From GENE LOGSDON
The Contrary Farmer
Far be it from me to criticize the American way and it wouldn’t change if I did. But it seems to me that another way of looking at life needs to be presented occasionally. Those of us who choose to live the home-centered garden and farming way have some built in advantages when it comes to profits and losses.
If time is money, I’ve lost thousands of dollars waiting for traffic lights to change or traffic jams to clear up or planes to get back on schedule. The fuel and blood pressure burned up in the process could cost me a whole lot more than four dollar gas. On trips, if you don’t pack some food, a meal on the road is going to average out at about eight dollars a head. If you stay at a motel, deduct another bunch of bucks. But the bedbugs are free. All this is what you get for the thrill of staring at the scenic sides of huge semi-trucks as you roar down the highway always three feet and three seconds away from death.
I manage to shed twenty bucks minimum just going to town no matter how hard I try not to. If I drive around long enough looking for bargains, I spend the money I might save in the store on gas.
We hear a lot about local food these days, but the bankers sure don’t want anyone to take that too literally. If everyone ate at home out of their gardens most of the time, the so-called economy would collapse because it is based on the assumption that the vast majority of people will continue to eat at restaurants, out of necessity or simply because that is the established way of American life.
If you want to make some real money, start eating breakfast at home, pack a lunch, stop snacking at your favorite local sugar shop and eat dinner at home. One of these days a parent might take a good look at the daily budget and decide that it might be more profitable to stay home and cook than to hold down an outside job.
It is not just the cooking. There is also housework which more and more is done by hired help. Having that evening cocktail at home costs half of what you’ll pay at a bar. Then there is the second or third car that becomes necessary, not just for going to work but for carting children around from one event to another because no longer are there activities for children at home. I like to brag about a family in southern Ohio I know well, where all the children were homeschooled. The one I have been corresponding with for about 10 years scored in the highest percentile when she took those ACT tests to go to college without ever having graced a regular school. I call her Super Gal. She taught herself to play the organ and plays professionally now, is a fairly good artist and illustrates her sister’s regular family newsletter detailing the sometimes highly adventurous life on their farm, is an expert on raising chickens, helps with the family garden and the neighboring farmers in haymaking, works in a local greenhouse when she has time, taught herself how to wire a house, repair a pickup, tan animal skins, build sheds, and is one of the most well-read young people I have ever encountered. (At the moment she is reading Thomas Aquinas and I am not making that up.) All through her and her siblings’ childhoods, her parents paid particular attention to providing home activities, both of work and play. She likes her courses in college now but is not sure it is worth the money. Getting a degree for a high-paying job is not a big deal with her. She is in school to pursue wisdom and knowledge; she already knows seven ways from Sunday how to make money. I know one thing for sure. Super Gal’s mother has made a lot more real profit raising her family than she would have at a salaried job.
Let us say that a person like Super Gal decided not to go to college, which is what her sister decided. You can pursue a higher education on your own at home, as many people are doing. That would save you at least $12,000 a year and probably a lot more.
Dining out as much as people do now is costing a family of four well over a hundred dollars a week so there’s at least another $5000 a year that you could save cooking at home, especially eating your own backyard and barnyard food.
A second or third car cost about $7000 a year to own.
Vacationing and recreating at home would save another $5000 minimum. You can travel all over the world on the Internet.
Savings on not having to buy so many new clothes or extra gas or hiring babysitters so you can work an outside job could amount to at least another $5000 to $10,000 a year.
My numbers may not be accurate enough, but they prove the point, I think. The farming and gardening way of life offers the opportunity to save a lot of money just by staying home. And you won’t have to pay a cent of income taxes on it either.