Showing posts with label planning. Show all posts
Showing posts with label planning. Show all posts

Thursday, February 9, 2017

How An Online Book Store Will Work For Me After The Collapse


As I have mentioned before, I have an online book store through Ebay. At any given time, I have at least 400 books and magazines listed with more always ready to be listed. I don't just sell books and magazines, but that is my main focus. I really like selling on Ebay so I keep going.

I believe in first, second, and third streams of income. I have a regular 7:30-4:30 job that provides me with insurance, 401K, and income to pay the bills. I have this blog, another new blog, and an often neglected YouTube channel. Then I have the online book store. The rest of these provide supplemental income. I have never intended them to be more than that, but would never mind if they became more than that.

What has been on my mind lately is what will I do if we have a collapse of any sort. All my current streams of income rely on a steady internet connection and electricity. How will I survive in a collapse situation? Can I reasonably do any of these jobs without internet and electricity? Can I convert any of these into other income streams?

The answer is yes. My everyday job might be harder to do because of the twelve miles I drive to work. We would also need a good-sized generator to run the pumps. Everything that is on computer would have to be done by hand accounting. I would need access to fuel to drive to work, but depending on the situation that can happen.

The blogging and vlogging would be harder to do or would not happen at all. However, I could apply my writing skills in other areas to keep people informed. 

However, I have a plan for the online book store. If the collapse happens, the online book store would become a regular, walk in the door book store. I would keep it in a separate building away from the house. I have more than 400 books, magazines, and other goods to sell or trade as of right now. I am continually growing the online store so I keep increasing the inventory.

There is questions and situations that will need to be dealt with. 

What about currency? That will be a tough one. Of course, I will always consider gold or silver as currency. If the current currency is still in place, that will work too. As I mentioned before, I will also trade for items that I need or others may want. 

This book store may become more of a trading post after awhile. I am good with that. I see books being necessary for reference materials, for knowledge, and for escaping reality for a bit. I would also put out items that we no longer use or need in the store too. Good used clothing will be necessary to people and worth the time to sell. 

I am not sure what I would use as a pricing scale yet for trading, but I think keeping prices low will help the business. I despise it when I hear people talking about jacking up the prices after a crisis. Taking advantage of desperate people is wrong and I plan on keeping that philosophy in my business. 

I would also consider turning the book store into a sort of consignment store if the conditions were good for it. If currency is not a problem, then I may allow other people to bring good, used items to sell. In this case, we will all need any money we can get. Selling for others allows me to make money as well as them. 

I hope, over time, to pick up for more skills and ways to make a living after the collapse. I know a lot of the living done after the collapse will be for survival, but we will need to also start working on rebuilding an economy. We need to start rebuilding cities and towns. 

Someone will need to provide the goods and have the ability to trade for other goods. I think flexibility will be key for running any business after the collapse which is why I discussed expanding the book selling and turning it into more. Keeping the options open will mean a better business for me. 

What are your plans after a collapse? Do you plan to run a business? How do you plan to stay employed?

Thanks for reading,
Erica



Monday, December 26, 2016

How To Start Saving Money For Next Christmas


What do you mean next Christmas? Christmas was, like, yesterday!

I know, I know. However, now is the time to set your budget for next Christmas and to start saving money for it. You know how much you spent on gifts, food, entertainment, and all the little extras. If you don't know, now is a good time to find the receipts and add them up. 

Now that you might be in shock over how much you spent, you need to take the time now to come up with a plan for next year. My goal is to pay cash or have the money in my checking account to pay for Christmas. I start early buying gifts so I can spread out the spending more. Saving money now allows me to start buying early because I have the money already saved.

If you were forced to use credit cards to pay for Christmas this year, this plan is for you too. Pay off those credit cards as quickly as possible and start putting some money away for next Christmas. If you used credit cards for the points and cash backs and can pay them off right away, that last little bit was directed at you. I understand using credit cards for those sort of things. Just be able to pay them off right away, okay?

Saving money for next Christmas can be painless, but might also require a little sacrifice of time, money, and giving up a guilty pleasure or two. You are trying to not stress about how to pay for Christmas when December rolls around. You want to give the best Christmas you can reasonably afford to. This is how you can do that. 

How To Start Saving Money For Next Christmas:

1. Set a budget! Look at how much you spent for this previous Christmas. Did you spend more than you thought? Were there some surprises you were not anticipating? Do you or your significant other like to go overboard with the gifts? Now is the time to look at these things. 

You can set your budget according to what you spent this year. If you thought you spent way too much, set a specific dollar amount you will spend on the kids, grandkids, parents, and everyone else that you bought for. If you know that you will have to chip in on a gift for the boss or a coach, figure that in. Then set a budget for food, the extras, and entertainment. 

For the rest of the steps, my estimated budget is $1000 (which is close, but I using this amount for figuring the rest of the steps). 

2. Come up with a savings plan. You know how many paychecks you will have between now and next Christmas. In my case, exactly 26 paychecks will happen. How much can you spare from your budget to save for next Christmas? I know I can usually spare $25 a pay period (and that is being stingy). At roughly $50 a month, I will be saving $600. 

