Sunday, March 22, 2009

If It Weren't For Bad Luck...

Well, you know the rest. Or, at least you do if you were ever subjected to "Hee-Haw" as a child.

I knew, when I registered for BlogHer '09, and paid the money, and also made a deposit on a hotel room, that I was tempting fate to slap me down. And the slapping has commenced.

Our mower is in the shop, and on the same day we found out what THAT was going to cost us (enough for a new laptop, *sigh*), we lost an entire section of fencing that will have to be repaired and will run another several hundred dollars. Alex lost his keys here at the house somehow, and though a locksmith came and opened his truck, he'll have to have all the keys on his keyring replaced.

Speaking of Alex, he's still really not doing well at all, though he's improved enough that he can make it to work again, which is always a good thing, considering the bills we have to deal with. Bleah. OK, I am not officially boring MYSELF.

What do you do when you need money that you don't have? I'm scrabbling around for things I can sell, and have had some luck there, but there's a long way to go. YES, I had an "emergency fund," but we've already had an emergency this year that depleted that to the point that I've had to start over building it up again little by little. I can't imagine, at this point, paying for the stuff that has to be paid for, and still being able to make the trip to Chicago in July...but I dearly want to.

I have done some interesting bartering and haggling for things we needed lately, and that is turning out to be very rewarding. You don't get cash, usually, but in this economy, you might find that you actually get a higher monetary value in goods and services than you would if you you dealt in cash currency. Some of the things I've sold and/or baterted with or for lately include live turkeys, extra roosters, eggs, seed potatoes, strawberry plants, and fresh raw milk from Guernsey cows which I can't wait to make into cheese.

I'm getting set up to make soap again, because that always brought in a small but steady income. I'm going through Bella's baby clothes and toddler clothes and preschool clothes to pick out things to sell (*sniff*). I'm ruthlessly combing through our storage shed and picking out anything that hasn't been used in the last couple of years, and running straight to Craigslist with it. I'm cutting out XM Radio service (which really hasn't been the same since Sirius bought it out, anyway), eliminating much of our DirecTV bill, stripping down our phone service to bare bones (I really wanted to take us off the LAN line altogether, but our DSL is tied into it, so we wouldn't be saving much).

Magazine subscriptions must go, the few that are left. The daily newspaper that NO ONE HERE EVER SO MUCH AS OPENS is on its way out. I met with much resistance over this last one, because everyone is just in the habit of getting the newspaper, and it seems so uncivilized not to get one...but honestly, we get nearly 100% of our news on the Internet, and we get it instantly instead of waiting another day for the paper to print it. We supplement that coverage with NPR and, well, if I'm honest, The Daily Show.

I'm getting back to my coupon-obsessive roots, though the things we buy now are even further into whole-foods-only dogma than ever before, and we're not buying any bread or cereal or crackers or sugar in any form...but I can still make great strides with coupons by focusing on toiletries and paper goods. We've been coasting off my giant stockpile of free toothpaste and shampoo, for example, for nearly two years, and the supplies are getting low.

I'm becoming a utility-nazi, too. Opening windows, shutting off the A/C, obsessively checking that lights or appliances aren't left on (or, in some cases, even left plugged in). No water wasting!

I'll be planting more veggies and fruits than ever before this year, and storing as much as I can. The strawberry plants are already beginning to flower, and I'm looking forward to about 50 quarts of strawberries being put away during spring and summer, as well as tons of squash, zucchini, tomatoes, garlic, onions, and every herb under the sun. Using gift cards I'd been given for Christmas, I found a FoodSaver on sale through Amazon, and will be getting LOTS of use out of that puppy, by buying large quantities of fresh, organic, grassfed meats and freezing it in portion sizes. Ditto with our own cockerels and at least a couple of turkeys, which will be going to freezer camp as soon as they're well-grown. I'll also buy bushels of whatever produce I can't or don't grow, and freeze it for later use. What I put up last year has really lasted well, and we should be using up the last of that supply just as this year's crop is at its prime. That worked out well!

I happily sell fresh eggs, which for me is kind of neat because it hearkens back to my depression-era ancestors. Back then, to be called an "egg-seller" was pretty insulting, and meant that you were pretty darn desperate. Well, so be it. I've never felt that there was any shame in doing anything that needed doing when it comes to supporting your family. So I'm out there gathering eggs every day. The chickens MORE than pay for their own keep that way, and I've learned that they can even provide a decent profit for us if I sell some of their eggs for hatching, instead of eating.

Speaking of selling poultry products...I'm also selling poultry itself. If anyone is near here and would like a start in chickens, I have a couple of trios of young adult Buff Orpingtons (a trio is two hens and a rooster) for sale at a good price, and also three Tom turkeys who are at prime butchering age, or would just make gorgeous decorations strutting around your place. I also have a few started chicks for sale.

Is there anything I WON'T sell, at this point? Well, not much. So many things around here are in desperate need of repair, and we're only a paycheck or two away from total disaster...which is no way to live. I'll get us back out of it, though. I don't much doubt my ability to do what it takes in that regard.

