by Jerry M
Using your money wisely can pay many dividends for you over time. Learning to spend your money wisely is a habit most people must learn through discipline, it is usually not inbred into a person’s lifestyle (please read: The Total Money Makeover: Classic Edition: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness). All, or at least most, of today’s advertising is focused on emotional appeal for your money, not logic and common sense. If we can think logically instead of emotionally we will be far better off in almost every situation we find ourselves in, especially financial ones.
We got serious about a self-reliant lifestyle several years ago and this article is designed to give the reader some food for thought, some direction, and glimpses of things that worked for us.
One of the first things we had to adapt to was determining a “want” from a “need”, it took a while to develop that mindset, It was not easy and it took discipline, lots of discipline.
The ability to purchase things you need is governed by your own personal cash flow. Remember that cash flows both ways, in and out just like the tide. Our goal was to plug the money leaks in our cash flow pot. We are retired, so we are on a fixed income. Increasing inflation over time has eroded the buying power of everyone’s dollars. This really hits home when you are on a fixed income.
Let’s look at food purchase of a few items that just about everyone uses. We buy larger quantities of food where and when we can. We buy 5-gallon food grade buckets and gamma lids for daily use and buckets and solid lids for long-term storage. Don’t forget at least one lid wrench for the solid lids. A bucket and gamma lid cost us $ 11.00 and a bucket with a solid lid about $6.50.
If you stack buckets, put a 15”x15” piece of plywood between the buckets to avoid cracking the bottom lid because of weight. We don’t stack them more than 3 buckets high.
We recently bought table salt in a 50# bag for $12.50 which is $.25 a pound and it fills 2 buckets. Buying salt in the convenient 1# containers at $.85 each is far more convenient but cost considerably more money. Another example is white flour in a 50# bag for $11.97 or $.24 per pound. Buying flour in a 5# bag for $3.19makes it $.64 per pound.
We buy a 50# bag of sugar for$27.61 or $.55 a pound or a 32 oz. bag for $2.29 which is $1.14 per pound.
Learn to look at your cost per pound or per ounce when buying food and also know the storage life of the food. We shop at WINCO and Cash & Carry in our area for large quantity items in bulk.
We also cruise through the thrift stores and find lots of “bargains” on a variety of things. We are seniors and a veteran so we receive a 20% discount at our Good Will thrift store.
Most of us carry insurance of some type. Our experience has shown that we get the best coverage and the best price by dealing with an independent insurance agent. The independent agent will have several companies to choose from, they are not locked into one company. We stay away from “company” agents such as State Farm, Safeco, Farmers, etc. and have always done better.
We will never purchase a new car again. The purchase of a new vehicle is probably the worst investment that you can make. As soon as you drive off the lot you have lost at least 10% of the value of what you just paid for the vehicle. We will purchase a vehicle about 2 years old and preferably one from a rental car agency. They will have had a regular service schedule and not a lot of miles on them. We have had good experiences doing this over the years.
We think having a cash stash in a safe place is of paramount importance. Unexpected emergencies will happen from time to time. A safe deposit box is not a safe place, the banks are closed weekends and holidays and every evening too, giving you limited access to your cash. Even though there is lots of talk of eliminating cash in favor of a totally digital system, we think and hope that is a far-off future thing. Our goal is to have enough cash to pay 1 year’s taxes, utilities, and make small purchases for a while.
Beyond that, if things get that bad, who knows? We keep a cash stash in a small fireproof box that is easily hidden as well as transportable. You can find these at Walmart and other retailers. We also keep another fireproof box with our important papers in it.
Some folks are in favor of having precious metals stashed away. We feel that is fine if you have everything else that you need in place. Keep in mind however that in the 1930’s gold was confiscated by the federal government. The use of gold and silver may also be made illegal under a martial law situation.
You can save money by eliminating cable TV, magazine and newspaper subscriptions, dining out, unnecessary car trips, cigarettes, and perhaps other areas as well. Grow as much of your own food as possible and learn to preserve it. Getting out of debt and staying out is one of the first steps toward financial freedom.
Financial freedom is a big stepping stone to self-reliance. Reevaluate your finances from time to time to help you keep on a sound financial pathway.
Remember, these are things we have done that over the years have worked well for us. Your situation may differ a little, but the same principles apply: common sense over nonsense, needs vs. wants and logic over emotion.
Enjoy the journey.