A sensible householder makes a budget. We all know that; figure out how much money is coming in, and how much needs to go out, and hope that the latter isn’t more than the former. But do we make time budgets, as well? Do we plan our project and work time efficiently?
We would probably all agree that the computer and internet can be wicked time thieves, and we won’t even go into the subject of television. Those have to be the snack foods of our time budget. I find though, that like working in the kitchen, working on the computer – that is, real work – tends to make me “snack” a little more, because the temptation is right at hand. If I don’t watch myself, I go over budget on computer/’net snacks.
I have a stack of sewing projects to do: Two dresses, three or four aprons, two shirts for my husband, a quilt for my granddaughter, a spring dress for her, sunbonnets, aprons and Amish dolls to sell. I have wool to be carded and spun. I want to knit a “sontag” (shawl) for myself, and maybe before next winter, a sweater for Nicholas. If I can learn good sock and mitten knitting, then those will be added to the market products. Starting in February and going through May, I will set two or three hours aside everyday for this work. I will also budget some time for writing projects, but since the payoff is more uncertain, that will be relegated to the hours after other work is done.
I plan to set up Excel spreadsheets to manage our finances and track expenses and income. There’s not much use in homesteading if we aren’t at least breaking even on our efforts, feeding ourselves, and cutting down on what we buy. I’ve seen others make that mistake! They end up spending more on buying tools, supplies and equipment in order to “live with less.”
These are the tasks that need time and financial budgetting – plowing, fencing, ordering seed and materials; carpentry for the barn. I’m having trouble finding hard numbers on potential market sales. The farmers’ markets here don’t seem to bother to gather sales figures, so there isn’t much way to predict what one can expect to sell. I will check with the provincial webpages, but I’m not too hopeful on finding what the average market produce vendor makes in sales. People here see farmers’ markets more as a place of entertainment and socializing rather than their main source of nutrition or real goods. They attend the market to visit, buy prepared food, and browse. Attendance can be high while sales might be low. I found that the largest markets in Ontario seemed to have good sales figures; the smallest markets seemed to have the same problems as all markets, of having visitors who don’t buy much.
Predictions and projections for the world economy this coming year show that food is likely to get more expensive everywhere, and that grain will top the price climb. I’m trying to prepare for that possibility by looking for a good-priced, efficient grain mill to use in the kitchen, and if I can find that, will arrange to buy local grain to grind. We will have to pray for good growing weather locally! I am also looking for used canning equipment, as always.
I expect that certain products we use daily will become luxury items by the end of the year, such as coffee and sugar. While stockpiling is one possibility, I think cutting back on these products might be a better idea.
This won’t be a no-buy year, since we still need to get equipment and household furnishings, but it may be the last year we have to buy much. Judicious planning and budgetting will make the difference in being able to live on our income or having to seek work outside.