Showing posts with label frugal living. Show all posts
Showing posts with label frugal living. Show all posts

Thursday, December 6, 2018

My 10 Favorite Frugal Living/Financial Books To Read and To Give


Finances are a hot topic any day. We are all looking for ways to save money and ways to better spend our money. With daily and monthly expenses threatening to overwhelm us, who wouldn't be interested in how to make our dollars go further?

Financial preparedness is just as important as emergency preparedness. We need to be ready for anything. Making a dollar go further, saving money, and getting out of debt should be at the top of our prepping lists.

So we all need good frugal living/financial books around to give us good tips and advice. I love to give these books as gifts when I can. Just like preparedness minded books, these books only serve to help people live a better life and be prepared for whatever hits them.

These books have all been read by me personally, either as a paper copy or on Kindle, and would be books I would read over and over again if I can.

My 10 Favorite Frugal Living/Financial Books to Read and to Give:

1. The Tightwad Gazette: Promoting Thrift as a Viable Alternative Lifestyle by Amy Dacyczyn (My favorite frugal living book, hands down!)

2. America's Cheapest Family Gets You Right on the Money: Your Guide to Living Better, Spending Less, and Cashing in on Your Dreams by Steve and Annette Economides

3. Be Thrifty: How to Live Better with Less by Pia Catton and Califia Suntree

4. Meet the Frugalwoods: Achieving Financial Independence Through Simple Living by Elizabeth Willard Thames

5. The No Spend Year: How you can spend less and live more by Michelle McGagh

6. The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness by Dave Ramsey (okay, just about anything from Dave Ramsey is recommended reading. I don't totally agree with him, but if you need your finances put on the right track, he is the one to read.)

7. How To Manage Your Money When You Don't Have Any by Erik Wecks

8. Living Well, Spending Less: 12 Secrets of the Good Life by Ruth Soukup

9. The Homemade Housewife: The Last Book You Will Ever Need on Homemaking and Frugal Living by Kate Singh (Kate Singh has a few books on saving money and being frugal - they are all good!)

10. Why Did They Teach Me This in School?: 99 Money Management Principles To Live By: Cary Siegel

These are ten of my favorite frugal living/finance books, but there are so many more to read.  I have plenty of them loaded onto my Kindle or in a pile of books to be read.

What are some of your favorite books in the frugal living/finance areas? Please list them in the comments below!

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Related Posts:
20 Books To Give Your Favorite Prepper (And Non-Prepper) for the Holidays!
The Prepper's Canning Guide Book Review


Friday, November 23, 2018

Stay Home on Black Friday. Shop Small. Shop Local.


(Originally posted in 2013. Revised and expanded for 2018. The views of the author haven't changed!)

Black Friday shopping can be crazy. Stores opening at midnight if they even closed at all. Standing in line and getting a ticket to buy an item at significant savings. Most of the time people are buying things they don't really need. They are missing out on time with family and friends to go shopping. Employees are missing out on time with family and friends on a holiday to satisfy a corporation's greediness.

No, I don't agree with stores being open so early on Black Friday and even on Thanksgiving Day. It is a holiday after all!  Just because someone works retail doesn't mean they need to pay the price of missing out on sleep and time with loved ones. I don't agree with stores opening at ungodly hours to satisfy their bottom lines while offering deals that are supposedly irresistible to shoppers. I don't like the whole craziness of these shopping days and what they stand for. I personally try to never participate if I can help it. A few years back, I got one thing online and regretted it because, despite the reviews, it was cheaply made and only lasted three months.

The problem with Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday shopping is that the public is feeding the problem. The stores are offering these deals and opening at ungodly hours. The public flocks to these sales forsaking their families, work and sleep. The workers are scheduled and, in a lot of cases, forced to work on the holiday because they are told they cannot take those days off or call in sick.

Quite frankly, the public is a huge part of this problem. If they would not shop at the sales, the stores would not feel the need to be open. Standing in lines for hours, collecting a ticket, rushing the doors, and rioting just brings out the ugliness of the whole situation. Stores make everyone stand in line if they want the item and get a ticket so they can purchase it. When did honor and morals go out the window while shopping? Just ridiculous.

Trust me, I understand the lure of the sale. I understand why shoppers do go to get a good deal on an item. If the shopper really needs the item, it would be very difficult to pass up the good deal. I usually advocate saving money any way you can, but for some reason, I can not condone Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday shopping. I see a lot of people going in debt and using credit cards to pay for items they cannot afford. People buy gifts for their families and friends that will be played with or used a few times and discarded. They bought the item for that person just because they were able to get that gift at such a "great" price.

Do yourself and your family a favor. Stay home on Black Friday. If you feel the need to be out on Black Friday, do so at a reasonable hour. Camping out at a store, battling others for the sale items, and spending you do not have is not the way to make great memories. Send the stores a message that their early sales and being open on a holiday is just not what consumers want. Send an even bigger message that they can run these sales on a reasonable timetable and stop the craziness of Black Friday.


Better yet, shop small business owners and local businesses. Shop your friends' items for sale. Shop on Etsy. Even on eBay, most of the sellers are selling for a side hustle and could use the extra love. 

Take the money away from corporate greed and give to someone who needs the money for their family, home, and business. There is a lot of excellent products available and always something for everyone. You may spend a little more money, but you will be knowing where your money is going and you will have a quality item to give to your loved ones. Most people love a good story behind the gift and would love to know that the item came from a small business or a local artisan.

In the next few posts, I hope to give you ideas and promote products from other small business owners and bloggers. We all have great products and items that will be a lovely and thoughtful gift to give others. I also hope to give you a list of ideas that you can make yourself (Yes, you still have time!). A handmade gift says a lot about the people giving it as well as the person receiving it.  

I will also be posting links in social media to my Amazon store. While this may seem contradictory, I hope to promote primarily other bloggers and other small business owners' products who happen to sell their items on Amazon. Sometimes, Amazon is the only viable place to sell most of their products. I will add items that I find to be very beneficial in my life, but not many as of right now.

This holiday season, please be conscious of how your money is spent and where it is spent. Keep it away from corporate greediness as much as possible and keep it small and local. 

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Related Posts:
20 Books To Give Your Favorite Preppers (And Non-Preppers) For The Holidays!

10 Money Saving Hacks for a Happier (and Cheaper) Holidays!

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Is It Time For A Financial Reset? 15 Tips For You To Reset Your Finances


Sometimes you go through life like you own it. You have your priorities right, your life in order, and everything going well.

