We are officially moving!!

We got the word last night that we have been approved to move into our friend’s cabin that is about 10 minutes from the property!!!  It’s a really nice, large cabin that’s probably close to the size of the house we are currently living in.  This is perfect for us because we wont have to drive as far to work on the property and our rent is significantly lower than we are currently paying, meaning we can put more towards the build.

Currently we are spending $750 in rent with about $200-$300 a month in utilities.  ($950-1050/ month and close to $1500 if you include property cost)

With the new place we will be paying $460 for the property and $450 in rent utilities included.  ($910/month)

We are so excited.  I guess it’s time to start the packing process.  We also have an ok to come out and start measuring for blueprints and such.  I am so excited.  I cannot wait.

Last night as we were leaving our friend’s place C mentioned to me how this is like climbing a mountain.  When we were talking about climbing the mountain it was so exciting because the mountain was so far away, but now we are about to head to the base of the mountain and it’s a bit more scary now.  We are planning our route, figuring out how to plan for miss steps and avalanches, packing our gear, and the mountain is so high.  It’s still really exciting though, but it’s one of those things where you just have to catch your breath and take that first step.

The next step is to sign the paperwork and hand over the $3000.  I was looking back at our plans and it’s so crazy, we went from needing $5000 by may to needing $3000 by March and we are doing it!  We still have cutbacks, sacrifices, and a lot of hard work ahead of us for this next month but it’s really happening!  Right now we have $1100 put aside which doesn’t seem like much but with 2 of Cs paychecks and my work there is no way we aren’t going to make it.  This month is really the turning point of our lives.  Come March 1st everything is going to be different.

Breathfarmer adin

Here we go!

The Challenge!!

I did a lot of thinking after writing my post yesterday.  I had a very interesting conversation with a friend of mine after publishing my post about cost of living vs budget, and how my $100 a week food budget was unrealistic in places where the cost of living is much higher.  At first I agreed with her that yes budget restrictions are limited by cost of living, but that statem

ent REALLY bothered me because deep down I don’t agree with that.  So I did a little research…

The whole premises of this blog is teaching people how to be able to live a happy fulfilling life, being able to eat well and save money for the occasional fun activity, and not have to live in poverty when you are, well, living in poverty.  There are two numbers I want to throw at you.  The first is, acc

ording to the National Conference of State Legislatures the highest STATE minimum wage currently in effect as of 1-1-15 is $9.50 in D.C(1). so that is the number we will use as the highest cost of living we will address.  This is because that number is the highest of the lowest people have to live on, so that is the highest someone is expected to be able to live on when assessing cost of living.  That is $380 a week if NO taxes are taken out (so about $285 a week).  Basically this person would be on food stamps, they would have to be.  The second number is the cost of land.  As of 2014 the highest cost of agricultural land per acre in the US was Rhode Island ($13,700) (2). So basically if an acre of agricultural land would become available it should only cost $14,000, of course that numbe

r is completely arbitrary because it also is based on where it is, but usually only residential or commercial land costs more than that.  Based on these figures there are several things I want you to understand about this project:

This project takes work and dedication. Period.  You have to want to do it.  It also takes sacrifice.  Over the course of the past two years we have had to train ourselves to say no to ourselves, and that’s hard, but it’s important.  I think as a society we spoil ourselves too much and we come to expect that these things that we spoil ourselves with are needs and not wants.

ducks

Our current $100 food budget figure is based on several factors.  The first is how much we know we can afford.  Based on C’s current wage increase we can afford more than $100 a week, so the second factor comes in, how much we WANT to afford.  When we were on food stamps we were expected to live on $270 a month.  There were times we really had to scrimp to make it because we really couldn’t afford more than what they gave us.  We don’t want to have to scrimp like that anymore, but we don’t want to over-indulge either.  We also want to show that you can eat well, and very healthy, with less than what the government thinks a family of 4 needs ($150/wk).

