What are the people around me doing differently?
I recently had the opportunity to talk with some country and small-town folks in Venezuela who I have known since childhood. Through our conversations, I could extract some valuable information on how they coped with the financial stress caused by the pandemic.
Producing our own food.
The first and most significant thing I learned was that these people produced an estimated 60% of their daily diet in their place. This means they grew their vegetables, raised livestock, and in general, were self-sufficient when it came to food. They did not have to rely heavily on grocery stores or restaurants to feed themselves and their families, which helped them save a lot of money.
Cutting expenses to the extreme.
The second thing I learned was that they cut expenses to extreme limits. They only spent money on the absolute necessities and saved the rest. Savings would be mostly for medical emergencies, indispensable car or machinery parts, spares, and such. This meant that they were always prepared for any unexpected expenses that might arise.
Having a productive environment.
The third thing I learned was that their places were already productive before the crisis hit, and some of them already with a solid network of clients to buy or trade their excess. This means they had established a strong local economy, where they could sell or trade their excess produce with others in the community. This not only helped them make some extra money but also ensured that they always had access to the things they needed, even when times were tough.
Having a productive place with a strong local economy is all about building community and supporting local businesses. This means buying from local farmers, artisans, and entrepreneurs and supporting local events and initiatives. I have yet to visit a cobbler that someone told me makes shoes and boots. This is interesting enough. Real Venezuelan leather surely lasts much longer than Far-East fabrics and rubber.
These three things – producing their food, cutting expenses to the extreme, and having a productive patch in a place with a strong local economy – were the key factors that helped these people cope with the financial stress caused by the pandemic. Let’s take a closer look at each of these factors and see how we can apply them to our own lives: