How My Family Will (Hopefully) Survive the 2% Tax Increase

You could argue all day on whether the expiration of the payroll tax holiday is an "increase" or just things getting back to normal; the fact remains, everyone will take home less cash from their paycheck this year.  Even as a freelancer, I'm feeling the pain.  I just did my taxes, and I projected how much more I would pay in to the system (ouch!)

Add in the expectation that consumer goods could cost 4% more this year, and I'm a bit worried for how I'll keep my large family fed and provided for.  As a self-employed Mom, I can't count on an employer to have work for me everyday.  I've decided to work with my husband to create an even more aggressive plan than last year (and that was pretty aggressive, if you ask me.)

Here is our plan to combat the 2% tax increase:

1. Grow a bigger garden.  We had a nice-sized garden last year, thanks to the collection of Seeds of Change seeds we purchased from Walmart.  We reviewed a few to see how they did, and were so impressed, we filled anything that we could seed with this brand.  This year, we plan on ditching a few of the veggies that we didn't enjoy as much (okra and Japanese Eggplant, for example) with items we can save the for long term via canning or drying (tomatoes, peppers, and even more squash!)

SAVINGS: $350 or more

2.  Get serious about food preparation and storage.  One of the biggest challenges to buying items when they are on sale, is that they can be cumbersome to store.  We love some of the frozen items that we get at our local Walmart in the LARGE bags (frozen hash browns and mixed veggies, for example), but freezer space has to be saved for meats, cheeses, and butter.  I played around with using my food dehydrator to store some small portions of these items, and they worked out very well.

I also found that I am buying lots of food items when they are not on sale, simply because I need them.  We talked about filling in these gaps with commercially dried foods, and one of our favorite brands is Augason Farms.  It turns out that after researching resellers of this product, sells it for much cheaper than the actual manufacturer, and the giant tubs of product ship free on orders of $45 or more.  We are starting small in stocking our pantry with these items (my first order contained dried honey, dried milk, dried onions, and whole rolled oats.)  This will help us out in those times when commodities are expensive due to gas prices, and I won't be forced to drive to town for $4 a gallon milk at any time during the year!

SAVINGS: $150 or more

3.  Be better with bread.  I used to think that making my own bread was the most affordable way to feed the family.  Then, we got a Walmart within 17 miles from us, and it is always trying to get rid of the day old bread for really cheap.  Whenever I go (which is about 1 time per week), I load up on no less than 4 big loaves of bakery bread for 96 cents each.  Then, I use one for sandwiches right away, one for a french bread-style pizza, one for bread crumbs, and one for homemade croutons.  (For the best crouton recipe, you'll have to check out Amy from Mom Advice's new book.  It was my inspiration!) I save big over the cost of yeast, flour, and seasonings, and the bread always tastes better than my own!

SAVINGS: $45 or more

4. Line Dry, no matter what.  Last year, my dryer broke, and it took months to get it fixed.  During that time, I reluctantly hung out my clothes on a clothesline, and I found it to be a pain.  After seeing the savings on my electric bill, however, (almost $40 a month), I was OK with continuing the habit even after the dryer was fixed.  Although we stopped for the freezing temps, I'm game for going for it again this year.  (Our electricity has had another hike, as well!) For line drying, I highly recommend Mrs. Meyers products.  Their fabric softener compliments the line drying process very well; your clothes will be so soft!

SAVINGS: $240 or more

I calculated that the 2% increase could affect my family by around $900 this year.  The tips I mentioned above should save almost $800 alone, and I know I can actually stick with them (since I adapted to them, already.)  While this year could be very stressful for already cash-strapped families, it is important to not try to tackle too many savings strategies at once.  You'll likely burn out and fail (something you can't really afford.)

What will you do to help offset the 2% increase (plus the already predicted inflation of consumer goods?)

As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I've received compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.