Is it just a pipe dream?greenspun.com : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread
I have dreamed of a day ever since I was a little girl to live a life of simplicity. But...... I wonder if it's possible. We are a family of 5. My husband is self employed in home construction. (Seasonal job) and I am a stay at home mom (disabled). We live check to check it seems, to get the bills paid and don't know how we can make the first step into becoming self reliant. There's the acreage that needs purchased (no credit) and then the materials to make the house and all that it intails. We have a mortgage on a small 750sq. ft. 1 bedroom house that belonged to my grandparents. All I can say is on dream and a prayer.
-- Yollie B. (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 05, 2002
You can bloom where you are planted. I know, I live an hour from Miami! You can garden, container garden, frequent u picks, become a whiz at cutting grocery bills, cook cheaply,
-- Mitzi Giles (Egiles2@prodigy.net), May 05, 2002.
Start with canning, making laundry soap, sewing. Yes, you can do it!
-- DW (email@example.com), May 05, 2002.
Even if you can't "do" all things you want to do right now, you can certainly learn about them. Spend time learning now and you won't have to spend so much time learning when you need to be doing.
I wasted years waiting to be where I could do this or do that. Now I have a place to do somethings and I have to learn first.
You can learn to knit, sew, make soap (as mentioned), make bread, etc... We usally find a way to do what we really want to do (within reason!).
-- Lavender, Central Maryland (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 05, 2002.
I just shared a wonderful, simple, afternoon with my 3 boys. We turned the T.V. off and talked. Then we decided to go into the front yard to play baseball together. Then we came into the house and got ready for bed and talked some more. The canning and container gardening are good things to do. I do them as well. But don't forget the even simpler things. I love my family. I feel good after our afternoon together. There's more to the simple lifestyle than doing things; its also the not doing things...
-- Michelle Thomas (email@example.com), May 05, 2002.
I know we do not have all the details of your life, nor are we entitled. However, I think you have some resources. A man who can do constuction seems to have year round value. Even if it is just getting a part time job in the local hardware store in the off season. How about adding on to the existing house to crank up the value and selling it for a profit. The biggest expense for such a project is labor. When I first moved into my house I was single and would have loved a "rent a husband" - that is someone to do some of the heavy chores, hook up the light fixtures, a little general plumbing, gutter cleaning, etc. Charge by the job or by the hour.
You do not mention what your disability is, but if you have been chasing after and caring for three children you must have some mobility. I know profitable work at home opportunities are hard to find, but maybe you could tutor young children who need extra help learning to read, or see if elderly people in your area need an on call chaufer or shopper.
Gardens are always a great, healthy start to simple living. Get the kids involved. Have them go to the local shopping areas with a few crates of extra tomatoes and cucumbers to sell - few cops would be mean enough to tell some little kid to stop selling veggies on a street corner. Can you grow herbs? See if the local restaurants would like you to supply them with fresh herbs in season.
Take a good look at where every penny is going (if anyone drinks soda or smokes those are the first expenses that should go). Start small - you do not need lots of acerage to live a simple life. The more you have the more you have to worry about. A simple life (to me anyway) means the bills are paid, I can "render unto Ceasar what is Ceasar's" (ie: taxes), warm and durable clothing, a solid roof over my head, a vehicle that is safe to drive and a little left over to splurge if I really get a materialism craving, but without a big guilt attack. Always think in terms of quality and never in quantity.
Start by just looking around at nature, the smiles your children throw your way, the love you have for freinds and family and don't forget to thank The Creator for all the good free stuff in the world. There is nothing simpler then just being grateful. Blessings to you....
-- diane (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 05, 2002.
Do it one small step at a time. Even when all I had coming in was a small unemployment check, I saved $10 a week and kept filling the change jar.
-- Jay Blair in N. AL (email@example.com), May 05, 2002.
Diane could not have said it better. Please read her post over and over.
You need to really examine every penny that you spend. I know a family of 5 that has an income of over 80,000 a year and have not a dime to their name. They just don't get it when it comes to managing money. They live paycheck to paycheck, literally. They cannot understand why they cannot save a down payment for a home.
Here is why:
5 magazine subscriptions, est. $35 each a year= $180
$7 a DAY at a convenience store, for smokes, pop and candy, NO JOKE= $2555 a year. I truly believe that this is a LOW est. per day.
Allowance for two boys, no chores required, $5 a week each= $520 a year.
Pizza and breadsticks, at least once a week or more, $18 week= $936 a year.
Both parents eat lunch out every day, average $12 for both= $60 a week =$3120 a year.
Late fees on video movies and play station games, literally is about $6 per week. I know you think I am making this up; I wish I were= $312 a year.
Ice cream, pop or candy bars for the kids WHENEVER THEY WANT IT, and I am not kidding, I will be extremely conservative at $15 a week= $880 a year.
