How to prepare your family to survive and thrive in todays uncertain world

Getting By In The New Normal

It’s readily apparent to just about everyone that the gold watch and retirement days are long gone.  What isn’t quite so clear to some folks, and is actively resisted by others, is the fact that for many of us the idea of just having one job provide us with our living is on the way out.

I’ve harped many times before on the necessity of having multiple income streams.  This has consistently been from the standpoint of having a primary job with secondary income streams coming in to augment that income and help improve your resiliency.

Nothing new under the sun there.

Intellectually speaking, it’s always been clear to me that you could use the same concept to put together a resilient income that doesn’t even include a ‘normal’ job.  If you have enough smaller streams of income they build up into something that covers your living expenses.

I’m not there yet, but that’s one of my goals.  That doesn’t mean I’ll quit the day job, but being ABLE to do that is huge.

I’ve met a number of folks here in our new neck of the woods that operate in that fashion.  For example, our landlords hired a guy to do some landscape cleanup shortly after we moved.  I sat and talked to him for a while, and he makes his living doing all sorts of stuff, from landscaping to labor, from handyman work to painting, and everything in between.  He gets by just fine.

That’s just one example of someone that’s living that way today.  He seemed to be fine with it.

That’s one way to approach it, but let’s take it to the next level.

Instead of building multiple income streams by leveraging your time and efforts directly for others, what about producing things others need?  You’ll make more money, and if you choose what your produce correctly, you’ll have a pretty resilient stream.  And since you’re not trading your time directly for dollars, like our landscaper up there, you have huge income potential.  The hourly wage equation, $X * Y Hrs is no longer a limiting factor for you.

A great example of this from my personal life is my beekeeping.  It’s not going to create a ton of money, but I can sell the honey I get, the wax I get, and the pollen I get at the farmers market for pretty good cash.

Another good example is a local farmer who we know.  During the winter time he keeps himself busy by repairing and refinishing antiques he picks up throughout the year.  He then sells them in his storefront next to his produce for the rest of the year.

A little slice of pie here, a little there, pretty soon you’ve got a pretty sweet pie.

But to use the words of Emeril, let’s kick it up another notch.

What if we worked together with folks in our family or close friends and neighbors to build a chain of production.  It’s a well known tenet of economics that the more you refine something, the more it’s worth and the more people will pay for it.

So let’s say I have my honey, and I’m selling it at the farmers market for $13/qt, which is a very reasonable price around here, if not a tad low.  Now instead of selling all of it, I’m going to keep half of it at home and my lovely bride works her cooking magic and turns it into flavored candies and infused honey.

All of a sudden that $13 quart of honey, further refined and farther up the value-add chain, is making several multiples of that.  Even if we have to buy some blackberries from the neighbor to infuse into the honey, we still end up way ahead by selling that infused honey for more.

You get the idea…

Bottom line is this.

Be a producer, not a laborer.  Produce things that are valuable for others.  Don’t trade your time for money unless you have no choice.

Strive to move up the value add chain.  You don’t necessarily have to corner the market on staples like in my example of candies, but it helps.

Chain multiple production systems together.  My beekeeping production added to my wife’s cooking production means way more income for us, and more value to others.

Look for opportunities to cover your needs by selling to others.  For example, if you need three hogs a year to cover your pork needs, raise eight and sell the others.  It’s not much more work incrementally, and the income from selling the other five makes the first three that you eat free.

Always try to add more slices.  The more slices you add to that income pie, the sweeter it gets, and the harder it is to destroy.

In closing … times are getting wonky.  Figure out how you’re going to get by in the new normal, because it won’t be easy for most of us.  Sooner rather than later…

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7 Responses to Getting By In The New Normal

  1. I had never thought of it in terms of taking myself out of the hours for wages cycle. My mind is still processing this, but I’m already getting a good feelings about what ideas it will generate as a result. Thank you so much for changing my perspective.

  2. Diversifying your income stream is critical these days, and limited only by your imagination. My neighbors visit the second hand stores on the weekend and then sell their finds (primarily clothing) on Ebay. They claim to net an additional $800 per month. A friend of mine has a great, if highly specialized niche: He sources specific batteries from overseas, re-labels them and then sells only to the remote control plane community. It takes him about 10 hours a week and he brings in an extra $18,000 a year. That’s a phenomenal hourly wage! Someone I work with sells produce baskets at our office. She buys from a local farm and assembles them herself. Another great idea.

    Affiliate marketing programs, white label businesses or simply selling the eggs your chickens lay are great additional sources of income. These activities have the additional benefit of expanding your knowledge, as well as your circle of influence. The point is that regardless of your abilities or skill, there’s a number of ways to bring in additional part time income. Having multiple income streams was common up until WWII. What we’re doing now is returning to a safer, more holistic way of managing our finances.

    Thanks for the great topic, Rudy.

    • Options are really limitless … you can find all sorts of little niches and needs to fill… They’re out there, find them.

      Like I said in the post though, the fun really starts when you secure segments of the value chain instead of just a link or two.

  3. I take umbrage with James Wesley Rawles who, in various articles, suggests that we learn cobbling (shoe repair) or how to split wood as forms of income diversity in tough times. Those are perfect examples of an arm chair warrior. There are much better, more lucrative and less time consuming ideas for generating income.

    How about something more realistic: Computer repair (easy to learn!), computer networking (a definite need during civil strife), or third-party marketing are great, easy to master ideas. How about resume writing (nobody knows your industry like you do!), a shuttle service, or teaching a class? Online sales of product are so darn easy these days that anyone can do it. And did you know that many employers pay a referral fee of up to a $1,000 for the introduction of a potential employee who gets hired?

    Look to social media for part time business ideas or exploit upcoming technology to your advantage. Any business having to do with smart phones over the next five years is going to be profitable. Most importantly, get out, meet your neighbors, find out what their needs are, and then find a way to solve them. There’s a world of opportunity out there for people who are focused on success!

    • I think that having practical skills is important. I don’t think that it makes sense to change jobs into something that may theoretically be valuable in case of a total collapse if that means tying down hours. Knowing how to do things if you HAD to is important though.

      If you want to go the JWR route and become a cobbler, or whatever, great. Go for it. Make sure you know why you’re doing it though.

      A better route would be to teach people how to be a cobbler. Better value to others, better value for your time.

      To me, being a cobbler (continuing with that example) is something I’d only do briefly as a means to an end. Or if I had no other options.