I also understand that it is difficult to find land in some areas, especially around cities.  If you are considering something like what we are doing then you may have to either move a little outside your comfort zone, or outside where you work to be able to achieve these goals, or figure out how you can urban-farm where you are (below are some great ideas, keep reading!!).  Yes city farming does occur, but many times you have to deal with city laws and crabby neighbors, but it’s still completely possible.  We chose our piece of land because it was within our price range and exactly what we wanted but it’s almost an hour from Cs work.  That was a sacrifice we were willing to make.

This is not an easy task and really I only recommend it for people who really want to homestead.  Yesterday’s blog was not a “this is a quick fix” post.  These are major life changes I’m talking about here.  My friend was talking about high food costs despite the fact that they cut coupons and look at grocery store fliers each week.  I don’t.  I don’t do any of that.  I am the worlds worst couponer ever.  When I do find a coupon I want to use I forget to use them, or don’t bring them with me, or whatever.  So how do I do it?  How do I expect others to do it?  Hard work, dedication, sacrifice, and imagination.

First off we grow a lot of our food.  We also have become close with our local homesteaders.  This goal is hard to achieve if you don’t.  Homesteaders are GREAT.  They are a fantastic community of people who want you to be educated on how to live like them.  We got out there and met our local homesteaders.  When someone would say, “hey you need to talk to so-and-so” we DID.  We asked questions, we went out to learn things, we exchanged services for goods.  We made deals to help buy feed in exchange for eggs, we exchanged produce,  If you don’t take advantage of the homesteading community you are missing out on a lot of resources that would greatly cut down on your food costs.  This is especially helpful if you live in an area where land isn’t available or if you can’t grow your own garden.  I know people who rent space in either public gardens or private so they can grow a garden without having the space.  Be creative.  It’s going to take time, it’s going to take energy, but it’s totally worth it.

So here is my Challenge.

I Challenge each of you to live on my food budget for a week, wherever you are.  I want you to show me it can be done, and done well, without eating non clean foods.  Our food budget is $100 a week, but that’s based on 2 adults and 2 small children who don’t eat much.  C and I discussed in detail what we think an accurate food budget should be and here is what we came up with:

$50 per person over 13

$25 per person 5-13

$10 per person 0-5

Here is an example of a week or groceries at our house:

Meal Plans:

Breakfasts: pancakes, eggs with cheese, banana smoothies, oatmeal

Lunches: lunchmeat Sandwiches, Beans and rice with cheese and sour cream, grilled cheese, peanut butter sandwiches, fruits and veggies for sides, leftovers

Snacks: homemade crackers, pancakes, fruits and veggies

Dinners: Fajitas, Chicken Tikka Masala, Chicken Salad Sandwiches, pizza, stir fry, hashbrown surprise (potatoes with meat and a cheese sauce), sweet potato cakes with cheese sauce
Grocery list (I am not adding everything you need to make these items because many of them you only need to buy every 3-4 months so I will leave out the cost of some of them)

Whole wheat pastry flour $6 (we buy every 2-3 weeks)
Milk (un-homogenized low temp paste pasteurized) $3.75 (sometimes we buy 2)
butter $3.75 faometimes we buy 2)
baking powder (most people already have this)
2 doz eggs (these are typically free for us, but this is winter so we will say $3 per doz) $6
3 blocks Chedder (we can get antibiotic free cheese at lucky’s for pretty cheap $4 per block) $12
1 block Lucky’s mozerella $4
bananas LOTS $5
cream (un-homogenized low temp paste pasteurized) $8
2 lbs oatmeal $2.50
1lb sale lunchmeat $7
2 cans blackbeans $2
sour cream $2
natural peanut butter $4
carrot sticks, celery (or whatever veggie kids like that’s on sale) $5
strip steak for fajitas $5
Whole Chicken (bake half to make chicken salad, cut up rest of raw meat for tikka masala) $10 (if it’s not already in your freezer!)
cumin $2
garlic $.50
bag of onions $3
bag of potatoes $4
sweet potatoes $4
oil (this is an expensive item, but one you really only need once a month) $8 (I keep olive oil and expellor pressed safflour oil both of which I get at about $8 a bottle but it takes me a while to go through them)

