When I talk about financial skills here I’m not talking about what someone can learn in a classroom. I’m talking about on-the-job training, the kind someone can only get from experiencing true financial upheaval. The skills one can only learn from successfully sailing through the Stock Market Crash Of 1987, The Dot Com Disaster Of 2001, The Housing Crash and Great Recession Of 2008 and the current financial crisis of 2022 brought on by the aftermath of a pandemic and the frivolous cash hand-outs of the current administration (which in part led to the highest inflation rate ever seen since the 1970s, which of course, yours truly, me, successfully sailed through also!)
That’s what I mean when I talk about ‘Financial Skills’.
What worked for me was getting myself out of any debt completely. That’s paramount and that’s what should come first. It means paying off a mortgage and any car loan. It also means not carrying any consumer debt either. These were all very hard lessons to learn and accomplish. Thankfully, I did it the easy way. I bought a low cost home in an affluent area. Took 16 years to fix it up and then sold it with enough untouched equity that I was able to rebuild my life mortgage and debt free. It also should be noted that if you have any images of grandeur you should get them out of your head immediately.
If you want to get through hard economic times, the best way to do it (and what worked for me) was to make yourself poor. NOT rich. Living a poorer lifestyle meant not drowning in taxes. The laws in America are written to help the poor. Not the lifestyles of the rich and famous. So, every time you hear a politician scream he or she is going to tax the rich, you can safely take a sigh of relief. You’re not the target. You’re going to learn how to make due with less and be all the more thankful for it. You’re going to learn new financial skills that will help you faithfully pay your bills on time, keep a roof over your head, food on the table, clothes on your back, adequate health care and suitable transportation. Because in the long run, those are the things that truly, only matter.
The other day I went food shopping at my favorite discount grocer, Aldi (after a 10 day absence) and I was absolutely shocked when I saw their new prices. Many of the common products that I usually buy over and over again (as in basics like milk, bread, eggs, cooking oil, evaporated canned milk) had doubled and at times tripled in costs!! For example, a 12 oz. can of evaporated milk normally cost me .69 cents per can. Now it was priced at $1.39. That was double the cost. A dozen eggs, which normally would have cost me .93 cents per dozen was now priced at $2.81. The new egg price was triple the original cost. To say I was shocked would be an understatement BUT in all honesty, I could still afford the newer prices because in reality Aldi prices are still lower than all the other grocers. Praise God!
Most of my cooking skills and recipes date back to the 1970s when I first experienced high inflation. The recipes I learned back then I still cook and prepare to this very day. The reason why I still buy evaporated milk is because I still make a quiche at least once per month. It’s a low cost (but healthy) way I can make a week’s worth of breakfast meals using only 2 eggs, a can of evaporated milk and some left over veggies and day-old cheeses.
My frugality and lower cost of living has never failed me. In fact, I quite enjoy it. Before you make any purchase you have to ask yourself if the purchase is a want or a need? I only buy needs. Next question to ask yourself is if you’ve gotten the right price? Can you get it cheaper any place else? Can you buy it used? Can you find it at a thrift shop or Goodwill? Better yet, can you get it for free? Or make it yourself? I’ve honed my sewing skills and will now embark on making aprons as holiday gifts for my friends and family. I estimated that each apron I sew has a bottom line cost to me of only $3.00 (to cover material, thread and pattern). And yet, each gift brings so much joy to the recipient because getting something handmade is a thing of the past. Bring that old style of giving, back to the human race!
I’m not boasting that I am an expert because I am not. Frugality is a learning process that takes over your entire life. Every day, I’m happy to say I learn something new when it comes to utilizing my money well. No one ever knows it all. I cherish the lifestyle. It has never failed me. So, as we enter this new, unchartered current economic crisis, I’m certain my past learned skills will help me sail through the rough times successfully. Any new skills I may learn along the way will also serve me well. We’re a community. I hope to never disappoint you. But I will confess that a few days ago I was really scared. I was really worried. When I saw the increased prices at Aldi, and the constant bombardment of continual rising cost-of-living expenses I keep getting in the mail, I panicked. But then I realized that my frugal skills would still get me through the rough patches. My soul knows what to do. I hope I can share them all with you.