A Big (And Scary) Life-Changing Decision - Married to the South - The Dixon Kitchen Blog at Allrecipes.com - 316521

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A Big (and scary) Life-Changing Decision 
Dec. 1, 2013 12:00 pm 
Updated: Dec. 5, 2013 8:48 pm
Happy Sunday All!

   I deleted all my old blog posts to mark this change to a new chapter in life. It seemed like a logical move... out with the old, in with the new.

   This weekend my husband and I decided he should quit his full-time job and our family of five live off one income. It is not an easy thought going from a two-income household to half of what we are used to bringing in, but there is something very exciting about making this work. Cutting out unnecessary luxuries, finding deals, and mostly cutting food costs. The idea of keeping stock of what we have, shopping wisely, and smart meal planning for whatever reason is quite appealing to me!

   Why make this move? As it usually is, that is a complex question. It started with his vehicle breaking down and the realization that putting more money into it at this point is spending more than it is worth. There is also the issue of non-ethical practices within the company that he works for; they are basically screwing him over, for a lack of a better phrase. Enough is just enough. Plus, we felt the benefit of having him home for the children, house chores, gardening/homesteading, and several carpentry projects we've been wanting to tackle is definitely a major asset for the family.

   We've lived on one income in the past, when he was laid off during the economic crisis in 2008. We made it for two years, scraping by on as little as possible, so we have the skill set to survive. However, that wasn't exactly a choice then and this go 'round I'd like to live more than survive. I love to fully enjoy life. Love food. Adore cooking deliciousness. Of course, we're a little older and a little wiser, so I am hopeful we can achieve the life we are after on a limited budget.

   To start this journey, I took stock of what we have on hand. I am certain we only need to invest $20 this week in groceries and still have plenty of meals to go into the next week. I have Christmas funds already put back thankfully, so that will not impact our transition. I already buy meats and a lot of other item in mark-down, use coupons for the few brand name items we use, and tap into local sales. What I am learning to do now is utilizing everything to the fullest. For example, we compost so in the past all my fruit and veggie scraps were tossed in there with the egg shells and coffee grounds. Now, I started to save my peelings and scraps in a ziplock and make veg stock each week. Soups and stews go a long way. The scraps cooked only in clean water and a little salt, go into the compost afterwards. I am also learning about using more non-meat protein sources so I can stretch my meats by using for flavor more than nutrition. Technology really helps here. Facebook groups like Homemade Living Frugally, Simply Canning, Attainable Sustainable, Modern Pioneer, & Little House Living to name a few have been amazing communities providing many useful tips and tricks.

   Proper meal planning seems to be the key here. You are a lot less likely to make poor food choices and spend more if you do not have a plan. I thought I did a pretty good job at this, but when I sat down and actually wrote down what I had in pantry and fridge, I found I had nearly everything I needed. That has not happened before. I cannot remember a week that the grocery bill was not at least $100 weekly. It makes the planning aspect fun and exciting. If I really use my couponing and sales skills in conjunction with visual list making and inventory, I think I got this in the bag. I'm ready and more than willing to do the work.

   I'll keep you posted. Please, root for us, no matter what your initial judgment is of our decision. I promise that I would never want anything but what is best for all of you out there, whatever that may be and it really doesn't matter what my opinion is beyond that. It is all I seek from you as well. :)

