26 August 2010

Retirement - controlling our future lives

I'm not sure about other countries but in Australia now, if you're in paid work, you'll pay into a compulsory superannuation/retirement scheme. Your employer will pay nine percent into your superannuation account and over the course of your lifetime, it is estimated that money will be enough to see you through your old age when no government pensions are paid. That superannuation is put into managed investments that are usually reliant on healthy real estate, insurance and financial markets to slowly build funds. My late friend Bernadette lived on her superannuation but when the global economic crisis (GEC) hit, she lost a lot of money.

Cutting up a retired bed sheet for cleaning rags. We'll use the elastic from the fitted sheet as tomato ties.

Although Australia has gone through the GEC better than most countries there is still a lot of pain here, jobs and homes have been lost and businesses have closed down. Unfortunately, we are not out of the GEC woods yet. Just this morning I saw on the news that the American housing market crashed in last month to the lowest on record. And that is not the worst of the American problems, the current American debt is $13 trillion! This is from moneycnn.com: When anyone talks about U.S. debt, they typically refer to two numbers. The first is the debt held by the public. That's money owed to those who have bought U.S. Treasurys, most notably big bond mutual funds and foreign governments. Debt held by the public today is roughly $8 trillion and rising.
The second number is the money the federal government owes to government trust funds, such as those for Medicare and Social Security. The government has used revenue collected for those programs to cover other outlays. Currently, the debt to the trust funds is approaching $5 trillion.
I doubt I'll be the only person very worried by that second paragraph, but it's no good thanking your lucky stars you don't live in America because if America crashes, we all crash.

I remember the 1970s quite well and although it's only 30 years ago, that 1970s world is a completely different place to what we have now. Look 30 years into the future, you may be preparing to stop work, but what amount of money should you have? What will you need to support you through the rest of your life? How can you prepare now for a world you have no idea about? Is paying into a government backed investment fund the best idea? I don't know the answer to those questions, and I doubt anyone would, but I believe the answer, no matter what the retirement question, is to pay off debt and live simply. BTW, I do agree with a couple of commentators yesterday who advised not to invest extra money in retirement funds. Whatever investments you make that are not compulsory, should be in your control - buying land seems to be a good investment to me.

This is my knitting (and napping) chair. It's usually like this - surrounded by knitting, yarn and patterns.

The key to living on less is to change to a more frugal mindset. If you can't do that, you'll be miserable because you'll be wishing you could buy THE shoes or THE iPod that will make you "happy". You have to know, deep down to your bones, that being frugal and having less than you did before, does not make you miserable or cheap, it's the open road to a sustainable future. It will get you off the consumer merry go round, where working to buy "stuff", holidays and everything new will keep you strapped to the grindstone to pay for extras, on top of paying to live. Changing your expectations is crucial. Forget about having the "best" house in the street, aim instead for the most productive house.

I hope every single one of you will be able to retire when you feel like it and live as Hanno and I do. I loved working, I always had good jobs and I think I gave value for money, but as you age, you change and you want to give value to yourself rather than to your employer, no matter how much they pay you or how good your job is. You'll probably find, like I did, that you'll still be incredibly ambitious at 50 but by the time you're 55, you'll be questioning your role at work and wanting to slow down. By 60, I just wanted to be me, here now, with no paid deadlines to meet, and with hours to spend as I wished. I wanted to smell the roses before it was too late and I wanted to draw my family close, and even though they'd grown up and left home to make their own lives, I wanted them to know I was here, whenever they needed me, to support them. Now don't get me wrong, I still wanted to work, but I wanted the work that I did to mean something and to be primarily in my home for the benefit of my family. Most of us will work all our lives, but hopefully, part of that work will be for yourself, making a life that is slow, comfortable and meaningful.

Recently Deborah, a reader, kindly sent a large ball of Bendigo pure wool in a beautiful maize colour. Our new baby will be wearing this next year.