I could go on and on about their spending habits. And to think they are doing their kids a favor by offering them this lifestyle!!!!!
If they saved all the above expenses, which I think are VERY conservative= $8403 a year. In ten years= $84,030.
Examine every penny you spend. Write it down. Do the math over the next projected year, just to see what you will be spending.
Examine every penny your husband spends. He needs to be on the same team and in the same mind set that you are. If he is stopping by a convenience store every morning to buy a hostess, milk, pop and a can of Skoal, you know where your money is going.
Another important note is to try to stop the 'bleeding' whenever you can. Are late fees on credit cards or car payments eating you up? Pay off the note, thus stop the bleeding.
Pick up extra work whenever possible. Quit borrowing money for anything that is not life or death. Vehicle costs can be eating you alive, in gas, unneeded mudder tires, repair bills. Pay off all debt, starting with the lowest amount and then work up. Pay each man his what he is due. You cannot get ahead being in debt. Tithe to your church, even if you don't think you have the money. God will provide. Be smart, wise, work hard, really hard, and have hope. It is possible.
The last thing I suggest, is to get a pen and paper, right now, and write down all the things you want in life. Be very descriptive about your dreams. If you want a 5 bedroom house on a wooded lot, write this:
I want a beautiful colonial country home, with a big kitchen and a dining room. I want the kitchen to have white painted cabinets, with the really cool brushed chrome handles, a butcher block top........
By writing this down, you truly can visualize what you want and how you can get there. This will serve as a road map, of sorts, and will help prioritize your life. Refer to it weekly.....and email me an invitation in five years.......
-- clovis (clovis97@Yahoo.com), May 05, 2002.
-- Cindy (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 06, 2002.
You can do ANYTHING you set your mind to. I know a person who took a small town "drug store" with prescriptions, candy, cosmetics, magazines, and other so-called drug store items and converted this into a private office practice of pharmacy. A receptionist, a consultation area, all articles in cabinets, or drawers (i.e., no mdse. on display) He was awarded his state Pharmacist of the Year in 1974. How do I know so much about him?? I am that man.
-- Buddy in e. Ga. (Buddybud@csranet.com), May 06, 2002.
Start by reading the archives in this forum. Pay special attention to the frugal, gardening and income threads.
I can think of no greater inspiration than the following website where this family of 5 has created an incredible abundance on a normal sized suburban lot:
Start by saving all manner of seed--even those from the grocery store. Those don't always work or come back true because of fancy hybrids etc... but if it's free, don't knock it.
Plant everything that you can in every square inch. Freeze and can your harvest. Eat only what is in season.
How old are your children? Can you and the children handle a paper route? Can your husband earn money on the side or in the slow times doing handywork--there is a great need for this.
Start a file with clippings to help you when you get where you are going. We dreamed for over a decade and it was amazing how we hit the ground running with the research we had done. I hated my job but kept a picture of a barn in front of my desk for times I really wanted to quit.
Learn your skills now in your small house and lot. Could you get a couple of hens for eggs? Keep rabbits for meat? The fertilizer from the rabbits and chickens makes great fertilizer for your garden and these are good learning skills for kids.
Let us know how we can help in terms of planning long term.
-- Ann Markson (email@example.com), May 06, 2002.
Well if this is a pipe dream, it is a pipe dream that took me from a rental lot in Southern California, on an 11 year quest to my new homestead in Oklahoma. I have to say every piece of advice so far has been FANTASTIC!!! I have to add, that you CAN make giant leaps toward self-sufficiency right where you are. Where you are is your training ground. Walk around you house and ask yourself, "If the whole world fell apart and groceries were no longer available could I live of my lot in town?" . Now I know this seems a radical thought, but I personally know people who get a majority of their food from their back yard. I have a very good friend who lives on less than an acre. Her name is Virginia. Virginia raises rabbits, chickens, and up until recently Muscovy ducks(she is in the process of replacing her stock), right in her Southern California back yard. She also grows a garden, has several fruit trees, and cans what she grows faithfully.
THE KEY TO SELF SUFFICIENCY is not how much land you have, but what you do with the land you live on. This is true for even apartment dwellers. I started out on a typical American rented small suburban lot. My first step toward self-sufficiency was putting in four 4X4 Square foot gardening blocks, and explaining to my husband that we needed to move to the country. Since you actually own your house, you are leaps and bounds ahead of where I was.
It is really important for you to look at your property from all sides. Look for the problems to raising food. Is your property shady? Cut some trees down and perhaps replant with some fruit trees in a different part of the yard. Perhaps your only sun is right in the front yard, rip out some of that wasteful lawn and plant it with vegetable and flowers. Even a small cutting garden can give you lovely bouquets to help bring in a little income, and it can also beautify your property as well. Dont' forget to think vertical instead of horizontal. Grow vining crops on trellises. A few pole beans with fill your freezer.
