The day of reckoning came sooner than expected. I ran out of money. My checking account was practically empty, and my credit cards maxed out. It was a day I knew was coming, but it happened a little sooner than I’d anticipated due to some sudden and unexpected expenditures. So, I activated my backup plan, which was to jail-break some funds I’d locked away in a CD, but things got complicated when the banker gave me misleading information, then flat-out wrong information, then explained that to get my money, I’d have to run around in a circle eleven times, bark thrice, do a 350 degree back flip, and cough up $6000 first.
Anyway, with the help of some friends, it looks like I’m going to be able to get my money out, but only enough to last me a couple of months. Which is to say, I got a two month extension on my day of reckoning. But it’ll come back, and hopefully I’ll have a better plan the next time I come to this juncture.
It’s not that I haven’t been thinking about this problem. In fact, I’ve put a lot of thought into my next steps, but I simply haven’t been able to make a decision. This is a new phenomenon for me. My life has always been guided one way or another, and whenever I came to a fork in the road, I somehow always knew what the next step should be. Sure, I’ve had some tough decisions to make, like in 2005 when I had those two enticing job offers, one from this big company called Yahoo, and another from this pimple-faced Harvard dropout named Mark Zuckerburg who wanted me to come work on this little website called TheFacebook.com. But, as difficult as that was, I knew in my heart which option I wanted to take.
Now, I’ve got options, and I’m not entirely sure where my heart is. So, let’s turn my life into a little Choose-Your-Adventure game, shall we? What, dear readers, do you think should happen next in my life, and by extension, to this blog?
Here are the options (in no particular order):
- Adventure A: Go back to work full time. Part of the problem right now is that my expenses are way too high. I’m still making monthly payments on my land, as well as my car, then there’s health insurance, car insurance, phone bills, credit card bills, etc, etc. All told, I need over $1200 per month just to keep up with my bills, and that’s not including food and gas. Yes, it’s a sad state of affairs, especially for someone living a fairly frugal lifestyle in the woods, but that is the truth. However, I could make enough as a software engineer, so that if I went back to work full-time, I’d be able to pay off all my debt and save up some, in just a year or two. Once my recurring expenditures have come down to something more reasonable, I can come back to the woods, and spend a year or two without worrying about money. Of course, that would still only be a temporary option. Though not impossible in Silicon Valley, it’s highly unlikely that I’d be able to make enough money to last me a life time, which means I’d eventually need to find some way to make money again. I also left Silicon Valley cube farms for a reason, and I don’t know if I can stand going back for a year or two of office life without losing my soul.
- Adventure B: Stay on my property for the winter. When I first started thinking about my land-ventures, my plan was to buy land, spend a year on it, then write a book about my experiences. I’ve been up here now for the better part of this year since late-Spring. If I could stay the winter, that would constitute more or less a year, and I might have enough material for a book. At the very least, I’ll have more material for this blog, which I won’t have if I left again for the winter.
As far as adventures go, staying here for the winter seems like a pretty good one. It’ll be quite a challenge, and it seems like the odds are pretty good that I’ll be miserable for the better part of the colder months, but it’ll be an interesting experience nonetheless. Besides, it’s the only way to get a realistic view of conditions during the winter, and unquestionably, there is much to be learned. There’s also the satisfaction of being able to say “I live on my property for a year.” As it stands, I can only claim to have spent the nice warmer months here, and that’s pretty lame.
The problem, of course, is that I’m out of money. Or will be out of money again probably around December. Additionally, I’d need to buy more gear to survive the winter reasonably comfortably, so I’d need even more money. One option is to try and find some contract work that I can do while on my property, but that’s a little iffy. While I can get decent internet up here through Verizon’s wireless network, I’m not sure how much power I’ll have over the winter. The days will be short and sunny days will be far and few between, so I won’t be able to generate as much solar power. I’d probably also get a wind generator, but those obviously only work if there’s good wind. Most contract jobs also require some face-time with the clients, but I could conceivably get snowed in for weeks at a time. The paved road will be kept plowed, but I have no idea what kind of condition the dirt road that leads from my camp to the paved road will be in.
One possibility is to do some contract work full-time for a month or two. With the rates I get, I can probably earn enough to last me several months that way, and if the timing works out, I can still spend most of the colder months here. Naturally, this option depends on finding the right gig, and has the same problem as Adventure A, in that I’ll come back to where I am now in a matter of months. While I may be able to write a book, it would be foolish of me to assume that I’d find a publisher, much less that I’d make any money off of it.
- Adventure C: Enlist in the Air National Guard, followed by career change. Now for something completely different, as Monty Python would say. I started looking into the Air Guard a year ago, when I was in a somewhat similar situation as I find myself in now, and saw a recruitment billboard for the 129th Rescue Wing while driving up Highway 101. I must’ve driven past that billboard hundreds of times when I lived and worked in Silicon Valley. In fact, I’d noticed the sign before, too, though I’d always been happily and gainfully employed, and so never gave it much attention. This time, it was different.
