Affording to stay home. 

Recently a comment was made to my husband that really raised the hair on his hide. Someone said, “I don’t understand how you can afford the life you have with your wife not working.” To my husband it was an insult, to me I just think the person who said this truly doesn’t understand how we do it. 
There was a time in my life that a comment would have really chapped my hide. I would have felt offended. But at this point in my life I realize people really don’t get it and these comments are made out of ignorance and true genuine curiosity! So here’s a peek into how we run things on a tight budget at the HK! 

  1. We Save energy and resources where we can. We hang our clothes on the line when it’s nice instead of using the dryer. We take short showers and the little girls sometimes share a bath to reduce water use. We do not keep our house especially cool in the summer generally 80 degrees f. Same thing in the winter, the house we generally Keep about 60 degrees f. We use less gas and electricity this way. We also have invested in buying high efficiency units such as washer/dryer/furnace/ac unit. 

2.  We eat at home (usually). We do eat out as a family about once a week as a treat. But if the money is just not there in the budget at the time….then we don’t! I make a meal plan and stick to it. It’s not formal, just a quick jot on a post it to keep me on track. We are also blessed that we can raise much of our own food right here on the HK. We usually butcher one cow a year, sometimes a hog or two, usually a couple dozen chickens. So we have our meat right here in the freezer. We don’t have the extra store cost of the meat. We just pay to raise them and process the animal, which is a resource we HAVE and we USE! Also when I’m shopping I go with a set amount of money. Generally about $60/week. I buy the very basics and make what I can at home. As a stay at home parent I have the time to bake bread and actually prepare meals. I shop the sale ads and frequently at Aldis. We rarely buy pop, chips, snack cakes, ice cream etc. it’s just too expensive usually! 

3. We curb our entertainment costs. We are very heavy users of our public library and it’s resources! Our children attend many of the programs which are generally free, and of course check out loads of books and videos. 

We also spend a ton of time outside in our own backyard! We go on nature walks, have picnics, and grand adventures. It’s free since we already have it! And it makes my children entertain themselves! I see thier imaginations grow while they are pretending ! 

Along with playing outside and enjoying our own space, we spend a great amount of time enjoying our animals. We all enjoy riding horses, walking our dogs, and just helping with thier general care.​ 

We don’t buy all the new movies we want to, we don’t have internet to pay for….we don’t even have a computer…. But hey we do have satellite! 

4. Wardrobes are bought second hand, passed down, or bought on sale. There really isn’t much more to tell other than that. I also dont buy massive amounts of clothes. We all have probably two weeks worth of outfits each. Cuts down on the need for storage space as well as I have to keep up with our laundry. Plus we all really get our wear out of our clothes, nothing is left in the back of the closet forgotten because there are just too many clothes to wear. 

5. My husband works two jobs. I am very blessed that my husband is willing to work such long hours to financially provide for our family. This is a huge sacrifice on his part as he is often tired, misses out on having his own time, and being home to see all of the girls activities. I also work prn as a nurse when my husband is available to watch our girls (no daycare costs this way). 

6. If we don’t have the money to pay outright…..it usually doesn’t happen. We both drive  older vehicles that are payed for. The one vehicle we do have a loan on we made sure was the only payment we had (i.e. We have no credit card bills, no other loans other than our farm loan) committed to. Any improvements to our house or big purchases we make are planned and saved for. Period. Basically we know what our expenses will be each month and we anticipate for them. If we don’t have the money to spend then we just don’t. There have been several times I’ve wanted something new and had to just say to myself, it’s just not in the budget right now, let’s plan, save and wait. It’s very difficult at times. 

These are a few of the top ways we cut costs. It is very difficult to stick to it at times. Of course it would be easier to throw those clothes in the dryer or order a pizza because I just don’t feel like cooking….but it’s also more expensive! Of course there are times I wish I had top of the line wardrobe with tons of pretty clothes, but it just doesn’t make financial sense with our budget. Of course there are times we fail miserably! We aren’t perfect! But at the end of the day we don’t rely on anyone else to pay or even help us with our expenses, and we have earned everything we have by working hard and saving. 


Avoiding Financial Disaster; Financial Planning

Have you ever had a moment hit you so hard you knew you would remember it for years to come?

