Living in Fernandina Beach, Florida is spectacular and we have an even better neighborhood. Remember Mr. Rogers? He was such a nice man and so neighborly. Is your neighborhood like his? As the economy remains uncertain for the next several months it is time to re-think some of yesterday’s effective neighboring practices.
Community Gardens Is there an empty plot of land in your neighborhood? An empty lot or a nearby home with a large yard is a perfect location to build a community garden. You can set it up as a group project. Everyone works and everyone shares the crops. Another way to set up a garden to grow your own produce is to section off portions of the garden for a designated member of the group. Make eight sections in the garden and eight neighbors have their own space to grow and cultivate fresh vittles for dinner.
Composting You can establish a similar location like a community garden but turn this area into a compost pile. You will create fertilizing mulch for your lawn and garden while reducing waste sent to landfills. Composting is inexpensive and easy to do, but the best advice I can give you is to select a location away from windows and recreation because it will emit an earthy odor that occasionally may be offensive to some.
Bartering Start thinking of ways to barter for goods and services. Do you have a friend who is handy with a sewing machine and you have slacks that need to be shortened and hemmed? Offer to provide a number of home cooked dinners in exchange for her mending services. Is the fellow down the road a plumber and you need a new garbage disposal installed in your sink? Offer to mow his lawn or wash his car a couple of times.
Clothing Swap Do you have friends and neighbors that have recently lost weight or changed occupations? One of our highest household expenses is on clothing. What about children or teenagers? You could have a neighborhood clothing swap. This also works with other household items. My father always suggested that instead of having yard sales, we should all just shift our excess belongings one house to the left, every three months.
Childcare What about childcare? Do you have children that are old enough to baby sit, but not old enough to be left alone for the night if you are called out of town? Here is a great twist. Your 14 year old baby sits for the neighbor as she often does. Instead of the parents paying for the babysitting service, you pay your daughter for babysitting the neighbor’s kid. Now, when you and your spouse want to sneak away to a hotel for the night to celebrate your Anniversary your daughter is welcomed to stay with the neighbor for the night. Of course, traditional child care swapping works great, too. I’ll watch your kids on Friday night if your watch mine on Saturday night. No money is exchanged, yet everyone gets what they needed.
As fear of spending really sets in, we are all going to have to rethink the way we are spending our money. If you have a talent or skill, try using it to trade for goods or services that your family needs. You will save a bundle of cash and likely make new friends in the process.