• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources the cider press projects digital market permies.com private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Nicole Alderman
  • Anne Miller
  • Pearl Sutton
  • r ranson
  • Mike Haasl
  • James Freyr
stewards:
  • paul wheaton
  • Joylynn Hardesty
  • Burra Maluca
garden masters:
  • Steve Thorn
  • Greg Martin
gardeners:
  • Kate Downham
  • Jay Angler
  • thomas rubino

Advice for major change of career

 
Posts: 34
Location: Iron River MI
3
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hello fellow permies! I will try to keep this as short as possible, but I highly value this community, and since I’m looking for personal advice, feel as though I should be relatively detailed.

Background: I’m a 27 year old, married man living in Michigan’s upper peninsula. I came across permaculture 2-3 years ago after a revelation/radical change of perspective. I had also just finished reading Gaia’s Garden by Toby Hemenway (highly recommended!) which had a huge impact on me. At the time, I was a few years into what could be a lifelong career in the utility industry. My then girlfriend and I were renting a house and growing vegetables in 5 gallon buckets. After my revelation, finding permaculture and for the first time feeling as though I understand our purpose in life, we decided to get married and buy a house.

Current situation: I want to grow things all day, teach children permaculture related concepts, be well and spread good vibes, good food and love with others...but along with our marriage came my wife’s student loan debt. Along with the house came more debt. Along with now 6 years of working my job came the realization that it’s destroying me physically and is not only very unsustainable, but also unfulfilling and not at all in line with my values. Yes, I make good money and have good benefits but it is not enough. I feel like a tool being used for the wrong job. I need a change!

Ideas: I’m passionate about wellness(physical,mental and spiritual), real food, foraging, gardening and teaching children these things so that they know there are options for them that don’t involve massive amounts of debt by going to college and buying a house (pursuing the american dream/worlds nightmare). Nobody told me these things when I was younger. I was told you need an education, you need a house, you will always have debt... I bought into it and now find myself trying to follow my heart while finding my way out of the hole I dug and jumped into.

Fermentation business: I have been fermenting vegetables for maybe 5-6 years now and have been told repeatedly to start selling. I laughed it off way too many times and am not laughing any more! Currently, I’m not aware of any local fermented foods being sold in upper Michigan, only some from Wisconsin and Minnesota and lower Michigan. Due to Michigan’s food laws, we need a licensed commercial kitchen to play by the rules. We could rent kitchen space, source local organic produce and sell things like sauerkraut, kimchi, other mixed ferments and apple cider vinegar. Local food movements are on the rise along with probiotics and I see a demand and a niche to fill.

Sustainable, edible landscaping: This seems more directly in line with my passions, but could be a harder sell to people around here. It’s a high poverty area and there is a huge lack of education on sustainability and anything that has to do with permaculture like why someone should grow their own food or do it in ways that mimic the natural world. I also have no landscaping experience aside from projects on our own 2 1/2 acres. I was thinking along the lines of small scale stuff, hand tools, working with churches, local businesses,  small downtown “yards”. Nothing big with heavy machinery.

Starting a CSA: This just freshly occurred to me. I don’t know much about them but it seems like a fantastic way for me to do what I love doing and spread knowledge to the community. I’m skeptical what we could accomplish on the roughly 1 acre we have to work with at home, but this article has me reconsidering:   https://morningchores.com/how-to-start-a-csa/. . I figured we could also rent someone else’s space to grow on or possibly buy more land. I’m not too interested in gaining more debt though. I feel like the fermentation business could have the least amount of debt associated with it since we really wouldn’t need to buy much.

So, what are any thoughts, opinions or advice that you lovely people can throw my way? Anything is greatly appreciated!

Thank you,
-Brody
 
gardener
Posts: 513
Location: Piedmont 7a
165
hugelkultur trees woodworking
  • Likes 9
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi Brody,  

I think you do 3 things:
1.  Kill your debt. See Early Retirement Extreme blog or listen to Dave Ramsey podcasts for how to do it quickly.
2.  Do what you think you love as a side hustle ~ grow that business on evenings and weekends. See if you actually love it, and see if it makes any money.
3.  When you reach the tipping point ~ when you make enough from the side hustle to pay your now much lower overhead, quit the job you hate and make the side hustle the main gig, and you are now Gert.

Easy, right?  ;)
 
pollinator
Posts: 157
25
dog trees books bee medical herbs
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Brody - imagine what you could do with an acre when seeing what the Dervaes family did with 1/10 of an acre!

 
pollinator
Posts: 325
Location: Victor, Montana; Zone 5b
91
hugelkultur forest garden food preservation
  • Likes 9
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Brody, I'm going to second Artie's advice and follow his three steps especially encouraging early retirement extreme. This is what I did in a similar boat to yours.

Before the wisdom of permaculture I  decided to drop 80K on 4 years of undergrad and and additional 2 years of grad school. Using the early retirement extreme strategy my wife and I are now free from debt and working hard to transition to full time permaculture.

I was the same age as you when I finished school and it only takes a few years of hard work and frugality to wipe those debts out. You can do it!

Start your fermenting business and see what you can make of it, but keep your day job till your free and you no longer need that income. As Artie said, reach the tipping point and be Gert--free from the need for so much income.

 
pollinator
Posts: 192
Location: Western central Illinois, Zone 6a
76
hunting trees solar wood heat rocket stoves ungarbage
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Another vote for Artie's plan.

