Thinking Outside the Norm

Lately Hubby and I have been discussing me quitting my job.

Say what now?!
I know, I know. You can’t survive without two incomes in this economy, right?
The decision to begin homesteading and getting back to more traditional values, and living off the land was largely my idea. Hubby and I both have always wanted to farm and have lots of animals, but it was always a dream we thought we would need lots of money to do.
But now, here we are living paycheck to paycheck, and I want to put more pressure on our financial situation by putting the sole burden of providing our income on Hubby. How is that fair? Or even rational thinking?

In a lot of ways I feel like its not. I have been programmed since I was a child to go to school, make good grades, go to a good college or better yet university, read, learn, study hard, graduate with honors, get a good job, provide for myself, have financial freedom, don’t count on a man to look after me, look after myself.

You know what I’m saying.

I was trained, taught, and told that this was living. That this was the road to happiness and success. That the fact that I wanted to live on a farm and have lots of animals was good as a side hobby but not realistic for a lady with such a promising future.

Do you know what happened to my promising future?

Let’s just say it didn’t turn out that way.

So let’s, for a minute, try to think outside the norm. Just for a brief second look past everything we’ve been told we need to do.

Think back to when mom’s stayed home. When dinner was on the table every night at six o’clock. When dinner was homemade and wholesome. When the cookie jar was never empty, and you could pronounce every ingredient in the cookies. When recipes were written on old scraps of paper, tucked away in a box or notebook. They were all written in grandma’s or mom’s writing.  They didn’t have stars or reviews stating how acceptable they were. If you wanted to know the best recipes you looked for the pages that had spills, and stains on them because they were so well used.

Now, I totally get that some women want to work. That some women love their careers and love providing financially for their households. I highly respect those women, and I am glad that there are women’s rights so they can go out into the work force.

But have women’s rights perhaps gone too far in the other direction? What if I want to stay home and raise my family? Why is that frowned upon now?

So back to the real reason of this post: can we live with only one income?

Here’s why I think it could work:

1.  Producing our own food. I love to garden, and grow fresh produce in the summer months. It’s amazing how much food you can get from just a couple plants. Honey, if you grow zucchini the whole neighbourhood is gonna be getting zucchini! I am always sure to freeze or can extras for the winter months as well.

We also have laying hens, who I’m pretty fond of if you couldn’t tell. We have one gal who has just started laying for us, and it’s such a treat to collect the egg each morning. (The rest of them better get a move on!)

The newest addition to our little homestead is two dairy goats. Nigerian dwarfs to be exact. Lord willing, we will have a buck studded to us in November so by next April they will have kids. And with kids come milk! Rumor is Nigerians can produce a lot of milk for such a little goat. They also have a high butterfat content to their milk, which means when I figure out how to separate it (as goats milk is naturally homogenized), we will have butter, ice cream, and fantastic cheese. Not to mention all hubby has to do is squirt some into his coffee each morning. From goat to coffee cup with no travel in between! Isn’t that the dream?

Hubby eats very little meat, and I don’t eat any, but we have talked about raising our own. As of right now it doesn’t make sense for us to do so, however there is always the option of raising your own meat chickens, turkeys or ducks. Hogs are quite popular around here, as are steers. Or for people with not that much land, rabbits are increasing in popularity.  For us we have decided that buying off of other local farmers is the best option. We are supporting local farmers, and still getting quality grass fed, free ranged meat, without having to put the work in ourselves. If we were a meat eating family then it might make sense to raise it ourselves, but since hubby only eats meat two to three times a week, this was the better way to go.

Also being home each day will mean that I will have the time to make dinner every night, instead of getting home at five thirty exhausted and just ordering take out.

2.Travel costs reduced. Both hubby and I are commuters. Trust me if I could walk or ride my bike I would. But living in a small town means very little job opportunities, so we travel to our place of work. Hubby is on the road for a very good portion of his day so we needed a good reliable vehicle that we could rack the kilometers up on. We were looking at used, but in the end bought a new vehicle for him because it would last longer. For the long run the investment seemed worth it. Lucky for us, because traveling is a large part of his job, he gets an extra car expenses allowance tacked onto his paycheck. This allowance covers his monthly payments and his gas expenses without cutting into his pay.

On the other hand I drive a second hand vehicle that we make monthly payments on as well. Before we moved I had a forty minute commute so buying a more reliable vehicle that was very well taken care of seemed like a good investment. However, I still have my old car. It does have high kilometers but is paid for completely, and is in pretty decent shape. If I were to sell the car I have now, and pay back my loan (which thankfully there is no penalty for paying more off then the monthly payments), I would be reducing our debt load and getting rid of at least one monthly payment. Our insurance payments would also go down. We are still back and forth on this plan, and are waiting on the Lord to direct us. Both vehicles have their pros and cons.

There is also the issue of gas. Honey, them prices just keep going up! Now that we have moved, my commute is only twenty-five minutes, which has made a huge impact on my monthly gas expenses. But if I didn’t have to work, that amount would be savings. I’m estimating that I will spend roughly $50 a month, provided its a typical month and there are no far off family get togethers, or extra travelling needed. Before we moved I spent $50 a week, since the move it’s $50 biweekly, were it to go down to $50 a month, that would be a savings for us of $50.  It doesn’t seem like a lot, but that works out to $600 a year!  

There is also less wear and tear on the vehicle, less time in the shop for just plain old regular up keep, and less kilometers being put on the car.

3. Less heating costs in the winter. Say what now? Guys, I’m really hot.
OK, actually no.   But this is why I say this.
A large reason for us buying this home was the fact that it has two wood stoves. Two! I know for some of you this isn’t a big deal but for us it was pretty big. In our old farm house we had one little wood stove in the back and when we were home that was our main source of heat. We could get that little one hundred year old house, with newspaper for insulation, up to a tropical thirty degrees without even trying! (Celsius, for those of you wondering why I’m excited over thirty degrees.)  Think of the possibilities of two wood stoves in a properly insulated home! Did you catch the magic phrase there though? When we were home. We both work a lot, so when we aren’t home we rely on the furnace to heat the home. That seems like a good compromise for most people, and yes wood can be expensive too, but there are ways to make it cheaper:
– we order in logs and cut it ourselves.
– we are surrounded by forest here so if need be we could cut our own logs.
– if we order in more logs than we need, we can cut it, and sell it ourselves to people who want wood but don’t want to chop it.
So, if the home was my work I would be here all day to feed the fire. Logs are almost always cheaper than oil.

Here’s a few more expenses that don’t necessarily pertain to us but are also things you could save on:
1. Day care
2. Parking permits
3. Mid morning coffee run – its always cheaper to make your own than buy it from a coffee shop
4. Eating lunch at a restaurant each day
5. Clothing costs – be it office wear, or uniforms
6. Lawn care – if you grow a vegetable garden instead of a lawn you’ll be actually getting a return from it
7. Health care – better meals, and less stress from the rat race will contribute to your overall health, and your family’s.

In the end, it comes down to proper budgeting and setting a realistic standard for living. We need to be honest about what comforts we want in our lifestyle and not put the burden on ourselves to be able to do everything. It also comes down to timing. Honestly and truly, we want to live very basic lives, but there is debt to consider and breaking out of the mind set to just buy something when we think we need it or have earned it.  Each day is just another step closer.

For now, I am attempting to work only a couple of days a week, but even that has proven to be a bit of a sticky situation with my boss.

I will let you know when I take the plunge, and make my homestead dreams a reality.


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