Then, wham! You get hit with a medical emergency. You lose your spouse. You get divorced or separated. You have to suddenly move. You are faced with bills you did not realize you owed and now are in collections.

Life happens. You can control a lot of what happens in your life, but there is a lot you cannot control. You always hope you have enough in savings and/or insurance to cover whatever can happen, but sometimes you just don't have enough.

So what do you do? You can do several things to scale back and correct your finances. Below are some tips to get your financial life back in order and do what you can to get back on your feet again. None of these are quick fixes. Some of these tips will look like they are from Dave Ramsey and they are. He is definitely worth listening to when it comes to finances!

15 Tips For You To Reset Your Finances

1. Start a spending freeze or at least stop all unnecessary spending. This is one tip you can implement right away. No unnecessary spending for at least a week, but a month would be more ideal. You should sit down and make a list of necessary purchases. Be severe and strict about the spending freeze.

2. Start a budget or rework the budget you have. Sometimes our budgets work until they don't. Sometimes our finances change so much that we just need to rework the budget or start over with a new budget. That happens. You need to sit down and write down all income and expenses and make a workable budget. You might have to tweak the budget for a few months until you get it right. You also need to remember to plan for future expenses so you are saving for them.

3. Say no to yourself and your kids. The budget doesn't work if you do not practice self-control and self-discipline. Sit down with your family and discuss what is going on with your finances. You will not need to tell your kids all the details. Just let them know that you will not be spending money on anything unnecessary. However, you also need to tell them that they can come to you with any requests or concerns because they may need something necessary and you don't want them to be scared to ask.

4. Watch and read anything and everything you can find on extreme frugality. You are going to need the tips from it. There may be some things you don't think you can do, but you can save a lot of money if you need to.

5. Take inventory of what food you have. If you are finding your finances to be really tight, now is the time to dip into your food storage. One area of your budget you can really skimp and save on is your grocery budget. Start using your food storage, eating more from the garden, cooking from scratch and stretch your food as far as possible.

6. Comb over your bills. Where exactly is your money going? Are you paying for multiple same or like things? Do you really need satellite/cable television along with streaming services? Are you paying for things you are not using? Are you paying for unlimited data on your phones and internet at home? Make the necessary eliminations and move forward with the saved money.

7. Buy used before new. Your kid needs black pants for a school event? Go to the thrift store first or ask friends. There is no reason for you to run out and buy a new pair when you can buy used. You need to develop that mentality for this financial reset. Be sure you borrow or buy used anything you can in order to save or not spend money at all.

8. Sell what you don't need. You need the money back into your budget. You probably have debts that need to disappear. What do you have that you don't need? A lot of people have more vehicles than they do drivers. Sell the extra vehicles or, if you can, reduce down to one vehicle. You will save money on insurance and maintenance that way. What do you have that you can sell otherwise? This would be a good time to declutter and sell off the excess.

9. Shop around for insurance and other services. More often than not, you are paying for more insurance than you need. You are also probably paying higher premiums. Insurance companies rarely reward customers for loyalty anymore. Shop around for a cheaper rate. You can do this yourself or use an experienced independent agent to get the job for you. If you are driving a vehicle older than ten years, consider dropping down to minimum insurance.

10. Are you renting or purchasing your home? Are you paying for way more space than you need? Sometimes we do want the nicer things in life and our housing situations are no different. However, by moving to a less expensive place, you could be saving a lot of money and helping your budget significantly. There is no reason to be impressing the Jones at this point in the game. Don't think your home will sell or you can get out of your lease? You could move and rent your home for the cost of your mortgage payment or sublease your rental for the same cost. Just a thought.

11. Now is a good time to re-examine what gives you joy in life. Many people have expensive hobbies which cost money to do and to maintain. If you can't hardly afford your bills and groceries, the motorcycles, boats, trips, and more need to go. Selling them would help to pay more debt and build up your savings. You also need to think about how much you drink, smoke, gamble, and other addictions. They all cost a lot of money over time and your budget (and you!) would be better off without them.

12. Unsubscribe and delete anything that will derail your restructured budget. I do mean anything that will tempt you. You think you can look and resist. Then comes the rabbit hole. Throw away any flyers that aren't grocery flyers. If you really need to look at them, you can always look them up on the internet. Immediately delete and unsubscribe from all the sites that tempt you to look. Your budget will thank you!

13. Even though you have set a strict budget, it is hard to stick to it for a while. Many people have success with the cash envelope system. You put a set amount of money into the cash envelopes and you stick to that amount. When the cash is gone, you are done. If you find yourself absolutely needing more cash, you probably need to re-examine how much money you have put away for that category. Your budget probably needs to be adjusted.

14. Use the 7-day rule. If you really think you need to purchase something, commit to waiting seven days. After seven days, ask yourself if you really need that item especially if it will derail your budget. Most often than not, you do not need the item. Some people take this further and wait 14 or 30 days before deciding to make the purchase.

15. Do not let your lifestyle define your budget and your finances. Too many people think they need to keep up appearances or maintain a certain lifestyle. This doesn't work when you are trying to reset your finances. More than likely, your "lifestyle" is what got you into the mess you are in, but you are blaming it on other things. Now is the time to let go of the life you thought you had to live so you can get right with your finances.

Resetting your finances can be hard. You may have to make some hard decisions to keep the wolves away from the door. However, you can do it!

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Related Posts:
10 Frugal Living Goals You Should Be Making This Year
Is it A Need or Want? What Should You Spend Your Money On?


Friday, November 2, 2018

55 Ways To Save Money on Your Utility and Water Bills


The single biggest expense most households have are their utility and water bills. Sometimes those two bills combined are more expensive than the mortgage. Sometimes those two bills are the same as the mortgage and monthly groceries. In other words, they are just expensive.

In the twenty plus years of paying for a utility bill and growing up in a house that was very conscious of its water and electrical use, I have learned some tips and tricks to drive down the costs of those bills. Some of these tips will not cost you a thing and will provide immediate results. Some results will not be immediately seen. For some of these tips, you will need to pay to save. You will need to purchase items will that will pay for themselves in the future.

I realize some towns/cities/companies have minimum usages for utilities and water. If you are above the minimum usages, you want to get down to those if you can. You can also call and try to negotiate the minimum usage amount, but most places do not allow that.

55 Ways To Save Money on Your Utility and Water Bills

1. Shut off the lights. Most houses are lit up like they are a light show. If you are not in the room, shut off the lights. Use lamps, oil lamps, or candles instead of overhead lights to save money. During the day, use natural lighting.

2. Unplug the small appliance especially the ones with lights or a display. They draw power even though they are not in use.

3. Hang your laundry instead of using the clothes dryer. You can hang inside or outside depending on your weather. Hanging inside during the winter also provides some needed humidity too if you live where it is cold.

4. Plant trees to shade your home. Tree shade keeps a home cooler and is better for the environment.

5. Fix your leaking faucets. You lose a lot of water with a leaking faucet. If you have well water, you are losing electricity too by keeping the well pump running.

6. Use low flow showerheads. These also help save money and you still have good water pressure for a great shower.

7. Clean or replace the faucet aerators (screen on the end of your faucet) to use less water.

8. Replace old dying appliances with new (or newer) energy efficient ones.

9. Use your grill or firepit to cook a meal instead of the stove.

10. Have a no television, no electronic times of the day. Extend this further by having a no television week every month. Not having the television on will save money and using electronics less will save on charging times.

11. Plastic on the windows during the winter to cut down on drafts and keep the house warmer.

12. Set the thermostat lower in the winter and higher in the summer when you are gone from the home.

13. Set the thermostat two degrees lower than usual in the winter and two degrees higher than usual in the summer to save money.

14. Get an energy audit done by your local utility company. They will tell you where you can make changes and often you get a free kit for the having the audit done. The audit isn't always free though.

15. Turn down the water heater to 120 degrees or lower yet. You can still take a hot shower with 120-degree water.

16. Set a timer for showers. Most people do not need more than ten minutes for a shower. Teenagers seem to forget this so set a timer.

17. Only flush your toilet every 2-3 trips. You know the saying, "If it is yellow, let it mellow. If it is brown, flush it down." You do not need to flush the toilet every time you pee. Worried about pets or toddlers? Use a toilet lid lock so they can not get into the toilet.

18. Put a brick covered in plastic wrap in the toilet tank to reduce the amount of water needed to flush.

19. Have a leaky toilet? Replace the seal, replace the float, and/or replace the toilet. If you are replacing the toilet, definitely spend the money for the low flow toilets. Most of those toilets use less than two gallons of water per flush.

20. Save the warm-up water from your showers. You can use this normally wasted water for flushing toilets (shut off the water to the toilet first) or watering plants.

21. Check your water heater. Have the water heater serviced or learn how to service it yourself. Flush the water heater out once a year to remove sentiment. If it is over 20 years old, consider replacing it with a tankless water heater or something much more energy efficient.

22. Warm your water heater with an insulated blanket if it is in an unheated basement or room to reduce heat loss from the tank. You can also wrap the pipes coming from the water heater to prevent heat loss further which causes your water heater to work harder.

23. Set up a rain catchment system. Catching rainwater to use for watering lawns and plants is certainly going to save you a lot of money. Some cities/townships/counties/states do not allow for this practice so check your local laws. You may need to have it flow into hidden tanks if you want to do this.

24. Check the seals on your doors. You can lose a lot of hear/air from doors that are not properly sealed. Replace the seals if you can. If they are doors you do not use, seal them off completely.

25. Close off rooms you do not use. Unless there are pipes in those rooms, you can shut off those rooms. Close off the heat vents and close the door. You can always open them back up and turn the vent on again if you need to use those rooms.

26. Switch out any old electrical plug-ins and light switches. Most of them become weak over time and do not securely hold the plugs in right.

27. Use thermal lined or insulated curtains to keep rooms cool or warm depending on the season.

28. Use solar power whenever possible. You may not be able to purchase a large system, but you can take advantage of solar chargers or small solar panels to run small appliances.

29. Use a wood stove or a wood cookstove instead of electric or gas to keep your home warm and cook your meals. Some insurances do not allow wood stoves so you will need to check into this and maybe switch insurance companies.

30. Fill your sink with water when washing dishes. Fill one side or a tub with wash water and the other side with rinse water. You waste more water by running the faucet than you do with just filling the sink.

31. Use draft stoppers on doors. If you do have a bad seal on a door or an inside door leading to an unheated area, you can make or purchase a draft stopper to seal off the door better.

32. Wear more clothes in the winter and fewer clothes in the summer. Most people do not want to be uncomfortable. However, you can add layers of clothes in the winter to keep the heat bill down. There is also nothing wrong with wearing a fleece jacket, stocking cap, and fingerless gloves inside the house in the winter.

33. Add more blankets to beds in the winter to keep the heat down overnight.

34. Only shower every other day if you can. A good deal of people do not need to shower every day. Most kids under the age of twelve only need to shower or bath 2-3 times a week. Most people just do not get dirty enough or gross enough to shower every day. However, if you do get really dirty and/or sweaty every day, shower. If you have an illness in the house, please shower or bath as often as possible.

35. You do not need to wash your bedding every week. Save your water bill and wash your bedding every 2-3 weeks. If you are worried about the sheets being gross, shower before bedtime or sleep on a towel.

36. Only run full loads of dishes in the dishwasher and full loads of laundry in the washing machine. With most washing machines, you can at least adjust the level load to keep the water usage down. However, you will save money on your electrical bill by only running these machines with full loads.

37. Kids do not need a full bathtub to get cleaned. Save your water bill some more by only using no more than five inches of water in the bathtub. If they are toddlers or preschoolers, you can use even less water.

38. Keep rooms clean and uncluttered. If the rooms are dirty and cluttered, they will take more energy to heat because they are trying to heat your stuff too.

39. If you are using the oven, try cooking multiple things in the oven at the same time to conserve power. If you are baking a casserole, plan to bake bread or bars at the same time. You can also put potatoes or vegetables into roast for another meal.

40. Have blankets available to use and cover-up. You can keep the heat lower while everyone is just sitting in the living room watching television.

41. Wear clothes more than once to keep your laundry down and use less water. Most of our clothing can be worn more than once (yes, undergarments are the exception). Unless you get gross and dirty, you can wear clothes at least twice if not more. You can wear the same pair of pajamas all week.

42. Open your windows instead of using the air conditioner. Most people need to air out their homes on a regular basis anyway. Unless you live in a really dirty area or have severe allergies, you should be opening your windows to save money.

43. Look for opportunities to shut off your heat or air conditioning. Unless it is really humid or hot (over 85 degrees), I keep the air conditioner shut off and will open the windows if I can. The heater gets shut off if the outside temp is over 60 degrees during the fall, winter, and spring. Most of the time, the heater will not run anyway because the inside temp will stay over 65 degrees during the day, but I like to shut it off and see how long we can go before turning it on. Once the inside temp drops below 58 degrees, I will turn it back on.