What about you? What do you do when you must have money, and there just isn't any? How are you cutting corners? How much are you saving? Where is this economy hitting you the hardest?

20 comments:

  1. Hi Stranger! Our lifestyle is very simple so we're not doing much to cut back.
    Soap!! Please let me know if you make it. Do you ever make goat milk soap, or goat milk shampoo? (Please say yes) I've been buying it, but the one I like is from Canada. And if you made it, I'd be a definite permanent buyer. (of course, only if you've got goats!! lol)

    Here's something I thought would be a good self-business, and maybe Alex would be interested. I don't know if you have many foreclosures where you live, but if you do, they're passing new laws that the banks must keep these houses up so they don't bring the value of neighboring houses down & so they don't attract vandals.
    Well, that requires cleaning the front windows, picking up newspapers, trash on property, mowing the lawn & watering it AND if they have a pool, keeping the water blue (that's not hard). If Alex is a self-starter, it's the kind of job where you could call a bank, see if they have any homes they need this done for & work on a house by house basis.
    I'm actually gonna try & call some banks tomorrow to check into this.

    I took my blog down, but am Twittering.

    Take care of all of you.

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  2. Things are a DISASTER here too. 2 people, 1 car, he has 2 part-time jobs, I have no job. We are putting more than 600 miles a week on my car just getting him to work and back. I have applied for more than 25 jobs and have had NO response. No even a "no thank you" letter or e-mail. I have less than $100 in my bank account and a mortgage payment and car payment due May 1st.
    Due to some MAJOR screw up with my former employer, Qual Choice & COBRA, I have NO insurance. My meds are running out. I have been to the ER once and my Dr 3X since Feb 6.
    With all of the night driving (he goes in at 11 pm and gets out at 3:30 or 4 am) I can not take my Seroquel and sleep like I should. I am a BITCH right now. An anxiety ridden, sleep deprived, OCD wacko right now.
    Yeah, it is good times in the Redjade household.
    I have had my one-of-a-kind diamond ring(designed by me)for sale since Halloween. Not even one bite. It will break my heart if I am lucky enough to part with it. But I really need the money.
    We aren't running the heat and so far, no AC. With my asthma and allergies, open windows are not an option right now. I am CONSTANTLY turning off lights and hollering "close that fridge, there's nothing new in there".
    I dropped my landline some time ago. No more newspaper. Basic cable and internet are bundled (but NO premium channels). I have given up my book addiction. Store-brand groceries are the only way. And I will be damned if any produce in this house is allowed to spoil.
    No more sushi & movie Fridays.
    No more trips to Wal-Mart and spending $50 on "stuff".
    I am broke, exhausted, cranky, scared and depressed.
    Obama, bring it on, whatever "it" is. I am running out of patience.

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  3. I forgot to say, Costco has a new brand "Sunrise" of TP and paper towels, they're really cheap, are green friendly & good quality. They're significantly cheaper than the other products.

    Mandy, have you tried freecycle.org? People give away things on there, you may find something you can use.

    It's interesting how we all keep quiet & suffer in silence. This is a good topic, Belinda.

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  4. B~~~ When I was faced with " Come up with 3000 for Sadie's LCP surgery immediately", I literally sold just about anything that we didn't use. I was ruthless.

    I also took on a part-time job on top of my full-time one, and cashed in savings bonds. It was an ugly time, but somehow, we got through it.

    I hope things start to look a little brighter for you and Alex.

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  5. I wish we lived closer - I would surely take some strawberries and eggs off your hands every week!

    As someone not too far from her subsistence living roots, I admire your resourcefulness. I'll be following this topic to see what others have to say.

    Hang in there.

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  6. Hi Belinda, I sure am sorry you are going through this. It sounds as though you have hit on all the key things I would have gone to reduce costs. On the utility nazi front, I made an obsessive habit of unplugging *all* appliances starting last summer, and my electric bill was cut in half. Yes, you read that right. Seriously. When you need em, plug em in, and unplug ASAP afterwards. I am thinking VOIP to reduce the ridickerous landline charges for something I barely use, and madly recycle gifts if I can't use them. The annual health club membership got the heave ho when I analyzed that each time I used it I paid the equivalent of $40, and now I am on a pay-per-visit use that works out to $12. I have been fighting my health insurance company valiantly to get my recent surgical bills covered at a higher % (and it's working!) and thinking of taking in the odd dog for grooming if someone asks me to. If you want to save cash this summer at BlogHer, you are more than welcome to stay at my home, which is a 45 min train ride away.

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  7. I feel your pain, Belinda. It sounds as if raining and pouring, and that can really bite when the economy is as it is. The prices in the stores are going up, but the sales are better, so what to do? As you said, get back to coupons!

    I found some good sites online with free samples, and I found some organic/health food printable coupons that are pretty good (go here: http://www.mambosprouts.com ). Most major health food companies (such as Stonyfield and Organic Valley) have great $1.00 or more coupons on their sites. That really knocks organics to a manageable price.

    There is also a site called Coupon Cabin that has a huge rundown of printable coupons for just about everything and everywhere. Go here: http://www.couponcabin.com/index.htm

    Hope that helps!

