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Stacie Kim
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Something I've been pondering for a few weeks now:

I've noticed Permies-types don't really care what society as a whole thinks of our lifestyle. We accept that we are "weirdoes" compared to most others. But I think secretly, many "normal" folks envy us, perhaps not outwardly, but still they notice we're more free from the rat race they're stuck in.

On Frugality:
1. When we bought our house, some friends of ours were shocked that we only bought half of what loan we qualified for. They urged us to buy more, saying, "A house is the biggest investment you'll make in your lifetime. You need to buy as much as you can." I replied, "I want to own the house; I don't want the house to own me." They're saddled with a big mortgage. We'll have ours paid off in about 15 to 20 years, Lord willing. And our mortgage payment is not a burden. The savings enables us to do more permaculture infrastructure on our property. Which hopefully leads to even more $ saved.

2. We buy 90% of our family's clothing and household goods at the thrift store. People we know would be mortified if their friends saw them in a thrift store. When we get compliments on a piece of clothing, we joyfully say, "Thanks! It was another thrift store find. We paid $x for it." I can see their faces deflate when they realize I dress as nicely as they do on about 1/10th of the price.

3. We drive older cars, that are beginning to need some TLC. When people suggest we get new vehicles, we often reason with them the overall cost factor. For instance, we'll explain that new struts, which we can replace ourselves, cost less than $300. What car payment these days is less than that? When the repairs to our cars start to cost more than making payments, we'll consider replacing them. Until then, we're blessed to own two vehicles outright. When they realize their car payments are a big portion of their salary, they start to realize a new car isn't as great as it seems.

On Gardening:
1. We are still in the learning curve for growing most of our family's food, but we are making a good dent in the grocery budget. I offered my neighbor a rosemary cutting, and she replied with a hesitant, "Thank you. But we've never had a plant before. What do we do with it?" What a blessing to us that we are in good health to grow our own food. Grocery stores, although still needed by my family, are not nearly as important to us as to others.

2. I am learning seed-saving, plant propagation, etc. It gets me off the couch and outside in the sunshine. Our family works together outside digging beds, planting new trees, sifting compost, etc. We enjoy being together working toward a common family goal. Our neighbors have noticed it and complimented, "Your boys are the only ones I've ever seen around here spending time outside, working with their Dad. They sure do work hard with you." That warms my heart.

On DIY:
1. We only call a pro if we can't do it ourselves. YouTube has been an invaluable source to learn new skills. Hubbie has been able to do a lot of home repair projects that many people would have needed to call a pro to do. That's not to say we do everything ourselves; we know when the job is bigger than we can handle. But being willing to at least attempt a repair and learn a new skill in the process has been a knowledge that can never be taken away.

2. Our neighborhood had a roach infestation last Spring. Some neighbors were evicted, so their bugs moved to all the other houses. YUCK! We've been able to keep the critters away with self-treatment. Others have called in professional exterminators, which is costly. People have shelled out lots of money to do something they could have figured out by themselves.

On Generosity:
1. I've learned that permies-folks tend to be more charitable than most. We tend to share our experiential wisdom, talents, tools, resources, etc more freely. When we see a neighbor in need, we are more likely to offer assistance. People notice that.

2. I think permies can be generous because we have more "margin" in our lifestyle. We aren't wealthy money-wise, but we know to to be helpful in other ways that sometimes are actually more helpful. When our neighbor came to us for help because she accidentally locked herself out of her bathroom, Hubbie was able to grind down an old screwdriver to fashion a "key" for her. I was honored that she thought to come to us rather than calling a locksmith.

3. A fellow permie neighbor has given us a chicken feeder, onion sets, and a jacket that was too small he though would fit our boys. In return, we've given him eggs and strawberry plants. It seems like what he has is what we need and vice versa. That kind of generosity is a special gift.

4. I felt a weird feeling that I should offer some of our friends some old corn grits. I don't know why, but the urge was real. So when I brought them to her, she nearly broke down in tears and told us that she'd run out of chicken feed and didn't have the money to buy any more until payday. Those grits would tide her over until proper feed could be bought. She blessed us in return with many, many eggs.

