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:
- 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.
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:
I hope you find something you like!
I’m going to preface this by saying that I haven’t conquered all of my bad habits yet and I’m still a work in progress. However, I have a clear picture of where I want to be, and why I want to get there.
As a fairly social person, I used to go out a lot more than I probably should. Go out for lunches, dinners, clubbing, to bars, and more. Now I allow myself to try new things but I’ve cut drinking, most lunches, and dinners out of my day to day. Lunch is a relatively in expensive venture so I allow myself all you can eat sushi, Japanese ramen, and all you can eat Korean barbecue once a month. These are all cheap, delicious meals that I can’t make at home (yet!). These lunches serve as face time with my friends which is the most important thing for me.
I’ll have friends over for a homemade dinner, coffee, and homemade cider and beer. It is a great way to connect with friends and show them that my life isn’t boring after giving up the previously mentioned things. I still make it out to bars as well, sometimes for happy hour drinks or I grab a ginger ale as a treat.
Eliminating your bad habits saves you money, and helps harden your resolve and remind you of your goal. Here are some things that you may want to give up in part or in full:
- Drugs – Adrenaline, Dopamine and Serotonin are free, you just have to earn them
- Smoking – Same as above
- Drinking – It’s bad for you and your wallet. Cutting down is a huge step forward.
- Late nights – Sleep is precious; don’t give it up unless you’re gaining something.
- Shopping – Really consider what you’re buying; you probably don’t NEED it.
- TV/Netflix/YouTube – Whatever your poison, don’t consume too much of it.
On the flip side of things, gain good habits! Here are some examples that I can attest to:
- Get Active – Exercise keeps you healthy, improves mood, and helps you think.
- Reading – Keep your brain active, too. Knowledge is power.
- Exploring – See something new. Exploration is a key human motivation.
- Photography – A creative outlet that pays dividends.
- Meditation – I don’t yet, but there is a lot of research detailing the benefits.
- Education – Learn CPR. Learn a language. Improve yourself everyday.
- Philosophy – Open your mind to new ideas. You might just learn about yourself.
Keep improving yourself! Don’t worry if you take a step back, just keep moving forward!
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.
There is more to life than working and spending money.
I’ve seen a lot of articles lately talking about how minimalism is only something afforded to the rich. I see where these authors are coming from. When you’re poor, you’re not minimal by ‘choice’. When you’re rich, you can be minimal by ‘choice’. Rich people also have the circumstances to afford sleek minimal furniture, durable clothes to keep a minimal wardrobe, etc.
I would argue against this, however. The more effort one puts in, the better results they’ll get from their minimalism. While thrift shopping I’ve managed to pickup durable t-shirts and clothing that is ‘Made In Canada’. In my short life, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a t-shirt in a retail store that is made in Canada. Now I own a wardrobe made up of robust pieces, that I only wash when they’re dirty or smelly, and hang dry to increase longevity.
By spending more time hunting down sales, checking prices, thinking through purchases, I’ll be able to save a lot of money. Alternately, this money may not going into monetary instruments, but be invested into higher quality needs (a new pair of winter boots, for instance).
I haven’t come up with a good way to quantify how much money I am saving by my new found passion and lifestyle, but I am sure in the long term it will benefit my mentality and my wallet. Minimalism, to me, is more than just saving money. The mental benefits it brings me are far more valuable and I believe you should do things that make you happy first and foremost.
Regardless of what your lifestyle is, move with intent, and think before you spend.
My journey to live with a smaller footprint has been amazing. It seemed daunting at first, but I can’t remember half of the things I’ve recycled, given away, or sold. The fact that I can’t remember is a testament to how valuable these items were in my life.
Onto the main point of this post: agility. Having less stuff makes being mobile a lot easier. Whether this be taking a last minute trip, moving, or changing jobs, having less stuff holding you back is hugely beneficial. I recently was assigned to work out of a client office and realized I was tied down to my home office. I had some plants, notebooks and such that tied me mentally to that space. I’ve moved the plants back to my apartment, ditched the notebooks in favour of taking notes on my mobile phone, and generally made myself more agile.
Continued progress towards living more minimally will make me more agile should new career opportunities arise. I could safely move with about a weeks notice now. I’d like to be at a point where I could get up and moving in about 3 days. It’s an interesting challenge to try and meet and a good reminder not to get comfortable.