July 9, 2006 in City

Feeling heat from soaring gas bills

The Spokesman-Review
 
Holly Pickett photo

From left, the Loe children, Erin, Jordan, Ian, Olivia, Natty, Emily and Rory, drink soda and eat Costco hot dogs in their van in the store’s parking lot. It has become a tradition for Barry and Tammy Loe to buy a $1.50 hot dog and soda for dinner for each child who comes shopping.
(Full-size photo)

People always ask the Loes how they do it: Seven children, one full-time salary. Their answer is a combination of careful budgeting, simple living and faith in God.

Clipping coupons, hitting the garage sales, using the crockpot. They track their monthly expenses in a worn ledger, and keep notebooks in their cars noting the price of gas back to the glory days of gallons measured in cents. They get some help from friends – like one who buys them phone cards to keep their long-distance bill down – and have learned to be handy with tools.

“We do all our own home repairs, and we’ve had to learn how to do that,” Tammy said.

Barry, 43, works full time as a security guard at Sacred Heart Medical Center, and Tammy, 42, works part time as an emergency room nurse. Their combined annual income is about $40,000. That’s comparable to Idaho’s median family income of $46,586 for 2004, though their household is much larger than average.

Last winter, they saw their natural gas bill shoot up from a high of $200 to about $350, so they invested in a wood pellet stove.

The recent surge in gas prices has been hard, as well, and Tammy has been picking up more part-time shifts in the emergency room.

- Shawn Vestal


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