Times aren't really rough, but they aren't really easy for most people either. My husband and I have talked for a few years (ok since we got married in 2012) about transitioning to become self-sufficient and what it might look like for us. However, it always seemed to be delayed by one thing or another. First, it was getting pregnant the first time
First, it was getting pregnant the first time. Then, it was moving 3 hours away for my husband's new job. Next, it was getting pregnant with our second child and my husband getting deployed. After that, it was my husband again getting another job and having to move.
Only this time we didn't really move. We took my in-laws' camper and hauled it south to live in for a while. After living in a camper for over 6 months though we're ready for our own place.
Why We're Transitioning to Become Self-Sufficient
We started doing research cost of land in our area we noticed that the price of land has gone up a lot in the last few years. With this knowledge, we decided it was best if we became relatively self-sufficient if we bought some land.
Spending so much money on “things” has become something that we just did and I was getting tired of having too much month at the end of the money.
Have you ever felt like you just couldn't get your act together even though there seemed to be a butt-kicking every time you turned around?
That was me.
It seemed no matter how much we “budgeted” that things always went south. That's why we started all over with our assessment. We wanted to start from scratch and stick to our plan, and below is what we've come up with so far.
It may change but for now, this is where we're at.
Our Plan for Transitioning to Become Self-Sufficient
One: Buckle Down on the Budget
This one seems like it should be simple, but it’s quite hard for us. We know how much we should have left over each month and end up nonchalantly saying, “Oh, we can get that because we have X left.” This gets us in trouble every.single.month.
But, this has to stop. We need to budget. And, we need to do it now.
When you see that you should have X leftover each month and yet at the end of the month you have close to nothing it is a little depressing. You realize really quick that the problem isn’t the food budget, or the animals, or even the kids.
You realize the problem with the budget is yourself and your inability to rein yourself in.
What We Are Doing About It
We’re listing out our bills, food, and any expenses we can think of that takes money out of our income and figuring out what’s left over.
Once we have this number we can figure out what’s going on and where the money has been going by printing out the past three months of our bank statements.
Armed with Highlighters we’re going to highlight all the things that were non-essential or emergency purchases and tally up what we over spent (even though this part I do not want to see).
Moving Forward Now
Moving forward we’re going to be more mindful and we’ll also be using Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University System to budget, save and knock out debt.
To start we’re going to save up an emergency fund (not only cash but also a food supply for at least a month) and then we’re going to hack away at our truck payment until it’s completely gone.
After that, if we’re lucky enough to be owning property at that time, we’ll hack away at our mortgage to cut that in half.
Finally, we’ll be investing for “retirement” which for us will more or less be setting money back and investing it for the future.
Two: Saving on Food
This one is quite possibly the worst for us.
We’re a family of 4 with 3 dogs and 3 horses so we buy food for all of us. Thankfully, the horses don’t need hay in non-winter months so that helps a lot.
For a while now I’ve been trying to cut our food bill from a luxurious $800 a month down to $600 a month and even that has been rough.
Where We Go Astray
Our downfall in the food realm is not meal planning. It pains me to say that, but it’s the absolute truth.
I’ll go to the store with a list for meals we “think” we’ll eat during the week and end up coming out with more than what’s on the list. Then, by the time that gets used up, we won’t have what we need for a meal, which means an extra trip to the store (hello gas! *waves*).
Other than that, it’s excess trips to stores like Dollar General to get “here and there” items or buying things at the gas station as snacks for the kids.
Can’t Forget Eating Out
Let’s be realistic for a moment if I cut out going out to eat I’d go crazy. Sometimes you just need to not cook for a moment. Or, you just really don’t want to.
Being able to go out to eat and letting someone else do the cooking and cleaning can be a great treat, but only if it’s treated that way.
We don’t treat it that way right now.
We’re going to from this point forward though. We’ll plan to have at least one meal a week where we can eat out, but it’s not going to be extravagant. That’s a point my husband and I both agree on. We can eat out and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune.
