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 Post subject: Maximizing Your Personal Resources / Surviving the Future PostPosted: 2008-06-11 02:34pm
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Location: Industrial armpit of the US Midwest
I'm getting a little tired of the doom-and-gloom forecast for the future. Yes, the economy is circling the drain, food prices are rising, the climate is changing, earthquakes/hurricanes/tornados/whatever....

Alright, DO SOMETHING to help yourself.

I'm gonna throw out some suggestions. You don't have to to any of this, you can continue your gluttonous ways and we can't do a damn thing about it, BUT if you want to improve YOUR OWN SITUATION, maybe take a baby step or two towards Saving the World, here's a few ideas. Use whatever you can, and feel free to suggest other things as well.

However, since there is no such thing as a free lunch I will also include negatives to each action.

Down size your vehicle. I don't mean toss out whatever you're driving immediately, just examine how you get around. If you're considering a new vehicle pay attention to what you need - don't buy an SUV when a sedan will do. Consider the gas mileage. Consider cruise control - for long distance driving, in particular, it is more efficient than human efforts and that will save you gas over the long haul. Consider diesels. Consider hybrids. Consider mass transit, bicycles, motorcycles...

Downside: Considered over time and taking into account mileage, maintenance, and parts replacement costs, hybrids may not be the best buy. Remember to consider the whole picture. Some people, such as tradesmen, really might require a larger vehicle to haul work supplies. Mass transit is not universally available, nor is it always convenient and practical. Bicycles and motorcycles can not be used in all weather, have limited cargo capacity, and potential safety hazards.


Replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent - as soon as we did that our landlord noted a $40/month drop in our electric bill (He's changing all his properties over to these now).

Downside: CF's are more expensive than incandescent, so there is an initial investment here. CF's do not work well with dimmer switches and a few other applications. CF's contain a small amount of mercury, which can affect availability and certainly affects disposal. My county has "household hazardous waste" days where you can drop off any household waste that could pose a hazard (including not on CF's but used motor oil, old prescription medication, empty cleaning fluid bottles, etc.) so if you do use CF's please dispose of properly.

That's a start - I'll be back with more later. Feel free to add your own suggestions.



Now I did a job. I got nothing but trouble since I did it, not to mention more than a few unkind words as regard to my character so let me make this abundantly clear. I do the job. And then I get paid. - Malcolm Reynolds, Captain of Serenity, which sums up my feelings regarding the lawsuit discussed here.

If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich. - John F. Kennedy

Sam Vimes Theory of Economic Injustice

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2008-06-11 02:40pm
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Because of epilepsy, I'm forbidden from getting a driver's license. Now because of oil concerns, this doesn't bother me at all. This saves all manner of money because I got a bicycle a few years ago, and I refuse to live more than a few kilometres from a train station. This of course saves some money, as a bicycle is cheaper to maintain than a car. A bike can be replaced for far cheaper than some car maintenances. The downside being that car people suck, our roads aren't the best for it, and it's frakking hard to go out on a date.



"I think it’s the duty of the comedian to find out where the line is drawn and cross it deliberately."
- George Carlin

"People tell me, 'Bill, let it go. The Kennedy assassination was years ago. It was just the assassination of a President and the hijacking of our government by a totalitarian regime — who cares? Just let it go.' I say, 'All right then. That whole Jesus thing? Let it go! It was 2,000 years ago! Who cares?'"
- Bill Hicks

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2008-06-11 03:09pm
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This thread deserves to be stickified.

Just a quick, simple little thing that a lot of people seem to forget: recycle all your paper waste! That means all that junk mail, all the paper out of your home office, old homework, whatever. About 80% of my family's non-food waste is paper or cardboard, and it makes quite an impression on garbage day when the trash can is only half full.

OK, so I just realized that the above doesn't really help you personally, so here's something...

Remember the mantra "Reduce, reuse, recycle"? Well, people seem to be forgetting the "reuse" part of it. Much of the stuff you throw away or even recycle can be reused somewhere in your life. Look around for it. Reusing is free and in most cases very easy.



Vendetta wrote:
Richard Gatling was a pioneer in US national healthcare. On discovering that most soldiers during the American Civil War were dying of disease rather than gunshots, he turned his mind to, rather than providing better sanitary conditions and medical care for troops, creating a machine to make sure they got shot faster.

