When You’re Forced To Start Thinking Outside The Box To Salvage Your Financial Life

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How To Weather The Storm

So you’ve done all of the juggling you can, have narrowly missed shut off date after shut-off date, but now somehow it’s all caught up to you. You’re sitting at home in the dark crying your eyes out wondering what you’re going to do. The electric company is telling you that now they not only want the past due, but they also want the current due and a re-connection fee to turn you back on.

You get paid Friday, but it will take a pretty good chunk of your check to pay it, and the shut-off notice for the water bill won’t wait until next pay. what should you do? Don’t pay it. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Seriously, if you want to get out of that vicious cycle you’ve found yourself in..don’t pay either of them.

No, I haven’t gone mad

We have come to a belief that electricity and running water are necessities when they’re not. They are actually luxuries. People all over the world live their everyday lives without either. If you really want to get yourself into a position to get off of this treadmill of financial stress, you’ll have to think much more creatively. You will have to trim down your life to resemble something like the Amish, or Off-Gridders. It’s not as primitive or so far-fetched as some may believe. It can be relatively easy, and very much worth it if properly planned and really given a chance.

Electrical Needs

If you make $21,000/yr and are paid bi-weekly that breaks down to roughly $700/pay. Take that check, and go buy one or two sets of THESE making sure to have enough for each bathroom and bedroom, one for the kitchen, and one for the family room.


If you live in a three bedroom 2 bath home (living room, dining room, and kitchen), This will cost you approximately $60 give or take. Add to that ceiling hooks needed to hang them (2 packs for roughly $12)

That brings our running total to approximately $72 which is much less than you would have to pay the electric company to illuminate your house. If you don’t already have one, purchase one of these to round out your electrical needs ($12).

Every morning collect your family’s electronic devices, plug them into the outlets, and place it all inside a duffel bag. take the duffel bag to work with you, open it just enough to pull out the cord for the outlet strip and plug it in. If you can’t charge at work, after work stop by your local McDonald’s, Starbucks, etc. sit awhile, get 30min-1hr of peace while you charge up there.

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Cooking Needs

For your cooking needs, purchase 2-4 Sterno Folding Stoves ($10) and a pack of Sterno Cooking Fuel. ($20)

Here is a video on how they work

These will be great to use as substitutes to your stove top cooking. You can also purchase a Coleman folding camp oven.($30)

Here is a video of how the camp oven works

Our current running total is roughly $145. Without a running refrigerator, you’ll also need to change the way you shop for food. Unless you want to stop on the way home to pick up your meat for the night, EVERY single night, you need to make some of these staples in your cupboards.

A simple Google search will lead you to a wealth of various recipes you can use with these meats. Canned vegetables and fruits, boxed or bagged kinds of pasta, bagged or boxed rice variations, and canned or boxed kinds of milk will help you provide balanced meals. We won’t figure food shopping into our totals because that is something you have to account for whether you are experiencing severe financial hardship or not. You already have that set into your budget.

Water Needs

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You will need:

You will use two gallons per flush to get a good flush, and you will do this three times per day. Once in the morning after everyone has gotten up, got dressed for work and school, and have used the bathroom. Once after everyone has gotten home from school and work and had a chance to use the bathroom, and once after everyone has gone to bed for the night.

Keep a box of baking soda near the toilet so everyone can sprinkle some into the toilet if they have a bowel movement. (As you build up your supply of water jugs, you’ll be able to flush more often) Also, make sure you use a thin toilet tissue like Scotts original so it goes down easy when it’s time to flush. No quilted TP

  • Another 6 gallon Ozark Trail Desert Patrol water jug ($25) marked every one gallon for your kitchen. You will use a gallon to wash your dishes at the end of the night, and a gallon to rinse them. The other 4 gallons is to be used for cooking.
  • A one-gallon water jug per room ($16-$20) for mopping and one large spray bottle per room ($8-$10) for wiping down.

Build A Reserve

You’ll need a closet where you can stock your reserves of water. Although you’ll only need a half gallon to a gallon per room for cleaning each day, do you really want to have to refill your bottles daily, or would you rather go once per week? Build your gallon bottle stockpile for cleaning over time, as money allows until you have at least six for each room of your house.

Likewise, you will want to add five more 6 gallon Ozark Trail Desert Patrol jugs for the bathroom(s) and kitchen. Each time you buy one, it will increase the time you can go between fillings. I’m sure you’re wondering “Where am I filling all of these bottles on my refill day?” The answer is, right here

car wash

If you don’t have a relative who doesn’t mind you doing your fill-ups at their home, then a self-serve car wash it is ($5-$10). You could also allow empty jugs to sit outside in a bin to catch rainwater or fill them up at a nearby river. Just know that once you have accumulated enough jugs to only fill up once per week, you’ll be sitting for quite some time doing your refills, but it will be worth it.

Bathing Needs

Last, and certainly not least in the water department, you need to shower. For that you need……

This is the solar shower ($25) with the best reviews by off-grid homesteaders who use these showers as a way of life. There are plenty of camp showers available, but many are only good for a few uses. The Advanced Elements Summer Solar Shower has been claimed to stand up to a year’s worth of daily use, and then some. This shower holds 3 gallons of water, which perfectly holds 2.5 gallons poured from one of your jugs. You’ll use a funnel to pour 1 gallon of room temperature water into the bag, and another heated gallon will be added to the room temperature water already in the bag. This way, you get a nice hot shower at just the right temperature.

So instead of breaking down and being overcome by stress, you’ve just become an off-gridder by CHOICE for a total of $265 give or take. If you are making this choice in the winter, grab 2 of these Dura Heat Convection Kerosene Heaters for your heating needs.

Setting up an off-grid, utility payment free life (including the two heaters) for a one time fee of $565 give or take is far from crazy. There are more and more people choosing to live off-grid in America every day. There’s entire blogs, social groups, and YouTube videos devoted to this lifestyle. Feel free to check out some of these more in-depth resources.

You still have roughly $135 in your pocket left over from this paycheck you used to set up your off-grid living. Remember, next paycheck you won’t have to complete this set up again, you only need to maintain it and tweak it at YOUR discretion, as YOU see fit, spending what YOU choose. That means more money to do the things you actually WANT to do.

Just weather the storm, or permanently adopt this way of life

Continue to live off-grid for as long as you choose, or at least until you can leisurely pay down and eventually pay off what you owe the utility companies. You can even pay a month or two extra just to give yourself a cushion. Remember, you’re not the only person in the world who is struggling; with proper planning, the right attitude and laser focus you’ll make it through.

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