Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Making it On One Income

Last updated 2/7/10.

We went to one income in 2001, so I had to become very frugal. I've been off the retail grid for about five years now. We buy almost all our clothes at thrifts or yard sales for between .50 cents and $4.99 a piece. One thrift store prices their clothing at .50 cents, and another prices items from .99 cents to around $4.99. I draw the line at purchasing underwear at the thrifts, unless of course it's new in a package. I also don't buy shoes for myself at the thrift, but I have purchased like new shoes off ebay. For some reason the ebay shoes seem cleaner. I'm sure I could get toe fungus from both, so just to be safe, I spray the shoes with a disinfectant.

We work at cutting costs with food and household cleaning items as well. We shop discount stores where I buy mostly off brand/store brand items(least expensive), and I get multiple coupons from ebay for anything that is brand name. I do buy some brand name items because I'm trying to avoid trans fat, artificial ingredients, high fructose corn syrup, and other unhealthy ingredients in our food. Sometimes that requires spending a little more for convenience foods.

We cook mostly from scratch which is healthier and less expensive. I rely on the cookbook, More With less, by Doris Longacre(on my sidebar)and allrecipes ingredient search for use-it-up recipes. Our breakfasts are usually scrambled eggs, toast(homemade bread) or honey-cinnamon oatmeal from scratch. We tend to eat dinner leftovers for lunch, or just bread, cheese, and fruit. Most nights we eat simple casserole dinners.

The adults don't snack, but we buy crackers for my daughter. I'll make the children bar cookies or some sweet bread a few times a month.

We are trying to cut out the diet sodas, and just drink water. I've got a Brita filtered jug, so we don't need to buy bottled water. I drink a little orange juice in the morning. Ds likes to drink apple juice at lunch. We do go through a lot of milk with the children. Most of the powdered milk which is readily available for sale in our area is not whole milk, so we couldn't give it to the children anyway. I do use the powdered milk for cooking.


We use the super inexpensive Sun brand detergent sold in the giant plastic pails, and manage to have very clean clothes. I use a laundry booster for stains every once in a while - Sun brand oxyclean.

Dollar stores are my favorite place for household cleaning supplies, toothbrushes, and shampoo. Family Dollar and Dollar General often have good deals as well.

I like to use the thrifts for furniture, appliances when possible, and decorative items. French Country and Shabby decorating styles lend themselves well to thrifted older worn items, especially if they can be repainted or touched up.

What we can't buy we make. We copied the style of a rough wood shelf system which we purchased at Lowe's, and made an entertainment center for the children's playroom(our den). It's not beautiful, but very sturdy, and I designed rolling toy bins underneath the shelves.

We buy most of our toys, books and baby items at the thrift, yard sales, and via freecycle.com or craigslist.com.

We made do with less when it comes to electronics. We have one cell phone(pre-paid, no service contract) which we use minimally. I have a cheapy dial-up service which works fine for me. I use Juno.com and pay $8.95 a month. We have basic phone service - no call waiting or other extras. We have an economical Brother HL 5150 Laser Printer, a scanner and an inexpensive computer. We have older medium sized televisions, some very old VHS tape players for the children's tapes, and inexpensive DVD players.

I really enjoy gardening, or at least having nice landscaping. It's so hot here in the summer, and I really have limited time and money, so we designed a garden which was almost self sufficient. I planted perennials which don't need extra watering. We got rid of half the front lawn and replaced it with a curvy bed of free wood chips courtesy of a friendly tree cutting company. I planted a variety of evergreen bushes and azaleas. We did the same in the backyards which is very shady, but planted mostly native shade perennials.

Instead of store bought fertilizer, we use a mulching mower all year round, and add free coffee grounds from Starbucks. I don't bag anything, everything is returned to the earth, which rots down into natural fertilizer. I planted some fruit trees two years ago, but no fruit yet. We also have a small vegetable garden.


Some other things I do to save money:

- Make use of plastic containers to save on wrap.

- Recycle junk mail for the printer(use the blank side of letters).

- Use the city recreation centers for activities.

- Use the library.

