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Making money from a passion

 
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Hello fellow permies! I’m putting serious thought into a career change and know of no better source for a diversity of opinions than this forum, so I come to you looking for advice. I’ve created similar posts in here before, but I have a new idea and new questions/concerns so figured a new post is appropriate.

Background: I’m about 28 years old, married, plan to have 1-2 children in the near future and currently work a full time utility job with good pay and benefits. Collectively we have maybe $140,000 debt (house, student loans and a few miscellaneous small things).

I definitely appreciate my job and its benefits and agree that it’s helped get me to where we are now. Thats all dandy, but doesnt change the fact that I spend 8 hours a day doing something that is not at all in line with my values, priorities, desires or view for the future. I honestly consider my work day to be dicking around because it leaves me feeling unfulfilled and desiring more time. My wife has given me her blessing to quit whenever, but expressed that I should wait until after we have a child or two so we have the money and insurance during pregnancy and birth. Sounds logical but I dont see a stop to that logic as the child ages...

I love food, permaculture, foraging, hunting and fishing. We’ve considered starting a fermentation business and got relatively serious about the planning, but eventually I realized this was a money making attempt and got discouraged. I want to do what I want to do and preferably make money in the process. I dont want to pretend to be a robot or a computer just acting out a program because it’s taught to and I feel like pursuing money is exactly that. Without getting too spiritual, I’ll just say that I believe we’re here to create and live in our ideal reality. To do what we want, when we want, because we want, but to do it as sustainably as possible so as not to exterminate ourselves and environment. So, a crucial question is: what do I actually want to do with my time in this body? For me, the answer is get dirty creating and sustaining permacultural systems. I want to dig, shovel, haul woodchips, spread mulch, take cuttings, plant trees, make compost, plant seeds and, most importantly, share the abundance. A fermentation business is not that, though it is more in line than a utility job. I also considered just trying to make money off of our 2 1/2 acre property selling eggs, vegetables, berries, seeds, herbs, flowers, perennial shrubs and mushrooms. My problem with that is 1. I see that being barely profitable, maybe even being a money suck. 2. I’m worried about viewing our blessings at home as possible profit/income, which rubs me wrong.

I think i could make a few bucks foraging, selling compost, selling eggs and whatnot, but that the little bit of money would hardly be worth it. Maybe thats just coming from someone spoiled with a good steady income and benefits, I dont know.

But, how about an edible, perennial landscaping business? Then I could spend all day doing what I really want to do, but instead of doing it for myself and viewing my blessings as a source of income, I do it for other people and they pay me. That seems like the way to go in my mind. I think there could be a market for it in the area. Only thing is, I have no experience starting or running a business, or doing landscaping for others. I only have experience at home and from reading books and watching videos.

I could try to find out if there is a market here for that, but what else can/should I do for credibility or to increase my chances of success? Would taking an online PDC be worthwhile? Any other skills or certification I should try to establish before diving in?

Also, I want to say that I know a lot of you will think becoming debt free first is most important, but I honestly dont see how that’s possible. Maybe if we live like slaves for 10 years before making any moves in the direction we’re actually interested in, but feeling like a slave is what I’m trying to get out of already. I will admit I was brainwashed from my dad as a child into believing “you will always have debt, you will always have a mortgage and car payments, you will always have bills to pay and unexpected expenses.” Maybe that is a fuel for me to feel like being debt free is just another ideal for me to let go of in order to be happy here and now. I also worry a bit about making money from a passion... what if I start to take things for granted or get burned out and no longer enjoy gardening and whatnot? Have any of you been making money from your passions for a long time? If so, do you still love what you do, or is it just another damn money making scheme in order to pay the bills after a while? Id rather do something I’m not interested in while preserving a joy and passion in life than pursue the joy and passion and turn it into work for money...

Any advice is greatly appreciated!


 
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A few questions to help tailor advice:

1. Does your wife work? If so, would she keep her job while you start whatever business you decide on? How about during pregnancy and while the children are very young?

2. What are you already doing on your acreage?

Re: pregnancy/birth/babyhood, insurance is a different weight than later on. As an example, if for whatever reason the pregnancy ends in a c-section, that can be five figures just by itself. Babies also generally see a doctor fairly frequently their first year or two to track growth and milestones to catch any delays/problems as early as possible. Pre-and-post natal care is also multiple appointments for mom, especially if there’s any complications. For a healthy child, the cost will go down as they get older and need fewer visits. This doesn’t mean you’re stuck with the job purely for that, though; have you looked into ACA subsidies?
 
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Hi Brody.

No matter what your job is, there are going to be things you do and don't like about it, and days you just don't want to do it. I like how enthusiastic you are about wanting to do something you're passionate about, though.

You are correct about people thinking that you should become debt free as soon as you can. It may not be as difficult or take as long as you think. One of the things we have done, and we're still working on it, is learning to do without. For example, we haven't had cable tv for many years. We are so busy we don't even miss it. That's kind of a big bill to get rid of, too. Another thing we've done is that I've never had a smart phone. No bells or whistles, no contract flip phone. $30 a month unlimited talk and text. Works for me. Whenever possible, I shop at thrift stores and garage sales for clothes, furniture and housewares. I'd rather pay .25 for a t-shirt than $20. Also, if there is something I want or need, I try to make it myself.

Also, learn ways of doing things a bit differently so that you are more independent of others and of utilities. Some of these things may be inconvenient. Most are the result of thinking outside the box. We bought solar flood lights and use them for our lighting in our house. I use cheap wash cloths as "paper towels" so that I can use them over and over. I make my own cloth napkins and dust cloths, which are washable and will be used for many years. I haven't needed to buy paper napkins for a very long time, compared to using a whole large package of them in a week or two. Unplug everything you aren't using; it really does make a difference. Little things like this add up to big savings, but also lead to more independence.

You have interesting ideas with the edibles. I like it. There is a restaurant in St Louis MO that specializes in wild edibles. I don't know how the business is doing, but you might decide to talk to the owner. I'm not sure if it's the same guy, but there's somebody in that area that makes lots of money by providing restaurants with foraged stuff like mushrooms, etc. Maybe you could check in your area to see if there is a market for that at restaurants or specialty grocery stores. That way, you'd have an instant market for it, and also get to do what you love to do.

Eventually, if you cut your expenses considerably and use your money wisely, you'll dig yourself out of debt. The other benefit you'll get is that you'll realize you can live on a whole lot less money, so you won't need to earn as much. Some things aren't fun to give up, but you get deep satisfaction out of knowing you're much better off and can take care of yourself and your family without relying as much on stores and utility companies.

Good luck on going after your dreams, I wish you much success!

 
pollinator
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Well I'm in a similar boat, although no debt. My advice having started a few businesses in the past is this: start small with one thing; maybe just selling eggs. Do not try and branch out into any other product until that one product is doing well and you have developed a reputation. Once that is stable only then branch out into creating more income streams. I would say that you could think of your current job as a stable predictable product and you could start to branch out into one additional income stream. But you have debt so is your current job really profitable yet? Debt should always be the first thing to go before investing in a new venture. Once you have a blank slate to work on and something stable to fall back on fear of the unknown wont hold you back.
 
Brody Ekberg
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Jennifer Kowalski wrote:A few questions to help tailor advice:

1. Does your wife work? If so, would she keep her job while you start whatever business you decide on? How about during pregnancy and while the children are very young?

2. What are you already doing on your acreage?

Re: pregnancy/birth/babyhood, insurance is a different weight than later on. As an example, if for whatever reason the pregnancy ends in a c-section, that can be five figures just by itself. Babies also generally see a doctor fairly frequently their first year or two to track growth and milestones to catch any delays/problems as early as possible. Pre-and-post natal care is also multiple appointments for mom, especially if there’s any complications. For a healthy child, the cost will go down as they get older and need fewer visits. This doesn’t mean you’re stuck with the job purely for that, though; have you looked into ACA subsidies?



My wife does currently work “part time” but has a lot of complaints about her job, doesn’t make much money, gets taken advantage of and has debated quitting many times. I wish she would, because I think it would be more valuable to have her at home than gone making a couple bucks for her struggles. We haven’t discussed whether or not she would work during pregnancy or after. I sure hope she doesn’t, but I also hope she follows her heart and not her mind. Part of the reason she hasn’t quit is because of feeling obligated to utilize her degree that we’re in debt over, even though its hardly worthwhile and she certainly will never pay off her student loans with the job she got from her degree...And I dont know what ACA is so no, we haven’t looked into subsidies.

As far as our home property goes, we moved in 3 years ago and have planted a hedge, a perennial herb garden, some perennial flower beds, several trees, cut a bunch of trees, built and are constantly expanding an annual garden and are working on rain water catchment now. Half the property is a wooded ravine and the other half was bare naked yard. My goal is to stop mowing lawns and convert as much of the yard to food forest, perennials and vegetable gardens as manageable and to share the abundance.
 
M James
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I forgot to add: instead of buying expensive, chemical-laden dryer sheets, I made my own out of flannel. I spray some white vinegar on about 3 of those per full load and toss in a couple of those wool balls. Works like a charm. I also don't run the dryer more than 20 minutes per load. Obviously, the laundry isn't dry yet, so I hang it all up on clothes racks to finish drying. No static cling. No perfumy smells. Just clean laundry. This summer I'm hoping to add a clothesline.
 
Jennifer Kowalski
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Brody Ekberg wrote:

Jennifer Kowalski wrote:A few questions to help tailor advice:

1. Does your wife work? If so, would she keep her job while you start whatever business you decide on? How about during pregnancy and while the children are very young?

2. What are you already doing on your acreage?

Re: pregnancy/birth/babyhood, insurance is a different weight than later on. As an example, if for whatever reason the pregnancy ends in a c-section, that can be five figures just by itself. Babies also generally see a doctor fairly frequently their first year or two to track growth and milestones to catch any delays/problems as early as possible. Pre-and-post natal care is also multiple appointments for mom, especially if there’s any complications. For a healthy child, the cost will go down as they get older and need fewer visits. This doesn’t mean you’re stuck with the job purely for that, though; have you looked into ACA subsidies?



My wife does currently work “part time” but has a lot of complaints about her job, doesn’t make much money, gets taken advantage of and has debated quitting many times. I wish she would, because I think it would be more valuable to have her at home than gone making a couple bucks for her struggles. We haven’t discussed whether or not she would work during pregnancy or after. I sure hope she doesn’t, but I also hope she follows her heart and not her mind. Part of the reason she hasn’t quit is because of feeling obligated to utilize her degree that we’re in debt over, even though its hardly worthwhile and she certainly will never pay off her student loans with the job she got from her degree...And I dont know what ACA is so no, we haven’t looked into subsidies.

