Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Tightening the belt a little more

I know I haven't talked much about how the economy has affected our family, but it really has on many different levels.  I was a realtor for 12 years, and J was a carpenter for over 30 years, these industries have been hit hard in our neck of the woods .  We've had quite the change in lifestyle, some new doors have opened, and some old ones have closed.  

We've had to make decisions over the last 2 years on what to cut out to keep our monthly overhead balanced.  TV was the first to go 2 years ago, when they made you have the black box or LCD tv's, we decided we didn't need it, nor did the kids need the distraction.  We still can watch movies, I miss it at times, but mostly I think it's been positive, especially for the kids.

We let the cell phones go next about a year and a half ago when I left the real esate business.  With the two oldest girls, my husband and I on one cell phone plan, that monthly bill was one of the first to go. After 12 years of being attached to my cell phone, this was a freedom I actually enjoyed.  We are happily back to a land line only, kind of like going back in time :)  We are also too far away to have high speed internet, so just a dial up connection.

We decided to simplify on many levels, our entertainment stays closer to home, with things like trips to the library for movies and books, going to the river to swim and pick blackberries in the summer.  We hang out at home more now, enjoying our work here, and getting together sometimes in the evenings with friends for conversation and a meal.  We also go out a several times a month, just Jarin and I, to enjoy dinner and an artisan brew at a local grill/pub.  People in the community gather here, some that we've known for years, many that greet us have known J for 30 or more years.  This is what happens when you stay put in a community and let your roots go down deep, you make friends and will know and see them as you all grow older.

I think it's healthy for families to be together at home, doing things like cooking, gardening, tending animals, and doing chores.  I will tell you though,  it is harder with teenagers, they don't want to just hang out at home like I do.   They want things like cell phones and cars.  We help them get their license and first car.   However after that they have to get a job and pay for their car insurance, cell phone and gas if they want to drive their car.  Because they have to work and make money, it gives motivation for them to learn self sufficiency at a young age.

It's important to me that my children have time for books and learning things on their own at home.  I've learned they will get creative given time.  Last year my son Jason was homeschooled, he was 15 and wanted to study many new things on his own.  He has a great attitude and is a self manager so I agreed.  In that year he learned to make his own gun ammunition by melting lead, filling the bullets and reloading.  He learned to tan hides, hunt, studied guns, passed his hunter safety class, and learned about our native species of plants and animals.  He ran the rabbitry, and  learned survival skills, he even made his own garden area that he tended through the summer and grew corn, green beans and pumpkins.  Learning what the soil takes to grow things, he worked hard weeding and watering all on his own piece of land.  I don't think these things would have happened if he'd been sitting in front of the tv.

Our daughter Tessa is 13,  and for 4 years she played year round soccer, she used to be a goalie for a select soccer team, this is a major time commitment (for the kids and parents), along with the gas bill for driving all over to tournaments.  She has taken the last year off, and is now looking forward to doing school track this Spring.  This is in our budget, select soccer no longer is.  Tessa is also learning guitar, and is our biggest reader, she is enjoying her time, reading, learning and growing.

Kaley our youngest at 10 is just happy to have everyone around her, she loves to help me in the kitchen cooking and baking, and helps me around the house with a happy heart.  She is our funny girl, and keeps us all entertained and laughing at her jokes and little shows she puts on.

We've also cut back on how much meat we eat, and are planning to grow more of our own this year.  We want to get 15 or 20 cornish cross chickens, and raise them for the freezer.  Our plan is to produce as much of our own food as we can to carry us through lean times, and all be well fed.  I make almost everything I cook from scratch, and cook many things like soups, stews, corn bread, rice, eggs (many different forms), salads, casseroles, potatoes, rootcrops, and winter squashes.  Foods that are nutritious and filling that aren't too expensive.  Growing a vegetable garden and having fruit trees and berry bushes helps us to eat like royalty  during the growing season.   

Over the years we've never invested in the stock market, but we have invested in honeybees, fruit trees, chickens, rabbits, fencing, and building materials.   Most of all we've invested  in our home and land to have it all paid for, always building with cash as we went, this has been the priority for years.  Living frugally is just what we do and has become a way of life.


bluetick said...


Being able to live sustainable and fully take care of ourselves is our main goal these days. Even though our children are fresh out of the nest we knew we had to make a change. I had been working for myself but the economy really hurt my business and I had to find a steady job.

I have always worked full time even while working for myself but since neither of my husband or me had a pension or anything set aside for retirement we had to come up with a new plan.

Our plan...

Sell our house in town and finally move to the country where we belonged. Get our lives set in a manner where when we do retire in 15 years we are totally self sustained.

We are currently living in our 5th wheel while we build our house paycheck to paycheck and build our farm as well.

I give you a lot of credit to be able to do without those things our society has programmed us we need and more than that to convince your children they are better without those things.

Kudos to YOU!

Snohomish Shepherdess said...

this all sounds quite familiar to me -and I KNOW all about teens wanting some of that other lifestyle, the difficulty in working to mesh it all together, and just plain WORKING. The buccolic life is often just alot of of old-fashioned hard work, and simplicity and frugality aren't always simple.

Kimberly said...

You and your family are living the "real" American dream. How nice it must be to own your home and property and to be able to sustain yourselves from it. Congrats!

Jewel said...

Bluetick, Snohomish Shepherdess and Kimberly, Thank you for sharing your thoughts. We are still working towards self sufficiency, every year we get closer, it takes time and money to achieve this goal.

Bluetick your dreams of self sufficiency within 15 years, is totally realistic. If you dream it, and work towards it, you will do it. I hope we can all learn through teaching what we know and have learned for others to learn along the way.

Working hard everyday towards worthy goals inpires the energy to dig within, and pull out our potential to live out our dreams.

Sarah Rachele said...

Oh my gosh, Julie, I feel like your post was about our family! That was one of the reasons we moved out to the country/farm in the first place. My husband was laid off in 2009 and we had to drastically reduce our spending, especially with me being a homemaker with three small children. We decided to go w/o TV too, and be as self sufficient as possible. I don't miss our old life at all. I think it's good for the kids, and we have a Kaleigh too (spelled differently though). Great post, and good for you for teaching your kids these important values and life lessons. :)

Jewel said...

Sarah, I remember well the years of raising small children, and how much they need their mom at home with them. Doing with less so you can be home is a wise decision. Enjoy this time with them it is precious.