When you have no money for groceries, what to do? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 36 Old 06-14-2011, 08:53 AM - Thread Starter
 
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So long story short, last Aug we rented out our city home and moved to the country. I used to have my own daycare, but in the country there are not many people in need of care. I have only found 1 child, 2 days a week. Not much income:( So for a while my dad was loaning us money to help us get by, but he has stopped doing that and I have NOT been able to find any work. I have applied to over 20 jobs and have gotten nothing. We are planning on returning to the city at the end of Aug, but don't know how we will afford it.

 

Each week we seem to fall further behind. This week is the last straw. Dh is only a teacher and gets paid practically nothing. We have 5 kids and although we are dirt poor right now we do not qualify for anything. Dh's  gross income is  too much for us to get food stamps. He only takes home a little over half his gross, though. (He has many deductions)

 

So anyway the ball joints on our van almost fell off and the tires were ready to burst, (very scary) so we had to get that fixed. We went to a friend and only paid for parts, but still that put us over our budget. We are BROKE for the next 2 weeks. We seriously have No money. I feel so helpless. I could go to my mom and borrow money for food, but she makes such a big deal about it. I just don't understand how the state expects us to get by with a little over $25000 net a year. Out rent is 9,600 a year, which only leaves us with 15,400 a year for utilities, food, clothes, gas and everything else. CRAZY

 

One day last week the electric company came out to turn off the electric if we did not pay $200. This house we are in has EVERYTHING electric. We would not even have water if we had no electric. We had to pay. That also got us in trouble. Our electric is like $400 a month!

 

My teens are no help. When we talk with them about our situation, they only tell us "This would not have happened if we had not moved." Sigh No food and angry teens, not a pretty picture.

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#2 of 36 Old 06-14-2011, 09:20 AM
 
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Do you have any food/staples in the house at the moment?  There are mamas here who are GREAT with pantry challenges who could help you come up with ideas based on what you have on hand.

 

Is there an Angel Food Ministries branch near you?

 

Any chance there is a farm nearby that would trade some manual labor for veggies? 

 

Can you or DH get a summer job, even just a temporary one, to bring up your income a little?

 

Have you heard of Swagbucks?  It's a search engine that you earn points on and can trade those points in for Amazon gift cards. Not an immediate fix to the issue, but I've found it helpful.  You and DH and your teens could each get an account and if you refer each other you can all benefit from the referrers bonus.


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#3 of 36 Old 06-14-2011, 10:00 AM
 
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I would look into a food pantry.

 

Can't the teens find summer jobs?

 

Can you work on a farm in exchange for food?


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#4 of 36 Old 06-14-2011, 10:27 AM
 
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Living out in the country, there should be some farm jobs available.  I picked strawberries when I was 13.  Hard work, crappy pay, but if 3-4 people in your family did it, it would comfortably put food on the table.  A friend of mine picked apples a couple of years ago and had the same pov: crappy pay, hard work, but provided her with a bit of extra money she desperately needed at the time.

 

If the money shortage is just temporary,  I roll all the change in the house, return all the bottles, check under the couch cushions, and get really creative menu planning with what's left in the house, only buying the minimum possible to get by until I expect more income.  But, it doesn't sound like this is a short term emergency on your side.

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#5 of 36 Old 06-14-2011, 11:05 AM
 
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Is there any way your DH could adjust the deductions? 25,000 a year take home for a teacher is really low! (I am a teacher in one of the lowest paying states in the country) Also, are there not any jobs he could get during the summer to add to his salary? I teach summer school and state testing remediation, and I clear an extra 5K during the summer! They also hire teachers to run camps and even paint the school. My oldest two kids have even been hired as student workers and they are are making 7.25 an hour, 32 hours a week for the entire summer. They will clear about 2K this summer. Not bad for 15 and 14 year olds. I taught at the school for 4 years befiore I knew about the student worker deal. They hire teacher's kids first, then needy students from the area.

 

Until then, I would do what the PP have said.

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#6 of 36 Old 06-14-2011, 11:13 AM
 
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If you are renting out your home in the city, aren't you getting income from that?

 

I agree with the suggestion to reduce your husband's deductions - you need that money NOW.  Check Craigslist for any short-time jobs available.  Instead of waiting for a full-time position to pop up, take whatever you can get.  Cleaning houses, farm work, dog walking, babysitting whenever and wherever you can get it.  Put an ad on Craigslist to offer babysitting services.  Ask for less than the going rate to get the cash in your hand now.  You're not helpless.  But you have 5 mouths to feed that are not responsible for this financial situation, so please do whatever it takes to feed them.

