Living Within Our Mean aka Don’t Panic!!!

Some days I wake up full of good intentions of what I will achieve and sometimes I even achieve some of those intentions.

Today isn’t one of them. To be honest I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed. Not by home or work or children but by forces I cannot control.

In case it escaped anyones attention the  Federal Budget has been handed down and quite frankly it will affect all of us living in Australia in one way or another.

Now I have to admit I’m fairly cynical when it comes to our government and it’s members. It seems that politicians of any persuasion can say what they want before an election and conveniently forget most of their promises after they get elected.  Must be something to do with the heady rush of being elected into a position of power I guess.  Now this isn’t a political blog and I’m certainly not going to get into a political debate with anyone but this budget has me worried.

Normally I just coast along thinking that life will get a little tougher.  We will have to make economies where we can, keep working hard and basically just keep doing what we have always done.  Lived, worked, raised our children, paid our taxes and got on with our lives.  This morning though I woke with a very real sense of panic.

Do I have enough food stockpiled to last us through what could be some very tough times?

Cool Room

The coolroom slowly being stocked with bottled fruit, home made jams, chutneys, milk and anything else we eat and needs a temperature controlled environment to keep it at it’s best.

Stockpiling has been coming along very nicely. I’m not saying we have enough to last for twelve months – not sure I would even want that much food although that may change – but basics are slowly stacking up thanks to some good specials and careful shopping.  I’m proud to say that my grocery bill for four of us was just over $100 this week.

Should I increase the vegie garden?

Vegetable Garden

Images flashed through my mind of plowing up the front half acre and planting it to veg.  Several things stopped that. One – Ashley wouldn’t let me.  Two – there are millions and weeds and creepy grass that would need to be killed first.  Three –  I’d never keep up with all of it and Four – I would be insane to start on such a major project when I already struggle to keep up with what I have.

What will we do for meat?

There are plans to run a couple of sheep on our lawn but that is in the distant future.  We have to fence the top half acre – the bit I was not making into a vegie garden and the orchard would have to be fenced properly as well.  That costs money – money we don’t have at the moment.  In the mean time Ashley will continue to swap work for meat with a couple of friends which is  a very nice and sustaining arrangement which everyone benefits from.

Nectre Wood Heater

Nectre Wood Heater. One of the best investments we have ever made. I do cook on it although it is some distance from the kitchen which makes carrying heavy pots a bit hairy at times.  

One of the reasons I want a wood stove in the kitchen – convenience.

Irrationally my next thought was what will we do for socks?????

Now you can see just how warped my thinking was going. Then I remembered I have a box full of sock yarn that is begging to be knitted up – I just have to find time.  Even more irrationally I was worried about what I would do for socks – obviously the rest of the family were going sockless….lol.

Clothing strangely enough didn’t worry me. Not sure why – I guess I figured I would work it out as I have always done and thankfully one of the op shops has all clothes for $1 and I have picked up some real bargains.  Dare I even mention the meters and meters of fabric and piles of patterns I have stashed away in the sewing room?

What about the rising cost of fuel?

There is nothing we can do about that. We need fuel for the work truck and our other vehicles. It doesn’t mean we squander it by driving around aimlessly but our lifestyle is that we need motorised vehicles although the thought of Ashley pulling up in front of someone’s home to do some electrical work with a horse and buggy does give me a giggle.

Solar Panels

Solar Panels which rotate with the sun allowing maximum input.Behind them is the half acre I want to fence for sheep.

Electricity and gas are other big issues.

Gas we can’t do much about although we don’t have much that is powered by gas. The cook top is it – the oven being electric.  Electricity is one of our major expenses but we have started to reduce the cost by installing solar panels which are working beautifully. Because we have the land we have installed more than most houses and hopefully this next bill will see a marked decrease in the cost. Unfortunately the solar cannot provide all our electricity needs – the kitchen and laundry and the cool room (I have a cool room and not a refrigerator), hot water and air conditioners are still on mains power. These appliances there just draw too much power for us to provide it via the sun but there is serious talk of installing a wood stove or perhaps a Nectre Bakers Oven so meals can been cooked on it during the winter. We wouldn’t be using it to heat water for showers so we aren’t sure that a full stove would be necessary – even thought I would love one ; – ).   It will mean some rearrangement (ie take out a few cupboards) in the kitchen but that’s ok – my kitchen is huge and the cupboards we will have to remove don’t have that much in them and it’s work we can do ourselves.  Ashley is also looking at changing the hot water over to solar hot water which will save even more.  As for the wood to fuel the wood stove and wood heater – we get that for free from a friends property. All it costs us is some hard work quality family time, a day in the country and fresh air and the occasional load of wood dropped off at said friends house in thanks.  Plus the trees on our land are now getting big enough that as we prune them the wood is cut and allowed to dry making some of our fuel self sustaining.

