|My writer's studio waiting out the winter.|
I've saved the best for last, talking about income, because for the first time in our married lives, it's simple issue, we have very little of it. We could easily have more. if we wanted, I could go back to nursing, we could ramp up our livestock sales, I could sell my soap to large stores in large quantities but NO. We have already lived that make a lot, spend a lot, owe a lot lifestyle and we don't want to revisit it. We are choosing to keep our income at the level we need to meet expenses, for 2017 we estimate about $22,000 a year, all sources combined.
This will keep us at that 138% of the poverty level for two in Illinois of $16,020. Our ultimate goal is to need less and less money, so Keith can again be home full time, but we have so much more work to do before we're that self-sufficient.
Where then will our income arise? Primarily it will be Keith's new off farm job, his first non-farming job in decades, which he started today, which has benefits, and a regular schedule, and takes place indoors. A huge change for a guy who has worked outside the majority of his adult life, but surprisingly he's looking forward to it.
And I am looking forward to the opportunity to work from home, to being responsible for more of the farm chores, to literally being the one keeping the Looney Bin fires going while Keith is at work. The new job timing was perfect as it was the last of our 2016 meat sales that got us through January. Additional, much smaller amounts of income will come from my soap sales and hopefully, some writing gigs. That degree of mine is nearly eight months old, time to put it to serious use.
Speaking of which, I do moonlight as a poet, CNF and short story writer, so if you have a similar interest in the written word please check out my other blog. My followers there are on the low side, primarily because I blog here more often, so you could say I'm robbing Peter to pay Paul. Go ahead, say it. But, I'll be spending more time over there talking about my failures, and a few successes, as an "emerging writer," as they say in the trade.
I understand it's unusual for folks to talk money the way we have, folks generally prefer to brag about how much money they make, rather than how little, but I've done it for two main reasons. One: to help others who are in the process of either downsizing their lives intentionally, or for whatever reason are learning to get by on less, and two: because it helps keep us accountable. At the end of each week Keith and I review each expense area, and compare it to our budget. Then at months end we'll have a good idea how we've managed and what will need adjustment. Our auto expenses for example, were way over budget as my 15 year old car needed new brakes, while at the same time Keith's truck had manifold issues. Fortunately we spent very little in several of the other categories.
It's become a game for us, sort of how low can we go? When it comes to purchasing anything, we ask ourselves: can we make it? can we borrow it? do we really need it? who will make fun of us for wearing it? can we get by without it? for how long?
Soon, I'll share a building project we are planning. Hint: it includes large amounts of rubber.