Friday, May 2, 2014
Preparing for lower income
I had a chat with my local representative in the New Hampshire State House. NH has something like the third largest legislative body in the world. There's over 400 representatives for a tiny state. Good thing they only get paid for mileage. Since there are so many of them it's easy to talk to these guys now and then.
The bulk of my income comes from a small pension from when I was a Firefighter and got hurt in the line of duty. It's takes an act of the legislature to give me a raise. My representative said that just isn't going to happen. In fact, in recent years they cut out a $1000 yearly bonus. Poof! $1000, gone. They've even gone through old retirements with a fine tooth comb to see if anyone's pension was too high. One guy I know discovered they've been paying him $30/month too much for 6.5 years and he has to pay it back. It's not a huge pile of money, but I'm sure he's going to miss it.
At one time I used to get tiny raises in my pension instead of reductions. About the best I can hope for in the foreseeable future is that my income will stay the same. With inflation, that's a steady decrease in real income.
Right now I've got a little slack in my budget. That surplus can be used to further reduce my expenses. It does take money to save money. Solar panels provide free electricity, but they are costly up front. My diesel to waste veggie vehicle conversions have saved me thousands over the years. Recently I figured out how to heat hot water from the woodstove and how to cool the fridge with cold well water.
In the past I've been in situations where I've known how to reduce expenses, but did not have the up front capital to make it happen. When you can barely make monthly expenses, scraping up extra for something as simple as more attic insulation is out of the question. You know that in the long run it will save money, but short term survival exhausts all resources. Forget about spending a couple hundred dollars on something that may or may not work. That's right out of the question.
My efforts have kept me ahead of the curve. I suppose a normal person would just get a job. I can't afford a job right now. It would have to pay amazingly well. It would take time away from gathering wood for the stove, collecting and processing waste veggie oil, gardening, building and repairing things. Those activities would either have to stop or someone would have to be paid to do them. I'd need a reliable car to drive back and forth to work every day. No doubt my wardrobe would need to be improved. Heath expenses would go up.
I'd also probably have a lot less fun.
There are a few little projects that I'm involved in that may or may not pay off in the future. I know how fortunate I am to be able to do things of a speculative nature. Many people have to take the sure thing, even if the pay is little. I've been there in the past and it sucks. Besides, I'm not a kid anymore and few want to hire people my age, even if I can do the work.
If my income does improve, so much the better. If not, I don't expect to miss too many meals.