So I guess what all this rambling means is that we are envied by others who wish to leave the consumerism, toxic gick lifestyle but just don't know how to do it. Perhaps they're in debt beyond what they can pay and don't know how to break free. Perhaps they're worried their friends will abandon them. Maybe they're afraid they'll fail. I don't know.

But what I know is this: We are envied. People are trying to emulate us, albeit secretly. Maybe they are envious of the fact that we embrace our "weirdness" and don't particularly care what normal folks think. There's great freedom in learning to be yourself.

 
John Suavecito
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We do most of that stuff too, Stacie.

You know how they have "Slow Food" in Europe, savor it grow it, enjoy it? It's a movement. Focuses on heritage breeds and traditional recipes. It's here in the New World now too. They have chapters and meetings.

Now they have "slow money" here in the US.  Build your money slowly over time not in a super risky way, just by frugality and focusing on the more important things in life.

Maybe we have slow lifestyle.  We aren't going to generate jealousy from others with our flashy cars, clothes and instagram posts of dining out. We may not have giant twitter feeds and zillions of followers.
But when people sit down and really think about what is important in life, I think they will see what we do and realize that it's a pretty good life.

John S
PDX OR
 
Stacie Kim
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When we started to embrace frugality out of necessity, it just sort of snowballed into its logical conclusion to me: permaculture is the ultimate frugal way to live. It seems like the endpoint to a lot of life's goals. Whenever I searched for a frugal tip, it always seemed to me like there could be more.

For instance, when researching ideas for how to save in a grocery budget, it often starts:

1. Don't go out to eat at lunch. Brown bag it.
2. Don't throw away your plastic sandwich bags from your lunch. Take them home to wash and reuse.
3. Eventually that plastic bag will tear. Why not quit buying them and reusing them? Why not make a beeswax cloth wrapper?
4. Make your bread for your sandwich that goes into that beeswax wrap. Homemade bread is so much cheaper than store bought cardboard.
5. Try growing the spinach that goes into your sandwich with homemade bread.
6. Try growing that spinach organically.
7. Yum, what else can I grow myself?
8. I sure could grow more food if I had some land.
9. Yipes! Land is expensive! How can I acquire land at a frugal price?
10 through 999: Take that less-than-ideal land you bought at a great price and turn it into something fabulous with...Permaculture!!

It all started with rewashing a sandwich bag. LOL And not once in that snowball of decisions did we need to consult what others' opinions were. We just did it.
 
John Suavecito
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So many of these things are also fun to do as well.  Grow a new kind of food: fun.  Figure out how to make beeswax wraps: fun. Become a better cook: fun. Notice how your health is improving since you are making your own meals: fun.  Learning that many of the "weeds" in your yard are edible vegetables and taste good if prepared in a particular way: fun.  Anticipating the forageables to come back the next year and remembering what you did with them: fun.  Sharing ideas that worked (or not) with other permies: fun.
John S
PDX OR
 
Eliot Mason
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Stacie - thanks for sharing your thoughts and perspective.  While any one of these observations are not unique to those following permaculture, I think as a set you've got something that describes how our interests and activities cut across other well established social groupings.

Stacie Kim wrote: We drive older cars,... When the repairs to our cars start to cost more than making payments, we'll consider replacing them.

This is something I learned from my father and it is excellent advice.  There are times when safety concerns can change what we want in a car, but keeping a car - especially if you can work on it - is great. Newer cars make this MUCH more difficult and that gives me pause ... a 2000 VW Golf had one (of fourteen?) airbag go bad and so the car turned off the entire airbag system - significantly altering the safety of the car.  Replacing that one airbag  - something that pretty much can't be done DIY - was about $800.  The new electric cars are incredibly simple and reliable - but I won't be able to go down to the auto parts store and get some replacement batteries or a a charge controller (maybe in 15 years...).  

