by Texas Homesteader
OK y’all, yesterday we started a two-part series about surviving in self-employment mode without the benefit of a regularly-scheduled corporate salary infusion on the side. The topics covered were how important pre-planning is before you ever make this independence leap, then adding the steps of recognizing “needs” vs “wants”, paying cash, buying only high quality, researching purchases, finding lower-cost alternatives, repairing instead of replacing things and buying used where possible.
But that post was stretching out so long that I gave y’all a breather yesterday and today we’ll finish up talking about surviving without that corporate paycheck. If you missed yesterday’s post you can read it here. For the rest of us, let’s look into some more ways to break the corporate paycheck shackle so you can follow your dreams, whatever they may be.
GARDEN, HUNT, PRESERVE – DON’T WASTE FOOD :
Food is a necessity for any household and there’s a real potential here to cut the budgetary requirements to provide that food.
We raise free-range chickens for their pest-control benefits in our barn paddock as well as their fresh eggs to lower our grocery bill. And I love my veggie garden and I’m careful to push it to its full productive potential. Then I freeze, can or dehydrate what we can’t eat fresh from that abundance. We enjoy that food during the frigged winter months.
RancherMan is a skilled hunter and he keeps our freezer filled with venison & wild pork. And we enjoy meals cooked from scratch every day. I use cook-once-eat-twice cooking so oftentimes a healthy delicious homemade supper is as close as my freezer. We don’t care for processed food in our pantry, although there are times when it makes sense for us. For me it’s not an all-or-nothing thing, it’s all about moderation.
But cooking from scratch is certainly less expensive, and all of these actions combined do seriously reduce the grocery dollars required to keep us fed with healthy food. Less grocery dollars needed means less monthly income needed. See where I’m going here?
And it’s super important once you’ve provided or purchased that food that it actually gets eaten. That bargain price on pork roast isn’t a bargain if you enjoy it for supper and then the rest of it sits in the fridge until it becomes the growing beginnings of a science fair project! Planned leftovers is a great way to make sure all of that food gets fully utilized.
For instance I’ll take a large pork roast & cook it in our slow-cooker. We’ll enjoy a pork roast dinner, sliced thinly and with a generous ladle of brown gravy and a couple of veggie sides. Then I’ll take the leftover roast and slice it up & freeze it in meal-sized portions right away. (remember above, cook-once, eat-twice?)
But I’ll reserve the smaller chipped-up pieces for dinner tomorrow. When it’s time to begin preparing dinner I’ll take all those small pieces and shred them with a pair of forks and add homemade BBQ sauce and BOOM – pulled-pork sandwiches. Still all homemade but dinner on the table in minutes. Plus we still have several pork roast meals already prepared in the freezer. RancherMan always says “Work smarter, not harder!”
WHEN YOU EAT OUT, LOOK FOR WAYS TO SAVE:
Yes, yes, I can hear you all saying “OK but c’mon, everyone likes to go out to eat every now & then.” You’re absolutely right! Although I almost always cook homemade meals sometimes you just want to go out to eat. And there’s nothing wrong with that!
We like to meet family or friends for a meal & some laughs. But there are ways to save money even then. If we agree on what food we’re in the mood for RancherMan & I often split a meal. Almost always there’s way too much on a plate for one person to eat. Sometimes we’ll order an extra side to round things out. But still the cost is still much less than if we had each gotten an entree of our own.
Of course we could just bring home any leftovers. But that still makes for a pretty high-priced leftovers lunch the next day if your paying more for more food than you wanted in the first place. (remember yesterday’s lesson of not paying for what you didn’t want? In this case, extra food)
Another thing I do is to order water with lemon for my drink. I don’t care for soft drinks. And even though I love homemade sun tea, restaurant tea is not to my liking. It oftentimes tastes stale to me.
RancherMan enjoys coke or tea with his meal but for me it’s water/lemon. And it’s usually free of charge. It may only reduce our meal by one drink (and tax, and tip) but remember yesterday’s lesson about small things adding to larger things? Why pay for a drink I don’t care for in the first place??
Free Restaurant Meals Using Card Rewards Program
Oh and one more thing about eating out. Sometimes we want to go to a more swanky restaurant to celebrate a birthday or an anniversary. We still have a way to enjoy a special dinner out without breaking our budget!
We use our credit card rewards program to get extra-valued gift cards to restaurants we’d like to visit. Since our monthly credit card bill is always paid in full (again yesterday’s lesson about NEVER paying interest) this special-occasion meal out is absolutely FREE!
And if you have the flexibility remember, enjoying a special meal in the middle of the day is almost always less expensive than enjoying that same meal in the evening. So there ya have it! You can still enjoy meals out. But by being mindful of the details you can stay within your budget while having a great time and a great meal.
CUSTOMER REWARDS PROGRAMS :
Be sure to look into any of your customer benefits with your bank, credit card or even insurance company. Above I spoke about us using our credit card rewards program to eat out for free, but there are other customer benefits we enjoy as well through our bank and our insurance company.
Our bank offers a higher interest rate for our checking account if we follow their account rules. This actually ADDS money for our budget each & every month. And as a member of the Texas Farm Bureau, not only do we get a rockin’ rate on our insurance premiums but they offer discounts on other affiliate company services as well. We used their customer reward program to save $500 last year when we bought our car. And that was after we had done our wheelin’ & dealin’ and were ready to sign on the dotted line. Five. HUNDRED. Dollars. Oh yeah!
