As always in a household with one income today things always feel a little tight. I have been considering weekend work so that we can continue homeschooling our children, and still have some money to save for land in the future. This thinking has brought to mind some basic questions; is it possible for us to cut any excess on our homestead to create savings? is there anything I can do from home to create extra income? just how much (or little) did many families exist on during what most of us consider the worst economical climate in USA history?
I decided to do a bit of basic research. First, what was the average income for a family in the 1930’s? If one person was working, the average income went from $2,500 per year to $1,500 per year. Now I had to figure out how that compared to today. I am assuming that most families consist of around 4 people, 2 adults and 2 children. I found a neat inflation calculator to help me figure this out. You can too by going here. $1,500/year in 1930 would equal $20,359.13/year in 2012, roughly half of what my husband makes today. This was somewhat shocking considering that we spend so little on extras, but the fact is we DO spend on extras! It’s hard to look at it objectively sometimes, but those little extras really do add up, from a new shirt, to a boat, to a camera. When you think about it, you come to realize there IS a possibility for saving, it’s just not as comfortable. In today’s society the rule seems to be “do for your pleasure, you have to do that or life isn’t worth living”. So, many of us feel that if we can’t reap pleasurable rewards like those extras from our hard work then life is all work and no play. This really isn’t true, though. When I was growing up my parents often told us life is what you make of it, and you can take pleasure in anything with the right mindset.
Now, with all that said, I want to see us save. My husband wants us to save and have back-up cash. We don’t go to movies, subscribe to magazines, or go out to eat. However, we do buy “fun” things, usually pretty big ones, with the qualifier that we intend to use them to make money in the future. That’s not all bad, but we need to start the making money part with them! We used to do really good with “thinking poor” to keep ourselves on track, but we have slacked off and need to jump back on the wagon. To start this, I am going to really limit our budget. Already we are changing our food buying, living right now on what I put up last year and what we are getting from our animals, and buying very little except beans and rice. It’s a little boring until the garden get’s going good, but it is a bit less costly.
I have been telling the family we are going to have to live on what we grow this year, and in an effort to find enough space for growing things I have been carefully composting animal bedding and creating more raised beds in any space I can find. I carefully selected more heirloom seed so that we can avoid the expense of buying more next year. I am stocking up on canning jars and am trying to sell excess furniture so I have space to build food storage shelves. My goal is to get to where we are living on the same amount of money as a family during the great depreciation (adjusted for inflation of course) and put the rest aside, which would give us a hefty backup of funds. I am going to keep production records of the food we produce on our half-acre, and share it with you. While it will probably take a couple of months to really get going, once our garden starts producing we should really see some improvement. And one more thing; I am going to remember to “think poor”! I was sent a link for an Adobe photography software available to teachers at a very low cost, and I have to say I was tempted. Yet, I decided to think poor; did we need it? Was it going to recover it’s cost within 30 days? Do we already have something that will do those things or close enough that it wasn’t necessary to purchase something? Turns out we already have a free photography program called GIMP that does very well, it just takes a little more work to figure out, we would never recoup the cost of the software the way things sit now, we really don’t have the money to spend on it, and it isn’t a need for our survival. So, guess what? I’m not “cashing in” on the opportunity, because for us it is not needed. It’s going to be a challenge, but I think if we can do it we will be happier than the way we live now, pay-check to pay-check. That’s not the place to be, and we have been foolish to allow it. I hope that by the years end we can be proud of our financial improvement!