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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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

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

 

 

Don’t Sweat Your Past

Now, I certainly didn’t start off on a bad foot on my way to financial independence. I finished school and gained meaningful employment at 23 years old with about $5000 in the bank. This was thanks to generous investing in my education by my parents, and 40+ hour weeks for years during college. Additionally, I’ve been working since I was 13 years old in one capacity or another.

I’ve spent some money along the way: $60,000+ on travel, $15,000+ on some university that I dropped out of, 10s of thousands on partying and expensive food. All of these things taught me lessons and were a lot of fun, so I can’t feel too bad about it. Now I travel on better budgets, invest time teaching myself, party without over consuming, and cook amazing food myself.

You can enjoy life in so many ways without spending excessive amounts of money, which was a lesson I had to learn. I’m glad I figured it out when I did. Sure, if I had an extra $100,000 to invest I’d be miles ahead. In reality, I am already miles ahead of where I would have been had I not found this lifestyle. Many of the most important lessons in life are hard learned, so I consider myself lucky.

Forget about your past and focus on the future while making sure you take in everything along the way.

-Mike

Chopsticks: The Best Utensil

To preface this, I didn’t grow up using chopsticks. I learned how to use them so that I could eat sushi and Korean BBQ. Also, I still don’t hold them properly. What I can say though, is they are the most versatile utensil out there.

With a pair of chopsticks, I can cook and eat a dish of just about anything. When I’m done cooking, a simple rinse and wipe of each stick results in clean chopsticks ready to eat the final product. Typically, one requires cooking tools (flipper, spoons, whatever) to prepare the dish, a fork to eat it, and perhaps a spoon too. Chopsticks seem to accomplish it all.

Imagine if instead of having a cutlery drawer, with an organizer, and 8 sets of 2 spoons, 2 forks, and a knife; you just had 8 pairs of chopsticks. As someone looking to reduce stuff in the junk drawer, this is a great way to eliminate about 40 pieces of silverware I seldom use.

If you’re fortunate enough to have not loaded up your kitchen yet, or haven’t purchased anything at all, get a good knife and a pair of chopsticks and see how you make out!

-Mike

Exercise – Weight Management

In my previous post, I told you I wasn’t going to tell you how you should exercise. This is more of a strategy to prepare yourself for success. The following are some tips I would recommend considering if you’re looking to keep things tighter in the weight department.

  • Find your weight. Consult your doctor to what your weight range is for your height and gender. If you’re over the amount, set your goal to the maximum weight as your primary goal. If you’re under, start with the minimum. Hit your first goal and reassess from there.
  • Stop gaining. I don’t have any experience in being under weight, so I won’t talk to that. If you’re increasing in weight above your recommended, get on a diet. Count your calories and reduce your daily intake a little week over week. Eventually, you’ll start losing weight. Great, you’re in a caloric deficit. I do this to shrink my stomach a little bit, it will hopefully stop you from getting intensely hungry once workouts enter the mix. This is my least favourite part by far.
  • Exercise. Whatever you choose to do, get active, burn some calories and work your muscles. Eventually, you’ll lose fat, gain muscle, and the metabolism boost will help keep you losing and gaining. When you get down to a comfortable weight, you should increase your food intake to start maintaining. This will require constant tweaking, but your body tells you what it wants.
  • Raw materials. Buy the raw materials that make up dishes you love, you’ll learn how to cook food better than store bought and ditch the junk. Better quality protein, fibre, and more can be found in the vegetable garden.

Do as much of the above as possible, and get yourself to the best level of you. If you want to get more muscular, go ahead, but it’ll take upkeep and more food. If you want to get leaner, throw in a cardio exercise. Most importantly; have fun with this adventure. It’s a life experience and does so much for your mental well being.

-Mike

Explore Your Local Grocery Stores

Okay, so as much I love being environmentally friendly and supporting local business, I also have to look out for myself once and a while. One of the ways I do this is via my grocery shopping. I generally shop at No Frills and Food Basics to meet my budgetary needs. No Frills is the spot when there is bonus PC points to be earned. Food Basics is closer and has a better selection of international food so I typically go there. Chinatown is of course my stop for produce.

It’s not all about the savings and points, however. I find my No Frills offers an excellent selection of asian cuisine, but lacks frozen whole foods (fish fillets, shrimp, more). No Frills, for whatever reason, carries carrots in 3 formats (individual, bagged chilled, bagged shelf..Why? Give me Canadian carrots I can bag myself). Food Basics has excellent food from the further edges of Europe, along with amazing bulkier sales. A lot of the domestic brands have much to be desired though, and I’m not a big fan of their house brands.

It’s worth while to investigate all of your local grocery stores, and see who offers what. I’m going to checkout the metro nearby my house next week as a potential butcher, should I have guests over and want to make something more unique. If you put in a little extra legwork and shop flyers, you’ll save a lot of money over your lifetime.

To me, saving money and preventing food waste is worth it.

-Mike