Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Uncharted Territory

That's what our accountant called it
when we were discussing our taxes recently.
You see,
I am a planner - not much for surprises,
especially if they impact my finances.
Mr. LB and I have had several talks about this.
Haven't we all?
We don't have a crystal ball.
(Voodoo dolls maybe, but no crystal balls - heeheehaha.  Not really.)
So what do we do?
We live pretty organically - that word seems cliche any more.
But we are not extravagant.
We've decided that the best thing we can do is to get ourselves
into the best situation we can be in heading into the unknown.
There are hundreds of posts and tips on "how to save money."
This is a little different.
We've been rolling along on cruise control,
not paying much attention to the fuel gauge.
We don't give it much thought when we expect
a fuel station around every corner.
Isn't it pertinent to top off the tank when we have the chance?
That's what we are doing.
We don't generally carry debt but do still have a mortgage on the mountain house as well as rent here in town.
Many folks have at least one or the other and possibly other debt.
In the last post, 
I spoke of circles.
I like circles.  They flow with no abrupt corners.
We can't omit a portion of the circle and still call it a circle.
There have been several breaks in our circles recently:
supply/demand, social, travel, and on and on.
We've been fortunate in that we haven't had to cope 
with a real travesty as a whole society.

Instead of trying to "save money" so to speak,
we are trying to build security.
"Saving money" implies that we are still going to spend it
and purchase whatever products, just for a lesser amount.
Building our security is an attempt to eliminate as many expenditures
as possible so that we are no longer dependent on those items.
It's not a simple task!
I already track our expenses and challenge myself to try to set new lows.
Now, the challenge will be to completely eliminate
 as many of the expenses as possible.
To do this, we must prioritize those things that cost money.
In looking at what we spend money on,
I'll put those in order of importance.
Obviously, those items towards the bottom of the list
will be the first items nixed.
I'm not trying to make predictions or
saying anything awful is going to happen.
I hope it doesn't,
but like the accountant said, we just don't know.
There are a few things we are doing now
"just in case."
As always, I am continually trying to lower our power bill.
I've mentioned before, where we live now,
everything is electric - not my first choice.
We are keeping our possessions in good repair.
From changing the oil in rigs to mending clothes, and
making healthy personal choices.
Now is not a time to take our health for granted.
Whatever our things are that we have,
we are keeping them up the best we can.
By doing so, we are decreasing our chance for needing them
repaired or replaced down the road.
That one alone can seem a little tedious.
It's like nagging at myself to get some of those little tasks done.
As spring progresses, 
I am planting the garden - still kinda early here.
I even planted the garden up the mountain.
I planted carrots, onions, beets, beans, and lots of spaghetti squash.
The deer don't bother those things (as much) and they are 
pretty low maintenance.
If it comes down to it, we will have the extra food.
It would make for a pretty boring diet, but it would be food that stores well.
Here at home, I am planting a "normal" garden with items
that will require a little more care and proper preserving.
If all goes well and the garden up the mountain produces, 
we will just have lots to preserve and/or share with others.
I'm keeping our stores topped off of things that we use 
to make our own household cleaning and hygiene supplies.
It is amazing how with just a few items/ingredients, we can actually make
most of the things used to clean ourselves and our homes.
If you think about it,
they didn't have all the variety of products in the past
and were able to keep their homes and families clean.

Again, this takes some doing.
We've been moving this direction for years,
but now it seems 'there is a chance' that it might be necessary.
Again, maybe not.
I know many of you already do quite a few of these things.
If it's all new to you, and you're just digging in,
start with what you can and build from there.
Right now, at least here, most things are still available.
I know it might be different in different areas.
We're just trying to top off that tank a bit :-)

We are really evaluating what money goes out
and if there is a way of eliminating the expense.
Just to get the juices flowing, 
here are a few of the things we no longer purchase:
paper towels, laundry detergent, fabric softener, soap, saran wrap,
waxed paper, napkins, shampoo and conditioner, multiple misc. cleaners,
toothpaste, deodorant (for me), furniture polish, air fresheners,
packaged foods, candy, seasoning mixes (taco, chili, etc.), garbage bags,
lotion, internet, television, games, lawn and garden fertilizers, . . .
(I'm still thinking.  At first all I could think of was paper towels.)

