May 1, 2018

What Can I Live Without?

One of the things Dan and I have been working toward in our homesteading is how to live with less money. While most people are investing furiously for their future retirement, we figured out a long time ago that this wasn't a reality for us. We've always lived paycheck to paycheck on a modest income, because we didn't want to sacrifice family in pursuit of wealth. We knew it would mean a lean "retirement" for us, with less money than our modest working income had provided, but we've been okay with that. The question was, how do we plan for it? The answer is to learn to live within whatever means we can manage by doing more for ourselves and relying less on the consumer system.

What have we done to work toward that goal? We've made upgrades and repairs to the house while learning to live with less electricity. We've learned to grow more of our food while making changes to our diet. We've worked to get our homestead infrastructure in place while we still had money for tools and materials. We've learned to ask, "do we really need that thing?" "Is there another way to accomplish the same goal?" And we've invested in low-tech equipment while learning how to use that equipment. For the most part, we seemed pretty much on track.

Then Dan had his accident. Long story short, "retirement" is now upon us several years earlier than we planned, and we suddenly find ourselves face to face with our new normal. Last month social security kicked in, so we have a new income level to adjust to. We've taken a hard look at our old budget to determine how we can adapt it. Can we cut back on utilities more than we have? Food budget? Phone? Internet? Do we really need two vehicles? What is a necessity and what can we live without?

When my computer's hard drive died last year I thought long and hard about whether or not we really needed one. Cutting out internet would certainly save quite a bit each month, but it's also a valuable research tool. My old laptop came to the immediate rescue and eventually I was able to install a new hard drive in my desktop at a huge savings compared to buying a new computer. Then the view screen on my digital camera went out. But the view finder still works, and I can live with that. Now my 30-something-year-old washing machine is beginning to whine and I wonder how much longer we can keep nursing it along.

Keeping a little savings set aside is a need to consider for unexpected emergencies such as a dead washing machine or car repairs, and for expected expenses such as new eyeglasses from time to time. One savings is no longer having Dan's work related expenses. Few people think about it, but having a job costs money: work clothes and shoes, transportation, meals, work related tools and equipment, and for many people, childcare. Have you ever stopped to consider how much it costs you to keep your job?

Also on the savings side is that the goats mostly pay for themselves. That's a plus. The kids going to new homes this month will pay for whatever feed and supplies we can't grow for ourselves this year. Another plus is the royalties from my books. Dan and I agreed to designate that money for "extras." Long ago we heeded the advice to adjust our lifestyle to our primary income. That philosophy has served us very well. Too often couples take on a second income "just until thus-and-such is obtained or paid off." The problem is that once that second income finds its way into the family lifestyle stream, it's very difficult to go back. In our case, the book money is extremely variable. When we have it, we use it buy materials for projects and equipment.

I suppose most folks pin their hopes on their retirement investments, without keeping in mind that there is no guarantee on these. I remember my high school history teacher telling us that the Great Depression could never be repeated, because we had learned our lesson. Well, that generation learned the lesson, but the problem is that generational lessons never get passed on. What parent hasn't lamented that their kids have to learn lessons they themselves had to learn as youngsters.

I have never second-guessed the decisions we have made and where they have brought us now. I have been tempted to worry: what if this happens? or what if that happens? But I have to agree with what I once heard, that worrying is like paying interest on a debt you don't owe. The result is only more worrying, fretting, and discontent. The answer to it is always thankfulness. Because one can't be thankful and worry at the same time. The result of thankfulness is contentment. Considering that no one can control the future anyway, I'd rather live with that.

What Can I Live Without? © May 2018 by


Gorges Smythe said...

I used to worry some, but along the way, I learned that all I can do is my best. After that, it's in the Lord's hands.

Goatldi said...

It is always interesting how individual households maintain a standard of living. Ours was living on one income and on a budget. A savings and as time and budget allowed making wise choices on early contributions to yes, a retirement fund.

We never kept up with the Jone's actually we never even tried or cared to. We basically used it up (often times giving something multiple reincarnations)before sending it to recycle or the great beyond where stuff goes when beyond repair. Even today we do that . Geoffrey just sent his string mower to the ultimate recycle program . It lasted him 6 seasons of chunking away on 42 acres over , under , around and through. He had rebuilt the engine multiple times. And it was like an old friend passing on when it reached the last rodeo.

