Wednesday, September 9, 2015

How To Be Worth Your Weight in Gold

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My husband, Daniel, works in a steel shop.  He's a fitter.  He builds things.  He can fit pipe, structures and vessels.  All day he is manipulating hundreds of pounds of steel at a clip.  The things he builds weigh hundreds of thousands of pounds.  He does use a crane for most of it, but if something he's working with weighs 200 pounds or less, it's faster for him to just man-handle it.  (Yes, I do nag him about this.)

He's worked in something like 3 shops and in every one there is a candy man selling pain pills; not for people to get high necessarily, but because everyone there has developed aches and pains.  Arthritis, hand pain, and back pain are big ones.  Yeah, they have doctors, but if a doctor is unwilling to write a script for pain medicine on a regular basis, this is what those men do.  So a few of them are on pain medication and it inhibits their judgement.  Daniel has worked in the manufacturing industry I'd say about 6 or 7 years, and in those few years he has seen a man cut in half, a man crushed, and has suffered a few minor injuries himself.  He's even lost the peripheral vision in one of his eyes.Image result for steel shop work

It is typically 20° sometimes 30° hotter in the shop than it is outside.  The day before yesterday it was 106° here.  Yes, yesterday he worked 11 hours in about 120°.  Heat exhaustion is fairly common.  At his company, they offer free bottled water and Gatorade.  At one of the shops he worked at they even offered free Gatorade slushies and frog toggs.  A word about frog toggs: they do not lower your body temperature really...they only make you think you are cooler which poses some heat stroke risks.

Let's talk about hours...Daniel works 11 hours every week day and about 9 hours most Saturdays.  He has been at work 2 hours before most people in America have even hit the snooze on their alarm clocks for the first time.

Let's take a look at one of my jobs as a shopping.  Let's say while I am out I find some yarn on sale, or maybe it's been a particularly long day and I'd like to treat myself to lunch.  After all, perhaps I have not gotten lunch out in quite a while.  When I want to buy something that is not necessarily a need I think this, "The yarn and lunch I desire will cost about $40.  Because of taxes Daniel worked for over 2 hours for this $40."  That's 2 hours of an 11 hour day in 120° heat manipulating steel.  Puts it in perspective, doesn't it?  We all have wants we need fulfilled and yes sometimes I purchase the yarn.  But lunch?  Maybe I'll wait til Sunday to suggest we go to lunch together.

The point is, think about what needed to be done to get the money into your wallet.  In the Little House book, Farmer Boy, Almanzo's father held out a half dollar and asked his son what it was he was holding.  It wasn't just a half dollar.  It was work.  We need to be good stewards of the money we have, and part of that is keeping perspective.

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The virtuous woman "considered a field" and purchased it.  When it says "considered", what it is saying is that this woman had a plan and gave careful consideration to buying that land.  She didn't walk through Walmart with a dollar bill burning a hole in her pocket eager to buy whatever caught her eye.

When you are leaving the house with a baby, you have to plan.  The diaper bag needs looked through and replenished.  Under optimum conditions the baby has been washed, fed, changed and is in a good mood because you are leaving well before or just after nap time.

Daniel and I have plans.  Like anyone else we have large and small goals.  Coming off of a lay off, there are things we have put off that need done such as home repairs.  We really need a new water heater.  The one we have works, but it's got one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel.

A large goal we have is to be self-sufficient.  Being self-sufficient means not relying on anyone else such as the grocery store.  To accomplish this, we need an abundant self-sustaining source of food.  To have this we need knowledge and land.

The above 2 things require money.  So when I'm considering buying yarn, I need to consciously be aware of our plans.  I need to think, "Will this help to purchase that water heater or buy land?"  Well, if we are in need of a new blanket the yarn is probably justified.  What about lunch?  It won't further our progress toward land or a water heater, however perhaps it will give us a much needed outing.    We cannot go through life never spending a dime.  This will cause a feast or famine in your budget because every once in a while you will binge spend.  So if you haven't done anything for yourself in a while, perhaps it's time to take your husband to lunch.

There is one thing though...I didn't plan on buying this yarn or taking my husband to lunch.  Where is this money coming from?  Am I taking it out of my grocery budget?  How is it I have an extra $40 just sitting in my purse?

The Envelope System
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If you are having budgeting concerns, I want you to buy a box of envelopes and procure a pen.  Go through your bills one by one and set aside an envelope for each.  You will more than likely have an envelope marked "Rent" or "Mortgage" and another for "Electric".  Don't forget little things like laundry money if you have to go to the laundry mat.  Think of all the bills that need paid each month and make an envelope for each. 

Next step: Take the Rent for example.  Let's say you need $800/month to pay your rent and your husband receives a weekly paycheck.  You have to take $200 each week and put it into that rent envelope.  Write "$200/week" on the outside underneath "Rent".  Do the same with the other envelopes.