Although I did not have a large student debt, I did have some when I left college and started a career in the construction industry. It paid well, and I had opportunities and experiences that I never would have had otherwise. But I never felt fulfilled. It did pay off all debts and allowed me to help others when they were in times of great need. Now I'm married with 3 children and a little debt due to some necessary renovations on the farm house we live in. We will be debt free again this year. We have a plan, and we have stuck to it. So I would say much as Artie did;

Develop an exit strategy for your current situation. Set a goal and get rid of your debt. Develop a budget and decide how much you really need to earn to survive. Put everything you can towards your debt. I recommend once the debt is gone you start saving. If your side hustle isn't making enough to meet that minimum, then develop a plan to get there and save what you make from your occupation until you no longer need it. Then exit.
 
Posts: 379
27
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
find a market for your products before even thinking about taking on debt to create a business. don't just guess at what you think you might be able to sell
 
Brody Ekberg
Posts: 34
Location: Iron River MI
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

bruce Fine wrote:find a market for your products before even thinking about taking on debt to create a business. don't just guess at what you think you might be able to sell



That’s one of the next steps we’re taking. Going to talk to several stores to confirm there’s demand/market for the products. As far as taking on debt for the business, I think it could be as little as $4,000 so nothing extreme. We would be renting kitchen space and really dont need a bunch of equipment to start off.
 
Brody Ekberg
Posts: 34
Location: Iron River MI
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Daniel Ray wrote:Brody, I'm going to second Artie's advice and follow his three steps especially encouraging early retirement extreme. This is what I did in a similar boat to yours.

Before the wisdom of permaculture I  decided to drop 80K on 4 years of undergrad and and additional 2 years of grad school. Using the early retirement extreme strategy my wife and I are now free from debt and working hard to transition to full time permaculture.

I was the same age as you when I finished school and it only takes a few years of hard work and frugality to wipe those debts out. You can do it!

Start your fermenting business and see what you can make of it, but keep your day job till your free and you no longer need that income. As Artie said, reach the tipping point and be Gert--free from the need for so much income.



I’ll definitely check out early retirement extreme. I’ve read one of Dave Ramseys books and like the overall plan, just don’t care for the rigid specific details and plans he lays out. Keeping track of receipts and expenses was eating up way too much time. I will keep my day job until we feel the business is profitable and stable. I am skeptical how quickly we can pay off debt though... it’s at least $150,000 and more debt is always around the corner. For instance, we need a roof on the garage. We need a new water line to the house. I’m all for frugality but my wife is a little more stubborn. I’m not buying beer, chocolate, deserts, travel as little as I can get away with, spend virtually no money on enjoyment since I’d rather just go for a walk or play my bass for enjoyment. We forage, grow, shoot and catch a significant portion of our food but that’s something that can always be increased... I’m skeptical we can wipe out our debt in a few years by being more frugal, but I certainly am hopeful and will check out your suggestion!
 
Brody Ekberg
Posts: 34
Location: Iron River MI
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Artie Scott wrote:Hi Brody,  

I think you do 3 things:
1.  Kill your debt. See Early Retirement Extreme blog or listen to Dave Ramsey podcasts for how to do it quickly.
2.  Do what you think you love as a side hustle ~ grow that business on evenings and weekends. See if you actually love it, and see if it makes any money.
3.  When you reach the tipping point ~ when you make enough from the side hustle to pay your now much lower overhead, quit the job you hate and make the side hustle the main gig, and you are now Gert.

Easy, right?  ;)



Well, I almost had that plan in mind already. I was just going to put the “kill your debt” part into a futuristic fantasy world ideal at the end of everything else that I feel called to do. I like the idea of being debt free but $150,000 is a lot of money to pay off in a few years. Especially when making repairs to a house, starting a family and having a wife that isn’t 100% fond of frugality! Usually when we have “extra” money we put it into our emergency fund instead of paying off debts.

I will check into the early retirement extreme though. Thank you for the advice!
 
pollinator
Posts: 2615
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even Soil:SandyLoam pH6 Flat
193
forest garden solar
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Having a healthy emergency fund is vital. If you guys currently make $70k per year a $35k rainy day fund aka 6months is good. It doesn't have to be cash it can be in securities that are easy to sell, and hopefully making as much interest as you debt so that overall it is the same as if you had paid off your debt. And once you get down to that last $35k worth of debt, you can pour all of it into the debt payment.

Do know that once you finally leave your utility job, after the honeymoon phase things will just be usual, for the most part not magical.

With 1 acres of land, to plant vegetables on, you will find that you have too much land and produce for you to handle by yourself. Esp the selling, delivery, packaging and harvesting. It makes growing it feel like the easy part.  Just the production part of getting the soil ready and buying seeds is relatively cheap and you will be able it get it done without debt. I would also recommend that you don't sell your produce at a lost, because it will be hard to change the price later. But to sell half at full price and give away the rest in my opinion. Having the farm at home means you can get more done too, it will not be this whole thing of taking a shower get ready, pack your stuff, drive a couple miles, leave early in time to get xyz. if you are already at home alot more can be done.

Also do recognize that talking about leaving your job to become a musician/farmer is going to make your uncle/wife/mom say, "I hope you build up a nice emergency fund so that we feel better esp with babies on the way/here". So start you biz now as a side hustle after 3-5yrs if you are still in the biz layoff an employee and work full time.

 
I got this tall by not having enough crisco in my diet as a kid. This ad looks like it had plenty of shortening:
2020 Permaculture Design Course for Scientists and Engineers, June 14-27
https://permies.com/wiki/permaculture-design-course-2020
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!