How much do you think a family of five can survive on? We're not canceling the kids music and dance lessons or anything. That's the stuff that really makes a life. What we want to do here is cut down all of our unnecessary spending (think coffee at Starbucks, clothes, frequent snacks and meals out) so that we can do more of the things we love and make a really good life for ourselves.
So, here's the plan:
In 2012, the Ross Family is committed to challenging ourselves to be more mindful about our spending. We are going to examine the ways in which we use our money, and try to save as much on the superfluous stuff as possible, so we can do more of the things we love, and achieve some family dreams.
The point is to stop and think about where we are throwing our money, and why; and maybe, as a family, start to make better, more responsible choices that will benefit us all. Why "The Low Life?" We are striving toward low cost, low impact, low stress, low maintenance family living. Being vegetarian, we eat low on the food chain. Some people say we're just a bunch of lowlifes :)
Follow us as we embark on our journey. Will it be an experiment, or will it become a major lifestyle change for us? We honestly don't know. We know it will be tough sometimes, and we know it will be rewarding. Most importantly, we know that we will be doing it together. Wish us luck!
With contributions by Sam, Shane, Justice, Hallie and Kaia.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS:
Sam: Sam (a.k.a. "Mama") is a wife, mother of 3 and part-time elementary school drama teacher. Originally from the D.C./Metro Area, she met Shane on a roadtrip in 1994. When he was crazy enough to ask her to marry him, she agreed, moving with him first to Arizona (to finish earning her college degree) and then to Los Angeles, where he works in television post-production. She has been vegetarian since she was 14 years old. Sam fancies herself a Frugal Fashionista, frequenting yard sales and thrift stores and cutting up crappy old clothes to make fabulous new ones. She loves all things free (samples, books, speech, etc.) and has been known to rescue abandoned furniture from the side of the road in order to give it a happy new home. In her spare time, Sam likes to point and laugh at people who think mamas have "spare time." When she manages to steal a minute or two, she enjoys good, loud, live music, dancing (yes, she's that person who dances in L.A.) and not looking very cool. She is learning to knit, and enjoys sewing, gardening, cooking, graffiti, body art and dyeing her hair unusual colours. She wears combat boots. To church.
She would like to waste less food and save up enough money to put a down payment on a house and get health insurance for her family, as well as pay off the family's debt. In her dreams, she imagines taking another family vacation to Amsterdam, but will settle for planting tulips in the backyard.
Shane: Shane Ross is a television editor who specializes in documentaries, but been known to dabble in children's programming on occasion. He is from Western Montana, and Western Oregon, and then moved to Phoenix, AZ in the name of love. After a short while he relocated to Los Angeles, CA forcing his wife to move, in the name of love. He is an avid bicyclist, movie fan, and TV junkie…who skis on occasion (on the mountains, not the water). Been known to consider a can of corn "dinner."
He is hoping to save money so that he can buy a house, and a motor scooter…in that order.
Hallie (age 11): Hi, my name's Hallie Kay Erin Ross. I love writing, drawing, performing, and writing comics. I am also fascinated by ancient Egypt, and when I grow up I want to write comics and novels, but I also want to become an Egyptologist. When I perform I like to do plays. I am a drummer, and I play a little violin, flute and guitar, too. I want to learn how to play every instrument in existence and I like to make my own clothes, because no stores have exactly what I like, or alter my old clothes and turn them into new ones. I think the idea of trying to live off a $50 budget is a smart idea, and a good way to save money. I want to be able to buy a house, but I also hope we can save enough money to take a family trip to Egypt, and maybe to go to Berlin's Neues Museum in Germany to see the Bust of Nefertiti.
