Do you ever feel like a hamster running in a wheel? Do you feel like you are running as fast as possible, working as hard as possible, but going nowhere? Sixty percent of working Americans are in this situation. It seems that there is never enough money for all the needs that the average family has. This is no accident. Companies spend billions of dollars each year devising new ways to separate us from our hard earned money.
Society has grown accustomed to quick, convenient, and disposable items. The result is a type of slavery. If you find yourself working hard just to meet basic needs with nothing left for enjoyment or leisure, you are a wage slave.
Wage slavery is independent of race, religion, political views, or work ethic. The government calls it productivity. They tell us how good productivity and corporate efficiency is.
To most of us, productivity and efficiency translates to working in under staffed conditions with mandatory overtime requirements.
Breaking the pattern of wage slavery will not happen without planning and discipline. Families below poverty level and well above poverty level both share the experience of struggling from check to check.
The first step in breaking the chains of monetary slavery is making a budget and sticking to it.
When my children were teenagers, I sat down with them in a family meeting. I showed them our income and our bills. I explained to them that everything we needed or wanted had to fit into our budget limits. If our bills increased, our money for discretionary spending decreased. If one member of the family took extra long showers, the water bill went up. If a family member adjusted the thermostat to suit themselves, the electric bill increased. If someone left all the lights on when going from room to room, or if someone wasted food or invited their friends to eat half the food in the cupboard while playing video games, there would be little or nothing left for extras and fun money. We made every person responsible for the budget. Our bills began to decrease as better habits were formed. The children began reminding each other to turn off lights or turn off faucets. After several months our electric bill hit an all-time low. We celebrated, congratulated each other, and treated the family to a matinee feature at our local theatre.
Little things make a big difference.
Look at our grandparents’ generation. They lived through two world wars, the great depression, Korea, Vietnam, the social upheaval of the 1960s, the recession of the 1970s, and double digit inflation. Still they managed to raise their children and put a little aside for a rainy day. (all this without drugs) How did they manage?
Whenever possible they fixed things themselves. They were careful not to waste anything. They used what they had on hand and applied ingenuity to solve problems.
Children were given responsibilities in the family. Everyone had a job to do and consequences for failure to do that job. Meals were cooked at home. Everyone ate together from a single menu. They were truly thankful to have food on the table. Vegetables and fruit was grown or forraged. Meat was hunted. Often squirrel, bull frogs, rabbit, and snake were common dinner fare. Spring vegetables and fruit were canned and preserved for use year round.
Clothes were often handed down or homemade. Flour sacks made cloth for children’s clothing. Soap was made of wood ash and lard. Vinegar and baking soda were common cleaning agents. Worn out clothing was saved for use as rags or as cloth for quilts. Buttons were saved to be used again on new garments. Home decor was often hand made.
Repurposing items is not a new concept. It was an old necessity.
You may not want to incorporate all of your grandparents’ skills, but think of what you are willing to do to obtain financial freedom and break the chains of wage slavery.