Total = $107.50. I went over but the flour and oil I don’t buy every week, plus we wouldn’t be spending the $10 on chicken either. I know what you are thinking “you didn’t buy bread, or many veggies”. For one I make my own bread, for two ….

bread

Here is the list of stuff that’s already in our freezer, fridge, or pantry:

stewed tomatoes (I blend and boil down to make the tikka masala, and pizza sauce)
Peppers for the fajitas
mayo (I make my own and everything I need is in the above grocery list)
berries (I bought some when they were on sale but we also freeze them if we pick a lot

rice (I buy a large bag 2-3 times a year)

I do believe that’s everything. We eat really well, don’t go hungry, and stay pretty close to our budget. There are some weeks that we rely more on freezer/ pantry goods so we can splurge and make huge batches of beef jerky or granola.

So how about you? How can you eat clean on a food budget?

How to raise children on a budget- my version

I have been coming across a lot of articles lately titled something like “raising a child on a budget” or something along those lines.  So apparently this is a fairly hot topic right now.  I do have to say that too many of the articles are written more from the perspective of someone who really means “budget” as in you know how much you can set aside each month for baby stuff.  Lets get real.  Really real.  Lets actually call this article “How to afford a child when your flat a*^ broke”.

raising kids

Here is my honest opinion: Children are not expensive.

The figures are insane if you look at the cost of raising a child born in 2013.  $250-300 THOUSAND DOLLARS.  … Really?  That doesn’t even include college!  According to these figures housing is the most expensive cost, followed by childcare and education, then food, lastly transportation, healthcare, and miscellaneous stuff falls at the bottom.  These figures are confusing to me.  I guess the understanding is that as we have more children we are expected to have bigger houses… ok, i can see that logic, sort of.  Childcare and education… childcare is EXPENSIVE, education really shouldn’t be, unless you are paying for private schools or special programs.  Food I get, and healthcare i would think would be a larger chunk than that, although my kids qualify for medicaid so ours is free, but im not sure how long that will last since we are making more money now.

So lets take these figures and break them down into my thinking.  Really the only kid that should be expensive is the first, they are paving the way.  You know what to expect after the first one. Plus hand me downs are fantastic.  So lets look at what you need when having a baby.  These are my essential items: 1) a co-sleeper bassinet 2) a moby or some sort of baby carrier 3) a carseat 4) at least 7-10 cloth diapers.  I prefer the one size covers without a pocket.  the Flips are my favorite.  I also would have about 15-20 inserts.  the really nice sturdy cotton flour sac towels are the best.  you get them in the kitchen section and they are like 5 for $5.  That’s it.  That’s what I have for newborns.  No special shampoos or bath seats or random stuff that’s just gonna take up room.  My babies shower with me, and only about 2 times a week.  I don’t use harsh soaps on them, usually just rub a handmade soap onto a washcloth and rub them down.  I don’t even really have a diaper bag.  I have a large bag that i sometimes take with me with a change of clothes for the kids, diapers, and snacks but i rarely use it.  usually i just throw a clean diaper in my purse with a plastic bag for the dirties.  You really dont even need a changing table.  babies can be changed anywhere, especially if you have a towel handy.

There is big stuff you will need for later.  That’s the crib, the high chair, and some sort of a swing or bouncy chair.  something that entertains them so you can put them down and walk away for a little bit.  Ask for those for your baby shower (ask for ALL the essentials for your baby shower).  The bouncy seat you will probably use pretty quickly but the rest will take you probably at least 6 months so if you dont get it, you have some time.