As far as our home property goes, we moved in 3 years ago and have planted a hedge, a perennial herb garden, some perennial flower beds, several trees, cut a bunch of trees, built and are constantly expanding an annual garden and are working on rain water catchment now. Half the property is a wooded ravine and the other half was bare naked yard. My goal is to stop mowing lawns and convert as much of the yard to food forest, perennials and vegetable gardens as manageable and to share the abundance.



ACA = affordable care act. :) you can get subsidized to offset insurance costs if your income is too high for Medicaid but still below a certain amount.

Sounds like your ideal would be both of you finding something else to do. Would you two potentially be going into this business together, then?

The “one thing at a time” is a good way to start - you’ve got your homestead foundations going, now identify some of the easiest small/scalable potential income streams from it you can do right now and explore those. If you feel odd selling your produce or worry about burnout, think of it as not so much a forever thing but as exploring one of the avenues you want to someday assist your clients with. If you want to understand a permie market gardener’s needs, doing it for a few seasons makes sense. If you find it’s not a “forever plan” for you due to interest/passion, you still made progress towards your consulting/designing business or however else you want to take it, and you get some critical small business experience.

As for the guilt - If your wife is on board with the homesteading work, if you haven’t already, you might sit down and work solid numbers out on how much you could save and/or how much more you could provide for yourselves if she quit and put those hours into more food, animals, etc. - and also if she’d be willing to start growing humans sooner rather than later so you can speed up your quitting timeline (if you go the “quit after babies” route).

The degree will still be there in 5-10 years, and so much of college is learning to process information. My degree is not the field I work in, but it is still valuable to me. The opportunities of the future are impossible to predict!

Any particular reason you’re waiting on kids?
 
Brody Ekberg
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M James wrote:Hi Brody.

No matter what your job is, there are going to be things you do and don't like about it, and days you just don't want to do it. I like how enthusiastic you are about wanting to do something you're passionate about, though.



You are correct about people thinking that you should become debt free as soon as you can. It may not be as difficult or take as long as you think. One of the things we have done, and we're still working on it, is learning to do without. For example, we haven't had cable tv for many years. We are so busy we don't even miss it. That's kind of a big bill to get rid of, too. Another thing we've done is that I've never had a smart phone. No bells or whistles, no contract flip phone. $30 a month unlimited talk and text. Works for me. Whenever possible, I shop at thrift stores and garage sales for clothes, furniture and housewares. I'd rather pay .25 for a t-shirt than $20. Also, if there is something I want or need, I try to make it myself.

Also, learn ways of doing things a bit differently so that you are more independent of others and of utilities. Some of these things may be inconvenient. Most are the result of thinking outside the box. We bought solar flood lights and use them for our lighting in our house. I use cheap wash cloths as "paper towels" so that I can use them over and over. I make my own cloth napkins and dust cloths, which are washable and will be used for many years. I haven't needed to buy paper napkins for a very long time, compared to using a whole large package of them in a week or two. Unplug everything you aren't using; it really does make a difference. Little things like this add up to big savings, but also lead to more independence.

You have interesting ideas with the edibles. I like it. There is a restaurant in St Louis MO that specializes in wild edibles. I don't know how the business is doing, but you might decide to talk to the owner. I'm not sure if it's the same guy, but there's somebody in that area that makes lots of money by providing restaurants with foraged stuff like mushrooms, etc. Maybe you could check in your area to see if there is a market for that at restaurants or specialty grocery stores. That way, you'd have an instant market for it, and also get to do what you love to do.

Eventually, if you cut your expenses considerably and use your money wisely, you'll dig yourself out of debt. The other benefit you'll get is that you'll realize you can live on a whole lot less money, so you won't need to earn as much. Some things aren't fun to give up, but you get deep satisfaction out of knowing you're much better off and can take care of yourself and your family without relying as much on stores and utility companies.

Good luck on going after your dreams, I wish you much success!



I totally realize everything has a positive and negative aspect, and so any job will have a downside. Right now, if I dont want to go to work (this is 5 days a week) I go anyway. If I worked for myself doing what I love, i could just decide not to go, obviously sacrificing the day’s pay, but at least I have the option. I worry more about starting to feel obligated to do my passion because its how I make money, as opposed to doing my passion because it’s my passion. I used to work a seasonal job and got laid off all winter. I like catching and eating fish, so I did that pretty much every day for most of the day. I soon realized that my attitude towards fishing changed: I was no longer enjoying it. I felt obligated to catch fish to provide myself with food and to get out and make the most of a day. I worry about a similar subtle attitude change with permaculture if I practice it all day.

As far as debt goes, I feel it’s tricky... some of our biggest expenses are food and house projects (water line, roofs, windows, hot water heater...) We arent willing to eat junk to save money, and gardening and foraging are limited due to me being at work 40 hours a week, so its hard not to feel stuck there. And I know we could likely sell the house to alleviate the mortgage and home repairs, but we love the house and property and have beautiful visions for it. As far as being frugal goes, my wife and I have pretty different ideas. I’m not blaming her for our expenses, but I will say that I’m much more willing to give up pretty much any and all conveniences and she doesn’t feel that way. I’m very conscious about small expenses and do my best to save money every way I can, aside from drinking a couple beers on the weekend and usually having at least a little chocolate available haha. But those few things arent breaking the bank anyway. I have also felt very independent most of my life and am realizing these last couple years that, while depending on strangers in far off lands and utility companies is not sustainable, I really do need to depend on other people. Neighbors, friends and families go a long way. I cant do it all on my own and even trying to is exhausting and leaves me feeling hopeless. Example: I’ll make bread instead of buying it. Its more sustainable... so I buy grain, borrow a manual grinder (no electricity!) and quickly realized that this takes a lot of time and effort, both of which are already being demanded by so many other things. So, if I can give a friend a dozen eggs and get a load of bread, that’s great!

About selling mushrooms or other foraged goods: I have a personal issue with that. When I forage something I have a deep sense of gratitude for whatever it is and feel that I’ve done nothing to deserve it. To me, it’s a gift from God. Selling wild foraged goods equates to a child selling it’s mother’s breast milk in my mind. I feel like I’m selling a gift that I never deserved in the first place. Now, if I intentionally grew whatever it is, that’s a whole different thing, at least in my mind. I worked for it and my efforts can be compensated with money.

I do definitely want to continue cutting expenses and slowly paying off debt, but I also feel that with children on the way, expenses will not really get any lower. I also have a lot of hope that student loans will be forgiven, but that may be a stretch! You’re right though, living frugally and having less/no debt would be ideal.
 
Brody Ekberg
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T Simpson wrote:Well I'm in a similar boat, although no debt. My advice having started a few businesses in the past is this: start small with one thing; maybe just selling eggs. Do not try and branch out into any other product until that one product is doing well and you have developed a reputation. Once that is stable only then branch out into creating more income streams. I would say that you could think of your current job as a stable predictable product and you could start to branch out into one additional income stream. But you have debt so is your current job really profitable yet? Debt should always be the first thing to go before investing in a new venture. Once you have a blank slate to work on and something stable to fall back on fear of the unknown wont hold you back.



I agree that focusing on one new income stream at a time is probably a good idea. Im too interested in too many things and get overwhelmed easily. I can see myself getting spread too thin by tackling too many new ideas at once.

I really dont know how people get debt free though... I mean I can imagine doing it, but it sounds like a hellish, miserable several years and, realistically, more debts are inevitable unless you live like an ascetic. Say student loans get forgiven and we sell our house. That $140,000 debt turns into maybe $10,000-$15,000 debt. We could pay that off easily. But we still need to find a new place to live, and unless its in an intentional community, will likely need a 4 wheeled death machine or two to get us from one area of the rat race to another. Aside from living alone in a cave, I really dont see how people stay debt free in this society. I will admit though, even bouncing in and out of debt free-ness once in a while would feel awfully nice!
 
Brody Ekberg
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M James wrote:I forgot to add: instead of buying expensive, chemical-laden dryer sheets, I made my own out of flannel. I spray some white vinegar on about 3 of those per full load and toss in a couple of those wool balls. Works like a charm. I also don't run the dryer more than 20 minutes per load. Obviously, the laundry isn't dry yet, so I hang it all up on clothes racks to finish drying. No static cling. No perfumy smells. Just clean laundry. This summer I'm hoping to add a clothesline.



You know, I do a lot of little things to save a few bucks here and there and it does make a difference. Most of our money goes to a few places though, and without changing that, its hard for me to feel real good about saving $5 here or there. Its great to save a few bucks but then writing a check for $500 for the mortgage, $100 for electricity, $200 for propane, buy a bag of dog food, a bag of chicken food and still have to go to the grocery store to feed yourself and that few bucks that I saved earlier seems irrelevant!
 
master steward
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Brody said My wife has given me her blessing to quit whenever, but expressed that I should wait until after we have a child or two so we have the money and insurance during pregnancy and birth. Sounds logical but I dont see a stop to that logic as the child ages...



I agree with your wife.  I can also tell you that "as the child ages ..." it doesn't get any better.

Kids get hurt and need to go to the emergency room. kids need school supplies, kids have activities that cost money, etc.  I was so thankful when my kids left home so I could have money to enjoy the things I wanted.

If I were in your position, I would start paying off that debt so you can feel comfortable about starting a business without the worries of how am I going to feed my family, etc.

My husband and I have been there and done that several times.
 
Brody Ekberg
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Jennifer Kowalski wrote:

Brody Ekberg wrote:

Jennifer Kowalski wrote:A



ACA = affordable care act. :) you can get subsidized to offset insurance costs if your income is too high for Medicaid but still below a certain amount.

Sounds like your ideal would be both of you finding something else to do. Would you two potentially be going into this business together, then?

The “one thing at a time” is a good way to start - you’ve got your homestead foundations going, now identify some of the easiest small/scalable potential income streams from it you can do right now and explore those. If you feel odd selling your produce or worry about burnout, think of it as not so much a forever thing but as exploring one of the avenues you want to someday assist your clients with. If you want to understand a permie market gardener’s needs, doing it for a few seasons makes sense. If you find it’s not a “forever plan” for you due to interest/passion, you still made progress towards your consulting/designing business or however else you want to take it, and you get some critical small business experience.

As for the guilt - If your wife is on board with the homesteading work, if you haven’t already, you might sit down and work solid numbers out on how much you could save and/or how much more you could provide for yourselves if she quit and put those hours into more food, animals, etc. - and also if she’d be willing to start growing humans sooner rather than later so you can speed up your quitting timeline (if you go the “quit after babies” route).

The degree will still be there in 5-10 years, and so much of college is learning to process information. My degree is not the field I work in, but it is still valuable to me. The opportunities of the future are impossible to predict!

Any particular reason you’re waiting on kids?



Thanks for the tip about the ACA, I’ll keep that in mind!

