Country Living Series

Friday, January 15, 2021

A conversation taking place everywhere

Don and I had a discussion about our finances this morning.

No surprise. I imagine a lot of discussions about finances are happening in a lot of homes across America right now.

Specifically, we discussed (more) ways to scale back our spending and conserve our funds as best we can, in large part because we expect yet another of our income streams to dry up in the upcoming weeks. Since this income stream currently is our biggest financial "iron in the fire," we need to be frugal and adapt to the new challenges it will present. In this respect, we're trying to strike a balance between our new home and what we want to accomplish with it.

It's too easy to get caught up in the trap of "Let's do it!" when it comes to things like construction materials for current and future projects. It's also too easy to want it all now, instead of pacing ourselves and moving forward only as we can afford it. Moving to a new home is expensive enough; we don't need to overextend ourselves financially in the process, especially in light of the prospect of adjusting our income downward.

 
 
Fortunately we've spent years learning the art of frugality, as well as years whittling down our monthly expenses. Coupled with the sale of our last home -- and that we paid cash for our current home -- we'll be okay even if we lose this income stream. So, we'll be patient and tackle improvements slowly.
 
At least we have advanced warning of the potential for economic downsizing. Many others have been caught unawares, leaving them in a critical financial lurch.

Who else is having these kinds of conversations?

26 comments:

  1. Every day. Really tough year medically last year.

    We are doubling down by growing our pastured pork and poultry business. We are adding selling young layers and have added high value veg into the mix. Mostly greens.

    If we go bust we won't be hungry!

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  2. Sorry to hear about your situation. That's why multiple income streams are good, as you know.

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  3. Same here Patrice - not from any particular need but from an awareness of the fact that the economy - and our jobs - are increasingly fragile.

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  4. One of my income streams has not gone completely away but last year was a very slow stream.

    Add to that some water damage repairs that had to be done. I am working around some new outlets and looking into adding some more home grown income. But, it has had me make some semi-tough decisions. I am glad that you and Don have each other. It is harder and easier to have the discussions when there is only one of you.

    kathy in MS

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  5. Always prepare for the bad times, the good times will take care of themselves.

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  6. We're doing the same thing - but trying to factor in the expected (possibly hyper) inflation. So any basic materials we need for future projects we are trying to acquire. Seems a little psychotic - we're trying to save money while trying to spend money. Hoping to choose wisely. The materials we bought last spring for added raised beds proved to be a good investment.

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    1. Nothing wrong with paying for tomorrow's needs with today's money!

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  7. I'm thankful my little house is paid for and my utilities are cheaper than most, and I'm also thankful that I live alone in a small town right next to the biggest reservoir in the state. My job has been steady and busy, and I pray it stays that way, I've put in a lot of years there. One day a time, that's all I can do.

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  8. We've always been extremely thrifty, (Some call us cheap.), and we're continuing to live this lifestyle. Funds were freed up when our kids moved out on their own. This allowed us to buy some things that we'd always wanted. (Barn, coop, animals, tractor, nicer camper, etc.) Husband's company was bought by an extremely liberal group, and it's getting increasingly more difficult to work there. We're tightening the purse strings and looking at him leaving. He should be able to get another job until he's ready to retire completely.

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  9. My husband has just retired from formal work and will be re-establishing his freelance career. My job will be continuing to ratchet down our expenses as we are now on that “fixed income” that retirees talk about. We were able to purchase our current home outright with the proceeds of an earlier house sale, which has been enormously helpful.

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  10. I fought myself tooth and nail to make the decision to lay all the cash on the table and get completely out of debt. Now all we've got is standard bills plus a little play money. I don't have the best of everything but it's paid for. I scrounge a lot more and do some wheeling and dealing on stuff I didn't pay much for years ago that I knew would be worth something later. Being retired cut my fuel bill to 20% of what it used to be. You can find lots of places to cut back if you just sit down and make a list of where everything is going.

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  11. We have owned a catering business and event center since 2013. You can imagine where our business went to last year! Were hoping it would come back but not so sure, still holding on...

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  12. I hope the stream is not from your WND articles because I love reading those!! You have inspired me to go and check the budget once more!

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    1. (Just a clarification, I don't get paid for my WND columns. For all these years, it's been a labor of love.)

      - Patrice

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    2. Wow. I am all the more impressed with them! It is an excellent platform for you to speak for all of us. Thank you for your hard work through the years including with this blog. I refer back to it on many occasions to glean information as needed. I highly recommend people go back and read past years.

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    3. Widowed and not old enough yet to draw my husband's retirement, health benefits, early social security. Considering a major downsizing. (tiny home?) The struggle to decide between living in a rural area, alone, or populated area with people around is difficult.
      It's rough.

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  13. Lots of folks talking tough times ahead for all of us,I agree on that. We are on a fixed retirement income so we are careful with expenses and try to live frugally.
    When we had our business we had a plan to enter the business and make it grow ,but also an exit plan that would not leave us destitute if it failed. It was a retail business so we had ups as well as as downs as the economy did its thing.
    Cash flows both ways, in and out. We need to think about how to survive when the cash stops flowing in.
    Bluesman

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  14. We have been tightening our belts as well, by doing so we've been able to save a thousand dollars a month just from my husband's income. We're also replacing older fluorescent light bulbs with newer LEDs. Turning the heat down and setting it for shorter periods of run time. I'm doing better at cooking once and eating twice as well making sure I do a menu and sticking to it,so as not to impulse shop. Every little bit helps.