Here is the most expensive thing i have come across: if your income relies on both of you working.  Childcare is expensive.  We were lucky enough for me to be able to work part time from home which means we dont need childcare.  I highly recommend if you can figure out how to be able to survive on one income, or can have a job that allows you to be flexible with your schedule, that is the best, plus there is nothing quite like staying at home and raising your kids.  I still do pay for childcare when i can though.  i prefer to have someone watch the kids 2-3 times a week for 2-3 hours at a time (when we can afford it).  That ends up being about $10-15 a day.  That’s not too bad, especially when it allows me to make at least $150 more a week than i would have, and have sanity.

Lets now tackle the big one: housing.  We are about to be a family of 5/6 and we are building a 1500 sq foot 3 bedroom home, which will probably end up costing us about $80,000.  We expect our kids will spend most of their time outside or in the family room/kitchen with us.  They dont each need their own bedroom.  I understand that house size and bedrooms are completely a personal preference, but don’t feel like you cant have a child because you only have a 2 bedroom place, you totally can.  Housing costs to me is a total non issue.

Food: well, you know my stance on food.  But still food cost is a big one.  This is also an area where each kid will cost approximately the same.  it’s not like other costs where once you jump the hurdle of having the first the rest are far less expensive.  it doesn’t work that way.  So we cut costs other ways.  Mainly by growing our own and making everything from scratch.  We have been discussing our food budget since we are off of food stamps and we are looking at about $100 a week.  That’s not because we can’t afford more, that’s because we don’t WANT to buy more.  That $100 would feed us VERY well.  Very Very well.  with snacks and 3 meals a day and real hearty nutritious stuff.  According to the USDA the average family of 4 should be spending $146-289 on food every week.  To me that number is crazy.  I could eat a gourmet meal every night on that kind of budget.  Once we start growing our own livestock and hunting deer we wont even have to worry about the cost of meat, and possibly even most dairy.  Although we will have to pay for the livestock, that cost isn’t $0, but it is smaller than what we would be paying at the store.

So here is my summery: I LOVE my kids.  I love my kids more than I knew I could love.  I love being a mom (even though some days I just wish i had a good tall glass, make that bottle, of wine to get me through the day).  Of all the money issues we have had over the past 2 years not once were my kids one of them.  They are probably the least expensive part of my life right now.  So when I hear about how to “raise a child on a budget” I have to laugh, because you really don’t need a budget to raise a child.  Lets rephrase that again, you don’t need a budget to raise a WELL EDUCATED, DISCIPLINED, INTELLIGENT, LOVING, QUALITY MEMBER OF SOCIETY child.  You don’t  You just have to WANT to put forth the effort to do it.

update

It’s been a while since I updated you all on our progress.  Progress has stalled a bit.  We are still in the waiting process.  Waiting to sign the papers, waiting to come up with the $3000 (by the end of Feb), just waiting.  As soon as those papers are signed we can start going out and measuring, getting supplies, working, etc, but until then it’s so painful to just wait.  I’m calling the guy again tomorrow to check on the progress and to make sure he knows we are still interested.  I don’t even want to start packing until we sign the papers.  Ugh this is so frustrating.

In terms of progress we really wont know until the 1st how we did this month.  So far it looks like this: we will probably be finishing with $1200-$1400 saved.  That’s almost half with 3 paychecks to go until we need to turn it in.  That’s doable, i hope.  Things are still going to be tight, really tight, and it’s probably going to come down to the wire.  I hope not though.  I hope good things happen and we find ourselves at the $3000 well before the end of the month, but i somehow doubt that.

Here is the main problem, when we start to feel a little better about money we tend to spend a little more than we should.  For instance, we were both sick on Sunday so we ordered in and we had a late night Midwife appointment yesterday so we went through a drive through.  It’s hard to talk about how tight we have to be knowing that we blew $30 on fast food in the past week.  We can do this though.  We just have to get through February and all will be good.

The waiting game

We are in this strange limbo right now. We are waiting for the lawyers to draw up the paperwork so we can start working on the land. We are waiting for C to start getting paychecks so we can start paying bills and saving again. It’s this weird state of paralysis.