We have discussed several different income ideas, some of them involved us both and some were just me. She feels a very strong desire to be a mother and I hope that means that staying home will suffice to keep her happy. I have no problem being the provider so long as someone else is taking care of things while I’m gone. Right now, we’re both gone so nobody gets anything done all day, and she’s not a mother yet so also feels like she can’t quit working. I could see the landscaping business being seasonal since we live in zone 4, and maybe the fermentation business could be an off season gig. We’ve also discussed a wilderness preschool sort of idea, which seems so very needed, is related to her early childhood education degree, and would help fulfill my desire to educate youth and give them purpose. It also seems like it could be a great way to put a lot of time and effort into something that barely generates any income, but that’s purely speculation right now.

About kids: I’m basically the sole reason we’ve been waiting. Up until 3-4 years ago, I had no intentions of bringing more humans into this mess. I was depressed, hopeless and felt like it would probably be for the best if we all stopped reproducing and let the race fizzle out. I had a mental blowout/spiritual breakthrough about 3 years ago and totally changed my perspective on life. I found my purpose, fell in love with myself and life and discovered permaculture. It was that that spurred us into buying a house and getting to where we are at now. She’s always wanted to adopt and also give birth, but I’ve just been acclimating to the idea these last few years. I only have 2 things holding me back now, and I’m working my way through them:

1. I feel a drive and an urgency to align my life with nature. To stop depending on foods from far off lands, to stop depending on utilities, to stop polluting and contributing to climate change. I worry that parenting will slam the brakes on that process. I’ve been trying to get so many things done before having kids so that once they’re here, I can enjoy it somewhat and not view them as a speedbump.

2. The idea of being financially responsible for another human being terrifies me. Mostly because I want to quit my only stable source of financial income! I know the pregnancy and first year or two are the expensive ones, but honestly, does anything get cheaper with time? I also have a deep feeling of hypocrisy because of my current lifestyle. How can I try to raise a child to behave differently than I’m currently behaving? I worry that, sometime in the future, young people will look at me as the source of their problems, similar to the way that so many young people look at the baby boomer generation now. I myself was brainwashed by a loving father who was doing his best and feel as though I’m digging myself out of a hole now because of it. I’d hate to tell anyone “dont be like me” and continue on creating problems for myself and the world. But I am trying and changing my ways. And I know that I’m the one who dug this hole and jumped in. I just didn’t know of any alternatives at the time besides living like a nomad or hiding in the woods like a hermit (which is actually how I used to envision my future!)

 
pollinator
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Pick your fights. Yes it's cheaper to make your own bread, and I expect it's even cheaper to buy the grain whole and mill it. but as you said that's a lot of time. so buy the flour and make the bread now it takes very little "active" time. if you make sourdough you don't need to kneed, just put it all together in the morning before work and bung it in the oven when you get home. by the time you've had a wash and sat down the bread will be ready to eat. We don't try to save the very small things, we use some disposable towels, we don't bother turning things off at the wall it's such a tiny amount it's not worth the effort, dito turning LED lights on and off. But we don't have new phones, we drive an old car, we don't have any form of cable or a landline, we don't smoke (we do drink) we never eat out or go on holiday we bought a old run down house for the equivalent of one years rent and lived in it for 5 years, yes it was cold and damp and so low you could hit your head if not carefull, but it had a roof, and didn't leak. then after 5 years we bought a new house a nice house with land in a better position. We still don't have any of the extras (comments on saving money on dryer sheets makes me laugh, we don't have a dryer!) And we're unlikely to ever be able to afford most of the extras, but we don't have to go to work, we get to mess around on the land and sell vegetables, I get to volanteer at a local place and he gets to play computer games when he wants.  We can do this because we have no debts or children. (and because we don't live in the US)

Brody Ekberg wrote:
I really dont know how people get debt free though... I mean I can imagine doing it, but it sounds like a hellish, miserable several years and, realistically, more debts are inevitable unless you live like an ascetic.



It is, you spend 5-10 years NOT buying things so you can spend the rest of your life not being owned by someone else. It's delayed gratification and I'm afraid that there is no magic way around it short of lotto wins or inheritance. If someone want to keep their flashy phone, their cable tv and all the other "luxuries" then they completely hamstring themselves.
If you start slow and without more debt businesses take years to get going and actually start making money, you can speed some things up with loans, but that's more risk of course. What's going to feed you and pay that mortgage while you build up a customer base and a name? If your wife has to work full time who will look after the kids? More debts are only inevitable if you are living beyond your means, there is nothing besides a house/land (or in the US medical bills) that you need to go into debt for.

 
Brody Ekberg
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Anne Miller wrote:


I agree with your wife.  I can also tell you that "as the child ages ..." it doesn't get any better.

Kids get hurt and need to go to the emergency room. kids need school supplies, kids have activities that cost money, etc.  I was so thankful when my kids left home so I could have money to enjoy the things I wanted.

If I were in your position, I would start paying off that debt so you can feel comfortable about starting a business without the worries of how am I going to feed my family, etc.

My husband and I have been there and done that several times.



I know! Plus, we will have both sides of the family projecting their fears and believes onto us about needing my job and how irresponsible it is to quit. Right now, I couldnt care less about being irresponsible... but we have no children yet and fully expect my attitude to change once we do.

I also dont know how we could possibly pay off that debt without just selling the house and starting over, since that’s 3/4 of the debt right there. And I am willing to sell and move, if and only if we can do it without just incurring new debts in the process. And if the place we move to supports a worthwhile vision of the future. The thing is, our current location is basically ideal (in our eyes) for living the life we want to live. It just requires a mortgage and utility bills for now. And the bitching paradox is that any step towards eliminating utilities or saving money by doing more things ourselves takes time, but our jobs take time! Its really hard not to feel stuck between a rock and a hard place, even though I know I willingly put myself there! I basically feel like I’m living 2 lives right now: the real me who is largely suppressed and just wants to play with soil all day and the bullshit me who does things he doesn’t need or want to do because he wasn’t taught anything else as a child and now finds himself feeling trapped by his own doing...

Another thing that I’m still really curious about that nobody has touched on is whether or not making money from your passions is even a good idea. I dont know anyone who does what they love and has done that for a long time. I can easily convince myself that its ok that I play this stupid game for now so that after work or on the weekend I can pursue my passion. But if I pursue my passion 40 hours a week (or more), will that just become a burden to me? Can someone make money doing what they love for an extended period of time and still love doing it at the end of the day? I dont know. Maybe me having a job that doesn’t align with anything meaningful in my life allows me to find meaning in the rest of life. Id hate to give that up and find that, after doing edible, sustainable landscaping for 10 years I now have no interest in doing those things at home or with my own children.

 
M James
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Skandi, I have a husband problem lol! He isn't nearly as enthusiastic as I am about wanting to be self sufficient. What that means is that I wouldn't be using the dryer as much if he would cooperate with me on the clothesline situation.

The neighbors bring all 5 million of their dogs to the property line between us to poop, which is right next to where the clothesline is. They won't clean the poop up. They just leave it laying there forever. I don't want my clean laundry getting peed on or absorbing the aroma of festering dog crap. Husband doesn't want us to move the clothesline so I can use it.

Along with the clothesline, I'm also working on other projects that he won't cooperate on. I'll get 'er done my way; it'll just take more time and work.

Ps: I couldn't live the way the neighbors do. I can look out over their yard and just see piles and piles of nasty poop. Can you imagine what it's like over there after a rain??? They have grandkids over sometimes, too. Poor kids. Nowhere to play where there isn't dog crap. To each their own I guess...
 
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I'm going to take a different tack, and make two suggestions / share a couple of thoughts.  

First, it sounds to me like you and your wife really need to sit down and have a long, honest talk about your needs, wants, and hopes for the future.  I'm hearing that she wants kids, but you are not so sure, both due to social / environmental concerns, and also due to the responsibility.  I'm also hearing that your spending habits and beliefs about money and debt may not be closely aligned.  It also sounds like you want your wife to be a homemaker, but that may not be what she wants, and also may not be possible if you quit a secure job.  

These are things that it may be important to resolve, or at least get out in the open, before making a decision that impacts you both so substantially, especially if there are likely to be children in the equation sometime soon.  

Second, why do you need to make money by pursuing your passion?  I have turned several hobbies into income streams, and I have to say, it can really wreck the fun.  I understand wanting to align your employment with your values, but there may be other ways to do it.  You say you work in a utility job.  Could you take a different utility job that relates more to something like renewables or retrofitting?  

My story here - I work a job that I despised when I started, and still dislike much of the time, though not so intensely.  It is a difficult and stressful, but also well paid and very stable job, that supports my family and also pays for a lot of other really important things, like my fruit tree habit.  

Because it's a good income, we could afford for my husband to be a homemaker, and stay home with the kids; he also gardens extensively and tends the chickens (and goats, when we have them).  I am much less stressed with him doing the cooking and cleaning, which makes the job more bearable; it also allows us to align the non-job parts of our lifestyle more with the permie end of things.  He likes working for our family, rather than a boss.  We've had this arrangement for ten years now, and it's functional for us, even with the issues with my job.  We don't plan to change it.  I have another 10 years or so until I can retire; I expect my hobbies will easily take over my days at that point.

Personally, I don't feel a need to get paid to follow my passion - I follow several passions in my off time.  I know this isn't an attitude that would work for everyone, but I think it would be worth considering when you are facing significant debt, a spouse who is not onboard with sacrificing to reduce your debt, plans for children in the near future, and a passion that isn't likely to ever supply you with the kind of income and job security you have now.  

I guess I'm mostly trying to say: don't discount the idea of plugging along in a stable job, and getting your true fulfillment in other ways.  
 
Skandi Rogers
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M James wrote:Skandi, I have a husband problem lol! He isn't nearly as enthusiastic as I am about wanting to be self sufficient. What that means is that I wouldn't be using the dryer as much if he would cooperate with me on the clothesline situation.



I'll admit to not having a decent washing line either, we lack suitable trees! we use those clothes horses for inside use outside, sometimes they blow over.. and sheets have to be hung in creative places. Luckily hubbs does all the laundry so I can generally ignore it :p
 
Brody Ekberg
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Skandi Rogers wrote:Pick your fights.

We can do this because we have no debts or children. (and because we don't live in the US)

...you spend 5-10 years NOT buying things so you can spend the rest of your life not being owned by someone else. It's delayed gratification and I'm afraid that there is no magic way around it short of lotto wins or inheritance. If someone want to keep their flashy phone, their cable tv and all the other "luxuries" then they completely hamstring themselves.
If you start slow and without more debt businesses take years to get going and actually start making money, you can speed some things up with loans, but that's more risk of course. What's going to feed you and pay that mortgage while you build up a customer base and a name? If your wife has to work full time who will look after the kids? More debts are only inevitable if you are living beyond your means, there is nothing besides a house/land (or in the US medical bills) that you need to go into debt for.