Kitchen

To loose three cupboards in my kitchen isn’t an issue – trust me it’s huge.

PS I’m very glad I cleaned it before taking this photo….lol.

One thing that I wasn’t concerned about was Elise remaining at University.  That is a solid, set in stone fact – Elise will remain at Uni and we will find the money no matter what as teaching is her love and passion.  Of course it goes without saying that should the other two decide that they want to attend university as well – and have a real passion and drive for their chosen career path – we will fund that as well.

So in hind sight how are we doing?

Well honestly……….. OK!

Yes money is tight – but I can’t remember a time in the last twenty years of us being married that money wasn’t tight.  We have always lived frugally and within our means. Yes we have some debts – my car and the house and one debt for work but that will be paid off in full in July.  The house and car we are working on as much as we can. We need new carpet but I can live with what we have until we have the cash to pay for it.  We have more than enough furniture and the infrastructure to live comfortably is in place.  It’s more minor and unexpected expenses that will cause some problems but they are nothing we cannot and have not deal with in the past.

We aren’t living “high on the hog” as some would say but neither are we in the position that many are in or are likely to be in in  the near future with mounting debt and no idea on how to live comfortably on less.

As much as I resented it when we were first married – those very lean years were a fantastic way of learning to “make do”.  We quite literally lived on less than someone on unemployment benefits lives on without out the perks of government funded health care etc as Ashley was a partner in his parents business and the books showed we were worth more than we actually lived on in the strange way that business economics work.  We were careful yet we still raised three children, built a new home on 2 acres and had the occasional holiday and enjoyed life.

I had sometimes wondered if in fact as a country, we needed to have another depression such as what was experienced in the 1930’s (not that I would wish that on anyone) in order to realise that we really are living in the lucky country and that we really don’t need all that we think we do in order to  live and live well.  Maybe this is the wake up call that is needed. I don’t know and I feel very sorry for those who are facing financial ruin.  In the end I guess those who want to change will and those who don’t will complain about it to others.  It’s not like there isn’t heaps of information out there on living within your means – but it has to be wanted not thrust upon someone who doesn’t see there is a problem. Time will tell on how we as individuals and as a community and nation will survive.

 

 

Reading aback over this post – which I might add has taken nearly an hour to write and get all my thoughts down – we aren’t doing as badly as I first thought.  The panic is fading. No doubt it will rise it’s ugly head again but we will make it. Yes times will be tough – but we are a tough family who works together and that I think is the secret to succeeding. It’s the old story of many hands make light work.

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3 thoughts on “Living Within Our Mean aka Don’t Panic!!!

  1. Its sounds like you are well prepared! We are on the same journey, with the garden and the chickens and the woodstove 🙂 I can definitely recommend the bakers oven, its great for cooking and baking. We have the scandia cuisine in this house, which has a bigger oven, but takes longer to heat up. I also have fun trying to cook in the lounge and carrying the big pots! I love you cool room, we want one so we can butcher and hang steers, but no doubt it would be used for many other things as well. I felt better too reading your post I ticked off the things we are doing and I think we will be ok, but fuel is a hard one for us as well living in a rural area, there’s no public transport or cycling tracks!

  2. Good post. It hits home with me because John is going to retire the end of June so although our pension is good it’s a huge drop over what he is currently earning. So it will be pinching the pennnies for us. I’ve been pretty lax with watching that lately a lot of it crafts and John’s golf. We’ve had some nice vacations in there as well, which I don’t regret but now we’ll have to be frugal there too.

    I think it’s a bit easier having land and being out in the country. I imagine you can do more stuff like put up solar panels and what not. Living in the city everything has to be to code or you get the neighbours complaining. In Canada hydro will pay you for putting electricity back into the grid at a greater rate then what they charge for household use. So I guess basically the taxpayers are subsidising green energy.

    Love the kitchen and the colour scheme and it’s also nice that you have a cool room. As far as increasing the veggie garden I can’t see any point to it unless you’re eating everything you grow and you’re buying more at the market. Only reason to go bigger would be if you want to have a roadside stand but that’s a lot of work and you’re busy enough as it is. You might want to have a few more chickens for meat and eggs but again I have no clue how much work that is. Sheep are a lot of work and you should really factor in the cost of fencing compared to cost of sheep. If you’re paying a huge amount for the fencing really how many pounds of meat is that?

    Another thing is the vet bills, cost of hay, having a barn, are there predators/snakes etc, etc. Are you zoned for sheep? Maybe there are farmers that for a fee will keep your sheep for you but in the end it’s probably just easier to buy the sheep/meat from the farmer in the first place. You could go on fishing trips and try to suppliment that way.

    • I think, just from my brief readings of your blog posts, that you will be fine, because you have skills and you have applied forethought!

      Do you have chickens? They are very easy to keep, take up little room, and provide both meat and eggs – great for bartering!

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