Last week I started this series of articles to hopefully give you a road map for deciding if this self sufficient lifestyle is really for you or not. As I addressed in that first article in this series, I think frugality is very important. In fact, it was the single most important point for both Ranae and I as we embarked on this lifestyle many years ago.
One reader wrote to me with a great question/point, after reading last week’s article. I never really defined what “self-sufficient” means. I eluded to the fact that you could ask ten different people what the term means, and you would probably get ten different answers. But I never really told you what I think it means. I like this definition the best, “Living simply and efficiently; making everything we do and everything we consume stretch as far as possible.”
Living simply has many definitions in its own right, but to me it largely means living a lifestyle of modest consumption; paying particular attention to how much we use and how often we have to replace it. Another, equally important thing we monitor is how we spend not only our money, but also how we spend our time. We try very hard to make sure we spend our time on only those tasks or activities we find value in. Value can also be recreational in nature. Don’t believe for a second that we don’t have fun. Believe me, we do… and as much of it as is humanly possible.
I guess, the overall theme us is, together we try very hard to be in control of how we consume; spend; use; etc.
This brings me to the point of this second article in the series. In Christianity, we often hear the term “be evenly yoked” with your partner. In the teaching of Christianity, this can be paraphrased into the teaching that you should not get married to a non-Christian. While I wholeheartedly agree with that sentiment and teaching, “evenly yoked” as I am using it here, means don’t make the mistake of believing that you will be able to convince your partner to love this lifestyle. They will either be onboard from the beginning or they won’t. Don’t try to force it as a solution to some problem, etc. I don’t believe it will work. This lifestyle is certainly not for everyone.
Part of living simply, for Ranae and me, is a constant work on our relationship. We each bring different talents and interests to this lifestyle. She is a Master Gardener, while I loathe “playing in the dirt”. I’m the nerdy one in this relationship. I love automation and electronics while I’m sure she doesn’t, although she did get her FCC Ham Radio General Class license just because I wanted her to. LOL
We approach all situations and decisions with some basic guidelines.
1) We try to keep humor alive in everything we do. Laughter goes a long way towards a peaceful and productive partnership. I am sometimes amazed at how easily we can make each other laugh. Laughter truly is the best medicine.
2) We always try to tackle tasks together as much as possible. The time spent together working on one task gives us time to discuss other upcoming tasks.
3) We keep no secrets nor hidden agendas. We both know precisely where we stand financially, etc. We take time each month to sit down and discuss that month’s cash flow and make the decisions together.
4) We are reasonable about our expectations whether it be completing some work task around our property or financial goals, etc. We NEVER let the issues of money or self-imposed timelines get in between us. What would be the point to doing so?
5) We are committed to the goals that we mutually agree upon and never question the other’s commitment to them either. A good example of this would be regarding our garden. I just want to eat good fresh veggies every day. So when Ranae tells me of a problem she is having in the garden that requires some extra attention and it pulls her from her other planned activities, I have to believe the goals are the same… fresh veggies… and the time spent away from her other tasks are necessary to that goal.
We each give the other a fair amount of alone time too. Time spent on our own activities is a great conversation builder. A good example of this is, when I come in from my shop with some news about a new device I just built or such, we spend time discussing it and how it can help us with some task or if not for a task per se, how it was simply something I enjoyed doing.
And lastly, we spend a great deal of time playing together. We love board games. Board games are inexpensive and time spent getting my tail handed to me over a game of checkers is a great time indeed.
If you do nothing else after reading this article, try this… pour yourself and your spouse a nice cup of hot tea; place some cookies on a plate and set them all next to the checkers board on your kitchen table. Then turn off all electronics (except maybe a nice background music of some sort) and play a game of checkers with your spouse. I promise you, you will learn a lot about each other and whether or not this self-sufficient lifestyle is really the ticket for your partnership.
Until next week…
Vern Six is a freelance computer programmer and entrepreneur. He is a United States Army certified survival expert and former Christian missionary. Vern has been a hobby blogger for nearly five years and now has his “According to Vern” blog published in numerous newspapers around the world. You can learn more about Vern by visiting his website at http://AccordingToVern.com