44. Are you using a small appliance for something you can do easily by hand? You can really nit-pick here, but you could use a manual can opener inside of an electric one. You can use a whisk instead of an electric mixer. The list goes on, but you are trying to save money. The little savings add up too.

45. If it is winter, keep moving. In the winter, we tend to get colder because we sit more. We naturally want to hibernate or do as little as possible. However, to keep your body heat up and the thermostat turned down, you need to keep moving. You can deep clean a room, clean house daily, and more. Just keep moving around.

46. If it is summer, consider energy conservation for yourself. In the summer, we tend to do things that make us hot and sweaty which causes us to turn the thermostat lower to stay cooler. Keep the heavy work for morning or late afternoon/evening. If you feel the need to heavy, sweaty work during the day, consider a cool shower or even an outdoor solar shower bag to cool off instead.

47. In the summer, cook outside or eat cool meals. Heating up the house will make us want to adjust the thermostat. Keep the cooking outside if you can. If you are a canner or caterer, consider installing an outdoor kitchen to keep the heat outside.

48. Unplug electronic devices after they are done charging. Most chargers still keep drawing power after they are done charging. Unplug them or put them on a power strip you can shut off so they are not drawing power anymore.

49. Use slow cookers, toaster ovens, and electric skillets instead of using your stovetop or oven. They use considerably less energy than a stovetop or oven.

50. Replace your standard light bulbs with a CFL or a LED bulb. Some bulbs are better than others, but all of them will save you money over the incandescent bulbs. I will say this: from experience, it is far better to invest money in the LED bulbs and get a better quality for better lighting. Going with cheap bulbs will more than likely result in less quality lighting.

51. Consider changing your outdoor lighting to LED or solar lights. We also use dusk to dawn lights and motion sensor lights. We replaced and added a good deal of our outdoor lights last year with no impact on the utility bill because we choose LED and solar lights.

52. If your furnace or central unit is over 20-25 years old, consider replacing it. The newer systems use considerably less energy and have many more options to make them a better fit for your home.

53. Insulate your attic. A contractor friend told me one time that most people could save a lot of money if they would just insulate their attics. A lot of homes have uninsulated attics and lose a lot of heat through those attics. Make sure you have at least 8-12 inches of insulation on your attic floor to keep the heat escaping through your roof. Be sure to check your insulation every few years because it can settle and collapse.

54. Borrow and use a kill a watt monitor and find out if you have any appliance or electronics that are sucking power without you being aware of how much. You would be surprised how much aquariums and dishwashers use.

55. Consider replacing your thermostats. After a time, they become unreliable and could be heating your house or rooms warmer than they should be. We replaced one a year ago after realizing that the room seemed very warm. Using a thermometer, we discovered the room was really almost 80 degrees instead of the 65 degrees the thermostat was set at. Every year, you should be checking to see if they are accurate by using a thermometer and checking the temperature.

This is just some of the ways you can save money on your utility and water bills. Some of these may be too extreme for some of you and that is okay. Some of these may cost too much money for you now to implement them. That is okay too. Just take care of them when you have some money saved up.

There are many, many more ways to save money on your utility and water bills too. I plan to have a part 2 coming, but I would love to hear your ideas! Please leave them in the comments below!

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Related Posts:
Start Saving Money by Having A Poverty Mindset: Learn 25 Ways To Extreme Living and Saving! 
What Place Does Extreme Frugality Have In Your Life? Can You Live In Extreme Frugality?


Thursday, October 11, 2018

Small Batch Canning: Saving Time, Money, and Sanity!


Wouldn't it be wonderful if you had time during the garden harvest to can all day, every day? When you see super awesome deals on produce at the store, you could purchase them and can them right away when you get home?

You don't have that kind of time? Me neither.

A lot of people ask how I get so much canning done when I am busy with a full-time job and kids. I have a good sized garden and we like to eat fresh produce from it. However, I plant tomatoes and cucumbers with the sole purpose of canning them. I like to take the extra garden bounty and preserve it so we aren't wasting food. However, I don't have time for marathon canning sessions. Even on the weekends, I have plenty of other things on my to-do list besides canning.

I practice the time-saving practice of small batch canning. If I can preserve something every day or night, I can get a lot of canning done. I can keep up with my garden better by small batch canning.  I am not waiting for a lot of tomatoes to be done at once. I can wait for 6-9 pounds of tomatoes to be ripe and can them according to my recipes.

When the beginning and end of the gardening season occurs, I can also use small batch canning to keep up with the garden. Did I mention I am not a fan of food waste? I don't like watching the garden to wait for enough to can when I can do a few jars here and there. I do put away some produce in the freezer to wait for enough produce to can, but I try to avoid doing that because of the quality of the product after it has been frozen.

With small batch canning, I can use a lot of shortcuts or I can spend more time on a recipe. Since I am not one for complicated canning recipes (and have a strong love for Mrs. Wage's packets), I choose to do simple canning recipes that do not take a long time to cook on the stove. I don't mind long canning times, but long cooking times and long canning times can take more time than I have on a weeknight. I also like that I can experiment with different or unusual canning recipes if I have the ingredients on hand. You might like to make the standard strawberry jam, but with small batch canning, you can make strawberry vanilla or strawberry blueberry jam. You are only making a few jars which means you have less waste if you don't like the new recipes.

How does small batch canning save money? Wasting food is wasting money which is heartbreaking to a frugal person. By small batch canning almost every day, you save money and help to prevent food waste. You might think you are spending more money on electricity and/or gas by canning every night. However, you are using the same amount of power as you would be canning all day for several days.

You can also control the amount of money you spend to can your produce. You will have a better idea of how many jars you need and if you need to buy more. You will be able to buy your extra ingredients as you need them or you can stock up at a good price knowing how you need.

Do you need any special equipment for small batch canning? As I talked about in this canning post, you will still need the basic canning equipment as well as canning jars, lids, and rings. However, instead of the big water canner, you can use a smaller stockpot. You can also use an electric pressure cooker instead of the large pressure canner depending on how many jars you are canning. My electric pressure cooker can do four pint-size jars comfortably. I use a washcloth or folded small kitchen towel on the bottom of the pot so the jars do not rattle or bang too much. I like to can broth this way. 

