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  • Summary provided by: dawbs

    Under $1000

    Emily (Emily Kate) authored the blog, that was about a frugal family of 4 (which became a frugal family of 5--and now, apparently, post blog, a family of 6), purportedly living on under $1000 per month.

    The stated purpose was to encourage others in similar financial situations/encourage debt free living/discourage materialism.

    I would recommend that anyone who has never heard of this particular branch of crazy take a few minutes to explore the blog's archives (it is no longer active) because…this is a tremendously worth the read gateway fundie for so many on FreeJinger.

    The pictures are gone, but as of this moment, the text remains at her blog, and the welcome page would be the best place to start:
    under1000permonth.blogspot.com/2009/01/welcome.html

    There was also a parody/discussion site “Under 1000 Brain Cells” also still up and also no longer updated:
    under1000braincells.blogspot.com/

    (and, if you want to wallow through old FJ discussions, links are here: viewtopic.php?f=8&t=6952 , http://www.freejinger.yuku.com/topic/11 ... lar-stores
    http://www.freejinger.yuku.com/topic/10 ... and-snippy )

    Emily Kate no longer blogs, although she was a contributer to Frugal Hacks when she left and continued her ‘other’/personal blog:
    emilysbellybutton.blogspot.com/

    Some say she blogs elsewhere on the internet still--I don’t know enough to say whether or not that is true.

    So...without further ado:

    Under $1000 per month.

    This blog lasted under a year and was such a cluster, there is still plenty of discussion fodder.

    Emily and Dan and their 2 children (over the course of the blog, it became 3 children--allegedly, now 4 children) were living on (before “add ins” like tax returns, income from swag bucks and blogs, etc) under $1k a month.
    Emily kept the blog and was considered by most to be the ‘brains’ of the operation while her bible-college-student/wal-mart-employee husband, Dan, was keeping his own blog—he was clearly not considered the brains of the operation, and he got the nickname Dna after misspelling (or at least mistyping) his own name (his own blog, rantofdan, was amazingly difficult to wade through. Punctuation and grammar were lacking)

    Emily stated that she supplemented Dna's income with odd jobs: mystery shopping, occasionally merchandising (stocking shelves), demonstrating/giving out samples, jobs on Craigslist (dog walker/housesitter/etc), blogging and selling things (on ebay/craigslist/etc).

    She also made it very clear that this wasn't an accidental lifestyle, they "chose" this lifestyle. Dna (and I'll quote) "got this job before the economic crash last fall. We are not "victims" of the economy. We had chosen to be at this income level before other people were losing their jobs. A Walmart job is pretty secure in this economy. He even gets bonuses when sales are up. He's also already gotten two raises." Emily made it abundantly clear that they were not looking to change/better their position , that she came from a upper middle class-middle class family, that she had chosen not to take their money and that this is where they wanted to be.

    Emily and Dna’s religious convictions ran the gamut. She aligned herself with the right (insisting they needed satellite radio in order to get fox news but felt compelled not to watch it on TV, since it’s portrayal of the female body was “x-rated”), stated that her husband always had ‘veto power’ authority in the house (she was the minister of finance and every other role, apparently--unless he chose to say no). On the flip side, she stated that Dna voted for (gasp!) John Kerry, counter to what was ‘done’ in their circles. She and Dna drew many parallels between Christianity and Star Trek (their favorite show), and were OK with things like Harry Potter being discussed. There wasn’t much in the way of logical cohesion between one aspect of their religious life and philosophy and other aspects of it. They didn’t identify as quiverfull, but Emily did say that they planned on having a large, homeschooled family [she believed she could fit many many more kids into their 500 square foot apartment].
    Long term, she dreamed of living in a Yurt or a mobile home with a large brood of SODT educated kids. (She [quite illogically] claimed she would save the taxpayers money by not sending her kids to school and not using the preventative care covered by their state-funded-insurance.)

    The bulk of the blog revolved around the money poverty (and squalor).

    Emily provided a budget breakdown that included the following:

    "Rent: $600.00 [heat included, electricity is not included]
    Phone: $6.09 (low income reduced) [I assume this means lifeline or other similar programs]
    Internet: $19.99
    Auto Insurance: $31.22
    Electric: $27.00
    Satellite Radio: $12.95"
    .
    Total Fixed Expenses: $697.25"

    She also stated that they paid in full the $4,000 per year for Dna's tuition (turning down assistance for it, because they could afford it) and that their grocery bill varied significantly, depending on what was on sale/in season/etc.
    She said they did not have the following: dental insurance (apparently brushing and flossing was always enough to ensure healthy teeth--her blog did not back this up as Dna’s teeth looked like they were probably causing him great pain), vision insurance, life insurance, and retirement plans [the plan was to never retire and, barring senility, work until they die]. They had some form of low-income health insurance through the state that she prided herself on them not using (her children were born with a midwife they paid for themselves), preferring that her kids go without doctors rather than use the insurance they had.
    (Emily alleged that she hoped to save the taxpayers money by not having/using their preventative medical insurance and by not sending her children to public schools. When a commenter pointed out this didn’t work, she gave very illogical rebuttals)