An easy way to make sure the money is being saved is to have it automatically taken out of your account and put directly into a savings account. You can do this by having it direct deposited from your paycheck or setting up an automatic transfer with your bank. If you have good self-discipline, you can do the transferring yourself. 

Some people prefer to save money as cash and to use cash. You can still withdraw the money every pay period and put in an envelope marked for Christmas. If you think you might have trouble with spending it on other things, put it somewhere safe in the house and not in your purse/wallet. Otherwise, leave it with a trusted family member or friend who will also not spend it for you.

3. Figure out how to make up the deficit. If you cannot save enough money from just your paychecks, you need to figure out how to make up the difference. As you can figure, I still have $400 to come up with to make up the difference. Honestly, this is just making extra money and we should all know how to do this by now. If not, here are some ideas:

  • Side Jobs
  • Tax Refund
  • Selling Unused or Not Needed Things
  • Redeeming Cans and Bottles for the Deposit (If you have this option)
  • Selling Things on Consignment
  • Babysitting, Pet-sitting, and House-sitting

Put this money away in the Christmas savings. If you earn more money than you need, then keep saving it for other things. You can never have too much money saved, especially in the emergency fund!

4. When you do decide to start shopping, spend wisely. You never know when you might trip over a deal of the lifetime on something you wanted to give as a gift. When you do spend, use the cash you saved or transfer the money into your checking account. 

5. Keep a careful accounting of what you are spending through the year. You can use this for the following year's Christmas budget. Sometimes, surprises happen and you have to spend money on a gift you were not planning on. Keep the receipts in an envelope with a small ledger of what spending has occurred. This way, you can figure that in for next year. 

How do you save money for Christmas? 

Thanks for reading, 
Erica


Friday, July 29, 2016

Eight Ways to Avoid Frugal Burnout


Are you tired of pinching pennies?

Are you tired of beans and rice?

Are you tired of wondering when the debt will be paid off?

Are you tired of being frugal?

Frugal burnout is a real thing, folks!

Constantly watching your pennies and wondering when you can afford what you really need or want just gets to you after awhile. I know, for me, that I just get tired of it all. I get tired of checking my bank account constantly. I get tired of keeping track of my spending. I get tired of not being able to buy whatever I want. I get tired of saying no to my kids. You get the idea. 

Being that aware of your money all the time can wear a person out. Even though you should have an emergency fund, real life happens. Your car breaks down or an emergency room trip happens. It just makes you want to throw your hands up in the air and cry! 

You are trying so hard to get ahead! You are being as frugal as you can and life is still tough. This is where frugal burnout comes in. You get so tired of trying to be frugal and pinch pennies that you just give up. You lose track of the goals you set. Your budget starts to go awry. You make a purchase of your credit card. 

You can avoid frugal burnout! Here is how:

1. Look at and assess your financial goals. Having your goals written out and visible helps to keep you focused. Some people need visual reminders to keep motivated. Having a meeting with your significant other (or yourself) and reassessing your goals every month will help keep you on track. 

2. Stay motivated! Keep track of your progress. Make a chart showing how much you have to pay off and how much you have paid off. Keep the chart updated and celebrate your progress in a fun, free way. 

3. Have fun! Laugh a little! Sometimes people can get way, way, way too serious about being frugal and then they get burnt out. Remember to have some fun and laugh! Play games, attend a free concert, have friends over, watch a funny movie, and cut loose for awhile! Your outlook on your frugal life will be much better for it!

4. Realize setbacks are inevitable and you can do this. Stuff happens. You can plan and anticipate as much as possible with your budget and finances. However, sometimes the car battery will die. You might get into a car accident. You might be laid off from work unexpectedly. You can still be a frugal maniac! Regroup, replan, and get back at it!

5. Find someone who is frugal and start a support group. Seriously, find some like minded people. They are great for accountability, for new ideas, for support, and for having fun with! 

6. Watch your favorite frugal YouTube videos and channels! Get yourself some inspiration! I love to listen to YouTube videos while working or just working. I have learned some great tips and ideas that I would never have thought of myself. Listen to others talk about their frugal ideas and journeys have given me a lot of motivation and inspiration over the years. 

Some of my favorite frugal YouTube Channels are Living on a Dime, Big Family Homestead, Jordan Page Fun Cheap or Free, Lydia Senn, and frugalgreengirl

7. Read the Tightwad Gazette (or reread!). I am not kidding. This is the best frugal book out there. I learned so much from this book and was able to adjust my attitude in several areas of my life to become more frugal. If you can not afford it, ask your library if they have it or can get it for you. Take the time to read this book from cover to cover. You will not regret it!

8. Reassess the budget. Sometimes the budget needs tweaking. You should review it every month. However, even I am not very good at this. Take some time this weekend to see if the budget is working, where you need to improve, where you can cut back at, and where you are spending your money

Whatever your frugal goals are, you can do it. If you get into a slump, use one of these ideas to get you back on track!

What do you do when you are in a frugal burnout?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

I Have Been Prepping For Five Years, Now What? A Review Checklist for the Long-Term Prepper


Many of us have been prepping for quite a while. We started by getting some more food, a few cases of water, and some gear. Then prepping took over our lives and we now have a lot of prepping things and a good size food and water storage. 