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2008-06-11 03:12pm
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I already take public transportation, which saves me hundreds of dollars each month from having to pay costs on a vehicle. As far as energy, my bill is regularly around $30 and under, so no real concerns there. Right now the biggest drain I'm seeing is due to the dentist, but that's pretty much a necessity. So I've pretty much done everything practical to maximize my resources for now by virtue of wanting to spend as little on necessities as possible as is practical.



"It's you Americans. There's something about nipples you hate. If this were Germany, we'd be romping around naked on the stage here."

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2008-06-11 03:19pm
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Location: The glorious Sun-Barge! Isis, Isis, Ra,Ra,Ra!
If at all possible, walk or ride a bicycle to work. You not only save gas and the environment, you also improve your health. If such is not possible, go for mass transit or carpools. Or think small, really small, for a vehicle: scooters, motorcycles, and so on if possible.

SUBURBS:
If you live in the suburbs, you can start by getting rid of your lawn! Replace water-hungry lawn with native plants, wildflowers, etc, that are appropriate to the climate (if you live in an environment where lawn is 'appropriate', well, good for you I guess). By xeriscaping, you not only save water, but also time, effort, gas and noise by not mowing.

Compost all your vegetable waste. After cutting up asparagus, celery, carrots, etc, put the remainders in a bowl and dump 'em in the compost at night. Even coffee grounds.

Collect 'greywater' from your kitchen sink in a bowl. If you're just rinsing vegetables or something that doesn't involve soap or animal fats, collect it in a basin and spread it over your plants in your garden.

Garden? Yes, garden. Grow what you can-- easy stuff, even, like tomatoes or zucchini can take the edge off some grocery bills. And you don't have to worry about salmonella or E.coli, unless of course you poop on your own vegetable garden.

Do 'mission-stacking' with your car. Plan ahead to make as many errands as possible combined into one. I generally can use my car for weekend resource-gathering trips and can completely ignore it the rest of the week.

These are all cheap, easy, quick, things that can be done. Some of them are nothing more than changes in procedure that require no purchase. But if possible, you can always do more:

Make sure your heater-- the vents, pipes, everything-- are firmly connected and not leaking.
Same with plumbing.
Make sure you have plenty of insulation, including windows (double-pane).
If you must have a car, make it a hybrid or something similar.
Look into solar panels, wind, geothermal availability, and other esoteric energy sources you may be able to invest in.
Use drip-hoses for watering plants, if possible.



Something about Libertarianism always bothered me. Then one day, I realized what it was:
Libertarian philosophy can be boiled down to the phrase, "Work Will Make You Free."


In Libertarianism, there is no Government, so the Bosses are free to exploit the Workers.
In Communism, there is no Government, so the Workers are free to exploit the Bosses.
So in Libertarianism, man exploits man, but in Communism, its the other way around!

If all you want to do is have some harmless, mindless fun, go H3RE INST3ADZ0RZ!!
Grrr! Fight my Brute, you pansy!

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2008-06-11 03:28pm
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Location: Worcester Polytechnic
Does anyone have experience with residential solar panels? I appreciate the energy independence, but by my calculations they don't really add up financially.

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2008-06-11 03:42pm
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A writer for Extremetech is in the process of installing solar panels on his house, and he even wrote about it. See here and here.



Vendetta wrote:
Richard Gatling was a pioneer in US national healthcare. On discovering that most soldiers during the American Civil War were dying of disease rather than gunshots, he turned his mind to, rather than providing better sanitary conditions and medical care for troops, creating a machine to make sure they got shot faster.

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2008-06-11 04:12pm
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Stuff that I find has really reduced our bills and save the environment at the same time:

HE clothes washer-- really brought our water bill down.

Line drying--works great on stains, too.

Cloth diapers--lots of easy styles out there. We got a lot of ours second hand and also line dry them, so we have really saved a lot of money.

Reusable grocery bags don't really save too much cash but we do get a 5 cent discount per bag at the grocery store each time we go and since our recycle company doesn't accept plastic grocery bags, the reusables have really cut down on trash. (other benefits are that they hold more and make for less trips from the car to the house)

Cutting back on meat consumption is good for the environment and wallet as well. we try for 2-3 vegetarian days a week or at least dinner if we still do lunch meat on those days.



Say NO to circumcision IT'S A BOY! This is a great link to show expecting parents.

I boycott Nestle; ask me why!