My wife and I just briefly talked about living in different countries this morning. I dont think she could be that far from friends and family. And I would definitely feel like I’m abandoning this society by leaving. I really want to help our youth find a better way to live than the rat race and debt monster, but it’s so hard because I’m in the rat race and have my own debt monster! I dont want to tell them all “dont be like me” as I sit in a very privileged and comfortable position. Although, that privileged and comfortable position has massive down sides and a lot of mental and emotional stress. I cant help but think my life would be much simpler if I had avoided debt in the first place. But I’m sure we would just have different struggles instead.

It sounds like we can either be miserable for several years in order to get out of debt and then live very frugally forever, or bounce back and forth between slavery and freedom for decades, being weekend warriors and staying up late compensating for the fact that we dick off for 8 hours a day. Either way, there’s no easy or right way and it all just seems to be a matter of personal preference...

And as far as things to go into debt for: I think that entirely depends on what people want out of life. Sure, we could live in a shack right close to the store and work and just walk and ride bikes everywhere. No vehicle, smaller mortgage, less property taxes... but no yard, no possibility of harvesting meat from home, no room for chickens, no areas to forage at home, no room for kids to run and play. No distance from the chaos of society... I guess I just need to keep in mind why we chose what/where we chose and see if those reasons still ring true for us. I could easily live under a spruce tree eating dandelions and red squirrel until I freeze to death in winter. And my wife could easily live in a decent sized city with whatever conveniences “normal” life provides. Right now, we’re in the grey area between the two extremes, trying to find our way and compromise our ideals to meet in the middle together.

 
Brody Ekberg
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Jess Dee wrote:I'm going to take a different tack, and make two suggestions / share a couple of thoughts.  

First, it sounds to me like you and your wife really need to sit down and have a long, honest talk about your needs, wants, and hopes for the future.  I'm hearing that she wants kids, but you are not so sure, both due to social / environmental concerns, and also due to the responsibility.  I'm also hearing that your spending habits and beliefs about money and debt may not be closely aligned.  It also sounds like you want your wife to be a homemaker, but that may not be what she wants, and also may not be possible if you quit a secure job.  

These are things that it may be important to resolve, or at least get out in the open, before making a decision that impacts you both so substantially, especially if there are likely to be children in the equation sometime soon.  

Second, why do you need to make money by pursuing your passion?  I have turned several hobbies into income streams, and I have to say, it can really wreck the fun.  I understand wanting to align your employment with your values, but there may be other ways to do it.  You say you work in a utility job.  Could you take a different utility job that relates more to something like renewables or retrofitting?  

My story here - I work a job that I despised when I started, and still dislike much of the time, though not so intensely.  It is a difficult and stressful, but also well paid and very stable job, that supports my family and also pays for a lot of other really important things, like my fruit tree habit.  

Because it's a good income, we could afford for my husband to be a homemaker, and stay home with the kids; he also gardens extensively and tends the chickens (and goats, when we have them).  I am much less stressed with him doing the cooking and cleaning, which makes the job more bearable; it also allows us to align the non-job parts of our lifestyle more with the permie end of things.  He likes working for our family, rather than a boss.  We've had this arrangement for ten years now, and it's functional for us, even with the issues with my job.  We don't plan to change it.  I have another 10 years or so until I can retire; I expect my hobbies will easily take over my days at that point.

Personally, I don't feel a need to get paid to follow my passion - I follow several passions in my off time.  I know this isn't an attitude that would work for everyone, but I think it would be worth considering when you are facing significant debt, a spouse who is not onboard with sacrificing to reduce your debt, plans for children in the near future, and a passion that isn't likely to ever supply you with the kind of income and job security you have now.  

I guess I'm mostly trying to say: don't discount the idea of plugging along in a stable job, and getting your true fulfillment in other ways.  



I love that you take a different approach to this, that’s my style!

We have had long serious talks about this, and we are generally on the same page. I tend to forget that this lifestyle is a choice that we made together and end up wanting to point blame and feel like I deserve better. But how can we deserve better than getting to shape life and reality exactly how we choose? Seems like the golden ticket to me, although there are so many distractions that the golden ticket easily gets misplaced or forgotten about, at least in my life!

About kids: she has always felt compelled to be a mother. I never considered parenting until the last few years. Now, I really like certain ideas about it, but question my motives. I know I cant make a child live the way I want, and I cant live vicariously through them. They will be their own person, which scares me because I dont want them to end up in the situation I am in. I want to provide them with absolutely zero reasons to feel like they need to leave home, leave the city, leave the state, go to college or get a “job”. I want them to grow up understanding and experiencing that most of what they need to live and be happy is surrounding them and the only reason to go elsewhere is out of curiosity or desire, not necessity or obligation. And the responsibility isn’t necessary what turns me off the most, its the fact that between working full time and being a father, I dont see how I will be able to get anything done at home as far as making “progress” or any significant changes towards sustainability or self sufficiency. That’s partially why Ive been busting ass for a few years is because once I’m a dad, I dont think I will be having the time to do these things.

As far as our perspectives on money: she says as a child, they struggled to pay bills and considered themselves to be poor. My definition of “poor” is a lot more extreme than struggling to pay bills. We always had plenty of money growing up, but my dad never felt it was enough. He acted like we were poor and struggling, but he was making a bunch of money, we had all the conveniences and he was stashing a bunch away for the future. I have been working since 14 and have always had a savings account that I worked to keep supplied. I have never felt poor and honestly, feel like I could be way happier dirt poor and struggling to stay alive. My demons are all of overindulgence, not of wanting more. I tend to do better in scarcity than abundance. She has no intentions of feeling “poor” again, and I cant convince her that she never really was poor. I have no intentions of being wealthy, and she cant convince me that I wouldn’t be happier with less... so here we are in between!

About being a homemaker: I feel this is where I shine. Doing what needs to be done because it needs to be done. I love weekends, days off, being quarantined, and being on sick leave because all I do is directly related to the wellbeing of our life. All day at work, I feel disconnected and distant from life. I dick around for 8 hours and in return, a black number on a white screen changes. Then I have to go somewhere else to turn that number into actual money to buy actually useful things to directly benefit our life. Its too complicated and goofy of a system for me feel at home in. Money is useless to me. Just a bad idea that we wont let go of. I would be so happy as a stay at home anything, but she has a degree in early childhood education and can barely make any money in that field. I’m the one with the high paying job, and that leaves me as the one that leaves home all day every day...

I love how you question why I need to make money off of my passions, because that’s exactly what I’m questioning. I can definitely see myself ruining all the fun and enjoyment of playing in the dirt if I spend all day doing that for other people so that they give me money. A good example is how I love fishing. I used to be laid off all winter and fished pretty much all day every day. I started because I loved it. Shortly after, I realized I felt obligated to go fishing and if I didn’t bring home fish, I felt like a failure. My joy turned into an obligation and a duty and was no longer enjoyable. Same with hunting. I would take 2 weeks off to hunt deer and a few days into it realize that I’m taking it way too seriously and going at it with a work attitude instead of enjoying it.

I feel torn between sticking this stable “good” job out for now and making the most of the free time, or bailing on this shit and making the most of life period. I do believe we need a certain amount of struggle and conflict in our lives, and we aren’t getting out of that aside from attitude adjustments. But 8 hours every day just feels like too much for me! It’s unreasonable to only allow myself an hour or two every day to do what is important to me. And I feel like dirt for saying it because I know so many people who work more for less and are happier. But I am not those people. I feel like a screwdriver being used to pound in nails all day at work, and money and benefits don’t change the fact that screwdrivers are meant to screw, not pound!
 
Anne Miller
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Jess Dee said "First, it sounds to me like you and your wife really need to sit down and have a long, honest talk about your needs, wants, and hopes for the future.  I'm hearing that she wants kids, but you are not so sure, both due to social / environmental concerns, and also due to the responsibility.  I'm also hearing that your spending habits and beliefs about money and debt may not be closely aligned.  It also sounds like you want your wife to be a homemaker, but that may not be what she wants, and also may not be possible if you quit a secure job.



This! Communication is the heart of a marriage. Both partners need to be on board with alike thinking.

I always ran my marriage as if it was a business and we were business partners. It just doesn't work if there is no understanding of both parties' wants and needs.

I read that you want to have a sustainable landscape business.  

First, a person needs a sustainable marriage and a healthy relationship with their spouse. Communication, again.

Also, I feel that a sustainable marriage does not have debt that will not allow both parties to follow their dreams.

The best way to pay off debt is to seek help.  Dave Ramsey offers a lot of free help.

A person can't expect to pay off the debt in a short period of time it takes years and knowing that is your family's goal.

Here are some threads that might be helpful:

https://permies.com/t/140785/saved#1104242

https://permies.com/t/95768/FIRE-financial-independence-retire-early

https://permies.com/t/43767/net-worth

Best wishes for your financial future and marriage.
 
pollinator
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We are within £13,000 of paying off our mortgage, as a consequence of working at sucky jobs, cutting our expenses down to the very bone, and living very frugally--and putting every spare penny onto overpaying.  On our current trajectory, we can pay it off in two more years, which will be six years early (on a 20 year term).  We could have paid it off already had we been living this sort of lifestyle right from the beginning, but we were younger and perhaps less wise.  Only a few years ago we had credit card debt and car loans/personal loans;  finally paying these off lifted such a weight off our shoulders.  Some people would consider our lifestyle unacceptable:  we don't buy anything we don't need, and we don't buy anything new if we can get it secondhand.  And yet, in two more years we can throw off the chains of debt, forever.  We will be free.
 
Brody Ekberg
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Anne Miller wrote:

Jess Dee said "First, it sounds to me like you and your wife really need to sit down and have a long, honest talk about your needs, wants, and hopes for the future.  I'm hearing that she wants kids, but you are not so sure, both due to social / environmental concerns, and also due to the responsibility.  I'm also hearing that your spending habits and beliefs about money and debt may not be closely aligned.  It also sounds like you want your wife to be a homemaker, but that may not be what she wants, and also may not be possible if you quit a secure job.



This! Communication is the heart of a marriage. Both partners need to be on board with alike thinking.

I always ran my marriage as if it was a business and we were business partners. It just doesn't work if there is no understanding of both parties' wants and needs.

I read that you want to have a sustainable landscape business.  

First, a person needs a sustainable marriage and a healthy relationship with their spouse. Communication, again.

Also, I feel that a sustainable marriage does not have debt that will not allow both parties to follow their dreams.

The best way to pay off debt is to seek help.  Dave Ramsey offers a lot of free help.

A person can't expect to pay off the debt in a short period of time it takes years and knowing that is your family's goal.