Apparently the amount recommended for a retired Australian couple of live on now is around $50,000 a year. Hanno and I live on half of that and we could further reduce that if we needed to. I firmly believe that work is an important part of life. It helps shape us, it can give us a sense of self confidence and pride and it keeps us active and alert. But work doesn't have to be paid work. Work can also be the daily activities that, when combined, produce the makings of a simple and less dependent existence. Let me say this loud and clear, we can cut out the middle man, buy only the raw ingredients, the needs of life and not the wants, and we can produce as much as we can at home. This cuts the cost of living to something that is manageable and gives you healthier products that don't need preservatives so they can sit on a shelf till sold.

There is no doubt that the most important things we need to do in our quest for an independent and sustainable old age is to buy a home, pay it off as quickly as possible, and to control our spending. If you can reach your ideal retirement age, whatever that is, with no mortgage or any other debt, you'll be in the driver's seat. If you've paid into a superannuation/retirement fund while you worked, if you've put extra money into additional investments such as land, if you've developed a frugal mindset, if you've skilled yourself in how to live simply you should be able to sail gently into your later life with few worries. But the key to all this, is NO debt, being skilled enough to look after yourself and to produce as much as you can at home.

Hanno planted tomatoes outside the garden this year. This photo was taken about 10 days ago, the bushes are full of flowers now.

We are all caught up in this grey tsunami. The time has come to step up and own our lives. We need to define what it is we intend to do, accurately assess how much debt we have, work out a plan to pay it off quickly, think about what skills we need to develop and then step off confidently in that direction. We are all in this together. We need each other to learn from and for support. We may not have an over the back fence relationship but we are all easily contactable via our computers and that, my friends, may be the making of us. WE hold the knowledge, the desire and the power to change. Let's put on our aprons and do it.



  1. Right on sister! thanks for the encouragement and motivation!

  2. I'm constantly amazed by these financial recommendations! Just recently a study came out about my city saying that a family of four needed 60K (USD) just to be able to live a bare bones lifestyle without any public assistance. On less than 50K a year we have raised our family of 4, eaten and lived well, and will be paying off our mortgage this year - 20 years early! What on earth are these studies budgeting for?

  3. All so true Rhonda,we live in a small rural town and we all have very large house blocks,there are probably only 4 in our street with a vegie garden,we live in an older street ,no new homes here,but many young energetic people sad when you think of what they could do with their gardens it is a bit sad.
    Super is a real worry,we will not be able to finish work until Bob is 67 and myself 65 but we have a good job where we are home by lunchtime,however we own our own home and have my Mum full time so it is not a burden because we can't go anywhere anyway,but not getting up for work is a dream lol and it will come.I do hope we have taught our children well.

  4. Very good post. I have been reading you blog for a long time. My husband and I live in small town, USA> I yearn for a simpler life. You are very motivating and I will continue to read and listen to what you are saying.

  5. Excellent post! It is very well said and I AM putting my apron on!!

  6. I have been musing on this very subject for a few weeks now (and by that I mean worrying - a lot). I am 25. The UK pensionable age for women is to rise to 65 by 2020. I am not banking on even being eligible to claim when I reach 65 in 2050.

    We are paying down our debts and long to eventually buy our own home. Having said that, we are glad that we are not stuck with the vast mortgages at record low interest rates that many people will soon be feeling the pain of for many years to come.

    I am also not paying into a work pension fund (though that is soon to be made compulsory). In the last few years, those of my colleagues who paid in have lost 3 years of contributions in the turmoil. They would have been better off paying down debt or putting the money into a savings account.

    I think the best that we can hope to do is to live frugally, take really good care of our health and take care of our loved ones and neighbours; and enjoy our days before retirement to the best of our ability.