A few things we will purchase until we really can't:
coffee, tea, olives - we can't grow these things where we live.
Hubby just went to the little place where we buy bread
and on occasion a few produce items.
They use/provide all organic items so he can actually have their bread.
While he was waiting for the kind he wanted to come out of the oven,
there was a gentleman about 30ish who walked in to talk to the owner.
He was looking for work and/or a handout
since he's not able to work right now.
He evidently said he couldn't afford food or diapers.
(They had stepped outside so Hubby didn't hear them.)
That puts the owner in a tough situation.
He wants to help, but he has to make money too.
He's already paid for the supplies and ingredients to make the foods.
If people are paying for diapers right now when they can't afford food,
I would question their ways.
I mean that in a "Are they aware there is another option?" sorta way.
Every household has its own ways and capabilities.
There are no right or wrong ways, just different ways.
Some ways cost a little more than others,
and that can even vary by what prices are in different areas.
I will say, this is where there was value in having
 multi-generational homes in past times.
A grandma could mend clothes for the family and 
help the mother in the kitchen
while those who could were out working.
There were rolls, and it took everyone doing their part to make it work.
For a single person or a couple (like Mr. LB and me)
that makes quite a bit for each person to take care of.
And on the other side of that, there is far less in the way of
laundry, food prep. etc than with a large family.
It will be interesting to see if changes occur 
once we are able to get back to "normal" whatever that might be.
My hope is that we heed warning and make positive changes.
Source This has become a lengthy post
and rather heavier than usual,
but there is definitely a bright side.
We have options and opportunities to improve upon what we know.
We still have access to most of what we need.
If there's something on the list above that you are curious about,
just leave a comment.
Likewise, if there's something that you don't purchase and have found
 a better way or option, please let us know.
We can be here for each other.
The more we share, the better off all of us will be.

And one last little note:
The dogwoods and lilacs are blooming.
They are absolutely stunning!
Don't forget to recognize your blessings.


  1. The lilacs and dogwoods are blooming here too. :)
    You have been doing some heavy thinking. You are much more self reliant than I am. I don't think we over spend much. I do on plants this time of year. It is a sickness. ;)
    Be well and be happy...

    1. I know it was pretty heavy, but thought maybe others were feeling it too. I almost didn't post it. And isn't it difficult to resist all the gorgeous flowers and plants available this time of year? Your garden is always beautiful.

  2. Oh please, don't ever _not_ publish something!!!!

    This post is so full of information and food for thought! It's sad to think, you might not have sent it out...

    Yes, you are very self reliant, an inspiration.

    And also yes, we do not know, how this *Thing* will work out. But we should know, it has to have vast and traumatic effects. Plan on how best, to deal with such, now... Or of course, before now.

    Like, a life time of not *needing* all the new bells and whistles, for instance...? A life time of not *having to* Keep Up With The Jones, etc.? Ahhh but.... Those are decisions, which had to have been make, long before this *Thing* came on the scene.

    Let us hope, that a lot of life lessons, will have been learned...

    Stay safe...

    1. Thank you so much for your encouragement Wispy. I usually prefer a "lighter" tone, but this is what my fingers typed.

  3. You list is long the internet interested me are you posting from a phone? Shampoo, conditioner and soaps are you making them? We are doing our part we have gone to cloth napkins and lots of old dish towels that we use to wipe up spills etc to really cut down on the paper towels. WE always plant a small garden I usually make sauce and freeze it with a few veggies.

    1. Internet~ I still have my computer at home so can type things up and save them to a flash drive then just post when I get to work. Not quite as convenient, but it works. Soaps~ I started by making crockpot soap and went from there. I actually use my soap (natural) as shampoo then do an ACV rinse about once per week. Are you as antsy as me to be digging in the dirt :-)

  4. The list of things you don’t buy anymore made me think about my purchases.
    I am going to think about this more, and make a list.

    1. I think you probably have a pretty good list Nil. It is amazing after some time to take notice of the many things that no longer pull your money though.

  5. Thank you for the post! I'm fortunate that my mother and grandmother were such good teachers. I was taught how to conserve, recycle, mend and make do from an early age. Do you know the story stone soup?
    We, as a nation and world, have to stop so much consumption. Remembering, is it a want or need. There is one thing I especially love to do- fix things or get them fixed. Every time something breaks, it's not necessary to throw it away and buy new. Fix it or get it fixed. Thank you for sharing the ways you conserve.