 

 


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#7 of 36 Old 06-14-2011, 11:36 AM
 
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Call some local churches.  Every church I've attended will help with utilities, food, medical expenses, etc.  Most of the people calling for help don't attend and there haven't been any requirements to attend in exchange for help.

 

Have a garage sale, sell some things on Craigslist, Ebay or a consignment shop.

 

 

A friend of mine spent a summer picking up leftovers from people who were done with their garage sales and didn't want to haul the stuff to Goodwill.  He then had a huge garage sale from all the free stuff he collected and made $1200.

 

Some community centers have free summer lunch programs for kids.

 

I find tons of felled trees on the Craigslist free section.  I've know people who make money splitting and selling the wood they find there.

 


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#8 of 36 Old 06-14-2011, 11:38 AM
 
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Are any of your kids under age 5?  You might qualify for WIC.  The guidelines for a family of 7 are $61,550 a year.  It wouldn't be a lot of food, but it'd be something. 

 

 

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#9 of 36 Old 06-14-2011, 11:41 AM
 
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You are the type of people that can be served by an emergency food shelf. Look into it. Ditto Angelfood ministries. Ditto the teen summer job. They need to learn responisbility too. They can help a farmer or neighbor with mowing, weeding, baby sitting, toutoring, washing the car, etc. Reduce the electricity usage. Sun up to sun down, no lights. Use less appliances (blender, toaster, etc) unplug everything you can at night (tv, dvd, toaster, coffeemaker, etc) Unplug the dryer and air dry clothes on the line. SInce the water is electric, try to conserve water too. Use a timer for showers, 5-7 min is sufficient. Double up on baths. Limit/reduce/eliminate TV, video games, internet etc. They have siblings to play with, the out doors, books to read, etc. They do not need electronic media all summer. Better yet, if you do pay for tv, get rid of your plan, get an antenna, and only watch what you get free over the air. 

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#10 of 36 Old 06-14-2011, 07:47 PM
 
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Check food pantry and WIC.  Also check Medicaid(ChiP)  if you qualify for WIC you probably qualify for ChiP too.  That is far better coverage than anything I could buy at any price and it is free.  You could shave off whatever you are paying in insurance for the kids if you have it.

 

Also if my teens gave me that kind of attitude I would tell them they could eat when they found a job.  By the time i was 16 i had to pay for all my school supplies, car insurance (even though I was not allowed to have a lisence) medical bills and anything else i needed. i am surprised they did not charge me rent.  

 

I second swagbucks.  It kinda sucks and never ever give them your phone number but I have made $75 in three weeks and do almost nothing, it is amazon gift cards and I could use those to buy groceries.  We have a different kid signed up on each computer and they each do a certain number of tasks a day and have a goal of a certain number of points. It is my 8 year olds job.  Really, it is that simple.  Its kinda like webkins with real money as she puts it. They are also linked with groupons which I watch religiously for places I am planning to shop.  When click their link in swag bucks i get points and the groupon without any extra work. (for example I got $16 off at our favorite little restaurant plus enough points for a $5 gift card).  Groupons have been a surprising source for saving money.  be careful to get ones only to places you already plan to spend and read the fine print.

 

How the heck is your electric bill $400!!??  What can you do to reduce this?  Seriously, go bare bones.  unplug everything, turn off the the AC (Don't tell me what it is like, I lived in TX without AC and it is not much better here.  I use it tops for a few hours a day a few days a year.) take out half your lightbulbs from any fixture with more than two, eat cold food as much as possible so you aren't running the stove.  If you must cook do so during the coolest part of the day and try to double up.  Close curtains, open windows.  I paid my kids to change their habits.  Whatever they reduced the utility bills by for three months is theirs.  They made about $30 each by reducing out utility bills by a third.  

.

What else can you cut?  home phones and Cell phone plans (i find a prepaid the cheapest.  If my kids run out the minutes before the service date they pay for the next card.  They quickly learned to be brief on that phone.  We have one with unlimited texting and a lot of minutes.  no home phone.) Do you pay for TV?  non essential driving?  

 

As for what do you cook.....I could not buy groceries for a month....We ate soup.  I can make a pot of soup for under $5 and it will feed us for 2 to 3 meals.   Head over to the food and nutrition forum and ask for their best cheapest recipes.  I know it is no fun to eat soup in summer but you have to do what you have to do.  If you make bread (white bread is cheaper) it makes a nice filling meal.

 

Also I don't know about where you are but what is the garden situation.  You may not have one but your friends might and if the summer squashes, cucumbers ad tomatoes are starting to over run peoples garden you might be able to score some of these in exchange for favors (babysitting, carpooling, just by asking) and again in the food forum they can give you a million and one things to do with this.  