There is much satisfaction to be found in less being more. A bit of fun too when I make the announcement to potential house guest "be sure to bring more than enough clothes for your visit. Because we don't use our dryer so wash hangs out and you will need extras while it dries." Thankfully most of our friends are of the same ilk and the rest well we don't see them too often.

So I raise a homemade granola bar , excellent if I do say so myself, to those who live in a manner which they find contentment. Life is far to short on this planet to worry about keeping up with the Jone's.

Dawn said...

Living within your means is high on our list and while we have a wage coming in we use for setting up here getting fencing done animal shelters built etc, our chooks and goats pay for themselves, Alpacas not yet with there fleeces and the sheep and buffalo will another year before they contribute, I do my craft fairs that pays for bits and bobs I want for the garden so we are getting there :-)

Leigh said...

Gorges, that's it exactly. And that makes me understand why some people aren't interested in this kind of lifestyle: there are too many aspects of it that are out of human control. It requires trust to live close to the land.

Goatldi, well said! And you are so right about the sense of satisfaction that comes with living modestly. Also with keeping things in working order for as long a life as possible! It's especially nice that you have like-minded friends. That's always an encouragement.

Dawn, you all think the same way we do! We've invested in hard assets rather than the stock market, because we believe that will serve us better in the long run.

Sam I Am...... said...

Great post and yes, I don't care how much money you do or don't have...there is no such thing as 'financial security'. Take care and I hope Dan is continuing to heal.
P.S. So glad you still have internet or we wouldn't be able to read your great blog!

Maggie said...

Are you allowed to have a roadside selling place? I've often wondered why you don't sell eggs?

Fiona said...

This blog post needs to be read by so many people. Its awesome and solidly based in reality. Ralph and I had the gift of selling my land to get this farm. We knew once the land money was reinvested we would be limited to his retirement income. We got as much done as we could toward making our new home self sustaining. Now we too are debating vehicle numbers and new tech. We can make do, in fact we live well. Its just not instant gratification getting everything we want. So few people restrain themselves, having no debt is incredibly liberating. Living simply is so satisfying for us. Your a great example of what more people should do. God Bless you both.

Leigh said...

Sam, I agree! There is no such thing as financial security. What people actually invest in is the feeling of security. I admit I too am glad we're sticking with the internet. I think we get our moneys worth, but it is something we could live without if we needed to. I should blog another update on Dan soon.

Maggie, yes, that's allowed here and I have sold eggs in the past. It was enough to pay for chicken feed, but chickens are rough on the land. To keep ourselves and others in eggs required a lot of chickens, which is more expense, more work, and more land wear-and-tear. In the end I decided it wasn't a good trade-off. Now we keep just enough chickens to meet our own needs with an occasional dozen to give my daughter and daughter-in-law. That makes for better balance, I think.

Fiona, thank you! I absolutely agree at how liberating it is to be debt-free. The satisfaction from living simply and doing for oneself is priceless. You and Ralph have been so wise to invest the way you have: hard assets, not hopes and dreams. Our only lament is that we still have a mortgage. If we could get that paid off, it would make a huge difference in our financial needs. But it's way cheaper than rent and we can keep plugging away at paying it off, so somewhere down the road there's light at the end of the tunnel.

Ed said...

I definitely agree with much of what you have said. However, I think to simply write off retirement investments as having "no guarantee" is selling ones self short. Yes there is no guarantee when it comes to investing but since the stock market has been around, it has averaged 7% returns per year, including the Great Depression and whatever we will call the one that began in 2008. So this means that for every dollar you put in, it will double every 10 years on average, more recently, less during the depressions. The alternative is to not invest a dollar and lose on average 3% of your entire net worth due to inflation every year over the same time frame.

I'm not encouraging anyone to run out and plunk down money on say Apple stock but I would encourage people to invest in inflation protected securities so at least they are not losing money to inflation by simply sticking that money in a savings account or hiding it in the mattress. Those methods simply guarantee that you will only lose ground financially over time.

I myself invest only in index funds that follow entire markets. So while I will never become rich by capturing phenomenal gains from companies like Apple, I will capture that 7% per year gain of the stock market and without any risk unless the entire world gets wiped off the face of the map. In that case, my money will go just as far as the person who buried it in a tin can in their backyard, nowhere. However if that doesn't happen, I will be many many times better off because I have gained over inflation.

My two cents worth anyway.

Michelle said...

IMHO, your biggest blessing is a spouse with whom you share these views and who is as invested in them as you are. When only one does, it can feel pretty hopeless. 'Nuff said.