Good week all!
Dec. 1, 2013 12:14 pm
SUPER open to helpful suggestions btw! Thanks!
Dec. 1, 2013 12:41 pm
Good luck to you on your new life choice. It sounds like you have a plan and the key is to stick with it. It can be done! It definitely is a sense of great accomplishment when you can save money and still eat/live well. I live by the "judge not lest you be judged" - I don't walk in your shoes. Keep us posted how you are doing!
Dec. 1, 2013 7:52 pm
sounds great jennifer!! check out some vegan sites, they might be able to help stretch your budget with no meat involved (i'm not, but have friends that are) just found this for you as an example: http://plantbasedonabudget.com/ good luck!
Dec. 1, 2013 11:07 pm
Your can-do attitude will be a big asset. My suggestion is to grocery shop with a list and do not buy anything if it isn't on the list, even if it is a great sale. Always pay with cash, leave the bank/credit card/checkbook at home. If you come in under budgeted, go back and buy the sale item if you have enough cash. Involve your kids, they can learn great life lessons from this decision. The very best of luck to you all!
Dec. 2, 2013 9:36 am
I wish you luck - I'm sure you can do this. My hint is to use beans - they stretch meat & vegetables and are so healthy. You can cook several pounds at one time (saving energy cost) using minimal seasonings. Freeze in meal-sized quantities, then season & add the extras as you use them. Have fun! And if DH will do the shopping from your list, all the better for you...
Dec. 2, 2013 1:18 pm
First of all, although things may get tight, you will not regret the choice that you have made. Spending 40+ hours a week doing something that is against what you believe is right, is soul destroying. It sounds like you have planned and done all the right things and you are being cautious and realistic. This is a giant leap of faith but you may find, that it is a little easier this time because it is YOUR choice, you have some experience behind you and you have had a chance to plan. Very best to you!
Dec. 2, 2013 2:57 pm
We live in Costa Rica where the average "middle class" family spends about $25. a week on food. Biggest difference I see is they don't mind eating similar meals because it's nutritious and variety is a luxury. Meat is rarely served and chicken is for Sundays. BTW- it's a blue zone and they coomonly live to 100 or more. Hmmmm.
Dec. 2, 2013 5:01 pm
My hubby and I made this similar decision quite a few years ago! However it was me that quit working. Choosing to be a one car family reduced a good bit of expenses. Our kids are grown and with kids of their own so it is just Jim and myself! It can be done! Best of luck and keep us posted!
Dec. 3, 2013 12:12 pm
Sounds like you're up for the challenge! Lots of good ideas here and I hope you get more. One website I like is hillbilly housewife. She has lots of tips even an emergency menu for $45 a week. She does like I do, even on the emergency menu she buys some items in bulk. I like to get rice in 20 lb bags because it's so much cheaper by the pound that way. I also use a food dehydrator. I'll buy 10 pound bags of potatoes and carrots too when available, use what we need and dehydrate the rest to "put by". I like to keep about 50 pounds of sugar to get us through fluctuations in pricing, buy low, use sparingly. Don't use coupons very often, just don't seem to use the kinds of things they have offers on. Basically though, lots of things you can do and once you get into it you'll start getting more ideas - things that work for you. Oddly enough, we don't have to do this for financial reasons, I just like beating prices and putting things by for later. But I sure do remember our young married days with little ones where I did stand there in the store aisle and add up the amounts for the things in my cart with pencil and paper to see if I'd make budget, er, what was in my purse. Best wishes for you and yours.
Dec. 3, 2013 10:49 pm
I think this is so great and I wish you two the best! My husband and I both work, but we've had some really tough times and periods of unemployment during the 2008 financial crisis ourselves...a good tip is shop first at the 99 Cent Store or at a discount market (a lot of the Hispanic or Asian markets have prices that are WAY cheaper than other stores) and then buy any items you absolutely can't find there at the regular market, using coupons and getting sale items when able to. We do this and we can usually get groceries for around $30 a week for the 2 of us. I, too, love my crockpot and making soups and stews...making a meal that can last a few days is so helpful! Good luck with everything...how exciting! : ) Please keep us posted!
J. Dub 
Dec. 4, 2013 7:38 am
I think your decision is great! I have thought about doing the same thing many times and it is quite appealing to me as well. Quitting my job (my husband would keep his), growing an awesome garden, weekly meal plans, a detailed inventory of my pantry and deep freezer, being home for my son, making my own stocks and seasonings. Good luck with this and enjoy it. Maybe it'll work out and maybe it won't. Even if it doesn't, that's ok. What's life if you don't try some things out!
J. Dub 
Dec. 4, 2013 7:39 am
Also, one tip I have is this: Budget, budget, budget! Putting money in an envelope marked grocery store and only using that amount for the week will help you stay on track.
Dec. 5, 2013 8:04 pm
It's such a very personal decision, and it sounds like a good one to me. I think if we all simplified our lives we could all live on much less than we ever thought we could. Like Henry David Thoreau said, "Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify, simplify! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumb-nail." We should all live by this, and I'm on my way to doing the same thing...
Dec. 5, 2013 8:48 pm
Several years ago my job ended when the company I worked for was sold. It was June, and my kids had just finished kindergarten and 2nd grade. We also decided we could live on one income, and I did not look for another job. No regrets. I applaud your decision. Good luck.
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Jennifer Dixon

Home Town
Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

Member Since
Nov. 2008

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Cooking Interests
Baking, Grilling & BBQ, Frying, Stir Frying, Slow Cooking, Asian, Mexican, Italian, Southern, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, Healthy, Kids, Quick & Easy, Gourmet

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About Me
Wife and Mom of three, business woman, dreamer, & a foodie definitely. Love to cook, love to eat!
My favorite things to cook
I enjoy cooking a wide variety of foods, from Tex-mex to Asian dishes. I tend to have my own spice preferences... like I love a dash or three of cumin and cayenne in just about everything. I'm definitely a "eye ball measurer" and a "by the taste cook". I really hate to measure and thankfully at this point I have pretty good eye.
My favorite family cooking traditions
I find that I cook more out of love than necessity, wanting to give my family something delicious and make people happy. Working together with family is even better!
My cooking triumphs
My goal is to cook my entire Good Housekeeping Cook Book and master all the techniques. Maybe one day I can be Master Chef level and get my dream job of judging Iron Chef. ;) Making great progress!
My cooking tragedies
I've had many, and expect to have many to come. However, that is the only way to grow in cooking... or in any facet really. To fail, fall, and learn from it all!
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