Homesteading: Why We’re Keeping our Back to Basics Lifestyle for 2014

 

Almost a full year ago, we committed our family to a “Back to Basics” kind of a lifestyle.  In an effort to reduce our ridiculously high debt-to-income ratio, we committed to some Depression-era type living so that we could cut our expenses and work toward paying off our debt.  As we near the end of year one of our simple living experiment, we’re even more encouraged to stick with it for 2014.  What will our 2014 look like as far as simple living is concerned?

1.  We’ll keep on with our simple and cheap meal plan.  Rice, beans, potatoes and pasta, with some meat sprinkled in.  The grocery store in our town has a great stock-up sale on roasts this week, and my initial thought was to either buy a half a cow this winter, or get to the grocer and do a huge stock up on roasts, since the sale price is similar to the per-pound side of beef price.  Then it occurred to me that meat, even at $3.48 a pound, is not a necessity and really will make a dent in our grocery budget, so there’ll be no stocking up for us, at least not right now, on meat of any kind.  I can do far too much in terms of killing our debt with the cheaper ingredients.

2.  We’ll continue to ease up on electricity usage by continuing to do things with the least amount of electricity/appliance usage as possible.  This means mixing stuff by hand, and using other manual kitchen appliances instead of the electric ones.  We’ll also continue to be Light and Heat Police, using both of those power sources as little as possible.  It’s annoying sometimes, but again, we’re saving a notable amount of cash.

3.  We’ll continue to work toward self-sufficiency.  We didn’t get our wood stove installed this year, due to a problem getting a necessary part, but we are going to work on getting it installed soon, maybe even before winter ends, so that we can start heating our home with wood.  We’re also planning on doubling our garden size in 2014 in order to work more toward achieving our goal of providing our own veggies for the entire year, through canning and freezing. Also on the agenda?  A new roof and insulation in the attic so that we can minimize/eliminate heat loss and ice damming, saving us more money.

4.  We’ll continue our commitment to not buying new clothes, etc., unless necessary.  I want to continue to keep our clothing costs to a minimum.  At year’s end, I’ll be revealing how much we spent on clothing for our family of six this year, and how much we’re setting aside for next year’s clothing costs.  We’ll do the same with health and beauty, with one exception: me.  I’ve been feeling frumpy and just kind of depressed over my dishwater blonde hair and the lack of makeup.  Although I will continue to do DIY beauty stuff for most things, I am going to start getting highlights again in 2014 and purchase some new makeup.  It may not seem like a very frugal idea to you, but I just need to feel “sparkly” a bit, you know?  Readers, what are your thoughts on this?

So that sums it up.  After a productive and successful 2013, we’re eager to make 2014 even better.  Make sure to check back with us at the beginning of the year for our 2013 numbers wrap-up and our subsequent 2014 goals post, and thank you all, so much, for riding along with us on this journey to debt free.  You rock!

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68 comments

  1. Brian says:

    Sounds like a reasonable plan. You have to find the balance that works for you family. There no cookie cutter answer that works for everyone, but having the game plan with obtainable goals going into the new year is a great place to start.

    • Laurie says:

      Thanks, Charles. :-). It sounds pretentious, I’m sure, but I can’t wait to be a blonde again. I’ve been highlighting my hair since the seventh grade, and even my mom says I don’t look like myself with dark hair, LOL.

  2. Hi Laurie.

    Sounds like you all are on top of things 🙂

    I do however, agree with the above sentiments of splurging every once in a while and that includes roasts as well as make-up and highlights!!

    I have really enjoyed your blog since first discovering it a bunch of months ago and I look forward to seeing what the new year brings to you and your family 🙂

    Take care and my best to all.

    Lyle

    • Laurie says:

      Thanks so much, Lyle, for your always encouraging and joyful comments. 🙂 That is what I especially love about your blog. It always gives me a good smile. As for red meat, I’m quite sure it won’t be too much longer before I grill me up a big ol’ ribeye. It’s been too long!

  3. Glad to know I’m not the only one who enacts the Light & Heat Police. 😉 Nicole refers to me as the Light Nazi, lol. Seriously though, it looks like you have a good plan and I think the hair thing is great – we all need to have some sort of outlet, especially when paying off debt.

  4. I think you guys are living the coolest life of anyone I know. Part of me wants to follow in your footsteps, but then I remember I don’t like doing yard work…and growing vegetables for an entire year sounds eerily similar to working in a yard. 🙂

    I think spending a little on makeup and highlights is completely justifiable. Mrs. DB40 is even more frugal than I am but we still splurge once or twice a year for some Bare Minerals stuff for her, and she gets some color maybe once every two months. Life is not an exercise in self-deprivation: money is meant to be spent consciously and that sounds exactly like what you are doing.

    • Laurie says:

      Awww, thanks, DB40! LOL, yes, growing veggies is eerily similar to yard work. Yeah, it’s definitely been an adjustment as far as work load – one that has had me in tears at times, and I’m guessing Rick too (although he’d never admit that publicly 🙂 ), but it is super cool.