    (Emily also repeatedly pointed out/claimed they were not poor--she played the ‘first world problems’ shaming game before that meme existed--pointing out that living in rather deplorable conditions was still ‘better’ than what people worldwide are accustom to. Which, while, in a sense, true, was unbearably frustrating as her readers watched her deny her children basic ‘needs’ that were within their reach [like a safe place to sleep] in a martyrish show of her piety through her rejection of materialism.
    Point on that---the heat was free in their apartment but they chose to be ‘frugal’ to the point of uncomfortable for everyone living there, about using said heat. She would lay under a blanket because the apartment was cold enough that she couldn’t comfortably crawl out from under the blanket...but heaven forbid they use the landlord provided heat.)

    So Emily focused most of her blogging on how she lived on her budget and the ways she was saving money. Her methods of saving varied wildly. Usually, what started out as a reasonable, sane, commendable (or at least acceptable) way of pinching pennies would, in her writing of it, be bastardized into a smug illogical extreme version of it that just made everyone shake their heads.
    (these are the things that will be forever part of the Free Jinger lexicon).

    Lets start with the food, if you can call her concoctions food.

    Emily eschewed the oven, claiming it was expensive to run; with very few exceptions everything she made was heated in the crock pot. Allegedly it was over 50% cheaper, in electricity costs, to run the crock pot than the oven. EVERYTHING was made in the crock pot. Bread, Pizza, casseroles--everything.

    Since Emily didn’t like beans or rice (sometimes--she did contradict herself often on these topics) , she decided that pasta was a good way to stretch the food budget, she decided to make home-made noodles. Most people make noodles with flour, egg, pinch of salt, etc, then dried. Emily made them out of paper mache paste--she mixed flour and water and ‘cooked’ that. (hence why they’re referred to as “gloodles”--”glue+ noodles”)

    When Emily decided to make homemade cheeses, it was not frugal enough to make homemade cheese and yogurt--she would have been ‘wasteful’ to buy a square of cheesecloth. Instead, she used an old (not very clean looking, with dyes that would be sure to leech out into the foods) skirt to strain her cheeses. (yes, this is the origin of the FJ word ‘skirtcheese’)

    Officially, Emily stated that her family was to eat food that was both cheap and healthy. Her ‘rules’ were that no food was to be genetically modified; no produce that was more than $1 per pound and no meat that was more than $1.50 per pound. (Apparently, dollar store pink slime hot dogs and ground meat fit that bill...)

    When readers questioned the wisdom of some of her food choices, Emily vehemently defended her dollar-store-clearance convenience foods and the broccoli stalks she got with the Wal-Mart discount. When a reader linked to a study on nitrates in the hot dogs, Emily suddenly changed her mind about hot dogs and acknowledged that the readers might have been right...but instead of opening up to the idea that maybe the *big picture* of her food was problematic and she could make wiser choices, she glommed onto the tiny bit of science she gleaned about nitrates and decided to avoid just nitrates and ignored all the rest of the information.
    (This was par for the course. Emily would be presented with a well thought out argument for why she was ‘wrong’. She wouldn’t accept that, overall, she was wrong. What she would do is say “oooooh, I didn’t know *THAT*” about one tiny detail of information and would then go completely overboard with that tiny detail, ignoring the salient points in favor of focusing on this tiny detail)

    Emily tried to grow a window garden to supplement their food but the offerings looked like precious little--apparently in 2 coffee cans, in the winter, in Maine, one cannot grow enough lettuce to feed 4 people (she did discuss it elsewhere on the internet, where the commenters point out it doesn’t work:: frugalhacks.com/2010/03/10/leafy-greens-ripoff/. )
    Over the course of the blog, many commenters noted that Dna looked like he was losing a great deal of weight--and that he looked underweight as time went by.

    Emily decided that refined sugar was going to be a problem for her family and they all switched to stevia, as a frugal way of cutting calories.
    Emily also decided she was very fond of lacto-fermenting. They had a pet kiefer, Therese, that they used to ‘supplement’ their diet.

