Have you ever tried to figure out your absolute bottom line in terms of needs and income? Most of you who read my blog lean toward self-sufficiency, self-reliance, and preparedness, so I'm curious if anyone has tried to reckon a truly simple existence for themselves; the very least amount of income that you'd need if it came to that. Have ever thought about it or tried to figure it out?
The closer Dan and I get to what most folks consider retirement age, the more I think about it. We've had a few warm-ups in this arena, times when Dan hasn't had a job and we lived on our own food and savings. We've made steps in that direction–growing much of what we eat and learning how to live without air conditioning, for example–but there has always been a long to-do list of the things we want to accomplish before we get to the minimal income stage.
They are all needful things, things we consider important: fencing, outbuildings, greenhouse, energy upgrades on the house (replacing windows and adding insulation), also the ability to grow, harvest, process, and store field crops and hay.
In our desire to “get established,” we've had a sort of tunnel vision in our attempt to accomplish these things. We've felt time-pressured because of our age, and often overwhelmed with how much there is to do. We've been here long enough now that daily chores (critters, garden, cleaning), seasonal jobs (ground prep, planting, harvest, preservation), plus maintenance and repairs (fences, machinery) are almost more than a full time job in themselves. Add building projects to the mix and there's barely time to go to work and earn money.
As much as we'd like to get away from the need for money, we all know that's impossible. Even if one owns their property outright, there are still taxes to pay. Dan and I have a house payment so a minimal income would have to include that plus utilities, vehicles to feed and maintain, and mandatory insurance. Even if we were able to feed ourselves and our critters from the land, there are other ordinary things that we can't make for ourselves like salt, minerals for the goats, fuel, replacement parts for the tractor, plastic to cover the hoop house, etc.
In answer to my own question, have we tried to calculate the very least amount of income we'd need, the answer is no. I'm working on it, but I hover around questions such as, “how essential are internet and phones?” And then I think, well, if we had a small solar cell and battery to power the computer, then they wouldn't be an additional expense. But then we'd have to buy something to make that happen, and there's the rub. There is always something else that would be helpful and beneficial. The list only gets added to, it never gets finished.
I'm guessing most folks pin their hopes on their retirement savings and insurance policies, but Dan and I have never had a significant enough income for investments of any kind. We've always lived paycheck to paycheck and invested what we do have in our land and lifestyle. I have more confidence in these things than in our current economic system anyway.
Do you have a bottom line in terms of needs and income? Have you even thought about it? Is it a goal you are working toward or not significant enough to worry about? Leave a comment and let us hear what you think.