I have been prepping for longer than five years, but I know that I have areas of my prepping I need to revisit. I bet you do too. As I have been decluttering and reorganizing, I have noticed things getting a little out of date, maybe a little dusty, maybe a little rusty, and some of it definitely being unused. I know our emergency plans are out of date and we have a lot of revisions to make. 

Sound familiar?

Here is a list of things you need to check if you have been prepping awhile. While we should be checking our preps every six months to one year, time does get away from us and we get busy with other things. Now is as good time as any to get your preps in line for, you know, just in case!

Preps to Check:

Check Water



Check long-term food stores 

  • Freeze-dried foods need to be checked to make sure the seals are good and no containers are bulging 
  • Food stored in mylar bags needs to be checked and possibly opened to make sure there is no spoilage or bugs
  • Food buckets need to be checked for a good seal and no holes or breaks
  • Canned foods need to be checked over to either be eaten or thrown and again no bulges in the cans
  • Is the food still things you would eat or not? 
  • Is there any obvious holes in your food storage your need to fill?


Check supplies 

  • Does everything still work? 
  • Do batteries need to be replaced? 
  • Do I have a good stock of batteries?
  • Does the oil, gas, or propane need to be replaced?
  • Have you started or used this prep lately to make sure it works?
  • Is everything in good condition?
  • What needs to be repaired or replaced?


Check caches and supplies hidden at other places

  • Are they still there? 
  • How is everything holding up in the caches? 
  • Time to rotate the food in the caches?
  • Check clothing if stored for kids and replace
  • Hiding spot still good?
  • Cache container still have good camouflage? 


Check security

  • Ammo and guns still in good condition?
  • Knives sharpened and in good condition?
  • Other methods of defending yourself still in good condition?
  • Does everybody still know their role in the home security or does your plan need revision?
  • Is all your window and door locks in good condition?
  • Is your home still invader-proof? Walk around the house to make sure.


Check home emergency supplies

  • How are the fire extinguishers? Still in date and still functioning?
  • Rope ladders from upstairs rooms still in good condition?
  • How are your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors? Still working well or need to be replaced?
  • Generators still run well? 
  • Still have an adequate amount of gas, propane, and/or diesel on hand? Container still in good condition?
  • Do you still have a good amount of bedding and supplies for those that might show up in an emergency or disaster?


Check your bug-out bags and 72-hour kit


  • Is the clothing and shoes still size appropriate for who is using it?
  • Is the food still good? Do you still have an adequate amount?
  • Does everything function correctly and is still appropriate for the person carrying it?
  • Does the batteries need to be replaced in anything?
  • Is there adequate amount of supplies for the people in your family? 

Check your first-aid kit and supplies

  • What needs to be replaced?
  • Do the bandages look old and/or might not stick anymore?
  • Have your family's needs changed? Do you need baby stuff or not anymore?
  • Is the over-the-counter medicines still in good standing or need to be replaced?
  • Is everything still well-organized or need to be again?
  • What do you need to add to your first-aid supplies?


Other Questions you should be asking yourself

  • Is your evacuation plans still good?
  • Does your emergency family plan need to be revised?
  • Are your kids older or do you have kids now?
  • Do you need plans for your kids in college or on their own?
  • Do you need to have plans for your parents and older family members?
  • Is your emergency information updated?
  • Is your phone list still current?
  • Do you need to update your personal information in your family emergency binder?
  • Do you have an updated list of all medications your family is taking?
  • Do you have current health histories on everybody?
  • Is your vehicle emergency kit current? Does anything need to be replaced?
  • Is your Every Day Carry current and still useful?
  • How is your emergency cash fund? Does it need to be replenished or increased?

There is so much to think about and do when you are prepping. Checking your preps can sometimes get lost in the busyness of prepping and living life. While I am sure I missed some things that need to be checked, this basic list can get you started on making sure you are covered in an emergency or disaster.

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Monday, January 25, 2016

Do You Feel Like Prepping Now?


Anytime is a good time to start prepping. Yesterday is always a better time, but starting now is better than waiting until the actual SHTF happens. And a lot of events are going on right now. 

Winter is here. The East really knows winter is here now. I had a few friends post pictures of the almost empty grocery shelves. The snow fall made getting around difficult. And despite warnings to stay home and get ready, many people were caught in Snow Storm Jonas.

Stock markets around the world are really taking a dive. That is even happening in the United States. Please don't fool yourselves. We have big financial problems coming on the horizon that are not fixable. 

We have foreign problems by the loads. Iran is a huge worry. The Middle East is always a worry. Russia doesn't hesitate to let you know how they feel. Our president is not very well adept in dealing with any of this. One wrong move in the next year could send us into a world war. 

We have many potential natural disasters coming into play. Polar ice caps are melting. More earthquakes are happening every month. A couple of places in the US are poised to have the "big one" happen anytime when talking about earthquakes. Tornado season is around the corner. 

We have more people on welfare and government assistance now than at anytime in history. More and more people believe the government will save them if something happens. Unemployment is high (depending on whose numbers you believe) and climbing. What happens when the government money runs out?

I could go on and on, but you get it. The time to prep is now. 

Many people think that they can always start something new tomorrow or next week, but prepping doesn't work like that. You don't know what is going to happen tomorrow or next week. Heck, you don't know always know what is going to happen today. You might have your day planned out and get stuck in a snow drift on the way home. 

