Friday, March 1, 2013

Can We Cut Our Budgets and Raise Our Quality of Life at the Same Time?

It's official, the sequester has begun. Federal spending cuts have been ordered, $85 billion "across-the-board", about 10% of the budget. The press has been bombarding us with projections about how disruptive and damaging will this cut may be to the economy and to us.

The question comes to mind: Can anyone cut an already tight budget in ways that improve rather than degrade their quality of life? Fortunately many people are already well on the way to building a lifestyle at the individual level that improves their quality of life while reducing the cost.

Some wealth building cost cutting strategies at the individual and household levels:

Cutting Food Costs
Up to 25% of the food purchased spoils without being eaten. Can we improve our food inventory control to prevent waste? How much of our food can we grow ourselves either at a community garden or on our own land? (

Cutting Health Care Costs
Many of our health problems relate to our diet and lifestyle choices. Can we eat more vegetables and berries and less meat? Can we get more exercise to improve fitness?

Cutting Utility Costs
Do we need our homes to be quite so hot in the Winter? So cold in the Summer? Can we reduce drafts with some DIY caulking? Can we use fans instead of A/C in the Summer? Can we make better use of passive solar benefits the way our pets and wild animals do?

Cutting Education Costs
Can we make better use of the many FREE internet resources such as Khan Academy and Coursera? Let's remember that Abraham Lincoln's formal education consisted of only 12 months of classes with various itinerant teachers.

Some of the organizations that help us to help ourselves:

Green Thumb
Just Food
NYC Compost Project
Khan Academy

A wealth building low-cost business initiative:

On the drawing board - Greg Todd's proposal to set up bike carting of compostable waste from coffee shops and small food related businesses
Let's have more businesses that make use of Nature's Money please!

Can it work?

 A few decades ago an American president turned down the thermostat at the White House and wore warm sweaters. He lost the next election by a landslide (and the Federal debt burden jumped under his successor). Does it seem as if each president after that has avoided calling on us, the American people, to make sacrifices together even for vitally important common causes? Why aren't we being challenged to our full potential?

Imagine a nation of people so capable of taking care of our own needs that there is no longer much demand for Federal or State subsidy programs. From such a position of strength, we can reasonably demand lower tax rates. Increased self sufficiency from the grassroots level on up may be just the kind of start we need towards a better future!

While we work on our end....

How about cutting a 'little off the top'?
Cooperating together will get the job done!

To paraphrase Ben Franklin, a "penny saved" is a penny we don't need to earn, and a penny we didn't earn is not taxable. Yay!