Stacie Kim wrote:On DIY: 1. We only call a pro if we can't do it ourselves. ... at least attempt a repair and learn a new skill in the process has been a knowledge that can never be taken away.


I'll use this to repeat (again...) my mantra: "I am perfectly capable of doing a mediocre job by myself".  I only want to pay someone if my skills, experience, equipment, available time, etc are short enough that I will get a markedly better result from a pro.  And if it seems like a given pro can't do better than me ... I'll pass.  And yes, doing something and learning about is an investment in yourself!  Also, you have no idea if you can do something until you try it!  And once you've done it you have some basis to evaluate the skills and quality of a pro - otherwise you are at the mercy of "reputation" and "brand" and other mushy words.
 
Sonja Draven
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Eliot Mason wrote:
I'll use this to repeat (again...) my mantra: "I am perfectly capable of doing a mediocre job by myself".


YES! I was paying $50+ a month for a professional to cut my hair and still had to tidy up and perfect it at home. Often they didn't understand exactly what I wanted so I had to settle for close. I finally decided I couldn't do THAT bad of a job myself and it would grow back. I have the added benefit of having a best friend who cuts hair (side thing) and was able to talk me through it, but this can also be achieved with YouTube videos.

It was a mediocre job but not terrible. And I've gotten better over time. Over the past few years, I've received many compliments from random strangers who like my cut. That's a bit of a thrill every time. And having everything shut down for months didn't affect my hair at all.

Besides saving money, the best part about doing for yourself is that you can do it when YOU want.... No calling and hoping for a callback.... Making an appointment two weeks out or months later.... Having them no show... When I want a haircut, I crank up the tunes and get to it.

I plan to continue to add to my mediocre skills. ;)
 
Leigh Tate
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Stacie Kim wrote:I've noticed Permies-types don't really care what society as a whole thinks of our lifestyle. We accept that we are "weirdoes" compared to most others. But I think secretly, many "normal" folks envy us, perhaps not outwardly, but still they notice we're more free from the rat race they're stuck in.


Stacie, well said! This is something I've been contemplating too, especially because it often seems that people who are comfortable in the modern techno-consumer lifestyle are uncomfortable with those who want to live differently. Of my various "worlds:" family, neighbors, my blog readers, and Permies, Permies is the one place I can go where I feel I don't have to explain/defend myself. Where I feel inspired and encouraged to continue working toward my lifestyle goals.

One of those goals is simply being content with less. I honestly don't think of it as frugality any more. The modern lifestyle is very much based on a "bigger, bigger, more, more" mindset. Somewhere along the way, I figured out that this mindset was wearying and unfulfilling. It's far more interesting to tackle the creative challenge of using it up, wearing it out, making do, or doing without. As the way I do things changes, I find I'm perfectly content to do without. It's amazing what I've figured out I don't need.

One of my personal happy areas of simplifying my life is choosing hand tools over high-tech appliances and tools. For me, it is so much quicker and easier to grab my dough whisk to mix pancake batter, than to get out an electric mixer, put up with the noise and splatter, clean it, and put it away again. If I need an electric tool, I'll use it. If I don't, then I choose the simpler option. Another example, we still rake leaves (for mulch), but our neighbors all use leaf blowers. It takes one neighbor about 5 hours to clear his several acre yard. I reckon we both think the other nuts, lol.

Maybe I'm wrong, but it seems to me that a lot of folks are insecure about separating from their herd mentality. For example, I use the word "self-sufficient" a lot, and have been criticized for it a lot. There never seems to be a shortage of folks who want to criticize it as impossible or isolationist. Then I have to explain that's not how I'm defining the word. That gets wearying, especially when I sense that they really don't want to hear what I'm saying.

The Permies community contains a huge variety of people at different stages of the journey and often with different goals. But there's a sense of camaraderie here that is unparalleled anywhere else that I've found.
 
John F Dean
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Hi Stacie

The house issue has long amazed me. Back when the century turned, my wife would ask me how those people (on the real estate shows) could afford those expensive houses.  I responded, “They can’t.”  Then, of course 2007 - 2008 hit.  The larger city newspapers would have pages of foreclosures , while our house was paid off.
 
