So, it's one thing to "know" that you are poor, but quite another to start living that way.
I am not sure when I became Entitled to 200+ channels and the ability to record live television, but now it seems downright cruel to be forced to live any other way.
Big Kid is in shock, constantly questioning the poor picture quality of basic cable, and stunned by the inability to pause live television. I have heard the words "But how do we not eben hab Playhouse Disney? Let's dest check again" more times than I can count.
Yeah, yeah, it's minor, and some people don't even have t.v., but the first small slap of reality does sting a bit.
Luckily, Mr. Ashley has lots of "side job" type of opportunities. His friend is taking him on to remodel a nursing home a few days a week (the guy that can't hang up my pictures...remodeling a nursing home), he worked on some cars down at his Uncle's shop the other day (he was a mechanic in his former life), and Girl Crush's husband may have a lead on a night job for him. It's hard to get excited about a days' worth of work that brings in as much pay as a former hour's worth of work, but we are so lucky to have good friends that can offer these opportunities.
We have also talked about me getting a night job. The very thought of such a thing makes me want to slit my own throat. I know, I know, pride and sloth will be my downfall, but there is an adjustment period to this new way of life, and unfortunately that adjustment period makes me want to gouge my eyeballs out with a corkscrew. Would I get disability or social security or something if I had gouged eyeballs?
I am also unsure of myself for the first time ever. Remember, I am a Planner. I have worked hard, and my poor little brain ran on OVERTIME accumulating different licenses and experience, setting up limited liability corporations, networking with the whole real estate world, always having a plan for the Next Big Thing and an idea of what the future would hold.
We've discussed it before, but it's still a big shock to me that all my planning is good for nothing (at least at this stage in the game) and I'm back to square one and not really sure what to do with myself. Call me a snot (go ahead, do it) but I feel too skilled, too talented, too knowledgeable and too creative to be stocking the shelves at Borders. (But I could use the discount, now that I've gone and screwed myself with the library.)
I'm trying not to wallow. I am still better off than most of the rest of the world, and I guess it was all fun while it lasted. I do have A Plan, and I will share it with you now because I will feel better putting it on paper (yet again) and forcing you all to read it:
-Canceled phone service and switched to Vonage. I don't know why we didn't do this before. Our phone line has always sucked, and there is always a loud buzzing. Now I pay $60 less a month and the buzzing was instantly gone. Win/win.
-Canceled DirectTV (and then got struck by lightning). I'm mad at those bastards anyway, and somehow the guy that installed our cable internet line made it so we get cable television for free. He knows he did it, he even strongly hinted to us that he did it when he told us it couldn't be hooked up the normal way. He works for the cable company, so I think I'm morally okay on this free cable deal.
-Switched to the cheapest cell phone plans. It really just doesn't make sense to have a text message plan for someone who doesn't even know where her cell phone is, and who cannot text message to save her life. The last text message I sent said "ppppppppp", an SOS of sorts, which didn't even get where it was supposed to go. So we don't need the fancy cell plan, Mr. Ashley can live without texting and 900 bajillion minutes.
-Parking the SUV. I'd rather not go anywhere anyway, so this works for me. Mr. Ashley has been driving the PT Cruiser which gets WAY better gas mileage anyway. If for some reason I need to leave the house, I'll take the cruiser.
-Canceling our health insurance. Yeah, this one makes my stomach hurt. Really bad. But there is just no other option, it's astronomically expensive and we just cannot do it anymore. We're going to look into a medical savings account, and maybe next year the kids will qualify for state insurance. I was also thinking of trying to wean myself off of Effexor (toxic, heroin-like, completely soul numbing drug that it is) but I'm thinking now is not the time for that. One of the ladies on the bargain board gave me an application that might enable me to get it for free, otherwise I will throw myself at my doctor's mercy and beg her for samples. I've cried in front of her before, I'm not afraid to do it again for the sake of chemical balance.
-MAJOR grocery bill reduction. We actually just called about getting a box of food from Angel Food Ministries. It's not just for poor people, it's a great value, and the bargain board is always raving about it. There is some joking between Mr. Ashley and I about our "welfare" food, but there are only so many "breakfasts for dinner" or hot dogs one can have before things start to look dismal.
We are also using way less of everything. I am more conscious of the line on the detergent cup, I only fill one of the spaces in the dishwasher with soap, I use less coffee, water down juice, use cloth napkins and rags more often, etc. I even made baby wipes out of paper towels because we were out, and you know what? It's not that bad.
We also buy only what we need, and usually in bulk. At Costco I've been getting those restaurant sized cans of sliced peaches and fruit cocktail for $4 and pouring them into tupperware. One of those ginormous cans lasts us for about a month and the kids love it.
-Get back on potty training. When little kid's interest faded, so did mine, because I'm sick of fighting with him about bathroom usage and cleaning up poop. But diapers are expensive and it is the inevitable, so it's time to get back on the pot.
-Turned off 1-click ordering on Amazon. Go ahead and laugh, but it was a problem. I have a Prime account, which means I don't have to pay for shipping, and I really really really love ordering shit and having it here two days later with the click of one button. I am already going through MAJOR book withdrawals, because I'm not happy with the book I have left to read, but I will be finding a cheaper way to get books. These cheaper ways include Goodwill, my grandpa's clubhouse's reading library (they don't know about me yet), my local friends, garage sales, etc. Yes, this means I won't be able to indulge every fascination that strikes my fancy, and it means doing my "themed reading" that I enjoy so much will be difficult, if not impossible, but I will survive. As long as I can read.
-Do all of the free photography marketing that I can think of, and hound people to buy more of their photos. Also, stop giving away so much...I'm too nice.
-Sell kick ass Phil & Ted stroller and some other high end stuff I no longer need on Craigslist.
That's all I can think of for now. Do any of you have any great money saving tips? Do share, lots of us closet dwellers are in need.
My New Future Plan (aka things I vow to do differently):
1. As soon as humanly possible, sell everything and migrate to a lower cost of living area, probably in a country-like setting with a family of goats, a horse, and some chickens. (This will take a while, but it will be my dream until then.)
2. Pay cash for everything.
3. Have less. Appreciate more.
So basically, the complete opposite from the Plan of 10 Years Ago. All of this Stuff isn't worth it. At least I figured it out while I'm young and at least there is still plenty of time for new plans.
It will be fine. I'll think of it as An Adventure. An Experiment in Poverty and a Lesson in Simplifying. Yeah, maybe it will even be fun!
Things are going to be just fine.