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January, a month of hell

January 5th was the last day of our 7 year Army contract. A DD214 now graces our family document binder.

We had hoped by this point my husband would have had a job lined up, thinking maybe the holidays were slowing down the application reading process and that it’d pick up speed after New Year’s Day, but it didn’t.

He had been taking Microsoft college classes to help with job placement through the Army for the past 8 months. Including resume building, networking, field trips to visit businesses (he met Dave Ramsey, author of Total Money Makeover!)

We had built our hopes up thinking we’d be somewhere by now.

So here we were with $200 after bills (no savings) to pay for groceries (2 adults, 1 baby, 1 kid, 1 dog, 1 cat, 2 bunnies, 1 pot belly pig) in a 1000sqft home on 1.5acres in Tennessee. Luckily the pig and dog shared dry food and the baby was exclusively breastfed, so that saved some cost.

I can’t begin to tell you how difficult this was to manage.

It took DAYS to create the perfect budget-friendly meal plan

It would have made your yoga pants wearing, Pilates doing, kale eating, HOA leading neighbor Nancy turn up her nose.

But while it lacked in meeting the food pyramids guidelines, it kept us all fed and alive.

Potbelly pig Lilly enjoying the snow outside in Tennessee
Our Potbelly Pig, Lilly enjoying the snow <3

Why not just get food stamps?

Well Nancy, because my husband worked 5 days that month he needed a pay stub to prove income.

Military MyPay website updates at the end of the month.

So, we had to make do until that point, checking the website daily, crossing our fingers and praying for an update.

When it finally updated around the 25th, we had a paystub available and cried out in hallelujah.

Then we realized something funny.

The stub was wrong.

It said we got paid zero dollars, showed deductions of close to $4,000 and a bunch of other crazy impossible things.

Hoping we could show a copy to the lady processing our food stamps claim and she could understand the situation and pass our claim through, we sent her an emailed copy and explained the situation.

She denied our claim for the month.

But approved us for the full maximum amount for February, downside- we had to wait until February 12th.

January 15th was our last military paycheck and it was for only 5 days worth of work.

$50 of it went towards groceries to help us stretch further, and the rest towards bills.

We continued to find fancy ways to eat Ramen, looking forward to February 12th and our food stamps. 

We would finally have “real” food money.

We couldn’t wait, so excited to finally eat real food again.

By this point, we really missed fresh produce.

The apples and bananas we kept in the house were being left untouched by my husband and me so that our daughter could eat them as she pleased.

I did everything possible to save money on groceries so that I could afford her these luxuries.

Maybe she can appreciate that when she’s an adult.

frugal peanut butter toast bears with bananas chocolate chips raisins priceless happy daughter
I tried making even the most frugal of meals into something fun, she doesn’t need to know her plate cost under $1 to feed her. Her smile is priceless.

For more details on how I created the meal plan and how I fed a family of 4 plus 5 pets on $250 for 1.5 months, you can click HERE.

You can view our actual meal plan for this HERE including full details on how I helped stretch it along.

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