Having recently written about my goals for 2018, I thought it only appropriate to make the last post of the year a more overarching post highlighting our long-term goals.
I think I’ve always been a prepper at heart. Ever since I was a child, I remember thinking about running away to live in a cabin in the woods and the skills I would need to survive such a lifestyle.
During my teens and early twenties, I allowed myself to be carried away by “the Joneses” and general expectations of those around me. For almost ten years, those dreams took a back seat as I fought to acquire an education that society and my family deemed “useful” and appropriate for my cognitive abilities.
It was not until I graduated in the middle of a financial crisis and struggled to keep my head above water financially that I truly realised how far from my childhood dreams I had allowed myself to stray. And no less important, how much I still wanted those childhood dreams, and how true they rung to me even as a young adult.
Highest on both Mr. E. and my wishlist for large dreams is that iconic house in the woods. And not just any house in the woods either, I want it to be carbon-negative, off-grid, biodegradable and with a large, thriving forest garden.
Why a house in the woods, why not just a small suburbia house with solar panels and a garden plot?
Well, first of all, I want us to be able to cover our basic needs of housing, warmth and food from the land. The most prudent of this will be the warmth part, as you do need a fair bit of forest to be able to sustainably take our firewood year after year without depleting the land. The Frugalwoods, being way ahead of us and already settled in their house-in-the-woods dream, often write about their wood-splitting and chopping adventures.
Secondly, houses in the woods are far cheaper for their acerage compared to houses of similar size near cities or in closer neighbourhoods. Being a fan of public transportation, I would love to find somewhere with bus connections more than once per day.
In addition to this, it is no secret that humans are building faster than the earth can keep up with. If I buy a piece of forest somewhere, perhaps I can at least protect that small piece of forest from being developed into a concrete jungle. It is a small contribution, and insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but it is important to me.
Ideally, we would bring our bestest of friends and create a grand, awe-inspiring hippie-prepper community with movie nights and crafting workshops. But, you know, trying to keep it realistic and all that.
I, for one, am ready to settle down somewhere and develop this large, forest garden self-sustainable dream of mine. Mr. E. is totally on board, revelling in the idea of a quiet place where he can write, rock climb and hike.
Our shared goals are not just marital luck. We did an awful lot of talking and serious discussing before jointly deciding that we were both benefiting from getting together. This might sound awfully unromantic, but making sure your partner is on the same page financially and life-wise is super important to a successful partnership and general power-couple kickassery.
On the other hand, Mr. E. is also an ever-changing soul with a need for change regularly. Suddenly, he might get an urgent and undeniable desire to move across the world to write and work.
I want my free spirit to be able to do such things, without it having a negative impact on our shared economy. By looking for something with very low monthly expenses, it will be a lot easier to establish a home base while still being able to afford to travel, should we want to.
The safety of having a home-base is something I really want, and I think I would enjoy travelling a lot more if we did. In a previous post, I’ve written about how excited I am to finally feel like we can safely start buying glass jars and bottles for preserving over the winter, so I don’t think I will ever be one of those people to sell all my possessions and live out of a backpack for an epic, nomad lifestyle.
This is a more vague and undefinable part of our future plans, since we never know what sort of desire takes Mr. E’s fancy next time. But I like to try to be prepared for it.
Obviously, one of the main drawbacks to a house further away from larger cities is the lack of employers out in the woods. Commuting becomes an issue in terms of time and resources, so a pillar of our dream lifestyle is the acquisition of an employer-free lifestyle.
This would be financial independence in the sense that we would not be dependant on an external employer for our income, but it would not have the “retire early” aspect so often coupled with FI in the personal finance sphere. We would still be depending on writing, blogging and crafts like soaping to bring in a monthly or annual income.
We do invest a part of our income and save as much as we can. But we view our investments more as a safety cushion than a “perpetual money making machine” it is often touted. While this is an excellent way of doing it, we feel too impatient to manage 10+ years in a desk job to grow that money machine. We want more freedom as soon as possible!
I, for one, am anxious about how long this bull market has been running ahead, and am afraid to rely all my financial and emotional well-being on numbers on a screen. A paid-off house with a large, food-producing garden is my primary retirement saving. The rest is gravy.
This is also why this blog is more focused on frugality and sustainable living compared to pure money and investing. We could probably make more efficient money-making decisions if we dug deeper into the market and learned more about it, but it brings me much more happiness to be learning new crafts and tangible skills.
After all, money is just a means to an end, not the goal itself. My happiness is greatly tied up to working towards a life that looks and feels a lot like a Hobbit house. To this end, money is a tool that should be mastered and controlled.
Our primary goal is simply to be financially independent and secure to the point where we do not have to worry about money for the rest of our lives. Reducing our living costs through buying and paying off a home is an important part of our process, but we don’t just want the most cost-efficient home with resell value. We want a home to thrive and care for, for the rest of our lives.
For someone who his antsy and dubious about anything outside my own control (will the government take care of me when I grow old? Will this fragile food distribution system persist? Will jobs exist in the way they do now 20 years from now? etc), having a home base that is eventually paid off will give me such peace of mind. Even if it requires large amounts of maintenance and tending over the years.
Do you have tangible, long-term goals you are working on steering your life towards? Have you written about them in a personal journal or broken them down into more manageable steps? We’d love to hear about it! Solid goals are key to avoiding a life of just drifting along with the currents.