John Suavecito
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They did the same thing to us. "Oh, you can afford MUCH more house than that!" But we don't want more house than that.  I don't want to have to work 80 hours a week at a job I hate to justify all this more house that I don't want.  All the compromises down the years that you don't want to make.  I don't want to be the guy who doesn't participate in any of these fun things anymore because I have to completely focus on making a maximum amount of money.  I don't want to be an ex-pilot, ex-whitewater paddler, ex-baseball player, ex-skateboarder.  At my age, you probably don't come back from that.  You just end up being one of those people who sits all day looking at screens, drinks way too much every day, and has nothing to look forward to.  And doing unethical things that harm others because you HAVE to make so much money.   If people will only be our friends if we have fancy clothes and cars and go out to fancy places to eat, I don't want to be their friends.   It is also such a great feeling to have paid off your house.  Makes the prospect of retirement all that much more likely.   Adventures loom.  And doing fun, interesting things that also help others in the community develop in a positive way.  

John S
PDX OR

 
Stacy Witscher
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While I agree with much that is said here, not everyone is in the same position. And I try to have empathy for others. I know for my family, we could afford our home when we bought it, but my husband was a salesman, and things got complicated. On top of that, mortgages are sold to bad companies that don't follow the law. We were able to save our home, and received a settlement from the bad company for illegal activity years later, but it wouldn't have gotten our home back if we had lost it.

That being said, we bought this property free and clear.
 
John Suavecito
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You're right Stacy.
There were many mortgage companies whose corporate policy was to intentionally sell houses to people who couldn't afford them.  Then, when they defaulted, they could get them back at a really cheap price and they could also get the down payment.  It was a corporate investment strategy.  It caused a lot of misery for a lot of people who believed what they were told. One of my good friends lost his house that way.  There were a lot of politicians receiving donations and PR people and lawyers with big fat paychecks who knew exactly what was going on, but didn't say anything until there were investigations later.

I didn't mean to make people feel bad for losing their houses or getting a bad deal.  I don't like that the system is based on cheating people out of their hard earned money and driving them off a cliff to pick up the spoils at the bottom.  I am mostly posting this as a warning to others and a possible roadmap out of grinding work and misery with little to show for it.  I have known a lot of single parents with many kids who weren't as fortunate as I am.  They couldn't quit the miserable job that I did, because they needed the health benefits and solid salary.  We have the most expensive health care in the world by far and an ineffective one at that.  I am also empathetic to others. That's why I try to share what I've learned here on permies. I appreciate what you're saying.

John S
PDX OR
 
leigh gates
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I moved into an older apt complex with a large neglected island in the parking lot. I started pulling weeds to fend off the elderly maintenance guy and his weed spray. I left some "weeds" for the bees and some long term tenants were delighted with the BumbleBees. It has snow balled over 2 years with me planting bulbs that other tenants give me. I put edibles in those huge black storage bins (about 1/4 price of pots). People have begun trading recipes and putting wild flower seed by their entry's. It has built community like I never expected.
 
Julie Reed
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That’s so cool Leigh! I did a weird new thing last year. I had way too many tomato and pepper plants (that’s not new, that’s my normal exuberant self wanting a bigger crop). I was cleaning out a garage and shed, and selling things no longer needed on Craigslist. Every time someone came to get an item they bought, or even if they decided to not buy it, I’d offer them tomato and pepper plants- I’ve got too many, help yourself if you’d like some. People seemed quite puzzled for the most part. But several of them took plants, so hopefully at least one or two of them were successful at growing some food. Worst case, they had a story to tell about the crazy plant lady!
 
Abraham Palma
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I would dare to say that other people don't envy you because you live frugally. They don't want to live frugally themselves. What they really envy is the fact that you look happy. Everyone wants to be happy, only they don't know how because they are told that in order to be happy they need to make lots of money first. They see you happy, and not making tons of money and yet they don't understand. They would think it's something peculiar about you, being able to be happy with so little, so they end up envying your character, but not learning the lesson.