Three: Saving on Household Items
There are a lot of things that we buy or want just to make life easier and more convenient. Right about now, my family and I have decided that if we can make it we’ll use it.
Things we’ll be making instead:
- Paper towels– because you don’t have to have them and can make a napkin easy enough.
- Windex– water and apple cider vinegar work wonderfully for this.
- Laundry Soap– You can make your own batch of soap and it’s not very hard at all. It can even be liquid if you want. I’ll create a post soon to show you how.
- Frozen Pizzas for the kids– Sometimes you just need something to pop in the oven for them to have that doesn’t take up a lot of time. Making a batch of small kid pizzas is an easy thing to do.
- more ideas coming soon…
Four: Cleaning Out What We Have
This will be like Spring Cleaning but on steroids. When you’re transitioning to become self-sufficient sometimes things have to go. Trying to downsize what we have so we don’t have to keep up with a lot.
We’re going to go through everything that we have and if it hasn’t been used in the last 6 months we’re going to sell it. *gasp* I know, terrifying!
”What if we’ll need it later and won’t have it? Then we’ll have to buy it again!”
If We Haven’t Used It In 6 Months Chances Are We Won’t Use It
Now, there are obvious exceptions to this rule.
- Silver you inherited
- Any other things you were given from family
- Tools (could be having a really good run of luck)
- Crafting supplies (could be leftover from a project that you’ll use again – think seasonal)
Just because you haven’t used it doesn’t mean you have to toss it either. It's all about giving and taking, we’re just going to be tossing a lot of things, selling, or giving them away.
We have some things at my husband’s dads house and haven’t touched them in near 5 years now! It’s crazy really. So, it’s time to purge.
Related Post: A Family of 4: Journey to Frugal Living
Five: Only Buy What We Need
-_- I’ll have to admit that this is more me than my husband, but it’s something we’ll be working on as a family as we’re gearing up to start transitioning to become self-sufficient.
Being self-sufficient to us means that most of what we need will come from the land, and we shouldn’t need much more than that. Of course, there are some things that would be nice to have and keep around.
We’ll be figuring that out as we go along on our journey.
For Now Transitioning to Become Self-Sufficient Means Less
But, less what exactly?
Less splurging for us mostly.
- No new courses (guilty right here).
- No new guns for hubby (granted he only gets a new gun like once a year).
- No new hunting gear (the old stuff works fine).
- No new hunting gadgets.
- No unnecessary appliances or household gadgets
We’ll be dealing with less, and that’s alright by me.
The first thing we’re doing is making a list of things we absolutely have to have. Then, we’ll be going from there to see what we need or want.
Six: Learn How to Make What We Need
For this one, I’m wanting to learn to make things like clothes for the kids and such. I haven’t quite figured out what all I can make that we might need, but this is going to be something that I research and keep adding to as the time goes on.
Transitioning to become self-sufficient doesn’t seem easy, but I always did like a good challenge. I just hope I’m up for the long haul ;).
Seven: Learn How to Make a Living from the Land
We’re already raising horses and chickens, so we’ll only be adding to that list once we get our own land.
On the list of animals we'll own is:
I think that’s all at least. Also, we aren’t intending to have whole herds/flocks of these either. Just enough for us and then to breed to sell or slaughter for meat to sell.
Related Post: 5 More Ways to Make Money From Home
Besides working with our land and selling things I'm sure we'll do other things to bring in a little bit of income. For instance, I love working with leather and have been making deer hide bags for a little while for personal use. Currently, I'm working on patterns that will be easy to replicate so that I can start making more to sell.
Making horse tack is also an option in the future once I grasp the idea of leatherworking.
What Will We Do First?
We're first going to get our budget under control and then we'll be working on saving money to get our own piece of land.
That means, for now, we'll have dogs, horses, and chickens as well as a space for our garden (hoping to make a greenhouse before it gets cold).
Are you looking at transitioning to become more self-sufficient? Share below in the comments!
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