Rain said...

Leigh, this is such a good post and very timely for me. Our primary income is my disability indemnities. Alex works from home but his income is up and down, we can't rely on it. So we've decided the same, live off the primary income. In fact, we are implimenting this over the next few months and anything Alex makes goes right into the savings account for the future.

You and Dan have the same philosophy as we do. Investing money isn't in the budget so to speak, so we are learning to do as much as we can on our own. Once we purchase our property we will have to try even harder. I'm getting some good lessons in gardening, Alex has been watching the "Ask This Old House" seasons to learn about how to maintain a home and do repairs and all that. My biggest problem is WORRY though. I have this fear that I will be one of those elderly ladies behind the cash at McDonalds when I'm 70 years's irrational because even with the Canada Pension Plan, my Quebec work pension and Alex's income, we'll be just fine...I've got to overcome that "what if" syndrome...

Rain said...

Oh...and you're very right about working costing a lot. Alex always said if we need it, he'll go back to work a 9 to 5. Clothing, lunches, transportation, wear and tear on the car...and not to mention, less time and energy to do things at home, thus the temptation to hire someone to do a repair that we likely could do on our own. only go through life once, we decided that no matter how frugal and simplistic our lifestyle needs to be, it's worth it so that we can enjoy our lives together 24/7. :)

Lady Locust said...

Leigh, you are so wise. I was just going to offer - might start watching Craigslist for a washer. I see them (working and not working) in the free section every so often. You can also put a “wanted” post. You might be surprised and not have to pay for a new one 😊

Michelle said...

Another thought. In this day and age, Social Security benefits aren't any more guaranteed than retirement investments. Politicians see the SS fund as a slush fund to balance the budget (something they just voted to do) rather than a retirement fund we pay into from our very first paycheck. I'm glad you and Dan have it to live on, but that may not be a reality in the future for others like us.

Ashley A said...

You always make me think Leigh. You’ve really been a big influence/inspiration for me these last many years. I truly appreciate it.

Ashley in Texas

Ngo Family Farm said...

Thank you so much for the wisdom you so beautifully shared in this post. I’m prone to worry and you’re exactly right - gratitude is the antidote! We went through a very difficult period financially, and learned to live with one car (almost no car, actually!) and I’ve found it works for our situation just fine. We’ve done a lot of what you have as well, including simplifying our diet/food habits quite a bit, and that’s something that not only reduces expenses, but I’ve found to be very empowering as well.

Have you read the book “The Fourth Turning”? It speaks to that cyclic nature of human history and each generation needing to learn the same lessons over again. Oy.

I hope Dan is continuing to heal well.


Mrs Shoes said...

"Worry does not empty today of it's sorrows; it empties it of its' strength." Corrie Tenboom

Chris said...

Some interesting thoughts you've shared today. but not just thoughts, it's reality too. I particularly enjoyed the last paragraph about worrying, and how no-one can predict the future anyway. This is something I've been contemplating recently too. Like which decisions to make, in order to prepare for the future? The future is uncertain though, so you can only do the best in your given situation. Thanks for sharing. :)

Leigh said...

Ed, I only wrote retirement investments off for us. When one can barely pay normal bills and living expenses, investments aren't a reality. If it comes between replacing outgrown, holey shoes for my kids or investing the money, I'd have to buy the shoes every time. As far as guarantees, I was thinking of folks we know who had large losses in 2008. Some had to postpone retirement for quite a few years and others already on retirement income were having to make unwanted lifestyle adjustments to make ends meet. No, they didn't lose everything, but neither did their investments meet their expectations. When one is 65 or 75, the idea of finally catching up in 10 years time isn't much of a comfort. I think averages make good selling points, but I don't think they make good reality checks. We all remember the kid in school who aced that math test so that our Bs and Cs turned into Cs and Ds. I think Dan and I have made the best decision for us - to invest in the tangible assets of land, tools, equipment, seeds and food producing trees, shrubs, and livestock. I'm curious though, corrections aside, do you think the stock market can continue to go up eternally?

Michelle, well said! As to SS benefits, you are absolutely correct. I'm actually amazed that we're getting any! My daughter gets letters from the SSA telling her to make other plans for retirement because SS won't be there by the time she retires. We consider them a blessing for right now, but not a sure thing in the future.

Rain, I've had no regrets about living this way and so agree with you about cherishing time with loved ones.

