I am overwhelmed with gratitude regarding the response to my article, How I Retired at 25 & Never Looked Back.
It is awe-inspiring and extremely fulfilling to create something that most people enjoy. I am thoroughly touched by the interest, feedback and comments.
Many great points were made, many questions were raised and let’s get real—if a self-sustaining lifestyle or a self-sustaining world is in our dreams, some more specific and detailed information is necessary.
Ask and you shall receive.
First, a fair warning: at times, my parents and several friends have told me the way I live and some of the things I practice are extreme. I shrug at that; I find it fun and this is just me. It does take hard work and practice in regards to consumption and doing things for ourselves to get better at this lifestyle. The result leaves us with ways to fill the time and save money.
One friend pointed out the limitations this lifestyle gives me.
Sure, not going out to eat or drinking alcohol and eating only organic, vegetarian and gluten free sets limits for my social interactions. Yet, after practicing cooking for years, my food tastes better and is healthier for me, and one meal out is the same price as about three days of meals at home. As stated in a previous article, DIY wine is on my list of things to learn.
Luckily, I’ve found friends that also live on less, we share meals together at home or at picnic style outings.
Some hypotheses for easy cheats to gain a lifestyle of freedom were to freeload off of my parents or that I consume through welfare. No, no, no…if one consumes welfare or others’ tax dollars, they are still in the circle of “taxes in, taxes out.” That is still relying on external factors to live; I am talking about choosing to not have to rely on anyone but ourselves.
The whole point of, “How I retired at 25” is independence and sustainability. I surely wouldn’t feel comfortable writing about such things if I were relying on others. The difference is supporting each other—the giving and receiving of time and goods to and from each other instead of corporations. This lifts all of us instead of just lifting “the man.” We can give back, for free, tenfold in a variety of ways.
First things first, contrary to some readers’ ideas, this lifestyle isn’t easy and it’s not for “bums.” A friend of mine often says, “I don’t have a job, but I sure work a lot.” To cover rent and very few living expenses, I just make money where it comes. Teaching yoga, dog walking, yard sales, babysitting, making jewelry or art to sell and promoting the book that I wrote are small forms of income that allow me to live this way. Many yoga teachers also earn money practicing bodywork (massage), reiki, acupuncture and other forms of healing.
1. The first step in the previous article is becoming a garden rebel.
I don’t spend money eating out or on pre-made, processed or packaged foods. Gardening started in an apartment with indoor pots for just a few herbs. Since then, with practice I’ve seeded and maintained an elderly couple’s garden that they didn’t have time or energy to mess with. We grew as many different kinds of foods as the seeds we found and shared the produce with many. Growing food in a garden is like money growing on trees, except that it’s food. In a garden.
2. “What about a car, gasoline, auto insurance and maintenance?” one reader asked.
I don’t pay any of them. Boom!
I am a bike commuter, not only to save money but also for my health and for the health of the planet. Think about it: since I gave up working for the man, I have all the time in the world to arrive at any place. I own my time. I’m not rushed to be anywhere and the few times an auto is required, I can ask a friend, take a ride share or use a taxi.
The price of the few times that a car is needed doesn’t add up to the cost of maintaining a car (and in my case, receiving parking tickets) month after month. The journey using my own energy is very enjoyable, especially when compared to past traffic sitting times to and from work. I get to really see the neighborhoods, streets and places I go.
3. My cell phone is the cheapest pay-as-you-go.
It is paired with an antique refurbished smart phone, which can be found for online for just a few dollars. I use its camera and wi-fi mostly. Utilizing Facebook messenger, Whatsapp and Skype for communication, I hardly ever spend phone credit. Between the two devices, I bet my communication costs less than $10/month. I don’t have internet at home, practically every public establishment offers it for free. I think I sleep better without wi-fi waves surrounding and interrupting my dreams.
Let me tell you, it feels really good to be less connected!
For me it’s cheaper than Kibble and it’s healthier for my pooch. Typical dog food contains the worst of the worst meat. When not even spam can be made out of that junk, the left over animal pieces are ground into dog food. Along with a plethora of crazy ingredients, store dog food generally has artificial colors, flavors and gluten. Historically these ingredients have never been a part of canine’s diet and we are learning how they affect animals’ health and behavior.
