Living Frugally Or With No Money At All

Living FrugallyBy Kristen Lawrence

With electric and water bills on the rise, mounting debt and high taxes,  many people want a way out of this burdensome cycle and would rather supply their own electricity, water, and other needs instead. Even though building your own off-the-grid home may require a lot of blood, sweat and tears in the beginning, think of how amazing it will feel later on when you realize you don’t have bills piling up every month.

There are many ways to cut back on expenses, save money, and go off grid.  Here are three topics that may help give you some ideas to get started.

A Few Tips to Living Frugally

If you find yourself wanting less “stuff” and more freedom, you may want to think about getting rid of some of this stuff and living more simply.  Living frugally doesn’t have to mean leaving and pitching a tent somewhere in the mountains, there are still ways to cut down on expenses and enjoy life more at home.

For example, do you have several TV’s in your house but only watch on one of them?  You could sell the others, make some extra cash, and get rid of the clutter.  Or, if you have your TV stored away in a dusty corner of your closet, you could just cancel your cable bill and sell the TV. Unused electronics tend to pile up in closets, and people completely forget about them. However, they could also be contributing to added bills each month.

Do you live in a very sunny place, like in the tropics for example? Maybe you don’t even need electricity. In today’s world, electricity tends to be looked at as an absolute necessity, but people lived without it not too long ago.  If your house gets ample sunlight each day and you also can live comfortably without air conditioning, you could cancel your electricity altogether.  Using natural sunlight in the day and candles at night for lighting might be a little extreme for some people, but if you long to live a more frugal, eco-friendly lifestyle, this is just one of many ways to do so.

How many times do you and your family go out to eat each month?  Probably more than you can count. If you have enough room in your backyard, consider starting a garden. You could cook better meals than you go out and pay $25 a person for, and it offers some bonding time for the family. Starting a garden just takes some space, sunlight, water, and a little know-how about what plants grow best in your climate, where to place them, etc, but it can really pay off long-term financially. Most people love the feeling of being able to eat things that they actually grew in their own backyard instead of relying on restaurants to provide them with food that had to fly to get to them, most of the time.

Also, most people don’t think about this one, but cars and trucks are money pits.  They require maintenance, gas, insurance, car washes, and many other little extras that really add up.  If you only drive to and from work, you could ride your bike if it isn’t too far away, or carpool with someone else.  If you don’t do a lot of long-distance driving for work, or take road trips with the family, getting rid of cars saves thousands a year.  A bicycle requires virtually no maintenance, except airing up the tires and maybe getting new ones every once in a while.  It’s eco-friendly too.  Or, you could buy an all-electric car if that suits you better. At least you would be saving gas money, which adds up to hundreds a month for most people.

These are just some of many ways to live more simply. Some might be extreme, but if you want to get back to the old way of doing things and get closer to nature, these might just work for you and your lifestyle.

Save Money With an Efficient Off-the-Grid Home

Living off-the-grid seems to be a goal for many people who realize we have to start taking care of our environment, and the financial benefits are definitely an added bonus. These tips can help you on your quest to live self-sustainably and create your eco-friendly dream home.

What building materials should I use?

Building an Energy Efficient will go a long way to saving on your power bill

Building an energy efficient home will go a long way to saving on your power bill

There are many options available for the main structure of your home. You can even use recycled or refurbished materials to cut down on costs. Some people use discarded tires packed in with dirt for the walls, and put mud in the crevices between the tires. Then, they finish the walls with adobe or stucco. Recycled glass can be used on one side of the house to allow sunlight in, which heats the house naturally. You can even use recycled aluminum or glass bottles for building your walls. Or, recycled wood is another option if you prefer a log cabin in the woods. You can find recycled or discarded materials almost anywhere; the idea is to use what’s already available to build your home.

How can I power my home?

Generally, people use solar panels or wind turbines to generate power. Although expensive, these usually pay for themselves in 5 – 10 years, and the best part is, you won’t have any more electricity bills! A less well known way is to harness electricity through running water, called microhydro electricity. Water flows from a higher level to a lower level, which turns a turbine at the bottom part of the system. With this one, you will need to live near a water source, obviously, but it has been proven to produce more energy for the same investment.

How can I supply and purify my own water?

Most people dig wells for their water supply, installing a pump at the bottom to supply their homes with water for baths, sinks, toilets, etc. If you have a lot of time and extra hands, you could dig your own shallow well about 10-30 feet into the ground, and place the pump in a separate pump house. However, these might be prone to contamination since the water is so close to the surface. If you have the money upfront, drilling a deeper hole would be a better investment long term.

How can I setup my own septic system?

You can install a gravity-powered septic system for less than $3,000 usually. You will need some PVC pipes, a concrete septic tank to place in the ground, a tractor, and other digging and excavating tools. All you need to do is run the PVC pipe from the toilet to the in-ground septic tank, install a septic drain field (leach lines), and cover up any exposed parts of the PVC pipe to prevent leakage or other issues. Be sure to install your septic far enough from your water well to prevent your well from becoming contaminated.  Check local codes and regulations regarding septic installation.

These are just a few tips to get started building your own off-the-grid system. With these guidelines, you can get started living a more sustainable lifestyle and reduce your bills, and your carbon footprint on Earth.

How to Live Without Money

With many people starting to wake up to the fact that money very well may be our demise, living without it has become a popular topic.  How do you go about getting off-the-grid and doing away with money entirely?  For survival purposes, living without money might be our only option.  Living without money has become a hot topic for discussion, and many people have already become self-reliant.  Really, it’s just a matter of taking power back into your own hands, instead of giving it to big businesses and the government.

1. Join a commune, or create one

Many communes and self-sustainable communities have popped up all across the world. While this may not be a popular alternative to a “normal” way of life, it certainly is a viable option. In Ireland, such a community exists without money. Three people run An Teach Saor, which is Irish for ‘The Free House.’ They have built a stone cottage, utilize rainwater harvesting, grow their own food, use humanure composting, and are looking to expand in the next year. This society operates on “gift economy” terms, meaning that people offer gifts and services in exchange for another gift or service. Here, money would be useless since they have created all they need without it.

2. Build your own off-the-grid home, or hire someone to do it for you

If you don’t want to pay electric, gas, water, and garbage bills anymore, an off-the-grid home would supply all of this without the need for money. Though they require a lot of up-front fees for building materials, solar or wind power, a septic system, and other amenities, all of these pay for themselves in 5-10 years usually, and you can enjoy using natural energy from the Earth to power your everyday life. Building one yourself is obviously cheaper, but if you aren’t well-versed in construction or architecture, you might want to hire someone to do the dirty work for you.

3. Barter for things you need

Unknown to most, you can actually barter for things online. Craigslist allows you the option of posting something you no longer need, and listing something you’d like to get by trading it. You can trade computer equipment, furniture, clothing, and other things. This eliminates the need for money by using a barter system, which people used long before the invention of money.

While completely leaving money behind may not be an option for you right now, you can keep these in mind for the future. For now, cutting back on expenses and living more simply will help you minimize the need for money in your day to day life.