Category Archives: Broke

Solution I Forgot I Had

I knew about the stove before I moved in here. I had considered it and figured out a temporary solution if it went out. I have long since put it out of my mind. Until yesterday.

When I first found out about the stove, I knew I wouldn’t have the money when it went. No brainer there. I could try to save, but, just in case, I made a plan. The grill, of course, was my go-to. I love grilling. Plus, it’s an easy cleanup. So much win.

Did I mention that my ex did something really shitty to my grill? Did I mention that the shitty thing he did rendered it useless shortly after I moved here? So, um, backup plan went to Hell. <sigh> He knew I loved my grill, of course he did something to fuck it up. That really hurt when it hit me.

Back when I was contemplating preemptive solutions, I also figured a toaster oven might be a good backup. Especially when it’s just too cold to grill no matter how superhuman I try to be. Then I started researching and trying to get the best deal. Then I started reading about them catching fire and discharged the idea from my backup plan.

Then, a week ago, the oven went out. Stove top still works, mercifully.

But, I make everything from scratch. Sorry, guys, no sandwiches. No biscuits. No cinnamon rolls. No bread.

I need to buy a new range and I need one ASAP.

And yet, it is awfully close to Black Friday. Somebody’s got to have a deal somewhere that I can manage. But a month without an oven is a nightmarish thought. So, I’ll just go and see what I can find on my next day off. Which is, fuck, sometime next week if I’m lucky. (Two jobs is really crushing this whole day off thing.) Well, in that case, Black Friday isn’t so far away.

Last night, I went to Target. One of the kids needed a little retail therapy and dipped into stashed cash to get a little pick-me-up. We also needed food and I only worked one job yesterday so why not. I decided to wander around the small appliances.

I spotted one little guy on sale. It had a bake setting and reached the temperatures I need to make bread. Oh yeah, it was on sale. I picked it up.

This morning, I made bread.  And sandwich rolls. While they were baking in the toaster oven, I fried doughnut holes on the stove top. And things were good.

So, we’ve got a temporary solution. And I can hold out until Black Friday (ugh).

And the kids aren’t allowed to use the toaster oven without direct supervision. I may have found a stop-gap for the oven situation, but I am not about to risk their safety to use it.


RIP My Oven

Fuck. Just fuck.

I’ve known since before I moved here that the stove wasn’t going to last forever. Hell, I knew it wasn’t going to last long. It’s officially over. The oven is done. The range top is still pathetically limping along, but the oven is done. I have to replace the whole thing.

I’m trying not to cry. I’m trying not to get down. I’m trying to be grateful that I still have stove access until I can get this replaced. I’m trying not to scream, “Why me?” at the top of my fucking lungs.

It’s all going to be okay. I’ll make it okay somehow. For now, I feel like wallowing in a bit of “This fucking sucks!” I’ll adjust my attitude tomorrow.

Squeaking Through the End of the Month Again

Yet I feel profoundly grateful. Only one utility is past due and I’ll be able to pay it in just a few days. Sure, I’d love to be behind on nothing, but being not terribly behind on one thing isn’t too bad.

The new job saved me by the skin of my teeth. I am barely able to pay my health insurance on time and buy just enough food to cross over into November. If not for that one utility bill, I would be doing a happy dance.

I had a moment of complete panic earlier this week. I ran out of flour. Costco stopped carrying my safe brand and the price is significantly higher everywhere else. Not to mention the sizes just don’t work. Walk out of Costco with 40lbs of flour and nobody bats an eye. Walk out of Target with 40lbs of flour and you’ve cleared a shelf.

Money was so tight that I didn’t buy any. I thought it would be alright because I had already purchased extra meat for a dinner with my father. I roasted it at his house and portioned it off into a few days’ worth of planned leftovers. Afterward, I went home. Flourless and meatless! I forgot much of this week’s food at his house. That’s when panic set it. No flour and a lot of missing meat. We were gonna have sandwiches and fried rice and stew and…well, you get the picture.