You just don't know.

Why wait to prep? Waiting just doesn't make sense! Do you want to be one of those people that has to scramble at the last minute to get what you need? Or worse yet, be helpless until help arrives? Do you want to put yourself and your family in danger because you didn't want to have worry about "that kind of stuff"? 

I am a prepper and I know the urge to prep more and prep smarter has been hitting me hard lately. Enough so that I have been reassessing my preps and getting holes filled. I am building even more food storage and water storage. I am making plans to beef up my gardens and increase my chicken flock this spring. I am figuring out more ways to heat without electricity. I am doing more reading and learning about new skills and practicing them.

I am doing what I can to make sure my family is not helpless. I can't handle seeing them hungry or hurt. There is no reason they should suffer more because of my lack of foresight. You and yours should not have to suffer either. 

What is the harm in having extra food and water in the house? What could it hurt for your family to take self-defense lessons? How cool would it be to grow some of your food? What could be a problem with having a good first-aid kit? 

All of it needs to happen. Today. Not tomorrow. Not next week. Today.

Do you feel like prepping now?

Thanks for reading,
Erica



Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Once A Month Shopping Challenge: Month 2 and November's Meal Plans


Here we are, Month 2 of the Once A Month Shopping Challenge!

I tried to be a little more prepared for this month. I have officially made my three planned stops as of yesterday. The first stop was to K-Mart to get:

2 bags of dog food
2 bags of cat food (grain-free for the cat with a sensitive stomach)
1 bag of cat litter
1 bottle of shampoo (for me)
1 bottle of shampoo/conditioner (for Dane)
2 bottles of conditioner (1 for me, 1 for Paige)
2 bottles of Vitamin C gummies (buy 1, get 1 free)

I cannot find the receipt right now, but I know I spent $76 with taxes and we saved $25 with coupons and discounts. Some things like cat litter have gone up a bit and that surprised me. 

The second stop was to Menards. I have this receipt! At Menards, I bought:

1 Plastic Window Kit to cover my inside windows
1 Plastic Door Kit to cover my back door until I get a new storm door
1 Garden Hand Shovel to replace the one the dog chewed up
2 different size drill bits because the ones I had were dull
1 set of sticky mouse traps
1 bag of Fast Set Repair Mortar for the basement drain. We have caught snakes coming up through the sides of it where the cement has crumbled. 

I had a Menards rebate check for $10. My total after that was $19. Not too bad! I also got another rebate to mail in when I bought the window kit. 

The third stop was to Fareway. This trip was for groceries and this one hurt! I won't list everything because this was a big grocery shopping trip that included Thanksgiving. I am hosting it this year!



The highlights and deals:
Frozen vegetables for $.77 (I bought 6 bags)
Shredded cheese - 8 oz. packages for $.99 each (limit 3)
Pork Sausage for $1.99 a pound (I got 3 - 1 lb. packages)
10 pound roll of 85% ground beef on sale for $2.99 a pound (I got one roll)
Store pasta on sale for 10/$10.00
A lot of produce 

I spent $174.00. I am still in shock, but I am trying to step back and realize if this is for the whole month, that is not bad at all. I shopped a lot of deals and saved quite a bit that way. I did have to buy meat which always kills me. I bought two roasts in addition to the meat listed which were $18 total. That is just expensive, but both roasts will provide two meals and 2-3 days of leftovers afterwards. That is not bad.

I already have the turkey and ham in my freezer for Thanksgiving. I bought potatoes, stuffing, apple cider, cranberries, and fried onions for the green bean casserole. I have a lot of food in my pantry already for side dishes. Plus our holiday meals are potluck so many other people will be bringing more food. 

The November Meal Plan is going to look similar to October's meal plans. I will be incorporating more slow cooker meals that are low carb for me. The kids will probably have rice with them, but I need to be more diligent about sticking to eating better. I have my freezer meals for the slow cooker and we are also trying Slow Cooker Mongolian Beef and Slow Cooker Ropa Vieja. I can't wait to try them!

November Meal Plan
Chili (slow cooker)
Beef Stew (slow cooker)
Mongolian Beef (slow cooker)
Ropa Vieja (slow cooker)
Chicken Noodle Soup
Cavatini (for sports banquet)
Pork Chops and Roasted Vegetables
Homemade Pizza
Fajitas
Tacos (2 times)
Baked Rigatoni
Taco Chili Mac
Turkey Pot Pie
Spaghetti
Slow Cooker Roast Chicken and vegetables
Chicken Loaf, rice, and vegetables
Fritatta
2-3 Freezer Meals
Thanksgiving 
Thanksgiving Leftovers
Leftovers from slow cooker meals

I realize the leftovers are a tentative thing. I usually make a lot when I make slow cooker meals so we have plenty of leftovers. However, I am living with the joy of a growing boy. If he is hungry and even remotely likes the meal, he can eat a lot! Holy moly! Paige can also eat a lot too which makes for an interesting meal time some nights. 

As always, I make my own bread and snacks for myself and the kids. We have chickens that produce eggs which is my breakfast almost every morning. This month, I am going to try to make my own tortillas (those are more expensive than ever!). 

