Self-Sufficiency: what brews when you stop owing people money

Christmas is almost here, which means it’s almost past, which means it’s almost time to plan my garden! ❤

I’ve always been pretty down to earth. Maybe too much. I don’t like to wash my hair too often, I don’t like to eat processed crap (in theory.. I mean, who’s gonna turn down a junior mint) and I don’t like to drive places when I can walk. Turns out, I can walk most places. And food! Who wouldn’t want to grow their own food?! (Based on the internet, looks like plenty of people are doing that stuff, too. YET! When I do it in *real life,* real life people look at me funny.)

Getting out of debt made me even less like everyone else in the local demographic to which I belong. Because when we got out of debt, we took a long hard look at EVERY SINGLE EXPENSE in our lives. And then started round-house kicking those expenses in the face. In a lot of cases, that left us without normal middle class STUFF/activities/ problems. And it left us with a lot more money. (cha-ching!)

Processed crap is expensive, for my wallet and my waistline, so we stopped buying it (except Hazelnut creamer! For company! And since I’m being honest, the processed stuff snuck back once the debt disappeared). Shampoo and aquanet are expensive when you consider the opportunity cost (if only I could have *invested* that $3 a month — or whatever — over my lifetime!)

And gas guzzling! Getting that in check takes the cake for best money saver, hands down. (Assuming the mortgage’s paid off). Because walking is FREE and effective! For pre-freedom us, forfeiting gas almost entirely except for road trips would be a savings of $72,000 over 30 years, even before investing, plus the health benefits of walking everywhere and then carrying groceries home… and teaching my kids to do it, too. We’re talking endorphins, family bonding time, neighborhood awareness, cardio, more intentional purchases, practice talking to strangers, more practice telling my kids “no” to plastic crap — if nothing else because I don’t want to haul it home. It’s really a win win win win.

So as I drifted down the rabbit hole of expense-slashing, I found myself dreaming of other crazy expenses to diminish as well. What about food!? We could grow our own and then we wouldn’t need to pay someone else for theirs. What about a protein source!? We could grow walnuts, or beans! Or … raise CHICKENS!!What about laundry!? To save money, we used our dryer four times last summer.

Maybe I can find a way to harness solar energy beyond just clothes drying. What about our water heater? Or adding windows to our cave-like dining room for more light/less electricity!? This is what keeps me up at night.

So we started! Got our new house with a huge-for-suburbs lot and our garden beds. Last year we produced enough to carry more than half of our veggie needs. This year, we are doubling the size and adding some more berries, herbs, and melons.

I just wish we had those gosh darn chickens. (I think?).

This is what you can do when you don’t have to worry about money — daydream about chickens. #CharmedLife #Blessed LOL.

Getting financially fit has turned into all the other types of fitness. Doing more physical labor because I no longer want to pay for other people to do stuff for me when I (slash husband) can do it for free-ee, means more physical benefits. (You must read “free-ee” in a singing voice). After I do stuff (slash watch husband do stuff) we both have more endorphins, more energy, more got-er-done-ness. We’ve spent more time together; our kids have learned that they’re valuable in helping accomplish stuff; we’ve bonded as a family. We’ve met our neighbors because we are outside more. Our neighbors have stopped to help us. On the days we garden hard, paint, cut trees, lay flooring, whatever, I’ve burned more calories and don’t *need* to ditch my family to go to an artificial gym. (HAHAHA Like I was going to do that anyway!! LOL)

And we don’t fill our days consuming out in the world, bouncing from one activity to the next, trying to stave off boredom with overstimulation, doling out 20s at every turn.  No TV means we read more and sit by the (non-energy efficient… yet) fireplace.

When we sold that motorcycle five years ago and stopped sending that monthly payment, we gained one taste of freedom, and were totally addicted. And like an addict, we’ve been searching and grasping for our next hit every since.  Now the scale has tipped crazy in the other direction.  I spend all my free time thinking “what can we do without?”  (answer: Netflix). What can we cut next? (more gas) What can we add in to make our lives more whole? (Fruit trees! Chickens!! a Fireplace Insert!) Wahoo!!!!

The ironic thing: getting out of debt has given us more money. Like… lots more. But this lifestyle we are living gets less expensive every day. In effect, retirement date is getting insanely, unbelievably closer (still a ways from where we are now, but super close compared to America at Large); we have much more surplus to give; and even though there’s more money, it’s like we need it even less. It’s weird. Upside down feeling.

The End. 🙂

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