    Emily also decided to frugally cloth-diaper her children. No harm there (I say with all the bias of someone who part-time-frugally-cloth-diapers-my-child), but instead of accessing reasonable laundry facilities, she chose to hand-wash her children’s diapers in a ‘wonderwash’ (wonderwash: http://www.amazon.com/The-Laundry-Alter ... B002C8HR9A ). The even-close-to-sanitary diapers were, with the other ‘clean’ clothes, hung on lines about the apartment to dry.
    (Also, the eldest child was not yet potty trained and was not sleeping on any form of waterproofing. I don’t think you could have paid me enough to walk barefoot in that apartment)
    The wonderwash was an improvement, previously she had been using the shower to rise the sheets and diapers (she used soap nuts as her cleaning product of choice), and a rubbermaid tub with a mixing stick to wash.


    THe train wreck of the family’s diet wasn’t enough, Emily gave ‘tours’ of her family’s home in black-and-white photo glory.
    There are (color!) pictures in this FJ post, provided by people who are probably better experts on Emily than I am: viewtopic.php?f=8&t=6952&start=60#p180609 )
    This is where things really probably went off the rails for Emily.
    Giant plush toys were kept in the bathroom. (this would be the bathroom dog--Brad. He was mouldy looking, to put it mildly)
    One child slept on a mattress under the rickety looking crib of the other child--the entire thing looked likely to collapse onto the baby.
    Clothes lines with dangling clothes hanging everywhere--including over and around the crib and children’s room.
    Flimsy shelves hung in easy reach of the crib, all but begging to be pulled down upon a kid/climbed up by a kid.
    Sketchy, non GFI wired lamps over water sources in the bathroom.
    All the toys (trikes, slides, etc) hanging precariously on racks on the walls.
    Things stacked EVERYWHERE.
    Fabric was draped over everything--because apparently a death-trap draped behind some fabric was a foolproof disguise for the death-traps.
    Things were in a state of filth that was problematic. The rooms were filled with half-thought-out projects, from half a mural on the wall to half-a-paint-job on the crib.


    I do encourage you to skim through the pictures saved on the FJ posts; It’s hard to describe what this looked like.

    Eventually, other dramas surfaced and the readers got more and more obviously disillusioned with Emily Kate. She had gone from “she’s kinda crazy...but entertaining in a train-wreck sort of way” to “holy crap, she’s endangering children for fun and profit--please say she’s kidding!--lets call the authorities!” (which is when the parodies of her work cropped up--she did not take kindly to them)

    One of the children got very sick (and the illness was pooh-poohed until he was in a coma) and the family stayed in the local Ronald McDonald house. The post about the RMH was ‘damning with faint praise’ as she talked about the generosity and kindness...and groused about the food being bad and them being sick because they didn’t have natural kiefer. (“During the week my son was in the hospital, we all ate pure crap. It was a week marked with white flour pasta and cookies. I could have put in some effort and made more food myself, but I didn't. There was no lacto-fermented salsa or soaked grain tortillas for a whole week.”).
    People had suspicions about the ‘cliffhanger’ aspects of the scary medical drama with her son and people readers got more emotionally involved and their attempts to help the family were rebuffed.

    Allegedly, child services were called, they investigated, and no action was taken.

    Around this time, a generous FJerite sent Emily a (organic, met high safety standards and all the ‘science’ Emily purported to follow) a crib mattress for her children, to replace the ones that weren’t working for her. Emily posted a ‘thank you’ where she explained why she donated it elsewhere rather than give her child a safe place to sleep.

    Dna dropped out of Bible college. There were allegations, online at least, that it became apparent that Emily was doing his work/writing for him and he was asked to quit--I am afraid I do not know if that is rumor or fact. Someone *did* report the living situation and the suspicions to the dean of the bible college, who said they would look into it.

    Emily paid some lip-service to hearing the concerns of her readers--doing things like creating contests for them to help redesign/improve her children’s room. She then roundly ignored all of the solutions and stuck with the death-traps she had made.

    At this point, blogging “was no longer fun” and she quit--keeping her navel-gazing blog up for a short while longer.

    Free Jinger's Emily and Dna Discussions

      • Update: 6/16/14

        Emily and Dna are still fairly absent from the world of blogging, as far as I can see--they are apparently still on FB for those who have access there.

        Rumors abound but i haven't seen concrete answers to what has become of Emily Dna and the kids. (There are apparently 6 boys now so a family of 8). They have moved and are no longer in a 400 square foot apartment. I'm unsure if it's much of an improvement, but, probably..

        It circulated for a while that Emily and Dna were separated and that Emily had left the church for a UU church. Then the update was that they were back together and had their 5th child, and then a of a 6th.

        Emily and Dna are apparently not FB friends with each other--either through oversight, choice, or possibly, as the wise Ilovejellybeans said "Dan can't find Emily, because he cannot spell her name", this may be an oversight or may imply that they are indeed separated still (again?).

        I would love to have an update that told us where they are now and what they're doing and how enmeshed in the culture of poverty by choice they are or aren't, but I'm afraid they just haven't decided to bring their dog and pony show back into the limelight.

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