The real truth is that you just need the wealth to cover for you basics to be happy. If you need to cure a tooth and you can't pay the dentist or you can't find a solution to it, this will make you unhappy. Lacking a coat for the winter will make you unhappy. But showing everyone that you can afford the more expensive coat in the store only makes you happier if feeling much richer than the rest is one of your life goals.
 
Stacie Kim
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Abraham Palma wrote:I would dare to say that other people don't envy you because you live frugally. They don't want to live frugally themselves. What they really envy is the fact that you look happy. Everyone wants to be happy, only they don't know how because they are told that in order to be happy they need to make lots of money first. They see you happy, and not making tons of money and yet they don't understand. They would think it's something peculiar about you, being able to be happy with so little, so they end up envying your character, but not learning the lesson.

The real truth is that you just need the wealth to cover for you basics to be happy. If you need to cure a tooth and you can't pay the dentist or you can't find a solution to it, this will make you unhappy. Lacking a coat for the winter will make you unhappy. But showing everyone that you can afford the more expensive coat in the store only makes you happier if feeling much richer than the rest is one of your life goals.



Abraham,
Thank you! There is much wisdom in that. Choosing to be happy whether we're rich or poor is a gift beyond measure.
 
Dan Fish
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Totally true. I am the 3rd poorest person I know and people are constantly excited to walk around my property and look at what I like to call my "tweaker projects".

On the flip side, many well off people I know have nothing going on or no idea how to spend their money. Oh, you bought the newest stupid-looking spaceship car? Neat.

Not that I would toss a wining lottery ticket or anything...

 
Jay Angler
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Dan Fish wrote:Not that I would toss a wining lottery ticket or anything...

No, but as a permie, I'd likely spend it on solar panels and an earth-bermed solar greenhouse!
 
Trace Oswald
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On fixing things myself, or building something I've never built before:  I ask myself, of all the people in the world that know how to do X well, do I really think they are ALL smarter than I am?
 
Dan Fish
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Hahaha, that's the funniest thing I've read in a while.
 
Julie Reed
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Trace Oswald wrote: On fixing things myself, or building something I've never built before:  I ask myself, of all the people in the world that know how to do X well, do I really think they are ALL smarter than I am?  



The best teachers are the ones who encourage you to think. One such teacher I was incredibly fortunate to have was discussing the idea of repairing things, and how many people feel it needs to be left to a ‘professional’. His comment was “somebody put that together. It didn’t fall out of the sky. A human designed it and built it, and any other human is equipped to figure out how to take it apart and figure out why it isn’t working”. I’ve always seen the labels and warnings about ‘no user serviceable parts inside’ as a challenge! If you have thinking skills, self confidence, and the ability to research and learn, a lot can be accomplished in life.
 
Leigh Tate
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Julie Reed wrote:The best teachers are the ones who encourage you to think. One such teacher I was incredibly fortunate to have was discussing the idea of repairing things, and how many people feel it needs to be left to a ‘professional’. His comment was “somebody put that together. It didn’t fall out of the sky. A human designed it and built it, and any other human is equipped to figure out how to take it apart and figure out why it isn’t working”. I’ve always seen the labels and warnings about ‘no user serviceable parts inside’ as a challenge! If you have thinking skills, self confidence, and the ability to research and learn, a lot can be accomplished in life.


Julie, that's exactly right! I homeschooled my kids and didn't focus on memorizing facts and figures to pass tests, but instead tried to teach them how to analyze what they were reading, how to find information, and how to use the information once they found it. I believe that with those skills, anybody can tackle anything.
 
Stacie Kim
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Dan Fish wrote:Totally true. I am the 3rd poorest person I know and people are constantly excited to walk around my property and look at what I like to call my "tweaker projects".

On the flip side, many well off people I know have nothing going on or no idea how to spend their money. Oh, you bought the newest stupid-looking spaceship car? Neat.

