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A coworker and friend is relocating to Central New York this spring and was asking me how do we cope with so little. He has spent many days in our region and knows we don't have the opportunities that his Southern state has. I should say "had". The rest of the country, that had been enjoying a good economy, are now in the situation we've been in for 30 years.

I had to think about it for a bit. I had to compare the way we live versus the way other parts of the country were living just a few short years ago. We definitely are different than the rest. I came up with a few things that we do to offset the low wages,high unemployment and stagnant economy we are accustomed to.



Housing:

Central New Yorkers buy and rent what they need. Mc Mansions are rare and people raise families in 1600 Sf houses with no problem. Not every child gets their own bedroom. We pay extremely high taxes, so the more house you have, the more you pay. We do have very affordable housing but it is relative to the low wages.
You won't find houses from our area gracing the cover of "Better Homes and Gardens" We do not have $20,000.00 master baths and 60 grand in landscaping. Our houses are practical,energy efficient and small compared to most places. Interior designers would starve to death if they set up shop around here. Keeping up with our national neighbors isn't very popular.

Energy:

We still drive and have always driven like gas was 5 bucks a gallon. Many of us heat with wood to offset high fuel oil and natural gas prices. A good portion of the summer and fall is getting wood for the next season. A common conversation heard is how much wood do you have for the year. You won't find too many heated pools and lights on in every room either. Many people actually close off the upstairs and exterior rooms during the winter. A/C in the house? It is difficult to find houses with central air. It would be nice but it's considered a luxury here. The biggest concern in our area is heating and what needs to be done in order not to freeze.

Food and Beverage;

We garden,can and freeze. What we can't grow we buy in bulk during season and put up. This latest craze of "organic" is wasted on us. We buy from our local farmers. We buy produce,eggs,cheese. Pigs and beef cows are bought buy the whole, half or quarters. Neighbors will split costs and divvy up by what each needs. We do the same with canning. Freezers are an essential.
We hunt. It is not uncommon for spouses who don't hunt to have a hunting license. The extra deer tag gets you two bucks and two doe. Venison in the freezer is good.

We eat at home and bring our lunches to work. If you drive through our area you will notice the lack of chain restaurants. It's economics. People will not pay $13.95 for a "frozen in Cleveland and shipped to the restaurant" entree. It's not being snobbish, it's simply a waste of money. We have fresh prepared food in our local eateries that is far less expensive and better tasting. Our area doesn't dine out that much and when we do, it is at restaurants where the owner lives in your town and his kids go to school with your kids. Google Utica NY restaurants and read some of the blogs. You'll see what I mean.

Beverages. We drink local brews and you would never get a local to shell out 6 bucks for a draft. Our taverns and bars cater to our area and lack the big night club glitz and prices. Even the neighborhood pub is falling by the wayside. It's not surprizing to have quiet get togethers with neighbors and friends at each others houses. It's cheaper and more enjoyable.

We have one Starbucks and it's in a Barnes and Noble. Locals do not and will not pay 5 bucks for a burnt coffee with steamed milk. Sorry. We brew coffee at home and bring a thermos. (or drink that brown crayon dipped in hot water they call coffee at work). Dunkin' Donuts is not a daily thing either.

Clothing:

You won't see to many of us walking around in $250.00 shoes and designer clothing. Besides, half the **** year we're bundled up wearing Sorels and parkas. We do spend money on what keeps us warm as we consider frost bite and hypothermia as outof fashion. We are a jeans and sweatshirt crowd on average. Oh we have some nice things but only hand full of folks are fashion driven clothes hounds. We buy at the end of each season for the next season. Clearance racks are golden. We are a patient lot and we'll wait until clothes hit 50%off.

Cars and transportation:

You won't see a boat load of Mecedes or Beamers here. Same for the high end SUV barges. People with big trucks actually put stuff in the beds. I'm not kidding. They actually use the trucks as trucks! Most of the people I know buy what they need and not what they want. You save money when you shop this way. No one considers having a car repo'd as a status symbol. We actually brag on the high mileage and beat up look we have with our vehicles. Having a car with no payments and still going strong with 200,000 miles is an honor.

What you will see is alot of 10 year old cars. We drive em until there is nothing left. I buy lease buy backs for a fraction of new, drive them for as long as I can and start all over. You'll see lots of Ford Tauruses and the less glamorous cars. We lean towards cheap to buy and cheap to run. Oh there are those who have nice cars but on whole it's uncommon.
We have little mass transit here. Everything is so spread out it's not practical. In order to survive you need a car. The cheaper the better.

Entertainment:

This is the killer for most outsiders. We aren't blessed with ton's of options. We have one cinema chain (6 screens?), one performing arts center, a couple of museums, a small zoo. If you require constant entertainment you would have to rethink you idea of entertainment. People just do not have money for theater and movies.

What we do have is the Adirondack Mountains,lakes streams and wide open spaces. People camp and canoe and hangout at the lakes during the warm months. The cold months it's skiing, snowshoeing and hockey games. Some people have boats, snowmobiles and other power toys but for the area we live in and the access to the places to use them, it's a surprisingly low percentage.

Spare time in our area is spent on various projects. Many of us don't hire things out. We do our own house and yard maintenance. We repair and maintain vehicles ourselves. We don't call a pro for every little thing. We can't afford it. We learn to do things ourselves and what one person doesn't know their friends will. We will help each other out. It's how we survive. We go without and do for ourselves.

