Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Being Broke

Ever since I recovered from the credit-happy days of my ex-marriage I've been thrifty. It took me 9 years (almost to the day!) to recover from the humungous debt hole we dug, and I have no intention of going back.

But now I have two kids (6 months and 3 1/2) and after trying to work a "real" job with my first and having some bad daycare experiences I'm doing the stay-home mom thing. My husband is working his backside off to keep us comfortable, but times are tough and we're usually skating the thin edge of broke.

Unfortunately, we're in that awkward income bracket where we could use a little help but we don't qualify for much. I'm not shy about using public assistance; I figure I've paid into the system since I was 16 and I have no intention on using it any longer than I have to. We don't qualify for a lot, but I use every bit of what we get.

Meanwhile, I feel like I'm reinventing Home Economics. Not what I learned in school, how to make Egg Foo Yung and peg my own jeans, but real home economics: how to feed my family interesting and nutritious meals on $20 a week; how to darn socks 'cause that hole's not that big; how to make sure we can afford pre-school in six months for Kiddo; how to pay for emergencies like auto repair without running our debt back into oblivion.

We have some advantages: we own a condo (far too small for us now but cheaper than renting and the note is small). We have a new car (the world's most economical econo-box) the loan is under $10k and our good credit got us a great rate and low payments. We're only about $5k in "other" debt and we've moved it all to a 0% for one year credit card. We live in Alaska and receive the Permanent Fund Dividend (which will be used to knock some debt down this year). I qualified for Denali Kid Care while I was pregnant, so Baby is automatically qualified until 1 year old and we were able to get Kiddo on it this year too. Kid Care qualified us for WIC, which qualified us for TEFAP.

So part of my job as the stay-home mom (did you know experts have calculated the value of a stay-home mom as over $160k a year?) is to pinch those pennies until they squeak. I do this where I can: clothing, grocery, electricity, entertainment. Every penny counts.

I'm astounded what I've been able to do. A lot of this blog will be my thrifty ideas, ways I've stretched the budget, recipes I've found to make something out of nothing. I hope someone out there finds my experiences useful.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is my sister. Her advicce has saved me soooo many dollars. Her advise works for people with familliea and for single folks as well. I'm a retired concert dancer seeking a new career, I don't know what I want to be when I grow up, uh-huh. You never know when northern red-necks advice will be beneficial.


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