Being self-reliant in a connected community

27 June 2016
I've been wanting to review our financial situation for a while now and when the Brexit referendum came up with a surprise "leave" result last week, I knew I had to start.  Of course no one knows yet what sort of changes this vote will bring. The only certainty is that there will be change. I hope for the sake of all my UK and European friends that the changes won't be too drastic or drawn out.  Whenever there is uncertainty in the world and it looks like there may be hard times ahead, the first thing I do it make sure my own house is in order. If I know I'm doing all I can do, if our budget is solid and we're prepared for anything, I know we have a good chance of getting through it.

Over the weekend I spent time looking at our financial situation. I went through all our contracts and accounts so I know exactly where we stand and if there is any way we can improve what we're doing. Wasting money at any time is unwise, to do it now is stupid. I also looked at our stockpile and garden and worked out how we could cut back if we need to.  One thing is for sure, the less we rely of others to live the life we want to live, the better. Being self-reliant in a connected community is the best way to move forward and provide for yourself. That is true all the time, not just in times of crisis and change.

Above are two elderberry bushes I propagated to give away along with an edible cranberry hibiscus and a Grumichama cherry that Morag gave me.

I've been wanting to look at my food shopping for a long time. I think we're doing okay but I can't be certain until I check. So I'm in the process of making up a price book which is something I did very early on in my simple life. I expect that price book will help me as much now as it did back then.  I've kept my shopping dockets from the past month so I know the current prices of all the groceries we buy regularly. There are apps you can use on your phone to do this too, but I can't be bothered keying in all the info and for me, paper works best for this. In the coming weeks, I'll be using that price book when I menu plan and make up my shopping list and I'll take it with me when I shop.  It should help me not to over pay for anything on my list.

I'll add a few more cheap and easy meat-free meals to my rotation. Dropping meat from the menu is an easy way to save money; we usually eat too much meat anyway. The protein we eat doesn't have to be animal protein, it can easily be plant-based protein so finding new recipes will add variety to what I serve in the coming months. I'll continue to shop for what is in season because it's usually at it peak flavour and cheaper.  23 meals to cook when you're broke

I often cook from our garden so I've also taken the time to look at how that will function. We have a productive vegetable garden now but I want that to continue right through to the end of the year so we increase the amount of vegetables we eat but don't buy as many. There are a couple of things I want to add to the garden but mainly we have to successfully follow up the greens, beans, herbs and salad vegetables that we're currently growing so there are no gaps in the supply. Succession planting has always been a hit and miss affair for me but I'll focus on it now and plan more carefully.

We don't have any financial problems right now. We've been systematically replacing appliances with good quality energy saving models for the past few years.   That has set us up well for the future and has helped reduce our electricity costs significantly. Our home maintenance is very good, we have a near new car, we don't need new clothes or shoes at the moment.  I do need to work on gifts, make soap and continue to cook from scratch, make our cleaning products, mend clothes and sew household linens when we need them instead of buying them. I'll continue to compost and recycle and we'll try to cut back on our consumption of electricity, gas and water, not just because it's expensive to waste those resources but because it's something we should all be doing.

And what if all this is for naught? What if nothing dire happens in the UK and Europe and we sale into the future with no ripples to tip our boats over? Well, then all this will be for our own peace of mind and to address the increasingly desperate problem of our environment. That's something we all need to do, starting yesterday. I wonder what your immediate plans are and if they've been influenced by the vote. I'd love to know what you will do, maybe I'll pick up a few things that will help us here.