We’ve all been there. For one reason or another, one week you blow your budget (mine was a doctor’s appointment, an X-ray – she’s fine! – and a govt admin mistake which accidentally cut off some of my income.)
It SUCKS. And truth be told it’s taught me some really valuable lessons this week, the most important of which is to appreciate that for me this state is temporary. For many others, it is not.
For the most part we can afford for me to be a stay-at-home mum & live off my husband’s wage. Things are tight, but mostly we do ok. Still there are always the occasional suprises (car breakdown, vet bill, health emergency, school excursions, fines, bill-shock, home repairs, the list is endless!)
So here’s some things – good AND bad – that I learned from my 2 weeks of living on about $40.
1. Being poor can be really humiliating.
This week I had to put back groceries at the checkout, tell my 4yo we couldn’t afford bananas (wtf?!), turn down invitations, and had a friend pick up a bill for coffee (Thankyou Tash!!! xx). It SUCKED. But it happens to everyone. I hope I can return the generosity and patience I was shown when I’m in a better situation!
2. Being poor forces you to be bloody creative!
I made that $40 <<>>. I budgeted each spend down the cent – which was frustrating, but I was quite impressed with how creative I was! I made packed lunches for the kids everywhere we went, took a thermos of coffee to the park, found free kids entertainment, mended holes in the kids tights, made birthday presents, asked a friend if we could pick some oranges off her LOADED tree (“PLEASE TAKE THEM. I’LL GET YOU A BAG!” – woohoo! Free fruit!) and made meals from scratch and what I already had in my pantry!
I made a roast chicken into 3 meals (4 if you include dog scraps!) and all that was left was a tiny pile of bones – use EVERYTHING. Waste as little as possible!
I sew, knit and crochet (thanks Nan x) so I was able to mend some clothes to give them a second go, and make some presents for people. I also whipped up a coat for a friend’s dog, which she paid $20 for! Yippee! Bonus! (“We can buy bananas AND some apples, Katie!”) I also make it a point to try to bring good karma when times are bad – “No one ever went broke by giving” – so I made some pressies and sent some good vibes out into the world. Happy given out, will always make its way back round.
4. Use what you have. Use every last bit.
From using up leftovers, to shopping your pantry and wardrobe, you can usually make do with something you already have.
And so, finally – here is my recipe for “Bill-Payers Chicken” (feeds 4 people for 3 meals. Plus some skin and gristle for 2 slavering mongrels!)
I did it in the slow cooker (Mummy’s best friend!) with some seasoning from my pantry, carrot, cabbage & roasted sweet potato. Yum.
Set aside some chicken breast for sandwiches. Add some mayo, and lettuce if you have any? No? Parsley? No? Celery?
Chicken & corn soup.
This is where you get really creative! You know the liquid in the bottom of your slow cooker after you cook a chook? Don’t chuck it out: It’s perfect stock! If you refrigerate it overnight, you can skim the fat off, then add WHATEVER you have in the fridge vege-wise! Tin of corn? In it goes! 1/4 of a capsicum? Chuck that sucker in! Celery? Yep – leaves and all! Plus I found a near- empty packet of quinoa in my pantry. Sure why not?! 🙂
Serve with toast. Or make some scones (they are easy-peasy! – google it!)
And FINALLY – the most IMPORTANT THING is your health. No use saving a few bucks here and there on heating in a Melbourne cold snap by refusing to turn on any heating. You will just all get sick. Trust me on this. 😛 *cough cough*
It’s not quite over yet, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel now, and pay day’s just around the corner…
Got any good tips you can share?
Here’s to better days ahead.