    1. I do know that story, have a copy on my book shelf as a matter of fact. :-) I so agree with you. We've been blinded and fooled for a long time. Time to remove the blinders.

  6. I responded to a few of these last night and the responses weren't showing. If you received a duplicate, sorry.

  7. I think we all are starting to think hard about how we can make ourselves more secure in ways that don't cost money. I know we sure are! I already know how to do a lot of things to save us money but I got out of the habit of doing them for a while. But now I'm back to making my own laundry detergent, growing as much as I can in my little garden, helping my mother-in-law on her farm for fresh milk, eggs and produce etc. My husband has been trading his construction and woodworking abilities for different things. For example he is building a custom made wood dog kennel for our massage therapist in exchange for a month's worth of massages.

    While the Corona Virus has been horrible in so many ways my hope is this will be a kind of wake up call for everyone and priorities will shift and we will all come to see what's really valuable in our lives.

    Thank you for your sweet post! And yes, spring is here! :)

    1. Yes! That is my hope too - I have an 'inkling' something good is going to come of all this. Prayers to you and hubby. Hopefully by the end of next week he will be gearing up to head back to work.

  8. I truly believe this something millennials need to go through. I grew up on a farm. We had gardens, canned, ate our chickens and beef, and sometimes didn't have electricity for a week or so. Mom used cloth diapers. I was super proud to hear one of my teachers had a young man come to his door after the last blizzard. The young man offered to shovel for a very small fee. Turns out he was one of my past students. He had just been laid off at a local ranch, because of economic fears. Instead of sitting on the couch crying in his Cheerios he grabbed a shovel and did his best to make a buck. I was so proud. I called and told him so. There are a few out there. Maybe even more before it is all said and done.

    1. Bonnie what a wonderful story! I love it when folks do what's "right" and honorable, especially younger folks. I've often thought it really hasn't been fair for them - their parent are the ones who should pay the consequence, but it's the kids.

  9. Wonderful post! Would you consider discussing in more detail making lotion, shampoo, etc? Thank you!

    1. Thank you, I sure can! Fair warning though, once you get rolling, you probably won't like all the chemicals used in store bought products:-)

  10. Fantastic post, and gorgeous photos! I like what you planted up on the mountain. Maybe I will do the same thing. I have those seeds.

    1. I figure it's easier to have too much than not enough and always nice to share:-)

  11. I really enjoyed reading this - thank you. Much food for thought! I was just thinking yesterday that actually my DH and I are probably in better shape financially right now than we've been for awhile. No gas going in the car because we're not going anywhere, no money being spent on washing our clothes because we're doing everything by hand knowing that the machines in our building are not being cleaned at present and there's no way we're touching them, we're not going anywhere else to spend any money (other than for food). All good things when it comes to the bottom line. I am so hopeful that when this is over that the world will be a better place - that people will be kinder and that things will change for the better, that the environment will be taken care of more than it has been, and that the systems that obviously weren't working properly will be fixed. Apartment life for us makes it a little more challenging because we aren't able to grow much of our own food but I know what little space we have on our balcony will be filled with as much as we can. This morning I'm ordering (via curbside pick up) a rack to dry laundry with the eye towards putting it out on the balcony. I've missed the smell of air dried laundry!

    1. Oh I bet! In my financial research, occasionally (but not often) it will mention "what it costs to work." From attire to transportation, there are costs involved. Glad you are able to save right now. And laundry off the line/rack smells sooo nice, doesn't it?

  12. Great post and you are farther along than I am. I had a little farm at one time and planned to live "off the land" eventually when I retire but life had other plans for me and I got sick. It has taken a while (years) but I am better but much older. I had to let the farm go and now I live in town and in the South which is a whole different gardening environment with lots more critters than I have ever experienced! LOL! I keep trying though and it's nice to hear about like-minded people. I am interested in your shampoo and toothpaste alternatives and probably more but that's enough for now! LOL! Have a great week!

    1. Thank you SIA:-) I did a post on toothpaste here https://www.thelocustblossom.com/2015/05/homemade-toothpaste.html
      and I'm currently working on a post about soaps/shampoo.
      Also, I hear you about how life can throw us a curve ball once in a while. Glad you are well now. And I am ever so grateful for our online community of like-minded folks. They are difficult to find in 'real life' sometimes.