Andy Fleming writing on living off the grid…
Feeling trapped, drained, and dismayed by the slough of a so-called “normal” life? Desperate to start taking direct control of your own happiness and freedom by living in harmony with nature and surviving off the sweat of your own brow?
If this defines you, and you feel the only thing holding you back is the financial means to make the initial transition, worry not!
You probably already have everything you need to get the money together and make a plan to escape to an idyllic life in the country. If you put your mind to it, and are willing to do whatever it takes to achieve a more gratifying existence, you could have everything you need to make the move in less than 12 months. Keep reading for some strategies for getting that initial chunk of cash together.
Let’s start with a number: $10,000. You might already have that in savings, in which case there’s no reason you can’t get off the grid ASAP. If not, there’s a very simple way to start saving. How, you ask? Cut out all those extra “services” you pay for every month and sell everything you don’t need.
You don’t have to stop washing your clothes entirely, but you can find ways to do it that don’t require power, hot water, or store bought soap. You’ll quickly find that doing things for yourself is liberating and rewarding.
Here are some easy steps you can start taking right now:
Fast Food, Restaurants, Coffee, and Alcohol – Potential Savings: $380-$600
Eating out with your family even once a week usually adds up to a minimum of $200 a month. Add in the fact that a lot of people spend around $10 a day on snacks and overpriced coffee and that’s another $300 down the drain. Even just making the commitment to make yourself lunch every day before going to work can save hundreds of dollars per month. Cutting out alcohol will not only give you a little extra energy and boost your immune system, you’ll also probably save $80 to $100 on those drinks.
Cable TV, Internet, and Cell Phone Plans – Potential Savings: $50-$100
Some of these services can be downgraded, and some can be cut off completely. If you’re only using cable TV to watch movies, consider switching to Netflix or Hulu for $7.99 a month. Call your internet provider to see if you can downgrade to a slower connection. Unless you’re doing tons of high-quality video streaming or downloading, you probably won’t notice any change. Downgrading your data-plan on your cell phone (even temporarily will help) could net you an additional $50 a month.
Unnecessary Shopping – Potential Savings: $150-$250
We all indulge in a little “retail therapy” now and again. It’s easy to hit the mall and pick up a new pair of boots when you’re feeling down. Hit the trail instead and take a hike to calm your nerves. Do you really need new clothes, shoes, a fresh jacket for the cold weather? Unless you’ve got huge holes in your clothes, try putting that money aside instead. When you’re relaxing on the farm, looking out over the plot of land you own and cultivate, you’ll be glad you did.
Conserve Electricity – Potential Savings: $50-$100
This should be a no-brainer, as you’ll definitely want to practice energy conservation on the homestead, and getting some practice in always helps. Turn off lights as soon as you leave a room, unplug appliances that may be leeching power, try to wrap up in blankets and wool socks instead of raising the heat. The average person will save about $75 a month just by practicing good energy use.
At the end of the day, you’re looking at $630 to $1,050 per month in savings. That means that a single year of conservative living could net you $7,560 to $12,600. Now you can take a look at what you won’t need after the move and sell it. Take your big screen TV, microwave, extra furniture, and kitchen appliances and list them on sites like Ebay, Craig’s List, and OfferUp. Once you get close to the move you can even get rid of big appliances like your refrigerator and washer/dryer.
Keep track of what you’re saving and put all that money in a separate savings account if you can. This will reduce the temptation to spend it…and give you a concrete measure of how close you are to that $10K goal. Don’t stop once you get there either. $10,000 is enough to get your foot out the door, but any extra money can make the move more comfortable and give you some padding in the case of an emergency.
Main image: ©iStock.com/EHStock
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