C got his first paycheck this Thursday. It was only for one week (although still more than he was getting for 2 weeks at his old job) and it was just enough to pay bills and have a little leftover to pay for gas. We have food, we have plenty of food. We have enough food to last us until his next paycheck and then some. There are still so many other things we have to buy though. We have to pay taxes and tags on the car, pay taxes and tags on the car we are hopefully getting so that we have 2 cars, which we do not have the money for. We will probably have to borrow money from the savings to pay all of it and then pay that back with his next paycheck. We also have to somehow come up with $3000 to give the guy at the end of February as a downpayment for the land. I am so completely overwhelmed right now.

I know that I need to work more but it’s one of those things where I can’t guarantee that I will be able to get away to work. I used to make phone calls when C got home but now he gets home 15 minutes before the coffee shop closes and I can’t work with the kids around, plus I can’t walk to the coffee shop because it’s cold and I don’t have a car. I need to figure something else out. I know I can definitely work on the weekends but I need to work during the week to be able to make weekend appointments. I just need to figure it out and make it work. It sounds like a bunch of excuses, and really it is. It’s be being scared.

I am so paralyzed with fear about money right now. I keep telling myself “two more weeks” but we already have the next paycheck spent too. So four more weeks? I can’t breath.

Semi Annual Cleaning and meal planning

Twice a year I get fed up and clean the fridge.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t scrub it or anything, that’s crazy talk.  I go through and throw out all the gross stuff that isn’t edible anymore.  Food that was never eaten, leftovers that were forgotten about, i even found an old mummified avocado in there.

I hate doing this, which is why I only do it every 6 months.  I hate the smell, I hate the mold, It’s absolutely disgusting.  Above all that, above the forcing myself to deal with nasty stuff, I hate the thought that we waste food.  We struggle so much to keep food on the table that throwing anything away seems like such a travesty to me.  Like we were saying, “I am hungry, but not hungry enough for THAT”.

To me that’s not ok.

Yesterday was the first time I have cleaned out the fridge and have felt really good about it.  We wasted very little.  There were about five small containers of leftovers, a half a can of beans, a half a container of tomato sauce, a small container of Christmas ham that we got tired of eating after 4 days, and a small portion of rabbit stew from our crock pot, oh and a mummified avocado.  very little of what we have bought in the past 6 months has gone to waste.  We make sure that when we buy things it’s not because they look good, but because they have a purpose.  If we buy produce we process it (vacuum seal it or dehydrate it) within a few days of buying it so it doesn’t go bad.  Those processed foods either go into containers on the counter, the fridge (if i have plans for it within a week or two), or the freezer.  The same goes for the meat.  I take inventory of what we have left in the fridge when we go to the grocery to make sure that my meal plans involve the items in the fridge that we still have.  We bought a giant chunk of blue cheese two weeks ago.  We currently have half of it left.  I bought sweet potatoes this week so I could make sweet potato cakes with blue cheese sauce.

When I was done cleaning my fridge it was pretty empty, and I was happy.  It should be empty.  There should only be food in the fridge that will be consumed within the next 3-5 days, no longer than that.

This is what my fridge looks like:

2015/01/img_1090.jpg

The next 10 day meal plan looks like this:

– leftover jambalaya (cost about $8-10)

-grilled veggie sandwiches with mac and cheese (cost $6)

– jalapeno popper grilled cheese with sweet potato and kale chips ($7)

– pulled pork sandwiches with steamed broccoli ($5)

– chili rellenos and rice (free because i made and froze them 3 months ago)

– stir fry quinoa and veggies ($5)

– hashbrown casserole ($5)

– calzones ($6)

– white pizza with grilled brussel sprouts ($6)

– sweet potato cakes with blue cheese sauce (maybe $5)

plus there is leftovers, ham and cheese, and peanut butter and banana sandwiches for lunches.  Breakfast consists of pancakes, scrambled eggs, cranberry or apple oatmeal, mini hash brown quiches.  The only thing we have to buy in the next 10 days is butter, bread (if i don’t make it), and milk, and possibly more cheese.  Everything we need for all this food is in the freezer, fridge, cabinet, or produce basket. The only thing coming from a box is the mac and cheese, and the rice (which technically is in a bag).  We have enough food to last us until the 23rd and we still have $200 of our food stamps left.  You don’t need to be rich to eat well.  You just need to plan well.