Not that I would toss a wining lottery ticket or anything...



Dan, you might be "poor" cash wise, but the wealth you own on your property is real. The term "real estate" got its name because it's a real, tangible thing.

Have you read the book "The Millionaire Next Door"? It mentions that most people who put on the illusion of wealth more often have a negative net worth because they're too busy putting on a show for others.

And I would definitely appreciate a lottery ticket too!!  But I'd use it to buy land. (Duh.)
 
Benjamin Duggar
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Stacie Kim wrote:
But what I know is this: We are envied. People are trying to emulate us, albeit secretly. Maybe they are envious of the fact that we embrace our "weirdness" and don't particularly care what normal folks think. There's great freedom in learning to be yourself.



Stacie you make some very good points. Most people have come to think that what others think of them is more important than what they think of themselves. Allot of our family and friends scoff at the hobbies and interest I have and my wife supports, but in the end learning to do things yourself teaches true worth and gets our mindsets away from temporal value. I encourage you to keep with it. Continue showing the worth of your endeavors to others.

Also remember that the "rat race" isn't always bad. It has built allot of infrastructure and provided allot of good things while at the same time feeding and growing some societal altruistic mentalities. Allot of people just get carried away in having and doing. I have to constantly remind myself of what I have in an attempt to stop acquiring.  Balance is key.

In the end their is no "right" answer or set of rules which can keep us on the straight and narrow. Its the ability to realize the need to adjust and the willingness to make those changes that can keep us moving forward.
 
Vickie Shaw
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I love it when the people who take 1-4 vacations each year say they are coming here when SHTF.    They know bad times are coming but do not do anything to prepare for them.    We are cash poor and haven't had a vacation in over 10 years.  No one in our families envy us at the moment.
We have worked years, While working outside jobs, at learning curves to be able to grow, harvest, raise animals, work our permaculture, and to heat this overly large house we built 36 years ago in the country.    Our property isn't pretty.  We have worked hard to make it produce after making many mistakes in the early years.  We never thought we would be turning the property in to a farm when we bought it.
I'm retired now and my husband is disabled, yet younger relatives never offer help.  Their parents have stated about moving here. Not happening.  They seem shocked.  Our neighbors help and we help them, we barter with them.  We have created community.   I'm not being heartless.  The land can only produce  so much each year. I grow all 4 seasons , if times are bad its a bad time to teach people not to pull out the spinach, its not a weed especially if they don't have the desire to grow food.  Never had, never will. We can't feed 37 extra people, most  do absolutely nothing. The majority of them don't work, they don't drive, they are adults that still live with their parents.    I
You won't be worrying about what the Jones think in the way you mean.    
 
Kirsten Hughes Bailey
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I wish you lived closer to me Stacie. The people in my area just arent permaculture people in any way shape or form. The responses to why are you doing it that way are so based on people's brainwashing that homemade/cooked/grown is inferior to storebought. Even the local people don't shop at our local farmers market, it's usually the people who came from somewhere else and retired here of summer cabin people and tourists. That's why I like these forums and websites I find online because there is so much knowledge out there to just make life better.
Thanks for sharing your little spot in the world.
Kirsten
 
Myron Platte
pioneer
Posts: 207
Location: Russia, ~250m altitude, zone 5a, Moscow oblast, in the greater Sergeiv Posad reigon.
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I don’t think It’s true that most permies are poor. What is true is that their wealth is hard or impossible to quantify, and that they tend to make a lot of investments that tend to lead more to decrease of spending than increase of income. (I think we need to focus more on income, Joel Salatin has a very good discussion of this in his book “You Can Farm”.) So, all these investments put together multiply each other’s value, and the property becomes an absolute treasure, even if the owner has very little money. (He doesn’t have to)
 
John Suavecito
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I think you're onto something here, Myron.  I was an econ major in college. I always thought it was weird that if I learned how to work on my car, the GNP went down, because I was spending less. I build skills, which are the social wealth of the people, but it looks like economic damage.  It's only the easily countable money flows that go down, not the actual wealth of the people.  Likewise, if someone teaches their kid how to do a bunch of fun activities to improve the kid's life,  instead of taking them to a therapist and dropping them off, or giving them pharmaceuticals as a solution, the GNP goes down.  But the skills and social wealth has gone up.  The same thing with permaculture.  We aren't spending as much money as we build our skills, so it looks like the economy is dropping, but our wealth and skills are actually increasing. More recently, some academic economists have started to actually include this in their models of how the economy works.

