I've been trying to come up with a series of posts that have a little more substance to them; some that explain more how I am able to do some things and my philosophies for building and self-sufficiency. I get a lot of people that wonder how I am able to build a house out of my pocket and avoid having a mortgage. Well, first let me say that, as ya'll know, I don't have any kids or family to incur extra expenses so I know that I am able to do some things that other would have a very difficult time with. Some of my practices could maybe help those with families but I'm not going to find fault or criticize those with kids that don't do some of the things I do because I have no right to judge. I also am fully aware that I have received some incredible gifts in my life. Let's just say some men have been very generous to me, for whatever reason, and I owe much to them for helping me.
Now, to begin with, I saved my money for about 10 years before I started building but even then I only had enough to black the house in. And to be fair, Allen did contribute some money at that point, which I am trying to pay back, but I have paid for everything else from that point. Which is about $22,000 at this point but it has not been a burden or even a particular hardship to pay for the house as I go. Now, by most of our society's standards I probably live a deprived life. I find it quite full and enjoyable myself but ya'll know I'm a little weird.
Basically, I live (or try to) by the words of William Morris, "Do not keep anything in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful." (I think this could go for keeping men too, heehee) Anyway, this simple mantra helps me to live a frugal, uncluttered life, which, in turn, saves me money. It is my heartfelt belief that our society has become so empty in it's soul that most people grasp desperately for any material possessions they can get, in an effort to fill a void that they cannot understand. We text each other constantly but can't sit down and have a real conversation with that same person. We claim to embrace God but as soon as the service is over we rush out to gorge ourselves on unhealthy food and the latest sale of stupid shit we don't even need. Now, this is a whole 'nother post so I'm going to get back to my facts but this is a sickness that has enveloped America. A sickness that is driving a large portion of our neighbors into out -of-control debt, misery and broken lives. Even if you are not trying to build a house, now is not a good time to be up to your eyeballs in debt. Well, it never is but you know what I mean. Things are not getting better as our government would like us to believe. I will probably be out of work again in a matter of weeks myself. But here's is the thing: I can handle it because I have no debt.
How do I do this, you ask? Well, several ways. Probably first and foremost, I don't shop unless I truly need something and I mean really need not this 'I feel down and buying something will cheer me up for about 30 minutes' stuff. Now, ya'll know I hate Wal-Mart (and that's a whole 'nother post too) but basically the propaganda that those places spread, that you NEED to shop there to have a good life, is revolting. I hear so many people say, " they have so much stuff I never knew I needed!" Naw, if you didn't think about it, you didn't need it and Mal-Wart is laughing all the way to the bank while you try to stretch your paycheck 'til next week. The little $20- 30 trips to the store a few times a week for junk adds up big time. I don't even shop at thrift stores unless there is something specific I'm looking for. It all boils down to this; you don't need that much to live and live happily. You don't need 16 sets of sheets for one bed. You don't need 50 pairs of shoes. You need a dry place to sleep, a little food each day, something to work to make yourself feel useful and a loving pair of arms, if you so desire. That's it.
Now, granted I do have a fair collection of tools and I even have artwork and music to enjoy but I USE everything I have. If I don't use an object for 6 months to a year (and it's not a seasonal thing like Christmas decorations) I give it to someone who can use it or sell it.
Secondly, I have only the most basic of television, phone and Internet services and I've ranted on this before. Get out and make a life instead of watching someone else's. Trust me, from what I see on TV, those peoples lives should be hid from public view instead of celebrated. When you are lying on your deathbed, are you going to say, "oh God, if only I had seen the last season of the Sopranos!?" I hope not. I do not text or do anything on my phone other than occasionally talk and I don't pay for that crap either. I am a cell phone reps worst nightmare because I don't even want the stupid camera on them but you can't really get them without it nowadays.
I try to grow at least some of my own food or buy locally grown food which is usually cheaper and I use every bit of it. To have to throw out food makes me sick. I take my lunch to work every day and the guys are always peeking over my shoulder to see what good meal I have, while they eat prepacked crap that is way more expensive. I never buy lunch food that is 'individually packaged' for lunches. That crap is way more expensive if you figure the price per ounce. Buy a damn box of baggies and reuse them. That's another thing I do. I don't like using plastic but we are not allowed to bring glass containers onto a job site so I kinda have to, but I can make a box of baggies last a year. Just wash them out and hang to dry.
I don't go out to eat all the time either. This helps me keep my weight down and saves money too. I make a lot of my own cleaning supplies and even some makeup and skincare items. You can get the basic ingredients for very little.
I use cloth napkins and dust rags. I wait for sales and specials to stock up on staples such as cooking oil, pasta, flour etc. I eat leftovers until it is ALL gone. I maintain my tools and truck instead of just letting something tear up on it and it costing me hundreds more. And speaking of vehicles, I don't go buy a new one as soon as I pay off one. I drive my trucks until they fall apart but of all the stuff I buy, I always try to get the best quality that I can afford. I do not buy cheap shit because you do get what you pay for. I buy the best quality I can and take care of it!
I also barter for some things or work when I can. This can go a long way. I've done several post or reclaiming free building material and that has also been an enormous help.
Now, I do a lot of this stuff because I learned the hard way. I have been in debt and I didn't like it. The freedom and peace of mind is much better. And I have at times thrown money up a wild hog's ass on some stupid shit but hopefully, I learned better. However, don't sit there thinking I live in a threadbare, little hovel. I have great artwork and a still growing, major groovin' CD collection. Ya'll know how I like music. I do not deprive myself. I have just learned what is important to me in life and what is not. I eat well and even occasionally splurge on a pair of small, handmade earrings, which I adore. There are also a myriad of other ways to save money that I know I have not mentioned but I think that just learning what we really NEED as opposed to what we WANT is one of the major keys to being debt free.
*Dave Mathews Band