In pioneering days, the role of woman became elevated as her strength, wisdom and skills proved necessary for survival. To survive in the thirties and forties, for the duration of the Great Depression and beyond, women proved again the importance of their contributions to the household. Luckily, at that time, large numbers of people were rural. The working poor who had their gardens and often a few animals were somewhat inconvenienced by hard times while city dwellers starved unless they found ways to become self-reliant. Think "The Country Mouse and the City Mouse" where the role of "hard times" was played by the cat. The Country Mouse worked a little harder but survived without too much worry.
In response to hard times of the Great Depression, the government established some social safety nets not only to get people back to work but also to provide some sustenance to ward off starvation and homelessness.
Today, some of those programs no longer exist and others are losing funding. Today's young adults are roughing it in monumental ways, often the first to lose jobs in the current market downturn and unable to get financing or develop a support system for the things they need. Today, more than half of the young adults over twenty-five receive help from their parents, and many more need help, falling through the cracks of a flimsy safety net. The ones who can't make it sometimes turn to crime as their only means of survival. Politicians may seem out-of-touch or, worse, simply uncaring. As a result, the court system and prisons are overloaded and are now turning many criminals loose.
In scary times like this, many people, especially the young, want to live for the immediate pleasures of today (drugs, alcohol, and other forms of escape) since they feel no promise of a tomorrow. For most of us, there will be a tomorrow. Plan for it. When times are this tough, we need to make every dollar count toward necessities of life: food, clothing, shelter, transportation, LOVE AND LAUGHTER. Yes, I said love and laughter. They help sustain us during hard times. I believe the nation's economic woes will improve when we take steps that begin at home.
Therefore, in a pioneering spirit then, I offer a list of 10 things we can do today to assure we live abundantly tomorrow:
1. Look hard at the difference between spending and investing. Spent money may leave us with memories but the money is gone, like a wild goose in winter. Worse, unlike the goose, it's not coming back. Invested money brings money back in the form of savings, income or value added. Think of anything that depreciates in value as spent money. That includes most cars and mobile homes, fancy electronics, clothing fads and, yes, even rent. When it's gone, it's gone. Investing, on the other hand, has the potential for increasing in value or bringing more money into the home. (See number 3.)
2. Plan to make every spent dollar count. While the memories may warm you when times are rough, you don't want to be the grasshopper who plays while the ants are storing away food~eventually the grasshopper has none. Put off spending and playing. Instead, go for some deferred gratification. Picture what you want. Eventually you can make that home, or degree or dream vacation come true or get that "thing" that's now out of reach. And you'll be able to do it without putting your livelihood at risk. In the meantime, be happy deep in the very core of who you are. You yourself have value, more than anything than you could buy.
3. Instead of spending, INVEST. Place discretionary money in investments close to home where you see its benefit and can convert it to cash if needed. Invest in yourself with time, maybe money, to learn new skills, new ideas or to do new things. Your knowledge and skills could become indispensable to you or someone you know.
4. If you don't already have it, consider buying or renting a small piece of land or join a gardening partnership so that you can grow and share your own fruits and veggies. This money falls on the investment side since has potential to save you money.
5. Clip coupons for groceries with a plan to save at least 20% over retail every time you shop. This is a much better payback than most savings plans or investments offered by banks.
6. When you shop, avoid highly processed foods and fancy packaging, non-nutritional snack foods and candy. Stick to the outside perimeter of the store where the most essential foods are generally found, those with the least processing and packaging (produce, meats and dairy). Eat whole farm-fresh foods more than highly processed food products. But even with food, really good food, remember to practice moderation in all things. An occasional candy bar is good for the soul!
7. Learn to preserve foods and find ways to organize them. Home canning is wonderful for some things, and a vacuum sealer really does well to protect foods for the freezer. After you preserve the foods, plan to have at least one food a day from your stash. That will bring down your grocery bill.
8. Eat more fruits and vegetables than meat. A good rule of thumb is 1/4 of the plate for meat, 3/4 for the rest (fruits, vegetables and bread).
9. Supplement your diet with rice, beans and nuts. By doing this, while you reduce the amount of meat, you will still be enjoying much-needed usable protein at a lower cost.
10. Take really good care of yourself, starting with what you eat. Then learn to control how you think. Start taking greater care of others. Share and barter. You may be able to fill the gap for others, and likewise. The notion comes from the Pauli Exclusion Principle, a physics term for electron-sharing. While each element is unique, something greater than the sum of the parts is created when sharing occurs between elements. They bond! Think chemistry. That's what The Pauley Principle is: scientific notions applied to humans. The result? When we share what we have in order to fill the gaps for others, we all gain from the experience and are transformed.
In summary, my pioneering friend, value who you are! You are unique and you have a right to be here. You are part of a movement in inventing a new reality. There's adventure in that. Develop a support system by gathering up those friends and family members who are also positive and like-minded. Believe in the higher power. Feel the strength that comes from sharing your laughter, faith, experiences, skills, and your own harvest.
Live your life abundantly.