I promised myself that I would add one of these stories here every time I told one. I tell them at one point or another throughout the summer. There will be no chronology - not yet anyway - nor will there be much of a schedule. You never know; I might add a story every day and I might not. This is my life. Every day is an adventure.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Value of Things

This morning, a friend of mine, Desmond Campbell, from Facebook, made a comment about why some people are always broke and will always be broke. His reasons were:
1)Not willing to learn something new
2)Will do it next year when the time is right
4)Oh everyone is doing that
5)Spends beyond means on credit and blows their cash
6)The need to satisfy with objects to make themselves feel better at that moment
7)Does not! Research a market before doing!

All valid reasons, but that's not the subject of my blog. It was merely the spark that ignited this post. Value of things is what I want to talk about today. Ever since we moved out here, we have lived on an income that our most generous country considers to be below the poverty level. That leaves me wondering what they base their numbers on. There are people in town making more than we do and they need food stamps, state aid and housing assistance to make ends meet. What do they spend their wages on? It totally baffles me, the value people put on the things they think they need.

My life style is very different than those living in any town you can name, even small country towns, but in many ways it's still the same. We watch TV - we have HUNDREDS of movies. We eat, buy clothes, drive to work every day - well every day during the summer. We own our property and pay property taxes. The difference comes around when we are spending my hard earned wages. The cash we make during the summer has to supply us for the whole year.

What do you buy during the course of a year? We go through about a barrel of gasoline a month. A barrel of diesel will probably last us about two months, but we don't run the diesel generator during the winter. Food, I usually order through work and that eats up three quarters of my income.

For the rest - Do you need to have electrical power after you go to bed? Really? How much would you save on your electric bill if you could throw a breaker and turn your house off at night or when you were away on vacation, or even when no one was at home during the day, say when everyone was at school or at work. How many watt hours does that leave? five? seven? eight even? I suppose you need a couple in the morning, so ten watt hours? twelve? You say, "what about the refrigerator? What about the Freezer?" Believe me, they do just fine if the door isn't fanning.

Now clothes might be the biggest difference. You need clothes appropriate for your work and kids grow up. Living out here, I'm not running any fashion contest so sweat pants and a t-shirt are the attire of the day any day, and my kids are grown and can buy their own clothes now. I buy a few new things each time I go to town but nothing much more than new underclothes or long underwear. This year I plan to look for a dress. I'm looking for denim (I know, you don't need to tell me) and I want it long. I like long dresses - I always have. You know, now that I think about it, maybe I'll buy the material and a pattern. I have my sewing machine out here now. But I need to get to my point. Do you need to buy new clothes every time you pass a clothing store? Do you need to buy new clothes more than once a year? Do you need to buy NEW clothes every time?

What else do you buy? In an effort to save money, I go out of my way to make sure I don't have many monthly bills. I know you have an electric bill, but that would equal part of my gas expense. Many of you pay rent - well, sorry about that. So buy a house. Buy a trailer. Heck, buy an RV. Whatever, make your monthly payments purchase something permanent for you and your family, don't make it purchase something for someone else. I know - easier said than done.

What else do you pay for each month? We all have a phone, right? Me too - don't count the fact that my phone hasn't worked for the last two months - something I'm going to discuss with the phone company as soon as I can call them.

The worst and most useless expense in my opinion is cable TV. What's wrong with regular TV? Really? Do you really need a thousand channels? Buy a DVD. Sports, you say? I'm not a fan. Sorry, so I don't know what to tell you there. Cartoons? Have you watched any lately? Are they funny? Really? I haven't seen a funny cartoon in YEARS. And now paying a monthly internet bill is all the rage. grrrr

Enough of my rant about how you spend your dollars. How you do so is totally your business. This is just my way of trying to make you think about the value of these material things.

The biggest thing that makes me carefully consider what I buy, other than my limited income, is physically getting it here - even going shopping in the first place is something I need to consider. For you to go shopping, all you need to do is hop in your car and drive to the nearest mall. Ah the temptation of it all. For me to go shopping, I need to book a bush plane - $400+ out of my shopping budget right there just going to town. Then there's the taxi I need to take to the mall. Heaven forbid I need to make more than one stop, but of course I always do. If you spent $400+ to go to town and another $400+ to go back home, tell me you wouldn't go to every store you had to. So, since all that shopping takes a while, there's the overnight stay at a motel. Oh and also, if you're going to spend that much money, you should try to fill the plane for the return trip. What are you going to fill that plane with? The absolute necessities. ABSOLUTE necessities. No frills. The only luxury we generally allow ourselves is a stack of movies, maybe some ice cream, small things that don't take up much room. No cases of sodas. No fancy clothes. No bags of chips or sugary cereals. And the biggest no no - nothing that plugs in.

So tell me - what do you value? What is it about the things in your life that you can't possibly do without? Please, let me look into your corner of the world.


Anonymous said...

You made me stop and think...what do I really, really need...I do have it a bit easier getting to the grocery store...Walmart is the main place I go...has everything that you might think you need.. ..Clothes are not my passion, have one pair of dress pants..that I use different tops with, jeans and tee shirts are what I wear and tees are about the only thing I the others get ratty looking or stained up...they are replaced but the old ones are still worn, here at the house..I do try to keep a stocked freezer, but I don't go overboard when buying..when it's on sale, it usually comes home with me..theres no kids other than the "fur-kids" and there is their food to purchase and litter for the cats...I pinch a penny till it yells and yells loudly !!! Will be keeping up with you and your writings/blogs..most interesting to read..and thank you for making me think about what it's all about!! Johnnie Honeycutt North Carolina

Anna L. Walls said...

Thanks for stopping by, Johnnie. So few people these days really thing about what they totally need as opposed to what they would really like to have. You would not believe how many of my clothes fall into the tattered and stained category, and since it's really hard for me to do something as simple as laundry here during the winter, they all get worn until they literally fall apart. haha

Ran said...

Can you not order via internet and have the post office delivery more cheaply?

Anna L. Walls said...

Hello Ran. Acquiring things isn't much of an issue. Yes, I could order things through the internet, but as of yet we don't do that. Not until I'm a little more confident about such things as identity theft or ripoffs. It would be devastating to us if someone got our bank account information and cleaned us out. Besides, the post office doesn't deliver and getting mail is it's own adventure. Check out what I go through to get mail in October post 'I've Got Mail - Maybe'. Enjoy

Ran said...

I read about your 27-mile adventure to check the mail. I withdraw the suggestion, question. Wow!

Anna L. Walls said...

Well it is likely cheaper to order brick or cinder blocks through the mail, say a sled load at a time, but I don't think I'll be doing that any time soon. hahaha