You can also find some great books on small batch canning. These books specialize in smaller canning recipes and allow for safe experimenting in canning. The following books are excellent resources:

The Complete Book of Small-Batch Canning: Over 300 Recipes to Use Year-Round
Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-Round
The Canning Kitchen: 101 Simple Small Batch Recipes

I hope you give some consideration to making canning simpler and less intimidating. So many people think they do not have time to can, but that is simply not true. Just like any other skill, you just need to break it down into smaller sections and do it simply. Small batch canning will definitely help you with that! 

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Related Posts:
What Do You Need To Start Canning Your Food?
The Prepper's Canning Guide Book Review


Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Start Saving Money By Having A Poverty Mindset! Learn 25 Ways to Extreme Living and Saving!


We all want to save money, but sometimes we just don't know how to save more money than we already are. We don't want to take the next step in frugal living because we know that we will be looked upon as crazy. However, sometimes you need to save an extreme amount of money in a very short period of time. You might be suddenly faced with only having half of your normal income. You might find yourself with a lot of medical bills or a large repair bill.

You might also desire a different kind of life. You may want to prepare, to homestead, or just live a simpler and less stressful life. Most people don't think they can afford to do those things because they are so tied down with debt or other obligations. However, most people can if they would re-examine their spending.

In other words, you will need to practice a level of frugality that most of us don't want to think about. I call this poverty living. We are all living (or should be living) at a level of frugality that seems a little tight, but sometimes we need to get a lot tighter.

What does poverty living entail? Basically, living as broke as you can while still covering the necessities. Some of you, like me, already have done this before and never really had a name for it. While some of you already may live like this and do not have any other way to save more money, some of you may feel the need to do this just to get your budget and finances back under control. You may also feel the need to do this because you are facing an uncertain financial future. And, like I mentioned before, you may have some large bills you need to pay.

How does poverty living and saving work? How can you start living this way?

1. Take a long, hard look at your finances. You need to take a notebook and write down every single bill, expense, and spending you do now. You also need to look at any future expenses you know you will need to pay for. This is the time to get really tough with yourself and/or each other as a couple. What items in your budget can be eliminated, paused, or reduced? Do you have expensive habits? Are you extravagant gift givers? Are you kids in too many activities or have expensive hobbies? This is the time to examine everything including your lives. If you need or want to live as frugally as possible, sacrifices need to be made short term and possibly long term.

2. Get your grocery spending under control. Some of you will say that you don't spend a lot of money on groceries or at least as much as your friend spends on her groceries. You need to change your thinking. You are practicing a whole new level of saving so you need to focus on you. You need to carefully look over your receipts. You need to start making a list and sticking to the list and the budget. You need to plan meals around basic foods, what you are growing, and what is on sale. Going without a list and with no plan will make for a miserable time for you and your budget. You need to make the time to do this. You can also start a price book so you can get an idea of when an item is the cheapest, where the best price is, and how often it is on sale.

3. Meal plan and plan your meals around cheap, basic foods. If you are trying to save money, having fancy meals of salmon, steak, and lobster is not going to be possible. You need to keep your meals as frugal as possible. You may not be able to have meat as much as you like either. Casseroles, one pot meals, and soups will feed a lot of people cheaply. Make sure you also plan for breakfasts and lunches. If you think you will get sick of the same foods all the time, you may just need to suck it up. You are trying to save money. You can find a lot of ways to jazz up your meals with getting bored, but you will need to be creative about it.

4. Sell what you don't need. If you have four vehicles, only two are in working condition, and you only have two drivers, sell the two non-running vehicles. You can sell vehicles as is as long as you are honest about what is wrong with them. The same with the stuff you have in the garage, house, shed, and anywhere you are stashing things. Now is the time to make a little extra money! If you don't need it, get rid of it. Some things will only have a purpose once or twice a year and that is okay. However, your kids' outgrown toys, clothes, and equipment are not doing you any good sitting in a closet. Neither is the sporting equipment that you used ten years ago but think you will use again someday.

5. What are the necessities for you and your family? What do you really need? We all think we need things, but most of the time we can live without them. Sacrifices will need to be made in order for this to work. A good deal of the things we think of as necessary we find out is not necessary after living without them for a few months. You just need to really examine everything you purchase or use and ask yourself if you can live without them.

6. Unless you are getting it for free, no eating out, no going out on dates/nights out, no alcohol, and no other bad habits. They aren't necessary no matter how much you think they are so now is a good time to get rid of the bad and expensive habits and any other costly fun things. You may suffer some withdrawals, but the suffering will be worth the money saved and possibly improved health. You can also add soda pop, candy, and other "treats" that we think we need for ourselves. We don't need them and we would be better off without them.

7. Write down every penny spent, earned, and examine every purchase. This is a learning process. You will make mistakes, but in order to know where your money is going, you need to be on top of the spending. Ideally, you do not want to spend any money, but life is never ideal. However, by writing down every purchase and expense, you can easily see where your money is going and where it shouldn't be going. From there, you can make the necessary corrections to save even more money. And sometimes, just the thought of having to write down the expense will stop you from purchasing the item. No one wants to write down that they spent $1.29 on a candy bar.

8. Figure out what the true cost of things is. You may think your child needs to be in activities like basketball, dance, and other sports. You may think it is only costing you $40 for the registration fee. However, you are also spending money on additional vehicle gas, vehicle wear and tear, your time, possibly fast food to feed the family, special clothing and shoes, and more. That $40 is more like $400 before the season is over. While I believe kids should be involved in a few things, sometimes parents get kids involved in things they don't want to do. The same can be said about our hobbies and past times.

You need to examine the reasons to be involved in things and decide if the cost is worth it. Most of the time, it is not. This can apply to any area of your life. Maybe you have a home business, but that business is costing you as much money as you earn. You might have a hobby that is costly. You might like to do crafts, but the supplies are costly. You need to look at everything involved with those things and ask yourself what the real cost is for the hobby or past times.

9. No more food waste. When you are living below the poverty level, you do not have the luxury of wasting food ever. If you are raising food, you better find a way to preserve it somehow if you cannot eat it all. If you have leftovers, you should be eating them until they are gone. If you cannot eat all the leftovers, you need to freeze them or offer them to friends. If you do not like leftovers, you either need to get over yourself or make just enough food for the meal. You do not have the money to be throwing away food. If you have little bits of food or vegetables in your fridge you don't know what to do with, make a refrigerator clean out casserole or soup.

10. Clean and take care of your things. Neglect and disrepair will only cost you more money. You need to make sure your things are clean and in good repair. Most of the time keeping your items clean will cost you almost nothing. If something breaks, have it fixed or fix it yourself. Most of the time, the repair will be cheaper than buying the item again.

