What is a Homestead?

According to the all-knowing source, Wikipedia, homesteading is described as:

Homesteading is a lifestyle of self-sufficiency. It is characterized by subsistence agriculture, home preservation of foodstuffs, and it may or may not also involve the small scale production of textiles, clothing, and craftwork for household use or sale.

I’d say this is pretty accurate as a general idea but a homestead can mean something different to anyone. I can only speak for myself, but homesteading is about turning the clock back 50-100 years with all the benefits of the modern day. My grandparents and their grandparents definitely put in more leg work at home to stretch a dollar further, and there is a huge amount of value in doing so!

By building a homestead, and doing things like gardening, canning, cooking, smoking, hunting, foraging, farming, fishing, fermenting, cheese making, baking, bee keeping, and charcuterie you can help offset so many of your living costs and enjoy in things that are truly human, and feed the human soul. For me, the savings are a benefit, but not the reason I want to build a homestead.

Building a lifestyle that is enjoyable is paramount; it is the single most important thing you can do for yourself. Happiness is the goal. If this lifestyle happens to be sustainable, and profitable, you can’t go wrong!

If the above things I mentioned don’t do it for you, what does? Do you have a way to offset your living costs in the future? Do you have a hobby that you love to do that you could build a life around? Whatever you do, build a happy future that feeds you mind and body. You can always change your strategy, but it’s good to start thinking about it early.

Keep calm and homestead on!

-Mike

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Retirement Plan & Forever Lists

As part of a FIRE retirement plan, you need to have an idea of total cost. As a minimal apartment dweller, I don’t have all of the things I’ll need for my retirement. While I may not have these items yet, I’ve compiled some starter ‘forever’ lists of what I think I’ll need to meet my needs for my entire life. My retirement plan is comprised of 3 main pieces:

  • A Canadian homestead
  • A Canada-based adventure van
  • A foreign property in a warm climate to hide from winter

I haven’t fleshed out my plan for more foreign property yet, but I have started to think about needs for my adventure van and homestead. A lot of the items listed cross over between the two, so I’ll have a shared, homestead, and van list. Let’s get into it!

Shared Items

  • First Aid Kit – Safety First, folks! [PURCHASED] [Needs Upkeep]
  • Fishing Rods – Teach a man to fish, and he’ll eat for a lifetime. [PURCHASED]
  • ChopsticksThe only utensil you’ll ever need! [PURCHASED]
  • French Press – Always keep good coffee on-hand. [PURCHASED]
  • Hand Coffee Grinder – Don’t waste power grinding coffee. [NEED]
  • Cookware, Silverware, Tableware – Stainless steel will last forever. [PURCHASED]
  • Mattress – Good mattress = Good sleep. Good sleep = Longer Life. [PURCHASED]
  • Fire Extinguisher – Safety First! [NEED] [Needs Upkeep]
  • Butane Stove – Portable stove for indoor, road, and outdoor use. [NEED]
  • Carbon Monoxide Detector – Safety First! [NEED]
  • Smoke Detector – Safety First! [NEED]
  • Water Jug and Pump – Depending on water use, this may not suffice. TBD. [NEED]
  • Wire Rack – For campfire cooking at home and abroad. Incredible [NEED]

Adventure Van Items

  • Dash Cam – Gather video, and cover your ass. [NEED]
  • Car Toolkit – Carjack, Jumper Cables, Pump. [NEED]
  • WiFi Extender – Use wifi from outside a store..keep a lower profile. [NEED]
  • Sleeping Bag – A warm weather sleeping bag that works into fall. [PURCHASED]

Homestead Items

  • General Toolkit – Screwdrivers, Socket Set, etc. [PURCHASED]
  • Canning Pot + Jars – Preserve the fruits of your labour. Literally. [NEED]
  • Hunting Rifle – Hunting offers a great opportunity for food and experience. [NEED]
  • Tiller – Cut time and expand your garden operation. [NEED]
  • Fruit Trees – Start these as early as possible. Pears, Apples, Peaches, etc. [NEED]

What do you have on your forever lists?

-Mike

Food Budget: Reimagined

Up until recently, I was trying to reduce my grocery bill as much as possible. Tweaking what I was buying, when I was buying it, and how much I was buying to tweak every cent. I realized that I was missing the mark a little bit and here’s why.

I was dedicating a fair amount of money to eating out. Eating out with friends is a social thing that I really enjoy, but I was definitely due for a restructuring of how I eat out with friends. Previously I’d spend a certain amount a month, eating at wherever I felt like. When this money ran out, I’d randomly crave sushi, Korean BBQ, and Japanese Ramen. Darn, I’m out of funds..I guess I’ll wait until next month.

The way I approach this now, is I make my social meals target things that I can’t make at home. I’ve reduced my eating out budget, and increased the enjoyment I get from it. The money I saved has been put into my food budget for greater flexibility. This flexibility has increased my recipe repertoire, allowed me to purchase bulk items on sale, and nickel and dime myself less when shopping.

Having more monthly spending for groceries also means I can have friends over for dinner more often, and share a homemade meal that always leaves other full and impressed. I’ve fulfilled my social needs, my love for cooking, my thirst for a better budget, and I’ve paid away less of my money in tips. Servers play an important role, but tipping has changed a lot in the last 30 years to make up for stagnating wages. Don’t get me wrong, I always leave a good tip and so should you. Now I just do it less often.