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2008-06-11 04:43pm
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Location: Steers and queers indeed...
1) I cant emphasize using climate appropriate plants. I know it has been said, but there are benefits here to things other than you, actually not even that. If you like nature xeriscaping is good for you, as you will get to see native wildlife colonize your yard (at least if you live in relatively new developments) And you save a lot of money

2) if you live in an area where the climate permits, the initial investment is high, but it is possible to live rather comfortably powering your house completely with solar panels. If you live in especially sunny climates you can even sell power back to the grid and make money off of it. Also compact florescent bulbs are your friend.

3) garden as much as you can. You can feed yourself veggie wise pretty much indefinitely if you have a decent growing season and green thumb, and enough space. When I was a kid in Alaska, we were never hurting for vegetables, because we grew most of them... on a 100 square meter plot of land. Grew tomatoes, lettuce, cabbage, peas, green beans, strawberries, potatoes, cucumbers... if preserved properly you wont run short. and for just your personal use, water useage is not to bad, especially in a wet climate, where you can either rely on rain, or collect rainwater in a cistern. If you dont live in a good climate, there are always green houses. We had a neighbor that did this. Gotta love Alaskans right?

4) You can raise your own food animals. Yes. You read that right. We did this too. Chickens and ducks... really only doable if you either live in a rural area, or in an area with loose rules on the keeping of livestock. Ducks and chickens (and geese... I remember being chased as a child by angry angry geese) are efficient ways of turning vegetable matter (including weeds from the garden) into tasty tasty flesh, and eggs, cruelty free. The only problem with ducks is that they are cute enough that you get kinda attached to them.

Really the only thing you will need to purchase is dairy products and grains, if you are fortunate and competent. You will probably be healthier as a result too.

5) transportation. It is good to compartmentalize. Use different modes of transportation for different things and distances. If you are settled down, employed in a stable fashion and dont forsee needing to haul lots of things, I would recommend a nice fuel efficient coup or sedan, with a three dead body trunk minimum. You know for long distance supply runs, trips out of town, etc. For shorter distance things, or going to pick up milk, or a long commute to work, a scooter(vespa), or a bike, or mass transit is your friend, depending. A bit of an initial investment to do all the transportation modes, but they will pay for themselves in fuel costs.

There are a bunch of other things, recycling, mulching...



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There is Grandeur in the View of Life; it fills me with a Deep Wonder, and Intense Cynicism.

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2008-06-11 04:55pm
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Location: Berkeley, California (USA)
If you're thinking of buying a new car, make fuel efficiency a priority. The more people buy fuel-efficient cars, the more will be produced.

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2008-06-11 05:54pm
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It's not always feasible to use a bicycle if you live in a distributed area (damn the automobile and its destruction of the centralized village!) However, on extremely hilly terrain a casual cyclist in reasonable physical shape can cover about 17 miles in a few hours. I plan to use my bicycle for any errand or jaunt within that one-way radius, and may be able to almost-halve my vehicle's fuel consumption.

Lawn mowing: If you have a small yard and/or you are very conscientious about keeping your grass short, use a reel mower. But get a high-quality one; the cheap ones aren't very effective. If you have a larger lawn or let your grass grow to three inches or more, get a push mower and let your own legs provide the motive power. Riding mowers are for suckers. And don't forget to compost your clippings.

Turn off your gadgets. Computers, TVs, stereo equipment - don't leave them running when you aren't using them. And don't just shut them down; most home electronics will still draw power unless you shut the power strip off too.

"Use it up; wear it out; make it do, or do without." Plan your wardrobe according to need and function. You can get three or more years' use out of a decent shirt or pair of pants - L.L. Bean's, say - before they start to wear out. When they start to wear a little, patch them. When they wear a lot, turn them into something else. Pants become shorts, ratty clothes become work clothes, really ratty clothes become rags. When your shoes bite the dust, salvage the shoelaces.

Don't be afraid to look for things at the dump. When you live in a society of abundance, the shit people throw away boggles the mind. There are tools, repairable furniture, and entertainments to be had - and also perfectly good firewood that is free for the taking, if there is land being cleared in your area. Some enterprising souls have realized this, and your dump may have a swap shop or junk shop where the best of the salvage can be had for dirt cheap. If you are looking to furnish an apartment and don't mind doing a little woodworking, see what your local landfill might have to offer.