Lady Locust, I'll have to do that. I know people often get rid of their old top loaders in favor of the new high speed models. Dan has done a super job of keeping it going this long. :)

Ashley, I appreciate that! I think it's important to know that we have choices and that others are choosing to not swim with the crowd.

Jaime, good to hear from you! It's interesting how much we assume we need until we no longer have it. It's a gift to learn how well we can thrive and be happy without so many things. And thanks for the book recommendation. It definitely sounds like something I'd like to read.

Mrs Shoes, Corrie Tenboom! She's one of my heros. :)

Chris, it's tough to figure out which choices are the best. I'm sure many of us second guess ourselves as well. Can't say I've perfected not worrying, but I have to say that I've worried less with Dan's injury and job situation, but had more peace. Looking back, I can see that worrying wouldn't have helped a thing.

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

This is a great post and very timely for us as well. We are starting to enter prime age for potential downsizing and I am more than well aware that whatever I find will most likely be much less than what I make now. I would rather plan for it now than be caught be surprise.

tpals said...

Insightful and thought-provoking post, Leigh. I've looked on SS and the 401K as funds that shouldn't be relied on for future needs; which is why staying out of debt is so important to me.

Cozy Thyme Cottage said...

Good article. Life has become a little more difficult to be frugal with having to eat gluten free. Nancy

baili said...

there still 7 years in my husband's retirement and we have experienced ups and downs just like you sharend in your incredible post my friend!

15 years back when my husband bought plot for building house separate from my in laws .it was quite tough decision because we knew that with limited monthly income it would be so hard to manage kids school ,various bills and daily purchases
after we moved to our new house it was difficult to arrange same lifestyle for the family specially kids they used to

we suffered with shortage of money until house loan was finished
by the grace of God we are living happily now and bad time has passed ,what mattered all those years was our support and care for each other

Ed said...

I understand your reasons for not being able to invest. I was mainly commenting for those who may have some money tucked away in a savings account or in a tin can for their retirement to say that while the stock market isn't a certainty, if done right, it is still much better than the alternative. Along that line, I would add that one of the cardinal rules to investing is when you are getting close to retirement, one should be investing in bonds, not stocks. What money I had in bonds, really did well starting about 2008 when everything else was going to pot. Had your friends followed this cardinal rule, they would have been able to continue their lifestyle. But I understand those that don't because it is hard to settle for not much growth in a strong bullish market we had leading into 2008.

To answer your question, will the stock market continue to grow forever? The answer is yes, unless the world comes apart at the seams. The stock market is a positive sum game. It increases as long as companies continue to be profitable as a whole. It is very easy to see that not all companies continue to grow their profits but that is the beauty of an index fund. The non-profitable companies eventually fail and are removed from the index while other companies continue to evolve to remain or become profitable. This is why I don't hold any single stock or even individual mutual funds. I essentially own a share of the entire world market. Another factor is population growth. It drives growth in the stock market and hasn't shown any signs of reversing. Even if it reverses, the stock market would continue to grow, albeit much slower, as it continues to increase the gross domestic product per capita, i.e. remain relevant in what they sell to the people.

There may come a day when it no longer grows, but that would mean that businesses are all losing money, because people aren't buying anything, which means something huge has happened. As I said before, my money would then have the same purchasing power as the person who stuffed it in their mattress, i.e. none. That is the day preppers step up and rule the world.

Mama Pea said...

The value of the dollar in this country is diminishing so quickly, it's hard to fathom. That's why any extra money we have today goes into our infrastructure here on our little homestead. We rarely purchase anything that is "new." For one thing, much of it is junk, not made nearly as well as the older stuff. We take pains to maintain our tools, equipment, land, buildings, etc. This requires some expense, of course, but we all need to learn to be as self-sufficient as we can in all aspects of our lives. Our vehicles have all been purchased used and our two work horses (tractor and Suburban) are more than 30 years old. But they're simple to work on and we can (most of the time) keep them going ourselves.

We sure can't plan on social security or retirement funds or financial investments or any government assistance to always be there for us.

It has been said that worrying is spending your time planning for something you don't want to happen. I'd rather plan on building a secure future for ourselves in any tangible way we can. Learning skills, growing our own food, having our own water and fuel supply, investing in secure structures for ourselves and whatever livestock we choose to keep.

Keeping up with the Joneses? Not an attractive goal to my mind.

Thank you for a really great post, Leigh.

