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The current economic climate demands a strong and creative spirit. I believe that these are qualities most Frugalites already have. I am concerned that even more challenging times are coming. This is not intended to be discouraging but, rather, a call to action to draw further on our strong and creative spirits so that we can thrive, not merely survive, the days ahead.
A new model for new and challenging times
I am proposing one quality to be key to thriving in these difficult times and the times to come: mental flexibility. Consider yourself for a moment: do you have a willingness to be open to new ways of doing things? Are you willing to challenge your existing values if it could mean the difference between thriving and just surviving?
Think now about certain values that have defined many of our lives up until recently. What is success? Perhaps you have defined this as owning your own home in the suburbs. What is failure? Think about all the press millennials have gotten for their inability to move out of the family home.
How is a person’s value or success measured in our society? (I’m speaking here loosely of North American mainstream society). Very often, in our society, someone’s value is measured by their ability to own things and buy things. Remember the dream of the one-family home, owning one or two cars, and the white picket fence that came with it?
In the days that are coming, I believe that people who hold on to the old ideas about what constitutes success in our society will face more challenges. I also believe that the people who are willing to be flexible and do what is required, even if it is something previously considered “failure,” will thrive. There will be no roadmap for these times: people who look AHEAD and change what they are doing NOW can be better prepared financially.
I have written before on The Frugalite about ways to save rent money. In this article, I am taking it a step further with the recommendation to consider ways to share housing NOW. Yes, you like your privacy. Yes, you enjoy having your home to yourself. How long is this going to be possible in the current climate? Consider what resources you could buy if you were paying half your rent or half your mortgage right now?
In our rural township, there is a housing crisis. There are no rentals to be found, and housing prices have skyrocketed due to the influx of city folks with big pockets. New bylaws across our province are intended to allow two to three dwellings on one lot with no expensive severance required. Most local people I speak with are unaware they have this right.
They are also unaware that there are municipal grants available to help with this. Could this be possible in your own area? Take advantage now and create an intentional community that has a much better chance of weathering these difficult times. I strongly believe that sharing housing would be a proactive way to reduce expenses and increase your options. Could your adult child’s family share your home with a few renovations in place? Could your nephew move a mobile home onto your lot if you invest in expanding your septic system?
Forget what this may have “meant” in the past and instead focus on what it might make possible in your future.
Many hands make light work. There are many examples in rural life of times when a community comes together to do something or accomplish something that they could not if alone. The best example might be an old-fashioned barn raising: someone who has lost their barn, for example, due to a fire, may not be able to afford to pay everyone to come and build the barn. People are willing to come that day because they know they will be well-fed and that the community will return the favor if they are ever in need in the future.
Other examples would be hunting in a group, a street or block garage sale, or a community garden. In these examples, the “savings” may not be direct cash, but instead more venison steaks for everyone, more sales of your unwanted items, or more harvest than you could accomplish on your own.
One idea I have seen people do with great success is to contribute to the very services that they themselves need. I volunteered for some time at a large metropolitan food bank. I saw many people who were short on food give great service to the food bank, and they were able to access some special food items that were mainly given to the volunteer group.
When I was young, I volunteered for a large jazz festival in a nearby city. Not only did I get to watch the concerts when I was volunteering, but we were also given complimentary tickets to one of the main stage concerts as a thank you. So, I got to see Miles Davis play live. Yes, the Miles Davis!
I have friends that don’t have a lot of money. The other night, they served the most delicious strawberry sauce on a cake for dessert. They told me that they had not paid for the strawberries! What?!? A local farmer lets them come as a group and glean the fields once they are finished with the public pickings. If you know you may be short on food this coming fall, you could reach out to local farmers through a farmer’s market. There’s no harm in asking, and they may appreciate that extra produce not going to waste. Maybe you could bring a friend and give some of the gleanings to a local food bank, so everyone wins.
My sister is volunteering for a local farm she found on the internet. She lives in a city of over 500,000, and this farm is only 20 minutes’ drive from her home. Why is she sharing her time with them? She would like to move to the country when she retires, and she needs to learn some country skills. They are excited to get a volunteer, and she is excited to get training on feeding and watering chickens, grooming their donkey, caring for ducks, and much much more!
So, by sharing her time, she is shortening her learning curve. She will get to know which animals she may want to keep and why, and which ones she doesn’t. She is sharing time and saving time at the same time! (*try saying that three times quickly!)
When I lived in a large city, I dreamt of being a beekeeper. I had no car. I thought it would be impossible to get any beekeeping experience. I got talking to a beekeeper at a farmer’s market, and he said he could use an extra pair of hands, if I was interested in learning. Some of his hives were in the north of our city. He picked me up at a subway station, and off we went. He even gave me honey for my help!
Does everyone need their own lawnmower? Their own snowblower? Their own dual bevel miter saw with a laser line? Their own reciprocating saw? My radical proposal is simply to start buying less and sharing more. Yes, it would take some creativity, and there may be some growing pains as you learn “how” best to do this. Yes, you would need to carefully identify who your people are here and what the “rules” are.
I have a large extended family of cousins and aunts who all live within around a hours’ drive of each other. One aunt has created an informal sharing hub at her home. Everyone knows that if you have some extra of anything, leave it with her, and she will see it gets to the right person. If you need something, just let this aunt know, and she will spread the word.
While mine is family-based, you could propose this kind of idea to your own faith community or a group of friends. The benefit of this kind of system is that it cuts out the “middle man” of the profit-driven thrift shops that have taken over the used item market. For other ideas regarding bartering, check out this Frugalite article.
Frugalite sharing is thrifty saving.
The coming days may require flexibility and a willingness to try new ways of doing things. Could you see yourself trying any of the sharing tips offered here? Do you have one you can *share* with us? Please tell us in the comments below.
Colette is passionate about sharing her knowledge of thrifty living and self-sufficiency. She has developed her skills in self-reliance living in the suburbs, the city, and more recently, on her own Half-Acre Homestead. Colette lived five years completely off-grid and without running water in an eight by 24 foot tiny home while designing and building her own 18 by 24-foot eco-cabin. She has just launched her website, Half Acre Homestead. Colette invites you to stop by and visit this work in progress! Coming soon in 2022 is her exciting new online program. Interested in Resiliency, Preventative Health, and Self-Sufficient/Off-Grid Housing (to name a few!)? Stay tuned for more details!