If you burn wood for heat, try to get it from land being cleared for other purposes. You might be able to get it for free, or at a reduced price than if you bought it from a firewood company. By doing this, you are saving wood from being wastefully chipped and discarded. There are also types of wood or coal stoves that are much more efficient than the standard kind; it would be worth while to look around if you are planning some remodeling.

My parents have a solar water heater installed - 64 square feet of solar collectors and a small 30-watt panel for the pump, feeding a 70-gallon pre-heat tank. On a sunny day the solar will pre-heat to 120 degrees Fahrenheit by about 10 AM, which is enough for domestic hot water and permits the furnace to be shut off entirely. Total cost for the system was $7,745 and the state paid a 25 percent rebate.

You can have your home energy audited, and your state might offer a tax break or a rebate for that. This will give you an idea of how efficient or inefficient your construction and insulation are, and where you can make fixes.

If you live in northern climes, keep your heat turned down in the winter and bundle up instead. There's nothing for cold weather like three pairs of socks, three or four shirts, and four or five blankets on the bed at night. And do your shoveling by hand while you're at it.



"Six rolls? We could have covered World War II in two fucking frames - one for the battle scene, and one for the generals shaking hands!" -'Zeke'[/size]

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2008-06-11 05:57pm
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Rabid Monkey
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Location: The glorious Sun-Barge! Isis, Isis, Ra,Ra,Ra!
Also, for shopping-- check out not only established second-hand stores, but don't forget Surplus shops and Pawn Shops for second-hand items that are in fine shape but didn't fit someone else's needs.



Something about Libertarianism always bothered me. Then one day, I realized what it was:
Libertarian philosophy can be boiled down to the phrase, "Work Will Make You Free."


In Libertarianism, there is no Government, so the Bosses are free to exploit the Workers.
In Communism, there is no Government, so the Workers are free to exploit the Bosses.
So in Libertarianism, man exploits man, but in Communism, its the other way around!

If all you want to do is have some harmless, mindless fun, go H3RE INST3ADZ0RZ!!
Grrr! Fight my Brute, you pansy!

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2008-06-11 06:02pm
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Location: Industrial armpit of the US Midwest
A word about gardening -- even if you can only grow a few vegetables it can be worth it. Supplementing can be just as useful, and is often more practical, than trying to supply ALL your needs yourself. However, be wary of spending too much money on it. Gardening centers are set up to encourage spending. When possible, start from seeds planted in dirt, or start your own seedlings at home rather than buying plants. A small compost heap is useful, and gives you a place to put vegetable and fruit waste from your kitchen. Don't stress out striving for perfect vegetables, and accept you will have some losses. I planted low-budget this year, lost about 1/3 of my initial plantings, but right now, in early June, we're getting about 1/4 of our vegetables per week from the backyard and that percentage will only rise. Plant enough seeds so losses will be tolerable. Plant a variety of things - I don't think any of my onions survived but the radishes and spinach went into overdrive. Did my food bill go down? No - but it did stay the same while prices rose, and the money I saved on greens root vegetables I could spend on things like citrus fruit I simply can't grow in my climate.

Food preservation - canning, of course, has been with us for some time, but home canning MUST be done carefully and properly. Not everyone has the time or inclination, not to mention there is certain expense for both the initial equipment and replacement for things like jar seals. Nonetheless, canning is a good option for those willing to learn how to do it and who will take the care and effort required.

Freezing - many vegetables should be blanched before freezing. That means "dunk in hot water 30 seconds to inactivate enzymes", THEN freeze. All this takes is a large pot and some cheesecloth to hold the vegetables - obtainable in my area for about $7 US and reusable for years if you take care of the tools. You will need something to freeze vegetables in, either freezer bags (good because you can squeeze excess air out of them) or plastic containers (good because you use over and over again, or go straight from freeze to microwave to table and back if you have the right kind). If you plan to freeze a lot, investing in a small freezer chest (around $200-300 USD in my area) might be worthwhile, as they greatly expand the quantity you can freeze. If you open it less frequently than your refrigerator/freezer they will be energy-efficient. You will be able to also stock up on foods you find on sale, such as meat, fish, vegetables you aren't growing yourself, commercially frozen items, etc.

The downside is that during a powerfailure you may lose all the preserved food. This can be forestalled by keeping the darn thing closed during a power failure - most will remain safely cold for several days if you aren't opening them. Wrapping a freezer in insulation, such as blankets, will also reduce heat penetration during a power failure.