How is your shopping challenge going? What are you planning for meals for November?

Thanks for reading,
Erica



Tuesday, October 27, 2015

How I Get Things Done: Doing 5 Things In One Area


I am often asked how I get things done. I know I am a single mother with busy kids so that means I have to get things done. Of course, I enlist my kids into helping because, most of the time, it is their mess. At the end of the day, though, most of the work falls on me to keep the house running smoothly and to get things done.

I often don't feel like doing anything. Morning is my best time to get things done because I am tired at night after being at work most of the day. When I get home, I don't want to do anything including cooking. I often have prepping and homesteading tasks to accomplish. I have blogging to do. I have an Ebay store that needs daily attention. 

I have things to do! 

Crazy, right?

This is how I get things done: I choose an area and get five things done in that area. 

I will grab a piece of scratch paper or use my Any.DO app on my phone and make a list of five things I want to get done. I often will have a list for the morning and one for the evening. My morning list will usually have errands I need to run in town. I also focus attention on and have a list of five things to do in my Ebay store and for my blogging activities in the mornings. 

My evening list is usually more specific to an area at home that needs attention. I do most of my homesteading tasks in the evenings. Most of my prepping activities will be in the evenings. Most of my major housework will be in the evenings. Altogether it is really overwhelming, but by breaking down the tasks and focusing on one area, I can get more done.

I like to have my list written down or noted on the Any.Do app so I can keep on task. I am way too easily distracted and will lose focus easily. I need to see the list in print to keep on task!

For an in-house example of what I would do: If I am in the living room, I will put five things away. Usually that alone makes a huge difference! I will fold the blankets and put them away, put the throw pillows back on the furniture, make the kids pick up the toys, put away read books and magazines, and put the dirty dishes in the kitchen. The living room is instantly looking better and I feel accomplished.

For a more specific example, this was yesterday's list:
Buy garlic to plant in the garden
Plant garlic in the garden
Stake the area planted and put twine around the stakes for a barrier
Buy pots for the herbs
Repot the outdoor herbs and bring them inside for the winter.

I also pulled up the tomatoes plants while I was out there waiting for the kids to find the twine and stakes. I should have been more efficient and brought them out with me! But that is life sometimes!

That list was all about gardening and I felt great getting that all done! Especially with colder weather coming this week!

When I make a list of five, I am doing it to keep the list and my life simple. I don't feel overwhelmed. I am doing what I can in this area at that moment. I still make supper, do dishes, and do laundry, but I am getting more done than the basics.

The side benefit of doing five things is that I can stop there and feel great about what I have done. Usually though, when I start doing those five things, I start doing more during or after those five things are done. Case in point: pulling up the tomato plants while I was waiting for the kids. 

Depending on where you are at in life, your list might be different. I remember my kids being little and thinking that having five toys picked up was a great achievement! The joy of the list of five is that you can make suit your life and where you are at in life. 

How do you get it all done? Do you use this method too?

Thanks for reading,
Erica



Monday, June 8, 2015

The Joys and Concerns of Living in a Rural Area


This weekend is a prime example of why I usually try to make do with what I have. I did more running this weekend than I ever like to do, just to find three rolls of the kind of fencing I wanted. I was not a happy camper, but I have accepted this part of life.

Living in a rural area has its joys. I love the quiet, the openness, the lack of city regulations, the lack of noisy neighbors who can see every thing you do, and the space to do what I want to do. 

Living in a rural area also has its concerns. You have to drive to get what you need, often needing to go farther to get it, and you have to plan everything out to make sure you don't make a wasted trip. This last weekend was one of those weekends. 

Let me get started at the beginning. 

I have to get a fence put up around my garden. I have rabbits running wild on the farm, the chickens are pretty sick of being cooped up, and the dog thinks nothing of running through the garden, destroying whatever happens to be in her path. My onions are up and doing well. The tomatoes, squash, and peppers are planted and thriving well. I have broccoli and potatoes ready to be planted and seeds that want to be planted. None of those things will be surviving without protection.

I already have a fifty foot roll of 28" rabbit wire fence. I needed three more rolls and stakes to attach the fence to so I can surround the garden. Saturday we went to Spencer to see my grandma in the hospital (broken hip) and stopped at Menards. Normally, I love Menards. However, they did not have what I was looking for. I still bought the wooden stakes, two elderberry bushes (on the garden bucket list), a bag of composted manure (for the rhubarb), and a packet of sunflower seeds that my kids felt needed to be planted in the garden. 

Sunday morning, I went to Bomgaars in Algona. They had one roll of fence for a price I didn't remember paying for the last roll. In fact, I think I had sticker shock. I didn't buy the one roll left because I needed three rolls and didn't want to be stuck with having to find an alternative. However, I bought four more tomato plants and some flower plants for the planters in front of the house. And a packet of jelly beans because I was getting a bit stressed. I eat when I am stressed. 

I knew I needed to get this fence put up pronto. I made the executive decision to go to Fleet Farm in Mason City which I should have done in the first place or second place. I got to Fleet Farm, walked around the garden center inside the store, picked up a new trowel, and found the fencing. I was able to buy their last three rolls of exactly what I was looking for. The cost of those three would have been the same as two rolls at Bomgaars. While I was at Fleet Farm, I got wire to secure the fence, four tomato cages, eight broccoli plants, one lemon balm plant, and one mint plant. 

