Emulating life in the late 1800s a la Little House on the Prairie is a lesson in conservation and frugality. Life may have been a whole lot tougher back then, but the end result was living life with less impact on the environment.
For modern day pioneers, you get the environmental benefits as well as the money saving ones. And, if your financial portfolio is taking a nosedive, consider trying some 19th century ways of life to snap you back into the black.
1. Grow your own food - Planting your own food crops may take some time to learn how to do properly, but once you get the hang of it, you'll save a ton of money on your food bill. Talk about eating local. For those apartment dwellers out there, you have no excuse. There's a bunch of things you can grow on your windowsills, plus indoor mushroom cultivation and much more (I'll be posting soon about what more you can do in a later post).
2. Raise your own critters - Whether it be chickens or other poultry for their eggs and meat, bees for honey, rabbits for meat and fur or goats for dairy, wool and meat, many people have plenty of options for animal husbandry.
3. Make your meals from scratch - Do you think Ma bought dinner at the local fast food joint? I reckon not. Spending the extra effort making your meals from scratch will not only save you money, but will also save your arteries from the salt, fat and cholesterol laden convenience foods we tend to rely on. Take it one step further and make your own yogurt, cereal, butter, tomato sauce, jams, peanut butter, bread, pasta... the list goes on.
4. Conserve water - Indoor plumbing is a thing of the future and thinking like a pioneer will save you water. If you had to rely on all your daily water by lugging it to the house from the creek, you'd use a heckuva lot less water. So, save your warm up water from the sink and showers for other needs (like flushing the toilet) and be mindful of that running tap water.
5. Skip the heat - I know not all of you can do this, but even just turning your thermostats down lower, bundling up in sweaters, slippers and blankets will save you tons of money on your winter heating costs. Since the cost of heating oil, electricity and gas are expected to increase at least 10% this winter, think about reducing your thermostats by 10% or more to offset the increase.
6. Turn off the lights - Concentrate your activities in one main room if possible to reduce the number of lights on in the house. Does your whole family really need one light on (or more) per person? Getting together may also inspire more family interaction. Try telling stories - you'll be surprised at how interested your kids, friends and family are about your childhood. And all that huddling together will reduce your heating costs.
7. Walk instead of drive - Since most of you don't own a team of horses, walking is your best bet for getting around. Even if you don't live near town, most pioneers didn't either, and walking several miles to town was considered routine. You'll save money on gas and get the extra exercise you probably need.
8. Rise and set with the sun - Getting up early and going to bed early will not only award you with the much needed sleep that most of us don't get, but it will also save you money on your electricity and heating bills.
9. Craft your own - Sewing, knitting, quilting, soap-making, wood-working and other crafts are not only great hobbies, but are rewarding and can save you money. Plus, you can give away your hard work as gifts that will be much better appreciated than many store bought items.
10. Don't buy on credit - As Pa would say, "cash on the barrel head only"! In other words, live within your means and you will not run into financial trouble. By the same token, if you are only spending what you have you'll be less likely to be caught up in wanton consumerism and all the environmental impact it entails. So, stick to buying quality products that you absolutely need and that fit within your budget.
I don't know about you but I'm feeling a "Pioneer Week" coming on!