Here are some threads that might be helpful:

https://permies.com/t/140785/saved#1104242

https://permies.com/t/95768/FIRE-financial-independence-retire-early

https://permies.com/t/43767/net-worth

Best wishes for your financial future and marriage.



I’m hesitant to say we’ve got a perfect marriage, partially because we’re young and only have been married for 4 years. But I will say that I learned the importance of communication at an early age from watching my parents struggle with eachother. We used to have communication issues (lack of communication), but after both realizing the necessity of it, we’re pretty good now.

I really dont care if my wife is a home maker. I mean, someone has to be, and I would gladly do it if she was making enough money to support us. But as of now, I’m making the money and she works due to feeling obligated to utilize her degree that we’re in debt for, and because she likes socializing and getting out of the house.

And I do totally see the value of being debt free, but I also can only do so much. I guess I dont think it’s reasonable to expect to pay off $140,000 of debt fast enough to not contemplate suicide due to being miserable. Surely it would take extreme commitment from both of us for 10 years, during which we’re working, raising children and pursuing passions. I dont see how that is doable. I do think selling the house and downsizing everything, including dreams and lifestyle in order to get debt free is reasonable though. And that is something that is at least on the table, though starting over and moving really isn’t something I’m interested in. I think its the only way we could really get debt free though.
 
Jess Dee
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Brody Ekberg wrote:I love that you take a different approach to this, that’s my style!

We have had long serious talks about this, and we are generally on the same page. I tend to forget that this lifestyle is a choice that we made together and end up wanting to point blame and feel like I deserve better. But how can we deserve better than getting to shape life and reality exactly how we choose? Seems like the golden ticket to me, although there are so many distractions that the golden ticket easily gets misplaced or forgotten about, at least in my life!

About kids: she has always felt compelled to be a mother. I never considered parenting until the last few years. Now, I really like certain ideas about it, but question my motives. I know I cant make a child live the way I want, and I cant live vicariously through them. They will be their own person, which scares me because I dont want them to end up in the situation I am in. I want to provide them with absolutely zero reasons to feel like they need to leave home, leave the city, leave the state, go to college or get a “job”. I want them to grow up understanding and experiencing that most of what they need to live and be happy is surrounding them and the only reason to go elsewhere is out of curiosity or desire, not necessity or obligation. And the responsibility isn’t necessary what turns me off the most, its the fact that between working full time and being a father, I dont see how I will be able to get anything done at home as far as making “progress” or any significant changes towards sustainability or self sufficiency. That’s partially why Ive been busting ass for a few years is because once I’m a dad, I dont think I will be having the time to do these things.

As far as our perspectives on money: she says as a child, they struggled to pay bills and considered themselves to be poor. My definition of “poor” is a lot more extreme than struggling to pay bills. We always had plenty of money growing up, but my dad never felt it was enough. He acted like we were poor and struggling, but he was making a bunch of money, we had all the conveniences and he was stashing a bunch away for the future. I have been working since 14 and have always had a savings account that I worked to keep supplied. I have never felt poor and honestly, feel like I could be way happier dirt poor and struggling to stay alive. My demons are all of overindulgence, not of wanting more. I tend to do better in scarcity than abundance. She has no intentions of feeling “poor” again, and I cant convince her that she never really was poor. I have no intentions of being wealthy, and she cant convince me that I wouldn’t be happier with less... so here we are in between!

About being a homemaker: I feel this is where I shine. Doing what needs to be done because it needs to be done. I love weekends, days off, being quarantined, and being on sick leave because all I do is directly related to the wellbeing of our life. All day at work, I feel disconnected and distant from life. I dick around for 8 hours and in return, a black number on a white screen changes. Then I have to go somewhere else to turn that number into actual money to buy actually useful things to directly benefit our life. Its too complicated and goofy of a system for me feel at home in. Money is useless to me. Just a bad idea that we wont let go of. I would be so happy as a stay at home anything, but she has a degree in early childhood education and can barely make any money in that field. I’m the one with the high paying job, and that leaves me as the one that leaves home all day every day...

I love how you question why I need to make money off of my passions, because that’s exactly what I’m questioning. I can definitely see myself ruining all the fun and enjoyment of playing in the dirt if I spend all day doing that for other people so that they give me money. A good example is how I love fishing. I used to be laid off all winter and fished pretty much all day every day. I started because I loved it. Shortly after, I realized I felt obligated to go fishing and if I didn’t bring home fish, I felt like a failure. My joy turned into an obligation and a duty and was no longer enjoyable. Same with hunting. I would take 2 weeks off to hunt deer and a few days into it realize that I’m taking it way too seriously and going at it with a work attitude instead of enjoying it.

I feel torn between sticking this stable “good” job out for now and making the most of the free time, or bailing on this shit and making the most of life period. I do believe we need a certain amount of struggle and conflict in our lives, and we aren’t getting out of that aside from attitude adjustments. But 8 hours every day just feels like too much for me! It’s unreasonable to only allow myself an hour or two every day to do what is important to me. And I feel like dirt for saying it because I know so many people who work more for less and are happier. But I am not those people. I feel like a screwdriver being used to pound in nails all day at work, and money and benefits don’t change the fact that screwdrivers are meant to screw, not pound!



To me, it sounds like both of you should consider working hard towards the goal of your wife making a living wage at a fulfilling job, then getting you home to do the homemaking.  Saving money is, in many ways, often easier / better than making it.  When my husband quit working for money, we had a big adjustment period where we felt broke a lot of the time, but then he got in the swing of cooking our meals from scratch, gardening, repairing things, etc, and now we don't really need a second income anyway, even though we have since added two kids.  We are also much richer in time and lower in stress.  Again, though, I make a good wage, and we're in an area with lower cost of living (a decision we made specifically because it allowed us to afford an acreage on one income).  

Kids can be expensive, but don't have to be... though I don't know how medical expenses play into that, because I'm from Canada and don't have to deal with your medical system.  Kids definitely make it very hard to accomplish much beyond parenting for the first few years, but once they're four or five, things get quite a lot easier.  Mine are a bit older than that, and they are actively helpful some of the time, and are rarely a hindrance anymore.  They can play independently for long enough for the adults to get significant work done.  

I will observe that yes, you create your life, but there are always tradeoffs, and lots of the tradeoffs suck, at least for a while (sometimes for a long while).  There is a self-help author I like, Mark Manson.  He talks about choosing the flavor of s**t sandwich that you can deal with.  It's a bit blunt / crude, but that suits me, and might fit for you, too.  Look him up.  He's written a couple of books, and there's some really good advice in there.  Actually, I'm going to link one of his blog posts you might like, but it definitely comes with a very strong language warning.  Here's the link.
 
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Brody,
Unfortunately you cannot have your cake and eat it too!
You have stated your problem quite clearly.  To service the debt you have and remain in the property you love you need a well paying job like you have now.  I sympathise with you having been in less than comfortable jobs myself in the past - hey I worked for Jaguar for 10 years helping build gas guzzlers!  I remember very well feeling like the round peg in the square hole.  I moved company twice (spending too much time in the loo in tears at one job), and twice again within companies.  It's scary, but can be done, and often results in more money, since they seem to think that's why you're wanting to move. You have skills that could be used in a different industry segment, perhaps one that fits with your values better.
It took myself and my husband 20 years to break free, and we still work now, but for ourselves and at least with the comfort of knowing that our corporate pensions previously earned will pay us more in our future retirement than we are earning now!
A few things to help:
As time goes on the debts seems smaller due to inflation (hopefully). Our mortgage of £63000 seemed much smaller after 15 years than it did at the start (less than twice my husband's salary as opposed to three times our joint one). Since we were not in our 'forever home', although quite comfortable in suburbia, we were happy to sell it to buy this property outright (cheaper properties here as well).
Reducing your money outgoings does have an effect, a bit like melting an iceberg.  Maybe if you could use this, by paying off part of your debt with it, it might help to keep motivated. Draw some charts that you can fill in to see your progress beyond the status quo towards your debt freedom.
Concentrate on enjoying your off duty time, and making the most of it.  Maybe build up some residual income, or get your name known in whatever field you think may be a replacement money stream.
The good thing about hitting your head on a brick wall is how good it feels when you stop!

On another point there is never a good time to have children.  By this I mean, if you wait until the time is right you may never have them.  I wanted children and my husband didn't when we were first married.  By the time he'd come around and it seemed right for us to try, I was thirty.  A few years passed before we realised we had problems in conceiving, and despite various medical efforts I've never been pregnant.  Adoption never appealed, although I could consider fostering, our house probably wouldn't be fit! Just a gentle warning not to leave it too long.  Although children don't come cheap, they don't have to have everything new either!

Life is not simple, unless you make it so.
 
Brody Ekberg
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Jess Dee wrote:

To me, it sounds like both of you should consider working hard towards the goal of your wife making a living wage at a fulfilling job, then getting you home to do the homemaking.  Saving money is, in many ways, often easier / better than making it.  When my husband quit working for money, we had a big adjustment period where we felt broke a lot of the time, but then he got in the swing of cooking our meals from scratch, gardening, repairing things, etc, and now we don't really need a second income anyway, even though we have since added two kids.  We are also much richer in time and lower in stress.  Again, though, I make a good wage, and we're in an area with lower cost of living (a decision we made specifically because it allowed us to afford an acreage on one income).  

Kids can be expensive, but don't have to be... though I don't know how medical expenses play into that, because I'm from Canada and don't have to deal with your medical system.  Kids definitely make it very hard to accomplish much beyond parenting for the first few years, but once they're four or five, things get quite a lot easier.  Mine are a bit older than that, and they are actively helpful some of the time, and are rarely a hindrance anymore.  They can play independently for long enough for the adults to get significant work done.  

I will observe that yes, you create your life, but there are always tradeoffs, and lots of the tradeoffs suck, at least for a while (sometimes for a long while).  There is a self-help author I like, Mark Manson.  He talks about choosing the flavor of s**t sandwich that you can deal with.  It's a bit blunt / crude, but that suits me, and might fit for you, too.  Look him up.  He's written a couple of books, and there's some really good advice in there.  Actually, I'm going to link one of his blog posts you might like, but it definitely comes with a very strong language warning.  Here's the link.



I envy people living in places with free healthcare... but moving countries is not likely, so I don’t want to fixate on that.

The thing about working towards my wife making a living wage and me being at home is that she really doesn’t seem to know what she wants to do with her life. And I can’t wait around long enough to let her figure that out without doing anything to improve either my attitude or my situation. She really wants to be a mother, but also doesn’t think we can make it off of one income if I give up my current job. Either way, that’s all debatable and a whole different conversation anyway.

I’ll definitely check out Mark Manson. I tend to be quite blunt and enjoy that quality in others, especially regarding important real life decisions. Sugar coating things never helped anyone!
 