The three trips were all fruitful in what I purchased, but a waste of gas for at least the trip to Algona which I live closest to. I tried to make do with whatever I had, but I just did not have enough of anything on hand. I drove over an hour one direction, fifteen minutes in another direction, and fifty minutes in yet another direction.

When I got home, the rain started to fall. Doesn't that about figure?

This isn't the first time this has happened to me. The driving to get what I need, not finding it, and driving to another place. A lot of the local places are not open on Sunday which I respect. I didn't plan far enough ahead which is key for living in a rural area. 

I will get the fence up after work this week. Tonight I am spraying for mosquitoes because they are becoming quite annoying and Paige is allergic to their bites. Maybe if I have time after that, I will get the fence going. 

The joys of a homesteader!

Thanks for reading,
Erica



Wednesday, May 13, 2015

2015 Garden Plans and Goals: Becoming More Self-Sufficient Every Year!


Photo by my daughter, Jordan 

The garden is tilled! Now time to start planting and planning some more. I love gardening and all the it entails. I am working on making the homestead into a food producing machine. A lot easier said than done, but every year I make progress.

What am I going to do this year?

1. Plant asparagus and hope it comes back next year. These are second year plants as opposed to the first year plants from last year. I have hope they will. I added a lot of rotted chicken manure and bedding to the area they will be planted.

2. Put a fence around the garden. I love my chickens, but I will love them a lot less if they eat everything I plant. So a 3-4 foot fence will be going around the garden. At the end of the season, I will let them back in the garden to fertilize, eat leftover produce (if any!), and scratch around a bit.

3. Adding two more blueberry bushes. All four of my blueberries planted last year came back. I will add more soil acidifier to keep them happy and mulch heavily again. That worked really well last year too.

4. Adding more raspberry canes. I want to thicken up the area they are in and get more production out  of them in the years to come.

5. Added peat moss to the garden. This is already done, but was on my list for this year. The soil needed some added boost from last year.

6. Planting everything much closer together. For what I read and studied, plants do much better this way. Planting closer together keeps weeds choked out a bit more and I can plant more in the garden.

7. Planting peas and cucumbers by the fence going around the garden. I want the peas and cucumbers to grow up the fence and save room in the garden for other things.

8. Adding mulch to the garden. I want to use tacky straw mulch this year since I have read really good things about it. I have a lot of wind because I live in a really flat place so I need mulch that stay. The tacky straw mulch is suppose to do that. Fingers crossed!

9. Moving the five-gallon buckets and other planters out of the garden. I have done most of this, but I have a few left. I am moving all of them up to the house. I will be planting some flowers, some greens, and some herbs in them. I think they will do better being protected by the house with some shade during the day. We shall see. I need to add more soil to the first.

What I planting this year in the actual garden?

Tomatoes
Bell Peppers
Poblano Peppers (if I can find plants)
Potatoes
Red Onions
Yellow Onions
Green Beans
Peas
Cucumbers
Pumpkins
Yellow Squash
Zucchini
Beets
Carrots
Radishes
Spinach
Cabbage (Red and Green if I can find plants)

I do have some pipe dreams for my garden and gardening in general. If I get them done, great! If not, there is always next year.

1. Put in two 4' x 4' or 6' x 6' raised beds closer to the house. I always wanted a "kitchen garden" where I would plant lettuce, greens, peas, radishes, and herbs. I want to trellis the peas in the middle and work my way to the outside with other plants.

2. Plant elderberry bushes, currants, honeyberries, and a couple more apple trees.

3. Find a new home or place in the yard for the day lilies. I love them, but they do not need to be in the garden. Plus I want to keep what flowers I have so the bees have more places to collect pollen.

That is it! The 2015 Garden Plans! Every year, we work on being more self-sufficient and raising our own food. This year will be the best yet!

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Monday, March 9, 2015

Sunday Savings on the Homestead Week 10: Plan Your Garden!

Every Sunday I will be posting a Sunday Savings on the Homestead. This posts will concentrate on one money saving thing you and I can do to save money for the week. Some will be easy, some will be be a bit difficult, and all will concentrate on one way to save money for the week. Please join me in trying to live a frugal life in 2015!

March is here! I can finally get excited about gardening! Not that the snow has gone away yet, but planning what to plant, where to plant, and how much is wonderful! 


I have already amended the soil a fair amount with old chicken manure and bedding. I might add in a bit of peat moss too because my soil is a heavy black dirt that needs some lighting up. 

What are you going to plant? Where? How much?

My garden is going to contain:
2 rows (18 plants) tomatoes - 9 paste tomato plants and 9 heirloom tomato plants
2 grape tomato plants
2/3 rows of snap peas
2 rows of green beans
1 row of yellow onions
1/2 row of red onions
1 & 1/2 rows of bell peppers
4 zucchini hills
4 summer squash hills
2 pumpkin hills
4 acorn squash hills
1 row of carrots
1/2 row of kale
1/2 row of spinach

I am still debating on planting potatoes. If I can expand the garden, I probably will plant a combination of red and white potatoes. 

