Frugal Friday: How to start

Brandon asks:

For those of us who were born and raised in the soft, squishy suburban cesspool of careerism and consumerism, this ‘return to the land’ idea can be very overwhelming. We have been since birth in a state of perpetual infancy, mentally conditioned to see the state, corporation, and grocery store as our manager and provider. Many of us graduated college and are barely scraping buy, with poor job prospects. Buying rural land seems as far away as becoming a millionaire. So, a change of mindset is needed. Advice to those of us on how to reorient our mind out of the dependent, learned helpless mentality toward a more pioneering spirit would be helpful. Strategies toward this end would also be good. Some of us would just like to know where to start.

First, stop eating out.

If you don’t have a crock-pot, buy one. Throw meat, beans (dry), vegetables, and some seasonings in it in the morning with some water, and have a hot meal waiting for you when you get home. If you eat boxed cereal for breakfast, switch to oatmeal, grits, cream of wheat, or other cheap hot cereal. Don’t buy the instant packets, buy the generic, long cooking variety. If you don’t want to get up early enough to cook it, put it in the crock pot and let it cook overnight. If you just can’t live without cold cereal, learn to make your own granola.

Don’t buy steaks–buy roasts and cut off steaks as necessary. Roasts are usually $0.50 to $1.00 cheaper per pound. Don’t buy bread, rather make your own. (You might even be able to sell a few loaves to co-workers/roommates.) I use this recipe. Grow a tomato plant in a pot in your apartment. If you have a backyard, grow a full garden. Quit buying beer. Make your own cider, wine, or mead instead.

If you smoke, switch to a pipe or start rolling your own cigarettes. If your job requires you to be clean-shaven, find a low-cost solution rather than spending $20.00 or more a month on blades. See if you can save money by changing your cell phone plan. Buy a simple hand press, and reload your own ammunition. (Note: If you do not already own a firearm, don’t buy one and a reloading press. If you are starting from zero, your first firearm should be a muzzleloader for a variety of reasons.)

If you are single, find a roommate or rent out a room. I have paid as little as $125.00 a month in rent by sharing a house with other guys–and we still each had our own room. Give yourself a simple buzz cut rather than going to the barber. Change your own oil. Buy a Haynes or Chilton book for your vehicle, and start doing simple repairs yourself. Work up to more complicated repairs.

Go through your closet. Reduce your wardrobe to the essentials and what you actually wear, and take remaining items that are in good condition to a consignment shop to turn them into cash. Sell your television. Get rid of any excess video/television streaming services (i.e. Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, etc.). You may keep a maximum of one such account.

Check out the entire Foxfire series (one book at a time) from your local library (if they don’t have it, request it on inter-library loan), and read them.

Every month, put the money you save aside, and watch it grow. In many areas, rural land can be had for around $1,000.00 an acre. $20,000.00 should be enough to get you several acres of good rural land in just about any state. As you hit significant savings milestones, celebrate with prudent purchases of things that you will need to make a go of it when you buy your land: That muzzleloader (or reloading press if you already own a cartridge rifle), a good set of wrenches, etc.

Implementing these suggestions will get you started, but there are plenty of other things you can do. The beauty of it is that the more of these you implement, the more other things you will discover on your own. The most important step is the first one, so start here, and branch out afterwards.

13 thoughts on “Frugal Friday: How to start

  1. Foxfire is good, some interesting things there. Also, check out “Back to Basics,” originally published by Reader’s Digest. There’s a re-release version that can be purchased from any book store, but I pick up copies from used book stores, Goodwill, or library sales for a couple of bucks all the time. I think I have 10 copies on my shelf right now. I give them away to interested parties. Very good book on the basics of many aspects of country living and traditional skills.

    I’ve been thinking about what you said in an earlier post about “You will lose your job.” Thinking about it hard. I’ve know it for a long time, which is why I read and study and build my library with books about slaughtering animals, aquaculture and small-scale agriculture, even though I can’t yet put those skills into practice. Next week we hope to have our house on the market and be out of the suburbs and into the rural yonder. Thankfully, I work from home and my job will go with me. But that will pass as you said. I hope we still have a few years.

    Also, since you expressed an interest in caching, here’s a link for you. They’re talking about caching weapons, but good info for just about anything.

  2. Also, in recognizing the very question that Brandon brought up as to making the transition to rural, that’s part of my plan.

