Does your household produce or consume? Since the industrial revolution the basic structure of a “home” has shifted from a small production center to a consumption of goods and services.
It is time to change our thinking. Work is not a four letter word. Well, yes, it is, but work is not a BAD four letter word. The goal isn’t to sit as much as possible in life. The goal is to find a way to express ourselves while providing a value to our family, and society.
I am not advocating living in the woods and wearing home spun clothes. I am suggesting that we need to relearn the skills that our grandparents had. And the primary skill was self sufficiency. Yes, they leaned on their neighbors or family during the tough times, but they also knew how to run a house like a small business. You had to keep it functioning, keep it running, it keep it afloat to provide for the members in the house.
Maybe that is a little too theoretical, but you can do some small changes that would have long term payouts for your family.
This is a nice article on what I am trying to say:
Escaping the Consumer Trap
“The household had changed from a center of production that supplied most of its own needs to a center of consumption that bought nearly everything it needed.”
Think about the skills a preteen child would have learned in the late 1800’s to be a productive member of their household:
1. Clean (simple but oh so needed in life!).
2. Making candles.
3. Feeding livestock, even if it was just the chickens!
4. Slaughter animals for meals. Those chickens weren’t for show. Ever pull some pork from a smokehouse? It isn’t like the supermarket!
5. Making thread, yarn or other materials and then sewing or repairing clothing.
7. Keeping the plants free of weeds.
8. Herbal medicine.
9. Treating wounds and emergency medicine.
10. Cooking. How many adults do not even have this skill anymore. Remember most things were made from scratch then, not opening a can of soup and reheating. This was a real skill.
11. Making butter.
12. Milking a cow.
13. Working lumber.
14. Firewood. A lot of work here!
15. Working a horse.
16. Hunting and fishing.
17. Knots and working lines to secure things.
18. The ability to barter. You needed to work a deal to stay ahead financially.
Do you think children were ignorant coming from a one room country school house?
Here is the math portion of exam for a late 19th century student in Kansas:
Arithmetic (Time, 1.25 hours)
1. Name and define the Fundamental Rules of Arithmetic.
2. A wagon box is 2 ft deep, 10 feet long and 3 ft. wide. How many bushels of wheat will it hold?
3. If a load of wheat weighs 3942 lbs., what is it worth at 50cts/bushel, deducting 1050lbs. for tare?
4. District No. 33 has a valuation of $35,000. What is the necessary levy to carry on a school seven months at $50 per month, and have $104 for incidentals?
5. Find cost of 6720 lbs. coal at $6.00 per ton.
6. Find the interest of $512.60 for 8 months and 18 days at 7 percent.
7. What is the cost of 40 boards 12 inches wide and 16 ft. long at $20 per meter?
8 Find bank discount on $300 for! 90 days (no grace) at 10 percent.
9. What is the cost of a square farm at $15 per acre, the distance around which is 640 rods?
10. Write a Bank Check, a Promissory Note, and a Receipt.
Notice how it is an applied exam. These are questions that will allow a person to work the math for making a living in life. Not the theory of math that is taught now.
This isn’t the 1800’s and the vast majority of us do not live on farms. However, the idea of self reliance and being a center of production can be used today within our modern lives.
Remember doing bake sales or selling lemonade? Is everyone in your family on the Internet?
I bet you could teach your children how to start and run a business over the web. Sell items over Ebay or you can teach them to write, make videos, do small jobs on eLance or Guru for work.
How about selling gift baskets over the web during the holidays; Mother’s day, Father’s day, Valentine’s day. All of those guilt filled holidays can teach a child how to design a product, cost and build the product, and run the books for a business. You play the bank and venture capitalist. They learn about borrowing, selling their ideas to you. They will learn some new skills in a low risk experiment. I had a friend in college that was selling eggs in High School on her bike. She paid for her college tuition with her own little business.
A neighbor used to run a salon in her basement when I was growing up. I am sure the zoning was against her, but she was raising her children after her husband died. The neighbors never complained to the city, it was expected that she took care of her family. Her little basement was a center of production!
The older sections of most cities have businesses with living quarters above them. That was built in the USA, Europe and Australia. You provided some service and you lived above the business.
Then the idea of the suburbs was developed. Move out, get space, and commute to work. Buy everything you need in exchange for your time. Never stop.
Try to get creative. Your time at your job is valuable, but you need to step aside, let the others stay on the treadmill. Break the cycle.
Here is the plan:
Reduce your consumption on unnecessary items.
Become a center of independence and production (change your thinking!)
Eliminate your debt.
Build your savings.
Make your money work for you.
Become free in life and mind!