I finally got the freedom from the military schedule to visit the site again. Its been 2 years since I was last here so it was a refreshing use of my vacation.
I had gone with the intent to plant all my trees using the Groasis Waterboxes I had ordered but alas, June is not a good time to get trees started so all the nurseries were sold out of trees for the season. Ill be ordering for next spring hopefully.
Undeterred, I still made myself be productive this trip. I used the "Lasagna Garden" or "no till garden" techniques to build my garden beds. I layered mushroom compost, goat manure, horse manure, straw and finally a thick layer of mulch to help cultivate the soil and hold in some moisture over the next couple of years as I wait to move in full time.
I set up the basic foundation of my home using tires for the architect David Humble to visualize and refine my design.
Remember back when you moved out of your parents’ house and lived off $100 a month? You ate ramen 2 meals a day and used your nose to decide if laundry was re-wear-able. If you survived that lifestyle back then, what’s keeping you from living off $500 a month now?
I saw a gif on the internet a few days ago that said, “We drive to a job we don't like in a car we can’t afford to pay for the hose we never live in.” This is horrifying for me. Why would I want to buy into that culture? Why would I want my children to buy into that? If there’s one thing that has been beaten into me by being a nomad it’s that.
Rule #1: If it is nonessential, you can ditch it.
Rule #2: Everything is nonessential.
We don't need anything fancy. We can walk anywhere, sleep anywhere and eat a lot more variety than people care to admit. I used to teach Wilderness Survival skills to the Boy Scouts when I worked at Summer Camp. The only things we as humans need to survive are water, shelter, and food. We don't need the biggest house in the neighborhood. We don't need the three car garage. We have been warped by advertisements to think that we need them but they are nonessentials. A car is nice but not necessary. Especially not the brand new luxury edition ______. The sooner we get out of the mindset that we need what the commercials say we need, the happier we will be. The key here is downsizing.
Stick with me here. I’m about to pretend I’m good at math. If you can cut your expenses down to half, then you are making more than double your money. I’ll get back to the “more” part in a second. Your money will go more than twice as far.
Common areas to downsize in are:
House- Getting a smaller house or moving to a place with a lower cost of living will save you thousands. If you get a smaller house then it will also be cheaper to heat, to decorate, and to clean. It will save you countless hours and dollars. You will adapt to your environment. If you force yourself to downsize now, you will grow comfortable and appreciate it later.
Car- this is a no brainer. As long as your vehicle is a reliable transport to get you where you need to go, there is nothing else you should pay for. If the dealership wants to give you freebies on top of that then by all means accept them but you should not pay for a new car or any nonessential add-ons on a vehicle. If you are paying extra for cosmetic changes on your vehicle you are throwing money away.
Clothes- buy lasting clothes. This is both referring to durability and in design. Simple designs that will not go out of style can save you hundreds over the years. You can always change accessories later if you need to feel trendy but everything you buy should be something you can get a few years wear out of... (a certain leather costume comes to mind...)
What is rich? Everyone wants to be rich but we don't have an agreed upon definition for “richness”. If I gave you $100Bajillion, I’m sure you would think yourself rich, at least financially. But what if you had to work every second of the rest of your life to get that? Would you do it? No way. So then on the opposite end of the spectrum, if you never had to work again but only all your most basic needs were met: food, shelter, toiletries, are you rich? Debatable. So what defines wealth?
I define wealth as the means to do what you want to do freely. This is intentionally vague. For some, to achieve this level of wealth will take significantly more than for others. Some want a yacht and a mansion. That is great. Others just want a porch and a dog. That's great too. As long as you can define what you need and get to that point, you are rich. Keep in mind, that the “means to do what you want” includes money, time, and health. If you do not have all these, you will be limited in what you can do and not rich as we defined it.
I read an article once somewhere where a psychologist asked his patients, “if money was no matter, what would you do with your time?” On dating sites I have many a times tried the same question but it doesn't work as well when you are a strange man seeking love on a free website. More on my dating life later. What would you do with your time? It doesn't mention your money. Just time. Would you sit and read? Would you sleep? Would you travel? How would you want to spend all the time you wouldn't have to work? For me, I would love to stay home, raise a family, grow some plants and animals and play board games all day. That may not be your cup of tea but that's the beauty of America, we can disagree. So what would you do? Where would you want to live? Would you want to live in the city? Suburbs? Community? Countryside? Abroad? How would you spend your day-to-day?
I sat in the taxi looking out the window but not paying attention to anything outside. In China you sit in the front seat next to the driver rather than in the back like in America. This was one of the many things I had gotten used to over the last five months living here. The driver and I had stopped talking minutes after pulling out. We were going to the airport for my long awaited return home. It had been a rough final month in Xi'an, China. My debit card had been reported to my bank as stolen causing them to cancel it. So, for the last month, every time I needed cash, I had to call my bank to transfer my own money from my own account to a bank in Xi’an for a $15 Western Union fee. I was down to the dredges and relieved to be going home.
I looked reluctantly at the ticking taxi meter. It was going to be close. I had 200 Yuan in my wallet, the meter read 190, and we weren’t at the airport yet. As the number on the ticker continued to rise, I racked my mind as to how to handle the situation. More to myself than the driver, I said, “I only have 200 Yuan.” I was broke and worried. We were on the freeway, still miles from the airport and hitchhiking is illegal in China.
“Well what do you want me to do?!” He asked accusingly not hiding his anger. He wasn't hiding any concern. Subtlety isn't as prevalent in China as America.
I told him to keep going, I'd figure it out. I wondered if I had any money left in my backpack in the trunk. Every mile the driver glared questioningly my way. I assured him I had more money in the trunk that I couldn't get to. About 10 minutes later we pulled into the airport and I gave the man everything out of my wallet. We then went to the trunk together and I pulled out every pocket and opened every zipper. I rummaged together another 10 Yuan, 1 US Dollar, and 3 Euro. Doing the quick, rough calculation, I explained to him how much each was worth and guaranteed him that it was more than sufficient to cover my tab. Talking my word alone and my thanks, he left angrily. Looking back, he should have left me on the side of the highway when I told him I didn't have any money. I'm glad he didn't
I have been in a few situations like this where I was literally broke. Most of them happened in foreign countries. My level of stress was very high and I was forced to think creatively for how to make ends meet. Whether because I didn't have any income, any savings, or any access to my money, I have had to think outside the box to overcome situations that many would find impassable. These occasions prepared me for life on a stable income by teaching me how to do with less, do without, and to do with alternatives.