Reconsider your food budget

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We don’t budget for food. Gasp!

We are of the belief that “we are (quite literally), what we eat”. Why then would we want to be frugal or even worse – stingy – with what we place into our bodies?

We are all about wisely using the resources we have available to us. However, we often scratch our heads at the concept of trying to feed a family for as little as possible. That can be somewhat self-defeating. Americans have one of the lowest ratios of food cost to income in the entire world. We spend less on food that nearly every other country on planet earth! Yet, we still often want to spend even less!

Consider this… if someone can go through all the trouble to feed you and make a profit and you only spend $.99, how good can the quality be? What value can a “value meal” have in such a case? The only “value” is to the producer. The consumer may feel full but is not consuming quality.

We raise (among other things) pigs. We feed them non-GMO feed produced by a local small producer.They can’t produce feed for the cost of feed from the local mills typically. Because it costs us more, we couldn’t sell a pig for what others who feed less-premium feeds could. We simply couldn’t sell a pig fed on premium quality feed and beat $.99/lb prices found in the grocery store. Fortunately, we don’t aim to!

So as both producers (for ourselves) and consumers, we want the best quality foods possible. If those cannot be obtained inexpensively, we will spend more for food before we will eat lesser-quality food.

We once heard it said “You make your healthcare decisions at the grocery store. You make your sick care decisions at the doctor’s office.” We couldn’t agree more. We live in a culture that is conservative on food spending but liberal with “health” spending.  We’ll think nothing of spending $500-$1000 per month on health “insurance” but half that or less to feed our family. Folks, good food nourishes far beyond the best medicines.

Food and nutrition should be a high priority in the budget – perhaps the highest. For some, all that is needed is a shift – spend less on sick care and more on quality nutrition. Raise your insurance deductible and use the extra funds on a bigger grocery budget. When we did so, we found our doctors visits dramatically declined.

We get it – some folks have little to no choice with their budgets. Nevertheless, most of us, with a change in our thinking, can find resources for the things we value. Place yourself and your family at the top of your list, not your insurance company or Physician.

 

Get out of debt, or invest?

We’ve spoken to several financial planners and investment advisers over the years and unequivocally, they’ve recommended investing funds on hand rather than reducing essential debts like mortgages and student loans. Certainly, the math behind this makes sense because good return on investment is based on two things – time and compound interest. The logic goes like this. If you pay off your debt on hand, then begin to invest, you lose those years of compound interest on your investments. For many years we thought this was a wise way to go.

Over the last few years though, we’ve come to see things differently. As our lives become simpler, so our ideas about finances. Our entire western culture is built on a desire to better one’s life in ways that generally allow one to accumulate more stuff. Our education is geared around preparing our children for this pursuit. We make sure they get an adequate education that will prepare them for pursuing the amount of material comforts they’ll need or desire. Once they begin working a job, they begin to prepare to maintain this status until the end of their days.

To us, this seems rather silly. Is not life about more than working a job and having stuff? We’ve come to see that his is an empty pursuit that robs people and families of their essential well-being. It drives families into debt, which results in more work to service their debt. Truly, “the borrower is servant to the lender”.

Once we began to see that money is an illusory carrot dangled in front of the masses of society in exchange for servitude, we began to change our minds about debt. No longer are we concerned about how many thousands of dollars we’ll have when we reach 65. Rather, what kind of people will we be at 65? What kind of lives will we have lived? Will our resources have been used for good, or to line the pockets of the super-wealthy? What will our children be like and what will the experiences of their lives be? Without exception, for us being debt free as soon as possible provides more enjoyable answers to those questions. Are we saying investing is bad? No! But for us, we’ve come to see investing in debt reduction to have far more value to our lives than investing those same funds to get “more”.

Being debt free truly brings freedom. Does freedom have a price? Debt brings a lack of freedom as one is contractually bound to pay back their debt, therefore must gather the resources to pay their debt. This means choosing a job and schedule that gives one the resources to pay this debt. At the same time, we’re living in a culture that encourages more debt. Don’t believe us? Our entire economy is based on this premise. Debt IS currency in the USA. Not sure about that? Do some research on fractional reserve banking sometime.

Being debt free allows people and families to choose to spend their time doing what they enjoy, where they desire to do so, and with whom they desire to do it with. Does that mean NO work? Not usually – but it does give one the freedom to enjoy more trivial work that provides only what is needed. If we were debt free, we could invest a much smaller amount of time outside of our home and interests than we do now. To us, that has far more intrinsic value than any gains we could experience by investing our resources elsewhere.

So get out of debt or invest? Which is it? We would say getting out of debt is investing – and perhaps the best investment one could ever make.

Please share your comments!

The shelf-life of money

Money, as we know it, is quite an illusion. Think about it. We place extreme value on very complex pictures printed on special paper. We live, work, and die to accumulate this treasure that is really no treasure at all, but worthless resources. We cannot eat money, it cannot make us healthy. It cannot keep us warm (unless burned) and cannot keep us dry or secure. Does money let us purchase items that will give us those things? Sure. However, that’s based on an assumption that money will always have the value we place on it today. What happens if and when we no longer value dollars as having value?

As we’ve said before, the path to sustainability also prepares one for weathering difficult times. It’s with that understanding that we propose to you that you think long and hard about this thing called money. Many people will think nothing about storing three months of money in their bank accounts, yet won’t have three months of food on hands. They’ll be very proud of their investments, but have no way to secure clean water in an emergency. Money has no value when people collectively experience hardship. At that point, money is the enemy of sustainability. For many, money is the enemy of their sustainability even now. These are perilous ways to view money. Money is a tool that has an expiration date. It must be used in order to have value.

Are we saying doom and gloom is headed our way? No. We don’t know what the future holds. However, we do know, that our understanding of money depends on the combined support and interest of our culture. If that stops due to a change of mind, calamity, disaster, or any other reason, those with money will find themselves empty handed. We’re not saying don’t have money or don’t invest. But be wise! First invest in tangible resources first that will allow you to sustain your lives and others around you. Many do not to this to their potential peril and destruction.

Many who understand the above just go out and buy gold and silver. Are those things bad? No. However, just like money, they have limited value to the beholder. When the essentials to life are hard to come by, no amount of gold and silver is going to be worth trading food, water and shelter. Don’t misunderstand, we do think precious metals have their place in sustainable living  and are far, far better than dollars. However, they too stop short of preparing a family to live sustainably now and in the future.

I our opinion, money is best used to secure useful resources and eliminate debt than it is to secure and store. Kinda like the old fable “a bird in hand is better than two in the bush”. Money in the bank is only good as long as it can be used for what you need. If you’re lacking essential resources to live for several months or more without the need of purchasing supplies, then you might want to consider using your money more effectively. Get out of debt. Get the supplies to take care of you and your family.

Many will see this as unwise. Oh well! We’re hoping that many will consider these words and think about their future. If we can help, drop us a line.