Twenty years ago my mom was concerned about the Y2k bug. She was raised by people who stored necessities due to being raised during the Great Depression, so she was already well practiced at being a prepper to some extent. While Y2k ended up not being a thing, some of those habits stuck.
When I moved here almost two years ago there was a lot in the pantry. And freezer. And the home supplies cabinet. And the craft/DIY room. And the other pantry. And the spare freezer.
Then we had to include what I had when I got here. Most of it was food that would keep almost indefinitely (dry pasta and various pulses). I also have lots of toiletries and DIY stuff. Because of course I do.
Two of my siblings and I sorted through what was edible and started working our way through things. Given that both of them had multiple people in their households they didn’t have a problem working through their stockpile.
Dad and I kept the smallest amount, but with some serious health issues this year we didn’t do as well as my siblings did on the “use it up” front. We still have quite a lot of beans and noodles to work on. Also some carrots that I’ll talk about at a later date (because holy crap with the carrots).
I’m also putting serious effort into unfucking my finances. I have to spend less and make more money. I got a different job that pays decently per hour, but I often don’t get enough hours (if something else comes up and it makes sense for me to take it, I’ll definitely consider it). One of the ways for me to spend less is to put serious effort into working through the pantry. I’m starting with these rules and will adjust as issues make themselves apparent.
I made up the experiment so I make up the rules.
As much of what we consume as possible must come from the pantry. To start I’m going with not less than half of our food and household supplies (cleaning, toiletries, kitchen stuff) for the month of January must come from what’s on hand. I’ll reevaluate on January 31 and adjust as necessary. My hope is to supplement with food from the garden once things start to produce in June/July (I live in USDA zone 6b according to the 2012 map, so my growing season is short. I do live in an area that allows a variety of food to be grown, just not for long). Ideally I’d like it to be not more than $20 per week per person for food and the same for discretionary spending, but that won’t likely happen until I break some habits.
“On hand” means it’s an item I have on hand at midnight EST (GMT-5) on December 31 or must be made from supplies I have on hand at midnight.
Rolling over the “half” cost is absolutely happening. I have about six months of pet food for my four dogs and my cat on hand thanks to amazing sales on Black Friday and the following week as well as unpalatable freezer burned meats. Once that runs out the rollover kicks in. Half is still half. Minor exception to “on hand”: I have some free samples of dog food that will be here sometime in January. It was a Black Friday deal that’s on backorder. Again, my rules. I make ‘em up.
Medication doesn’t count. It just doesn’t. Medical/veterinary visits don’t count. First aid supplies count but only if I’ve exhausted what I have on hand. This is to be frugal, not stupid.
Note: I’m a terrible gardener. This is something my sister may consult on provided I compensate for her time because that’s only fair and courteous. I kill plants like no other, but I am also amazingly good at composting, so I can turn those dead plants back into plant food like it’s my job.
What Constitutes Bartering:
- The item must be something I have on hand at midnight EST (GMT-5) on December 31 or must be made from supplies I have on hand at midnight. (see note above) to count as a non-purchased item.
- My labor is a barter item as I currently exist.
Rules for food:
- If it’s on hand at midnight it’s a pantry item.
- If it’s received in barter it’s a pantry item. For example, if I help my neighbor with his garden and he pays me in veggies it’s a pantry item. What they give me does not need to be made or grown by them. I don’t care how they got it. This isn’t their experiment, it’s mine.
- If it’s a gift it’s a pantry item. I can’t control what people give me.
- If it’s a freebie (BOGO, giveaway, sample, etc) it’s a pantry item.
- If it’s a found or foraged items it’s a pantry item.
- If I grow it from seeds or plants on hand then it’s a pantry item. If I grow it from seeds/seedlings/starts I purchase later it’s a purchased item.
- If I can raise, hunt, or fish it (unlikely) it’s a pantry item. Exception: if it’s a live animal I don’t currently have I must count it as a purchased food item OR I must barter to get it. This is incredibly unlikely because I have no plans to raise animals for food and I currently don’t hunt or fish because of time restraints. If someone gives me an animal to dress or I get a roadkill deer, elk, whatever, then I’ll be in really good shape.
Rules for household items:
- I have to mend what I can.
- I have to knit or weave from yarn on hand.
- If I do not have the yarn desired for this project (unlikely) then I have to spin the yarn from fiber I have on hand.
- I can dye yarn/fiber and fabric using what I have on hand (food dye, spices) or what I can gather (natural dyes).
- Any purchased items should be used (yard sales, thrift shops, online sales) or bartered as much as practical. For example, light bulbs and batteries would be rough to do, so those would be purchased new, but with coupons or sales as a priority (and LEDs for the bulbs). As I’m deciding to do this in the last week of December I don’t have any kind of solar or wind chargers set up. If I decide to do that I’ll figure that out later.
- If I get time I’ll hone my sewing skills and can make myself some clothes if I need to.
Home and auto:
- I seriously hope nothing gets in the way of us splitting wood this year for heating the house next winter.
- It’s dumb as hell to not maintain my vehicle. I have to do what I can myself (oil, tire rotation, replacing basics like bulbs or wiper blades) but I can’t neglect my vehicle. Same for home repairs. I still need to watch for sales and specials.
- I have to ride my bicycle when safe and practical (I currently live within two and a half miles of work, less than one mile from a tiny overpriced grocery store, and within seven miles of good inexpensive grocery stores).
- Vehicle insurance doesn’t count.
- I already have my mobile phone bill down to $40/month with unlimited everything so I can’t do much there. I have no plans to upgrade my two year old phone for at least another year.
- Bottle deposits from bottles and cans I pick up are not to be considered regular income. Those go into my savings account for emergencies. I’m in Michigan, so this is somewhat useful.
- Any income from things I sell (crafted items, household items, dog stuff, backpacking equipment) will also go into my savings account or debt repayment.
- Rebates, any ad revenue I get from this site (as I haven’t gotten a payment in years this is mostly moot), and CafePress commissions also go into savings/debt repayment.
Is this exactly the prepping Y2k was for? Nope. Is it something that will help me for the next year. Yup.
Will I succeed? I hope so. Maybe not exactly as lined out here, but this is a framework to get me started. Evaluating and making adjustments will be key.