John S
PDX OR
 
Jay Angler
gardener
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This isn't the thread to discuss this in detail, but there are people who feel the whole concept of GNP is fundamentally flawed, and are starting to look at the "happiness" rating of cultures and countries. There is plenty of evidence world wide of cultures where people lead incredibly "rich" lives if what you count as riches are community support, food security, cultural activities, team work, etc, but don't focus on "money in the bank and/or clothing in the closet". *Many* of those places may not do what they call "permaculture", but if you look at what they are doing - sustainably hunting and gathering, subsistence farming where they support the soil and have farmed there for generations, forest management for generations etc, their lives are rich. My culture subverts respect for people like that by pointing out all the things they don't have, and devaluing what they do have, and we need to keep working on changing our attitudes, not their lifestyles.
 
Lauren Ritz
pollinator
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Location: Utah
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Years ago I had a good job, with good earning potential. The bank said I could afford 240k. I told the real estate agent I wanted a cap at 130. She kept showing me houses that were in the 180 to 200 range, and yes there were plenty of homes available in my specified price range. I kept saying no. I finally cut her out entirely and bought my parents house, without interest, the caveat being that I take care of them as they aged.

I'm perfectly fine with that. I have a suburban lot to do with as I please. I was able to take care of Mom during her final illness (cancer) and now I'm caring for Dad who has a form of dementia. I ditched the high paying job in 2011, so this August marks 10 years.

Last summer it was brought to my attention that neighbors ARE paying attention, even if they choose not to emulate what I'm doing. It was quite a shock.

No regrets. I have a 20 year old car (2002) which still runs, dirt to play in, green friends in the dirt, a baby food forest, and a greenhouse. I've learned to live on nothing and I enjoy it.

 
Pearl Sutton
steward & bricolagier
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Jay Angler said "This isn't the thread to discuss this in detail,"  I started a thread a while back What do you optimize for? that includes a quote from Charles Hugh Smith What Metric Are We Optimizing For? The premise of both my post, and his blog post, is that money is a bad metric to measure happiness with, and whatever we measure is what we optimize for. If you want to continue this discussion, go to my thread, read it, and join in.

:D
 
Patrick Edwards
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Location: Currently located in central OK. Farmstead location is in northern VT.
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Our primary goal in creating our forest farm/homestead is to remove money from our lives as much as possible. I do not want to take part in exploitative and amoral economic systems any more than I have to. Additionally, I just don't feel like human beings are meant to live this way. We are animals. We are nature. We should be living in harmony with it. Not in juxtaposition to it. The "rat race" leaves me horribly depressed and empty. I have no interest in it. Granted, the systems that be will not disappear any time soon. So that leaves working within it. Sort of. But food, water, and energy security can go a long way toward freeing a person. Allowing them to be human again. Not just another serf for our modern day feudalism. Let's not be fooled, it is still feudalism. We just changed the names and added steps.

We have some plans to make a bit of money. Enough to pay the tax man and buy some things we can't make ourselves or trade for. Ultimately though, we are trying to put ourselves in a position to grow, raise, or barter/trade for as much as possible. It has been a dream for a long time and we finally have the land to do it. Projects start this year.

So if anyone is interested in some "networking" for this sort of thing, hit me up. I'm in Oklahoma at the moment but our farm is (will be) up in northern VT, near Newport.

Summed up - Who gives a damn about the Joneses?

