thriftiness

This year in the Langford household, instead of resolutions for the year ahead, we’ve set a single value, notion, idea as our goal . . . The value of thriftiness.

We have a long way to go with this old homestead; rooms yet to paint, furniture to buy, a barn to be restored, draughty windows to address, a HUGE heating bill to manage, fences, animals, seeds, tools . . . not to mention a growing boy and always hungry husband.

Life is expensive.

See, the thing about striving for a self-sufficient life . . . It’s pretty much free of instant gratification.

Eventually our farm will be able to provide most, if not all, of our nutritional needs, our seeds, our entertainment, our exercise, our shelter, our heat, even some of our income.

EVENTUALLY is the operative word.

In the meantime . . .

Enter our aim for 2013. Thrift.

Being thrifty is a skill most of us don’t require anymore.

We are consumers. Pretty much the antithesis of thrift.

The things we buy are meant to be quickly broken and chucked, become outdated nearly the moment we get them home, provide us a momentary distraction from our boring lives and never seem to satisfy.

The things do not satisfy because we are unsatisfiable. We know there will be the next big thing just around the corner and we live in constant anxiety that we will miss out, or be disappointed.

It is this anxiety, this fear of disappointment, this constant need for more that causes us to mortgage our children’s future so we can have this week’s next best shiny thing.

{Now, don’t get me wrong, I like shiny things too. But one thing I’ve learned since being home is that I don’t need them like I thought I did. My old office was on Robson Street in downtown Vancouver. THE shopping street of the city. I was everyday bombarded by advertising and shiny store windows full of things I was convinced I needed.

Removed from that environment, I now spend about the same amount over the course of an entire year on clothes as I used to spend on just one after-work jaunt to the mall. I’m sure not going to win any best-dressed awards, but no one at the farm co-op seems to mind my gumboots and patched jeans . . .}

So, in an effort to live well within our means, both economically and ecologically as much as possible we are taking this as our challenge as a family this year. I hope that we will form some new habits and learn some new skills that will hold us in good stead for the coming years.

We have already learned how to make do with less, much less. When I quit my job we also had to evict our tenant – leaving our family income at 50% of what it was. Combine that with self-employment and you have a recipe for financial disaster, right?

Turns out, no. We’re doing alright.

So far our quest for thriftiness has included

  • Aforementioned slashing of the cable bill. Save $100 per month.
  • A lick of paint on the old farmhouse instead of a full-gut reno.
  • Shrink-wrap on the windows to extend their life and keep our heating bill down (comparatively).
  • Shopping at the local antique store for used, well-made, durable furniture.
  • Turning a mound of old sheets into a braided rag rug for the bedroom. (This may not be finished till my grandchildren are born, but it looks good so far! Seriously slow going.)
  • Slowly phasing out our plastic, cheap cookware with used / antique cast iron and stoneware.
  • Being good neighbours. Sharing the work, splitting the chick order to save the cost of health papers, trading baby-sitting, batch cooking together.
  • Choosing a used european walk-behind “tractor” instead of a regular size one. No monthly payments and a MUCH smaller fuel tank. Saved $16,000 plus a ton of interest.
  • Acquainting ourselves with the FREE section of craigslist.
  • Being creative with all the junk left behind on our farm by the last owner. We are making furniture, fixing the falling-down garage, turning an old tub into a trough, you name it.
  • Scrounging for fire-wood wherever we can find it.
  • Saving to invest in a wood-burning stove that doubles as a cook-stove.
  • Eating LOTS and LOTS of soup!

Once we get going there will also be plenty home-brew, veggies from the garden, chickens and eggs, a hog to plow the fields and fill the freezer, goats for milk, and hopefully some income from the farm so we can save on our property taxes.

My husband has taken the challenge to heart and we are doing our best to have fun with it, be crafty at it. I will be curious to see what our monthly savings are once the farm is up and running and we’ve addressed our ridiculously high heating costs. The more we save, the faster we’ll be mortgage free (like, before we’re dead, hoo-rah!)

Use It Up, Wear It Out, Make it Do or Do Without.

Here goes nothin’ . . .

5 thoughts on “thriftiness

  1. grammomsblog

    Good for you! Our society is WAY too disposible……. most of my ‘good’, long lasting furniture was bought second hand over 40 years ago.
    I covered my windows in plastic wrap for years and years until we could afford to replace them with argon gas filled, low E glass energy efficient ones. But we did put in a wood stove right away to help with the heating. Now, 31 years later, I still heat with wood!
    You have the right idea and ambition, so don’t give up – move forward one step at a time…… this is your ‘for life’ home.

    Reply
  2. oceannah

    Stacey you are a beacon of hope! So many young families are lost in the consumer culture. You guys will do great in this endeavor…b/c you already know what NOT to do…. Thifty living is interesting and fun, like a challenging puzzle 🙂
    *anna

    Reply
  3. The Soulicious Life

    You go girl! Consumer spending is overrated. I love the challenge of shopping thrift and re-purposing old items. It’s not just eco-friendly, it also provides a great deal of personal accomplishment and satisfaction.

    Reply
  4. the food fighters

    Thanks for writing this–sometimes I think I was crazy to quit my job, dress in rags and eat lots of soup. You make it sound downright noble. I am going to re-commit to saving and doing more with less. Good luck to you.

    Reply
    1. The Slow Foods Mama Post author

      You made me laugh out loud. I ALWAYS think I’m crazy for doing it – especially on those rare occasions when I have to actually go somewhere, and I look in my closet and want to cry. (OK, usually I DO cry.) That and when I start to think about what my rag rug would cost me if I was paying myself an hourly wage . . .

      Reply

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