And we also use their customer rewards program to get not only a special rate for our propane, but also an almost 100% savings of $60 each year for the price of our propane tank rental. Remember yesterday when we learned that recurring expenses need a special look? $60 each and every year is nothing to sneeze at.
I hope by now you’re seeing that these lessons stack onto each other for a more powerful financial impact.
MAKE IT YOURSELF :
Sometimes it seems that we’ve become a nation too complacent in paying others to do things for us. But if you take just a moment to look, so many things are beyond easy to do yourself.
For instance, when you’re in the store looking at that pre-made frozen dinner, take note of what’s included in that dinner and make/freeze it yourself. Look up recipes to make your own pancake or cornbread mix. It’s super easy to make your own granola or yogurt. Have you ever thought about making your own pumpkin puree or even mayonnaise?
It’s all super easy to do, you just have to take that step to make it yourself instead of buying. Start small with one or two things and build your confidence.
RancherMan & I even strive to make homemade Christmas gifts each year. Yes it takes much more time than just buying something at the store. But many years ago we became dismayed over the increasing pressure to buy, buy, BUY each year. We felt the beauty of Christmas was becoming much too focused on spending instead of the real meaning to us – the birth of our savior Jesus Christ and spending time with those we love the most.
So we started making our own Christmas gifts for friends & loved ones because it’s important to us to actually live our values. We want to present a gift that comes from our hearts. One that we put ourselves into.
Oftentimes those gifts are indeed less expensive but it takes much more time to complete. But since we’ve incorporated the lessons I’ve written about for the last two days, we’re not spending our days sitting in that corporate office making the money to drive to the store & buy those presents. We’re afforded the gift of time required for us to complete those gifts from our hearts.
In the past we’ve made homemade scented soaps, venison jerky, home-canned goods, Honeysuckle Jelly, hummingbird feeders with vintage jars found on our property, pear preserves, and many more. And those gifts have all been well received throughout the years. And our gift wrapping? All reusable cloth!
I still get to enjoy the festive colors of our gift wrapping under the tree. And family & friends return them to me so I can reuse them each & every year. An environmental as well as financial win!
BE HAPPY, IT’S NOT A COMPETITION! :
I think one of the major ways we’re able to get by on such little income is the fact that neither of us has the desire to keep up with the Jonses. If our neighbors get a brand new truck we’re happy for them. But it doesn’t immediately make us want to go truck shopping.
If our friends buy a new state-of-the-art mammoth-sized TV we don’t desire to match their purchase with one of our own. We’re very happy with the things we already own – purchases that were carefully considered and purchased because they were high quality and fit our needs perfectly.
And I think being happy with those things you already own goes a long way in keeping your expenses low. Read that line again, it’s important. Be HAPPY with the things you own!
In the end, I think it’s no one big thing that allows us financially to live and work in a place that speaks to our hearts. It’s the commitment to many small things that keeps our monthly income requirement tiny. And it’s important that both of us have the same goal so we work together in attaining it.
By keeping those expenses down we’re finally able to follow our hearts & our dreams. So any small sacrifice we do encounter along the way is certainly worth this amazing and satisfying life we’re living here on the homestead. Although there are still small sacrifices made along the way neither of us feels deprived at all!
How about you? What are your favorite ways to stretch those dollars?
Links In This Post:
- Life Without A Corporate Paycheck – Part One
- Cook-Once-Eat-Twice Method of Cooking
- Take A BITE Out Of Your Grocery Budget
- Slow Cooker Pork Roast
- MYO Smoky BBQ Sauce
- Using Solar Energy To Brew Sun Tea
- 5 Frugal Things: Customer Benefits
- Pancakes – Super Easy Recipe
- Jalapeno Cornbread Baked In Cast Iron
- Homemade Pumpkin Granola
- MYO Yogurt
- Easy Pumpkin Puree
- Homemade Flavored Mayonnaise
- Homemade Christmas Gift Ideas
- Lavender/Rosemary Scented Soap
- Honeysuckle Jelly: Childhood Memories In A Jar
- Homemade Pear Preserves
- Create Less Waste: Gift Wrapping
Other Frugal Tips
- When Financial Times Turn Tough Unexpectedly
- Build Financial Security With Less Effort
- A Financial Hit On The Homestead
- Thriving Financially Without A Corporate Paycheck
- Make Your Slow Cooker More Efficient
- Is Food Past The Expiration Date Safe To Eat?
- Make A Cute Gift Box With A Repurposed Greeting Card
- MYO Minty Mouthwash
- Repurposing Empty Coffee Canisters
- Keep That Broccoli Fresh
- Don’t Waste Onion Trimmings
- Cleaner Vegetable Chopping
- Using Frozen Water Bottles In The Kitchen
- Don’t Waste It – Free Vegetable Broth
- Make A Cute Dish Carrier From Old Jeans
- MYO Crispy Taco Shells CHEAP
- Paper Napkins In A Paperless Kitchen
- Use ALL Of Your Spray Cleaner
- Quick Coffee Stain Cleaning
…and many MORE!
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