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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Building our own sustainable future

When you mention frugality or thriftiness, the usual image is of cutting back, spending less, making do.  What's the old Victorian saying? "Use it up, wear it out, make do, do without."  That's the image we have of the frugal life.  But there's an area of frugal living, not often discussed, about investing in and planning for the future. I'm not talking about 401k's or mutual funds, but about building your own sustainable future. Let me illustrate what I mean.

Twenty-five years ago my husband and I got married.  Eight years after that, we bought our house. Since the day we began shopping for a house, we started down this path of providing for our future. We wanted to find just the right piece of property, not just the right house. The one that was as close to perfect as our budget would allow, was on a large, partially wooded lot.  This was key to our plans.  The lot had little landscaping, just grass and large native trees.

In years to come, the trees could supply wood for heat, as needed.  As we've landscaped, we've chosen fruit trees, berry shrubs and berry ground covers for a good share of our permanent plantings.  Fruit trees live decades. insuring us a fruit supply throughout our lives. And although there are a lot of trees on the property, there is also a large sunny spot behind the garage and to the side of the house.  This is where we've developed a vegetable garden area.

We used our frugal lifestyle to pay off the mortgage early, making extra payments from the very 1st year.  Our house and land is now truly ours. Acquiring good tools to help with saving, was also a part of our plan.  Buying a spare freezer helps us today put away bounty from both gardens and shopping deals.  But the extra freezer (and now extra refrigerator/freezer) will serve us in our future, as well.  We have tools (axes and saws) to help chop up downed trees, to use as firewood. We've upgraded insulation to keep utility costs low, now, and in the future.  We bought rain barrels that will likely outlast us, they're that sturdy, and give us free water for the garden indefinitely. These are instances of where it costs money to save money.

This is as far as we've gotten in building our sustainable home. Next we hope to install solar panels, as the technology progresses. Add a few chickens, perhaps, if we can figure a way to keep the coyotes from having a nice little picnic. I have likely neglected many things, and welcome your suggestions.

What dreams do you have for the years that lie before you? What ways are you planning for your sustainable future? Perhaps you're developing new skills or acquiring training in a field that you would enjoy working in, beyond the typical retirement age.  My grandmother was an artist. For her "second act", she supported herself by selling paintings and teaching in a nearby school. Maybe your frugal lifestyle is enabling you to make financial investments now, for your support later. A gentleman I know built and bought houses during his employed years, and the rental income provided for his post-employed ones. Or, perhaps you have a similar plan to ours.  Taking a piece of land and making it work for you. All of these are ways we plant now for that harvest later.  What are you planting for your harvest?


  1. Lili, I enjoyed this post and think it should be required reading by all the young people just starting out. I have nominated you for the beautiful blogger award as well.

    1. Wow! Thank you! I don't know what to say, but that I'm really honored! Thank you!


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