Drying/dehydrating - I have a home dehydrator. It's fun to use, but there is prep time involved and it takes some time. It also runs on electricity. It can easily eat the electricity you save by swapping out your light bulbs. It does work, though, and may be a good choice under some circumstances.

Herbs can be dried by tying in bunches and hanging in a dry place - MUCH more energy efficient.

You can certainly buy commercially dried/dehydrated foods - things like Lipton's rice and noodle side dishes, for example, if you get them on sale can be stored a long time and make up part of a meal. If you can get MRE's relatively cheaply that can be a good idea, too, particularly for emergency food stores. Being able to take care of yourself means being able to feed yourself if supply lines are interrupted. While this won't necessarily save you money it can save you a lot of grief during a natural disaster.

Food storage - you need a place to store food. Canned goods (whether canned at home or commercially) can be stored in a cupboard or basement. Write the date acquired on it so you can rotate your stocks. Canned foods can last years, but not indefinitely.

Dried/dehydrated foods can also be stored in cupboards, but must be protected from moisture and possible vermin. Keeping packaged dry goods in heavy plastic or metal containers is a good idea, even if they already have a wrapping. Grains and flours can also be stored. A large metal bin can help you store grains and flours bought in bulk, which saves you money.

While you're at it - having stored water isn't a bad idea either, as this sort of food storage can function as emergency stores as well as being an economic benefit. As it happens, the well for my building has a 50 gallon storage tank attached to it, which, if you're careful, can stretch for quite a few days. In other cases, you might want bottled water. Bottled water also has a limited shelf life, so consider that when deciding what form you wish to purchase.

Buying on line - many food staples can now be purchased in bulk on line. I plan to look into doing just that over the summer but since I haven't done it yet I haven't any solid information. Hopefuly, I will have some in a month or three.

Learn basic cooking skills - gourmet cooking can be a fun hobby, but not everyone enjoys it. However, any adult human being should have basic cooking knowledge. Consult the SDN recipe thread - some are complicated, others are very basic. Cooking can save you money when times are hard. I would encourage people to contribute easy/quick/simple ideas to the SDN recipes as well as some of the fancier contributions.



Now I did a job. I got nothing but trouble since I did it, not to mention more than a few unkind words as regard to my character so let me make this abundantly clear. I do the job. And then I get paid. - Malcolm Reynolds, Captain of Serenity, which sums up my feelings regarding the lawsuit discussed here.

If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich. - John F. Kennedy

Sam Vimes Theory of Economic Injustice

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2008-06-11 06:17pm
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Location: Industrial armpit of the US Midwest
Vehicle maintenance - if you're going to own a gas drinking vehicle take care of it. A well maintained vehicle operates more efficiently and burns less fuel than a poorly maintained one. Basic, basic stuff:

1) Do regular maintenance. Every vehicle I've ever owned came with a manual that detailed what should be done when as regular maintenance. Do this. Yes it can be a pain in the ass to replace hoses as XXXXXX miles, but it really is cheaper to do that than to wait until something breaks. I learned this one Easter weekend when I found myself alongside I-94 in Marshal, Michigan (a.k.a. 'bumfuck nowhere") perched above the engine block of my car using an inadequate penknife to assist in prying a shredded drive belt out of the innards of my car. This was not a pleasant experience, even if it turned out that was the drive belt for the air conditioner compressor and not anything vital to the operation of the car.

2) Change that oil! Really - I've been told over and over by mechanics that it is an easy, inexpensive way to extend the life of your engine. If you do it yourself remember to dispose of the used oil responsibly. Or you can take it to someone with the equipment to do this and take care of the waste problem.

3) Home maintenance - even if you aren't a home mechanic you should do a walk-around before driving. That means walk around the car, making sure the tires are inflated, the lights are intact, etc. Check your tire inflation every month and keep your tires at the proper inflation. Not only does this optimize your gas mileage, it's also safer. Make sure the windshield washer fluid is adequate. Keep emergency supplies in the trunk/boot appropriate to your area and season and also check them monthly.

