I've been thinking...One of the biggest reasons we decided to get on this journey to self-sufficiency is so we don't have to depend on a particular system or another for our survival. Our current state of affairs is no longer acceptable to us and has been for a while now so instead of accepting the status quo we focus more on action and now make daily decisions that will eventually take us to the lifestyle we want. The first major hurdle for us, as for many other people, I am sure is how do you fund your dreams. How can we gather up the capital necessary to actually go out and purchase that piece of land so we can start living a cleaner, simpler life? Sure, we could go to the bank and borrow the funds but that would mean enslaving ourselves to said bank for the next ten or fifteen years and that is unacceptable to us. Tessa and I once again went back to our roots on this one and opted to embrace the lost art of saving! I know, it's not the sexiest idea in the world, specially in a society of instant gratification where people finance their fast-food. It is however, the soundest way of getting what you want in life. If you are still with me and not totally closed to the idea, keep reading. I will go through the top three changes we had to make to be able to keep paying our bills and yet put enough money away to achieve our goals.
Life has a way of getting in your way when you don't live it on purpose. There is nothing easier than to drift through your days with no particular direction. Every time you hit a snag you react, but soon you realise that these snags are getting harder and harder to handle and before you know it you are stuck in a corner with nowhere to go. The only way to avoid this is to have a plan; To that point, if you don't have one, you should definitely take a minute to figure out where you want your life to go because once you do, the rest suddenly becomes crystal clear. With your destination in mind, you can forecast all kinds of things; what will the cost be, how much time you will need to get there, how many rests will you need to take along the way... You get the idea.
For us, that destination is living a self-sufficient life on a fifty acre piece of land, in an unorganised township and with all the surface, lumber and mineral rights attached so that there is no way anyone could interfere with our vision. We would like to be in a position to purchase this land within the next two or three years so we can start to build our homestead and free ourselves from the chains of urban living. We want the house to be roughly eight-hundred square feet and be powered off-grid by solar and wind generation. Oh, and we want to do all that without getting into any debt. A tall order by many standards but like I said, when you have a destination, the path suddenly becomes a lot clearer.
We have to make a lot of adjustments to our current lifestyle if we ever want this vision to become reality. Here are the top three changes we made so far. To begin, we are taking home less than sixty thousand dollars a year combined. We have been able to make it so that our expenses account for roughly fifty percent of that so about thirty thousand a year. This means that, if we save the rest, we can pile up ninety thousand dollars over three years. Not bad right? The only issue is that if you don't have that destination in mind all the time, you will never save anywhere near that much. Without a goal to keep you on track, you will tell yourself; "It's alright to eat out, we'll make it up next week..." or "Sure, we can totally buy this t.v." The fact is, people don't like saving money for no reason so the number one change we made is: Have a clear and precise end goal and write it down.Additionally, we have to remind ourselves daily of that goal. Keep it in our faces so that we never forget why we are making all those sacrifices. Trust me when I say this, you will have moments of weakness but if you have a picture of your goal stuck to your front door, it will be a lot easier to stay home instead of going out to the movies.
The second change we had to make, is to set ourselves up with a strict buying limit of twenty dollars. This means that, anytime we want to buy anything that is not in our budget and is over twenty dollars we have to go home, discuss it and then sleep on the decision first. If we still feel like buying it in the morning then we go out and get it but most of the time, we will end up either not buying it at all or including it in the next budget in a way that does not affect our number one priority ; the homestead. Incidentally, this brings up the third change which is have a budget and stick to it. Before all this, we never had a budget. The simple mention of making one almost made me gag but I believe it is probably one of the biggest difference makers in our arsenal today. Knowing what comes in and out of your pocket is imperative if you are ever going to achieve any financial goal.
These three seemingly small changes will make all the difference in the world when it comes time to fund your dreams. Just to clarify, they are:
1. Have a goal, write it down in as much detail as possible and keep it in your face.
2. Set yourself a strict buying limit and never make a purchase without first sleeping on it.
3. Have a budget and stick to it.
I strongly believe in these three principles and I am willing to bet that if you decide to implement them into your life, you will start to see great things happen to your savings account. My wife and I are in this run together and hope we inspire you to get going. Life is too short to simply drift through it all. Set yourself a goal and give everything you have to achieve it, we will be at the finish line to cheer you on!
As always, Thank you for reading!