- Purchase yearly passes for cultural and educational centers.

- Use parks and other free community resources.

- Remember to use our membership discounts, like AAA.

- Take advantage of credit card points(great deal if you pay off your entire balance every month).

- Use Mypoints, Swagbucks, and other shop/click websites to earn gift certificates and discounts.

- Limit going out to eat to once a month at an inexpensive restaurant.

- Repair things ourselves, DIY projects.

- Cut our own hair.

- Do my own pedicure and facials.

We also use cloth napkins and microfiber towels for clean ups. Microfiber towels can be purchased very inexpensively in large bags from store automotive sections.

We completed a kitchen and bath remodel shortly after moving into our home. We saved quite a bit by giving mostly a face lift to a kitchen and bathroom.


More ways we save.

7 comments:

Anna said...

I use Awesome Oxygen base cleaner. Bought for $1 at the Dollar Tree. You use 1 of their little scoops for each gallon of warm water. I keep a bucket going using my old plastic detergent bucket that has a lid. I mix 2 gallons worth and soak any whites then when they are done I put in the darker things ending up with the darkest till it is too dirty to keep. I don't know if it beats your Sun brand price wise, but it Really works for me. It has gotten out stains on old tableclothes and baby things NOTHING else did. I don't use it in the actual wash load just as a soaker for extra stains. One $1 20 oz container has lasted me over a year so far, and is mostly full. I love your blog and many ideas. I wish I knew more woman around here to share ideas with. That is the beauty of the internet. I am too a 1 income homemaker{was when children were little and now that they are grown}..but am a one of a kind almost around here. Thanks again.I found you on Homeliving comments.

Alexandra said...

Thanks for visiting! I'll have to look for that at the Dollar Tree and compare.

Karen said...

We aren't able to get to thrift stores much, but we do buy at yard sales and we always make an offer! Like if there are some clothing items we can really use, we'll say, "How much for the whole bag?" or, "How much for all those maternity clothes?" They're almost always more than happy to haggle. Especially if you go in the afternoon when it's hot and they just want to get rid of stuff!

We don't buy shoes used unless they are totally washable. Most of the time you can find shoes out of season on clearance VERY cheap. It's hard when buying for kids, but I've worn the same shoe size since I was 14, so it's easy to plan ahead. My best deal was a pair of new sandals for .75 cents at Meijer. I also bought snow boots for my eldest for $5.00. So what if I got them in April lol!

I buy almost all our clothes on clearance end of season. I just got some turtlenecks for $1.25 a piece for my girls, and I stocked up on summer dresses last October.

We also buy less and *try* to cook from scratch...it just takes so long with a toddler underfoot it's hard!

Anonymous said...

We too live on one income and do many of the things you have talked about, but here's one you may or may not know about, Angel Food Ministries, you can look into on the net, no applications or qualifications or limits. We order through our church but you can check online to see whats near you. http://www.angelfoodministries.com/ Hope this helps your family too!

Isabel said...

Hey There
I came from a family of big spenders. I remember how I would shreek if someone knew I wasn't buying department store items or name brand merchandise. Everything I had was top of the line, the newest, latest, greatest, I was "the Jone's" of my neighborhood... then I had kids!!!
I am now a stay at home mommy of two beatiful little girls. My poor husband works doubles on the night shift and I have been learning to "cutt back" on almost everything. I've become my very own personal hair salon, cutting my hubby's hair as well as my own, I do recycle everything into kiddie toys (they like them better than store bought ones anyhow!) and to tame the shopoholic in me I stopped buying things from catalogs like Mary Kay, Pampered Chef, ParyLite, Princess House ect... I admit; I am doing much better with spending wisely (thanks ebay!) however there is always room for improvement, so thanks for sharing your ideas with us! It's nice to know that there is somebody out there who will give this "Reformed Jones" some great tips on how to beat the spending giant.

Kerry said...

Love your blog! I too am a wife of a firefighter with 3 kids and we too live on a very tight budget. I make up some money by babysitting, but I started blogging too to share my tips with people as well! Love the information!! Thanks for sharing!

Alexandra said...

You are very welcome. :)