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Nancy Reading wrote:Brody,
Unfortunately you cannot have your cake and eat it too!
You have stated your problem quite clearly.  To service the debt you have and remain in the property you love you need a well paying job like you have now.  I sympathise with you having been in less than comfortable jobs myself in the past - hey I worked for Jaguar for 10 years helping build gas guzzlers!  I remember very well feeling like the round peg in the square hole.  I moved company twice (spending too much time in the loo in tears at one job), and twice again within companies.  It's scary, but can be done, and often results in more money, since they seem to think that's why you're wanting to move. You have skills that could be used in a different industry segment, perhaps one that fits with your values better.
It took myself and my husband 20 years to break free, and we still work now, but for ourselves and at least with the comfort of knowing that our corporate pensions previously earned will pay us more in our future retirement than we are earning now!
A few things to help:
As time goes on the debts seems smaller due to inflation (hopefully). Our mortgage of £63000 seemed much smaller after 15 years than it did at the start (less than twice my husband's salary as opposed to three times our joint one). Since we were not in our 'forever home', although quite comfortable in suburbia, we were happy to sell it to buy this property outright (cheaper properties here as well).
Reducing your money outgoings does have an effect, a bit like melting an iceberg.  Maybe if you could use this, by paying off part of your debt with it, it might help to keep motivated. Draw some charts that you can fill in to see your progress beyond the status quo towards your debt freedom.
Concentrate on enjoying your off duty time, and making the most of it.  Maybe build up some residual income, or get your name known in whatever field you think may be a replacement money stream.
The good thing about hitting your head on a brick wall is how good it feels when you stop!

On another point there is never a good time to have children.  By this I mean, if you wait until the time is right you may never have them.  I wanted children and my husband didn't when we were first married.  By the time he'd come around and it seemed right for us to try, I was thirty.  A few years passed before we realised we had problems in conceiving, and despite various medical efforts I've never been pregnant.  Adoption never appealed, although I could consider fostering, our house probably wouldn't be fit! Just a gentle warning not to leave it too long.  Although children don't come cheap, they don't have to have everything new either!

Life is not simple, unless you make it so.



What am I supposed to do with the damn cake if I cant eat it? Shove it in my boss’s face!?! (Kidding... kind of)

Seriously though, you’re right. We chose the house fully aware of the mortgage and property taxes. I married my wife fully aware of her student loans. I dug myself this hole willingly and am not necessarily looking for an easy escape. What I’m looking for is an escape route that I enjoy more, or one that’s at least more sustainable that the one I’m trying now. I never intended on retiring from this job. Ive always felt that at some point, I would be looked at as the crazy guy who left the dream job to find something that made him more happy/ fulfilled. And honestly, considering the fact that I believe most people are insane, I dont really care if they do think I’m crazy for leaving!

As far as debts go, we can definitely pay off smaller debts relatively easily (for now at least) but the mortgage and student loans are big enough that they will likely linger for quite a while. And so long as I dont feel like a half asleep robot while I’m paying them off, I’m alright with the debt.

About kids: I totally agree that there is never a good time to have children. We weren’t waiting for the “right” time, we were waiting for me to actually have the desire. Because I most certainly did not have any of that desire until I was maybe 25 years old. And by that time I realized by that time that I’d better make some progress on some things asap because once I’m a father, that “off duty” time will likely be non existent, at least for a while. Also, her family and friends were constantly pressuring us with the “when are you guys having kids” question, which, for me being rebellious, just pushed me away from the whole idea. We also wanted to improve our health before generating another person with our bodies, and we’ve spent the last several years doing that. We’re 28 now and feel like we’re as ready as we will ever be and that the time is coming very soon. And I agree that no matter what, children wont be cheap. But they can definitely a hell of a lot cheaper than the Jones’s kids!
 
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Pay off all your debt, save up an emergency fund and then pursue your passion. Quitting your well paying job with all of that debt will turn your passion into a nightmare.
 
Brody Ekberg
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G Freden wrote:We are within £13,000 of paying off our mortgage, as a consequence of working at sucky jobs, cutting our expenses down to the very bone, and living very frugally--and putting every spare penny onto overpaying.  On our current trajectory, we can pay it off in two more years, which will be six years early (on a 20 year term).  We could have paid it off already had we been living this sort of lifestyle right from the beginning, but we were younger and perhaps less wise.  Only a few years ago we had credit card debt and car loans/personal loans;  finally paying these off lifted such a weight off our shoulders.  Some people would consider our lifestyle unacceptable:  we don't buy anything we don't need, and we don't buy anything new if we can get it secondhand.  And yet, in two more years we can throw off the chains of debt, forever.  We will be free.



I don’t want to burst your bubble or knock your positivity down, but I do feel that assuming you will be debt free forever is asking for a rude awakening! You mentioned a mortgage, which means you have a house. What happens when you need a new roof, windows, water line, water heater... And you mentioned not having car loans. Ours are paid off too, been that way for a year or two. Yay!... then I blow a head gasket and now we’re looking at buying another vehicle. Sure as hell wont be new, and I’d like to not take out a loan for it, but considering other expenses, we will see what we can do.

I’m not trying to be a downer or sound negative, but I feel like so long as we want to own a house and machines and depend on public utilities, debt will always be a monster lurking under the bed. And if we keep that monster at bay for years and years, it inevitably may pop up when we least expect it. Granted, its much easier to pay off a $4,000 loan for a car or a water line or a roof than to pay off a $100,000 mortgage. Thats kind of where were at now: pay off as many small debts as possible and try at all costs to avoid taking out more loans in the future. If we get down to just student loans and a mortgage, I’m alright with that, so long as we can make payments. But all those things I listed: car, water line, windows, garage roof, water heater, furnace... all very likely going to need to be replaced within the next 5 years. Paying for that, while paying bills, putting money into retirement, paying other loans and building an emergency fund, while still living, will be tricky to say the least!
 
elle sagenev
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[quote=Brody Ekberg
And I agree that no matter what, children wont be cheap. But they can definitely a hell of a lot cheaper than the Jones’s kids!


Easy to say until your kid ends up getting diagnosed with cataracts and every push of the lazer button costs $600, it's not covered by insurance either because it's not FDA approved for use with kids but the Dr. explains that just cutting the eye may result in massive tearing because kids eyes are so thick and basically looks depressed as he explains this whole process because he realizes people don't have money. Then that $$ you have sitting in the bank "for emergencies" saves your child's eyeball. My kids don't have phones or Ipads or computers or fancy "stuff" but my child has an eyeball that cost us thousands so......expensive kid basically.


Not trying to be a downer I'm just pragmatic. My husband actually did quit his job, which made 3x more than I do and stays home. It's not a problem for us. Financially we are fine. Not having debt is what made this all possible for us. I worry for you. I think you should be totally freaked out about your debt and tackling it with all your might!!!




As for your other comments on debt, we've been debt free for 9 years now. Got debt free before our first kid was 1 and he's 10 now. We have a savings account for everything. We have a medical savings account. We have an unexpected expenses savings account. We have a "we can live for a year if you lose your job" savings account. We also experience everything in 2's. When my car blew up the transmission went in our "spare" car 2 months later. We don't have expensive cars but my husband just got a really nice used subaru for 11k which we paid for completely in cash and then replenished the account that money came from because my car is definitely on it's way out. I see no debt in our future. When debt isn't an option in life it's pretty easy to be debt free.
 
Brody Ekberg
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T Simpson wrote:Well I'm in a similar boat, although no debt. My advice having started a few businesses in the past is this: start small with one thing; maybe just selling eggs. Do not try and branch out into any other product until that one product is doing well and you have developed a reputation. Once that is stable only then branch out into creating more income streams. I would say that you could think of your current job as a stable predictable product and you could start to branch out into one additional income stream. But you have debt so is your current job really profitable yet? Debt should always be the first thing to go before investing in a new venture. Once you have a blank slate to work on and something stable to fall back on fear of the unknown wont hold you back.



On the topic of debt, couldn’t personal debt be irrelevant as far as business goes? Forgive any ignorance or naivety, but what does my mortgage have to do with a completely separate business that I’m running? I understand the mental freedom of being debt free, and I see the value in it. But I also feel like if I wait until we’re debt free before changing our situation, it will never happen. It may take 10 years and in that amount of time, maybe my body has issues, maybe the market opportunities have closed, maybe someone else stole my business idea, hell, maybe I died. Yes, I’m a little impatient and need to balance that, but waiting for the stars to align before making a move sounds insufferable!

Also, as someone who has started businesses, I’m curious your opinion on this:

This post started about a landscaping business idea because I look at where my passions, values and income opportunities interested. I dont think following money will ever lead to happiness. And blindly following passions only works once in a while, and can be less than profitable. But aligning money, value and passion sounds like the golden ticket. When I wake up (if it isn’t winter or pouring rain) I want to design, build and maintain gardens, food forests and the land in general. Whether money exists or not, that is what I want to do with my time in this body. So, that leads to landscaping business...

BUT... when I consider start up costs, balancing home life, my current job and a new business venture, the landscaping business sound pretty rough. Plus, it would be seasonal considering we’re buried under snow half the year.

A different previous business idea that my wife and I very seriously considered and started planning (covid put a damper on the process) is a fermentation business. Ideally buying as locally sourced vegetables as possible and selling them as locally as possible. Ideally being organic as well. There is definitely a market and demand for this already. I have experience fermenting foods for years and everyone seems to love what I create. I’ve worked in the food industry before and am sort of familiar with it (not from an owner perspective but worker). We also feel that start up costs would be lower, time required to produce a “product” would probably be shorter, and balancing between everything else during start up would probably be easier. I dont wake up wanting to ferment vegetables in the morning... but it is much more closely aligned with the land, wellness and sustainability than my utility job. And it would provide community connections to consumers, farmers, gardeners and other businesses.

I’m not asking you what I should do, but what is your opinion? What sounds like a safer, more reliable and better fit for my situation based off of what you know about starting and running a business?
 
elle sagenev
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I keep responding, :P Can't help it. I know I've been going on about the money and I do think you're not taking that seriously enough, however, I also get passion. I don't wake up every day thinking, "Boy I want to go to work and discredit victims of pedophiles to save our client". Some of the things I do really haunt me emotionally. But, I have all these great things. My job enables me to buy trees and tractors and build greenhouses and ponds. My job feeds the pigs. It's bought sainfoin seed. It's paid for my passion and boy do I have passions. I don't see it as an either or. I work for money because I can't do all the things I love without it. Of course a part of me does enjoy my job. I get to really delve into people's lives and it's fascinating. Traumatizing, but fascinating. You make great money and if you didn't have all that debt just think about what that money could DO. That money could build everything you've ever dreamed of on that land you own. It could set up a food forest that will feed you for life. Stop thinking of your job as what's preventing your passion. It's not. It's what is going to make your passion a reality.



