Learn Useful Skills

If you’re into homesteading, DIY, and reducing your costs before and during retirement, it pays to be handy. General skills with tools like tape measures, levels, chalk lines, saws, drills are all simple things to learn well and let you do things yourself without having to pay someone else.

For myself, who might sit on the slightly extreme side of DIY, I’m planning on picking up some more specialized skills. I may even be able to make money offering these skills to others further down the road, but the intent is to make myself very self sufficient. The list of skills I have going so far:

  • Welding
  • Sewing
  • Basic Car Mechanics

In addition to DIY skills, you should also consider what your physical fitness has going for it. Being active is important but there are some skills that could save your or a loved one’s life. These include:

  • Being able to run a mile without stopping. The faster the better, but the fact that you can get somewhere on foot fast is huge. An accident while hiking? Get to a road. Need to run from something? Self explanatory.
  • Being able to swim 100m. I would actually say more than this. If you can rescue someone from the water, make it to shore from a sinking boat, you’re way ahead of so many people. After the sinking of the cruise ship off of Italy where a lot of people died, could I have swam 500m to shore? Hell no. I’d be sunk.
  • Being able to drive manual. Manual cars are more efficient on gas and generally less expensive. Less people can drive manual cars so you can get a better deal buying used.
Advertisements

Emergency Preparedness

I haven’t been able to bring myself to adopt a ‘prepper’ lifestyle, but recently with the large number of natural disasters it made me think about how well prepared I would be for one. I’m definitely failing that class. It’s not a huge concern for me, but thinking forward I’d like to be prepared in the future.

Living off the power grid sets you up for success in the event of a disaster. Having your own power source that doesn’t comes from the lines is crucial. Having multiple heat sources in a cold country is hugely important. Fresh water is another hugely important factor.

I haven’t gotten too detailed into my plan, but I will without a doubt recommend the following:

Two or more sources of clean water

  • 365 Gallons of drinkable water
  • Water purification tablets
  • Water Distiller

Food

  • A good stock of perishable foods (say 1 month?)
  • Optional stock of Meals Ready to Eat (MRES). Costco sells a year worth, it’s expensive but it would be a game changer
  • Ways to grow your own food (I think without an emergency this is important)
  • A weapon and ammunition. You may not want to hunt, but it might save your life. Ammunition is tradable in the event currency isn’t of much value

Heating

  • Wood Stove and a winter’s worth of wood
  • Propane heating and a large tank/bunch of tanks

I don’t have a hazmat suit on my shopping list yet, but it’s always worth keeping an open mind. All of the above things you can use day to day anyways, just keep more of it than what would be considered average.

-Mike

 

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

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

Documentary: Slomo

I came across this documentary on Slomo, a man who took back his life from the poorly named ‘American Dream’. By his own choices, Slomo stumbled upon his meaning of freedom and life satisfaction after significant hardship. Listening to him talk about his new found freedom and life is inspiring, and I am glad I discovered a sense of what I want in life. Not everything is clear yet, but I see a light in the distance and I’m working my way there. Enjoy!

-Mike