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  15. Patrice, I am sorry to hear you will be losing an income stream. Given the current state of things, this is an unwelcome occurrence. You didn't indicate what type of income stream (writing, woodworking, or some other) that is being lost so it is unclear whether this is a temporary loss and you can resume this income later or if the loss is permanent. Hopefully, this is something that will only be temporary.

    Your frugal experience and knowledge will definately be helpful and you are making the right decision in evaluating where you can reduce expenses now. When I first read your post, the thought immediately popped into my mind that it is fortunate that your romantic fiction writing has started well and will bring in an income stream to replace the one you are losing. The thought also popped in that when one door closes, God does indeed open another and He building provision for you in all ways, many times unseen or unknown to us at the time. As a pre-published romantic fiction writer myself with inside knowledge of the industry, and having many author acquaintances in that genre, I know you will develop a good readership and once you have a few books published, your book sales will provide a helpful income.

    One suggestion I offer to you and your readers is to ask your local libraries to purchase a copy (or more) of your books. I learnt this from an author who wrote for Harlequin for a few decades and upon retirement, is now writing self-published books in a different genre. He said (yes, it was a man writing under a female pseudonym) that while many readers may not be able to constantly buy books due to budget constraints, if every library purchased a copy of the book, that would bring in a lot of sales for authors and give opportunity to build readership, some of whom may purchase future books.

    Thank you for everything you share with us through your writing and blog. It has provided good suggestions and encouragement to many of us. I share many of the perspectives you do and often feel like the proverbial petunia in an onion patch as othesr around me denigrate my insights. Many times, it seems like I am the only one seeing things are they really are and it is good to know I am not the only one seeing what is happening. There is encouragement through a like-minded community.

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    1. Excellent idea! I haven't made my way into our local library yet to introduce myself, but I plan to soon. I know the library in our last town was enthusiastic about my writing endeavors, so hopefully this new library will be too.

      - Patrice

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    2. I don't know if anyone is still reading the papers, but our local paper has (had?) a weekly feature of local authors. A lot of them were self-publishers. Secondly, iirc, B&N even has the "local interest" shelves, which, if you introduce yourself to the manager, might get you a spot over there. If not, chat up the people working there, esp. the fiction lead. Most of them really love books & like talking to people who love books too. You also might want to get yourself on the radio. I remember listening to the Blue Sky Broadcasting channels & apart from Rush, they do a lot of community chat, that type of stuff.

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  16. "raises hand"

    The Mrs. and I are not only having these discussions, we're implementing plans right now for the coming rough seas ahead. We're working as hard as we can to get rid of debt, we're purchasing things we know we're going to need in the future, and we're hunkering down.

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  17. Yes, my local libraries welcome suggestions on what books to purchase. They want to offer books that will get borrowed and read, not sit on shelves collecting dust. Getting them to purchase Patrice's new books will give sales to Patrice and with the books availale to many to borrow, hopefully will garner some new faithful readers, who will then keep asking for the library to carry Patrice's books or perhaps buy them themselves.

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  18. We have been having these conversations for quite some time; it's definitely an ongoing process. We used part of the first stimulus check to build a raised-bed garden so we could have something year after year to count on, and last summer I tried my hand at saving seeds for this year. This spring we're also going to enclose our south-facing porch to get more out of the growing season.

    Also, each year I learn a few home recipes for those things I usually buy. Last year I learned to make my own hummus from dried chickpeas at great savings as well as roast a whole chicken instead of buy a bag of parts from the store. I also learned to use peanut butter and ground flax as egg substitutes in baking.

    Every year I continue that which has worked well for our situation and geography, and try one or two new things--this year I'll try growing Cape Gooseberries as well as trying different versions of trellises to grow more things vertically and get more out of our little garden. Canning and dehydrating are part of our plans as well.

    My husband was hurt in a training exercise last summer, so one income stream has essentially dried up. He has another, and I have a running list of side hustles I work on when I can, and which I can cultivate further if I should lose my current job. None of these are complete replacements for what I'm currently making, but every little bit helps and I'm thinking of more ideas all the time--my latest is taking a course to become a proofreader.

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  19. I just want to say thank you very very much for the many articles you wrote that I have read in my favorite magazines ! Your's always come from a new perspective and give people new ways of dealing on old ideas. For those of us that have been frugal for ever new ideas are welcome ! I sure also hope writing for those homesteading magazines.....or anything else, is not one of the streams that you will be cutting back. :-)

    We have cut back and changed up some of our ways since things got tighter. We have no bills except the monthly utilities. But we also think that thinking ahead and getting some needed work done on our property now is a good idea. While the money in savings is still available.....just in case. Also goods for some future repairs. And we found a store last year that was selling organic heirloom seeds for 10c a pack and we got some planted them and now have our own seeds from them too. One thing we all agree on is investing in new skills is good anytime. Passing along these skills or trades is next. We need each other.

    I know this is not the right post but those pictures of books, books and books and talk of them in the other article....I am grateful someone Saves the books. !! :))) Sarah

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