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A Rabbit Meat Shortage, The American Consumer, and Something About The Simple Life

I went on a field trip with my 3rd grade daughter this past week to our county 4-H. I learned a lot about farm animals. It was quite amazing because I saw the farmer of today and even with all the modern technology, (like a $280K combine that has a stereo, GPS system, and two seats) it felt like going back in time.

Did you know that there is a shortage of rabbit meat in America? I didn’t either. According to the rabbit farmer I spoke with yesterday, he told me the demand is so high he can’t keep up. He told me of a girl in Kentucky who made 10k last year simply raising rabbits. Now, that doesn’t sound like a lot, but I am sure it was not her full time job.

We can make money doing pretty much anything. I heard a gentleman who called in to the Dave Ramsey Radio Show and said he had cleared $150k starting a dog poop clean up business for wealthy individuals. That amazed me.

How is it that we as American’s can live in the richest country in the world and yet we as consumers have achieved a negative savings ratio? I am in that lot. I often see myself as a child in the toy store, demanding that my mother buy me the latest gadget and throwing a tantrum if she dares say, “No!”

So how do we transition out of such a mindset? I have learned the hard way, it’s not about your income. The more money I make the more I spend. The restaurant name changes from McDonalds to Ruby Tuesday’s.

I have some ideas that have worked for my wife and I over the last couple years.

1. Use cash only. When McDonalds began taking credit cards I heard their average per order revenue almost doubled. My wife and I struggle with this even using our debit card. I use the card to fill up the gas tank and forget to tell her. We go out to eat and in the hurry of it all we fail to write down the receipt amount. Next thing you know we have three Overdrafts at $30 bucks a pop. Ouch! We have decided to just use cash. We take out a certain amount at the beginning of the week and use it till it’s gone.

2. Consider the cost. This is one my favorites. I used to be a compulsive shopper. I would buy something just to fill that empty void somewhere. It is a scary place because you realize you are just buying “stuff”. Now, I have gone the opposite way. I usually wait and wait before buying anything. Sometimes I never buy it at all. It is a great feeling to not be tied to an emotional chain. When you are making a purchase I would recommend waiting 24 hours before actually buying it. Try it out with the small stuff first and then when the major purchases come you will already have the “Wait” muscle flexed and ready.

3. Savings. Can we move to number 4 now? Wow! This is a tough one. My wife and I struggle with this even today. There is no excuse – there just always seems to be something that needs to be done. Is this reality or is it just our perception that we feel as if we have done without for so long. We as Americans have no real clue about what it means to be poor.

4. Write a plan. Laura and I love to make lists and notes. We are weird, but it does work. It clarifies the soul and lets you know where you stand.

As you can tell this is a continuous work in progress at our house. We don’t have all the answers, but we are working through it, and that, I believe, makes all the difference. I am not sure I have to buy a farm to experience the simple life. I think it’s a mindset. My wife already said she would not let me buy Rabbits. Something about there was no way she was going to eat Thumper. What do you think?


One Response

  1. When my husband and I married, we found that we both had terrible spending habits. Six years later, we are finally figuring out how to save first, spend wisely, and enjoy what we have.
    My greatest weapons in fighting my “window-shopping habit” have been:
    (1) We turned off the TV. I no longer buy the latest and greatest of anything, my particular weakness was household cleaners. We watch DVD or VHS tapes that we own or borrow among friends when we need entertainment. It has been over a year since we turned off the satellite (cable is not an option and tall mountains preclude the use of the antennae) and it only bothers us when we hear of a good football game coming up.
    (2) When we do go shopping and something catches my eye, unless it is an absolutely fantastic deal ($2 for a normally $20 item, for example), we check back or check another store on a SCHEDULED shopping excursion until we find the deal we like, or we don’t buy it at all. I never buy without the approval of my husband, even it is only $2. He is kind, and often lets me explain away why I want something. We found out that if it can’t be explained it well enough out loud (instead of justifying to ourselves alone), then we don’t buy it. It has been amazing to notice just how many things we don’t end up buying.
    (3) We posted a WISH LIST easy wipe board on our fridge. We keep a list there of all the things that strike our fancies and then rank and re-rank them. Very quickly, we discovered that the DVD we wanted or the iTunes gift card request as a birthday gift were replaced by other things such as fixing the back door, building a tool shed, a grocery gift card, and planning the vegetable garden.

    We don’t have all the answers either, and certainly have no plans to raise livestock for cash. I have a hard enough time in rural New Hampshire when hunting season starts! With a little luck, and a lot of trials and errors, we are finding our way long. The best part is doing it together and enjoying the successes we do have to the fullest.
    Thanks for your blog – I love it.

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