Leigh said...

Toirdhealbheach Beucail, welcome! And thanks for commenting. I just took a quick look at your blog and think I will enjoy reading it very much. I think you are wise to plan with that viewpoint. If you end up better off than expected, so much the better!

tpals, thanks! I agree that they shouldn't be counted on as one of life's guarantees. Other countries' economic failures are lessons on that. I also agree that staying out of debt is one of the better strategies.

Nancy, good point. Those with health and diet issues have a much harder go of it. I'm always thankful for Dan's and my health, while keeping in mind that there's no guarantee on that either.

Baili, hello and welcome! I just took a quick look at your blog too and am very interested in reading it. Thank you for sharing your story. People often want to avoid tightening their belts, even for a better goal. You prove that it was well worth it.

Ed, so I suppose that means that our grandchildren or great-grandchildren will some day pay a million dollars for a loaf of bread, LOL. It doesn't make sense to me, but I will never claim to be an expert. It's become complicated business, hasn't it, and most people rely on "experts" with no way to analyze whether or not the experts really know what they're doing. One thing I've realized, is that our economic system isn't based on consumerism, it's based on investments. I think that successful economic growth will largely depend on manufacturers and service providers. So many people complain about shoddy quality and service that they begin to turn elsewhere or learn to do without. Without ever-increasing sales, businesses have to look for other ways to keep profits up to investors happy: shortcuts in materials and production, cutting wages, laying off workers, and raising prices. Again, it baffles me how that can go on forever.

Mama Pea, well put. So much of it is a mindset, and our kind of mindset requires each of us to actually do some work. Modern thinking admires making money without working. But you and I know that somebody has to do the work! The sad thing is that the actual workers are the ones who are paid the lowest and dismissed the quickest. It's no wonder so many folks are trying to find alternative ways to live.

Ed said...

Well my grandfather tells me about paying a nickel for a loaf of bread so we are part way there!

I was never an expert and still don't claim to be one. What really changed my mind was reading two books. "Millionaire Next Door" by Thomas Stanley was the first one. It isn't really about having a million dollars but is more about what habits people with a lot of money really have. It isn't what most people assume. It is a book I think you could identify with and it really motivated me to become even more of a saver than I already was. The second book is "Bogleheads Guide To Investing" by Taylor Larimore and a few other co-authors. In it he explains essentially why giving your money to financial advisers to invest in the stock market the typical way is a fools errand and how one can invest your own money yourself wisely by using Index funds and gives lots of practical examples. Had I not read either of those books, my life would be much different than it is today.

Paula said...

Great post, Leigh. Steve and I have pretty much been doing the same thing- investing in infrastructure, only we don't have five acres- we only have .24! However, we do invest in the market because we're able to, but that's because we've always lived way, way below our means. And that means thinking carefully about what we buy, looking for or asking for deals (the worst that could happen there is they say no, but no guts, no glory, huh?), and growing as much of our food as possible. That last one is tough- I have so much respect for organic farmers! As far as infrastructure investments go, right around seven years ago we invested in a 4.5Kw solar PV system; Steve calculated it all out after I gave him what our usage was, which I got off our bills. At the time, we were able to take advantage of federal tax credits (which I don't know if they even exist anymore) and credits from the Oregon Energy Trust, so the whole system cost us $26K out of pocket, but only $16K after all the various credits. Steve chose to be grid tied because he looked at the connection cost to the electric company as a cheap way to be connected to a really big battery. If things get dicey later, we'll install the rest of it, which I believe would be the battery and the charge controller. Last year we spent money on a length of proper green house film for our hoop house and I rebuilt the ends. It worked really well this winter, and between the brassicas and items in the hoop house, we were able to supplement the grocery bill when things were a little squeaky. This year, I'm extending the chicken coop and re-roofing it, and will build a rabbit house under the new extension. A large garden shed is also planned because we just desperately need one. I'm also installing new raised beds, but instead of building them all at once, I'm building one at a time, and building the soil in it from the ground up by composting in them. Once the first is full (I'm hoping it will be done in time to grow cucumbers and melons it it), I'll build the next one and start composting in it. I used to bring in blended soil, but the last batch was so full of construction debris I swore I'd never do it again.

Even though we have investments, I am not relying on them to be there when we need them, and since we paid the house off in 2013, the only other thing I really worry about is not starving to death and health insurance. By eating good food from the yard, I'm hoping the latter won't even be an issue. Unless I stick a spading fork through my boot and into my toe again.

