Building Frugal Habits

When it comes to building frugal habits, I think the biggest and most important step you can take is to adopt philosophy. Think about the things you do, and ask yourself why you do them. This is the key to so many things, and being frugal isn’t an exception.

Now, be warned, taking a long, hard look at any aspect of your life can present you with both good and bad revelations. When it comes to being frugal, once you truly embrace it, it becomes an addiction. Not spending money is an addiction? That’s jazzing it up a bit. It becomes addictive to only spend money on what you need.

Since I truly embraced being frugal, I’ve put so many things back on the shelf, removed them from my shopping cart, and deleted them from my wish list. This may sound a bit ridiculous, but it’s very satisfying when you know you have only purchased what you will need and use. Now, when I do buy something, I am extremely satisfied knowing that it was money well spent.

The things I do own, I cherish, and the value goes beyond money. Once you know what you value, and you can see through the facade of more and be happy with less. Frugal is a mindset, and isn’t really easy, but it does have a huge amount of impact on your life. In my opinion, it makes life better. Really.

-Mike

 

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Let Other People Pay For Your Stuff!

You might be asking, why would someone else pay for your stuff? Well, the more common term would be ‘buying things used’. When you buy an item used, another person has put up the money for the immediate drop in value. Even selling an item new and in the package, you won’t get retail price for it. Some things you don’t always buy used, but things like clothing, dishes, cookware are easy to visually inspect.

If you’re moving out for the first time, you’re going to save a TONNE of money buying used. If you’re a single person, you can probably get by with 1-4 dining sets. Don’t bother with a 16 person plate set unless you host people frequently. Otherwise you’ll find yourself using the same plate over and over again; never making it to the bottom of your pile of plates. That, my friends, is what we call a waste of money.

You stand to save a lot of money on clothing as well. Typically, items you find used at thrift shops are in great shape, sometimes never worn, and they’re higher quality products. An H&M t-shirt never lasts long enough to make it to the thrift store racks. I’ve managed to buy brand new, white, Fruit of the Loom t-shirts that are MADE IN CANADA for $3-5. Where can you buy clothing made in Canada for that price?

Electronics can be hit or miss. Do your due diligence though and you can score a great deal. I recently sold my television because I’m moving. Someone got an amazing panel with little use for $150 less than retail. I got a really good deal on it during boxing, and definitely got my my money’s worth, but they got a steal as far as I’m concerned.

Before you buy anything, ask yourself, can I buy it used?

-Mike

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.

Travel Canada in a Camper

Quick Rant: I talk a lot about alternate lifestyles. Some of these lifestyles may seem strange but in the year 2017, a lot seems strange. With climate change, dwindling resources, and uncertain political climates, we need some drastic changes in the world to help get back on track and survive as a species. Okay, maybe that’s a little dramatic, but it doesn’t seem too farfetched does it?

Not too long ago I discovered /r/vandwelling while being SUPER productive one day. Despite not spending my time usefully that day, I really discovered something I’d like to do. With a homestead as a frugal home base and a warm weather getaway property, living costs might cut into my travel budget. Enter an adventure van.

North America is a massive place, and I’ll certainly never see ALL of it. A van will help me get around to a lot of it, and do so on a budget. Never needing accommodation, having a place to cook, and keeping the amenities of home; these are all advantages of an adventure van.

There may come a day when I don’t need the van anymore, so I can pass it onto the next. The value from retrofitting a $5000/$6000 van will pay itself off in no time! RVs are hugely expensive and guzzle gas; I’m looking for a smaller platform. If I fall in-love with living in a van, I could always upgrade as well. An adventure van seems like a great way to test the waters of a different lifestyle. Check out the stories available on the web, instagram, reddit, and more. If van life isn’t for you, it’s certainly an interesting look into a different type of life.

I’ll continue to write about different lifestyles, with the hopes of people looking at alternatives. You never know how you might find happiness, try something new!

-Mike

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

 

Hang Dry Your Clothes

A couple years ago while visiting friends in Melbourne, Australia, I had some downtime so I decided to do some laundry. After the washing was done, I noticed there was no dryer. Oh, looks like I’m using a clothesline for the first time since childhood. I still get grief from my Aussie friends regarding North Americans’ use of dryers. In Canada, we don’t have the luxury of drying clothes outside all year round, but you can hang them inside during the winter as your house will be very dry (for those of us in Southeastern Ontario, anyways).

There are a huge number of benefits for such a simple task:

  1. Less damaging to your clothing [Lint is your clothing degrading]
  2. Wash Less! [Okay, so it’s labour intensive to dry everything. Only wash when dirty!]
  3. Better for the environment! [No electricity required!]
  4. No electricity required so it’s free! [No electricity or coin dryer cost]
  5. Humidify your house! [In the winter the added moisture will keep you healthier]
  6. Get outside! [Enjoy a few minutes outside; we all can use it]

Try it! More money in your pocket and better for the environment; it’s a double win!

-Mike

 

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