There two schools of thought about vehicle buying. One school says buy used as it costs less, then drive it until it's no longer economic to keep. This does require you to know something about cars so you can judge whether a used car is a good buy or not. The other school (which I happen to belong to) says buy new, then drive it until it's no longer economic to keep - the idea being that if you buy it new and care for it you can keep it a really long time. The upside of either (when done right) is that there will be years where you have no loan payment and you can use that money for other things



Now I did a job. I got nothing but trouble since I did it, not to mention more than a few unkind words as regard to my character so let me make this abundantly clear. I do the job. And then I get paid. - Malcolm Reynolds, Captain of Serenity, which sums up my feelings regarding the lawsuit discussed here.

If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich. - John F. Kennedy

Sam Vimes Theory of Economic Injustice


Last edited by Broomstick on 2008-06-12 07:23am, edited 1 time in total.
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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2008-06-11 06:27pm
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Something I should have put in my previous post-

Learn the domestic and manual arts. If you can sew, you can save on clothes and even make some of what you might need. Hand tools will let you build or repair a lot more than you might think; after all, the power tool is a very new arrival.

You can study up on these things. There are, e.g., woodworking magazines printed. The program The Woodwright's Shop on public television showcases techniques and tools that have passed out of mainstream use - noteworthy is that the host uses absolutely no electricity. All of his tools are hand-use or manually powered, and many are self-built or -maintained. Also, antique stores and used-book stores tend to have handbooks and manuals pre-dating the 1950s. These have a wealth of information on building, tool-using, and tool-making/repairing that is simply not found in books printed these days. Even a workshop handbook for boys tells you a great deal of useful information.

Sorry for harping on the do-it-yourselfing. But I believe it is beneficial; at minimum you will become a more capable person, and if the shit hits the fan you will be able to provide for yourself some of the material essentials and niceties of existence.



"Six rolls? We could have covered World War II in two fucking frames - one for the battle scene, and one for the generals shaking hands!" -'Zeke'[/size]

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2008-06-11 10:05pm
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Work toward financial security - This should be obvious, but this thread is about repeating the obvious and making it clear for everyone to see. Consider what you will do if you are laid off or need to take a pay cut. Get yourself on a budget and stick to it. Eliminate debt by spending less and paying more on the principle (the situation is presumably a little bit different for long-term debt like a mortgage or a student loan, but even then, the faster you eliminate your debt, the more quickly you free the money that was going to the payments and interest).

Save on food - Cook your own, buy in bulk, and downsize your serving portions. It's actually possible for one person to live on less than ten dollars per day allocated to food -- my fiancee's doing it right now. Grow your own vegetables and fruits, as has been suggested; it's healthier and it's also cheaper. Exerting greater control over your diet will not only permit you to save money, it will also permit you to get/stay in shape more easily.



"... alas, too many people think consistency the hobgoblin of little minds." -Publius

Daily Nugget of Wisdom from Goldman Sachs:
"I say 'keep the change' purely for my own convenience."

"A space shuttle on the back of an aircraft carrier in New York City is perhaps the most American thing you could have without the help of a deep fryer. I'm surprised anyone in the US opposes it." - Gandalf

WARNING: May become overexcited by mathematics or monetary policy.

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2008-06-11 10:20pm
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Get on good terms with your neighbours and other people in your area, a good social support network can make life a lot easier for all. Not everyone is going to have the skills for everything, for instance you may be great at handyman home repairs but you're a brown thumb, and every plant you touch ends up dying in short order. Your neighbour or the person a few houses down your street may be a great gardener, he can help you out with your garden while you help keep his home maintained. My fiancé's dad was sort of the area handyman, neighbours would come to him for advice on various projects or problems and he'd help them out if he could, and in exchange he'd get bottles of wine or fresh fruits and vegetables from their backyard gardens.



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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2008-06-11 10:36pm
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Surlethe wrote:
It's actually possible for one person to live on less than ten dollars per day allocated to food -- my fiancee's doing it right now.


As a further testimonial, my grocery bill runs about $50/week, including luxury items like genuine maple syrup and the occasional quality beer, and more importantly excluding ramen or Cup Noodle. It's easy to eat cheaply, but well, if you plan your meals for a week and make use of what you already have in the larder.

It's hardly a sacrifice to cut back on meat consumption when you can e.g. make a pot of beef stew or chili that lets you eat a meat dish for four or five days.

If you live near the water- go fishing. Not every fish has tight bag and size limits, and in Maine you can even get a recreational license for up to five lobster or crab traps, if that's your thing.

