living off the financial grid...that's how to explain it.
Years ago I read a book about a guy who left his high paying job (he had a PhD) and moved to the country. His standard of living improved so much that (at the time) he had not returned to a "normal" lifestyle.
He and his family all developed do-it-yourself skills and tried to do everything they could by growing food, bartering, buying used, etc. Now, this choice was made because in the 1970s and early 1980s, inflation and increasing payroll taxes combined to take huge chunks of the average person's take home pay before they could spend it on necessities.
There was a lot to learn from his family, even for those of us who continued to live and work in "town". I wish I'd kept the book, it had become outdated by the 1990s... or so I thought.
However, I knew of just the person who could give me good ideas. I pulled the first Tightwad Gazette off the shelf (I have volumes 1 and 2... someday I need to get the 3-in-1 volume). I propped the pillows up on my bed and read until my eyes started closing more than they stayed open. If there is anyone who can tell us how to live off the financial grid, it is Amy Dacyczyn. I'd forgotten how much gold there is to mine in those books, not only her ideas but tried and true suggestions from readers.
Another great book is Frugal Luxuries by Tracey McBride. I love this book, it is one of my"comfort books" I pull off the shelf when I need frugal inspiration. Tracey's main blog link is on my sidebar. Unlike Amy's book, it offers more advice about surrounding oneself with elegance and beauty on a very tight budget. They compliment each other with lots and lots of good advice.
I have progressively lived off the financial grid and I wish I'd done more sooner. Would you believe I hadn't stepped into a Goodwill store until we moved back from Detroit? It was a combination of Stephanie telling me her good buys (before moving to New England) and the Goodwill store opening a new location close to my grocery store that hooked me. I had images of the thrift stores my mother took me to as a child... dark and musty smelling. Was I ever wrong!
However, like many of you I share the title of "garage sale queen". Garage sales started during the horrible financial conditions of the late 1970s. I remember how odd they seemed at the time but they were the way young Mom's were able to buy and sell off the financial grid.
Both of my children were trained in the art of garage sale shopping (or tag sales as they are called in New England). When Christopher was little, he received a small allowance during garage sale season, which he used to make purchases at garage sales... great training.
I had a comment left at one time, telling me I "bragged about my thrift store finds". You betcha! I won't deny that even though it was obviously meant as a cutting remark. I brag because I want to share with others about living off the financial grid. Once you learn just how well you can dress and decorate your home and "live well" on pennies... you can't go back.
I don't have the money to shop at Goodwill very often these days so I'm there only a few times a month now, with my mental list of needs and desires. In the past month, my husband and I each found a sweater (his Ralph Lauren still had the tags on it, mine was Talbots), a very nice pair of shoes he desperately needed, and a Wilton Christmas cookie baking pan in its' original box.
A couple months ago I had been at Goodwill for awhile and decided to make "one more trip" down the aisles. There... tucked away on a bottom shelf... was a brand new... never been used... roasting pan that I very much needed but it was $7.95, which is rather high. I picked it up, looked for the brand name... and immediately recognized it as a gold standard brand and put it in my cart. When I arrived home, I looked up the price on line and it was $149.95... yes, as in hundred.
I'm continuing to learn about living off the financial grid. My section of Bloglines I titled "Simple Living" continues to grow each week as I subscribe to wonderful blogs about gardening, canning, purchasing food cheap, etc. That is where I'm getting an education, along with gardening and canning books.
I've belonged to food co-ops off and on but growing my own has been limited to an herb garden and a few tomato plants here and there. Living off the financial grid may become more of a necessity as time goes on for some... an immediate need for others.
It can also be a lifestyle that brings great financial rewards... and fun.
The Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn
Frugal Luxuries by Tracey McBride