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The photo is my son and myself. Now days you can get a photo made to look old like this one. This photo was taken when this was the new look.

Harry S Truman was president when I was born and world war II had ended. I grew up in a time when lunch was put in a brown paper bag and a sandwich was wrapped with wax paper. There was no such thing as pantyhose, we wore stockings that attached to the rubbery clippy things that attached to the girdle. Convenience stores were not common and when we took a trip we packed a picnic basket because many places did not have fast food. Highways had places to pull over and stop, some with picnic tables. Read more ....

Grey Gardening and Budget

February 19, 2018

What is going on with our weather?  It is suppose to be winter and here we are mid February in the 80's. Looks like spring, this pear tree is blooming....

The azaleas are blooming...  I apologize for this longer post but I wanted to blend the reason for gardening and the budget together.

So I thought about it.... Maybe my garden shoes will make it one more season LoL

What do you do when it is still winter and it is 80 degrees?  You start grey gardening.

I call it grey gardening because much of everything is still grey because it is actually winter but the weather is warming.  I started doing what I could in the yard last week and Charles and I worked out in the yard all weekend.  The garden beds have been tilled, compost was added and we started pulling weeds and raking leaves.

I did plant some things such as shallots, two types of onions, garlic, snow peas and such.  Last year in March we had a freeze and it damaged the blooms on many of the fruit trees so I am trying to plant things that can either take a frost, freeze or be covered.  Oh and Charles planted the potatoes last week.

A lot of planning goes into gardening and brings me to the budget.

I did some research into our old Journal that I have written about in a past post.  I looked to find out what they did in the early 1900s about gardening.

Since the family lived in the Northern US, planting was done later than we would plant here in the southeast.  So in May 1904 we see where they purchased Fruit Trees for $4.00 and paid .75 cents for plowing the garden.

Their monthly expenses were quite a bit more in May than the previous months and later months.  In spring we also tend to spring clean and redecorate. I notice they purchased some wallpaper too.

We have to consider the time and their transportation was horse and buggy so they had Shoeing the horse as listed above, they purchased ice in the summer for the ice box since they did not have refrigeration.  They purchased hay and such even though they lived in town as people had stables.

In July they purchased a trellis for $1.00 and I can only assume it was for the garden but there expenses were what they would be normally during that part of the journal.  Arthur entered shave and haircut regularly and they had laundry expenses and the frequency of these entries leads me to believe they sent their laundry out as some people did during that time. The main thing here is that they knew their expenses.

Some of you may know from my blog that Charles and I keep a budget and have several journals.

Our February expenses are up as well as we are preparing for gardening.

There will be more expenses to come with canning fruits and vegetables.  Canning supplies such as lids, sugar and the added electricity and water used for canning.

This brings me to Household Management...

If we want our home and finances to run smoothly we need to know how much money comes in and goes out.  Sure there are going to be unexpected expenses but we also need to be prepared for those.

There are many ways to look at this and for us the best way is to journal our income and expenses every single day.  We need to know all of our expenses, even the small ones because those small expenses add up quickly.

Charles reads our electric and water meter every morning just before dawn and  writes it down in a journal.  In that same journal he writes down the temperature and rainfall and the reason for this is that becomes a history book and shows why the electric bill and water bill may have been higher and lower.

I read in the news last week about a woman (and others) needing assistance to pay for an enormous electric bill after some very cold weather for a long duration for our area. They went on to tell people that they needed to winterize their homes and to do things to help lower the electric bills.   We must have some common sense here and why I say that is her power bill was over $700.00.  Who runs up a $700.00 power bill unless they live in a mansion?  

I understand many people need assistance to pay their utility bills, some people are struggling, this has nothing to do with that and is entirely different.  We cannot turn up our heat to make it tropical in our house in the winter and run around the house in shorts and t-shirt. We wear warmer clothing inside our home during cold weather, we use extra blankets on the bed and sometimes we have to put extra covers on our windows if that is what it takes to keep the utility bill down.

It is most likely to get cold in the winter and hot in the summer.  We are going to use more or less electricity, gas, whatever utilities you have at your house depending on the weather.  We do not have gas at our house, just electric and water so we have to do things to keep that down.

Our coats wear out, our shoes wear out, our underwear wears out.  If we just live life not planning for these things then we carelessly use up our money on other things without thinking. 

Living in an instant world is dangerous to the family budget and in the past people did not live this way and we really don't need to live this way today.  We are the ones that can stop this budget draining way of life.

I needed a new pair of garden gloves this year.  Do we consider what we can give up purchasing to afford new garden gloves?  Yes of course, that is how we stay in budget.  We   S t e t c h   our money.   Don't buy sodas or chips or cookies.  Drink water because it is better for us.  Don't go out to eat and fix a simple meal at home.  It will not hurt us to eat a simple bowl of soup or to wait on a purchase of something else. 