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#11 of 36 Old 06-14-2011, 08:20 PM
 
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Originally Posted by lilyka View Post

 

Also if my teens gave me that kind of attitude I would tell them they could eat when they found a job.  



I disagree with this.  If they are minors and living at home, the parents/guardians should be providing them with food.  It is not their fault that their parents have run into financial difficulty, but it is their parents' responsibility to give them food and shelter.  

 

We don't even know if they are old enough to get jobs, based on the OP.  Furthermore, if the teens were told "they could eat when they found a job", that would be awfully hypocritical considering the OP doesn't have a job herself.  Why should they be forced to provide for the family?


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#12 of 36 Old 06-14-2011, 09:25 PM
 
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You really should change his deductions.  For a family of 7 making under $50K, you should have little to no tax liability.  No reason to have the money taken out of each paycheck.  I might even consider temporary stopping retirement contributions if it's the difference in feeding your family or not.  It also seems crazy you don't qualify for some type of assistance, but I don't know the income limits - particularly for NY. 

 

I was also thinking you should visit a food bank and Angel Food ministries for the time being.  Hope things get better soon. 


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#13 of 36 Old 06-14-2011, 10:15 PM
 
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I would call whoever distributes SNAP in your community. I found this http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/applicant_recipients/eligibility.htm  and http://www.snap-help.com/state/NY 

       and unless you have a lot of assets it looks like you would qualifywith your income and family size.  And if you don't I'd want to know exactly why and what other resources there are in the community.

 

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#14 of 36 Old 06-15-2011, 03:02 AM
 
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I agree that the teens shouldn't be responsible to pay for food.  However each family member should try their best to help.  I'd expect them to try to save electricity, wear their clothes a second time and reuse their towels, wear more clothes or less clothes so the A/C or heat can be used less...etc.  Maybe they can watch the younger kids sometime so mom can go out for some small jobs.  Have a little meeting with them, ask them to help you come up with ways to save money or make some money.  They might surprise you.  When I was 16 my parents let me manage all the family finances for a while.  It was a great experience learning responsibility and self-control.  Don't ever complain or blame anybody regarding your financial situations.  The kids might get defensive and go on the path of whining instead of taking charge to fix problems.


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#15 of 36 Old 06-15-2011, 09:07 AM
 
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You are right they shouldn't have any state or federal taxes taken out.  They could still have a take home pay much smaller than their gross. Some K12 educators with family medical and dental could easily be spending a grand a month on health insurance and most place about 10% of your pay goes to your pension (no opting out).

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#16 of 36 Old 06-15-2011, 01:25 PM
 
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You are right they shouldn't have any state or federal taxes taken out.  They could still have a take home pay much smaller than their gross. Some K12 educators with family medical and dental could easily be spending a grand a month on health insurance and most place about 10% of your pay goes to your pension (no opting out).



I was going to say exactly the same thing. Plus union dues, life insurance (if any) and I can't remember right now if there's anything else.


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#17 of 36 Old 06-15-2011, 01:49 PM
 
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Typically the schools in rural areas of a state pay less than those in a more urban area. The average salary for a NY teacher (where the OP has her location) is 47K. But man, that would be a lot of deductions! My state is really bad as far as benefits, and I only pay $500 a month for medical, vision, and dental for our family of five- and that is the high option, not the base plan! I don't pay Socail Security; our teacher retirement is a little more of a deduction, but since I don't have to pay both, I am fine with that. I have about 1,200 in deductions total per month.

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#18 of 36 Old 06-15-2011, 07:26 PM
 
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i think you misunderstood.  My kids are not forced to work but they also know not to have an entitled attitude about what they do or do not have.  If they ever gave me attitude about wanting better stuff/food I would and have told them they can buy it themselves or be happy about what I am providing.  My kids do work for a small amount of money (the 14 and 11 year old.  One watches the little one while I work and the other does extra household chores since I have to work so much).  i don't think there is anything wrong with expecting kids to help contribute to the family income either.  It is not very popular in american culture anymore but lots of the kids I work with (as young as 14) are not just buying their own clothes, school supplies and food and paying for their car etc but also helping out their families.  

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I disagree with this.  If they are minors and living at home, the parents/guardians should be providing them with food.  It is not their fault that their parents have run into financial difficulty, but it is their parents' responsibility to give them food and shelter.  

 

We don't even know if they are old enough to get jobs, based on the OP.  Furthermore, if the teens were told "they could eat when they found a job", that would be awfully hypocritical considering the OP doesn't have a job herself.  Why should they be forced to provide for the family?



 


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#19 of 36 Old 06-15-2011, 07:32 PM
 
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Originally Posted by lilyka View Post

 i don't think there is anything wrong with expecting kids to help contribute to the family income either.  It is not very popular in american culture anymore but lots of the kids I work with (as young as 14) are not just buying their own clothes, school supplies and food and paying for their car etc but also helping out their families.  



