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Indian Style Living

By: Steve Johnson

6/24/2008 - 39 Comments

Indian style living is the idea that many families come together to support each other in everything from finances to parenting.

If the current economic recession drags on for several years, Indian style living will become a major cultural trend.  Some people are already doing some of this by having their grandparents help raise their kids, reducing the cost of day care.  As the declining housing market traps many in large homes, people will begin to get creative by having their parents or another family move in with them. Two families living in one house creates an opportunity to share the cost of a home.

Another idea is to buy a house next to another family or your in-laws or siblings so that you can save money by helping each other with everything from sharing household items to watching the kids to growing a garden together. 

When the Indian’s hunted of food, they hunted together and shared the kill with everyone. Today the unemployment rate is still relatively low at 5.5 %, so this may be a bit early to talk about - but if unemployment gets to 10% in the next few years, your neighbor may not have a job and your income maybe needed to support more than one family.

There are many other ways to combine expenses between families. Here are several examples.

  • You could carpool together to save gas.
  • You could share a show plow or lawn mower.
  • You could start a home business together to provide additional income and create a tax shelter. 
  • You could home school the kids together and hand-down kids clothing to each other.
  • You could share a car between several families and split the expenses.
  • You could combine cell phone plans, by adding additional phones to one plan – which is much cheaper than having separate plans.
  • You could share cable TV expenses if several families were living in one house.
  • You could share the benefits of your job skills. For example, if you were a barber you could cut everyone’s hair or if you were a mechanic you could maintain the automobiles of several families.
  • You could barter together to get better deals. For example, if you grew a large garden together you could trade food for other services like plumbing or carpentry work or even medical care like a visit to the chiropractor.

If you are thinking about live together with several families, it would be nice to have a large house and now is a good time to purchase one with the housing market adjusting to the largest decline since the great depression.  But, who can you trust?  That’s a tuff question in a culture with a 50% divorce rate, two people can’t seem to live together let alone four or six or ten with kids.  I wouldn’t recommend someone that has a history of breaking commitments or someone that you haven’t known very long. Family is the best place to look. Start by asking your brothers and sisters and in-laws about the idea and see if anyone is interested. You never know, it could save you a lot of money in the years ahead. It could even save you from a painful bankruptcy with a drastic reduction in your standard of living.

The decline of prosperity is bringing an end to the age of individualism in America and the sooner this new trend is realized the sooner a family could take advantage of an opportunity to position them for a better future.  

If the recession is long and painful, lasting seven to ten years like the recession of the 70’s, grouping together the expenses of several families could be the best thing you can do to weather the storm.

My wife and I have given this some thought, but our current home is too small for another family to move in with us and we don't really like the idea of moving into a larger house with a higher mortage and higher energy expenses. So we will probably stay put. But we do live three blocks from my parents, which allow us to save money in many ways. Living close to my parents for the past 7 years has been great for both of us as we share many household items and help each other whenever we can.

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