Thursday, October 09, 2008

waiting for hammerfall

The Dow is around 8500 now. So I think it's a fair question; what do we do for work, if layoffs happen?

Me, I'm simultaneously looking for work and trying to build my free-lance client base so I can have the bases covered either way. And if my clientele builds, theoretically I can recommend friends for other work, like web design, photography or illustration that are related to what I do but outside my ability set.

And because Natasha and I own our own house, live in a city with a high demand for rental property, and still are making our mortgage payments, we've talked briefly about letting the spare room or -- if we can find a way to make it work -- potentially the entire house, though I'd prefer to avoid that alternative if we can.

The big thing right now is to reduce expenses however we can. We make our own bread, and as many of our meals from scratch as we can, which has kept our food bill fairly steady the past year, particularly with the garden providing beans, tomatoes, and some other vegetables. I've been relying on the library more than ever for books and movies, and expect that if it comes to it during the winter, I'll probably spend most of the day there as well, using the WiFi connection to get my work done in a building where I don't have to foot the heating bill myself.

Some friends of ours came up with a great way to reduce their expenses, by sharing a house with another family. It gives them all full access to an entire house (for the most part), for half the price. Utilities are cut in two, food becomes cheaper per person because of the economies of scale, and the hosting family gets extra money for their mortgage while the second family is saving on their rent.

One perspective that I have found helps is to consider that everything you buy assumes the intrinsic value of the money you spent buying it. Thus, if I spend $14 on a pair of pants, those pants are worth $14 even if I can't wear them anymore. So, rather than throwing them out (and tossing my money into a landfill) or simply recycling them (thereby tossing my money into a recycling bin), I find some other use for the material, to get more bang for my buck.

Thus I have a rug made of old jeans; a tote bag also made from denim that saves me 2 cents every time I use it at the supermarket; a blanket-in-progress made from socks and other clothes too worn out to be useful as clothes, but quite warm as a blanket.

Our trash output has dropped to one garbage can every month, or less; we spend no money on fertilizer, because we compost so much; and I'm in the process of turning an old vanity sink into a game cabinet because I saw a new use for the wood and basic structure, with a few alterations.

If more of us had this attitude, and for a longer time -- it used to be standard practice for Americans, as in the rest of the world as well -- we probably wouldn't be in quite the dire straits that we're in now.

Copyright © 2008 by David Learn. Used with permission.

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