Tonight (Monday), I plan on listening to Seeds for Generations' Garden Planning Webinar! Jason is very knowledgeable about gardening and will provide great information to help you plan your garden! 

What are you planning? Have you already started? 

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Daily Habits, Routines, and Prepping: Why Do They Go Together?


Many of us do the same things every day. We get up in the morning, take a shower, get dressed, eat breakfast, and start our day. Have you thought about how your daily habits and routines are a part of your prepping?

I didn't always see daily habits and routines as part of my prepping. I didn't use to have these habits and routines. Then I discovered Fly Lady and started to develop some routines. Then I had a few emergencies and discovered how nice it was to have these habits in place. I didn't have to search for clothes to wear. My clothes were in a neat pile, ready to wear. My phone and keys were in easy to find.

Lately, my nightly routine has been expanded. I make sure that by the time I go to bed, these things are happening:

1. Dishwasher is running.
2. The washer is running.
3. My clothes are laid out for the next day.
4. My phone is on the charger beside my bed.
5. All the lights are off.
6. The doors are locked.
7. Keys are beside my phone or in my jacket pocket.
8. My need-to-remember list is sitting by my phone.
9. All Ebay orders are packed and ready to go in my car bag.

Daily habits and routines can make or break your prepping. Having a daily routine is a good habit. Good habits will make your prepping even better. They can set you ahead and give you a reason to not worry about what isn't done. If the power goes off during the night, you don't have to worry about a stack of dirty dishes and a mountain of dirty clothes. That has been taken care of. If I have an emergency during the night, I can slip into my clothes right away. I am not having to look for my phone.

However, these habits did not happen overnight. I had to practice them over and over again. I had to learn a few lessons when they did not get done. I hate scrambling to get things done even though I am a procrastinator at heart. This daily habits keep me calm and give me less to worry about.

And isn't that the core idea of prepping? Doing things now in order to not worry about them later? 

How do you develop these habits and routines? 

1. Write a list. Write 8-10 things you want to have done at night and in the morning. I have my morning list and my evening list. I use to keep these on my phone and my mirror so I could review them constantly. I have changed them over the years due to changing needs and more independent kids. I just make sure my list includes things I don't want to worry about tomorrow.

2. Practice, practice, practice. Doing these habits and routines takes practice. Over and over again. You will out what is working and what is not working. I always want to get up early in the morning and get a lot done. That does not happen all the time so I have learned to do a lot more at night.

3. Your list may not be my list and that is okay. You have to do what works for you. I just know I am happier with these things taken care of at night. I don't have to face these things in the morning and I am prepared to face whatever happens in the morning. My list makes me worry less. Your list should involve things that will make you worry less.

My daily routine keeps me sane and is just a good thing to have. What do you think?

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Linked to: Simple Saturdays Blog Hop!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Preparedness on the Cheap: Learning Your Evacuation Routes


No one wants to think about evacuating their home. I know I would not leave mine until I absolutely had to or was forced to leave. However, in being prepared, we have to think about all possibilities whether we want to or not.

I live in a rural area. I know my evacuation routes by heart. I have them marked on a map that is always in my vehicle. I carry maps of Minnesota and Iowa because those are the two areas I travel the most in. I know the main routes and the alternate routes by heart. I have routes that miss all towns/cities, but can always go into a town if I need to.

While I find this important in rural areas, I find having evacuation routes crucial in urban areas. When I find myself in a town or a city, I look at maps to make sure I know how to get out of town. Main roads are good, but might be clogged with other traffic trying to leave. I look for alternate routes and I also try to make sure I have contacts that live or work in that city for more information on ways to leave the city.

Another thing I do to learn my evacuation routes is to also learn landmarks. I will talk to myself when I am drive and tell myself the landmarks. I try to memorize these landmarks so if I don't have a map or I am not using my vehicle, I can still know where I am going.


Things You Will Need To Learn Your Evacuation Routes

1. Highlighter or Marker, Pen, and Paper
2. City Map
3. County Plat Maps  (If you can get them. Not every state or county has these.)
4. State Map with county paved roads marked on them
5. Atlas with primary and secondary roads marked on them
6. A vehicle in which you can travel your routes.

How To Learn Your Evacuation Routes

1. Decide where you are going. I talk more about this here. Make sure your routes are highlighted.
2. Write down your evacuation routes so you have a separate source in case reading a map is not feasible. Also, you will memorize your routes better by writing down your routes.
3. Take a drive. If you have time and gas money, drive your primary and alternate routes. Start noting your landmarks and where they are at. If you have passengers with you, this would be a good task for a passenger to do. Stop every twenty miles or so if you are by yourself and write down the landmarks.
4. Drive back home. Do the same thing as #3, but in reverse. You might notice different landmarks on your way back home.
5. Once home, type up your evacuation routes as well as a list of landmarks in order of being seen. Also, type your evacuation routes in reverse in case you need them to get home. Put these in every vehicle as well as your bug out bags so you have them handy when you need them.
6. Update these at least once a year. New roads are being added all the time and sometimes your evacuation plans need to change.

I know we have GPS, Google Maps, and other such things nowadays. I don't like using any of those things. You know why? Nothing, and I mean nothing, replaces map-reading knowledge, memorization, and good common sense. Those electrical things can fail, die, run out of battery, or simply not be available when you need them. Do not rely on them.