11. Save money any way you can. You need to always look for the savings in almost all of your decisions. This doesn't mean you should buy cheap goods that will break quickly instead of quality. This means you should always examine everything to see if you can save money. Saving items like rubber bands, twist ties, bread sacks, scrap paper, and more will save you money and extend the life of your purchase. Turn on a lamp instead of the overhead light because the lamp will take less electricity. Use grocery sacks for trash bags instead of using the real thing. Put on a sweatshirt and drop the thermostat by two degrees in the winter. Ask yourself constantly how you can save money and do it.

12. See how far you can stretch a tank of gas. Buying gas for your vehicles can be a budget killer. If you are driving to work every day, ask yourself if you can carpool with someone. Maybe you can walk or ride a bike to work. If you do have to drive, drive the speed limit. You need to also combine your errands. Try to limit your trips you are making. Ask yourself if it is really necessary to make the trip if not for work or family. Reduce your grocery trips to once a week or twice a month. If you need to go to the library, where else do you need to go?

13. Have a no spend week, month, or even longer. If you really want to curtail your spending, this is a great way to do. You need to set your limits and allowable purchases (gas, groceries, prescriptions) before you start. You also need to write down anticipated expenses and what you will do if unanticipated expenses do come up. However, this works best if everyone is on board with it. If you live with others, you need to talk to them. You can still practice a no spend month yourself, but it just might be more difficult.

14. Never turn down free items if you need or want them. Some people will turn down free items offered to them just because of their pride or they think someone else will need it more. If you can use it or need it, by all means, accept the free items. Accepting and using free items is the number two way to save money (number one is not spending money).

15. Learn to trade and barter. Trading goods and services is a win-win for everyone involved. If you have eggs and your neighbor has apples, trading those things with each other helps everyone involved. Bartering is a similar concept. You can offer to clean for someone in exchange for a haircut or another service. Whether trading or bartering, you are saving yourself a great deal of money.

16. If you have some expensive habits or friends, this is a good time to put them on hold. We can have the best intentions when we are trying to save money, but our habits and our friends can ruin those intentions in seconds. Habits like a drink after work, daily coffee runs, ribeyes on Friday nights, and expensive night outs can be the ruin of a good budget. You might think that these things will ruin the budget at the time, but over time these things can really add up and take away from the money you are desperately trying to save. Friends can be just as bad. Some friends may not feel like they can have a good time without an expensive meal out, lots of drinks, and/or a day of shopping. You can deal with them by leveling with them about the fact that you are saving money and cannot do those things anymore. You can maybe find other things to do with them that are free or inexpensive, but you may just have to stay away from them for a while.

17. If you have a credit card problem, you need to deal with them. I know a lot of people who are completely responsible with credit cards and pay them off every month. They are very conscious about what they spend and use them responsibly. I am not talking to those people. If you have problems with credit cards, you need to get rid of them as quickly as possible. You may need to cut them up or put them in a safe deposit box away from you. If the interest is very high, look at switching or transferring to a low/no interest card in order to save money on interest. Then you need to pay them as quickly as possible. You need to learn to live on cash or within a budget if credit cards are a problem.

18. Buy used before you buy new. Almost everything you consume can be purchased used except for food, personal items, and maybe undergarments. Most of the time, you can find what you need to purchase used on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, garage sales, resale shops, thrift stores, and sidewalk curbs. If you can anticipate needing the item and you find it before you need it, purchase it. This would be in cases like winter coats, clothes for growing children, school items, and more. You will save so much money this way and you will also stop the cycle of consumerism.

19. Shop from home first. Most people will go out and buy something new instead of using what they have at home. Back to school shopping is a prime example of this. Your kids probably came home with items they used last school year that is in perfectly good condition. However, we have been trained to think they need everything new when school starts again. We need to ditch that thinking. Look over their last year's items and reuse what you can. The same goes for gifts. Most of the time we have a brand new item at home that will work for a wedding or baby shower gift. Yes, this is regifting and make sure you do it right. Remove the card and make sure you don't give it back to the person who gave it to you. You may also be able to make a present with items you have on hand already.

20. Reuse, reuse, reuse. Most items are not disposable, but we treat them as such. It is easier to throw something away and purchase new again. However, a person living at poverty levels do not have that luxury. Wash, fix, repair, mend, and reuse items again. If something like a towel (for example) is no longer sufficient for the shower or bath, it can be used as a cleaning rag. Plastic bags can be washed out and reused again and again unless you use them for raw meat. Ask yourself if you can reuse this item or find another use for it before throwing it away.

21. Buy non-disposable items. On the flipside of reuse, reuse, reuse is making sure to purchase non-disposable items. This may seem like you are spending more money, but you are spending money on an item you hopefully never have to purchase again. Using handkerchiefs or a washcloth instead of facial tissues will save a lot of money. Using rags or cleaning cloths instead of paper towels will save a lot of money. Using plastic or glasses food containers instead of plastic food bags will save money. Look for the items you can use again and again instead of disposable items.

22. Realize saving money is in the little things as well as the big things. Many people have this idea that you cannot save money unless you are saving money on big purchases. This is simply not true. With a poverty mindset, you need to look for the savings in everything and often times the real savings in the little things. By not buying the coffee every day, you are saving $1-4 a day which adds up to $7-28 a week. In addition to those savings, you aren't tempted to buy the donut or bagel which is $2-4 a day or $14-28 a week. Already you have saved $21-56 in a week which is $84-$224 a month which is very nice payment on a bill. This is the mindset you need to create - little savings add up to big savings over time.

23. You may not be able to buy organic, non-GMO food or special ingredients. Back to the good old grocery budget. Most impoverished people can not afford this kind of food unless they are growing it themselves. While I mentioned before that you need to convert to cheap, basic foods, that doesn't mean you need to eat junk or eat unhealthily. You need to keep food to rice, beans, vegetables, fruits, and eat well but cheap. You just may not be able to afford organic food, hemp seeds, or anything that is marked up due to being the new health food cure-all.

24. Use everything until it is gone and do not purchase new unless you need it. When you are poor, you do not have the luxury of throwing away a half-used bottle of shampoo. You suck it up and use it up. You add a little water to the bottle to get the last bit out after tipping the bottle upside down for several days. The same should go for almost everything else that you use. You do everything you can to use up the last little bit of everything. Then you need to ask yourself if you need to buy another one or do you have something else on hand that will work. Most people do have something that will work instead of buying new. However, if you need it, by all means, buy another one and try to make it last longer (unless it has a short shelf life!).