Also, I'm getting my Masters and my final paper is all about picking a business and analyzing operations, trying to fix it and make it profitable basically. So if you have a real plan I'm one class away from that final paper and I'd be happy to take your business idea and make it my masters paper, I have to pick something.
 
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Brody Ekberg wrote:
I don’t want to burst your bubble or knock your positivity down, but I do feel that assuming you will be debt free forever is asking for a rude awakening! You mentioned a mortgage, which means you have a house. What happens when you need a new roof, windows, water line, water heater... And you mentioned not having car loans. Ours are paid off too, been that way for a year or two. Yay!... then I blow a head gasket and now we’re looking at buying another vehicle. Sure as hell wont be new, and I’d like to not take out a loan for it, but considering other expenses, we will see what we can do.

I’m not trying to be a downer or sound negative, but I feel like so long as we want to own a house and machines and depend on public utilities, debt will always be a monster lurking under the bed. And if we keep that monster at bay for years and years, it inevitably may pop up when we least expect it. Granted, its much easier to pay off a $4,000 loan for a car or a water line or a roof than to pay off a $100,000 mortgage. Thats kind of where were at now: pay off as many small debts as possible and try at all costs to avoid taking out more loans in the future. If we get down to just student loans and a mortgage, I’m alright with that, so long as we can make payments. But all those things I listed: car, water line, windows, garage roof, water heater, furnace... all very likely going to need to be replaced within the next 5 years. Paying for that, while paying bills, putting money into retirement, paying other loans and building an emergency fund, while still living, will be tricky to say the least!



I actually think that this post you made is the most telling. $4000 for a car? wow there's 160% tax on cars here and I wouldn't consider spending that. we buy one with a new roadworthyness certificate (which lasts 2 years) and expect to replace it at the next test. If you want to work a passion project you need to really bring down your expectations.

But the most important bit is you don't stop saving when you pay of the debt, you start putting money away instead. As soon as we bought the car started saving for the next one, we now have enough in the "car fund" to replace it should it suddenly die.  Roofs do not just fall off (if they do that's what your insurance is for) you start saving before it happens, a steel roof has a lifespan of 15 years but it can be patched well beyond that while you save money.  We replaced the roof on our last house, we had it professionally measured and then put it all on including straightening the rafters and setting all the new wood ourselves the only extra cost was hiring a lift. The boiler broke this year (the flame sensor died) of course it did that at 3pm on a friday when it was -8 outside that is exactly what we have savings for, it's also what we have blankets and a backup heater for if we don't want to pay for an emergency call out.


If I were you..
Try making some fermented things just in your kitchen, take them round everywhere you can think of and see if anyone is interested in buying them.  If you can find one hire a commercial kitchen and make larger amounts, take them to a market and see if they sell. (depending on your local laws you may not need the commercial kitchen)
Sit down and work out how much money you need to pay everything and live on, is that fesable self employed? If it is work out what training etc you would need to do it. and get that training. save up at least 6 months expenditure.
go to the bank with your business plan.. get your start up loan and go for it. If you want it to support you from the start you'll probably need to jump right in with a loan and all guns blazing.
 
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elle sagenev wrote:Pay off all your debt, save up an emergency fund and then pursue your passion. Quitting your well paying job with all of that debt will turn your passion into a nightmare.



If we want to follow this route, it would likely take us 10 years or more before we would be able to make any significant life changes. I mean paying off $140,000 of debt and a hoarding up a 6 month emergency fund (following Dave Ramsey) is a lifes work, not a quick step along the way!
 
Brody Ekberg
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elle sagenev wrote:
Not trying to be a downer I'm just pragmatic. My husband actually did quit his job, which made 3x more than I do and stays home. It's not a problem for us. Financially we are fine. Not having debt is what made this all possible for us. I worry for you. I think you should be totally freaked out about your debt and tackling it with all your might!!!




As for your other comments on debt, we've been debt free for 9 years now. Got debt free before our first kid was 1 and he's 10 now. We have a savings account for everything. We have a medical savings account. We have an unexpected expenses savings account. We have a "we can live for a year if you lose your job" savings account. We also experience everything in 2's. When my car blew up the transmission went in our "spare" car 2 months later. We don't have expensive cars but my husband just got a really nice used subaru for 11k which we paid for completely in cash and then replenished the account that money came from because my car is definitely on it's way out. I see no debt in our future. When debt isn't an option in life it's pretty easy to be debt free.





I totally see the value in being debt free and think that, for anyone who hasn’t bitten that bullet yet, staying debt free is a fantastic idea. But for those of us who bit that bullet and aren’t entirely willing to uproot our life, debt is inevitable. I think the only reasonable way we could be debt free is to sell our house and as much unnecessary stuff as possible, live super frugally, downsize to a smaller house, property and lifestyle and still hope that student loans get forgiven... that’s a lot to chew. If being debt free is ever our top priority, selling the house will probably be step 1 considering that is 2/3 of the debt itself. But as long as we want to stay here and raise a family, I think acceptance of some debt is needed.
 
Brody Ekberg
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elle sagenev wrote:I keep responding, :P Can't help it. I know I've been going on about the money and I do think you're not taking that seriously enough, however, I also get passion. I don't wake up every day thinking, "Boy I want to go to work and discredit victims of pedophiles to save our client". Some of the things I do really haunt me emotionally. But, I have all these great things. My job enables me to buy trees and tractors and build greenhouses and ponds. My job feeds the pigs. It's bought sainfoin seed. It's paid for my passion and boy do I have passions. I don't see it as an either or. I work for money because I can't do all the things I love without it. Of course a part of me does enjoy my job. I get to really delve into people's lives and it's fascinating. Traumatizing, but fascinating. You make great money and if you didn't have all that debt just think about what that money could DO. That money could build everything you've ever dreamed of on that land you own. It could set up a food forest that will feed you for life. Stop thinking of your job as what's preventing your passion. It's not. It's what is going to make your passion a reality.



Also, I'm getting my Masters and my final paper is all about picking a business and analyzing operations, trying to fix it and make it profitable basically. So if you have a real plan I'm one class away from that final paper and I'd be happy to take your business idea and make it my masters paper, I have to pick something.



I am taking the debt seriously. I seriously think that the only way to pay it off is to sell our house, move, wipe the slate of our dream clean, and restart smaller somewhere else. This sounds like shit to us right now. The debt sounds a lot nicer than imagining all my hard work and dreams go into the hands of someone other than myself right now. But, if debt starts to weigh heavy on us and we start to think that starting over and being debt free would be better, then that is always an option.

I still like the idea of building a small but profitable business that can help pay off these debts without us having to uproot our life and start from scratch. I dont see why that isn’t possible. Might be risky, but so is driving...

And I’m fully aware of how good I’ve got it at work and that most people would do anything to be in my position. But I’m also aware that that is all totally irrelevant. I’m me, and I feel the way I feel. I’m not everyone else feeling what everyone else feels. I don’t expect to wake up excited to go to work every day and to work all day long with a smile and no worries, to come home feeling fulfilled and happy. That’s a stretch and something that can only be accomplished mentally and emotionally, no matter what job you’ve got. What I do expect though is to be able to feel like I’m doing something directly related to what I hold to be valuable in this life. I expect to be able to feel that what I’m doing has direct value to myself and family, my community and my environment. I dont want some complicated web of confusion to sort through to try to convince myself that what I’m doing is valuable. That’s too much nonsense for me. I want to know that my days work directly benefits us all with no confusion, no convincing and no indirect meandering around ideas and processes. I’m tired of feeling that I’m a screwdriver being used to pound in nails at work. I’m tired of feeling like I have to convince myself that I’m not settling or just going through the motions because “it’s just what you do”. I’m tired of despising certain aspects of my job, and being in a position where I cant make changes to those aspects. I’m tired of contributing to dying processes and systems that I so badly want to replace. So, me wanting a different job is more about sustainability and not ramming a circular peg into a square hole than it is about being happy or passionate.

And we do not have a business plan yet, but I am starting to look into what that consists of. Whenever we get one made up, I’d love for you to look it over and see what you think! I really appreciate the offer!
 
Brody Ekberg
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Skandi Rogers wrote:

I actually think that this post you made is the most telling. $4000 for a car? wow there's 160% tax on cars here and I wouldn't consider spending that. we buy one with a new roadworthyness certificate (which lasts 2 years) and expect to replace it at the next test. If you want to work a passion project you need to really bring down your expectations.

But the most important bit is you don't stop saving when you pay of the debt, you start putting money away instead. As soon as we bought the car started saving for the next one, we now have enough in the "car fund" to replace it should it suddenly die.  Roofs do not just fall off (if they do that's what your insurance is for) you start saving before it happens, a steel roof has a lifespan of 15 years but it can be patched well beyond that while you save money.  We replaced the roof on our last house, we had it professionally measured and then put it all on including straightening the rafters and setting all the new wood ourselves the only extra cost was hiring a lift. The boiler broke this year (the flame sensor died) of course it did that at 3pm on a friday when it was -8 outside that is exactly what we have savings for, it's also what we have blankets and a backup heater for if we don't want to pay for an emergency call out.


If I were you..
Try making some fermented things just in your kitchen, take them round everywhere you can think of and see if anyone is interested in buying them.  If you can find one hire a commercial kitchen and make larger amounts, take them to a market and see if they sell. (depending on your local laws you may not need the commercial kitchen)
Sit down and work out how much money you need to pay everything and live on, is that fesable self employed? If it is work out what training etc you would need to do it. and get that training. save up at least 6 months expenditure.
go to the bank with your business plan.. get your start up loan and go for it. If you want it to support you from the start you'll probably need to jump right in with a loan and all guns blazing.



I feel like $4,000 for a car is pretty cheap. I mean, with vehicles, you lose. Period. Spend a lot and pay on it forever or spend a little and either pay for repairs constantly or consider yourself to be a part time mechanic from now on to save on repair bills. Plus, we get winter for 5-6 months so need something either all wheel drive or 4 wheel drive. Also, we need the capability to move thing, so either a truck (hopefully not) or something with a hitch and some towing capacity. Either way, it will cost several thousand at a minimum.

We are good about saving. Whether we’re paying on loans or not, we’re always saving money. And when a loan gets paid off, that money just gets redirected to another loan, so there’s no relaxation there.

As for the fermentation business: we’re definitely not looking to dive in and replace my job asap. We want to start slow and see how it grows, what opportunities present themselves and how we handle the extra work before committing to me quitting my current job. The hardest part of that will be balancing the time. We want to rent kitchen space (needs to be licensed commercial kitchen here) to start with and see how it goes. If we weren’t going to have any children, I’d dive in head first. But I think dragging it out slowly and carefully would be logical and “safe” ( i kind of hate that) for their sake.
 
steward
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Maybe this is off topic but would you have the certifications and background to be an electrician?  Or do solar/wind installations?  Maybe there'd be decent money in those lines of work and they might be slightly more closely aligned to your passions?

