Saturday, April 9, 2011

Where you spend your money, there your skills are also....

Sir Knight and I were discussing the peculiar way that we spend money, when compared with “normal” people.  Buying a big screen TV or shopping for the latest fashions at the mall would never occur to us.  The last cell phone we bought (our only phone) we had to pay extra for, due to the fact that it wasn’t a “smart phone” (we had to inquire as to what a smart phone was and why we needed one).  Basically, we don’t buy many items that don’t have intrinsic value. 

As I was thinking about how we choose to spend our money, it occurred to me that what we spend our money on paints a vivid picture of who we are.  The more I thought on this, the more I realized that not only does it speak volumes of whom we are but what and who we value.   Sir Knight and I began to develop (rather tongue in cheek) a list of purchases and accompanying skill that enhance that purchase.  It grew from there to include character qualities (does the purchase serve only you or does it serve others) and investment qualities (does the purchase increase in value and become an asset or does it decrease and become a debt). 

Here is a sampling of purchases that we explored…

“Normal” Purchases
Our Purchases
Mega Flat Screen TV
·      Skills required

  • Using a remote control
  • Opening bags of snack foods
  • Maneuvering guide channels

·      Who Benefits

  • You and your family

·      Investment Qualities

  • Worth half of what you paid for it when you leave the store
  • It is outdated within 6 months

Hand Grain Grinder
·      Skills required

  • Knowledge of various grains
  • Knowledge of how to use the grain after it has been ground
  • Ability to maintain mechanical equipment

·      Who Benefits

  • Your family and anyone you bless with homemade bread

·      Investment Qualities

  • We bought our mill in 1998 for $400.00.  The same mill now sells for $1299.00.

Smart Phones
·      Skills required

  • Good thumb and finger dexterity
  • Ability to move fingers in rapid succession
  • Ability to talk, text and surf the web while driving

·      Who Benefits

  • You

·      Investment Qualities

  • The technology will be outdated in less time than it takes the battery to discharge

Wood Cook Stove
·      Skills Required

  • Baking and cooking without a thermometer
  • Cutting firewood
  • Splitting kindling
  • Building a fire
  • Stoking a fire to hold overnight
  • Proper stove and chimney maintenance

·      Who Benefits

  • You, your family and anyone who enters your home

·      Investment Qualities

  • Our stove has heated our home, cooked our food and heated our water for 12 years.  We could sell it today for what we paid for it
Fashion Clothing
·      Skills required

  • Shopping
  • Ability to maneuver mall parking lots
  • Repetitive stress from credit card swiping
  • Bargain hunting
  • Early rising (to get the "early bird" specials)

·      Who Benefits

  • You, the economy

·      Investment Qualities

  • Possible tax write off when donated to Goodwill

Bulk Foods
·      Skills Required

  • Knowledge of cooking from scratch
  • Baking
  • Menu planning
  • Food rotation/organization
  • Hospitality
  • Nutrition

·      Who Benefits

  • You, your family, anyone welcomed into your home
  • Hungry strangers

·      Investment Qualities

  • When properly stored and rotated - priceless
Video Games
·      Skills Required

  • Eye/hand coordination
  • Ability to move fingers in rapid succession
  • Focus.  The ability to ignore everyone and everything around you

·      Who Benefits

  • You
  • Parents who haven't raised their children to enjoy them

·      Investment Qualities

  • There are none
Medical Supplies and Equipment
·      Skills Required

  • Basic to advanced first aid
  • Suturing
  • Bandaging
  • Infection control
  • Staying calm in an emergency
  • Etc.

·      Who Benefits

  • Anyone sick or bleeding in your sphere of influence

·      Investment Qualities

  • What is one life worth?

Body Enhancements
·      Skills Required

  • The ability to endure elective and needless pain
  • Large sums of disposable income (ah, what the heck, just charge it)
  • The ability to dance around the question "did you have some work done?"
·      Who Benefits

  • You, your surgeons' bank account

Investment Qualities

  • There are none

Milk Cow
  Skills Required

  • Animal husbandry
  • Properly caring for dairy products
  • Cattle nutrition
  • Veterinary skills

  Who Benefits

  • You, your family and many others

  Investment Qualities

  • We have been able to sell any cow we chose to for more than we bought her for.

Interesting contrast, isn't it?  It is amazing how much what you buy illustrates who you are and what you think is important.  It also is a picture of who you value - yourself or others.  In my humble opinion, preppers are very concerned not just with themselves, but with their fellow man.  

Where you spend your money, there your skills will be also.


  1. Your comparisons are funny as well as informative.

    For the past 20 years or so, I've always weighed my options before spending my money.

    The other day, for example, I weighed the desire to buy a WiFi radio, or spend the same amount of money on a new 6-year battery for the SUV. I opted for the high-quality battery because it would be much more important to my prepping.

    Two months ago I had a hunch I should buy a rechargeable ac/dc spot flashlight. It was that or a new duvet. I opted for the flashlight because I would be useful in an emergency. A new duvet is merely a luxury and my current one is still quite serviceable. Shortly after the flashlight arrived in the mail, I needed it to see what had happened to my roof during a windstorm that kicked up overnight. Great light (and fortunately no damage to the roof).

    Yes, making wise choices in how we all spend our money is going to become more and more important, especially as inflation increases. And as your friend, Patrice says, tangible assets are better than money in the bank. Amen to that.

    NoCal Gal

  2. Enola -

    Where you put your time & money says a lot about you as does what you are interested in.

