Friday, May 25, 2007


Recent events in the county has people wondering what would happen if their personal income were cut by 15%. Personally 15% would have been a joy compared to what my wife and I have endured over the last year or so. To make a long story short, due to an illness our family income was reduced by 43% in the last year. It is doubtful that sum will ever come back to its former glory.

So what do you do to maintain the life style you’ve become accustomed to when nearly half of your income goes away?

The largest expense for us is the mortgage. It was really a costly monthly payment being that it was a fixed rate, 15 year loan. We had to refinance to a 30 year loan. That cut our monthly expense nearly in half.

Though we pay more for our electricity because we are 100% on the Blue Sky Plan which funds renewable resource generation like wind power, we further reduced our consumption by 20% just by being more vigilant about turning off the juice when not in use.

We no longer go out to eat. We no longer go to movies or concerts. Also we avoid going to the store when we find we are out of something. We now wait and shop only once every week. If we run out of something, there is always a list going for the next week and the item will need to wait.

We now get most of our prescriptions through mail-order where the co-pays are usually much less than through a walk-in pharmacy. We also get a 90 day supply rather than a 30 day supply which is only available through mail order.

We cut the amount of channels we subscribe to on our satellite TV. We used to have 180 channels, and are now down to 50 and HBO. We will probably drop to just a basic service after the final season of the Sopranos is over.

Rather than buy books we paid to join the Astoria Library. It too is expensive if you don’t live in the city, but much less than what we were paying to buy the books we read every month.

So it seems that it is totally possible to survive a massive pay cut. So far so good and I haven’t had to look for additional work. Hopefully agriculture will keep us afloat again this year.


Anonymous gearhead said...

It always amazes Ms. Gearhead & I how the masses waste money.
-Satelite Radio
-Cable or Satelite TV
-The Jones's
-Time shares

The list of needles money pits goes on forever.
We recently bought a pickup box trailer with a canopy, and then cancelled our garbage service.
We went 15 months before going to the dump which cost the same as one month of garbage service.
We also take great pride in our huge garden, where we eat what we can and what we can't we can.

7:23 AM  
Blogger Zoe said...

That is rough. It sucks that you work hard all your life to have a few luxeries only to have to cut them back.

Our issue right now is me not getting paid on regular basis. The family bizz has been slow so I may get paid every 6 six weeks, or 8, or half of what I am owed from 8 weeks ago. It makes budgeting nearly impossible unless we just don't count my paycheck at all. The problem is we need my paycheck. Leaving the family bizz isn't as easy as just picking up and leaving some job where you have no investment.

7:47 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

I hear you, Gearhead, except I'm not giving up the TV until the Sopranos are finished. It's a New Jersey thing. As for going to the dump, my last trip there was September 5. I probably won't make it an annual trip like I had hoped. I think I'll be going again in July, but I'll try. I used to go every 4 months.

Zoe, I hope the business cycle improves for you. Is it expected to? I once worked for someone who always had a hard time making payroll. It was a disaster and always a worry. I just don't understand how small businesses ever make it.

8:17 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

Interesting post - quite relevant to me at this time.
I've noted some of your cut-back measures.
(And thanks for that comment you left the other day - it made me smile.)

9:35 AM  
Blogger Mike S said...

I feel for you, my wife and I were both disabled permanently within a year of each other. On the plus side, I had enough time to get full retirement benefits at 50 and had just passed that milestone a few years earlier. We'd both been through costly divorces and were starting over. Through many measures like you list we made it to now, where we're really comfortable. We'd just bought this apartment bldg to live in and supplement my retirement, very lucky. We live in a town with modest taxes and great services. Trash/recycle pick-up, fixed sewer cost,plowing, snow bank removal from our property when needed, etc. It's close enough to places we need to go that we can do it with no problems, yet have a forest right up to our backyard with deer, moose, bear, & a host of their buddies. We manage to have a small garden with the help of our tenants who we rent to for very low rent & all utilities paid. We only take non-welfare young families trying to get a start in life. All in all, a great lifestyle in a very rural place:)

3:09 PM  
Blogger Mom of Three said...

You have inspired me!

6:16 PM  
Anonymous Pam said...

Thanks for writing this Guy.

Its amazing to see that smile on your face whenever I run into you and to know that you have all of this going on in your life.

And you didnt run to the media to complain about it (did you?).

7:55 PM  
Anonymous gearhead said...

For those of you interested in living the rich life on pennies, I highly reccomend:

Recently, I asked my dear wife, if we could set down on the next rainy day and patch some jeans.
I thought that we could cut some up to make patches and then patch the better ones.
Then she blows me away by telling me that she has thrown my jeans into boxes as they wore out for the last 25 years!!!!
When we got done patching, we had $600.00 worth of VERY COMFORTABLE Levi's 501s that will last me till I croak.
Then we went out and paid cash for a $20,000.00 tractor.
You clip coupons, grow a garden, scrimp on fuel, etc...
Then when you need money; you have money.
We really focus on the joy of simple things.
And no, we are not Triple A members!
Hmmmmmm.......I wonder we should cancel our subscription to the Fishwrapper....????....

8:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what happened to Split Writing Personalities?

8:20 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Beth, this can become relevant so quickly for so many people. It is said that most of the people are just two pay checks away from being homeless.

Mike, you are doing good things up there. You are making Maine a better place.

Mo3, I don't know how you get along with three kids. It is you who inspire. You write on this subject often. Cutting back to one car, walking more often... Thank you.

Pam, I glad you don't consider this blog as the media ; )

Gearhead, you mean the Statesman Urinal?

Anon, it is posted today with an explaination of why that article was up for ten minutes yesterday.

6:14 AM  

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