  5. Brit says:

    Great 2014 plan. I am loving the back to basic Laurie. I do feel like next year I’ll splurge a little more. You are going to start 2014 with a plan of action and that says a lot. Keep it up, Laurie and thank you for sharing.

  6. Anita says:

    Doubling your garden and growing all your own veggies will help greatly, especially if you can put them up by canning freezing or dehydrating. Every time I pull a jar out of the pantry or a bag out of the freezer I get a big smile on my face knowing this is one less thing I had to buy at the store, and in fact, I didn’t even have to go to the store this week!! Also, I once worked with gal whose family was trying to pay off some bills and they went for a whole month eating nothing but rice and beans. She said even though it got really old, it was worth it and they managed to pay off what they had wanted!

  7. Great plans here, Laurie. I have no doubt you’ll be able to achieve them. We like to ease up on electricity usage, too. We have a clothes line (although it’s no use in the winter), and I’m looking forward to being able to use it again. Saves money and reduces our impact. Good luck in 2014!

  8. Mackenzie says:

    LOL, my husband keeps an eye on the heating/electricity too 🙂 Ya gotta do what ya gotta do, right?

    You did fabulous this year Laurie! Great job 🙂

  9. I absolutely believe that when we feel good about ourselves, it shines through in every other area of our lives. So if you need to make some mindful splurges to help Laurie be the best Laurie, then go for it. I’ve cut back on my highlights last year but it’s something I’m definitely want to fit back in this year. My hair is black so I’m too scared to do it myself and leave it to the pros. My Mom always has a big garden and growing up I thought it was kind of a pain. And today, well … I’d still probably think it was a bit of a pain if I had to help maintain it … but the quality and taste of those veggies … unbeatable!

    • Laurie says:

      Yeah, I’ve learned my lesson about DIY hair coloring too, Tanya, and I am SO not going there. 🙂 I know what you mean about the yummy garden veggies -I miss them already!

  10. Laurie, have you read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver? You might enjoy her take on an attempt at self-sufficiency if you haven’t read it.

    Also, one thing for me that really saved on electricity usage was unplugging every appliance I could (even our microwave and toaster oven) via using a powerstrip. Our microwave used a lot of phantom power for some reason, along with more obvious items like the TV and chargers. I also had already changed every lightbulb in the apartment to CFL (stocked up at Costco for those) to save on lightbulb usage. I still use the window a/c in the summer but only in the bedroom to sleep at night. Otherwise, I just hang out in shorts and a tank top in the house.

    As far as stretching the clothing budget, sometimes you can get free gift cards from survey companies which can help ensure as little actual cash is spent on clothing.

    Good luck with keeping it up! I know you and your family can do it. 🙂

  11. E.M. says:

    Your dedication to this journey always amazes me! You all work hard in order to make debt a priority and it’s very admirable. I have not given up makeup, I just buy less of it now, and try to go for the good quality drugstore brands. I like feeling pretty, too!

    You could look into E.L.F. They have an online store, and Target, Walmart and some grocery stores sell the brand. They have incredibly cheap prices and have been improving their quality over the years. I like Revlon for foundation, Maybelline has good concealers, and I like NYX for blush. All cheap options compared to high-end luxury brands, and they should last you a while. I’m not sure if you have Ulta near you, but they often have $3.50 off $10 purchase coupons.

    • Laurie says:

      Thanks, E.M., for the tips! Actually, we do have an Ulta in the cities and I think I’m going to try and hit them up on the way to our Christmas Eve gathering. Thanks for the E.L.F. tip – didn’t know about them.

  12. I love your families’ determination to see your debt payoff through and continue to sacrifice for another year. You are a great example of what it takes to get back your financial life. You rock!

  13. Love the re-commitment to your plan – even if it will be a plan with slightly lighter hair =) It’s great that you and your family haven’t felt overly deprived with the year of “back to basics” and that you’re looking forward to another year of the experiment!

  14. Amanda says:

    It would be great to hear how you splurge on makeup and hair products and services in 2014! When you feel great about how you look and feel, then everyone around you will catch your contagious attitude and feelings. Do this not only for yourself but also for those around you who love you so much and want the best for you! You are already doing so much for them. As for the garden, I can’t wait to hear how you expand it and keep it up. It’s something we tried to do this year and it didn’t go as well, but it was only year 1.

    • Laurie says:

      Thanks, Amanda! Yes, I’ve already got plans about how to get some great beauty products for cheap, and I’ll definitely be sharing them. Our garden didn’t go as well as we’d have liked either, but we’re definitely looking forward to the bigger, better 2014 garden. 🙂

  15. Sounds like very reasonable goals. Hopefully the wood stove will work out for you soon. When we moved into our house we purchased a wood burning insert for our fireplace and it was the best decision we’ve ever made. We basically heat our home for half the cost that we would be paying for oil and it’s so much warmer too!

