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12/15/2004 Archived Entry: ""

[REPOST from 2 December 2004]

Nice cartoon from Tom Tomorrow, "Here We Go Again."

Time to consider the economic situation....

Lawrence Parks has an excellent article entitled The Evil Day Approaches; Who to Blame? on the Free Market News site. The Evil to which he refers is the oncoming (and, I believe, inevitable) collapse of the US dollar. He concludes by recommending the purchase of gold. Which reminds me, if you have not considered why you should own precious metals, this article by John Embry, with commentary by Gary North, is about the clearest, best organized analysis I've seen.

So...the economic situation. I want to start out by letting people know that I'm looking for contract work as a writer or editor. My decision to boycott air travel to the States for as long as US airlines treat customers like criminals means that I am forgoing quite a few employment opportunities. If anyone out there knows of contract work that does not require travel to the US, I would be most grateful to hear of it.

In the meantime, I have decided to run an experiment. I have decided to be poor. By this I mean, I have chosen to act as though I needed to watch every penny so as to discover just how inexpensively it is possible for me (and Brad) to live without damaging our lifestyle; in other words, without giving up anything that contributes to our happiness such as wonderful food, movies, books etc. Since "becoming poor" is a choice and not a necessity, I'm going to make a game of it...almost a contest with myself. In fact, the minute it ceases to be a game and I start feeling really poor, I intend to stop playing; I'll go out immediately and buy myslef something luxurious. But I don't think that will occur. I am an avid fan of "simple living" and frugality books from which I have learned a great deal. (How to Survive Without a Salary is still one of my favorites.) I devour such books and use them to develop better financial habits and a more healthy attitude toward money. I am fond enough of money, to be sure, but not as an end in itself or as a means to constantly acquire "stuff." The main acquisition for which I hunger is my own time, my own leisure, and one of the most effective means of procuring lots and lots is to reduce the hours I spend on "work" by reducing the expenses for which the work is necessary.

With me, of course, the line between work and leisure is somewhat artificial as one of the main uses to which I would put leisure would be to write. One difference, however: I would immediately divert a substantial part of every day into writing fiction in an attempt to finally discover whether I have a decent novel inside me. (I am not so sanguine or arrogant as to hope for a "great" novel.)

So...I will be reporting my progress and strategies for "being poor" on McBlog. Frankly, I would advise everyone to start considering how to cut their expenses and develop frugal habits. Some of the advice/tactics will seem mundane and obvious but I'm going to explain them anyway.

First...I am in the process of rotating food from the pantry upstairs near my kitchen (short-term storage) with food from the pantry in the cellar (long-term storage). I am trying to keep several months' worth of food (at least) in stock both as a hedge against inflation and as a convenience that keeps us from driving too frequently to the store on winter roads...not to mention on expensive gas. Whenever they are on sale (my usual target for a sale is 50% off the regular price but any sale is a good one), I buy caseloads of the staples we use and store them. Everything in the cellar is now a year old and should be revolved into the short-term pantry where the food will be used in the next few months. Newer purchases head immediately downward. It is amazing how much money this one technique saves on grocery bills. True, it is a bit of work and takes some time but -- if you factor in the time I am saving but not running out to the store two or three times a week -- I gain back the time, and then some.

Well...back to work!
Best to all,

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