Did I mention he lives a little drive away and I work two jobs? I couldn’t have run back for it even if gas money wasn’t an issue. <sigh>

Fortunately, he was happy to freeze everything up for when I can come back. This week’s fright will turn into another week’s boon. Meanwhile, I hit up pretty much the last of everything I had at home. Boy was I happy to discover pork chops I thought I’d already used and a nicely sized turkey breast that fit almost perfectly into the slow cooker. The freezer is pretty bare, but there is food in it. At least enough to get by for a few days, albeit very creatively.

So, I made it and I’m grateful to have done so. Off to figure out November.

I’m not Intending to Ignore this Blog

Things have been hectic. I haven’t shared with you all yet, but I really should have.

I decided to go back to school full time. I am intelligent enough to succeed. Time management has proven challenging, however.

I have also found another job. I’m still underemployed; I’m just underemployed in two locations, with two commutes, and two tiny paychecks now. See time management.

One of my children has fallen into a significant depression following a situation with the ex. This is, by far, the most important thing on my mind at this time. I am working with all of the appropriate professionals, but this situation won’t just evaporate. It’s going to take time and work. I’ve already decided that second job is optional if the extra time away proves to be too much. I can’t undo what he did or the depth of the scars he has caused, but I can skip meals if I have to in order to be there for my child.

I’ve learned some things over the last few weeks. One is that I need this blog. It’s a release. I’ve been losing my damned mind without it. Another is that I can take some credit it when it’s due. I AM a single mother with all the duties of an 1800s housewife (all food from scratch, lack of major appliances – seriously bread making is a much bigger chore when you have to hand wash all of your dishes after you’ve invested a couple of hours into making the bread), school, two jobs, and the emotional needs of children who have been traumatized by circumstance (well, circumstance and a very large asshole). I balance more on my plate in one day than most people deal with in a week or a month and that is big.

Rather than hating on myself when I pass out with a sink full of dishes,  an overflowing trash can, or the fact that my lazy ass didn’t get bread made on a given day, I’ve learned to appreciate what I did accomplish. Getting everyone to class, finishing homework, making sure nobody had to walk home, hand washing favorite t-shirts because I didn’t have the money to go to the laundromat, cobbling 2-3 meals together from my pantry and freezer, meaningful conversations with each kid, washing *most* of the dishes we used that day, putting in 0-12 hours between one or both jobs, and making sure the kitties got some quality petting and scratching. Maybe what I didn’t finish doesn’t make me a failure – maybe it just makes me human. And, maybe, just maybe, what I did manage to do makes me a worthy human. I’m always searching for ways to improve, to be better, to be worthy, to be more efficient, just to improve. I think I’m learning that my drive to improve at everything doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m a failure at everything when, in reality, I’m managing to almost hold my own against nearly impossible odds. Fuck feeling like a failure; I don’t have a minute to waste feeling anything that isn’t contributing to improving our circumstances.

6 Things I Wish I Had Done Before Leaving My Abuser

Abuser. It’s still so weird to type that word out. It took me years to come to terms with what really happened. I wouldn’t say it. I struggled with thinking it. I defended him.

Abuser is the right word. It’s his identity. I never wanted the victim identity though. I wanted so badly to not be a victim that I whitewashed who he was.

Years wasted on semantics and denial. Years I could have spent saving my family. There are some things I really wish I had spent those years doing instead of trying to please someone who refused to be pleased. In no particular order, six of them are:

Kept Working

Giving up my career had a devastating effect on me. I lost my financial independence and my earning power. Becoming dependent upon him helped me become voiceless. It was a specter over me every time I kept my silence. How could I speak up if he could just send us to the streets in a snit?

Maintained Independent Relationships

When I left work, I lost contact with my peers and friends. Slowly, I found myself restricted to spending time with the friends he chose for me and select members of his family. When I attempted to nurture new friendships, he always found a way to discourage or sabotage them.

Rented a Storage Locker

THIS would have been amazing! If I had thought to acquire a safe place to stockpile essentials and protect our valuables, you can be damned sure I would have. Toilet tissue, laundry detergent, non-perishables, clothing, cash, etc. If I had a place he didn’t know about, I would have been able to protect some of what he destroyed and keep some of what he took.