    My husband also tends a large vegetable garden in our yard. Growing your own veggies is frugal and healthy. We have goals for expansion next year, too, and I have a goal to sell excess produce to make some extra cash too. I posted an end of season garden review on my blog. We just had a delicious Sunday dinner of spaghetti and meatballs with tomato sauce from our garden.

    I think your desire to spend a little more on yourself to feel “sparkly” is perfectly reasonable. It sounds like you are all doing such a great job making progress with paying down your debt, there should be room for a little fun too.

    Best of luck in the new year!

    • Laurie says:

      Thanks so much, Kay. Good to hear you’ve got great garden plans for next year too. We haven’t made spaghetti or tomato sauce yet, but that is something I’d love to do next year.

  16. I’m kinda known as a “relaxed” debt blogger so every time I read one of your posts, I’m reminded not to be too relaxed. 😉 On a serious note, I know your determination is inspirational to many many people Laurie! Congrats on an awesome 2013. I wish you continued success in 2014! Yay for the blonde highlights!

  17. I don’t eat red meat so that’s an easy way to cut back on expenses for me (now if I could only get bf to stop eating meat ;-)). I absolutely rewarded myself when I was paying down debt (and now of course). If you’re on a complete “debt diet”, you might end up splurging too often or own items that are more expensive than you planned (I know I did!). Get those highlights and enjoy them!

    • Laurie says:

      I’m with BF, I love me some steak!!! Rick, though, is like you, and could easily go without and be a happy camper with a meatless diet, so that helps a lot, as I only have my own cravings to have to control. 🙂

  18. Liz says:

    Sounds like youj haved some great plans for 2014. I think it is important to not deprive yourself Laurie. Get those highlights! As far as make-up goes, I find that I can get some pretty good deals at CVS if you have one of those near you.

  19. Congrats on pulling it off in 2013! I am sure that your plans for 2014 will be easier to be met now that you have a year’s worth of experience. I personally love the idea of aiming for self sufficiency and even though I don’t think that can be completely achieved in today’s society, being able to provide all the vegetables for the whole year would be absolutely awesome. Good luck with your plans, I am sure you’ll be able to get things done in 2014!

    • Laurie says:

      Thanks so much, C. Yeah, we’re kind of amazed that we pulled it off. We’re aiming to tone things down even more for 2014, but we also want to, as so many have said, make sure not to deprive ourselves too much. If we can increase savings, debt paid off, and decrease total spending from 2013, I’ll be a happy girl. 🙂

  20. Matt Becker says:

    Love the plan Laurie! There’s nothing wrong with doing something enjoyable for yourself. In fact that’s really what your money should be for. As long as it’s done within the larger context of your family’s financial plan then you should absolutely go for it.

  21. Isabella says:

    Great round-up, and I look forward to your list for 2014. And girl, get thee to a hairdresser for those highlights. Hard working moms need a little fun and sparkle!

  22. Pauline says:

    We buy meat around $3 a pound but it gets bad after two months in the freezer, instead of 18 months for industrial meat so you have to pay attention if you buy local. Apparently they put clorine in industrial meat so it freezes longer.
    I think the no clothes is a great idea, I often try to wear more often stuff I stopped wearing and feel like I have new clothes again.

    • Laurie says:

      Yikes! I had no idea about the chlorine – I’ll have to research to see if they do that here. I know the local farm we buy from doesn’t do that. Maybe we will be purchasing a side of beef after all. Love the idea about not wearing certain clothes for awhile so it seems like you have new clothes, btw. 🙂

  23. laura / no more spending says:

    You’re doing an awesome job Laurie! Best of luck in 2014, and yes, you must get the highlights 🙂

  24. You guys are so awesome! I don’t know if I could cut costs like that, but I’m working towards getting closer to it each month. In 2014, I’m hoping to keep meat eating to a minimum because you are right, it’s SO expensive. Here’s to a frugal new year 🙂

    • Laurie says:

      LOL, thanks, Erin. Often days we don’t feel so awesome, especially when we look at the debt we’ve gotten ourselves into, but we’re moving forward, right?

  25. These are all great goals for 2014, Laurie! Wishing you another great year and to achieve all your goals! 😛 I haven’t been to a hair salon in a year now, I think it’s time I pop back in to get a hair cut. I agree, it’s so important to feel that “spark”! 😉

  26. Congrats Laurie for holding to the plan. It’s tough to do that month after month and not give into the temptations around us. I think this is why so many people end up caving, they end up seeing that shining object and think they got to have it. The truth is you don’t have to have it.

    I did this last year for Christmas. I was going to buy my wife a kindle but decided I did not need to buy just for the sake of buying a gift. That is not the point of Christmas yet so many people do it for that very reason.

    • Laurie says:

      SO, so true, Chris! Funny, after evaluating our numbers this year, I’m even more committed to spending less for 2014. If you focus on that glimmer of hope and can make it through the tough stuff of budgeting, spend-tracking and spending on what’s most important, you’ve got an awesome chance at financial success.

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