Having never outgrown my boyish fascination with things military, I’ve always been interested in the armed forces. But being something of a pacifist, I’d never considered a career in uniform, especially not with an organization embroiled in two conflicts I don’t agree with. Besides, I was massively obese for most of my adolescent years, then I became a computer nerd and spent a decade sitting on my ass in front of the computer screen, and it just didn’t seem like I’d have the brawn to get through military training. But as I passed that sign, one late Autumn day last year, something felt different.
For starters, the billboard depicts an HH-60G PaveHawk helicopter plucking someone out of the water. Rescue. Rescue is good, even for pacifists. Then another part of my brain piped up saying “You always did love helicopters.” I drove on in silence. “Wasn’t doing aircraft maintenance one of your childhood dreams?” Quipped my brain, suggestively. “You just spent months in the woods. You’re pretty fit. Probably about as fit as you’d ever be.” My brain had a point. I was intrigued.
I did a little research online, and learned that the Air Guard works very differently to the regular Air Force. For starters, National Guard units belong to individual states, unless loaned to the federal government. With the Air Guard, you get to choose your unit and occupation when enlisting, so I’d be reasonably sure that I wouldn’t end up a door gunner in Alabama, for instance. Guardsmen (and -women) serve one weekend a month, plus two weeks a year, and can lead mostly normal civilian lives the rest of the time. The 129th had an opening in helicopter maintenance. The job came with a $20k bonus.
So one warm day in December last year, I walked into their nondescript recruitment office located just a couple of blocks from the restaurants and cafes in downtown Mountain View bustling with Silicon Valley tech workers on lunch break. The recruiters were happy to see me. For starters, I wasn’t obese (“it’s rare these days” they explained), I had a college degree (two pay-ranks’ promotion off the bat), and no known medical conditions (they suggested I keep quiet about the braces behind my lower teeth). But, ultimately, I didn’t continue with the process then because the helicopter maintenance job I’d wanted had just been filled. They had an opening in engine maintenance, and though I find aircraft engines to be fascinating and can explain the difference between turbojet, turbofan and turboshaft engines, I ultimately didn’t want to be an engine geek; I like helicopters, and I want to learn all about them, not just the engines.
Over the past year, I’ve continued to think about this option. It’s compelling in a lot of ways. If nothing else, it’s something completely different, and I think it could be a challenging but interesting experience. If I time things right, I could let Uncle Sam feed, shelter and clothe me during the colder months while I’m in training. If they’re still giving $20k bonuses, that’d go a long ways towards paying off my debt, and once I’m out of training I’d also secure 4 days pay a month (they pay double-time) thereafter. I could also use the education benefits to go back to school, and retrain for a career change in my civilian life. Military training might also teach me skills that could help me get a job as a seasonal firefighter near my property, since that’s basically the only well paying job around here (besides, who wouldn’t want to be a firefighter?).
So, why haven’t I enlisted yet? The short answer is, fear. And it’s not the fear of being deployed, which is what my friends seem to worry about. Rather, it’s fear of the unknown. The fear of being thrust into a foreign culture. The fear of commitment. There’s also the fear of losing my individual freedom, especially during the 5-6 months of training. Then there’s the fear of failure and ridicule — that I’d show up and they’d laugh at me and say I’m too short, old and weak… and worse, that they’d be right. But then, I hate the feeling of succumbing to my fears, of letting my unfounded worries prevent me from living. And while less of a consideration, the thought that enlisting would be looked upon unfavorably by those around me also weighs on me. I don’t generally let my friends and family tell me how to live, but it still takes an extra ounce of conviction to do something without the support of the people who are important to me. And on this one, I’m not sure I have that extra ounce.
When I quit my job at Google a year and a half ago, I thought, or wanted to think, that I’d return after a break. But as the months ticked by, it’s become clear to me that, as a software engineer, I’m like a racehorse with a broken leg; I may never race again. Sure, I can run in short stints, but a full-blown comeback with any chance of success is starting to seem less and less likely. Ironically, that makes any plan that involves making money as a software engineer unsustainable in the long run. Of the three options above, the one that may seem the most brash –enlisting– seems like the best option in the long run because, in addition to providing short term employment, it also has the potential to fund, or otherwise prepare me for, what I probably need: a career change. But, no doubt, it’s also the scariest and most controversial option, hence the indecision.
Sounds to me like you want to enlist, you did save that option for last. But if you can’t get the position you want, you might be making a commitment to more misery than a cubicle. It seems that someone who could work for google or facebook could think of some way to make a living online and live a sustainable life. Could you build another hut and rent it out from time to time to people who want to try the off-grid lifestyle? Could you blog or podcast more frequently and charge for it? I pay $9 mo to listen to two guys in Australia talk about ufos and sasquatch, they must have thousands of listeners worldwide! If you can offer something that 1,000 people would be willing to pay $2 for every month from the comfort of your cabin you could survive,no?
Renting out land or a cabin is certainly an option. If I do go with Adventure B, I’d probably invest much more time and effort into my blog, and try to generate some revenue that way.