25. Work as much as you can (within reason). If you are truly needing to get out of debt, pay off big bills, or just trying to save a large amount of money, you need to work as much as you can. Most people are not willing to do this. However, if you are offered more hours at work, take them. If you have the opportunity to work a part-time job in addition to your full-time job, do it. The only caveat to this would be if you have to pay more to work more. Having kids in daycare longer is usually not beneficial for the budget or family life. Sometimes you can work from home or telecommute which will help you save money as well as make more money. I would just steer clear of multi-level marketing jobs that ask you to spend money in hopes of making more money. Yes, they do work for some people, but often they don't work for others.

Some of you are thinking you already do most of these things, but can you take it further? I know I can and should. If you are stuck for ideas, the internet is a wonderful place full of good ideas. If you think you can't live without a smartphone, satellite television, and more, research other cultures and extreme savers. They will teach you quickly that you can and you would be spending your time much more productively without them.

Do you think you can live like this? Do you think you could make the sacrifices for the bigger goal?

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Related Posts:
What Place Does Extreme Frugality Have In Your Life? How Can You Live In Extreme Frugality?
The Budget Is Getting Tighter! 15 Ways We Are Making Lincoln Scream And You Can Too! 


Monday, August 27, 2018

You Have Lessons To Learn From Those That Survived The Great Depression


The Great Depression was an era in American History that people who lived through it would remember indefinitely. They remember how hard the times were, the poverty most people suffered, and just life in general at the time. For most people who remember living through this time, the lessons stuck with them for the rest of their life.

For those who experienced the worst of The Great Depression, they never forgot. They do not or did not like talking about life during that time, but the lessons they learned were life-changing. Most people now would not necessarily notice the impact made until they looked closer at these people.

They do not throw out anything. The only things in their garbage (scrap) pails were items that could not possibly use anymore, be fed to animals, or composted. They were on board with recycling before recycling was the cool thing to do. Their homes will appear very neat and tidy, but their closets are packed full of items they could not part with including old clothes, newspapers, fabric, boxes, baskets, jars, string and twine, rubber bands, twist ties, plastic bags, and more. During the Great Depression, you would never know if and when you might need something to repair or fix another item.

They were basically hoarders because they had to be, but you would have never known it by looking at their homes. Now that the minimalist movement is in full swing, some people look down their noses at these older people who lived through the Depression. However, we must realize that they did not have the possessions then we have now. They just didn't have the pure junk and cheaply made goods we have now. They were minimalists in their own way because they did not have the money or the means to have more possessions. They just refused to throw out anything that could be used again.

Notice how most older people do not buy new clothes unless they have to? Their shoes are usually repaired, worn until they fall apart, and/or are still kept in case they need a pair for the garden or other chores. They probably have a good pair that is kept for special occasions or church, but when that pair is no longer good, they get used for every day. The same goes for coats and more. You will also notice they do not buy trendy clothing items either - most of their items are of good quality that will last years. In this age of disposable clothing, this seems odd, but they probably would see us as wasteful.

People during this time lost their fortunes. People also lost their savings as banks closed. While most people who lived during this time continued to save money after the Depression and World War II, many were leery of banks. They would keep cash at home, have accounts at multiple banks, and not have all their eggs in one basket. Most of them would also go on to save a large amount of money because they lived so simply and frugally.

They also went on to birth the Baby Boomer generation. They wanted to give their children a better life than what they had. They saved money for their kids to go to college because they wanted their kids to have an education and succeed. They would go on to help their children buy their first farm and possibly their first home. They would invest in their businesses to help them get a start because very few of those that lived during the Depression had that luxury.

Many people during the Depression lost their homes and their businesses. They would have to move for jobs and just to find work. People would have to move in with other family members or rent a couple rooms for a roof over their heads. Kids were expected to help out any way they could with the understanding any money they earned would probably go to the family. If they were given payment at all, that money was not spent frivolously. Not to say that the kids were not given a special treat once in a while, but they did not expect this all the time like kids do now. 

While there has always been poverty in this country, during the Great Depression, poverty was acute and affected nearly everyone in some way. When we think of poor now, we think of either the homeless or just living paycheck to paycheck. However, poverty is the circumstances of being extremely poor. Most people did not have enough money for rent/mortgage payment, food, clothing, and other necessities. Children were sent to live with other relatives or were taken to orphanages because their parents could afford to take care of them. Many adolescents were sent to live at other households as hired girls or men and worked for a roof over their heads and food to eat.

People leaned on bartering and trading during this time also. People would help each other bring in the crops, bale hay, tend the sick and the infirmed, do heavy housework, and more. You might have given the neighbor some produce from your garden in exchange for eggs. Like my grandmother, you might have worked as a hired girl so you could stay in town and go to high school. Many people traded and bartered services and goods just to stay alive and stretch their money even more. To do this, you can still see this generation doing this. They also instilled these lessons into their children.

People who lived during this time did what they had to do to survive. We all hear stories about the Great Depression that we think we could never do now. However, when you are faced with a choice to survive or not, you would think differently. This time in history is also very romanticized by those who think it will happen again. They want to live like that. Most of them could not do it.

How could you survive another Great Depression? Most of us preppers would like to think we could survive anything, but in reality, the Great Depression lasted until World War II started. For most people, nothing changed when we went to war because of the rationing system and the unavailability of goods. Jobs were on the rise due to wartime production, but the money still barely covered the necessities. There is not really any way to be reasonably prepared for ten years or longer unless you practice self-sufficiency now.

What saved many people during the Great Depression was the ability to grow their own food, raise animals for eggs and meat, have large gardens, and preserve as much as they could to get through the winter. They knew how to sew their own clothes, mend almost anything, and think creatively to solve problems or fix anything. Nothing was wasted which is a huge problem nowadays. They made only one trip to town a week for anything that needed to be purchased if they could afford to go. They would have also taken in any extra produce or eggs to the local grocer which he would have paid them for if the quality was right.

In short, the skills this generation knew is what saved them. They still have these learned lessons in their memories. You see that most of them still practice what they can, but this generation is dying out quickly. When they are gone, the lessons will be forgotten. If experts are right, we could be headed towards another financial and economic upheaval. We have more people living in this country than ever.

While there is a trend towards self-sufficiency right now, most people would be suffering until they could get back on their feet again. I have faith in people helping other people, but the resources might not be there to help everyone. FDR was accused of socialism and more when he rolled out the New Deal to create programs which created jobs to help people get back on their feet again. Now, if that happened, it would be wrapped up in Congress for months. With all the regulations we have now, it may never happen.