Involve your kids in finding your evacuation routes. If they are drivers or college kids, they need to know this information. You might need another driver in case of emergencies, need of second evacuation vehicles, or injuries. Your college kids need to know how to get back home safely using multiple routes. 

Make this an family effort. You never know what your kids need to know and when they need to know it. They might have a better idea than you on getting somewhere fast. And it never hurts to have a second, third, or fourth pair of eyes either. 

In the winter, this is a good task to have done in a weekend. Whenever you do it, do it as soon as you can. You never know what you will face today or tomorrow.

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Friday, January 9, 2015

Making a Budget: No One Wants To, But We Need To!


In the 13 Ways To Save Money In The New Year post, point #13 was to find someone to be an accountability partner for spending and budget making ideas.

Before you can look for an accountability partner, you need to do something first. You need to make a budget.

I know, I know. Making a budget is really, really, really hard. 

I know because I struggle with it too. However, I am determined to make a budget this year, adjust it when necessary, and stick to it. I have to give my money a place to go and I have to keep a tighter eye on where it is going.

Making a budget is not an overnight project. You need to look at the last 2-3 months and determine your expenses (bills, groceries, gas, etc.). How much, where, and frequency of money being spent is all things that need to be noted. How much money you make and frequency of money being paid to you needs to be noted. From these things, make a budget.

You can use a computer program or go low-tech (like me) and use a notebook or a planner. Just so your budget is not in your head, but on paper or saved on a file. Seeing it on paper makes your budget real to you. Keeping it in your head means that your budget is abstract and easily adjusted to what whims can suddenly take place.

Now, will this budget work exactly for the next and every month? Yes and no.

If you have expenses that are the same every month, never vary, and no surprises occur, you will be golden. If you are like me, you will have expenses that change all the time, your kids will surprise you with new needs (thank you to schools), and can change mid-month. You will pull your hair in frustration or find the need to go target shooting.

However, sit back and breathe deeply. Write every month down. Write down what expenses are the same every month. Estimate what you need to until you know the definite amount. You will have to adjust your budget for new things. You might find places you don't spend as much as you thought. You might have places you spend way more than you should. The next few months will be an adjustment period.

Make sure every dollar is accounted for in the budget. Dave Ramsey suggests this and he is right. Even if the dollar is in savings, it is accounted for. If you have a budget surplus, put the surplus in savings so you have that for surprises that may occur down the road. Make categories for clothing, repairs, gifts, etc. and allot money to

Pretty soon, you will have a working budget. I promise.

Having a budget though requires something else from you. Self-discipline and self-control. I can feel some of you cringing already. That is okay. I am too. This is where you may need and should have a budget accountability partner.

What is a budget accountability partner? Someone you can trust to bounce ideas off of, cry on their shoulder when the budget is not responding to your needs/wants, and someone who will help you take a cold, hard look at it.

Make sure your budget accountability partner is someone you trust. A spouse, significant other, parent, family, or really good friend are all good candidates. If you are married and both of you have trouble with the budget, finding a parent, sibling, or really good friend would be good. Some people do find it beneficial to find a professional to help them be accountable and that is fine too. Whatever it takes for you to make your budget work!

I feel this year will be a year that our money will have to go farther and farther yet. Now is the time to take charge of your money, make it go farther, and make it work for you!

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Friday, January 2, 2015

13 Ways To Save Money In The New Year!

A new year and new goals! Yes! One of my goals for the year is to live as frugal of a life as possible. What I was really saying is that we are going on a spending fast. We literally will be cutting back expenses and saving money as much as possible. My finances are not where I want them to be and I need to change that.


What will I be doing to save money in the new year? 

1. Unsubscribe to all or all but a few (3-4) emails a day that encourage me to part with my money. Most of the time, I just delete the emails before I read them, but I have moments of weakness and click on them. No more!

2. Commit to spending no money for anything not on the goals list, that is frivolous, or unnecessary. 

3. Write out your goals to know where the money needs to go and what needs to save for. Where does your money need to go? What are your goals for the year? Think about the areas of home/homestead, prepping, financial, gardening, and kids. Set a plan for those goals and how to attain them. Check out my goals here! 

4. Commit to becoming debt free. This is a hard one. I know first hand and am still struggling to become debt free.

5. Spend less than what is earned. Easier said than done, but self-discipline is crucial.

6. Learn to live on cash. 

7. Talk yourself out of purchases.

8. Subscribe to frugally-minded blogs and newsletters for encouragement. 

9. Look for money making opportunities to help pay for projects or pay towards debt. 

10. Learn to live without things. "Make do, do without, use it up, wear it out!"

11. Stretch a dollar and make your money go as far as possible. 

12. Give yourself some grace. Life is unpredictable and some things are out of our control. Pick yourself back up and get back on track.

13. Find some friends, significant other, and/or family to become an accountability partner. Find similar minded people to talk to and bounce ideas off of. I talk about this and budgeting in this post!

Each month from here until December, I will talking about each of these in great length. I will come back and link to this article for you. I have already talked about number 3 and have linked to it already.

Money is important, but should not rule our lives. Make this the year where you take back control!

Thanks for reading,
Erica

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