by Jennifer Gooden
I, like everyone else it seems, have spent more time than usual thinking about the economy over the past few weeks. As I write (Monday 10/13), the stock market is rallying after a week of freefall, and photos of i-bankers looking relieved abound on internet news sites.
I wish I could share their optimism. Instead, I think further tough times are on the horizon, so I have turned to two sources for advice: Bob Waldrop, an admired local advocate and fellow Fresh Greens blogger, and the Survival Podcast, a resource to “help you live the life you want, if times get tough, or even if they don’t.” Since financial stability is essential to sustainability and self-sufficiency, I thought I would pass along the advice I have gleaned from these sources.
Bob Waldrop, known to many interested in sustainability in Oklahoma, has become a trusted source for many in our region. We’re lucky to have him. Bob’s publications are charming in their old-fashioned wisdom, and his messages of frugality and compassion are more important than ever in our current environment.
I found the Survival Podcast a few weeks ago and have become a fan. While I disagree with the author on some key issues (particularly climate change and politics), I have found the podcast to be a good source of information about practical planning and preparedness. Over the past two weeks, listening to the podcast has become part of my regular routine.
I find it reassuring that multiple sources, based on different perspectives, point to the same solutions for prosperity in times good and bad. In a nutshell, here’s the recipe for financial sustainability:
1. Curb spending. Keep track of all expenditures for a month or two, and evaluate what can be cut without forfeiting your quality of life.
2. Eliminate debt. Pay off all debt, and enjoy the freedom that comes from being in the black. The Survival Podcast lauds Dave Ramsey’s “debt snowball” strategy. I concur.
3. Keep three months of food in the house. On Bob’s advice, I have been purchasing extra flour and grain from the Oklahoma Food Coop every month, which I use to make bread. Following Jack’s advice, I have added a variety of grains, legumes, pastas, and canned and frozen vegetables to my stored food. I eat a lot of these foods anyway, so I just buy extra when I go to the store. I find that having an abundance of food in my household makes it more fun to cook and pushes me to try new recipes.
4. Grow a garden. I began with the principles of Mel Bartholomew’s Square Foot Gardening and went my own way from there. Anticipating even greater demand for the food coop’s limited fresh veggies next year, I recently added four new garden beds; one is planted with fall greens while three are lasagna gardens, which trick worms into doing the hard work for me.
5. Build community. Both of my sources emphasize that it is difficult to build trust during times of crisis. The time to get to know your neighbors is now.
I would be interested to hear what strategies others are following to prepare for uncertainties in the future. If you have more “ingredients” to add to the recipe above, post a comment to let us know what is working for you.