Friday, April 3, 2009

Going Halfsies

Last night, in the throes of insomnia, I watched a Suzie Orman special. She was talking to some people who had lost jobs, their savings, and were about to lose their houses. It was heartbreaking. These were not exceptionally careless people. Many of them had substantial savings, and some even had reasonable mortgages and credit card bills. But they'd been hit by a perfect storm.

One piece of advice she had for people not yet in a crisis but worried about the future was to cut expenses to half of income. You should have seen these folks' expressions: fear, terror, and disbelief.

I get it. A few months ago, I'd never have imagined that it was possible to cut expenses back that hard without experiencing immense suffering. And surely there are many people for whom this is just not possible -- those already struggling on minimum wage jobs, for example.

But here's the surprising thing. I just recently was filling out some forms in which I had to estimate monthly expenses. I almost fell over when I realized how much our expenses had dropped since I started to get serious about this homesteading/huswifery thing -- almost, but not quite, by half.

And expenses dropped without immense suffering. Without any suffering at all. In fact, this has really been a joyfilled experiment.

Like so many things in my life, this lowering of expenses has been more or less accidental. It is a pleasant side of the pleasure of growing and making things myself. I wonder what could happen if I cut expenses on purpose?

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