My thrift store hat I purchased for .50 cents.  

Let us look at it this way.  First, we slow down!  Stop rushing, turn off the noise because we need time to think about the things we do. 

We have a certain amount of  money coming in so we can only spend a certain amount of money.  We need to consider that we need to save a certain amount of money too.  So let us use a month for example.  We have this much money coming in this month, we spend this much and we save this much so we do what we have to do to stay within that plan.  Don't plan for using a credit card on anything.

But what is happening to many people is we have this much money coming in and we spend on a credit card so we have no clue if we are in budget then before we know it we are over our heads in debt.

It is like our home, we have this much space in our home that will comfortable hold this much stuff.  But many of us have more stuff than will comfortably fit in the home.  

So what do we do?  We purge and organize and we make a home management plan so we will be ready for those high utility bills which we know will be a bit higher when it is very cold and very hot. We do what we can to prevent a large bill.

We don't get organized all at once.  This happens with the time that we invest in doing it.

We make a home management book, we journal, we use our calendar so we know what is coming up and we plan.  We don't always get it right and when we don't we just improve.  We have changed our method several times but now it is like we have finally oiled our machine.

Every year there is a back to school expenses for those with school age children, if we plan in the budget for that time and have the money set aside we will have the money to purchase during the back to school sales and tax exempt times.   But we have to plan ahead of time just as we do with gardening expenses.

When we first started paying off bills and saving money we used an envelope system and this got us out of debt and money in savings.

We need journals and a calendar so we can look back and also make notations in our calendar for when it is time for the annual termite check which is an expense, for when it is time for renewals for certain things, for doctors appointments and co pays. 

We all have different kinds of expenses so we need our own way of doing this but Journaling our expenses, keeping a calendar updated, reading our meters, journaling when we paid our bills, how much the bill was will help the home management.  We don't sit down to a favorite morning or evening television show that just numbs us to what we really need to be doing, we broke that bad habit thank goodness.

We have a list of our bills written down and the due dates, Charles pays the bills but we have it worked out in the book to where if something happens to Charles I can look in the book and know what needs to be paid and when.  

I make our essential oil lotions and salves for Charles psoriasis skin care but I have written in the journal how I make it because he needs this lotion and if something happened to me he will know how to make it. There are other things, this is just to give examples.

Our journals are hard copies, in other words we do not do this on the computer, we have actual journals, paper, pencil and pen.  We don't need electricity to use it, we can flip to where we need to go right away.

We have been working on living our lives so we both know how to do what we do in our home so it will not be so difficult should something happen to one of us. As sad as it is, that time will come one day and we want the other to be able to continue on without a lot of problems.  Anything can happen in life at any time.  We don't have to be older to experience loss.

There are many things to consider such as passwords and things I have mentioned above.  Telephone numbers for the plumber, the electrician, the Veterinarian and where the address book is kept.

Just yesterday Charles and I stood looking at the yard after we had worked all weekend. Charles said, "we are getting there".  He was not talking about just the yard work, he was talking about the big plan.  The budget, organizing the house, the yard, his work shop.   Each year we work on easier ways to grow vegetables and easier in the house for cleaning.  We both understand that we are making it better and easier because we are getting older. 

This tiny victory garden above will be broken down in zones because there is a lot of weeding to do with gardening.  This small garden will not grow a lot of vegetables but it will grow onions and garlic, shallots, peas, tomatoes and eggplants. And there are 4 blueberry bushes, a fig tree and two plum trees that will do their part.

These small plots (above) in the front yard will grow bell peppers and okra and a few other vegetables. We are working towards a larger plot and last year we had some trees cut that will allow more sunshine but the tree roots will take time to break down so we will have to wait for a larger plot.

This will stop looking so grey in a few months, there is pale green emerging through and the grass will green up and thicken, the small round area will be full of zennias and perennial flowers, the large pots will grow carrots and mint for tea....  other pots in cages will grow cabbage and kale...  The small plot to the right is our turmeric and ginger plot.

We will never be "finished" with our work because we are living this life we have. Arthur and Melba started the journal we have in 1891 and continued until 1937 with scattered entries into the 1940s.  The notations and handwriting changed as they aged.  

It will take us several journals because of the way we live today instead of the one journal of Arthur and Melba's. 

We have so many more expenses in this modern world but it is not impossible to condense it down and at least we are trying. 

Food, Shelter, Clothing and transportation is only part of household management but we need to focus on these four because they are priority.  Gardening falls under food and is an important part of our household management. Having the money for the spring start up and repairs to lawn equipment is important.

Finding ways to be more frugal is important for us and I fully embrace the challenge.

Grandma Donna

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