The Economy of Staying Home

Reallocating money for prepping demands some sacrifices. Freeing up the money you need to prepare means that you can’t necessarily keep up with the Joneses.  Trust me, though, the time will come when the Joneses would trade their big screen TVs, their brand new SUVs and their fancy gym memberships in order to keep up with you.

One of the easiest ways to save money is also one of the simplest.  For some people, it’s one of the most difficult.

Stay home.

That’s it – nothing fancy at all.  Just stay home more.

Now, before the flurry of emails begins, I’m not suggesting that you become a mad hermit up on a mountain, only trekking to the village on foot once a year to buy salt and sugar.  In fact, as I write this, I’m on vacation with my daughters.  (The first one in five years!)

Actually being on vacation is what inspired me to write this.  I noticed some of the little things we spend money on when we’re out and about.  Because I work from home, I am not “tempted” by all the things there are to spend money on very frequently.  While I don’t think that we should stop living and enjoying life, during your everyday, non-vacation life, there are a lot of financial benefits to finding most of your entertainment, companionship and solace from the comfort of your home.

Transportation

The first big savings of staying home more frequently is the cost of your transportation.  With fuel prices skyrocketing, you’ve probably noticed the pain each time you go to the pumps.

Group your errands. Obviously, you have to go to work and run errands.  By grouping these things into fewer outings, however, you will save money on fuel.  Stop by the grocery store on the way home from work instead of making a special trip on the weekend. If you go to a gym, go on the way to work and use the showers there.  If your kids are involved in activities, consider doing some errands while they are engaged instead of dropping them off, going home, and going out again to pick them up.

Walk.  Are you within walking distance of any of the things you have to do?  If so, walk to the Post Office on your lunch break.  Walk to work and school if you’re near enough.  Not only will your wallet thank you, so will your health.

Food and Beverages

We live in a pretty rural area.  We do our grocery shopping once a month because it’s a drive of an hour and a half.  While we always take some drinks and snacks, nearly every single time we end up buying something during our time away.  Maybe it’s a treat like ice cream in the summer or hot chocolate in the winter or even lunch at a restaurant.  Since it’s only once a month, I plan this into the budget.  However, when you’re out every day, these treats really begin to add up.

Bring your lunch, your drinks and your coffee.  When I worked outside the home, I always brought my lunch and refilled my water bottle at the cooler.  Many of my coworkers went out for fast food every day at lunch.  They came in with a drive-thru coffee cup in their hands, went to the vending machine for a coke and a bag of chips.  When you hit a drive-thru every time you go out the door, the price of leaving home goes up.

When you grocery shop, make a plan.  When you go out for the explicit purpose of buying food and beverages, it’s best to make a list.  Bring a drink with you, so you aren’t tempted to grab an overpriced bottle of water.  Eat before you go so that everything in the store doesn’t looks so delicious that it makes its expensive, full-price way into your cart.

Entertainment

It seems like a lot of people can’t have fun at home anymore.  Maybe I have a warped perspective of fun, but I really enjoy gardening, doing arts and crafts with the kids, making popcorn and watching a movie together or just reading a book.  Our society has become so overstimulated that people constantly require more and greater stimulation in order to not feel “bored”.  Take for example the folks who are glued to their iPhones while spending time at a place that should be entertaining in and of itself.  We once saw an entire family at a restaurant, each with their own device out, eating food and ignoring one another.  Because we don’t go out that often, I guess it’s more of a treat, so we are fully engaged in it.  I’ve noticed that going to the backyard to play is no longer interesting enough – it has to be a water park or an amusement park for many kids to be excited about it.

By learning to entertain ourselves simply we can get a lot more happiness out of a lot less money.  By developing some productive hobbies, we can be creative while meeting needs.  By being active in our pursuits instead of passively entertained, we can be healthier in mind and body.

And while we’re on the topic of entertainment – shopping should not be “entertainment”.  When you shop as “something to do” you are bound to spend money on something you don’t need.  I have daughters, and they really don’t love my theory on this, but we shop when we need to get something.  We don’t just go hang out at the mall.  If it’s time to buy some school clothes, I allot a certain amount of money and time, and when it’s gone, it’s gone.  I do the same thing with Christmas shopping.  The mall is fraught with ways to drain your money – you get thirsty and buy a bottle of water or another drink.  You weren’t hungry but the smells from the food court are so tantalizing you can’t resist.  That display in front of the store has doohickeys that are ONLY a dollar.

It’s Not You, It’s Them

Don’t feel bad if you’ve read the suggestions above and recognized yourself.  People go to college for 4-6 years just to learn how to part you and your money.  Advertising is a multi-billion dollar industry.  Western society is based on commercialism.

