Thought Experiment

As an exercise I decided I should try to see what we could live on if the paycheck went away. We’ve been without a paycheck before, ran up our debt keeping the cc bills current, but managed to live (except for the credit cards) on about a quarter of our current income.

I also used the budgeting percentages I was taught in school (25% housing, 25% food, 50% everything else).

If 25% is housing with a mortgage this is a deal breaker but if it’s just taxes, it’s possible. Using 25% for food is possible, it’s about what we’re spending now I’m pleased to say. Utilities? If we get out of debt soon enough and things go as planned, will likely be about 20%. Assuming no mortgage or other debt, what would I do with the other 30%? Save it?

My idea is to try and get us used to living this way or as close as is reasonable. We know we can and if we do it for a few years before retirement then retirement will mean just more free time. The big gotcha I see is health insurance or medical expenses.

Anyway, I’m trying to figure what and how to do things. What do you think?

I have two disaster cookbooks, both of which I’ll look at again with the idea that I might use some of the recipes and/or techniques towards my “new” frugality. I’ve done this before, but it wasn’t a huge success as we’re both food snobs.

I should be both creative and a good enough cook these days to modify the recipes in such a way that they’ll become some of our regular fare.

Both books both use lots of grains and legumes, which frankly seem to be only cheap foods left. The added bonus is that you can grow some of them too, making them still cheaper.

I also have a cookbook about using home-grown root vegetables in the winter. This is why we put a “root box” in the garden.

In the past, my carrots, etc. never got very big or did very well. The garden is some top soil on sand, over bedrock. The ground is mostly rocky with few nutrients.

So I went looking for data: what do prize-winning growers do? They make a box for the root crops and pack it full of nutrients, so that’s what I did. I got DH to make me a “root box.” Currently, it has carrots, parsnips and celeriac in it. I need to dump another lot of compost in. I’m trying to strike a balance between healthy greens and roots. We’re eating the carrot & parsnip thinnings, the celeriac came as starts from the local co-op.

I’d like my disaster plan to include chickens and/or maybe rabbits or fish. Raising a chicken takes 6 weeks. Theoretically, you could raise 2 batches of meat birds in 90 days.

My long-term plan has always included perennial vegetables and herbs: chive, Jersulem artichoke, horseradish, rhubarb, sage, walking/potato onions, oregano, mints. [There’s at least one perennial pea, but I haven’t been able to find it.]

The long-term plan also includes a no-mow, low-water lawn. The bulb bed is part of this, as it removes a section of the lawn. Elsewhere, there are trees, wildflowers, perennial grasses, rugosa roses, day lilies and the blueberry hedge, all selected with the idea that they require little or no maintenance, will regenerate/grow without a lot of fussing, fertilizer, mowing, and some of them will give us food.

What I don’t have, and want includes two sets of cold tolerant kiwis and some fencing and/or a deck. The kiwis are probably more likely than the fencing or deck, we’ll see.

I see all of this planning like any capital investment. It’s an expense or effort up front for long-term gain or yield. The world will likely not turn out the way I plan, all I can do is try to position myself in the best way to be prepared for that uncertain future. My thought experiment is part of that.

What do you think?


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