Look around for wild berries - blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries are all commonly found in some places and can be frozen, made into preserves, or used. Since store-bought cultivated berries tend to come from California, tend to be bland or under-ripe, and tend to be expensive, taking home whatever you can pick yourself is a cost-effective treat.



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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2008-06-11 11:08pm
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Indeed. Consider cultivating your own berries; when I was younger, we had a raspberry patch in our backyard, and I have fond memories are of stealing out and eating some.

Regarding the price of food, Rachel is actually eating on much less than $10/day; she bought most of her food for the summer with a $100 gift card, so that averages to less than $1/day. Surviving with very little money is hardly undoable, if it's used wisely.



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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2008-06-11 11:21pm
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Surviving on low wages can be complicated, however, if you have dietary limitations. There are many low-price foods I can not take advantage of because of my allergies (several legumes, grains, and vegetables).

As for ramen - certainly stay away from the "instant" ramen crap, but I buy the packages of noodles, use my own broth, and add vegetables to make a quick dinner or lunch. I buy them in bulk, so they're dirt cheap and just another form of pasta as far as I'm concerned, packaged in convenient single-servings and quick-cooking.



Now I did a job. I got nothing but trouble since I did it, not to mention more than a few unkind words as regard to my character so let me make this abundantly clear. I do the job. And then I get paid. - Malcolm Reynolds, Captain of Serenity, which sums up my feelings regarding the lawsuit discussed here.

If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich. - John F. Kennedy

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2008-06-11 11:43pm
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Surlethe wrote:
Indeed. Consider cultivating your own berries; when I was younger, we had a raspberry patch in our backyard, and I have fond memories are of stealing out and eating some.

Regarding the price of food, Rachel is actually eating on much less than $10/day; she bought most of her food for the summer with a $100 gift card, so that averages to less than $1/day. Surviving with very little money is hardly undoable, if it's used wisely.


This past semester I managed to stretch 30 dollars to last2 weeks, and that was also excluding ramen



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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2008-06-12 01:27am
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Well, I did buy myself a hybrid car, one that is more than capable of taking me and my tools to any work location I need to go. At current gas prices (last I checked), it would cost me just over sixty dollars to fill up. Lately I haven't been able to put in more than fifty though, since I obviously don't run my tank dry. But I'm somewhat reassured that I could easily afford to double my gas bill and I wouldn't be too badly affected, given the amount of money I make and driving I need to do.

I'll also be moving at the end of the year, and I intent to find myself the cheapest place I can get to rent or buy that isn't a dive and in a decent neighborhood. I might even look into buying an apartment, since right now I'm throwing my money away renting, which is a source of irritation for me. Currently I'm forking over almost a grand in rent, not including any bills, which are expensive for the house I'm in right now. Quite frankly, my living conditions are quite excessive in terms of needed space, and I look forward to finding something much more practical and efficient.

My biggest concern in the construction industry and how I will be affected finicially by it. If it starts diving, I might worry a bit. Although I do take some comfort in knowing that pretty much anyone I've worked for has agreed that I'm a 'higher class' worker; as in I'm not working my ass off to pay my drug/drinking/shitty habits, and I'm a good worker with high self standards. So when the crunch comes and the construction industry can't afford many workers, I should fare better than many others in terms of who gets jobs based upon reliability and decency.

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2008-06-12 06:57am
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Thread stickied for easy reference.



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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2008-06-12 07:51am
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Surlethe wrote:
Work toward financial security - This should be obvious, but this thread is about repeating the obvious and making it clear for everyone to see. Consider what you will do if you are laid off or need to take a pay cut.

I have to second this - one reason I'm surviving my current trip through the Poverty Tunnel with as much comfort as I am is due to fiscal prudence.

Quote:
Get yourself on a budget and stick to it.

Yes! It's a really basic concept but income should be equal to or greater than outgo. Budgets must be realistic, and part of that is including a small portion for entertainment/amusement. That may be as little seeing a movie once a month, or subscribing to an entertaining magazine.

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Eliminate debt by spending less and paying more on the principle (the situation is presumably a little bit different for long-term debt like a mortgage or a student loan, but even then, the faster you eliminate your debt, the more quickly you free the money that was going to the payments and interest).

True. In fact, despite what some experts say, for many people debt should be avoided.