A 2007 article in the New York Times said that the average city dweller is subjected to more than 5000 ads every single day.  It’s a barrage that hits you not only when leaving your house, but when turning on the radio, surfing the internet and watching television.

Add this to the endangered list: blank spaces.

Advertisers seem determined to fill every last one of them. Supermarket eggs have been stamped with the names of CBS television shows. Subway turnstiles bear messages from Geico auto insurance. Chinese food cartons promote Continental Airways.US Airways is selling ads on motion sickness bags. And the trays used in airport security lines have been hawking Rolodexes.

Marketers used to try their hardest to reach people at home, when they were watching TV or reading newspapers or magazines. But consumers’ viewing and reading habits are so scattershot now that many advertisers say the best way to reach time-pressed consumers is to try to catch their eye at literally every turn.

“We never know where the consumer is going to be at any point in time, so we have to find a way to be everywhere,” said Linda Kaplan Thaler, chief executive at the Kaplan Thaler Group, a New York ad agency. “Ubiquity is the new exclusivity.”

Recognizing that you are the target of commercialism run amok is the first step in resisting the marketing schemes.  Your awareness that you are being manipulated makes you less likely to think, “Wow, that sounds great!  I have to have it!”

Be sure that you are the one who decides where your money should be spent.  Identify your priorities (preps, your stockpile, a better location, lessons that will improve your chances when/if the SHTF) and avoid the marketing machine as much as possible.

By centering your life around your home,  you can stay focused on your goals.  You can begin to see your home as a retreat from the stressors of the world instead of a grim place you’re trapped.

About the author:

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Daisy Luther is a freelance writer and editor.  Her website, The Organic Prepper, offers information on healthy prepping, including premium nutritional choices, general wellness and non-tech solutions. You can follow Daisy on Facebook and Twitter, and you can email her at daisy@theorganicprepper.ca

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10 Comments  to  The Economy of Staying Home

  1. HalfKin says:

    I work a small three miles from my home one way.
    After work and week ends I truly prefer to be done with the car.
    I combine errands after work because when I get in that driveway I want to stay HOME!
    It is my favorite place to be.
    I garden and can and preserve, make wine and medicines and I actually love to organize things!
    You wouldn’t know it looking at some of my closets but that just goes on the list of things to do around the house.
    My grand daughter spends a lot of week ends with me and she has learned to sew and croquet and these are fun things for her. I am teaching her to cook.
    At home life is good.

    Love these types of articles Daisy,
    one can get very sad, mad, frustrated, angry and sometimes even afraid reading just about the gloom.
    We need to enjoy what we have.

    • Bev says:

      I hear so much about homemade medical remedies I would love to see some of the methods and ingredients posted. Seems so many out there are good at this and I have very little info on the topic and would love to know more from those who do this first hand.

  2. KY Mom says:

    Daisy,

    Great article! I agree we should appreciate and enjoy what we have at home. I too enjoy gardening, reading and crafts.

    That said…hope you and your girls have a great vacation!

    Sincerely,
    KY Mom

  3. Canada Canuk says:

    Hi Daisy…totally agree with staying home (as much as I can) In fact, it always costs me $100.00 every time I leave the house, if I take into consideration the cost of gas, wear and tear on the car….$50.-$70.00…at the grocery store (without a list) which I usually leave on the kitchen table… a stop at the $1.00 store,($10.00), and the list goes on!!

    I must say, for the past 4-5 yrs, I have been staying home more….no winter vacation to Mexico or Cuba this year….saved a bundle in that alone! Another good thing for me is, that I get more done in the house, cleaning/organizing and guess what, the pasta turned up a couple days ago….In the bottom of the wicker basket (that holds the winter scarves and gloves!! Thought you could use a chuckle…..hope you and girls enjoy the rest of your March break…take care, CC

  4. Zoltanne says:

    Hey Daisy, what’s wrong with being “a mad hermit up on a mountain?” ;-)

    Being home is great and for those of us with hobbies and a self-sufficient lifestyle, there’s no place we’d really rather be.

    Cracked up at the found pasta from the above comment….now who would have forgotten that it was in the bottom of the wicker basket….

    Hope you are enjoying your vacation.
    Z

    • Canada Canuk says:

      Hey, Zoltanne…thanx for giving Daisy “heads up” on the pasta story….wondering about my “short term memory” now…tsk, tsk..take care…CC

  5. Drover says:

    My husband (who can make or fix just about anything), and I have a large skill base. We have taught our now adult six children that their skill base is just as important as their degrees. And we meant it. They are grateful for this knowledge, and their spouses want their children to have this knowledge/skill base as well.