  7. Very appropriate story for our times. I've been self employed now for 10 years and even before that I have never had super. Well I did for a short time but was disgusted at the rate of fees being deducted.
    I decided to purchase a block in a rural area to retire to and would rent my brisbane house out when I did.
    Doing this would give me roughly the equivalent of the pension today I figure.
    But you can imagine how exposed I feel with the economic woes, having increased my debt in uncertain times.
    I've honestly felt like bailing early dropping the house and moving to the country where it is a lot cheaper to live. And a lot more enjoyable lifestyle.
    I'm seeing almost daily horror stories of where we are headed. Even if peak oil doesn't happen for another 5-10 years there are enough other problems.
    Do I stay or do I go now that is the question I agonise with.
    If I do I may have somewhere between 150-200k to invest I thought in a savings account but who knows if the banks or our currency will be safe the way things are going. I certainly wouldn't trust shares or fund managers with my money.
    I'm not putting responsibility on you to answer this Rhonda but just sharing my story.

  8. the U.S. Social Security program is such a sham. Especially since the gov. has been dipping into it with reckless abandon for decades.

    We've got 16 mortgage payments to go putting every spare dollar and then some to pay off a 30 yr loan in five years.

    Each year we improve/expand our gardens a bit .. it really does help with the food bill .. especially once the initial investment is out of the way.

    I'm stressing to my adult kids to pay cash for used cars when needed, live on one income when married .. banking the second for employment emergencies/retirement/time off when their kids are young.

    Being a 'keeper at home' for the past 27 years, we've been able to live well on one income in good times and bad. These days, every penny is accounted for.

    Retirement doesn't have to be scary ... if you plan on it while you are still young.

  9. I was trying to tell a friend about this the other day. She did not want to lisen and said that no way was the pension going. I dont know what to do with her. I can see the disaster coming but she wont listen. She and her hubby are still adament that they will live on a government pension.

  10. I think you're right about taking control Rhonda, sometimes I think everything feels like it's spinning out of control and I don't know what to do for the best! I've recently started a new job - the first I've ever had to come with a pension scheme - and I pondered long and hard about whether to pay into it. I decided I would - I pay 6% of my salary, and my employers contribute 16%, and I'm fortunate enough that I can take it with me to other employers (good because my job isn't permanent!)

    I'm 30, and like Aurora said, the UK pensionable age is 65 - so I can't bank on a state pension by the time I reach it! However, what I CAN do is take control by making sure I stay debt free, and making sure I can live on as little as possible and be as self reliant (or rather community reliant) as I can.

    Thanks for encouraging me to think about it - all too easy not to when retirement seems an awful long way away!


  11. I think you've hit the nail on the head when you said "cut out the middle man" and encouraged readers to buy raw materials. It's impossible to be 100% self sufficient, but by peeling back to the essentials and eliminating all the commercial packaging and marketing, you can do things a lot cheaper and still not sacrifice quality - in fact, most times, it's an improvement.

    Thanks for the encouragement to live simply. Because the world is constantly bombarding us with the opposite message, we need to hear the "simple life" message again and again in order to persevere!

  12. Love the rallying call of " WE hold the knowledge, the desire and the power to change. Let's put on our aprons and do it"
    <<< Will now go and make the apron to answer the call.
    seriously though I cant dissagree I have started to voice what I will want regarding being more self sufficialnt for the new home and people are beginning to listen.

  13. Good morning Rhonda,

    This is brilliant and I really hope many many people read your blog today. We all need to nuckle down and do the best we can with what we have available. I too will be putting my apron on and rolling my sleeves up. I love the challenge of doing as much as I can myself. I get great satisfaction from mending and cooking from scratch and repairing bits of furniture that others might through out. I feel blessed to live in these times when I can really
    appreciate all that I have and can do. May I say your blog just gets better and better.

    Blessings Gail

  14. "Cutting out the middle man" is something I am gradually trying to do.

    Just by cooking all of our meals and treats from scratch, making lunches to take to work and school and eating at home more has made such a difference to our food expenses.

  15. So many of us who are American's are so unhappy about the way our government has spent money they didn't have and then tax us for more!

    We only have our mortgage and we are on track to pay it off early. We have a garden, are getting chickens, live a simple life.

    Oh and who are those people who do these financial recommendations? We have/are raising 6 kids in what your country recommends you and Hanno have!

    I really love to read your blog!

