The beginning of the year is a good time for looking back at the old one, of course. If you're squeamish about money, read no further. I'm going to lay it on the line. But if you're interested in a drop-out lifestyle, read on.
$4140 Work-Don and Carey-SIU School of Med.
$4600 Adoption subsidy
$2200 Tax return
$ 900 Economic stimulus
$3000 Food stamps
$ 500 Energy assistance
Thankfully, we did not have to work at jobs very much last year. Don't think we sat at home eating ho-hos in front of the tv, though. We worked our butts off! It's much more satisfying to work at home for one's self, family, and community, rather than grinding the gears of civilization.
Even more important than where our income is coming from is where it is going. When we were both employed full-time in our suit jobs, we read this wonderful book called Unjobbing. We cut up our credit cards and began to pay them off. We kept careful track of our expenses (highly recommended!!), and found out how much money we were wasting on crap. It took a lot of diligent effort with a ledger book to find out that we could work less if we spent less. So we did.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, because I gave away the ledger book long ago, but it will give you some idea of what we urban homesteaders spent our money on.
$3600 Mortgage payments on house, which includes an extra principle payment each month.
$1385 Utilities: natural gas, electricity, water, sewer and sanitary (includes $500 energy assistance). We try very hard to conserve what we can. We haven't used our natural gas furnace since last March, and used our gas dryer only once last year (and gave it away a few months ago). We have an insulated hot water heater & we don't bathe daily.
$2400 Wood stove. This includes about $1000 for the small cast-iron Jotul 603CB, plus $1400 in materials and labor. This is a big investment for us, but one that will pay off rather quickly.
$76 Magazine subscriptions, including ones for the kid.
$775 Dollar store and the like. I assume this is mostly stuff like toilet paper, laundry soap when we still used it, bathroom supplies and miscellaneous crap.
$200 Homeschooling supplies. This is what we personally spent. Kaleigh's grandparents pay for her classes and the performances she goes to see. For ease of calculations, I did not count what they contributed as income, nor what it was spent on for outgo. This money was spent on fun homeschooling gadgets, and workbooks K begged for (I am not kidding).
$1000 Home improvement. We bought some durable kitchen items, plus a splurge ice cream maker. We had woodstove implements, good tools, a shed, an emergency sump pump, and so forth. We live in a shack, and it takes some upkeep.
$345 Garden. This includes seeds, trees, berry plants, etc.
$3800 Food. This includes the $3000 in food assistance that cannot be spent at the farmers market. The $800 of our own cash here is mostly farmers market produce, and other local hard to find items: raw milk and cheese, honey, maple sirup. This money includes a few times of eating out.
$50 Gas. We don't own a car, but we appreciate friends and family who drive us around when we desperately need it.
$400 Bus cards and the occasional cab rides. We mostly use the bus for getting around town, plus one cab ride a month to get groceries.
$100 Bike repair. Don's bike was almost toast, but it came back to life, thanks to the wonderful folks at R & M.
$200 Vet/cat care. This was one vet visit, plus flea repellent.
$45 Soap/salve from locally made Greenthoughts Garden.
$80 Stamps and postage.
$125 Books, some new, but mostly from the library's used book sale--a great resource!
$250 State fair, county fair, field trips.
Total identifiable expenses: $15,871. Obviously, the numbers don't match up exactly. I'm not sure where the extra thousand plus went, hopefuly not frittered away! But still, you get the idea of where our priorities are--mostly our home, our food, our garden, and necessary payments to Leviathan for utilities (hopefully someday, we will be off grid & those payments won't be so necessary).
And as a side note, our house payment went down again, this time to $202 (including taxes and insurance). This means our extra principle payment will increase to $98 each month, more than tripling the meager principle payment that is included in our 30-year loan. We hope to have our house paid off in ten more years, about the time K is grown. We still owe a little over $19,000 on it. Kaleigh heard that and thought it was a lot of money. It is, and it isn't. Better for us to own a house that your grandchildren can live in than to buy a car that will break down in a few years and we can't afford to fuel anyway.
We told her that someday she will inherit this house, and will NOT have to pay for it. It's security that I am willing to invest in, on her behalf, not only this house, but the 1/4 acre of beautiful lush soil and increasing bounty of our food forest in the making.
That's our 2008 accounting.