Mother Earth News posted a great article on 9 Strategies for Self-Sufficient Living and I am going to make a series out of them. Here are the strategies they suggest:
- Be Frugal – discussion below!
- Think Long-Term and Stay Put
- Get Back to Basics
- Cultivate your Relationship
- Change with the Seasons
- Create a Homestead
- Eliminate Debt
- Start a Home Business
- Build a Community
The first strategy is to be frugal. The article suggests forgoing luxuries (which they list as satellite TV and smartphone service) and they point out that they have never owned a new car or carried a balance on their credit card. Other suggestions include getting movies from a library, shopping at clothing swaps, cooking with the sun. They live on only $10,000 a year and say that when they purchase items they are high-quality and durable. They do not worry about retirement because “why would we want to stop what we love doing”.
Living below your means is a great strategy for self-sufficient living. I do believe that you should be frugal, but never cheap. If you want something then figure out how you can afford it. However, if you do not really want or need it then stay away. What you consider a luxury might be a necessity for somebody else. Clothing swaps are great, but I have found better deals in the sale section of a store.
You should never carry a balance on a credit card. The interest you pay can buy you something much more exciting than, well, paying interest. Purchasing high-quality and durable items is very important. Not understanding value is one of the 10 reasons people stay poor.
Not worrying about retirement is something I cannot get on-board with, however. I hope that you love what you are doing (you should strive to!), but unforeseen events can devastate you if you have not planned for them. When it comes to finance, woman are more likely to prepare for the future and take less risk than men so maybe my outlook on retirement stems from that. You may love what you are doing and never want to stop, but an accident, declining health, or a family emergency could force you to do just that. Make sure you are set up well enough that you will not lose the homestead you worked so hard for.
If you live frugally then setting up for retirement will not be hard. Time is on your side so start as soon as you can.
Frugality really can make a dent in your self-sufficient living. Many of the things I want for my homestead cost quite a bit of money to start and some things cost more than purchasing them (like eggs from our own chickens). Living frugally allows me to have the money to do those things (or at least the money to slowly save up for them!). Also, the smaller dollar amount you can live on, the easier it is to take small odd jobs to pay for everything (a strategy he touches on in the “start a home business” section).
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