Stowed Cash

This isn’t about legal advice; it’s about what I wish I would have done. Any sane lawyer will tell you not to do this. Even so, I wish I would have had access to enough money to pay a retainer or make regular payments. Or to buy groceries. Or fix the car. Or see the doctor.

Started Standing up for Myself

This is so much harder to learn when you’re leaving. Seriously. You’ve just pissed off someone who hurts you when he loves you and NOW you’re going to try to stand up for yourself? Oh yeah, he’s gonna get right on respecting you and your boundaries. Also, water is dry and unicorns are real.

Felt What Was Going On

Becoming emotionally numb is a remarkable coping mechanism. It helps you to navigate trauma and manage your survival without getting knocked off balance by pain or anger. When you spend enough time numbing yourself, you can agree with your abuser that it really wasn’t that bad. Honestly, if (s)he was that awful, you probably would have felt something. But you didn’t because you learned long ago that your feelings were wrong and had no place in your relationship.

I didn’t do any of those things. As a result, I slid deeper and deeper into his web. Like a twisted spider, he fed off of me for years. It wasn’t until I was a drained, weakened shell that I tried to escape. The fat, cruel spider fought aggressively. Even today, my very survival is an affront to his existence.

Had I managed to hold onto something – my career, my friendships, my self-worth, my feelings – things would not have gone as far as they did. And I wouldn’t still consider myself in recovery. And my children would not continue to suffer.


August Grocery Check-In

July sucked financially. The car repair, the medical expenses, the other stuff. It was too much. I had to borrow to cover most of those “extras” and now I have to pay that back, which isn’t making this month any easier. And car insurance is due.

With all that happy news in mind, why not look at the month?

  1. Maintain the grocery costs at the July goal level.
  2. Continue making bread once per week plus more as needed.
  3. Add small smoothies to meals at least once per week. They’ll basically be treated as drinkable sides that make use of produce sales.
  4. Get the fall garden planned and planted before it’s too late.
  5. Rough out an early spring garden bed so I can be ready to go with those first, early veggie plants.

Where I stand:

  1. Not sure. I’m hungry enough to feel like I’m on par or below. Should probably check it out.
  2. Right on target with this one.
  3. Yep, yep, yep. At least every couple of days. I’ve been focusing on fruit smoothies, but am hoping to incorporate some veggies without too much trauma.
  4. I roughed out a 2’X2′ patch that is pretty much ready for seeding. I’m hoping to get that done this week. I’d like to get another patch or two going if possible.
  5. Not yet. Focusing on getting set to grow now before getting set to grow later.

Well, that’s it for now. I’m babysitting for a friend tomorrow which means getting up before dawn. Gonna try to sleep.

August Grocery Goals

During July, I managed to trim 16% off of my food bill. Obviously, it is not enough. I still have to get down to a maximum of 50% of what I have been spending. Or find another job, but my employment search has had such pathetic returns that I’m focusing on the thing I can change.

Regular bread baking has been a great benefit. Sandwiches are economical and, frankly, nice to have during the summer. Toast with honey and peanut butter is a delightfully easy breakfast.

I was able to pull potatoes yesterday. That was awesome. They’ll be scrubbed, chopped and roasted with dinner tomorrow. I was such a complete failure at gardening this year that I barely got anything planted and most of what was planted died. I did manage to get some strong looking potato plants for which I am grateful. Poking around yesterday generated enough decent sized tubers for tomorrow’s dinner. With luck, I’ll be able to dig enough to help with grocery costs this month.

For August, I’m not going to try to make a cut. 16% was significant and tight. My goal right now is to maintain that. Figure out what I did right in July and try to recreate that for this month. In September, I’ll shoot for a lower number.

So, for August, the goals are:

  1. Maintain the grocery costs at the July goal level.
  2. Continue making bread once per week plus more as needed.
  3. Add small smoothies to meals at least once per week. They’ll basically be treated as drinkable sides that make use of produce sales.
  4. Get the fall garden planned and planted before it’s too late.
  5. Rough out an early spring garden bed so I can be ready to go with those first, early veggie plants.

Wish me luck.