Is Entitlement Generational?

A friend posted a really interesting article today, it was from the Business Insider and it was about who the most entitled generation is.  I will summarize but I wont go into great detail.  if you would like to read it here is the link http://www.businessinsider.com/the-most-entitled-generation-isnt-millennials-2015-1.  It basically said that the millennials are being blamed for being entitled because “we are a lazy cohort of entitled and narcissistic brats — the proverbial Generation Me”.  The go on to say that the actual entitled generation is the Baby Boomer generation who focus on short term economic boosts that serve themselves and not future generations.  I completely agree yet disagree with this article.

I agree with this article because taken at surface value they are right.  The older generation which is currently in power are far more concerned with their own economic gain than they are on the greater good for the country as well as future generations.  Politicians make decisions based on who pays them the most, most of them have stock in major companies that focus more on profits than on whats good for the people, or even what is ethical.  Government agencies are being run by people who hold stock in companies they are supposed to keep in check.  The government today is extremely corrupt, and it is mainly being run by the baby boomers, so yes they would be blamed for being the “entitled generation”.

I disagree though because I honestly believe that it has nothing to do with generations and everything to do with accessibility.  I think the author of this article forgot to look at history, as most people do.  I think we can, based on the assumptions of the article, completely predict what is going to happen in the next 50 years or so.  How can we predict, because history repeats itself.  The ideas proposed by the millennials aren’t new ideas.  In fact many of them are taken directly from the baby boomers when they were that age.  Look at the counterculture of the 1960’s.  Instead of gaining momentum from the Civil Rights movement we have the LGBT movement.  Instead of the Vietnam War we have the War on Terror.  Women’s Rights are making a comeback.  Take a second look at the hippie and bohemian lifestyle.  The farm, Haight Ashbury, communes.  We now have the tiny house movement, co-op farming, even the communes are making a comeback.  These ideas aren’t new.  Focusing on alternative energy, getting ourselves away from under the corporate thumb, even the Occupy movement isn’t a new idea.

If these ideas were shared by the generation that we are now claiming are “entitled” and doing the same things they were fighting against, what went wrong and how can we prevent it?

I think the problem comes in with how America is set up and how forgetful we are.  In the 1960’s as in today The younger generation was upset with the focus on material possessions that the older generation was focused on.  In both instances there is a huge push to separate ourselves from material possessions.  The problem comes in where as the dissatisfied generation grows up the opportunities that were denied to them by the older generation now becomes available.  They are now in charge of companies, the government, have the ability to make the money they didn’t have access to before.  Now all the material possessions they couldn’t have before are available to them.  Greed sets in.  The article even says “More than any other generation, we eschew expensive possessions like cars and large houses, opting instead for bikes and shared living spaces. Sure, we would like to own all that fancy stuff someday, but we realize that we can’t have everything we want.” Two things about this: 1) l think the baby boomers shunned these material possessions just as much when they were the same age. and 2) Even the author is admitting that if they did have the resources they would “own all that fancy stuff one day”.  Thus becoming their parent’s generation.  To truly fix the system, to truly be a generation that will “make the “hard” choices the baby boomers have refused to make.” we have to first stop WANTING these things.  We can’t complain about the older generation being “entitled” just because they have the things that we want.  Nothing will change if this is the case.  To truly make a difference, to truly make a real change we have to finally put what is right for our country above money and material possessions, and i don’t think this generation gets it either.

