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Miserly Moms

StorkNet.com > Columns > Miserly Moms

Living On One Income and Mixes for Easy Bake Ovens
by Jonni McCoy

Q. I quit my teaching job this year leaving behind EXCELLENT health insurance so that I could stay home with our now 11 month old daughter. I take in three children for a total of $200-255/week. My husband is a carpenter and earns approximately $400/week (no benefits). On the surface it seems as though we should be able to swing it easily, then I take a shocking look at our spending. Unfortunately my husband smokes, which is costing us nearly $300/month!!! I am not going to get him to quit, so that is a fixed expense. Our house payment is $500/month, and the car is $370/month. Once you take out those fixed expenses you end up with $1230/month. Next comes one of our biggest problems, HEALTH INSURANCE!!! I couldn't believe it when our new, private, insurer told us that for $100/month we would have a $2500 deductible, NO maternity coverage, and a $500 prescription deductible!!!! So, basically we are only covered in absolute tragedies. I want more than anything to stay at home with my daughter until she is in school. But my husband is losing patience with always being short on money and really wants me to go back to work.

Mom in Need

A. It sounds like your husband does not share the same values as you do, namely the need for your daughter to have you at home. This is your number one obstacle. Until he feels that this is a priority, he will not want to give up anything or change lifestyles to make it happen. So, I would first start gathering information on the importance of having a mom at home during a child's early years and discuss it with him.

The changes that you may need to explore to make this work will require some agreement on his part. When we first make the adjustment to one income living, we often have to do without the comforts and luxuries that we feel we deserve or have become accustomed to. First, you may need to consider selling the new car and getting a used or less expensive new car so that your payments are either lower or gone altogether. Second, you should look at reducing the spending in other areas as well, especially groceries. There are many ways to reduce that expense and use that money elsewhere. The first half of Miserly Moms is devoted to groceries.

The other thing to consider is whether it is your responsibility to provide for the family financially. I believe that this is your husband's job, and you are to care for the emotional and homemaking needs of your family. Your husband is choosing to live a certain way and expects you to make up the financial difference it causes. You need to decide if you want to take on that role.

As for health insurance, you have found a fairly good plan. Many families pay more than that for similar coverage. Private insurance is expensive. Stick with a plan and increase your coverage as you can afford it. Remember that you won't be in this situation forever. Things will get better.

Q. My dear 8 year old daughter received an Easy Bake Oven for Christmas this year. I know that the mixes go for about $5 for a box of four mixes. Is there a cheaper substitute for these little mixes or could I use regular cake and cookies mixes?

Thanks so much.
Tina

A. My daughter loves using her Easy Bake Oven but I agree with you . . . there has to be a cheaper way to make cakes and cookies than buy their mixes. So we have a collection of recipes for doing it ourselves. Below are a few to get you started. Happy baking!

White Frosting Mix

2 cups powdered sugar -- sifted
3 tablespoons instant nonfat milk powder
6 tablespoons vegetable shortening

In a medium bowl, combine powdered sugar and milk powder. Stir with a wire whisk to blend. With a pastry blender cut in shortening. Spoon about 1/3 cup of mixture into each of 8 small bags. Seal tightly. Makes 8 packages. For chocolate frosting, add 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa.

To use: Combine 1 package of the above mix plus 3/4 teaspoon water in a small bowl. Stir well with a spoon until smooth and creamy. Makes about 1/4 cup frosting. A drop or two of vanilla may be added if desired.

Brownies

2 1/2 T. sugar
1 t. oil
1/8 t. vanilla extract
4 t. chocolate syrup
2 1/2 T. flour

Sir together sugar, oil, vanilla, chocolate and flour until the batter is smooth. Pour batter into greased and floured pan. Bake 15 minutes.

Chocolate Cake

6 teaspoons flour
4 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa
3/4 teaspoon shortening
1 pinch salt
6 teaspoons milk

Mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cocoa, shortening and salt. Add milk and stir until smooth. Pour into greased baking pan that comes with the toy oven. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes. If you want white cake, omit the cocoa and add a drop or two of vanilla with the milk. Makes 1 serving.

Quick Cake

2 tablespoons commercial cake mix -- such as Jiffy
1 tablespoon water

Mix cake mix and water. Place in greased toy cake. Bake for 10 minutes. Makes 1 serving.


Jonni McCoy is the author of "Miserly Moms-Living On One Income In A Two Income Economy" and "Frugal Families-Making The Most Of Your Hard Earned Money!"

Visit the Miserly Moms Website at http://www.miserlymoms.com.

Our sincere thanks to Jonni for allowing us to reprint her wonderful work!

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