Monday, January 30, 2017

Income...The Poor Farm Budget 2017

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.

22 comments:

  1. You don't seem to have budgeted for Hollywood buying the rights to your first smash hit novel. That should help!

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    1. Wouldn't that be a wonderful addition to anyones budget!!
      :)

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    2. That would be under my contingency plan Cro. The plans specifically being, that I hope I'm not dead before I publish something.

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  2. Hubby and I live on roughly the amount you budgeted. We have very low income for the reason that I don't support a lot of what our government spends on (war-being #1) and I refuse to fund that.
    Though we "qualify" for assistence around here with things like heating, etc., we do not want OR need any help--we're doing just fine, thank you. I think they need to teach folks how to live a good life on less, rather than just throwing money at them.
    Good luck in all your ventures. It is a happy life.

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    1. Keith and I have also recently realized how much additional help from the government we qualify for. But our goal has always been, like yours, independence, not increased dependence, as we see the majority of the United States population going towards. We are now three generations into public aid in our country, one sad fact.

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  3. Replies
    1. Sorry to be so cryptic Jenn, it stands for Creative nonfiction, a type of essay writing that allows the author some leeway with creativity. Not lying, but more embellishing of the facts. Personal essays fall into this category.

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  4. We're doing exactly the same at the moment, working out our 'how low can we go' earnings requirements for the future. My Lovely Hubby has a small Navy pension and will be working, mostly from home, on a much smaller basis after June of this year. While I will be responsible for growing the majority of our foods and keeping the smallholding going when he has to go away each month.

    It's amazing how little you actual need once you jump off the consumer treadmill, of work, spend, work spend and instead devote your time to actually doing the things that keep you alive and your home ticking over.

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  5. It sounds like you have the perfect solution to keeping your lives simple :) As you say, you've been there and done that...

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    1. We are getting there, we certainly have a long way to go, but the changes have been entertaining if nothing else.

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  6. I fell off the INCOME ladder a long time ago when I took up with a man who worked long hours but couldn't keep a job. All my savings went into "projects". That man was a great inventor - I thought he'd hit the 'jackpot' someday but he never made a buck on anything, including the gold claims he filed, halfway up a mountain, in my name. Eventually I moved on & started a small business. I deliberately kept my income below $30,000 to avoid paying the GST(a value added tax) & rarely paid Income Tax or Medical because I wrote off everything I could to lower my income.

    I FORGOT TO PLAN FOR INJURIES that would take me out of the workforce. That's where I went wrong!!! It took 3 years to see the Specialist, two Surgeons & have surgery - it may be 'free' in Canada but you have to wait. I ended up spending all my savings, tax refunds & emergency funds because the company I was working for - an old client talked me into it - closed suddenly. My Ex paid my rent for almost two years & I lived on $383.78 a month until I got fixed & could resume my old bookkeeping & tax business again.
    I will admit to a little cash work & horse trading while I lived on so little but I did NOT buy a single item of clothing for three years. But I will say that it's a good thing I'm a hoarder & try to keep a year's supply of dry goods in the pantry.

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    1. It is the injury thing that concerns us as well. But because there are two of us and both of us in good health, we have each other to lean on, literally.

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    2. Yeah, it would've been easier that way! And I was lucky because I had good credit with friends & the Ex. It's amazing how little you can live on if you have no bills. And there's a lot of stuff you can scrounge out there if you toss out pride.

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  7. I admire the way you've been talking about money and think it's good to get people thinking. Money is way overrated in my book.

    When it comes to discussing budget with the love of my life, the only number I can get out of him is 2. He says we have 2 many needs, 2 many projects, and 2 little income.

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    1. P.S. I've never been able to build much of a following for my author blog either. Seems more folks are interested in farming and homesteading.

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    2. Tell Dan I like his "two philosophy" It sounds like our place. As far as the writers blog goes, I try to get on lots of other writers blogs whenever I can to build my readership there. Like all things worth doing, it takes time. Oh how I wish I had twice as much in a day. Even just 36 hours a day would be grand!

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  8. Another bright side: no longer fussing about income taxes. Back when I had a high income I used to get really worked up this time of year when I saw how much income tax we were paying. But since we ditched that life I've discovered the perfect way to avoid paying income tax--don't have income! :)

    Our budgeted income is very close to yours, fwiw. When we began slashing our spending and cutting expenses to the bone, we made a game of it too. It was fun to start tossing out unnecessary things that we've been conditioned to believe are necessary.

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    1. We hope this year will be the last year we have to use an accountant to do our taxes. In 2017 income should be low enough to not pay any, or get some back since Keith is working off farm now. I hate paying sales taxes too so I avoid the stores more. If I can cook it or bake it or fix it myself, I will.

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  9. Amen!! If it wasn't for the business, the old cell phone would be toast!! But let it be known, I have NO DATA, NO WIFI, NO APS - I text & talk. If cable didn't come with the rent, I'd have none. But I do use the internet - a lot. When you do Blogs, KNIT, tax work & payrolls, you're ALWAYS on-line.

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    1. I do love the internet and how it's getting cheaper and more competitive. For Now.

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  10. Kudos to you and Keith for sharing your lifestyle change and budgeting decisions. We also downsized 2 years ago from a home (still owned :-( in VA) to a single floor apt in a former mill building. It was both easy and hard and now 2 years later, I am still sifting through "things" and deciding that I can indeed "live without them." There are some exceptions like my late mother's silverware, which although impractical for our everyday use, will be used when we invite friends and neighbors for dinner. It has become a regular practice for us to put aside "things" we no longer need or use and make weekly trips to a local thrift shop to drop them off. Anything unusable/broken gets trashed, unfortunately that included the 2-year old printer that started malfunctioning last week. And even though we have sufficient medical insurance, we do not take prescription meds unless absolutely necessary like for an infection, etc. We can "afford" to spend $$ on things, but choose not to because they are just things we don't need to improve our quality of life.

    p.s. That previous poster is a spammer as you already know. Don't those folks have better things to do than to annoy others? I delete posts like these ASAP and hope they stay away.

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