Being the mom of a family of five is hard. While we’re at it let’s go ahead and add being young, tired, and poor.
I used to stay away from the word “poor” because all of our bills were paid by my husband and I so we were just “tight on money”. However after 2 accidents this year leaving us without a vehicle for awhile, my husband and I both finding new jobs, a new baby, and a lot of medical bills we became poor. Not just poor in the sense that we could get government assistance but in the sense that we were just right on the line of not qualifying for any help so we had to get creative.
Of course by creative I mean asking for help, donations, and a lot of calls to my dad for assistance. We have survived this year through the sheer kindness of others and a lot of love. When you say your wedding vows and include “for better or for worse. For richer and poorer” you don’t actually expect to go through it but life is filled with surprises.
One of the surprises that ended up being very relieving was finding minimalism. I remember the exact moment I knew something needed to change. I was standing in my kitchen taking the trash out (for the 4th time that week) and realizing that we did not have any more trash bags. Not having trash bags would increase our small grocery budget of $60 a week to around $65 and when you have nothing $5 is a lot of money.
I snapped. I cried and shouted about how I couldn’t do this anymore and how hurt I was over $5 (Do you know how much food you can get for $5 in our NC? A lot) and as my husband said there wasn’t anything we could do to change it I realized there had to be a way to fix this.
Why? Why on earth if we had nothing in our bank account did we always have things to throw away? Why did I have to take out the trash 4 to 5 times a week when there are only 7 days a week.
Because we were wasteful.
Over the next day I watched as we literally threw away money we didn’t have. Food was left out, children breaking things, large containers from items we bought like cat litter and random boxes. Don’t even get me started on the grocery bags and baggies we stored food in. Paper plates, cups, bottles from the bathroom, paper towels, and the works. I watched as within a day our trash can was filled to almost half even though I had just replaced it.
Then I put my foot down.
I remember the first thing I bought next pay day was a bar of Dr. Bronner’s eucalyptus bar soap. I sat in my car and celebrated that I took the first step. I think I might have even texted 3 people about it I was so happy. No more bulky container of soap in the corner of my bathtub that I would worry about my kids using too much of because they wanted bubbles in their bath. Then I went to Ikea and bought 2 packs of 5 storage bowls in different sizes for Toby and I to take to work for our lunches instead of packing things in baggies. I bought a large glass bottle to store home made juice in because I refused to buy juice at the store when I have a perfectly good juicer sitting in my cabinet. I brought 3 random large bags I had at home with me to the store and paid attention to the food I bought. I didn’t use the produce bags they had by the food and I bought less because I shopped sales and things with very little packaging.
At the end of the day my weekly grocery budget had increased to $80 that one week but I only took out the trash twice that week.
We just hit week two of cutting back on our trash and last week we took out the trash once just because we started paying attention. I no longer watch us literally throw away money and though we still have nothing I finally can feel a sense of pride somewhere in my life (other than in my kids of course).
So this week look at your trash and figure out what you can cut because a little goes a long way.