My Family and Contact Info

My name is Shannon. My family has been living frugal fabulously for 24 years. I work as a Front Desk Agent at a local inn and work 32+ hours per week, and write whenever I can – Both fiction and nonfiction. I have written stories and books that are sold at Amazon.com and Lulu.com.  I do not receive welfare, and buy my own insurance.

NOTE: I have not received full welfare benefits since my oldest daughter was just starting school because I have worked. At times we received nothing at all, sometimes insurance and maybe $20 dollars a month in foodstamps. Sometimes a few hundred in foodstamps and no Mainecare. But usually we received less than $200 in a given month, often less than $100.

Below, you will find a letter that was posted on the original website. It is from me, to other low-income people/families.

Zowie is now married to Devan. He has full time job that he works during the week, and she has a 24 hour weekend shift at the Ronald McDonald House. This helps save childcare costs. Little Man just turned one (6/2016), and the kids just had their 2nd year anniversary. They live with Devan’s parents, saving both families money. Zowie cooks a lot from scratch, also to help save money. I help out with baby needs by shopping thrift stores in my area, and clearance sales. She can be quite the frugalista at 24.

My daughter Skye is 26. She works at a Gas ‘n Go, and shares a house and expenses with her boyfriend who works full time. She can also be quite the frugalista. I obviously taught them both well 🙂

I am proud of all four of these young people.

I find it unsettling that with so many jobs, everyone is just scraping by at times.

The Letter:

Dear Reader,

My name is Shannon. I have a very, very low income. I am, however, doing better than I was just a few years ago.

It all started when was 17 and found out that I was pregnant with my first daughter.  I was not married, and hadn’t even finished high school. The father didn’t stick around, so I was on my own. My mother let me stay at her place. I shared a room with my sister, her rabbit, and my daughter when she was born. It was pretty cramped. I stayed there until my daughter was six months old. I was on welfare: Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), Food Stamps and Medicaid. I also received WIC.

When Skye was six months old we moved into our first apartment, and six months later we moved into a more affordable apartment. This second apartment was a low-income apartment. This move could not have come at a better time, as winter was just around the corner.

When I was 20 I had another daughter. Her father passed away when she was only eight months old.

When my daughters were in the third and first grades we moved next door to a three bedroom low-income apartment. This is where we began our homeschool adventures.

During this time I had babysat, worked at a daycare center, worked in a blueberry factory and then as a housekeeper at the Comfort Inn. I had also hurt my back , and was told that I had to quit my job. I did and began my own little daycare in my home. I started out with my two nephews at $4.00 an hour, then added two little girls and was making $8.00 an hour.  Since then I have made anywhere from $2.85 to $10.00 an hour providing childcare. This is not a lot, I know.

I only receive Food Stamps and MaineCare from the government now. Obviously, I’ve had to supplement my income by doing things like typing and cat sitting.  This still does not make for a very large income, I know. I do what I can. I work from home because I believe that I should be home with my children.

A few years ago my father did something for me. He bought us a trailer (manufactured home). I paid him back so much a month until he passed away. The trailer is mine. I own it. It feels good. It is a 1988, and it needs a lot of work. The work is getting done as I can afford to pay for it. We just replaced the old oil tank, and covered the new one with what my brother calls a “dog house”. We also replaced the old porch. I bought the materials and my stepfather built the new porch.

Right now we have our home, rent a lot, have DirecTV and Internet access. I am going on my second vacation since becoming a mom. I make $171.00 a week during summer and vacations, and usually less than $50.00 a week during the school year. Zowie receives survivor benefits of just over $600.00 a month. Of this, I pay for 1/3 of the lot rent, electric, oil, water and sewer and food, as well as items she needs. The rest she saves for her move to New York to become a journalist. We all receive MaineCare. We also receive $175.00 in Food Stamps, and $9.00 a week in child support. Our bills are the electricity, oil, phone, Internet access, DirecTV, water, sewer and lot rent. I also pay for extra food and other necessary items, as well as buy homeschool materials and supplies.

I admit to having moments where I have wondered if I would be homeless the next month. I admit to practically starving myself to feed my kids. I admit to having the electricity and phone disconnected more than once, and being kicked off welfare for “not looking for work when I was supposed to”, even though I had been looking for work like I was supposed to be, and DHHS had made me quit two other jobs to look for another job that would pay me more. I admit to having no other income than the twenty dollars a week that I was making for cleaning at my fathers during that time.

Life has never been very easy, but it does not have to be a bad life.

This site is set up to help others who want or need to live a frugal lifestyle. I hope that everyone finds some tips to help.  Happy reading!

Shannon
shannonlbuck@livethefreelancelife.com
Orono, ME
USA
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9 thoughts on “My Family and Contact Info

  1. Hi, Shannon,
    I read your story on another website (after doing a google search) that led me here & I just want to say that I truly admire you. You appear to have a spirit of generousity from the stories you’ve shared about helping others to sharing advice with others “living the low income life” on the web through your blog.

    I noticed that you mentioned that you had a back injury. While I know that you want to become independent as possible, I was wondering if you’d applied for disability? It could be a source of additional income for as long as you need/want.

    I, too am a “grown up” teen mother. I became pregnant at 17, gave birth at 18. With the support (not financially) of my family I went to college immediately after high school. I just graduated with a degree in social work and am looking for a job. I missed the time that I could have had with my daughter but the services in my state (AL) are meager and I was the product of an unwed mother who recieved foodstamps, etc. so I felt that I had to do something different. Obvisiously social work will not make me wealthy but I do hope to be an advocate one day for welfare reform to create services that allow mothers to spend more time at home when their children are small & empowers them to become independent by financially supporting their education so that they can secure good paying jobs. Most federal grants will cover tuition for community/2 yr. colleges but for those that want to go to university getting loans are almost mandatory. Just my $0.02! Sorry for rambling! Thanks again for creating this website! Great information here!

  2. LaTonya brings up a good point. I am still able to do a lot of things. I can provide childcare as long as I am careful about not picking the children up. I like to be as self-sufficient as possible.

    Considering that I can do some things to earn a living, even if I can’t do as much as many others, I am going to leave the disability for now.

    Here in Maine, it would take me years of fighting and stress to get disability any way. I would rather enjoy my time on Earth, rather than fight and stress out all of the time.

    Thank you for your concern,
    Shannon

  3. Hi Shannon,
    My husband & I have always tried to use our resources wisely and frugally. We have lived in Alaska, Port Angeles Washington and California, & always worked at finding the best buys and the places to find them. No matter where we have been we have been able to cut corners somehow. We now live in Sacramento, CA. and have found that the oriental stores (which we have many of here) are a great place to find less expensive fresh meat, fresh vegetables, & rice, as well as many spices and tastes that add flavor to our food. We also love to try any ethnic market-Indian, Hispanic, etc. They all seem to have items that are fresh for less. We love to experiment with all of the new flavors, too. You can find so many great recipes for everything on-line! You can also eat very healthy food when you look at the ethnic recipes. We eat a lot of fresh fruit, veggies, moderate amounts of meat. We also like to grow our own fruit and veggies-which helps the pocket book. Since you can dry, freeze, & can when things are in season, you can eat them all year. We find that eating on a budget is fun and exciting. Mari

  4. the blogroll for “Spending Simply” (Lyn) is a by invitation only blog. Or else I am just not clued in to how to log in with my acct as asked. I thought this would be useful maybe not, I am a single disabled older adult that lives in an apt more urban than rural. I have lived my whole live on the “fridges”financially and find it harder to manage now that I just have my self to care for.

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