Sometimes it's bad... - Workin' It
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Workin' It

"Workin' It" is the blog for working parents who are committed to the frugal lifestyle. This blog addresses some of the issues working families face in keeping their lifestyle frugal, including childcare, work expenses, and the constant trade off between time and cost. The author and her husband, both law school graduates, work full-time; the author has a law firm, and dear husband a property management business. They also have an eight month old. Despite all that we have on our plates, we're still committed to living life frugally.

Sometimes it's bad...

And sometimes it's worse.

 Hofpapa and I call Kentucky our home. As you may have seen, Kentucky has frozen into one gigantic, crystalline Ice-Beast of a state. Half a million people without power, and a bad situation all around. Thankfully, Hofpapa and I were able to ride it out in relative comfort, thanks largely to preparation. Unlike a lot of folks, we have:

* Plenty of food that doesn't require heating, although thankfully, we didn't have to use it. Cold cut sandwiches are yummy! And definitely better than being hungry or having to brave ice-encased roads. We also had some water put away...when the power goes down long enough, yucky stuff can happen with the water.

* Warm clothes, blankets, and a general tolerance of cold. Being the cheap souls we are, the house is normally on 60. While it wasn't terribly comfortable when the heater shut off and it dropped to 45F while we were asleep, it wasn't the huge difference that a lot of folks we know felt going from 75 to 45. 

* A well-insulated house. This is largely luck, because the previous owners reinsulated the house and replaced the windows with energy-efficient ones. Some steps we've taken since buying the house include keeping up with our caulking and weatherstripping, and installing little foam draft-blockers in the power outlets (given free by the power company!). We further improved it while the heat was out by closing off rooms and hanging blankets over windows in the living area.

* Alternate heat sources. I haven't yet gotten my much coveted wooden cook stove, but a kerosene heater still keeps things toasty warm. 

* Candles. Flashlights. Awesome emergency radio-alarm-cell phone charger with plenty of batteries. Sitting in the cold and dark stinks.

* Board games, books, and a general willingness to sit around and just hang out as a family (as a large extended family after an aunt and uncle and their kids showed up once their power went out!).

* Self-employment. This might seem like a strange item to include on this list, but it worked out wonderfully: we simply stayed in, worked on projects that didn't require us to go out, and continued/rescheduled things that would require driving on an icy road.

Most folks use cost as their main reason for not being prepared in case of an emergency. That's beyond silly, that's dangerous. After all, no one says you have to blow $5000 and do it all at once. You can add a couple of cans of food to the weekly shopping budget fairly easily. A house can be insulated with a $5 tube of caulk, free foam inserts for power outlets, some nails, and some quilts from the Goodwill. Candles can be gotten quite inexpensively, a few at a time, by watching the circulars (I've had great luck with RiteAid for tapers) or again, checking the thrift store. Water? Give those empty soda bottles a good washing. 

Now then, some things, such as a kerosene heater, are a decent-sized investment (ours ran about $200 plus the kerosene). If it's important, though, you can do like Granny did--decide it's important, budget and save for it. $200 is only two and half months at $20/week. 

 The most important preparation, beyond anything you can buy, is attitude. Was fourteen folks in one little house ideal? Well, not unless you think about it as a chance to spend time together. The teenagers, after moaning and groaning about no Internet, took advantage of all the snow and ice to sled for hours on end. While we didn't lose our power, thankfully, we knew it was chance. We made sure things were in place as best as we could before the storm hit, and then simply resolved to ride it out, together, doing what we had to to make sure everyone came through it okay and well taken care of. That's something anyone can decide to do, no matter how much they have in their pantry.



kathys said:

So glad you all are ok!  Your attitude inspires me too!


February 4, 2009 11:40 AM

Hofmama said:

Thanks Kathy! We were fortunate and came out unscathed (partly due to my DH's wise decision last summer to have all the dead trees near the house removed).

February 4, 2009 11:38 PM

Pat said:

Great post, Hofmama!

February 6, 2009 3:43 PM

St Louis Rams said:

great post - i hope things are getting better for yah hofmama!!

February 7, 2009 9:09 PM

Hofmama said:

Thanks, darlings! Things are good...it was in the 60s last week!

February 13, 2009 8:50 PM

cheapChic said:

Hoffmama great articial you have a point well taken up my alley...

February 15, 2009 12:10 AM

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About Hofmama

Former family and employment law attorney; currently writer, editor, and stay-at-home mom to two amazing boys.

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