This series is based on how our family of 3 ½ made it through the first year of grad school living on less than $13,000 without any federal aid for housing, medical care, or food. I tried a lot of things and failed at a lot of things, but also found success and confidence through that time. I learned that sheer guts can see you through.
This is part 6 of the Living on $13,000 or Less series, if you missed previous installments click on through to read: Storm’s a Brewin’ (part 1),The First Hurdle (part 2),Christmas Unemployed (part 3), Thriving During Unemployment (part 4), and Lessons Learned (part 5).
Last week we started going through the lessons we learned from living so frugally. Since it was so long it had to be broken up–so here’s part 2 of lessons learned!
Budget in fun
Having fun budgeted in was essential for us. It was only two bucks a month but I didn’t have to feel guilty about spending it. Usually it meant a couple of red box movies, but it was enough to keep that impulse to splurge under control.
We also made sure to find free things to do throughout the month like playing board games, baking together, reading a book together or whatever. When you’re living in very strict means either with time, money, or both- having time to unwind is essential. It allows you to face your problems afresh and keep on truckin’.
Watch for scams
I’d love to say jump on every deal you find online and you can trust everyone out there, but the sad truth is that you can’t. In fact the more people looking for deals the better a market for scammers.
We had several girls in our spouse association jump on a deal for a ‘free’ baby wrap (free after you pay shipping) and ended up getting $100+ fraudulent charges on their credit cards. Those who paid with paypal got the wrap with no problems.
So be very careful and make sure you’re dealing with a reputable company. If you’re feeling concerned but really want the deal, try using a prepaid credit card that you filled with only the amount needed or use a pay pall account. Just a little bit of insurance to keep yourself safe is well worth the effort.
Give yourself Grace
I also learned the power of giving myself some grace. I tend to be a major perfectionist and everything has to come out as planned or I get stressed, but you know what? Almost nothing comes out as planned! Especially when I’m learning a new skill!
I found if I change my mindset to expecting mistakes and chalking it up as an investment in my learning a new skill, suddenly those crushing and costly mistakes don’t seem so huge and I realize the cost is much less compared to my not trying at all.
Creativity and learning take time
While I did learn and do a lot-I need to point out I didn’t do everything all at once or at the same time. I’d research an area I wanted to improve on and then go try it. Usually I learned a new skill little by little and one at a time. It felt so slow when our family was in such need.
That’s partially why I’m writing, to share with others and hopefully cut their learning time down. A secondary reason is to provide myself a place to come back to as a refresher. I mean let’s be honest here, even if you’re an elephant, it’s impossible to remember everything!
A spirit of adventure is essential!
If you want a different result from what you’re currently getting in life you have to make a change! Having a spirit of adventure allows you to try new things. Change tends to have a negative connotation but if the status quo isn’t working for you it means you need change. Doing the same thing over and over will only get you the same results, so why not take a chance?
You are not alone!
We were and still are both lucky and well cared for by the lord. We know the stress of living on little and hope that sharing our story and the lessons learned will help others in similar predicaments.
If these tips don’t help your situation, then I hope the knowledge that you are not alone does. Our hearts go out to you wherever you are and what ever struggles you face. We believe in you and you are amazing!
This marks the end of the storytelling half of this series. Next week will be the start of the practical half where I go into more detail as to what we ate, how we shopped, and all that good stuff.
Update: You can now click through here to read the rest of this series published posts.