I had a moment like this a few days ago that made me re evaluate my financial future. It was a normal weekday here on the HK Bar. I was cooking breakfast, the kids were running around, and my husband sat at the kitchen table talking to me as I cooked. He was just home from his first job that he works from about 3 a.m. till about 9 a.m. and he was telling me he ran into someone we both knew. (We will call him Rick for anonymity). He said Rick has battled cancer three times in the past year. Rick was forced to sell his lucrative business, deplete his life savings, and sell his farm and almost all of his assets to pay his medical bills and living expenses. He had no insurance. He had no plan. And now he has no plan and no money, and a pile of debt. He is over fifty years old and is starting over at an entry level job for another company. He made the impressionable comment to my husband,

“I never saw my life turning out this way. I never even saw it coming.”

It is this statement alone that sucked the air from my lungs and made me re evaluate my own financial position.

I don’t want to be blind sided like Rick. I want to have a plan. Of course life is always uncertain, but why not try and cushion the blow a bit?

Anyone that knows me well, knows I mean serious business about my finances. We aren’t a family that is well off. My husband works three jobs usually, I work part time and also run our household and do jobs on the side when I am able. We don’t have brand new fancy things, but what we do have is payed for, well taken care of, and within our means financially.

Here are a few things I considered for my own financial future.

1. Save. Start saving, keep saving, and stick to your goals. Even if you only save a dollar a week, you are saving. Something is always better than nothing!

2. Know your retirement needs. According to the U.S. department of labor you will need at least 70% of your pre retirement income to maintain your current standard of living.

3. 401 K. If your work offers it. Sign up! Alot of times companies will have incentives that they will match what you put in up to a certain percentage. (That’s free money folks!) Its also automatically deducted, so less effort and its done. Compound interest and tax deferrals make a big difference in the amount you save!

4. Have health insurance. You never know when some major medical incident will happen. A car accident, a stroke, cancer. Anything major medical equates to big bucks.

5. Avoid debt. Don’t need it? Don’t buy it. Simple.

6. Emergency fund.  No matter what your income you should always have an emergency cash fund. Something you can get to easily. For those occasions like the car breaks down, furnace goes out, etc.

Of course I am no financial expert, but these are all things I put into perspective. I hope they help someone out there avoid a financial disaster. Or even just inspire thought about thier own financial situation and future.


When Even the Free Stuff is Too Expensive

Many of you know my brother and I were raised by a single mother. She worked long hours and also ran her farm successfully. But I know it wasn’t easy financially. It was actually probably a financial nightmare for my mom. But she ALWAYS payed her bills and truth be told, I didn’t realize we didn’t have much money. I had horses and dogs and 80 acres I ran wildly on. I actually remember feeling sorry for the kids that lived in town. Sure they had new sneakers and thier clothes weren’t bought second hand, they went to movies and the swimming pool, they had the latest cool toys, and thier parents drove a car that had air conditioning; but somehow I still felt like I was the lucky kid.

I also remember we only went to town ( it was less than 10 miles from the farm) once a week because we needed to save money on gas. And while at a friends house I was appalled that a special trip to town was made to go get a candy bar and a coke from the gas station. Why drive to town just for that!? I just didn’t understand.

Growing up there were several instances that I began to see the difference in how my mom spent her money (or didn’t) and how other people spent thier money. My mom was always very frugal and sensible. She did however allow for some extravagances like our horses. They were expensive and not especially a need. We also had several dogs at a time, usually four or five. But that was our entertainment.

Now I find myself at 29, and a mother of my three girls Boo, 5, Owl, 2, and Bunny , 1. Unlike my mom who was a single mother, I have a wonderful, hard working husband, but we still struggle financially. I have a better understanding of what my mom faced now that I have these responsibilities.

My oldest daughter, Boo, asked if we could go to the library. I thought in my head;
Do we need anything in town? We really need to save the gas in the suburban. We don’t really have the money to make a special trip to the library when we don’t have anything else to do while we are there.
I told Boo that “No, not today. We aren’t going to spend the money and make a special trip to town, but we can go Wednesday on grocery day.”

She said, “Mom, the library is free! Even the free stuff is too expensive?”

I took the opportunity to remind  her that gas isn’t free. And that it would be a better idea to wait until we had to go to town for several errands.

She smiled and said, “Okay, can I go brush the horses?”

This is the moment I realize I AM MY MOTHER! GASP! But in this case, I’m proud. I am teaching my girls that everything has a cost. I’m teaching my girls to be frugal and delay gratification. I’m teaching them to be happy and content with what they have. I’m teaching them a few extravagances are OK, but within reason. Im teaching them life skills and how to have e a healthy relationship with money and expenses.

I hope someday they look back and feel like I did, that they were the lucky kid.