The reason’s came be many, going from a two income household to a single one, reduced hours, reduced wages, reduced or no overtime, or seasonal work or seasonal income.
Any of the above and more can mean a drop in your income, and means you will be living with less income. That can be very scary indeed..
As Homesteaders in a northern climate on a small scale we face this very issue each year when winter hits.. The new year is a time for hopes and dreams, its also a time for belt tightening..
While I am not wiling to give hard numbers having been raise in a time when you did not give that info out but percents that’s just fine with me.. We lose about a 3rd of our basic monthly income on our lean months, now I am sure that most of you thought.. that’s not so bad, and you are right.. but the trick on that one is simple.. that’s very close to the amount of our “open” amount.. by that I mean after we pay all the bills, feed the critters and tuck a little away each month.. that 3rd is what the rest comes out of.. the extras like new boots, seeds for the garden, a new halter for the horse, a small fix on the truck.. while if needed, you can hit the saving for truck repairs etc. but ideally, we live our extra’s out of that “open” amount..
My friends reading this are nodding heads, as they have been shopping with me as I say.. nope, can’t do this or that, nope not in the current budget, that means normally, that I think is worth adding but its not worth adding enough that I am willing to touch anything but the “open” fund. Its a rare time indeed, that I find something on my “find it list” at a price that it can tempt me to buy with “savings”
Assuming that you know its coming (and for all your new to homesteading, farming, working towards being more able to grow your own food, making your land help create second, third and fourth tiny streams of income) its coming..
It one of the harder things to do when just starting out, but for those that are going to be around for a good long while, they are going to go into winter lean mode..
a) Lean mode- Lower carry rates for critters, you carry your cream of the crop, your expecting momma’s, your best breeders, your proven girls and if you are really hard core, if they miss and miss again.. most will not carry a barren female.. (I have done so twice because I wanted to and did not regret it)
b) Lean mode – Eat the extra’s.. Got a wether be it and heading into winter, perfect time to butcher him out and have fresh meat for the next couple months.. Got a hen that just will not lay, she is good for the stew pot.
C) Lean Mode- Eat what you put up.. you grew it, you worked hard to freeze, dry, pickle and can it.. Now is the time to eat it! Lower your store shopping to the things you can not grow.. Winter time means lambing or kidding, so you have fresh milk coming, home sprouting means you can have regular steady fresh greens to add to the meal plans, if you timed your flock right, you will have young layers bringing in winter eggs, and if you are making winter type meals, and put up or stored in the cellar.. then you are down to needing to buy.. basic fruit (if you want) which would be apples but ideally, you got local apples in the fall, and you canned up lots, and same with the rest of the fruit.. canned, or dried will get the job done..
Plan those trips, gas is money folks. If you live on a homestead, then it means that every time you want something folks are hoping in the truck and off they go. In summer, typically if you need it, often you need that part now.
However in winter, most likely it can wait, you might need to change the meal plan, you might need to do without for a day or two, you might have to think outside the box to hold you over till the proper fix but save the gas when you can.
Now we have a second choice. Amazon. I live close enough to the shipping center that even at free shipping, I can normally get something to the farm in 3 to 5 days, with planning head, that is as fast or faster then doing it on my once a week town trip and often I can get things even better priced, but not always.. watch those price points.
Order online but delivery to the local store, often the prices online are much lower then the in store carry of same item. It makes more sense to order it, and have the store hold it till you get in on regular day
Buy in bulk where you can be it feed or by case lots, buying in bigger amounts almost always saves you money, and for many things, be willing to take the time to see if you can find a second hand source at a better price.
Todays example, folks are looking for 55 gallon drums as water barrel, local stores.. around a hundred dollars plus tax at 15 percent (and that be crazy) but second hand local shop with food grade stamp on them (used to hold olives, cherries or corn oil) 11 to 17 per depending on type. That is a big difference!
Do not be afraid to keep your friends in the loop, if they like and support you and your life style, they are going to understand when you say.. dinner and movie out, sorry, how about dinner in and a board or card game, you want to bring salad or dessert?
Keep a list of things that break or wear out during this time that have not been replaced, evaluate when your income goes back up.. did you miss it? Do you need to replace it? Do they now have a better item on the market that will do this job and more? When will it go on sale?
It amazed me how much not being able to just replace something has been able to show me, can do without, NEED to have and a replacement on the farm to boot or this can do it even better.. As homesteaders we can fall into a rut, this is how we are doing it.. so it must be good right?
So give me your favorite tip to tighten your belt?