Our goal over the course of the last number of years has been to simplify our lifestyle, move to a rural area and become more self-sufficient. In order to reach this goal, a plan of some sorts has to be put into action to achieve the goal. This is something that evolves over time and chances are the plan will change. Our plan has changed somewhat since we started on this quest, but the main goal is still in focus. Here's a summary of what our plan entails:
Rid Ourselves of Debt
Over the last number of years we have been focussing on getting out of debt. Getting out of debt is quite a liberating experience. I do not subscribe to the belief of what financial experts claim about having a home mortgage to offset income tax burdens. If your plan is to become as self-sufficient as possible, getting rid of debt (that means absolutely zero debt) should be your number one goal. It is certainly ours.
Frugal does not mean being cheap. Frugal means spending money on the necessities, function and quality. We have no qualms over spending good money on something that will last a long time and functionally do the things we need to get done. Everything that we buy has a trade-off. The trick is to ask ourselves a few questions before we buy something:
- Does the item I need (not want) provide a service that is greater in value than the present way in which I am doing something? In other words, will it perform a function that will pay for itself over time?
- Can I purchase the item used with the same function and level of performance? Put away the emotional side of the purchase. Cosmetics may not matter as long as the item can do the same job as something new. Buying a used car vs. a new car is a great example of this.
- How much maintenance will the item require? Can I maintain the item myself or will I require others to service it?
This isn't as easy as it looks. Sometimes we forget to ask ourselves these questions. Years and years of needless consumer spending is a hard thing to change. We have been conditioned since our childhood to consume, to change that requires discipline.
Simplify Our Lifestyle
The more stuff we consume, the more clutter there is in our lives. Everything that we buy, we end up spending time doing something with that "thing". The more you can get rid of, the more free time we will have to do the things that we like to do. Presently, we are tackling this issue. We've done a good job of not buying things we don't need. (Except for an occasional Beanie Baby, I hate to admit.) Getting rid of the clutter also means that when we move, we'll have less to pack and unpack.
Gettin' outta Dodge
Well, it's not exactly Dodge, but it is the Chicago area. One of our goals over the last number of years has been to find a place out in the country that's not too far from a town where we can find employment. We have found the land that we had dreamed about in the La Crosse, Wisconsin area.
Building a Cost Effective, Energy Efficient House
This is where the real fun begins! After researching different options, we have decided to build a sixteen sided, cordwood masonry house. This house will be energy efficient, cost efficient, functional and beautiful. Our house will be just big enough to allow us to live comfortably in it. There's no need for us to have a house that's bigger than we functionally need. I really get a kick out of some of the homes today that are 3,000 to 4,000 square feet with just two people living in it. Why the heck would anyone want something so big? Ours will be about 1,600 sq. ft. and it might be too big.
The house is being designed with self-sufficiency in mind. The house will be built to take advantage of passive solar heat and allow for wood heat as a major source of fuel. Electric consumption will be held to a minimum and we may use PV panels to supplement some of our needs.
Our goal will require one of us to find full-time employment in the La Crosse area for the purpose of benefits and income. We realize that there is about a zero chance of us becoming totally self-sufficient so employment will not be an option. It has been agreed upon that the preferable scenario would be for Jo to work full time while I work on the farm. Working on the farm means that I will be responsible for growing our own foods and supplementing our income through our own small business. And if required, I can take on a few part-time jobs as well.
Live Long and Prosper
I guess the ultimate goal is to live a healthy, happy and peaceful life on land that we both love and cherish. If we keep the faith and do what we say we will do, we should be able to complete our plans and accomplish this final goal.
Wish us Luck!