If you have a chance, please sit down with the generation who lived during this time. Ask them how they or their parents survived the time. You will hear different accounts because their experiences were different. Some people went through this time just fine because they were already used to living the self-sufficient life. Some people had to learn it. Some people lived in abject poverty and were basically homeless. If you can't directly talk to someone who lived during the Depression, read some first-hand accounts. What they had to do to live may surprise you.

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Related posts:
Ten Lessons Learned About Food From The Depression and Wartime
"We Just Did"


Sunday, August 12, 2018

This Kind of Life Is Not Cute or Kitschy...It's A Lot of Work


This weekend has been busy. I am getting ready to post several pictures on Instagram about what I got done this week and I am still struck by how much work gets done around here every weekend. What strikes me, even more, is how much work there is to do everyday and weekend.

I choose this life. I wasn't delusional about what it would entail. Being a prepper is work. Being a homesteader is work. Being self-reliant is work. Being frugal is more work. All four of those together means the work never lets up. I know people who can't handle it and I don't blame them. There are days I can barely handle it.

Some of you probably think that all I do is run a blog and hang out here at home. That couldn't be further from the truth. I work as an office manager Monday through Friday, 7:30 am - 4:30 pm. I run an eBay store that I have been adding more and more inventory too. I have two very active teenagers at home and two young adults who live with their husband or boyfriend. I have two grandchildren. And I blog and write for other sites.

I am not asking or seeking sympathy. Like I said before, I choose this life.

What gets me though is the people who think this kind of life is cute or kitschy. What we do to thrive or survive is trendy. Like raising chickens is adorable. Like raising a garden is so good for my health and the environment. Like everything I do to save money in a day is so consumer conscious.

Spare me the trendy terms and the idealistic attitude. That is not why I do it.

I raise my own food because, quite frankly, I save myself a lot of money and I know where some of my food comes from. I enjoy raising my own food, but some days it is a lot of work. The weeding never ends. Sometimes I have more food to preserve than I have time to do. There are times I take a vacation day or two from work just to can tomatoes. I get frustrated because my chickens and the other wildlife ate my berries before I got to pick them. I wish the chickens would figure out that I really don't want them on the front porch.

I raise my own laying chickens because the eggs are really that much better than store-bought eggs. They help fertilize the yard which means I (meaning mostly the teenagers) get to mow more often. They like to eat bugs which is why they get to free range. Besides that, free-ranging chickens eat less feed which means I save money and get better tasting eggs.  However, reference the front porch comment and berry comment again.

I prepare because I truly believe everyone should. I think you should be prepared because that is the responsible thing to do. I prepare because I don't want to be in a situation of begging for handouts if I can help it. I want to have plenty of food and water on hand so my kids do not go thirsty or hungry. I want to be able to survive a power outage and more. I want to be prepared for natural disasters and economic downturns. However, preparedness can be work. I garden and raise my own food in order to be better prepared and less reliant on the system. I can and preserve to have more food on hand. I buy the supplies and learn the skills so I know how to take care of my family and myself.

I can and preserve my own food because, again, I like knowing where my food comes and I take a great satisfaction in knowing I produce it. I like being less reliant on a food system that takes pleasure in hiding chemicals and harmful additives to food. I make a lot of my own food and make a lot of food from scratch because I know what is in the food. I have a daughter who is lactose-intolerant and there is a lot of dairy hidden in food using names that I cannot pronounce and are not even natural. By preserving our own food, we can all be healthier and more conscious of what is in our food.

I like saving money and making money. I will not even be ashamed of either of those things. I am a borderline workaholic which makes this life even remotely possible. I juggle a lot of balls every day. I think a lot of people who are in my shoes would say that. There is a lot of people who do this without an outside income to rely on. There is a lot of people who barely scrape by every day and would think I am wasteful when I have a lot of weeks where I barely scrape by. There is a lot of people who live this life and do not think this life is cute or kitschy either.

I hear a lot of people who "crave" the simple life. I might have that phrase in my byline, but I would not be sure that I could accurately say that I live it either. Simple is not running from one place to another and trying to get more accomplished in a day than there are hours in a day. Simple is not trying to balance kids with work, with home life, with keeping a house, with keeping animals, and with trying to raise my own food. Some of that is simple, but not all combined together. While most people live in the rat race, chasing the "American Dream", and being in debt to their ears, this life I live is not always simple. It just looks better than those people.

Again, I choose this life and everything in it. If you wish you could do all the things I do, then do more than wish for it. That is what I did. Wishing does not make things happen. Wishing does not do anything, but make you keep wishing. If you want to be a homesteader or a prepper, then do what you can to make that happen. Just be aware that this life is a lot of work, but the results are rewarding.

I won't delude you either. I would not be where I am at without some help. I have a guy in my life who does what he can every day to get stuff done. My kids do chores, clean the chicken coop, and mow. I live on an acreage rent-free, but I pay all the bills except property taxes and pay for almost all of the upkeep. I have a lot of people who support me and live this life as well so they can commiserate with me. I do get out of the house and have fun periodically because I need to relax.

Another thing about this life - it comes with great disappointment sometimes. Your garden doesn't turn out well or your cucumber plants become victims of the wildlife. Your entire flock of laying hens is killed by a mink. Your only vehicle has to go into the shop for very expensive repairs. Your kids or you become ill resulting in unexpected medical bills. You lose your job and have to rely on your food storage to get you through.

This life is a learning experience. You will witness some great miracles and some devastating losses. You will feel as though you are walking alone in it or, worse yet, feeling like you let your loved ones down. You will feel a great joy every time you bring home a flock of baby chickens or watch a calf or a piglet being born. You will go to bed bone tired but satisfied that you put in a full day's worth of work. You will be awake at night wondering how you are going to fix a car or a tractor or how you are going to pay that bill. You will watch your kids grow up learning these skills and you will know that they will be able to survive on their own.

Does this life get any easier? Yes and no. Yes, because you learn what to do, you learn skills, and you start to have systems in place. No, because you will always have more work than time, you will be short of money when you need it most, and you will be thrown curveballs when you never expected them.

Like I said before, I choose this life. I want this life. I want more for myself and my family. I can't see the appeal of a consumer-driven life with keeping up appearances and being in debt. I truly think everyone should live the life I am living. Honest labor never hurt anyone and you become more appreciative of what you have.

However, it is not cute or kitschy. It is not trendy. It is and always will be a lot of work.

Thanks for reading,
Erica


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