Tuesday, March 09, 2010
The Underground Economy, Part 4
In a way, that was legally what the author was doing when the book was written. At that time, inflation was (so it seemed) out of control, interest rates were around 17% for banks, and he found his paycheck was being eaten up by what was happening to the economy combined with higher taxes. He actually came out far ahead by lowering his income (thus, his income taxes) and finding ways to live on less. The surprise came when he found his new lifestyle was beneficial to his family and they lived quite well and they never returned to life as it was before.
When my husband lost his job in Detroit (a long story that I've told before but basically a result of 9/11), it started our second year in which we ended up with little and then no income. We had to apply for state aid so I could receive free insulin and doctor's care (which was excellent in Michigan). We had a few conversations with the woman we had to go through at the state agency and I'll never forget what she told us at the time... that the middle class is always hit the worst in an economic decline (and this was before things got really bad in Michigan).
She explained that the poor already had the skills necessary for living on little and they knew where to get help. The rich usually do not get to the point they need help. We have learned a great deal since that time as my husband ended up having to go on Social Security Disability. While he was able to work at Lowe's for awhile after Detroit, he was never again able to work as an engineer (and eventually not able to work full time as he can have months at a time when he can hardly get out of bed).
That's why I believe it is an excellent use of time to learn basic skills and put in place habits and expenditures before one would ever need to live on less. (My own opinion on the economy... based on what I've read from people I trust... is things will eventually get worse and we'll see high inflation.) If one only knows how to live by depending on a high paying job, buying what they want at the grocery store, eating out all the time, spending weekends at the mall, expecting a big vacation each year (we once had neighbors who took at least three big vacations a year), wearing the latest styles, buying the latest technology as it arrives, etc., then should they find themselves living on less (or nothing) they have no survival skills at all.
If you already know how and where to shop off the financial grid for less; have a back yard garden if possible; have invested in skills like cooking from scratch, canning, sewing, deepening a pantry, using herbs, growing flowers, quilting, soap making, candle making, carpentry, plumbing, etc. (not all of them and not all at once, of course)... then should you be in a place where there is a major loss of income... you are far better off than others.
Not to mention that the very learning and using of these skills form a lifestyle which is enjoyable should one never have a financial reversal. To be honest, if hubby and I were younger we'd enjoy moving further out in the country and become even more self sufficient. Since life is not perfect (and our 2/3 an acre is enough to take care of), we built a raised bed garden and planted rhubarb near the fence line. We started a small compost pile a couple years ago. Small steps providing huge rewards.
We don't have to wait until circumstances are perfect to begin making lifestyle changes and we don't have to wait until The End of the World as We Know It (TEOTWAWKI) to be happy we made even small steps which enable us to lessen our dependence on the financial grid.
We become better only by the doing and we can do only by the beginning. Whether it is a domestic skill, or gardening, or making our homes lovely with thrift store finds... it is a good journey.
Picture: Three Hens; allposters.com