 
Joe Grand
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I do not believe most people want a life different then they lead. I want to be a cowboy when I grew up, until I learned most die of old age it 45.
A lot of people want fruit of the vine, but do not want to work for it, other do not believe it is better than store bought.
Homesteading, growing food,plant & animals, as well as from the wild, is a way of life for us, I was shocked to find everybody did not can/freeze food.
Most people see farming or gardening as too difficult & time comsuming. You have year around garden & animals, then you are married to the land.
You must work everyday, regardless of the weather or what your friends are doing. Growing wool to making sweater is a full time job.
 
Sonja Draven
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Interesting post, Joe. Thought provoking.

My dreams have certainly changed from childhood or even when I was married. I wanted the homestead and dreamed of going off grid with my sweetie and babies... Raising animals, making cheese, hunting and fishing, living remotely, growing all our food.

A divorce and many years later, I'm a childfree, plant  eater with no interest in raising animals for my food. It's hard enough taking baby steps in the direction I want to go with my place, learning to use a chainsaw and winterize my current house (omg, everything takes four times longer than I hoped but at least I've learned to plan on that for every project) without also trying to rebuild infrastructure to go off grid. I like my neighbors and friends and have no desire to live in the middle of nowhere without community.

But I still dream of a big garden and hope my plans for one this year result in lots of veggies for me and loved ones. I can and freeze what I pick from my fruit trees. I experiment with hugelculture, wood chips and brush piles to see what works.

I have accepted that I can't do everything. So I do the things that matter the most to me and add to them as I can. One of my friends was expressing his envy of me having my slice of heaven. I pointed out that he could have his own if he wanted to take a big pay cut like I did. That's not of interest to him.
 
John F Dean
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Location: southern Illinois.
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I feel that for many people it is an issue of comfort level.  People seem to not want to leave their zone ... even though they are miserable in that zone.  I have been fortunate in that I have only worked 18 months in my life.  The rest of the time I have managed to make money while having fun. Of course, I made myself fortunate. If I found myself working where I did not want to be, I turned in my resignation. Yes, at times it was a little scary, but I seldom drove to work knowing that I would be miserable for the next 8 hours.
 
John Suavecito
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I have thought for a long time that if you are doing work that is meaningful to you, and easier for you than for others, that's a good kind of work to do, especially if you like the atmosphere, camaraderie, and general direction of how it's going. Many people hate being outside, chopping limbs, moving trees, and have never taken the time to understand the details of soil, ecology, pollination, etc.  To me, it's heaven.  There is a lot of research to back up the health aspects too.   Then you can put together your hobbies, gig work, and trading stuff and favors to make a life that works for you.
John S
PDX OR
 
Mark Griffin
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Location: Piedmont, North Carolina - 7b/8a
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I don't know if anyone is familiar with the blog earlyretirementextreme.com. The guy is not a permaculturist in the gardening/homesteading vein, but his whole frugality philosophy is built on systems thinking and design. He pays homage to Paul's eco-levels with his own ERE Wheaton Levels chart explaining different levels of frugality (or not). Of course, one of the premises is that someone at one level will have a really hard time understanding someone's thinking a couple of levels away and will think someone several levels away is absolutely crazy. I believe it is a correct observation.

https://earlyretirementextreme.com/myforumpics/EREWheatonLevels.jpg

My neighbor just put his house up for sale.  It is literally twice the size of mine and it is listed for (what I consider) a very large amount.  Working outside in the yard yesterday, I watched the steady stream of people come through to view it.  I found myself wondering what was going on these peoples heads.  Particularly the young couples.  I wanted to counsel them about the 30 (or more) years of working for the man that would result from taking on such a debt burden to live in a large, fancy house in a good location.  But I kept it to myself.  It does have a large sunny yard, which is precious commodity in my area, so maybe someone will turn that into a nice food forest.  I can hope for now, even though it seems very unlikely.

My son suggested we buy it and house a bunch of animals in it.  Interesting proposition, but I am not sure the economics of that would work in our favor. And the neighbors would definitely think we were crazy, though I suspect they already do!
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