Living in fear

There is something that people don’t realize about being on the edge of poverty.  You live in constant fear of your bank account.  You check it when you wake up, you check it throughout the day, you check it before you go to bed, just in case.  Every text message, every email, could be an overdraft notification.  The problem with living on the edge of poverty is that you have the occasional reassurance that you have money so you can sign up for things that only work on a monthly bank withdrawal.  You have that thought of “of course i will have $8 by this time next month, $50 a year from now, that can happen.  The problem is that by the time it does happen you 1) don’t always remember and 2) don’t always have the money.

This fear can be completely debilitating.  It makes you not want to get out of bed, not want to go out in public.  You hoard money away so that you have cash “just in case”.  You know exactly what time you have to deposit or transfer money in order for it to count for that day so you don’t get an overdraft.  You try desperately hard to not let people know how little you have.   It’s by far the worst place to be.  It’s very hard to get out of it.

We are finally on our way out.  saving this money, buying this land, moving, C getting a new job, it’s all helping us come out of this.  In fact, as long as everything goes as planned (famous last words), this should hopefully be the last month of this.  Today i looked at our accounts and they all had money in them.  I know we have bills to pay, I know we have no clue when C will get his first paycheck, I know that we aren’t out of the woods, but for once in a really long time our accounts have over $100 in them, each, not combined.  Yet I still can’t breath.  I still feel like the bottom is going to fall out, and it still may.  We are still waiting to see if C gets an unemployment check for December, we are still waiting to see on a lot of things.

I want you to realize though that it’s not easy.  Please don’t dismiss the struggle.  Don’t talk about how lazy poor people are, or how people just want the easy way out.  That may be true for a few, but it certainly isn’t true for most.  We don’t want to be here.  So stop your judgements, stop your preconceived prejudices, stop looking down on us from your high towers and help.

What life means to me

It seems that as we get closer and closer to our goal I realize more and more about what we are doing and why we are doing it.  At first it started out as us wanting to finally be self sufficient.  We are at a place in our lives where we can’t be living like this anymore.  We can’t be living paycheck to paycheck praying that we can feed our children, pay for gas, or constantly asking people to help us with things.  I FEEL like I am taking advantage of people.  Whether or not I actually AM isn’t the point, I feel like I am and I don’t like it.  We should be helping others more than asking others for help.  I’m not saying we should never ask for help, that’s silly.  Everybody needs help at one point or another, it’s the fact that I feel like I am constantly asking for help that upsets me.

During this process we made the decision that we were going to use our resources to help others become more self sufficient and confident in themselves.  We know how it feels to be in that situation.  How tiring it is, how down on yourself you get, and how hard it is to get out of it.  We want to show people how they can.  We want to have excess food to give to people, we want to teach people how to cut down on their monthly spending, become better members of the global society, and we want to give away our excess income to aid others.  This is something we are very passionate about.

One thing we don’t want to do is boast about it.  I honestly believe that real charity asks for no praise.  Most of the charity we do is anonymous,  It’s between us and God.  Nobody else has to know, in fact most times I never see the response to my charity.  There is a part of me that wants to, but I know it’s best for me if I don’t.

The sermon at church today was about just this, which is what has spawned my post today.  One of the things he brought up was that it’s ok to consider ourselves saints.  We have such a stigma on the term “saint” from the Catholic church, but (if I have this right), we are actually saints in that we are sanctified by Jesus.  As much as I may agree with this sentiment I will consider myself sanctified but I know myself better than to consider myself a saint.  Not that I am not a saint, because by this definition I am, but because once I start to consider myself a saint I will start to think more highly of myself than I should.  I do not want to put my actions on a pedestal, I do not want to mentally pat myself on the back for doing good, or boast about my actions to others.  I know that I need to separate myself from this in order to remain humble.  I do these things because I am no better than anybody else.