    I am making the first step. I am stepping into the void, into the unknown. I am going to prepare the way, with the goal of not just preparing a place for my own family, but of being a place that my extended family can retreat to when things get really bad.

    There is also the desire to draw like-minded people to the same area and to be a touchstone in the local area to help newcomers to get established and on their feet. Not looking to start a commune, but I’d love to have an area where like-minded families are nearby neighbors and are organized to look out for one another. I’m just wondering how I’ll find those people.

  3. King
    Depending on your faith makes it easier or harder. The more traditional you get, the easier. There are growing communities of traditional Catholics around looking for ways to go from a proto-village to true village

    Find one.

    Keep in mind that they are very much in the “proto” stage. They have hardships full villages never had, and rewarding experiences of knowingly trying to craft those.

    Its joyful. Its penitence. And I believe it will help us all get to heaven

  4. Hey Chad;

    I’m very traditional, but I’m one of the separated brethren, so the traditional Catholic communities, as such, aren’t a big draw merely because they’re Catholic. Not that they wouldn’t make nice neighbors – you can be differently-minded in certain areas and still be more alike than different. Where I’m planning to move there is a sizable Mormon contingent. On the religious side, there’s a much greater gulf between them and me than between me and the Catholics, but the values of family, mutual aid and self-sufficiency are compatible.

    I certainly get that it’s not an easy path to take – I’m not really a young man anymore, but I’m a husband and a father and I have responsibilities to provide and protect. I wish I didn’t have to start over in a new place and relearn the manual labor I left behind in my youth, but it’s the prudent and wise thing to do. That, and I really feel a distinct call from God to move in that direction. None of that “Doom! Doom!” stuff. Just a certainty of coming hard times and an urgent conviction to keep moving toward the goal.

    Moose has the right idea: simplify now. Downsize now. Invest for the hard future now. It may not happen in my lifetime for all I know, but hopefully I’ll leave my children with a legacy.

  5. Check out first states, then counties, then cities. You will eventually find a compatible area. There are two extraordinary rite Catholic churches in WY, I’m at one, but the Novus Ordo is really good. If you are already a local in spirit, you should fit in.

    But to the post. Stop eating empty calories – sugar, pasta, bread, potatoes. Go paleo or primal, and get real meat, eggs veggies (no GMO, no hormones, antibiotic, free range, grass fed). $10 in nutrient dense will leave younfull and healthy where $2.50 in junk will run up medical costs and you will be hungry.

    If you know the rancher, ground meat is cheaper and as nutritious.

    Quit tobacco. End bad habits, don’t trynto make them efficient. Throwing smoke-bombs into the temple of the holy spirit is blasphemous.

    Remember there are property taxes on land and you may need to maintain it. Move to a low tax state (4% sales, 0 income in WY, some counties add 1% – SD is similar). We have fairly cheap hydroelectric, but a lawn is a drain in this dry area. I live downtown and can walk everywhere (church, groceries, hardware, consignment, office supplies, etc. 3 blocks away). I almost don’t need a car – no gas, oil change, maintainence… Not rural. I do have a tomato plant from a local farmer’s market that is on its third bigger pot.

    Clothing, pick a theme, and if you can have all the same color or washer-dryer setting. Cheap (on sale, dollar store) detergent works ok. Use the laundry if you don’t have a washer. spot-wash small stains in the sink (find easy-care fabrics). If you aren’t getting them dirty, you can wear them more than once.between washes. You might be able to air them out instead of washing.

    Speaking of the consgnment or charity outlet, flea markets or garage sales (you can barter), I think 75% of my kitchen comes from it, including some really nice things – nonstick corning visions, a stir-fry wok-like pan, storage boxes. Even my roll-away kitchen table with tow stools which are stored – $30 bargained at a garage sale. $2 large mirrors. $2 for a set of glass dinnerplates.

    PVC pipe is cheap so you can build surprising structures.

    One thing to watch for – if you can do 2 hours of overtime, or some other task, it is cheaper to buy tomatoes than to spend 2 hours planting, potting, etc. There is a division of labor. Do what you are good at, buy from others who are better at their thing.

    Be careful with investments, but if not usurous, let your money multiply. Maybe buy property which can be rented (if you can personally keep it up and navigate the tenant legalities). Maybe find a skill, craft, or something like a kiosk.