Self-sufficiency is not something you do, it is something you are. You may have noticed non of us are telling you to sell your house and just take the leap. We know you are not ready for that, at least by the sound of your letter you aren't. Your mind needs to grab onto the principles of self-sufficiency BEFORE you can even move from where you are. That starts right in your head and then moves into all the areas of life. It moves into gardening. Then it moves into animals. Then it moves into a bigger place to put the animals. Self- sufficiency grows naturally just like when you plant a bean seed. The little plant is but a shadow of it's future self, and yet grows into a tremendous bounty of food for man. Self- sufficiency bears fruit just as a bean plant does, growing from a mere thought into a complete lifestyle. Good Growing!!
Just as an aside, when you get ready for animals, the muscovy duck is IMHO the absolute best animal for city life. They are very quiet. They are extremely Good producers of fine tasting meat that is not greasy at all. Three laying hens will produce twenty offspring three times a year a piece, for a total of 270 offspring a year. I have personally seen this kind of production in every flock I have witnessed. The hens are extremely reliable brooders, hatching out a higher percentage of their eggs than any chicken. Even if you only have 100 babies to butcher a year, at easily 5lbs a piece, that is still 500 lbs of meat for your freezer a year. Muscovies are much more reliable than rabbits and are a joy to be around besides.
Little Bit Farm
-- Little bit Farm (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 06, 2002.
Yollie, one of my first inspirations in this area was to read The Tightwad Gazette. These are a set of 3 books and most libraries have them. If not just buying the first one on a used book site like bestwebbuys.com would be helpful. This couple really shows how to scrimp and save to buy something. Not everything they suggest is for everyone but it never hurts to have somone to copy when you are first starting to cut expenses.
I do not know if you own a computer but you could also sell on ebay people seem to be doing rather well at it, even becoming full time jobs.
Hope this helps, I know being self employed can be very hard at times and it can be hard to stick with. This site will be a big help just ask!
-- Lynn (email@example.com), May 06, 2002.
You already have some very very good replies, but I'll add one - stop going to the grocery store. Borrow or buy a pressure canner, a water bath canner and the Ball Blue Book of canning. Go to the Farmers Market, buy 15 - 20 pounds of green beans and can them. Do the same thing with tomatoes, corn, peas, beans, etc. Fresh food, bought in bulk, is really affordable! Canning jars cost, no doubt about that, but if you go to garage sales, you can find them for very little cost. We bit the bullet and just bought new cases of jars as we needed them last year. First year costs, but you never need to buy jars again if you take care of them.
We put up over 38 cases of veggies last year and are still eating out of our pantry. Have enough to last us until the crops come in again - we don't live where we can do gardening for ourselves.
We also joined a buying club and buy staples in bulk. Like flour in 25 pound sacks. We buy 5 to 10 pounds of dried beans, butter 12 pounds at a time, things like that. Also bought a case of laundry detergent at a good price. We buy cheese in 3 to 8 pound blocks and freeze what we won't use in the next couple of weeks. I'm just amazed at how much money we've saved by not going to the grocery stores!!!
-- Carol - in Virginia (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 06, 2002.
Amen to the Tightwad Gazette trilogy. Amy Dycyzn is my hero!
-- Najia (email@example.com), May 06, 2002.
Lots of great stuff here Yollie...........hope you get inspired.
I was a single parent with three little kids once and let me tell you, we homesteaded right there in the city. One step and one day at a time you can make anything happen if you have your focus right.
-- diane (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 06, 2002.
Good advice all.
Get debt free (except perhaps for a mortgage on your home). Then pay off your home so you are debt-free full-stop. Pour everything you can into paying off the principal on your home, and try to ensure that you have a loan that doesn't penalise you for doing this. Then save or build up assets. If your husband has construction and maintenance skills then he could earn money off-season as a handyman, or he could put his skills into building or doing-up a property for sale. You could move through a series of homes, refurbishing them and reselling them at a profit until you have enough for your own place - or to be able to keep some of them as rental properties.
There are a number of people on this forum who are disabled (wheelchair or crutches, cerebral palsy, whatever) but are still managing a measure of self-reliance - sometimes a BIG measure. There are others who have some smaller measure of disability (heck, I have a bad back and the pain is REALLY disabling at times, although I don't put myself in the disabled category).
Self-reliance is a key phrase, rather than self-sufficient. I don't think self-sufficient was a reality since the time when it became evident that it was more effective to give someone with a real skill at flint-knapping a rabbit every quarter-moon than it was to chip your own inferior flint points and edges from twice the raw materials in five times the time he could manage. So - do what you can do most effectively, and get someone else to do it if that's more cost- effective for you. And barter if you can so that once-taxed and to-be- taxed-again money doesn't need to change hands.
-- Don Armstrong (email@example.com), May 06, 2002.