. I try to serve my family healthy and frugal meals, and I always like finding new ideas.

    Keep up the great posts. I hope you are soon able to realize your dream of full time blogger/SAHM.

  67. I’ve just read it and thought how well you have done, as like you I would not post anything so personal. Try having your kind of experience but doing with emigration from UK (where we had loads of money) to Canada (and no money) and feeling so so alone because there is no family close by and those that you have hardly contact you at all. I haven’t read everyone’s comments but I am sure that they are grateful and can relate to you. You go girl as they say over here and as I would say Keep Smiling and Carry On!

  68. Your plant a tree quote if from Martin Luther:
    If I knew the world would perish tomorrow, I would still plant my apple tree today.

  69. You’re amazing. <3 Thanks for sharing,and thank you everbody else that shared their stories, too; it’s so nice to know that we are not alone.

  70. Just found your blog. I think from the blogroll on “A Vintage Green”. Love your writing. Your story is encouraging.

    Don’t stop. Good luck.


  71. Just found a link to your blog on pinterest ๐Ÿ™‚ I am thrilled and enjoying everything. Thank you for being so real. That is by far very refreshing. :)I really enjoy your recipes. I just started a clean eating life style and start a private fitness group on fb and I am always looking for new and exciting ideas/recipes to share with my lovely group of ladies. Just had to share your blog with them tonight. It’s nice to see that we aren’t all alone when life throws us curve balls (or a monkey wrench… seems like that would hurt a lil more than a ball… guess it depends on the day lol) If you ever get some free time, check out my fb page Last year while my hubby was deployed I started pursuing my dream of being an artist ๐Ÿ™‚ I started posting some of my creations. You really inspire me to start a blog about my art! Thanks again ๐Ÿ™‚ Cathy

  72. I just found your blog and this post. I found it very touching and inspiring. I am a thrifty girl myself, although, for now at least, my financial worries are long gone. Thrifty is just a fun, creative, sustainable way of life.

    I certainly will be back to check out your recipes and projects. Your style of life and writing are very inspiring to me. Keep it up! Louison

  73. Hi!
    I just found your blog through Homegrown & Healthy and when I read your About Me section, I laughed and thought “I could see me and this girl being friends in real-life”. I feel like you write (and talk) like me and are in a similar situation. Then I read this page and was convinced – we are very similar! I have a 21-month old son that I refer to daily as a ‘crazy person who I adore to the moon and back, but seriously? have you ever seen something so little with so much energy and spunk?!” Haha. Anyway, we are going through a tough time too (my husband is self-employed and not bringing in as much as he used to and it’s sporatic and my income is low and I’m going on my 2nd unpaid maternity leave in 3 months, so…we have had to get help from both of our parents more times than I would like to acknowledge and I sometimes feel (OK, a lot) like a failure…) and I am so excited to start reading your blog and getting helpful hints and tips from you. Thank you for being honest and real!
    Oh and btw, I too, write a blog, mostly just the “fun, pretty” things that I experience, but I’ve desperately been wanting to be real on there too – now, maybe I will, thanks to you :)Oh and I’ve become a bit “crunchy” since having my son for health/financial reasons and should probably start posting that stuff, as I get a lot of compliments on the things I make, so maybe I will do that too.
    Thanks again and I can’t wait to dive in!
    Bless you and yoru family!

  74. Keep up the good work, Kiddo! I’ve been married 36 years now and believe me, even though we’ve worked pretty steady, things have been more lean than green. We still manage to have fun and, like you, cut back on some things so we can have others. Enjoy life!~~Vera

  75. Hi, found your blog via Pinterest , great blog and my hat goes off you for your strength, determination And ingenuity. I am unable to work for a while due to a major op . Your blog has inspired me so much . Thank you

  76. Thank you for sharing! I really enjoyed this post and having gone (and still going) through some hard times myself, I can empathize with your situation.

  77. loved this post and BTW i read it all lol

  78. you’re such a wonderful an amazing person, thank you for writing this, I’ve read it all as well. Don’t know how I ended up here but you give strength and courageousness with your words and openness. I enjoyed the journey and learned some things with you. Your blog is great and the content is relevant and truthful, thank you so much.

  79. Pingback: Blogging tips. From me to you - Frugal by Choice, Cheap by Necessity

  80. This is exactly what I needed tonight. I am 22 years old and 1 year out of college. I have an amazing job that I love, I make great money, I should be on top of the freaking world- except for that exorbitant amount of student loan debt I’m working with… Money troubles blow but there is SO much more to life. I started my blog to prove it is possible to eat real food on a college sized budget, now that has transitioned into how to eat real food on a smaller than college sized budget, work 50 hours a week, while living at home with your mom and Dorito and hershey’s chocolate syrup loving brother… Not so easy, but totally doable.

  81. I found this blog today and loved this post as I can identify with it so very much. My frugal habits have been noted for years and some of my habits such as making Christmas decorations and almost every preserve we eat are now things others admire instead of mock. I’m with Oscar on this one so while things are good for me right now some of my most character forming years were spent looking at the stars.

  82. I know this is a old post but I wanted to let you know I truly enjoyed it. Especially when finding out you were pregnant and the comment before it! Hahaha
    This resonates with a lot of people I’m sure. We are all in this great big world together and with people like you it shines a little brighter!
    I’m glad I found your blog and am excited to get to know you and follow you. Besides, who can’t love a fellow Washintonian ๐Ÿ™‚
    I haven’t had a lot time to dive into your blog a TON but I hope things are looking up from 2011 and life is blessing you with peace and comfort for all the help you are giving to the rest of the world through this incredible space on the internet:)
    Raynee @

  83. I’ve visited your blog many times, but this was the first time reading your whole story. Very inspirational- thank you for sharing all that you have.