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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Projects that save work.

There are only so many hours in the day. Sleeping, eating and, yes, playing, takes up a lot of those hours. Then there are those hours allotted for work.

Now I don’t do a lot of paid employment but that doesn’t mean I don’t work. Many of my projects around the homestead are in the work category. However, much of what I do is so that I don’t have to search out paid employment.

A dollar saved is more than a dollar earned. How much of your take home dollar actually makes the trip home with you? Subtract SS, taxes, medical, retirement deductions, and if you take home 70 cents on the dollar, you are doing good. To take home a dollar you might have to make $1.30 or more.

If you save a dollar on fuel, food, electricity, water, or anything at all, you don’t have to bring home more of those expensive dollars. They are expensive because they cost you your most important resource: time. All you have in life is time. You are trading your life for dollars. Better get the best deal you can.

Some people are very lucky to have jobs they really enjoy. They can’t wait to get there in the morning and hate to leave at night. If they were independently wealthy, they’d do the job for free. How many people do you personally know who’s lives fit that category? Most people consider themselves lucky if their job doesn’t totally suck.

Back to the homestead. My wife enjoys working in her little garden. It’s not much of a garden , but it provided my lunch yesterday. Subtract one meal that would have cost dollars instead of my wife’s enjoyment time. If I go fishing and catch some fish, subtract the cost of a fish dinner. I happen to enjoy fishing and I can walk down to my lake where I fish off the beach or in a canoe or sailboat. There’s almost no money cost if I don’t catch a fish. At the very least, I got to spend a good time on the water.

Some projects are work, and uncomfortable work at that. Insulating my basement is one of those work projects. There’s no way it’s going to be enjoyable. However, it will save me money for years to come. I can buy less heating oil, or gather and process less firewood.

To save on firewood I also plan on building a rocket stove down in the basement. While it’s work, to me it’s an interesting project -sort of like a science experiment. I’m having fun scrounging up free materials and talking to interesting people about the project. The stove “job” fits into the middle ground between work and play.

My solar electric project also fit the middle ground. It was work, both physical and mental, but interesting and fun at times. Year after year it saves on my electric bill. That’s money I don’t have to earn.

I’ve converted vehicles to run on waste vegetable oil which I get for free. Last time I figured out my return for the effort involved, it was about $40/hour. Of course, over the years I’ve simplified the maintenance on the vehicle’s veggie system and the processing of the oil.

Sometimes my work project involves getting rid of stuff I no longer need or use. Those things take up my time, energy and often more than a few dollars. There is much that can be said for simplifying one’s life.

Too many people only look at the income side of their home budget. They don’t look at what they could be doing at home to save money and time. Unfortunately, many of us are caught in a Catch 22 situation. They are too busy working to do projects what will save them from working. If they had more free time, they could figure out how to save money.

Find the time. Cut out something like TV if you have to. It’s your life that’s at stake here.



  1. Fabulous post,you write excellently.
    Time is our most precious valuable, yet we squander like we have inexhaustible amounts of it.

    Greetings from Serbia (not Siberia)!

  2. Thank you for the kind words Sasha from Serbia.

  3. It is the only resource, that cannot be replaced

  4. I loved my job, and still do. But I want a little more "free" time so I have cut way back on my paying job. Retired is nice, and only working on a paying job once in awhile is really nice.

  5. "Unfortunately, many of us are caught in a Catch 22 situation. They are too busy working to do projects what will save them from working."

    Bingo. And that's called being "right where they want you".

  6. Are gas stoves able to be converted to the oil burning fuel you mentioned above? The way I see it, wood burning stoves may become obsolete over time, as everyone will likely be burning it, causing people to have to go out further and further to get it. The American Indian had it right, being nomadic. A person fixed in place (especially the city) will not be so lucky.

    Maybe it isn't worth the bother. An alcohol stove is pretty reliable, and you can store that fuel long term with few problems (given the space to store it).

    Then again, having the fuel to burn in your truck to get the wood from a ways back - that is handy too. All sorts of ways of looking at this.