  16. Thankyou Rhonda for being such an inspiration. You have sorted my thoughts and actions into a coherant plan for the future.
    I am doing and have been doing for years a lot of what you say but never thought of them as frugal living. I was trying to be self reliant but in an ad hock way. You have given me direction and I'm all fired up!

  17. Hi Rhonda,
    We are trying to live a simple lifestyle and enjoying it. However, we have trouble with people saying that we are creating unemployment. Even though most of our products are imported today, they say that their husbands fathers etc are employed in the transport, warehousing and sales of these goods and if everyone followed our lifestyle there would be a lot of jobs lost and more on our welfare system.
    Please tell us how to answer these people. We would like to put up a strong case, but we tend to get bogged down with a reply.

  18. Hi Rhonda, great article as usual, just one note. the Government do not pay the 9% superannuation contribution for employees, the individual employers pay it. When you are employed by the government then they are paying it, but if you are employed by anyone else they pay the 9%. Hope that makes sense!

  19. A minor correction - the 9% super contribution is paid not by the government but by employers, but they are legally required by the government to do so. There are also choices about how that money is invested, particularly now that you are allowed to choose your own superfund. One of the choices that many funds offer is a defined benefit scheme - rather than having a lump of money invested and subject to the vagaries of the market, you get a defined payout or a pension dependent on years of working, salary when you finish, age at retirement etc. These offer a greater degree of dependability, since the only way you would lose money is if the super fund itself crashes - at which point we're all in a lot of trouble. You also have choices in most super funds about the level of risk you take - everything from high growth shares to cash management. In my super fund at least, I can choose to split my funds between various levels of risk.

    Superannuation is complex in Australia, but we do have a pretty good system on the whole. The problem is that most people just adopt a 'set and forget' approach and trust that it will be there when they need it. I'd really advise anyone to look hard at their superannuation fund and make sure that they are making informed decisions about it - in the end it's your money and you should make sure you're managing it to your best advantage.

  20. I wish I were smart enough to comment on all this without getting into trouble.I don't discuss politics for a reason. I get mad as h---when I do.That could be a good thing though. That may be what it takes to get something done. More of us need to get mad. I am very worried about our future in the USA,also.They brainwash us into believing our vote counts, and encourage all to vote, but they go ahead and do whatever they have preplanned to do, thinking we are none the wiser. There are those of us who have worked hard for 30 years and scrimped and saved,for what? To have the wrong doing of some politicians to wipe it all away and leave us destitute.They get a slap on the hand for their misdeeds,while we are left to seek whatever help we can to feed,clothe,and find safe shelter our families.And folks wonder why the use of antidepressants in the USA are on the rise.Go figure.

  21. Thanks to Sustainable Sisters and Quatrefoil for reminding me that employers pay the 9% contribution, not the government. It's been corrected in the blog now.

    Harlee, I don't have all the answers. I wish I did. All I know is that unsustainable economic growth creates unsustainable surplus and we are citizens first, not consumers. We are not here for the benefit of the economy. We must look after our own interests and if the system doesn't make sense to us and if we can live better by changing our way of life, then we do it.
    Much of our manufacturing has moved to Asian countries and I think it would make sense to bring back these industries to our own countries so our people have work to occupy them rather than working in warehousing and transport jobs. Simple living is not the enemy here, it is one of the answers and I think there will come a time when most people realise that.

  22. Thank goodness for this online community that we have to turn to for encouragement, advice and understanding. It is a scary time ahead but also a time for each of us to take back control of our lives.
    I haven't worked in the paid workforce for 16 years, since having children and really don't want to, I'm afraid that when my husband wants to retire or slow down I may be forced to return to paid work. Hopefully by then, I either will be so good at stretching the money that I won't need to, or I'll be ready to take on some part time employment.
    At the moment I believe I'm doing my bit for our country by being here for my children and husband and also by not taking a job that someone who really needs to work could be doing.

    cheers Kate

  23. Rhonda, this is a very 'hot' topic and I have enjoyed reading your posts and everyone's comments.

    Although increased 'self reliance' is desirable, 'self sufficiency' is not. We will always depend on each other for many goods & services and this is a good thing.