Leigh said...

Ed, I think that's the only way to go. I read somewhere that folks pay an average of $155,000 in fees and commissions over the lifetime of their investments if they go through someone else. So much better to have that money in your own pocket.

Paula, I think you're taking a wise approach. Historically, subsistence farmers and gardeners fare best during economic turmoil. If one doesn't have a source of food, then all the money in the world isn't going to help starving to death.

Farmer John said...

Your post could not have expressed my feelings any better. It's been my life's desire to live simply and rely on old fashioned work and thrift. In this world enough never seems to be enough. Yet no matter how much money and possession's one may have everyone's life still comes to an end. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. It's nice to know others feel the same in this crazy world.

Leigh said...

Farmer John, I agree it's nice to know others who think the same way and have similar goals. So thank you for leaving a comment!

deb harvey said...

2 vehicles are good, one fills in when the other is under repair.
mine is 20 yrs old and john's is 16 but the newer one is going the way of all autos, i think. it is in the shop now. one backs up the other. we could never afford a car payment now and the bank will only finance a used car under 5 years old.
as to jobs, i know of women who, after calculating expenses, realized they ere working only to support their jobs, a house they rarely saw, and to the detriment of their kids.
two i know quit their jobs, sold the big house, and moved, one just across the river to a lower tax state, and actually came out financially ahead!
they also got to raise their own kids instead of after school sitters or daycare. kids much happier.
everyone has a different situation but overall is the wife's job worth the hassle and the need for two cars to get to the individual work place?

Leigh said...

Deborah, those are excellent examples of what I'm talking about. I'm guessing most people never take the time to actually crunch the numbers to figure it out. When my daughter was old enough to get her driver's license, we told her she'd need to pay for her own insurance. She thought that was fair, but eventually decided to wait on the license. Her reasoning? She figured she'd only need the job to pay for the insurance, and she'd only need the insurance to drive to her job. The circular logic for that wasn't worth the status of having her license. There were no concrete benefits, so she waited until after she graduated college and moved off campus.

Pricket said...

My mother was the oldest of seven children
And 13 when the Depression hit. Her mother died before she was 14. Her father and aunts and uncles all had farms and no major debts, however there was no market for the milk and pork they raised and then they were hit with the dust bowl drought. One by one the farms were sold on the courthouse steps for back taxes. There was no cloths little food and 3 families living in the grandparents home. Needles to say my mother taught me the value of a dollar and how to make do and go without. I learned from her the value of Christian love and ethics and the responsibility of helping others. I remember my father saying a house wont build a barn but a barn will build a house. Prior to retiring at 62 I had payed off all debt, had the barn , outbuildings, tractor, equipment, and land. I had planted over the years so had mature orchards, vineyard, gardens and nut trees. I do Back To Eden style gardening and have stockpiled tons and tons of woodchips. Yes a disaster can still occur but I put my money into solid assets and the value has gone up more then the 7% per year of the market and they are directly under my control. I followed my mothers advice and put away enough in precious metals to be able to pay my property taxes for many years when the financial correction occurs. I live on my social security and a small income from a rental property, by Federal government statistics I am in poverty, but by MY statistics I am one of the richest and most blest people in the world. Leigh you and Dan will be head and shoulders ahead of the majority of Americans in the years ahead, you are doing it right.

Leigh said...

Pricket, that's the kind of planning ahead I'm talking about! You've laid out a plan that could be helpful to anybody. You bring up a good point about "wealth," i.e. that it doesn't necessarily have to be money. It's more a state of mind, I think.

M.K. said...

Your post is quite applicable to us, and things I've been thinking on long and hard. I think y'all are a bit further along than we are - we're 10 years away. But we also have no retirement investments of any kind. How long will my husband be able to preach? That's a good old-age job :) But our goal now is to pay down our mortgage, to secure housing for our old age. Then, we'll keep paring down our expenses, as you are. And ... I try not to worry. My latest coping mechanism for assist in this area is to tell myself these words: "Today is good." To be content in today. Today I have food and shelter and love and sunshine. I'm not supposed to worry about tomorrow. Thanks for this good reminder.

Leigh said...

M.K. I wish we could get our mortgage paid off too, but at least we're working on it; a little extra on the principal every month. We're closer to "retirement" than you and hope to get the last of the big projects done within the next couple of years. That will make life easier! Plus building expenses will be behind us.