He also spoke about our own personal ministry.  How we minister to other people.  To me, this project is my ministry.  Now don’t get me wrong, C does not share my religious ideas, this isn’t a “we are going to make you feel uncomfortable if you don’t share our religious beliefs” kind of project.  Not in the least.  C is agnostic, I was a Buddhist for 11 years, some of my family is Muslim, we have friends of every religion, we love everyone.  Am i going to hide my religion from you to make you feel comfortable? No.  Am I going to push it on you and tell you that you are going to hell for not believing in Jesus, or that you don’t deserve my love?  Never, that’s absurd.  Before i converted to Christianity someone from my old church, while trying to convert me, asked me how I will feel when my son comes to me someday and asks me why i’m ok with going to hell.  my response was 2 fold: 1) Buddhists don’t believe in hell and 2) No child of mine will ever tell another person that they are going to hell.  No matter what religion they chose it is their job to love other people, leave the judgement up to God.  I still strongly believe in the later.  I also believe that Buddhists don’t believe in hell, but I’m not a Buddhist anymore.

There are 2 things I will not hide from you.  The first is that my love comes from Jesus.  I love you as Jesus loves me.  The second is that no matter what religion you are, or non religion, I feel it’s important to find people that keep you grounded.  For years I went to church even though I wasn’t a Christian because it kept me closer to the person I wanted to be.  I reminded me that I am not perfect and that I needed to put others before myself.  Without it I become selfish and egocentric.  I lose my peace, and I don’t like myself.  I urge you to find people to talk to, find a place to worship, find what makes you a better you.

We want to help others find their peace.  It’s so easy to become caught up in the craziness and constant hurry of life but there is so much more to life than that.  We need to step back and find what makes us happy, what helps us breath.  That to me is life.

The race has officially begun!

WE WILL BE LAND OWNERS SOON!!  The owner accepted our offer!  No counter offer, no having to figure out new numbers, he accepted our offer right off the bat!

For those of you who are planning on becoming self sufficient yet have limited immediate resources or bad credit or both here is my advice to you:

1) find an area where you would like to live and land is fairly inexpensive.  We chose an area that was about 20 minutes out from our ideal area (where a 5 acre lot goes for $60-$100,000), and ended up spending $43,000 for almost 11 acres of land.

2) find a piece of land that is the closest to what you want and ask about owner financing.  Many times the owner will be willing to do a 5 year financing plan because banks tend to not want to give loans to people just buying land, especially not if you are planning on building your own home.  So you must be creative on how you can buy the land without having the money up front and without having to go through a bank.

3) Don’t insult the owner.  Don’t get me wrong, you want to make sure your offer is within your budget, and allows for some wiggle room if they don’t accept your offer and you must come back with a second offer.  ie: don’t give them your top numbers first, but don’t low ball them either.  Here is what we did, we knew the seller wanted a large down payment which we couldn’t offer, so we offered a down payment that was within our budget but offered a high monthly payment with a high interest rate.  we figured out what a 10 year loan would be with 7% interest, which ended up being $50 below what we wanted our monthly payment to be.  We aren’t too concerned about this because we will be paying off the loan in less than 5 years.  Once a property is built on the land a bank is far more likely to give a loan.  Also once the property is built the funds we were using to pay the rent on where we will be staying and what we are budgeting towards building the house will be able to go towards paying off the land as well.

Now that our offer has been accepted we have a race to complete before papers are signed.  We need to research what permits we need in order to build.  We need to go out and start measuring and blocking off where we plan on building.  We also need to start putting money aside and fundraising for the build (we have a lot of money to drop very quickly in order to excavate and put in the foundation).  Above all we need to find a place to live and start packing.  We aren’t going to stay in our current rental property.  It’s too expensive and too far away.  We are looking for something small and no more than $350 a month, and much closer tot he property.  This will easily fit into our budget and we wont have to dread the drive to work on the house.

As of right now we have to finish Feb with $3000 as a down payment.  right now we have $700.  Our major goal is to finish january with $1500, Which means we need $800 to finish this month.  That’s totally doable, hopefully, it does make me feel a bit ill to think about, but we can do it!

Also I am looking into doing a fundraising project to raise money to build the house.  Any thoughts on which fundraisers are best would be much appreciated!