Regardless of politcal affiliation you'll hear people oppose the goverment bailouts. We've had it tough for a long time and just can't seem to get our minds wrapped around the thought of bailouts. We've tightened our belts and gone so long without, we expect others to do the same. It can be done. Sometimes there isn't much sympathy for those living in other parts of the country who have enjoyed prosperous times and now are panicking. Those from Michigan,Ohio and Pennsylvannia know this as well. These parts of the country have seen this too and have learned to adapt. Central New Yorkers tend to expect others to tighten their belts first, then start complaining

It's not all gloom and doom. Those of us who have stayed here are happy. Sure we all would like the better things a robust economy could bring, but we are used to this way of life. We do enjoy the simpler things,we aren't afraid of a little hard work and we take the disappointing economic downturns with a grain of salt. You can't miss what you don't have.

We get through it. We hope for a brighter future. We help our neighbors. We keep on, keeping on. That's how we survive.
 

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AmazonGold said:
That's how I was raised. I remember my mother washing and re-using aluminum foil!
Funny you should mention the aluminum foil - my mom always washed and re-used it too. Now, when I use it, I look at it after I'm done and think "nope- not this time", and throw it away (in the recyclables), but at some point I'm going to wash it and re-use it too! She also had those little "shower-cap" type covers for bowls that you could re-use over and over. I see they're becoming popular again too.
 

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I have question for you about gardening. We have a huge garden that we work in all spring, summer and fall. We grow alot more than we can use, and even put grocery bags at the end by the road so our friends can come and pick what they want. But I find that after being gone from 7 - 5 working all day, I just don't have the energy to come home and do everything that it takes to can and freeze vegetables. It's all I would be doing with my time, and right now it's definitley now worth it. Frozen and canned veggies from the store are still pretty cheap. As for organic - nobody eats organic because it is cheap - they eat it because they truely believe that it is better for them. Buying local is certainly less expensive, and better for the environment in terms of cost of fuel, transportation, supporting your neighborhood, etc, but it's not organic - it's comparing apples and oranges.
 

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It sounds to me like you are living a more sustainable, responsible life to me. A lesson could be learned by others living a more wasteful lifestyle. Personally, I'm a strong advocate for smaller homes and more modest living. I think North America would be further ahead for it. But no, too many of us are all wrapped up in keeping up with the Jones'.
 

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kaisdad said:
It sounds to me like you are living a more sustainable, responsible life to me. A lesson could be learned by others living a more wasteful lifestyle. Personally, I'm a strong advocate for smaller homes and more modest living. I think North America would be further ahead for it. But no, too many of us are all wrapped up in keeping up with the Jones'.
So true. I try not to, but I am guilty sometimes of "coveting thy neighbour's goods". I look to my parents for inspiration. They didn't run out & buy new if they didn't need it, and they sure didn't put it on credit or re-fi to get it. They paid cash, saved, or they did without. Only emergency things that could not be repaired were charged.
 

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You'd have to start a forum board for folks to learn how to do a lot of easy to do simple things if they were to survive. :laugh:

A good part of folks today would not know how do do anything if they could not google it or ask it in their first post on a forum board. :whistle:
 

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We live like that..we have a garden and in Phx you can grow year round but the heat does limit a lot of summer stuff. We have a small 4 bedroom house I use 2 rooms as a bedroom then an office/sitting room (i work from home some days and work requires a room that can be locked due to HIPPA), my parents have the master even though it is my house there is 2 of them and then the guest room/dad's computer room.

I grow herbs year round in planter boxes on my front porch....though top rail is flowers to look pretty except late June to Sept when it is to hot. We also have an orange and fig tree. We are looking into the cost of 2 small wind turbins for the side of the house..we talked to our neighbor as it is both our side yards that neither uses (2 bedrooms face the fence wall for both houses) he agrees and wants to do the same. We figure we can power the house for 60% of the days off them. The wind turbins would not be taller than the house and would be hard to see from the street.
 

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delmonico said:
You'd have to start a forum board for folks to learn how to do a lot of easy to do simple things if they were to survive. :laugh:

A good part of folks today would not know how do do anything if they could not google it or ask it in their first post on a forum board. :whistle:
We all learn by asking. I'll never mock a person for asking a sincere question about a matter they know nothing about. Life is about learning, and one should always be open to expanding one's education. We can't know everything about all things, this is why we have specialists.
 

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kaisdad said:
delmonico said:
You'd have to start a forum board for folks to learn how to do a lot of easy to do simple things if they were to survive. :laugh:

A good part of folks today would not know how do do anything if they could not google it or ask it in their first post on a forum board. :whistle:
We all learn by asking. I'll never mock a person for asking a sincere question about a matter they know nothing about. Life is about learning, and one should always be open to expanding one's education. We can't know everything about all things, this is why we have specialists.
True, but a lot of the world has became a "go to a forum board and ask" with out even making any atempt to do any research. There is a lot more to learning than just to have someone always giving you the answers. ;)
 

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kaisdad said:
delmonico said:
You'd have to start a forum board for folks to learn how to do a lot of easy to do simple things if they were to survive. :laugh:

A good part of folks today would not know how do do anything if they could not google it or ask it in their first post on a forum board. :whistle:
We all learn by asking. I'll never mock a person for asking a sincere question about a matter they know nothing about. Life is about learning, and one should always be open to expanding one's education. We can't know everything about all things, this is why we have specialists.
True...but common sense is a difficult thing to teach and for some...to learn...and common sense is what is lacking in the world and that lack of common sense is what gets the world in trouble...i.e. letting people get loans for mortgages they can't afford--that is just lacking common sense...paying 50 percent of your income on a house payment...no common sense...expecting the government to bail out entities because they made bad business ventures...no common sense...

Common sense...the most valuable commodity that seems to be lacking in the world.
 

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kaisdad said:
Common sense became extinct decades ago.
Yep, as the John Prine song says, "it don't make much sense that common sense don't make no sense no more. ;)

Have met a lot of folks would cut their foot off with a spade if they tried to garden and would blow up the kitchen if they tried to can, a sharp knife and a wholesale cut of beef would require many stiches.
 
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