Whatever you have left after your main bills is what you have.  Now you can budget your grocery shopping.  Make an envelope for that.  Now let's say you and your husband have decided $150 a week will feed your family.   

Here is where you are about to become worth more than rubies.  Let's say the two of you have overshot your grocery budget by about $20 a week because you are a smart shopper and do your shopping early in the morning to take advantage of marked down meat or you are having meals focusing on potatoes and vegetables rather than meat.  Leave that $20 a week in that envelope.  DON'T TOUCH IT at all for a very long time.  Have a plan for it.  Since it's in the Groceries envelope wait until it reaches $300 or so and buy a good used deep freeze.  Aha!  Then save that $20 a week and put it towards a butchered pig or cow.  Save that $20 a week for that Labor Day when you go to the vegetable stand to buy a bushel of tomatoes so you have tomato sauce for the year.

Be smart about the food you purchase.  I believe women are savers and hoarders on an instinctual level.  For me, my husband has to curb my tendencies to buy way more than we need from time to time.  However, I do buy my flour in bulk because I make my own bread.  Yeast is getting expensive so I have a sourdough that I feed.  If a recipe calls for something like mayonnaise, see if you can make it from scratch rather than buying Miracle Whip.  Start stocking up on different types of dried beans such as black beans, pinto beans, chick peas, split peas, etc.  Buy the real rice, not the Minute Rice.  Purchase 20 pounds of potatoes and get creative with them so you use them before they go bad.  Once I had to bake a bunch of red potatoes and freeze them.  They were dry but I used them in soups and for frying.  Learn to can and dry food.  Maybe even learn how to make homemade laundry soap.

Ladies, it's not hard.  It just takes planning to stock your house with food.  Let me enlighten you as to why it's so important to stock your pantry with so much.

When a lay off comes and you cannot afford to food shop at all, your husband will have the peace of mind in knowing his family will eat.  I know because it happened to us and we didn't buy food for 6 months other than butter, eggs, flour, sugar, and powdered milk.  We didn't have to go on food stamps.  We ate out of the meat accumulated in our freezer and things I had canned.  Let me tell you, we ate pretty well for most of that period.  Towards the end we ate a lot more beans, but we ate and didn't have to rely on taxpayers to feed us.

Weather gets bad and sometimes people lose electricity due to blizzards or tornadoes.  Keep the lid shut on your freezer and your meat will be okay for some time depending on how much you have in there.  Meanwhile you will have canned chili, soups, spaghetti sauce, etc that you can eat out of when everyone else is panicking.

Our economy is not in great shape contrary to what the talking heads would have you believe.  A currency crisis could happen in your country one day.  Our own country has already suffered The Great Depression.  It can happen.  What will you eat when bread is $20 a loaf and you have no garden to sustain you?  What will you put on the table when deflation hits home hard and there is no money to be had?

Things happen and wives have to have a plan for feeding their families during lean times.  It is your responsibility to keep your family fed on what money comes into the house.  Be a good steward of that hard earned money.  Daniel goes through great pains to keep us fed and I do too.

Okay, okay.  So where did the $40 come from if not from my grocery budget?  The last envelopes you make out will be for the two of you.  Put something in there for you to just blow on whatever your heart desires.  Save it up and get your hair done, spend it on McDonald's, or buy some yarn for a blanket you want to crochet your husband for Christmas.  This is money you can do with whatever you wish.  He needs an envelope too.  He might want to hit the roach coach on first break or save it up for a new drill.  Whatever he wants to do with his money, let him spend it.  Maybe he'll take you to lunch or maybe he'll buy Mountain Dew.  It's his money just as yours is your money.

Perhaps you won't have any money leftover after paying the bills.  Yes, we have been there robbing Peter to pay Paul.  The two of you sit down with your envelopes and make a plan to pay down anything outstanding such as a car payment.  Car payments are bad.  I cannot stress this enough.  If you haven't paid your car off, make that a priority.  Then start a new envelope for car repairs and for buying a used car.  Pay cash for your vehicle.  Maybe you can only afford one vehicle.

Prioritize.  It may be that you need to do without satellite radio, internet, cable TV, or even your cell phone in lieu of paying your car insurance and eating.  Maybe you need to get rid of that second vehicle.  Moving might even be an option.  Maybe your husband will have to take on a second job or you will need to sell some crocheted blankets online.  Whatever you need to do, have the self-discipline to do it.

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During this lean time, encourage one another.  Be content with what you do have and spend time together doing things you enjoy that don't cost a lot of money.  Sit on the deck with a cup of coffee for a couple of hours and watch your children play.

Once I made nachos for dinner.  We had a bowl of chips and re-fried beans, nacho cheese, and such.  That took longer to eat than any turkey dinner I had ever made.  We sat for probably 45 minutes eating our nachos and talking.  It was a great time.

Within a few months you will be out of the hole and living on greener pastures.  Then you'll be able to have an envelope for your life goals and for things that will ensure that when a crisis happens again you will be more prepared.

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