I found out that my dog was allergic to the gluten and that the artificial colors were making her totally ADD/ADHD. The biggest benefit of making dog food at home is that her personality mellowed after removing the toxins from her diet, and we now have a better connection.
5. I find cleaning supplies and personal hygiene items to be very expensive.
At the end of the day, they are just chemicals with dyes and fragrances that we put in our water system. Cleaning with vinegar or Dr. Bronner’s biodegradable all-in-one soap works on all surfaces—even our bodies and hair. I can’t even begin to say how much money I’ve saved not buying a variety of cleaning chemicals!
6. I stopped buying disposable products.
I used to be so wasteful; I didn’t even know there was a different way to exist. From one-time dental flossers, to straws, disposable wipes, water bottles, paper towels, tissues, plastic ware, Q-tips and trash bags, etc. I was spending money left, right and centre and buying stuff which purpose is to be thrown it away. Basically I was throwing away money. Since I have more time than money, I don’t mind doing the dishes after a party or washing homemade cloth napkins and rags.
7. Learning how to sew comes in handy.
It’s useful in repairing second-hand clothing, creating gifts or altering garments. It’s fun to create drapes, napkins, handkerchiefs and blankets out of thrift store material.
8. I practice making my energy bill minimal.
I don’t use TVs or their partner accessories, no microwave, no dishwasher and the hot water heater stays off. Burr… Cold showers! Obviously they are shorter and I turn off water when I’m not rinsing. I enjoy conserving; it’s worth it to me.
I unplug things when not in use. I can’t remember the last time I blow-dried my hair. I turn the lights off, the air-conditioning always off and in the winter I keep the heat pretty low and wear warm clothes inside. I cut my own hair, too. I save as much as I can.
Not long ago, everyone lived happily without the many luxuries we’ve been convinced are necessities. Still many people are living happily without them. They practice abundance and believe in the concept that there is enough of everything for everyone. They don’t “need” things. This is what I’m practicing.
9. “What about medical bills?” another reader asked.
In addition to consuming home grown organic, non-packaged, toxin free food and drink, I’m not absorbing chemicals through my skin either. Here are additional steps I practice to make my future medical and dental bills less.
• Oil pulling
• Tongue scraping
• Glass of warm lemon water in the morning.
• Apple cider vinegar tea
• Drinking enough water all day long.
• Dry skin brushing
• DIY coconut oil toothpaste
• Kundalini or pranayama
• Meditation (I like mantra)
• Grow my own herbal teas.
• I research what does and does not cause cancer and change my patterns accordingly. It’s a beautiful truth.
10. And finally, the best question ever: “What are you doing then to give back to society?”
What does our society need today?
There was a time in society when we needed to pro-create, a time where the world needed adventurers and explorers and a time for settlers to expand population and work the land. There have been times when we needed to fight and stand up for rights and freedom, even if it wasn’t us being affected. There was a time when countries needed hard workers, to establish economy. There is a time for scientists and doctors, to learn how to fix our bodies the way that mechanics fix cars. (If we work like machines, we can fix ourselves like machines too, right? )
I believe that now, the world needs people that consume less and create less trash. Some people have practiced this and now throw less than one pound of trash away per year. I’m not that good, but I’m practicing. The world needs humans that pollute the land and water less. We need people who practice conserving water and energy.
Our society needs people who know how to grow food without chemicals and toxins.
The world needs humans that are healers. The only thing better than me being healthy and happy is sharing it with others. Many societies have removed the value of health and happiness from their people. This has resulted in mass detachment with regards to the health and happiness of our planet. The world needs spiritual people that guide and help others to return to the essence of their being, finding peace, love and harmony, both inside and out.
That’s how I give back to society.
So as we practice our way to financial freedom and becoming the owners of our time, remember that every little bit helps. For one reason or another, some of the steps in this or the first article may not work for everybody.
Don’t focus on what doesn’t work. Focus on the steps that are attainable. We are amazing creatures and we can get better at anything we practice. Each time we practice sustainability, we get closer to realizing that dream. The thing is that every little bit helps. Every time we practice we are starting new behavior patterns that are bettering ourselves and the world one step at a time.
Let me know what you think and thank you for leaving your comments below.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Author: Matilda A. Juliette
Apprentice Editor: Yaisa Nio / Editor: Travis May
Photo: courtesy of the author