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How one SAHM Recession-Proofed Her Family

Editor’s note: With the current state of the economy, many one-income families are especially worried about the security of their employment.  We’ve been talking to stay at home moms (SAHMs) and dads a lot lately about the measures they are taking to make sure their families are recession-proofed.  In other words, what can you do now to ensure that a possible layoff would have the smallest possible impact on your family’s lifestyle and well-being?  This week, Phoebe Hendricks was kind enough to share her tips and strategies with us.


The following is a guest post by Phoebe Hendricks.  She is married to the most amazing and supportive husband and is a stay at home mother to three children.  You can follow her and her family on a frugal journey to find the Cents to Get Debt Free.

How one SAHM Recession-Proofed Her Family

Every time you turn on the television or open up the newspaper you get bombarded with the latest news of the failing economy.   It seriously makes my stomach turn.  We are a one income family, so if anything were to happen to my husband’s job, I want to know that we would be okay.

What are Negotiables?

We are currently on a gazelle intense mission of getting out of debt.  We have been on this journey since September of 2007 and in the process have cut our bills down to bare bones.  This has not only enabled us to use that money towards our debt, but it has given me peace.  Currently, other than my home, I have only a handful of bills that I can do nothing about.  I call these non-negotiables.

We have cut our negotiables greatly so that we could use the extra money towards our debt.  This would include things such as cable/satellite, landline phone, cell phone, entertainment, etc.  I have outlined more of this process in my Managing Expenses post.  In doing so, I have not only gained peace, but I have gotten a tighter grip on my finances.  If something were to happen to my husband’s job at this point, I know that we could get rid of the majority of my negotiables.  canned goods

Urban Homesteading aka “Grow Your Own”

I do call groceries a negotiable because if I really had to, I can cut the spending down.  I obviously cannot cut it out completely, but I can make the number smaller.  With all the scares recently of salmonella in our food, I have been on a bigger mission of making the majority of our food from scratch.  Not only that, but we hope to be able to raise the majority of our food.  I want to know what is in my food, and where it has come from.  The only way that I can know these things for sure, is to have a hand in where it comes from.

Not only does this take most of the worry out about food poisoning, but I get added security.  Harvesting my own food gives me the ability to store up great amounts of food for future use, on a tighter budget.  I am able to store up enough food for one year, on about half the budget of buying all my food for one year!  In the event that my husband was to lose his job, I could almost get rid of my grocery budget, and we would still have plenty to eat.  I would be able to use my current grocery budget to pay part of my non-negotiables.  Talk about security!

Even if you live in an urban area, with not a lot of extra room, you are still able to grow your own vegetables and some fruits.  Container and patio gardening, if done right, can produce just as much as a typical row garden.  Using your available resources now could grant you a lot of peace and security.  Knowing where your food is from and knowing that you will be able to feed your family if something happens to your income is priceless.  The added nutritional benefit, is, well, icing on the cake!

What are you doing to recession-proof your family?  Have you changed your approach to bill paying, shopping, etc.?  Let us know in the comments.

Photo by ellievanhoutte.

21 Comments

  1. Amy @ Finer Things
    Feb 06, 2009 @ 09:28:31

    Excellent post, Phoebe! Now I understand why it seemed to be no big deal to you to be snowed in and not go grocery shopping for three weeks. ;-)

    I love and agree with your perspective. Not only is it possible to “survive” in a one-income family, but you can THRIVE and use your resources to gain security!

    Reply

  2. Elisabeth
    Feb 06, 2009 @ 10:42:21

    I would really enjoy hearing more from Phoebe.

    Reply

  3. Michael
    Feb 06, 2009 @ 11:28:31

    Great post Phoebe. Thanks for the insights! I received a pressure cooker a few years ago, but I still haven’t done any canning. You’ve inspired me to blow the dust off of it and start doing some more to stock up when it’s plentiful and can it for when it’s not.

    Have a great day!

    Reply

  4. Home Ever After
    Feb 06, 2009 @ 13:07:07

    @Phoebe: Wonderful insights. It is comforting to know the source of your food/ingredients, especially in the light of the recent peanut butter salmonella outbreaks. Thank you so much!

    Barbi

    Reply

  5. Phoebe @ Cents to Get Debt Free
    Feb 06, 2009 @ 13:16:20

    @Amy Thank you for your comment! And yes, you can thrive on one income, it just takes getting used to and setting the right priorities..as well as using the available resources.

    @Elisabeth Thank you for your comment and reading! Let me know if I can help you with anything!

    @Michael Glad to get that fire in you! It is so rewarding and delicious to be able to can your own food..you’ll never look back.

    @Barbi It is incredibly comforting knowing that what I feed my family is not going to make them sick.

    Thank you everyone for your wonderful comments! I appreciate them!

    Reply

  6. Michelle
    Feb 06, 2009 @ 13:26:04

    Great article, Phoebe. I take this from such a unique perspective, because in our household, I am the breadwinner, and it must be the maternal instinct that makes ME so worried about making sure we’re in good shape if I were to be downsized. A lot of people think I’m crazy for working long weeks and then going home and doing the cooking, canning, gardening, etc.—-you’ve put it all in words for me!!!