There are a some things it makes sense to go into debt to obtain, among them education, home, and a reliable vehicle. Note that all of these can retain value for many years past the point you pay them off. It is extremely important that when you acquire such a debt it is manageable. You need to be able to make payments not only today but tomorrow - people who got into trouble with adjustable rate mortgages forgot that important point. You need to be paying off the principle - which is why people who bought into "interest-only" mortgages were, bluntly, fucking stupid.

Some things you should NOT buy on long-term credit include consumer electronics, appliances and food. Let me clarify that - if you buy a new clothes washer that will probably last you 10 years then taking a year to pay it off with manageable payments is OK (and might even help you either build or improve your credit rating) but you should not put that on a general credit card, try to arrange a discrete loan for that item alone and pay it off on time. If you want a new computer you can pay for it in installments, but make sure the length of time you take to pay it off is shorter than the time you intended to keep/use it. The rule of thumb is that you keep it/use it considerably longer than it takes to pay off. Even so, for many household goods it is better to save money for a few months then pay for it up front, all at once. This makes it cheaper because you aren't paying interest. Food, obviously, should not be paid for with credit cards because you eat it before it's paid off (exceptions noted below). If you are routinely using credit to pay for groceries You Have A Problem.

Credit cards are dangerous. Try not to carry a balance. It's OK to use them to purchase something, but ideally (for you) you pay it off by the end of the month. I try to take no longer than 2-3 months to pay off any credit card balance. The last time that was not possible for me to do I took out a loan from my credit union at half the interest rate to pay off that card. One exception to the "don't use credit cards" would be making on-line purchases. However, if you do shop on line don't go crazy - keep the amount low enough that you can pay the balance off by the end of the month.

Credit cards do have some very good uses - usually for emergencies. I carry one when I travel in case, for example, I need a hotel room due to a delay, or an unanticipated car repair. However, when I do this I then pay the charge off as quickly as possible. If you own a small business, or travel on business, then charging business/travel expenses on a credit card can make sense and can have some utility in tracking and managing such costs but you have to keep the charges manageable I strongly discourage purchasing perishables (such as food) on credit, but this can be pardonable for travel/business meals (but pay those off quickly!), some rare and major such as a graduation or wedding (but keep that debt manageable - something you pay off in a month or two, not a decade or two), ordering on-line (but pay it off at the end of the month, or purchasing, say, emergency supplies (although most of us should be able to do that without resorting to credit, unless you're buying a portable generator or something, and again, strive for short-term use of the credit)

Bottom line on credit: If you can't make the payments on time you can't afford that loan



Now I did a job. I got nothing but trouble since I did it, not to mention more than a few unkind words as regard to my character so let me make this abundantly clear. I do the job. And then I get paid. - Malcolm Reynolds, Captain of Serenity, which sums up my feelings regarding the lawsuit discussed here.

If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich. - John F. Kennedy

Sam Vimes Theory of Economic Injustice

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2008-06-12 08:08am
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How and Why to Save Money

1) How much should I save? - the ideal is to have six month's worth of living expenses readily accessible. Note - that does not mean credit! That's six months of cash or something readily converted to cash. Tapping your 401(k) or other retirement plan does not count because that is a loan and involves interest. It can also take time to get such money, which you may not have in an emergency. Realistically, almost no one ever does this (at least in the US), but it IS a good goal to work towards. That's basic living expenses, by the way, the assumption being that you will cut back on luxuries under difficult circumstances. If you've drawn up a budget you will be able to calculate this amount easily.

2) How should I save? - determine how much of each paycheck you can set aside. Be reasonable about your budget - few of us are in such dire straits we must eliminate ALL luxuries and entertainment, and if you make your budget too austere you will not be able to adhere to it. Once you determine what you can save starting saving it. Payroll deductions that go directly to a savings account are very effective for most people. If that is not an option, then when you get your paycheck set aside your determined amount (put it in a savings account, in a lockbox, your mattress, whatever) immediately. There are some people who will say this is foolish, that you should put that into retirement or invest it, but you really do need an emergency cash fund. Such a fund will also allow you to purchase items outright instead of putting them on credit



Now I did a job. I got nothing but trouble since I did it, not to mention more than a few unkind words as regard to my character so let me make this abundantly clear. I do the job. And then I get paid. - Malcolm Reynolds, Captain of Serenity, which sums up my feelings regarding the lawsuit discussed here.

If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich. - John F. Kennedy

Sam Vimes Theory of Economic Injustice

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