 


When one of the parents isn't working, I think it IS wrong to expect the kids to help contribute to the family income.

 


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#20 of 36 Old 06-15-2011, 07:36 PM
 
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just wanted to send hugs. I know what you are going through:(


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#21 of 36 Old 06-16-2011, 12:21 AM
 
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Lot's of good advice.

 

 

I would ask why did you move in the first place? Are you going to be able to move back to the old house I mean and will it get better if you do go back?

 

 

 

If it wont get better or will get worse moving back then you will want to dig in deeper where you are. Have you started a garden or have any livestock? Cheap seeds and cheap chickens can be found and you might be able to trade or barter for them.

 

 

 

Any food banks around? If nothing else and people really are going to literally starve then call your mom and/or anyone else that could possibly lend money or food.

 

 

 

Good luck!


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#22 of 36 Old 06-16-2011, 01:21 AM
 
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IDK how old your kids are but you've received some good advice on here.

Summer jobs for everyone.  Your DH could tutor kids, list himself on craigslist. You should be looking for a job opposite shifts of DH. (I know you have 5 kids but you need money and you need it now).  The kids needs to lose the entitlement attitude and those who are old enough to find a job... look for a job and those who are not of legal working age need to find other ways to make $$.  babysitting, yard work, chores for others etc.

 

You need income and you need it now.


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#23 of 36 Old 06-16-2011, 07:32 AM
 
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Quote:

When one of the parents isn't working, I think it IS wrong to expect the kids to help contribute to the family income.

 

Unless the parent is looking for work.


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#24 of 36 Old 06-16-2011, 07:35 AM
 
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What 24 hour places do you have within driving distance? I've been working overnights at Walmart to save for midwifery school. I know moms who work evenings and weekends at grocery stores, etc.


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#25 of 36 Old 06-16-2011, 09:35 AM
 
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I remember working in the fields as a teen.Super hard work,but you could all get in a few hours a day for money or food.

 

When I donated at the salvation army they always had feed breads and other food stuff.

 

In a pinch I have used my credit card for food and then paid that off so no interest.

 

Hope things work out soon. In desperate moments some ramen soup with canned veggies will fill the tummy.Grow some zukes this summer.You can make a lot of dishes and boy are those plants good producers.

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#26 of 36 Old 06-16-2011, 09:54 AM
 
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When one of the parents isn't working, I think it IS wrong to expect the kids to help contribute to the family income.

 


Isn't she a stay at home mother of five? That's working.

 


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#27 of 36 Old 06-16-2011, 09:56 AM
 
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Isn't she a stay at home mother of five? That's working.

 



Yes, of course.  But she said that she's been looking for a job and unable to find one.  So how easy would it be for a couple of teenagers to find a job in this job market?


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#28 of 36 Old 06-16-2011, 12:24 PM
 
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Yes, of course.  But she said that she's been looking for a job and unable to find one.  So how easy would it be for a couple of teenagers to find a job in this job market?


It may actually be easier for the teens. Employers like ice cream stands, grocery stores, gym childcares, the YMCA tend to lean more towards hiring teens.
 

 


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#29 of 36 Old 06-16-2011, 12:53 PM
 
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It's going to be very difficult for her teens to find work, particularly farm work-- they will be competing with undocumented laborers, and for other jobs they will be competing with unemployed, experienced adults like their mom.  I agree that at a low income, a 7 person family should have very little tax liability.  Can any deductions be adjusted?  And do stop contributing to retirement (if you are) until things even out.  To the person who asked why she moved, I actually remember her story-- she expected the income from her private daycare but was not able to find clients in the country.

 

I assume you have slashed all unnecessary expenses-- I won't list them all here but basically anything not needed for hygiene, health or survival.  Is there anything in the house you can scrounge together?  Do you know of any food pantries in your area?  Would your kids be too embarrassed to go to a soup kitchen?  (I know these things might be scarce in the country.)  Do you have any friends nearby who can give you some extra stuff from their kitchen, whom you're comfortable asking?  Your kids should qualify for free lunch, no?  Do they have a free breakfast at school?  If so make sure they load up as much as they can.  And I assume you are already budget shopping, buying cheap stuff... rice, dried beans, eggs, pasta.  As awful as it may be you might have to ask for money from your mom, or instead of money, just for groceries.  {{hugs}}

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#30 of 36 Old 06-16-2011, 04:24 PM
 
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* Any areas to glean?

* Dumpster dive?

* Anything you could barter or swap?

* Check Freecycle

* Some local schools here offer free lunch in the summer for kids

* Gardening

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