    A 'transition'group has started in our neighbourhood with the aim of building local community connections & sharing skills & knowledge - google 'transition town model' if interested in this concept - We are increasing local food production in our own backyard & community garden as well as planting fruit trees on common land. We swap fruits & vegies and give away surplus we cannot use or swap. We help each other with planting & gardening jobs - some people in our community are not able to grow their own food by themselves and might need help with digging & major jobs. All this is positive action, but it is not enough...

    We also need to target and lobby our local governments and let them know what we expect from them and our rates' $$$. Let's not forget our federal government & how our taxes are utilised...

    This is where the concept of local communities working together really works because no single individual can do it all by themselves!

    The more we increase our self reliance, the more time we have for political activism, cooking and gardening!

  24. Veronika, you're preaching to the already converted, dear. When people write of self sufficiency here, they mean self reliance and that self sufficiency is a 70s relic that had to be updated. Regarding transition towns, I was involved in helping form Sustainable Maleny about 4 or 5 years ago when the concept of transition towns was called relocalisation. You may find the permaculture pathways blog helpful, Sonya, who lives near me, helped form the first Australian transition town.

  25. For two years after my husband lost his employment the two of us lived on $18,000.00 year. That included mortgage,utilites &food! Thanks to Rhonda and this wonderful blog we learned how to reduce our utilities and so much more!

  26. Excellent post Rhonda! I appreciate your encouragement to keep on at paying off debts and keep focused on our plans for the future and looking ahead. I appreciate all of your wonderful thoughtful advice.

  27. Thank you for this post Rhonda. We have had our 'light-bulb moment' regarding finances and retirement, and are doing all we can to pay off our mortgage, hopefully 10 years early.

    My husband has worked full-time since the age of 16, he is 48 now and has paid into a retirement fund all this time, so hopefully, with careful budgeting and simple living things should be ok.

    I really don't know whether there will still be a state pension in the UK by the time he retires, so we really are directing our focus on not taking on any more debt, and trying to live as self-sufficient a life as we can. Hopefully this will benefit the planet a little too!

    Jane x

  28. Thank you, Rhonda, for all of the issues that inspire me to think. Actually, everything you say inspires me to think.

    Here, in the USA, things are pretty yukky. However, I find that my hubby and I don't have much of a problem with the changes in the economic situation. We are not 'needy' people. We are paying off bills so we can retire at a decent age. We make do with a lot of things. We grow food and raise chickens.

    However, I heard one sad comment from a co-worker the other day. She said 'If I can buy it, why should I make it?' That's how a lot of people I know live their lives. They want others to do for them. What if they had to do for themselves?!

    I hope they actually think about where their retirement money comes from. Most are younger than me and it may not be available for them by the time they retire. They will surely be the first in line and crying for help and handouts because they can't or won't do for themselves.

    Thank you for all of your helpful and inspiring posts.

  29. Great post Rhonda, as always.
    I'm rolling up my sleeves and putting on my apron, along with the rest of you!
    The future is what WE make of it.

  30. Very inspiring Rhonda! I hope you know how much this pushes me to get going and put on my apron!
    Inspiration is a huge help to me to plan and carefully consider what I need to change. DH and I are slowly working our budget down. We are also preparing an "emergency budget"- preparing to live on a much smaller amount if need be. We live in a small town in Canada with a very large yard- plenty of room to grow food! I'm looking into town by-laws to see if we'll be able to keep chickens. We are saving our money- buying used as much as possible, learning to make things, etc. The garden has helped a lot. I'm now trying to work out how to replace essentials such as flour with dry corn to make cornmeal (which we could grow), sugar with honey or stevia. Working on cutting out the middle man!
    The Girl in the Pink Dress

  31. Wow, this is really a wonderful post. My husband and I are in these stages of thought right now. It has been a topic for weeks now. Gratefully our home is almost paid for. We have known that will be our "ace in the hole" since we bought it. It's small, with only two bedrooms and one bathroom, (four people in the house), but it works out just fine. Most people think we are nuts and can't understand why we don't "trade up", but we don't need more. Thank you so much for lighting my fire! I am now fully inspired to get to work! Aprons just happen to be on of my favorite things!!