Think about the way your life works and align your budget to it; it will make you happier!

-Mike

The Economy of You

An economy is essentially a byproduct of monetary transactions. Money comes in, money is spent on services. Money is lent, money is spent, money is paid back with interest. These are the fundamental parts of the system.

Investing relies on the economy and we hope the economy grows in a healthy way. However, every investor should be prepared to weather a storm. Unfortunately, due to extreme amounts of lending and not paying back these loans in the western world, things are getting pretty scary out there. Is a crash imminent? I can’t say. What I can tell you is, by keeping your personal economy strong you can be prepared for this.

Lately, I’ve cut spending on items that don’t produce value. I’m spending more on investments, saving more liquid cash, and seeking novel ways to grow my money. If everyone were to do this, the economy would slow. The few FIRE minded people out there can benefit if they jump on this opportunity while the economy is strong; your money will go further when it’s not.

It may sound like I’m not enjoying the fruits of my labour, but I am:

  • Getting more enjoyment out of the things that I have
  • Finding joy and new experiences in starting businesses
  • Focusing on internal growth. (Go to your local library and get a book. Do it now!)

I really enjoy seeing my net worth increase and learning, so this is easy work for me. If it’s not your cup of tea, I hope you can see the light at the end of the tunnel and can grow your own way.

Look at your personal economy and see how you can make it stronger, more robust, and be prepared to weather any storm. When the downpour starts, you’ll be happy knowing you came prepared and can hit it full on.

-Mike

 

FIRE: Where is the excitement?!

Okay, so I’m going to humble myself really quick. I don’t know shit about Financial Independence/Early Retirement. I’m new to the idea, and I haven’t even gotten close yet. There is so much passion coming from the people involved in this idea, they study every aspect of how to make the dream the reality. These people are the sensei to my samurai; seriously. These people love the journey and the result.

However, maybe I just don’t see the raw excitement coming from some when they reach financial independence. I guess it’s sort of like winning a race; you’ve reach the end, you feel good but you’re gearing up for the next one. I really hope when I reach FI that I can showcase my passions and really share the experience with anyone who will listen. FI is when you earn true freedom and you really get to own every minute of your life. Yell about it! Tell everyone! Say everything!

I know a lot of the publications I read are tailored to their viewer, but I’d love to hear about how amazing the end result is! Listen to a podcast that makes me want to pickup my keyboard, throw it across the room and go buy motorbike and drive across south america. Maybe finance isn’t emotionally exciting, but it could be, you know?

Maybe I’m just being a dick and ranting. Maybe I’m showing my thrill seeking behaviour. Whatever. Hopefully I can bring some fire to FIRE.

Stay tuned for more heat.

-Mike

Home Brewing

Anyone who has spent an evening out in Toronto, or almost anywhere in North America, Western Europe, and Australia, knows that alcohol is expensive. Specifically in Canada, we pay a lot of tax on our alcohol and it’s an expense I don’t want to have. I rarely have a drink with dinner, and try to keep it down to a couple pints when I go out, but usually I don’t restrict myself at home or before the bar (save that money!).

The cheapest beer you can purchase in Ontario is about $1.85 for a 473ml can of Laker and the average craft beer goes for about $2.75. Cider rings in around $3.00, wine as low as $1.50 a glass for table wine, and liquor around $1.10 for an fluid ounce. Although this doesn’t seem that bad, having a friend over for a couple beers and you’re out $10. Home brewing is the solution.

I regularly brew a VERY simple but delicious cider from, yes, Allen’s Apple Juice. You can usually score it on sale for $0.75-$1 per litre from one store or another and I brew about 20L at a time. Additional requirements are yeast (any Champagne or Cider yeast) at about $2 and added sugar at $2 for a half a kilo.

By The Numbers

Total Cost: $24

Result: 20L of 7%+ Cider

Yielding: 40 x 500ml Bottles at 60cents each

Now, this doesn’t include the startup equipment, sanitizer and bottles, which I amassed over time, but it gives you a good idea of how cheap you can brew an excellent beverage. Seriously, this stuff is fantastic and packs a punch. For $10, you can throw a party for 4 or you and your pal would come in at less than $2.50.

Brewing beer is a similar cost structure, wine is a little bit more, and making your own hard liquor is illegal (but hillbillies do it, so it couldn’t be that card).

Brewing is an art. It’s a combination of cooking, science, and baking all wrapped into one. If you enjoy a challenge, enjoy fermented beverages, brewing is DEFINITELY for you.

-Mike

Useful Subreddits

I’ve been reading http://www.reddit.com for a long time. Typically I’d waste time reading useless junk. I mean I still do, but I used to, too. All jokes aside, there is a tonne of great resources on Reddit and tonnes of talented people. Find me at /u/torontosurvivalguide

Below are some subreddits that contain a treasure trove of useful information to help make you more self-sufficient:

Business

DIY

Finance

Food

Lifestyle

Philosophy 

Self Sufficiency

Shopping

Travel

I hope you find something you like!

-Mike