WARNING: The post veers off my usual business-related postings path.
After our family reunion this past summer, my husband was recounting a conversation he’d had with another family member about the economy. This particular relative was bemoaning the government, big banks and variety of other sources for destroying the economy. To be fair, he is a highly skilled craftsman who has been unemployed or underemployed ever since the economy took a dive. In an effort to cheer him up, my husband had discussed a number of successful strategies that we use to “create our own economy.” Unfortunately, it fell on deaf ears and I suspect both of them walked away from the conversation frustrated.
To be honest, I had never really considered what we do unusual, just necessary. I certainly hadn’t thought about it the context of creating our own economy, but the more I contemplated it, the more I saw the my husband was correct–we do control our own personal economy. Here’s a few of the ways that we do it:
No car payments: Everyone knows that as an investment, cars are losing proposition, so we don’t want to spend one dime more that we have to.
1966 Caddy like ours–with a much better paint job and without the HUGE dent in the driver’s door.
that means we are not going to finance a car and pay the interest on something that is depreciating as we own it. Our last car payment was in 2003 and I haven’t missed them one bit. I will say however, we had a period of several months when our sole working vehicle was a $350, 1966 Cadillac with a perfect electric pole dent in the driver’s door (They don’t make ’em like they used to, the window still worked and wasn’t even cracked). To be clear, this car was a year older than I was and this was in the 2000s. There was absolutely no way to make it cool. It was also not particularly highway worthy, so I left an hour early for far-away meetings to take surface streets and parked as far away as I could so no one would see what I was driving. You know what? It was worth it, because in my 20s I had car payments that I nearly couldn’t pay some months. I’ll take the stress of looking uncool over the stress of not paying my bills every time.
One income: Since I am self-employed and my husband works for a municipality, we know that my income contributions vary widely and any chance of a raise on his part will usually not even cover the cost on living, so we have made it our goal to live on one income–sometimes it’s mine and sometimes it is his, but regardless we stick to it. If there is excess or a windfall, it is stashed in a separate account for emergencies or big-ticket purchases (we paid cash for our last two cars and, no, neither was the 66 Caddy). Most of my husband’s raises have gone straight into the retirement account. We are used to living without that money, so we don’t miss it a bit.
Hire others: This probably seems counter intuitive, so bear with me. A few years ago we visited Costa Rica–a beautiful, amazing, gorgeous
Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica, where we discovered three people can do a better job than one.
country where 96% of the population is literate. We began joking that Ticos (Costa Ricans’ name for themselves) never had one person do a job, if three could do it better. The system worked something like this: We hired a tour guide to take us somewhere and paid $50 per person per day. He then hired a driver to drive all of us and a trained on-site guide to take us through a specific attraction. All this for only $50, we didn’t have to pay anything extra. Why does this help you? The tour guide has now employed two additional people, so three people make some money and he has provided us with a MUCH better experience, because while the driver was driving safely the tour guide was able to talk to us and share info about the area we were driving through and answer all of our questions. When we got to the attraction, the on-site guide was exceptionally knowledgeable and had special equipment that let us see even more amazing sights. Not only have we have told everyone in the free world about our great trip and tour guide, but that tour guide is also assured that those two individuals will be looking out for him in the future.
So if you are making $30 bucks an hour and can pick up a few more hours at work once in a while, it just makes sense to hire someone to mow your 1/2 acre yard for $8-10 bucks an hour when you can’t. You could be helping out someone who needs a few extra bucks for their family or a youngster who needs some work experience, it doesn’t matter. In your own personal economy you can choose to invest in others, knowing that someday, they may invest in you.
Those are just three of our strategies for creating our own economy. I’ll share more in future posts.
What are your strategies for creating your own economy?