    There is more than one form of avarice – a deadly sin. Don’t become a Scrooge and Marley. Frugal – is it right to push too hard to cut the price someone else is charging? Judas Iscariot said a perfume costing 200 day’s wages should have been sold and the money given to the poor. His 30 pieces of silver bought a graveyard.

    Frugality is the virtue avarice is the excess of. But frugality is not an end, but a means. To have more wealth to spend on proper ends.

  6. 1) I know what I’m talking about with regards to nutrition. If you are working out like you should be, there is no reason to avoid potatoes, rice, oatmeal, and homemade bread within reason.

    2) There is nothing wrong with smoking.

    3) Careful with the garage sales/thrift stores. They can be excellent sources, but I have often observed people buy things they had no need of because they were cheap.

    4) I don’t care if it is cheaper to buy tomatoes, pay for an oil change, or whatever. You will do it yourself if it costs double, because the goal is to build skills and become self-reliant. We are breaking the cycle of paying someone else to do things as much as possible.

  7. Your first firearm should be either a 12 gauge shotgun or a decent 40 or 45 semiauto and learn how to use it. Nothing matches a shotgun for home defense if you know how to use it. I mean really have you used a flintlock? Royal Piece of S++T is all I can say. Get an AR15 or a good 308 for a rifle. Hell even an AK is more accurate than a flintlock and far more durable. Between the three an AR15 would be my choice. Only other gun worth getting is a good 22lr. Good for small game and learning the basics of firearms even if they are a pain to clean. Easier to clean than an idiotic flintlock though.

  8. @dvdivx:

    1) Muzzleloader does not necessarily mean flintlock.

    2) Home defense is not the primary use for your first firearm.

    3) A muzzleloader is the ideal first firearm for someone who has none because they are inexpensive (several decent in-lines below $200); not considered firearms by the ATF, meaning they can be bought without paperwork and shipped directly to your door; and because they can be used in both muzzleloader-only hunting seasons and regular gun hunting seasons, providing the greatest hunting opportunity with a single firearm at at extremely low cost.

  9. I’d recommend a 22lr personally. It’s what I grew up with along with just about every other decent shooter I know plus ammo is cheap. Learning to hunt varmint would be easier for a beginner than hunting deer.

  10. @dvdivx:

    This is common advice, but ass-backwards. It takes a far better marksman to fill a freezer with squirrels and rabbits than it does to fill the same freezer with venison. The beginning hunter should focus on quarry that provides a large vital area (because it takes time to be able to shoot squirrel heads), and that offers the greatest reward for success. The hunter that takes 5 shots on deer and makes one will be eating far longer than the hunter who takes 5 shots on rabbits and makes one.

  11. Considering how dense the woods are here (WA state) there is only one shot for deer and it had better count or you have a lost deer. Also if it’s a beginner the have to learn how to dress game and pack it out. Neither is easy with deer unless someone is showing you how and has a decent truck and freezer space. Many like myself don’t have the freezer space as I live in the city. if I had the space Elk would be a good choice as well. The deer here know when it’s deer season better than the hunters and unless you plan on hunting in the suburbs the hide. Varmint season is year around. In Texas I’d actually go hog shooting so it depends on where you are and what the terrain is like.

  12. @dvdivx:

    Considering how dense the woods are here (WA state) there is only one shot for deer and it had better count or you have a lost deer.

    Part of the reason I recommend a muzzleloader as a first weapon is that it tends to make people highly aware that they will only have one shot, and much more careful about shot placement.

    Also if it’s a beginner the have to learn how to dress game and pack it out. Neither is easy with deer unless someone is showing you how and has a decent truck and freezer space.

    Indeed. But it shouldn’t be too hard to find an old guy who will instruct you in field-dressing and butchering in return for a couple shoulder roasts. The whole point is to gain those skills.

    Many like myself don’t have the freezer space as I live in the city.

    The city is no excuse. I’ve seen chest freezers in studio apartments.

    if I had the space Elk would be a good choice as well.

    Deer, elk, black bear, bighorn, mountain goat, and moose are all excellent ways to fill a freezer, and legal to hunt in WA. I’m not knocking smaller animals, but the quickest way to fill a freezer is with something large.

    The deer here know when it’s deer season better than the hunters and unless you plan on hunting in the suburbs the hide.

    Another reason I recommend a muzzleloader to beginners. In your state, that allows 26 extra hunting days where far fewer hunters are out. And that’s just for deer. Add in elk, etc. and you end up with even more days of legal hunting.(

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