  32. Very well written - I totally agree in what you say!

    Best regards from Germany,

  33. Great post! My husband and I are NOT counting on Social Security to be here for us (he's 55, I'm 48). It will be a nice thing if it is, but I'm not counting my chickens before they're hatched. Our mortgage (our only debt) will be paid off in 8 years (sooner if we can) - and that is our priority. After that, our simple, frugal lifestyle will get us through whatever happens come retirement time. Thanks for your (as always) inspiring words.

  34. We live in the USA, Montana in fact and our state is one of three that are not bankrupt. Now granted we are a more rural state, verses cities and farming, ranching, oil and mining are big industry here. Anyway, we enjoy your blog and agree with you on the economic outlook, worldwide. I would add that it isn't "IF" America falls on it's face but "WHEN"! There is no stopping it now I'm afraid, even if the Nov. elections change things, the ball is already rolling and we ARE headed for "The Greatest Depression" Depending on the change/ or lack of change after Nov. will determine how long and how bad it will be.

    The new taxes impossed, under the guise of fees, licenses, permits, now even a 1% fee on ALL banking tranactions is being proposed, etc... Things, be assured are going to get much, MUCH worse here in the USA :o(

    We're 100% debt free and been living a sufficient lifestyle for over 2 decades and on one income no doubt, as I've been a SAHM for over 20 yrs now. As Karen( above said) we aren't expecting SS to be around for us( we're in our late 40's) but my husband plans to retire from the mainstream workforce in three or four years to a hopefully self employeed work.

    Times are tough we're even seeing it here in MT, but we simply aren't affected, as we've lived for decades "well below" our means.

    Thank you for all of your inspiring ideas and your most recent post hits the nail square on the head, don't try to copy everything someone else does, instead adapt it to fit your families needs. :o)

  35. I'm a longtime reader of this blog and have found it a source of great inspiration and ideas. There is one topic I've never seen addressed here, though. Not to add a sour note to the proceedings, but a woman who devotes herself to making a sustainable home, raising children, etc, necessarily sacrifices some potential earning power. No one likes to acknowledge that marriages or partnerships can end, sometimes in financially disastrous ways, but the "low earner" or "supplemental income" partner who kept the home all those years can find herself in quite dire circumstances if this happens. Finding myself in this situation, I'm doubly grateful for my simple living skills, but I do feel it's an aspect that should be addressed in any discussion of simple living.

  36. Rhonda,
    I SO much want to leave my "paid" job and help take care of my family. I work at a public high school with disabled (mentally & physically)handicapped students, helping teach life skills and vocational training. It is in many ways rewarding, but also emotionally and physically draining, especially as I am in my late fifties and there are always one or two who need physical assistance as they are wheelchair bound. I work primarily to have health insurance. At my public school,they contribute about $100. and I contribute about that much also--To add my 64 yr. old husband to my plan, my insurance premium would go up to around $750. per month. Therefore, we have found it necessary for us each to have our "own" health insurance at our jobs. We have never lived a wealthy lifestyle, and sacrificed for me to stay home to raise our 3 kids, but now I want to help with my grandkids. My daughter who is a single mother, pays $625. per month for childcare for her 10 month old! My mother is quickly deteriorating from the ravages of Alzheimer's Disease and lives almost 7 hours away from me two states away! Today, I couldn't help but wince at the irony that I am taking care of other people's children, at the expense of being able to help take care of my own family. Makes you wonder. But I'm not giving up. I am activly searching out ways to make income via the internet so I can work from home and help my family.