    We call our “productive hobbies” **skills.** For Christmas 2012, I made all of the Gkid’s presents; they loved them. My husband made the two girls who did not yet receive their doll cradles each one, and my youngest son made some very nice ornaments for his siblings with his welding skills. For my one daughter’s recent wedding, she wanted artwork from me. My husband and I are committed to make all of the children, in-law children, and grandchildren, the birthday presents this year. This totals 20 presents not including our living parents. When the grandchildren receive them, they usually remark how they look “store bought.” They know they are not, but it doesn’t bode well for what the “standard” is anymore.

    We have always been frugal. Our “vacation” for many years now, is to go, for one day, to Gateway National Park at Sandy Hook, NJ in March or April. We fly kites, beach comb, draw/paint, take photos, tour the lighthouses in the area, tailgate lunch, watch the sea gulls, and watch the tide come in or go out. The cost is gas.

    We live a very frugal life because we want to and have lived this way for before the children.

    We are very adept at entertaining ourselves, from indoor or outdoor games to the ever popular hymn sing along or simply reading a book.

    I have never been fond of shopping; it is a chore. My three daughters are not particularly fond of it either. Despite their dislike, my children boys and girls, were taught how to be an educated shopper, and they definitely are.

    I understand your frustration. I have tried to encourage those who are in debt to start the frugal life, but they are reluctant to do so. They are all looking for the “magic bullet” that for little effort, they will save a large amount of money. They do not have the vision that by saving pennies, the dollars will take care of themselves. Unfortunately, for today, it is saving dollars. For one relative,I offered to give them (new) supplies that would eliminate the need for paper products in their home as a first step. These people could not heat their house, but told me that they were not at that point yet! They probably think that only “the poor” would do such things. They still ate out.

    I mourn the loss of skills, both hands on skills and knowledge base skills. This is what made my grandparents and great grandparents self sufficient and independent. The bonus was the joy of making and a job well done for a more fulfilled life.

    Unfortunately, except for our family, no one is interested.

    Over the past 60+ years, the media, in all forms, did their “job” “well.” As a society, are in debt and dependent. It is a sad day for all of us.

  6. Faith says:

    I have to work outside of the home. I’m 60 but have 3 adopted special needs children. I have to keep up with technology unlike some of my older friends who don’t even know how to access their email. There is a place for our modern technology but like everything else the human race sets their hand to we have perverted it and turned a good thing into a not so good thing. This specific article is such an excellent reminder of how life SHOULD be. We are way too overstimulated in our society,a society that has pushed the drug of drive-thru instant gratification on us like some deranged crack dealer. The average working parent spends about 15-20 minutes actually interacting with their kids yet 8 hours at work. Add iPhones, iPads, texting, tv,gaming and you interact even less. No one knows how to pop popcorn in a pan with oil and a lid and sit down as a family to play a board game anymore and talk to one another…no not by texting.This second set of children I have ( my birth children are grown and independent) think popcorn comes in a microwave bag and food comes from a grocery store. If it doesn’t light up,talk or cause cancer we don’t seem to be interested! Although it is a little more challenging when you work outside of the home it is doable. Your suggestion to bring your own lunch, coffee, etc. is so simple but so foreign in our society! I fell off the lunch box wagon this week due to huge increase in stress from every direction and went to fast food joints for my lunch and yes, once for coffee. I was appalled by the number of people who obviously did this daily or several times a day. This week I’m dusting off my lunch box. Thanks for speaking the truth!

  7. Practical says:

    All good advice. I work at home and live by myself, so you are preaching to the choir here. Order a good part things for my business online, raise a garden and orchard and do home food preserving, cook most everything from scratch, and just plain stay at home almost all the time. Only drive my car maybe once or twice a week, my truck maybe once a month or less. I love it this way, been doing it for years…

  8. fifty says:

    I’d like to say that teens are different. The popcorn at night and no tv and no shopping, etc. may not work so well. Socializing with other teens is huge. And those other teens do all of the things we may not want them to. And I’m not even talking about drugs, drink, sex, etc.

    Our 2 teens crave outside life. They are full of energy for the big world. They like life here, but they want more. They want to see the world! And we encourage them.

    I remember when I was young. Just like them, I wanted to go places and do things. So I did. Way don’t regret it.

    My point is, no matter how prepper you are and no matter how you don’t do tv, you read lots, do family chores and activities, are part of your kids lives, and create your own food that the kids are part of – they still may want to go out into the big world and see and do things that aren’t part of the homestead or prepper world.

    Many of you will face your kids leaving and not wanting to be preppers. Tho the changing American economy and the need for further education to get a good job is part of it, for them, it’s also not about entertaining yourselves simply, doing family stuff, and no tv. Staying home doesn’t do it for many teens and young people.

    Not that these things aren’t important, but that may not be enough to keep your kids in your lifestyle or to care about prepping.

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