Friday, August 14, 2009

How do you make ends meet?

I never thought it could happen to us but here we are, 8 months and still unemployed. He was laid off Jan. 5th. The day he got back from Christmas vacation he was called into the office and they rang in the New Year by dissolving his department.

How do you do it? How are you making it? I get asked that a lot.

Are we making it? Yes we are! We haven't been kicked out of our house yet, we haven't had the utilities turned off yet, the phone gets turned off every other month or so but that isn't vital to our existence although sometimes it feels like it!

No matter how much we cut back we still need cash. We haven't figured out how to live without it! There are utilities, prescriptions, gas for the car that drives my man around looking for jobs, insurance, property tax, etc. So how do we do it?

Farm Girl's Amazon store and Ebay is one way. I have been going through the house and making hard choices about what we REALLY need and what is just fluff. We had a lot of fluff! I am also listing things for friends that don't really have the time or inclination to sit for hours editing photos, researching prices and creating listings. They provide the merchandise, I do the leg work and they pay me a portion of the profits.

Freshly baked bread sells well and is popular with friends and neighbors. I also make jelly, chutney and preserves. I can all summer in preparation for the November craft fair season. I take jellies, fresh baked breads, cookies, fudge, and fresh eggs. All of my items are priced under $5 so I sell a lot of them.

I sell eggs from our chickens too but after buying chicken food we pretty much break even. At least we get our eggs free and they also provide meat and nice compost!

I do a little sewing here and there and I have been asked to teach classes on canning and preserving, gardening, cooking from scratch and other homemaking skills.

We have yard sales every couple months. Anytime someone I know is getting rid of something I ask if they mind if I take it and if it is okay to put it in a yard sale. I would never sell something someone gave me without asking them first and offering them the money I receive from it. Most people just tell me to keep it. I appreciate having more 'stuff' at my yard sales because it draws more crowds. I don't mind selling for other people at my yard sales as long as they have a set price in mind so they aren't disappointed if I go too low.

I keep my eyes open for rare books when I go to yard sales, goodwill or half price books. I try to keep up to date on what books fetch a good price in home school circles and then keep my eyes peeled. I have purchased books for $1 or $2 at goodwill and turned around and sold them online for $40-$50. Doesn't happen often but when it does it's great!

I coupon when I shop but I only use coupons on items that are already on sale for a good price and I try to only use coupons on things we really need and use. A lot of coupons are for convenience foods or junk food. I cook from scratch and try to stay away from junk food. I don't mind making a cobbler or homemade cookies but that is a far cry from Twinkies or florescent colored sugary goo. I have been known to buy a box of pop tarts occasionally and some easy meal starter mix to have on hand for the kids or the man to make if I am not able to.

I used to subscribe to Grocery Game and it was great. I don't subscribe anymore because after several months I got the hang of it. It is more time consuming to do it myself instead of downloading their easy list but doing it myself saves me $20 every 12 weeks. They have a 4 week trial that costs $1 so I would say try it and learn all you can. Before you sign up for the 4 week trial collect as many coupons from the Sunday paper as you can so you have a good collection. When they provide a list with the weekly sale they tell you which coupon to use on that product and the coupon called for may be one from a few weeks before. So it helps to have several weeks worth of coupons BEFORE your 4 week clock starts ticking.

Those are just a few things I do. What do you do to make ends meet?

Check out YouTube for some thrifty videos.

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