    Reply

  7. Home Ever After
    Feb 06, 2009 @ 13:45:12

    @Michelle: It’s great to hear the other vantage point (from the income-earner). I know the stress of the current economic situation weighs on each person differently and causes us to prepare in very different ways. Thanks so much for commenting!

    Barbi

    Reply

  8. Niicole
    Feb 06, 2009 @ 16:25:32

    Hey Phoebe
    If I were to start a container garden from scratch, which vegetables would you suggest I start with (that would be the least likely for me to kill instantly .. not a green thumb here!) I’d really love to do green peppers, tomatoes and green beans. What are you thoughts, and how would I get started?

    Thanks!!
    Nicole

    Reply

  9. Miriam
    Feb 06, 2009 @ 18:54:49

    Way to go, Phoebe!! Great article, I loved it :)

    Reply

  10. Phoebe @ Cents to Get Debt Free
    Feb 06, 2009 @ 20:31:08

    @Michelle I’m so happy to hear that you can relate! So true that the mothers in us want to make sure that everyone is taken care of! I give you a huge pat on the back for doing all that you do!!

    @Niicole I will be honest with you and tell you that I’m not much of a green thumb either!!
    But, I grew one productive garden this year! You are in luck, because for me tomatoes and green beans were really easy for me. Green peppers would have been if I had planted them early enough. So, do all of those.

    The size of your planters will depend on how much of each plant and how big of an area you have to work with. Your green beans (if you do pole)will need a trellis (or something to climb), as will your tomatoes. Your green peppers just need like a window boxed sized planter. That should easily accomodate 2 plants.

    I don’t want to get carried away here in the comments, so if you want more information, or have more questions, feel free to email me! I’m more than happy to help you out. phendricks @ centurytel.net

    @Miriam Thank you!

    Reply

  11. Phoebe @ Cents to Get Debt Free
    Feb 06, 2009 @ 20:34:51

    One thing I would like to throw in here if I could, we were snowed in, like Amy said, for the last few weeks. I had enough food that I wasn’t having to worry about running out and having to brave the roads. I knew that I could wait it all out until the roads and my driveway were safe enough for me and my family to travel on. Definitely a relief!

    Reply

  12. missy
    Feb 07, 2009 @ 05:13:02

    I really liked this artical. Phoebe made some really great points. I would love to hear more from her.
    Stockpiling does give you more peace of mind when you have children!

    Reply

  13. Shanna
    Feb 07, 2009 @ 09:00:56

    Great article Phoebe!

    Reply

  14. Phoebe @ Cents to Get Debt Free
    Feb 07, 2009 @ 09:44:06

    @missy Thank you so much for your comment!

    Reply

  15. Phoebe @ Cents to Get Debt Free
    Feb 07, 2009 @ 09:46:21

    @Shanna Thank you for reading and commenting. I really appreciate it! :)

    Reply

  16. Shynea @ Penny Pinching Diva
    Feb 07, 2009 @ 15:34:54

    I would like to say that I would love to hear more from Phoebe. This was a really inspiring article. My family is currently a one income family, and I have worried countless times about how we would end up if my fiance were to loose his job. I can’t believe that you survived for three weeks off of the food that you already had at home. If we were to get snowed in now, we would have maybe a weeks supply of food. Thank you once again for this article. I already follow your blog, but I would love to see more posts from you on Homemaker Barbi.

    Reply

  17. Rona
    Feb 07, 2009 @ 14:39:49

    I love cooking from scratch because I can control the sugar, salt and such. But it can also end up saving you money too.

    Enjoyed reading this article so much that I will do a post and link.

    Great job ladies.

    Reply

  18. Home Ever After
    Feb 07, 2009 @ 21:09:36

    @Rona: Thanks so much for the link! It is very appreciated. We love to hear comments because it lets us connect with readers on a more personal level. Have a great day!
    Barbi

    Reply

  19. Home Ever After
    Feb 07, 2009 @ 21:15:47

    @Shynea: The being snowed in issue really hit home with me, especially since we live in Alaska. I think I’m probably in the same boat with you, Shynea, at about 1 week’s worth of pantry. I’ve been trying to clear out the pantry since a lot of our stockpile was from last year. I thought it would be nice to use up the old and start fresh, but it probably shouldn’t be as low as it is now. Great point!

    Barbi

    Reply

  20. Phoebe @ Cents to Get Debt Free
    Feb 08, 2009 @ 15:12:19

    @Rona I’m glad to hear that you liked the article! Thank you for linking to it. We have noticed that with me cooking most all of our food, we feel better. Definitely a win win situation.

    @Shynea Thank you so much for your kind words! I truly appreciate them, and thanks again for subscribing to my blog! It can be nerve racking on one income in these economic times. If you need any tips on stocking up or have any questions, feel free to ask me. I’m here to help.

    Phoebe

    Reply

  21. LMD
    Sep 10, 2009 @ 19:04:40

    I stock up on sale items. I try to stock up on items such as rice, oatmeal, and beans. I grow a garden and I live below my means even if other people think it is undignified to do so!

    Reply

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