Justice (age 14): Hey there, world! I’m Justice Camille Noel Nem Sitscuit “Peanut Butter” “Kisa-chan” “Justi” Ross, and a whole lot of other things, too. I’m 14 years old and am in 9th grade as of spring 2012. I play the acoustice and electric bass, and I plan to pursue music proffessionally, in teaching, performing, or music therapy. I pass my time listening to music, dancing, playing bass, singing, reading, and making TONS of crafts. I am craft crazy. I especially making my own jewelry, usually made out of my own clay beads. I started making clay beads in about 5th grade, and I hope to open an etsy page to start selling, so keep an eye out! Plus, I love making anything to do with duct tape. I’m working on a skirt and plan to make a dress.
Also, I am a complete fashionista and I play by my own rules. One day, a turtleneck and slacks; the next, a plastic necklace, saddle shoes rock-n-roll gauntlets and a dress. I’m obsessed with accessories and interesting haircuts: right now my hair is in a very steeply angled bob, before that I looked like Ramona Flowers (in book one). I also love restyling clothes, which is part of how I plan to contribute to our project. If I see a cute skirt or shirt in a boutique, chances are I can get a thrift store T-shirt and make something that looks practically identical. This would save loads of money.
Another thing I’ve been cutting down on is snacks from the student store – I used to spend maybe $10-$15 per month, which is just a whole lot of cash down the drain. And I’m trying a lot of cheap brands with my family – you wouldn’t believe how good cheap food can be. Or how bad it can be. So, here’s to a sense of adventure and a picky pallette!
One thing I’m working on: tomatoes. They fit right into our budget we ca even grow them, abundantly, in our own backyard. And I like them! But ever since I was little, I’ve convinced myself that they are disgusting, and so now I gag every time I come near them even though I enjoy the taste. It must be a food aversion or something. Don’t laugh, this is serious! So, yeah, just thought that would be an interesting tidbit there.
And about that – our garden. We grow a bunch of food, and I plan to help the family effort a lot by weeding and planting (and digging and tilling and burying and picking. . .). not long ago I cut a bunch of rosemary. We probably won’t use it all in a year. Lettuce too. Anyone want to trade? Pretty pretty please with a dozen cherries? Same if you want lemons or oranges, let my mom know!
I really hope that with this money, we can do a lot of things we’ve been wanting to do. I want to take my family to Magic Mountain, Hallie and Daddy would love Tatsu. And maybe Seaworld, too. I haven’t been to the zoo forever, and Disneyland, or Universal Studios, are also definately on my list. But in addition to that, I found a few charities that I really want to be able to help out. One is called Gifts of Hope. There, you can donate money and chose where it goes, you can give a family a goat, a grove of mango trees, baby blankets, disaster kits, or even school uniforms. I also would love to be able to give to MEND – Meet Each Need with Dignity. It helps people in need. . . do what the name implies. (Even if you can’t donate, you can volunteer – check it out!) NRDC, the National Resources Defence Council, has been sending me petitions since I was ten, but sometimes they need donations – and we just haven’t had enough to spare. And I also hope that one day, if I get asked to prom, I can get a nice dress without breaking the bank. The last one seems silly, and of course I don’t plan to buy a thousand dollar dress anyway, but it is true. The same goes for college funds, assuming I’d have to take a huge loan otherwise.
So, that’s the down and dirty. Who I am, what I do, what I want to do. How I plan to help. And how I plan to spend my time livin’ The Low Life.
http://www.mendpoverty.org/ - MEND
http://www.planusa.org/giftsofhope/search.php - Gifts of Hope
http://www.nrdc.org/ - NRDC
Kaia (age 8) My name is Kaia (KI-uh) and I am 8 years old. My favorite subjects are Math & Science; my favorite color is purple.I play the trumpet and I have a purple hippo that I've had since I was 1 year old. I think The project is a good idea because we won't be spending so much money. The big thing we're all aiming to save enough money for is a house. One of the things I want us to save up for is 5 tickets to Disneyland. We all agreed to sometimes have Sunday Treat at home. I think how I could help is by donating my allowance toward what we're aiming for. It wouldn't exactly be SAVING UP, but it would help the cause.