    I have a lot broader interests than I have time and money to pursue, so looking at how I spend those 24 hours in each day, and what I spend my also limited funds on tells you what is really important to me.

    "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

  3. LOL! Great post!! :D I love how you broke it down! I will never feel guilty for buying anymore of our *weird* family purchases now! :D

  4. So true & what a wonderful way of thinking about it. I can definitly relate. Just today my money went towards supplies to build a lean to for meat chickens to live in, fencing, and bulk food purchases. Shopping malls and stuff-marts seem like a different planet to me...

  5. I recently spent a thousand bucks fixing up my truck. Nothing like knowing that my transportation is up to snuff and working properly. Also bought some storeable food and other prep items. Am currently working on some needed home repairs. None of this sounds like fun, right? But the peace of mind and the wisdom is well worth it.

  6. I didn't know my list of purchases wasn't "normal".

    Maybe those headings on the lists need to be switched!?

    What is a smart phone anyway? Does the thing THINK for them too?

  7. Great post (food) for thought!
    And so true. Just like you can tell allot about a person at the grocery store by what they have in their cart, you can tell allot about the items a homesteader values by their purchasing decisions.

  8. Interesting--I have been purchasing lots of canned salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardines, etc. Also, have the urge to buy 90% alcohol and hydrogen peroxide...multiple uses for both. I did finally receive my KI tablets but while I was waiting I bought a couple more bottles of Betadine. I don't spend money on fashion tho I buy GOOD second hand jeans often and I rarely pass up a deal on used cast iron cook ware. peace, shadowfax

  9. Save the Canning JarsApril 10, 2011 at 7:39 AM

    Reminds me of when I took my Christmas money (enough to get a nice piece of jewelry from Zales) and bought two refillable ABC fire extinguishers and an escape ladder for the second floor.

    My treasures are the children and their safety, not jewelry.

    Well said Enola!

  10. OK, guess that explains the money I just spent on beehives! Some of my friends thought it was a crazy purchase!

  11. I took the post title literally because I spend my money acquiring skills - courses in everything from tactical pistol to animal trapping to open fire cooking to sewing... funny how I never suffer buyer's remorse from those purchases...

    Xa Lynn

  12. That is a most impressive grain mill.

  13. i am with ya on this one enola...i make my meager living took me five years tosave enough money to purchase the machinery i needed..and with what was leftover i purchased a treadle sewing machine so that i could continue working when the power goes out. my antiques are the non electric cookware that i can use over openflame if need be and can travelwith me anywhere i mightneed to go. i lead a very simple life but enjoy many pleasures this simple life brings me...homemade bread,a good pie, canned tomatoes, a warm cozy quilt that is also pretty to look at, and so many things that are taken for granted or shunned by the unprepared masses.

  14. Since this post already seems to have a rah-rah cheerleading group, I am going to play devil's advocate a bit here. Up front, know that I agree with you yet I see things a little differently.

    I recently saw a heart surgery on tv in which the doctor was manipulating a robotic device to perform the actual surgery. I bet that guy spent some time playing video games - thankfully so! And if my family member needed that surgery, I'd be grateful for the skills that doctor has! The military is also recruiting kids who play alot of video games because the technology is such that flying a drone is alot like playing a video game - I'm sure there is a lot of skills transference there.

    I use my smartphone to read your blog, and Patrice's and James's - I think that's pretty helpful. I also have a first aid application on that phone, again a useful tool. The maps on that phone would be very handy in a bug-out situation before the grid goes down or the solar flare hits the satellite.

    If I had a flat screen tv and cable, which I don't, it sure would be nice to be hospitable, share a meal and fellowship with another family and watch a family friendly movie on that tv or host a few un-churched friends for the Super Bowl or other sporting event.

    I also think you are making a sweeping generalization that people only pay for these things by charging them. If we wanted a big screen tv or a grain mill, we'd have to save up for it. Just because someone gets body enchancements or has a smartphone doesn't mean they had to go into debt to do so.

    The point is the things you classify as basically useless do serve a purpose as long as those things do not master you (except body enhancements - try as hard as I might, I can't find a redeeming value for that one, although I've got this saggy chin thing going on . . . . ). My child does not get to play video games whenever he wants, but if he grows up and wants to fly a drone for the military or perform heart surgery with a robot, he's got some practice under his belt.

    The skills you list will be extremely important in an EOTWAWKI, no arguing that. Thanks for letting me present another side.

  15. Mrs. Evans, I don't know for sure of course, but I think Enola is referring to a certain type of person and not every person who has a smartphone or has played video games. That would require an exhaustive list and would take away from the point she was making.

    Enola, thanks for that post! For Valentine's Day this year (something we don't really celebrate aside from a nice home made dinner) I received a peach tree and was ecstatic about it. Now, we have a looong way to go before we get to the point of feeling 'prepared,' but I know I'll be able to put a lot of those peaches in some cans and it feels good to have that knowledge. People thought I was nuts for being so happy about a tree and not asking for something sparkly. But you know, we don't have a lot of money and I wanted something a bit more useful.

  16. Oh, I love that grain mill. What brand is it? Please tell.

  17. We do spend a lot of money on preps and also on guns and ammo. Admittedly, not all for protection or SHTF situations. Sometimes I just gotta get one more rifle or pistol, not unlike someone wanting a big flat screen TV. Using the ammo can get expensive. The guns' retail value will probably just keep going up (unlike the big screen TV).