How to Start

Brandon asks:

For those of us who were born and raised in the soft, squishy suburban cesspool of careerism and consumerism, this ‘return to the land’ idea can be very overwhelming. We have been since birth in a state of perpetual infancy, mentally conditioned to see the state, corporation, and grocery store as our manager and provider. Many of us graduated college and are barely scraping buy, with poor job prospects. Buying rural land seems as far away as becoming a millionaire. So, a change of mindset is needed. Advice to those of us on how to reorient our mind out of the dependent, learned helpless mentality toward a more pioneering spirit would be helpful. Strategies toward this end would also be good. Some of us would just like to know where to start.

First, stop eating out.

If you don’t have a crock-pot, buy one. Throw meat, beans (dry), vegetables, and some seasonings in it in the morning with some water, and have a hot meal waiting for you when you get home. If you eat boxed cereal for breakfast, switch to oatmeal, grits, cream of wheat, or other cheap hot cereal. Don’t buy the instant packets, buy the generic, long cooking variety. If you don’t want to get up early enough to cook it, put it in the crock pot and let it cook overnight. If you just can’t live without cold cereal, learn to make your own granola.

Don’t buy steaks–buy roasts and cut off steaks as necessary. Roasts are usually $0.50 to $1.00 cheaper per pound. Don’t buy bread, rather make your own. (You might even be able to sell a few loaves to co-workers/roommates.) I use this recipe. Grow a tomato plant in a pot in your apartment. If you have a backyard, grow a full garden. Quit buying beer. Make your own cider, wine, or mead instead.

If you smoke, switch to a pipe or start rolling your own cigarettes. If your job requires you to be clean-shaven, find a low-cost solution rather than spending $20.00 or more a month on blades. See if you can save money by changing your cell phone plan. Buy a simple hand press, and reload your own ammunition. (Note: If you do not already own a firearm, don’t buy one and a reloading press. If you are starting from zero, I recommend a crossbow before a rifle.)

If you are single, find a roommate or rent out a room. I have paid as little as $125.00 a month in rent by sharing a house with other guys–and we still each had our own room. Give yourself a simple buzz cut rather than going to the barber. Change your own oil. Buy a Haynes or Chilton book for your vehicle, and start doing simple repairs yourself. Work up to more complicated repairs.

Go through your closet. Reduce your wardrobe to the essentials and what you actually wear, and take remaining items that are in good condition to a consignment shop to turn them into cash. Sell your television. Get rid of any excess video/television streaming services (i.e. Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, etc.). You may keep a maximum of one such account.

Check out the entire Foxfire series (one book at a time) from your local library (if they don’t have it, request it on inter-library loan), and read them.

Every month, put the money you save aside, and watch it grow. In many areas, rural land can be had for around $1,000.00 an acre. $20,000.00 should be enough to get you several acres of good rural land in just about any state. As you hit significant savings milestones, celebrate with prudent purchases of things that you will need to make a go of it when you buy your land: That crossbow (or reloading press if you already own a hunting rifle), a good set of wrenches, etc.

Implementing these suggestions will get you started, but there are plenty of other things you can do. The beauty of it is that the more of these you implement, the more other things you will discover on your own. The most important step is the first one, so start here, and branch out afterwards.

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