  37. Rhonda Jean, this blog post brings back so many memories of that year. This is the time when I started couponing and stockpiling. I was working very long 16 hour a day job and I was so burned out and wanted to leave so bad. I knew that I had no choice but to work. I did and then later on I realized I made a huge mistake. But the thoughts of what you said "thank your lucky stars you don't live in America, cause if America crashes we all crash". I certainly seen that domino effect and read articles regarding how it affected other countries globally. I used to think I was just fine living here in the states, but for the past few years, I keep this thought in my mind: should I move out of the country? I wish I could at times but then I think to myself that I couldn't do it and leave my parents and leave the places I was born and raised in. But the truth is I already have done that. I moved back in 2007 on the opposite end of the state I am living and from where I had grown up. I miss those 1970's years and life sure was good back then. I reminence about that era all the time and my kids and hubby doesn't like it. They think I'm crazy for looking back and I also talk about it a lot. They don't want to hear it but I do. I lived good even though we were poor, we were actually rich at the time and I didn't realize it until now. Now I am living in a city, trying to work in a health care career field, which is leaving me burned out quick, and I have a huge amount of student debts, I have no retirement funds, absolutely zero for retirement, I have no land and no home. I have doctor bills and student loans to pay for and our monthly bills just to live is outrageously high. Too high and can't believe I have to pay all of that to live. That is why I keep the 1970's era in my mind. It's all about money and how we lived and we didn't pay over $30.00 for cable, we didn't pay much for electricity either and if it got over $50 my grandmother would be very angry. Now a days no matter how much we cut, our electric will never be that low because the electric companies here keep raising the rates. The income is going to be increased again for minimum wage. And right now if they do that, then the cost of groceries will be on the rise again too. And let me point out the costs that are already here: gasoline/fuel almost $4.00 per gallon, one pineapple is $3.99 in most places (except Aldi), one loaf of bread is almost $5.00, minced beef (ground beef) is over $17.00 for about 2 to 3 pounds worth of meat, a gallon of milk is almost $4.00, a tray of 3 tomatoes is almost $8.00. That is why Americans are getting poorer and poorer. You have to eat and you have to have fuel to go to work. So there goes everything you have and it is sunk into those 2 needs not to mention your bills.

  38. And families are moving back in and have been moving back in with one another for the past few years to live and not be homeless. Some people are working 2 and 3 jobs each. Some people draw social security and supplemental income like my special needs kids and husband. But that is said to run out and when it does all of those people who cannot work will be in deep trouble and the ones that can work will have to have more than 3 jobs each to take care of them plus meet their needs at home. If you can't stay home to take care of them, then we will have to hire someone to stay with them while the money makers work their selves to death. So there goes more money. So I agree, need to own some land preferably near good resources but out in the county where the taxes are cheaper, and a simple home, with solar power, with own well water, a garden, and a mini farm, a pond stock full of fish or aquaponic garden with fish and food. This is the only way most Americans will be able to survive. And yes there are those who have decided to go "off the grid" around the 2009 year and they have stockpiled years of food, first aid and medical supplies, weapons, heirloom seeds, and more. I noticed a big trend going back to the self sufficiency living over a year ago when I decided to purchase some books on the subject. I noticed they were selling out very quickly in all those areas. And books that teach you how to chop wood, build root cellars, live on acreage and working the land they all sold a lot of those books too. Now you can find them and there are tons of forums out there regarding this too. Right now I would be the one doomed if anything else happens as I have no land to turn to to live and thrive on. So I'm back at square one and I have to get a job and I've been looking for months and can't find one that I can work at. I have physical problems too so that puts a huge damper on the things I can do and if I had the smarts of some of the other health care workers I would probably be working right now and I would be working at least 2 health care jobs even if it drives me under. And if I so happen to survive that, I would then pay off all my debts, I would buy some land, and I start living self sufficient. I would be so much happier then, but right now all I can do is dream and wish and hope for a job or something.

  39. Great post, Rhonda. Living on less has always worked for me. Now that I don't have to drive to work, my expenses have shrunk. I take advantage of public transportation and our numerous bike paths. I have always cooked and baked, which I find therapeutic. I love working as a writer and soapmaker from my small cottage. My customers and editors are such kind people. I will start collecting Social Security and my pension when I turn 70. I am able to do some traveling each year which keeps me excited and optimistic. It also motivates me to stay home and not spend money. I spend far less per year than the national average, but I am extremely happy and healthy.


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