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  8. I, too, wish I lived closer and could partake of fresh laid eggs.

    I don't know how profitable it is, but you can list some of your photographs on stock images sites (like istockphoto.com) and you get paid a fee when someone uses your image/graphic (I think you earn 20 cents per download). People seem to love your Flickr images and they're always being stolen. Maybe it's time for you to cash in on it! Or finally start LOLfarm with just your farm family images/captions (poodles, shickens, etc.). :)

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  9. I love how every woman (no offense to the fellas, but they have not chimed in yet) has ideas on this topic--ideas that will actually bring results if implemented.

    You know, for nearly my whole life, I thought that the phrase "butter and egg money" just meant money that a housewife held aside for a rainy day or a special occasion--money that was meant to buy butter and eggs, that she'd been "skimming" off of...it never dawned on me until very recently that it was actually the money that the farm wife could earn by selling some of the eggs she gathered and the butter she churned, to supplement her family's income. It's a little trickier when both parties work away from the home, but workable, at least a little.

    If I had a network of friends like this who were all geographically convenient, we'd probably be helping each other out a lot, trading not only goods but services. I wonder how we could make something like that work within our online communities?

    And yes, WHAT'S UP, JAPANASPAM????

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  10. It may not be convenient to your farm life but a library card saved me an arseload of cash on entertainment.

    I wish I was close enough to buy eggs. I could clean you out - we seem to use a lot of them at our house since I started baking my own bread.

    Hey! How about you learn to make something WITH the eggs that you can sell? Hmmmmm....

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  11. Sounds like you're already doing a lot! I've just been stocking my pantry, spending as little as possible and squirreling away as much as I can that way. Even so, in the back of my mind I always know that it might not be enough... All of us are walking through a minefield in this economy.

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  12. Belinda,
    we live in central AR and are interested in chickens--Please contact my daughter at roselissa@sbcglobal.net Thanks!

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  13. Belinda:
    We live in central AR and are interested in acquiring chickens! Please contact my daughter at roselissa@sbcglobal.net

    ReplyDelete
  14. I am still working to get by, but mainly because I have used my CC to keep things under control. I am cutting my land line and my AOL account, which actually gives me enough to go wireless through AT&T for my laptop.

    I am going to start some vegetables when I get back from PCA as I don't think they will survive the two weeks I am gone. My garage is full of collectible stuff that I am slowly listing on Ebay for some extra income. I have also groomed some friends dogs on the side.

    It has basically helped me keep up my training and I am still able to go to a show once a month. Oh, I also groom my trainers Poodles for my lessons, so that works. I am also going to try using my regular blog to advertise some pictures and see if I can sell any.

    I am still working on the saving and buying discount part:o)

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  15. For us, the dollar sucking wang has not been great. I have been waffling about taking a job at Starbucks part-time, so I can pay for my Starbucks? I dunno. Since our boiler hasn't been working, none of us have been bathing for a month. I exaggerate, but honestly. We also hang or dry all our clothes, the dryer is rarely used. So, we are smelly, with eco-friendly dry clothes. ha!

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  16. Just checking up on you. Please make sure you go to Blogher. As time goes on you'll find that every time you make arrangements to do something for YOU, an emergency of some sort will come up. Make Blogher a priority for you right now ~ you need this, the support & energy.

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  17. I have a tremendous amount of admiration for you. :) Just so you know. TREMENDOUS.

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  18. Hi Belinda! I have also tried to find ways to cut the energy bills that seem to keep rising.

    I hang my laundry in the house on a line strung across the small family room with our woodstove in it. It dries quickly and add humidity to the house in the winter. The rest of the year I hang clothes out on the line on our deck.

    I am trying to not turn lights on except at night. We have skylights in the living room, kitchen, my office, and a bathroom, so it is not all that hard. I try to get my pay job done before it gets too hot in the afternoon so that I can shut the skylight in that room

    We turn only one light on in the living room at night.

    I switched from warm/cold washing of laundry to cold/cold.

    Sadly I have switched from organic-raised meats to regular store bought meat but am careful where I buy it. I do not compromise on eggs and do pay $4+ for organic eggs a dozen.

    I need to call our insurance company and argue with the about the rate of our car insurance. Working at home, I rarely go anywhere and only drive my car 2,000 miles in a year at most!

    I have switched to cloth napkins instead of continuing to buy paper napkins. I found a good buy for 3 dozen napkins on ebay. I bought a bag of rags on sale and use those in the kitchen instead of paper towels.

    Toilet paper? Well, haven't found a substitute for that yet. :-)

    I need to clean house of all the unused things we have laying around here and find what might be worth money!

    So, far we are doing okay but Joe's office has cut back overtime and that just sends up a little warning flag that things are slowing down and many engineering firms have shut their doors. My job has been terribly slow in the last six weeks, so I made the decision to go back to the job I used to work (still at home) where they have plenty of work. The account platform is not as nice but at least it should be a steady income.

    I am trying not to be so free with my credit cards and ask myself "do I really need this?" before I buy something.

    Hope things start looking up in the money end of things for you. I always love seeing your photos.

    Barb

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