Unless you can throw $30k or more at your debt each year, it'll be hard to get rid of it any time soon.  But being debt free (including the house) is a pretty rare situation.  It affords a ton of freedom to do what you want but you'd be 1 in 100,000 (for your age, living in a house).

One interesting thing I'm finding about permaculture is that if you do it enough, people start to want to pay you to do it for them.  In my case it's a combination of handyman stuff, teaching homesteading skills and odd jobs.  They wouldn't pay the bills but I'm also not pursuing/promoting them at all.  Or in other words, if I wanted to make money at it full time, I'd have to be a lot more serious about getting jobs.

I think the landscaping and handyman area has enough demand, even in a smaller town like Iron River.  Even if it's just doing "normal" landscaping with a clear focus on the environment.  In my area if you're a plumber you can get so much work you don't even have to answer the phone.  Not sure about landscaping...  Plus in the winter you can shovel roofs and or plow if you want to do that sort of work.  Or harvest balsam boughs or birch poles.
 
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Interestingly worded inquiry. Your job and benefits “helped to get you where you are now,” which includes $140,000 debt in the form of a house, student loans and miscellaneous things that contributed to the debt. In other words, you have become comfortable enough with your income to incur this debt. And thus, without that income, for you to perhaps break even you must make more than the sum of your monthly payments.
  The main concern is whether you can meet those payments and maintain the level of lifestyle you want and/or need. This also must take into account the anticipated cost of future expense (children) and the ancillary expenditures that come with that future (unplanned broken bones and illness can be rather expensive and the mental stress to afford them is its own expense).
  Your wife is the best indication of what you should do.
  You report she has given you the “blessing to quit whenever,” but in the next breath you cite her financial concerns.
  She is saying what you want to hear and hoping you will hear what you need to do.
  Her “blessing to quit” is her way of saying she supports you in making the best choice for you both: Her expressed concern is her way of letting you know that she hopes you realize what is the best for you both—especially if you want to support a future family that isn’t struggling.
  Do your passion of a lesser interest on the side—that is what makes it your passion of lesser interest. But support your family in the best way you can because THAT is the greater passion of your life. At the end what you have done will not be as important as for whom you have done it and that you have done for them the best that they deserve.
  If you desire to make your passion of lesser interest (whatever that might be) into the source of income supporting the greater passion of your life, then endeavor to turn your passion of lesser interest into a source of income that is concurrent with the income supporting the greater passion of your life. When those two incomes are equal, only then can you feel some assurance that the lesser passion of your life can, on its own, support the greater passion of your life.
  For what it is worth, that is what I would do if I were in your circumstances.
 
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Also, I want to say that I know a lot of you will think becoming debt free first is most important, but I honestly dont see how that’s possible.



In order to see that it is possible, you must choose to believe it is actually possible.  Everything that is built in this world is built twice: first in the mind, then in reality.  You can do it.  But it's going to take time, and planning on paper, and sacrifice, and others can't make it happen for you, especially if you don't think it is possible.  

Here’s my very blunt advice: Take some time offline and come up with a solid plan to get out of debt while simultaneously making your family's life better.  Continue to permaculturalize your surroundings, beginning at your doorstep.  Here's an example plan:

____1. Don’t sell your home.

     -Shelter is a basic need.
     -Once it is paid off some day – yes, that day will come - then consider renting it out and moving if you don’t like the area.  

____2. Keep your current job for another year.

     ___A) Write out 10 things you really like about your job.  Also write out the deeper purpose for why you are working there.  Carry that on an index card and keep it available for reference.  Take a look at it when you are feeling down about your job.  Remind yourself out loud:

            “No one is forcing me to work here.  It may be hard, but I choose to work here.”

     ___B) On the flip side of that card, write out 5 things you don’t like about your job.  But... flip the narrative for each one, and do your best to change it to its opposite.

          e.g. “My job doesn’t add value to the world.”  
                 → transforms to:
                “My job DOES add value to the world, otherwise they wouldn’t be paying me.  My family and community rely on my services.”

          e.g. "I am hurting the environment by doing my job."
                → transforms to:
                "Even if I personally didn't do this job, someone else would still be doing it.  Better me than others.  I will use the value I gain from this job to change the system for the better when possible."

    ___C) Learn about the inverted U-shaped performance vs stress curve.  Stress is a GOOD thing.  Too much or too little stress is bad.  Figure out where you are on the curve.  With your current responsibilities, ask yourself, are you:

               Bored,
               Adequately tasked, or…
               Overwhelmed?  

            If you drastically change your life or quit your job, will it result in more or less performance and stress?

    ___D) Brainstorm +50 ways to make your current job more satisfying.  Here’s a start:

         1) Music
         2) Environmental modifications, color, art
         3) Have a plant at the desk, or a small plant in the truck.
         4) Guerrilla garden at your job site
         5) More productive or fun breaks
         6) Healthy snacks
         7) Engaging more/less with other coworkers
         8) Focus on making others happy
         9) Brainstorming business plans when there is down time
         10) Call the wife from work more often
         11) Yoga / stretching

___3. Schedule a date-night plus 30 minute strategic conversation with your family.

     ____ A) ”What does OUR ideal life look like? What does it sound, smell, feel, and taste like?”  Focus on developing a common vision that is jointly held.  You’ve already conceptualized your vision of Eden, but keep brainstorming until there is a JOINT vision established, and write that one down.  That vision is yours, your wife’s, and any other stakeholders involved.  

     ____B) Ask yourselves whether you are willing to sacrifice your individual short term happiness, goals, and passions for your family’s long term happiness, joint goals, purpose, and common passions.  Sacrificing takes courage.  If you aren’t willing to sacrifice, delay having children.  Even if you wait past your biological clocks, adoption is still possible.  No rush.  You’re young, you still have time. Focus on the marriage. Kids change everything, supposedly.

     ____C) Continuously brainstorm ways you can dovetail your current reality and joint context closer to your Eden vision.  Avoid thinking escapist permie-pie-in-the-sky thoughts.  Instead think hard, achievable, boring but possibly beautiful realities.  Write them down.  

___4. Audit your time for a normal week.

      -Carry a notebook or another index card along with a watch, and figure out where all your time goes in a week.

     168 hours in a week.  
     -  40 hour work week,
     -  56 hours sleeping
   =  72 hours of expected free time.

      -Discover all time sinks.  Everything, good or bad.  Write it down.
      -Analyze and eliminate or swap various time sinks in order to get you closer to your vision.

          e.g. "Oh, apparently I spent 1 hour on Permies.com each week reading about other people's permaculture gardens;
          Instead, I will spend that time collecting 30 lbs of organic matter from the neighborhood as fertilizer for my market garden.
"


___5. Audit your money.  If you have never made a formal budget, do it.

     -Use a notebook or index cards, and figure out where all your money goes in a month.
     -Put it all in a spreadsheet.  Money in. Money available.  Money out.  It’s a flow system.  Use systems thinking: plug the leaks and increase the flow coming in.
     -Ruthlessly eliminate or reduce as many recurring out flows as possible.  When paying down your debt, just think of it as enabling future, permaculture-related projects.  Challenge your true needs vs wants.  There is no shame in eating inexpensive.  Even billionaire Elon Musk once ate cheaply at less than $30(CAD) for a month to prove he could.

         e.g. I paid $20 in dog food for a month.  → If I sell the dog, that saves $240 a year in puppy chow.  "I saved enough to buy 500 bare root apple trees each year".
         e.g. I paid $5 in beer each week → Switching to water.  Saves $60 a year.  "I just saved myself 4 hours of working for the man at a minimum wage job in the future."

   
___6. Dig deeper into your community, explore, and leverage what you have.    
 
Lets pretend you live in Iron County, MI.  Perhaps there are part time jobs in work fields that better align with what you want to do.  Perhaps you can work an additional job on the weekends for a landscaper, or a local farm, and expand their offerings for sale.  Perhaps parks or churches would let you plant trees or place mushroom logs under downspouts.  Perhaps there are non-profits or volunteering opportunities that would enable you to achieve your goals of teaching youth.  

___ 7. Pay it off and pay it forward, slowly.
You have everything you need around you to start achieving your dream.  It may take a while.  It may will be unpleasant. You can do it.  Do it evenly-yoked alongside your wife.  Please don't reply to this post, because your time is too valuable!  Just go, and turn that passion into a slow, steady, productive force to be reckoned with.
 
Brody Ekberg
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Mike Haasl wrote:Maybe this is off topic but would you have the certifications and background to be an electrician?  Or do solar/wind installations?  Maybe there'd be decent money in those lines of work and they might be slightly more closely aligned to your passions?

Unless you can throw $30k or more at your debt each year, it'll be hard to get rid of it any time soon.  But being debt free (including the house) is a pretty rare situation.  It affords a ton of freedom to do what you want but you'd be 1 in 100,000 (for your age, living in a house).

One interesting thing I'm finding about permaculture is that if you do it enough, people start to want to pay you to do it for them.  In my case it's a combination of handyman stuff, teaching homesteading skills and odd jobs.  They wouldn't pay the bills but I'm also not pursuing/promoting them at all.  Or in other words, if I wanted to make money at it full time, I'd have to be a lot more serious about getting jobs.

I think the landscaping and handyman area has enough demand, even in a smaller town like Iron River.  Even if it's just doing "normal" landscaping with a clear focus on the environment.  In my area if you're a plumber you can get so much work you don't even have to answer the phone.  Not sure about landscaping...  Plus in the winter you can shovel roofs and or plow if you want to do that sort of work.  Or harvest balsam boughs or birch poles.



I would be a little better off than a random person off the street doing interior electrical work or doing sustainable energy. But not by much, and definitely would need training and apprenticeship. Either way, I’m really not interested in doing that, but it is a good thought.

I totally share your opinions about the debt thing and being 1 in 100,000. If we knocked it all down to just the mortgage, that would be fantastic, but knocking the mortgage out as well is a long long road.

I also think the landscaping idea would have enough demand here as well, and thought about snow removal in winter. My main concern now is if I’d be better off focusing on doing exactly what I want to do (landscaping, gardening, designing food forests) and having faith that we will find money in it and find a balanced lifestyle. Or do the fermentation business because its more aligned with my passions than my current job, will likely be as profitable as we make it, and will probably be easier to balance family life with. Basically follow my heart or my head... If i was alone, i would hands down choose my heart. Since I’m married, have debt and want to have a child or two, its hard not to feel obligated to follow my head!
 
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