Oh, for the record…if it were me, I’d pick option B. There’s always the possibility that your rescue missions would be taking place somewhere where people have anti-aircraft weapons….
Well, the guys who maintain the helicopters stay generally back at the base and don’t go flying 😉
I believe events are going to dictate your choices eventually. My suggestion is to collect as much income as you can while it’s available. In the current economic situation I think it’s plausible that it may be impossible for even you to find work in the near future, and this may be your last chance to stock up. So I would hold my nose and dive back into the cubicle for a while, knowing I have the refuge to return to later. I thought it was paid for, that should be the first priority.
Adventure B would be more fun, but without more money you’ll lose it all, and you don’t have enough to equip for winter anyway. You need a diesel generator, running on socially correct waste veggie oil for power. There are also waste oil furnaces that drip old motor oil on a very hot plate at a controlled rate. They’re not supposed to make any smoke, and sound sorta green to me. If you can write code in the hut, go for an online gig to save expenses and stay in camp.
Adventure C wouldn’t work for you. The first thing any military organization has to do is destroy your individuality. It’s not just another job. Your whole green, progressive, socially correct point of view would be gone in no time. This would make your blog much less entertaining.
In any case I wish you best of luck, and hope you’ll continue blogging about your adventures, whichever you choose.
I’d advise against the military if you’re a pacifist. Why not become a firefighter?
I could try to become a firefighter, but I’d probably have to either go to school, or join a volunteer fire department for a while before I can have a shot at getting paid to be one.
I suspect the things you grew to loath about the corporate cubical farm are multiplied by a factor of 10 in any military organization. I’ve never served in the military so I don’t know for sure but I do work in the web/tech industry so I kind of know what you experienced in the Google/Yahoo corporate jobs.
The other concern I’d have with the military is that you never really know what will happen after you enlist. It’s not like being a free civilian working in a corporate job. You loose certain rights and choices. So al in all it just seems too risky and their offer a bit too good to be true.
$1,200 a month isn’t that much to have to make too. So I wonder what kind of remote online jobs you might be able to find through your existing connections in Silicon Valley? I don’t know what your exact skill set is but I imagine there are quite of few things you know how to do.
For example, my best skills are in web ap design but I work from home doing webmaster stuff and email marketing mostly. I used to work in San Francisco but gave up the commute to stay at home with my family. It’s a compromise for sure and some days I’d rather be working on some leading edge project but then again I’m very happy avoiding hours away from my family.
So I guess I’m saying that there may be a way to have your cake and eat it too… stay up there while finding some kind of regular online work to pay the bills and keep you free and focused on your real goals.
I would say a modified version of A. Go back to work for a short time to pay off your land and build up your reserves. Maybe just short term jobs with breaks in between. I would say rule out C.
I obviously don’t know you at all so I don’t know anything about your personality or future goals, but I’ll share my opinion based on what I’ve read.
Option A would be great for the short-term. It’s a temporary plug to you financial obligations, but it’s only a band-aid to financial obligations you could accumulate over your lifetime. Once you start going back ‘temporarily’, you run the risk of falling back on that. It doesn’t seem like that’s really what you want to do.
Option B seems reasonable because it’s the one that most seems like an adventure for the sake of an adventure. Yes, money will be tight but it may tie in well with your book because you’d be able to validly explain how to make it with limited funds, and those are lessons people are really seeking right now considering the present and future economic projections. You may even surprise yourself with just how much you are able to do with a small budget.
Option C…I can’t believe I’m saying this but, it seems like this is the most reasonable, long-term solution. I am so against the wars going on right now, I loathe the military, but it does provide certain benefits that are quite desirable. You’d be able to explore an interest you have, after training you would be working on 4 days a month giving you ample time to spend doing your own thing, and you would gain the skills needed to pursue another type of career in firefighting or public safety. I know this sounds a little ridiculous and almost kooky but if shit hits the fan and the world stumbles in a bad way, those with legitimate, tangible skills are the ones that will be necessary. Public safety people are always necessary. Now, I’m rooting for this adventure despite the fact that I served in the Navy and hated most all of it. I was very young and not at all mature enough to handle the conformity needed during working hours. I grew up in red country and was the most radical person anyone in my family knew so they supported me when I spontaneously joined but then refused to speak with me when I got out 2 years early so sort of the opposite of what you’d encounter. However, now that I look back I can see that it’s much like any job environment. A person will need to conform in some way in order to fit into a particular workplace. Yes, you will lose your individuality during working hours, but since it’s the air guard and not a full military duty, those hours would be limited to just the days you are required to be on duty. The rest of the time is yours to be whomever you want to be. It would even create another tie-in with the book you are planning to write.
So though I don’t know you and I can’t stand the military, the state air guard plan of adventure 3 appears to be the most long-term promising option. Just my $.02
Thank you so much for your comment, and I appreciate your perspectives particularly in relation to your experiences in the Navy. One problem I keep running into when trying to talk to people about the National Guard is that most people I know are woefully ignorant about the military (particularly the National Guard), and so their reactions are based on inaccurate assumptions. As you pointed out, the fact that Guard duty only takes up one weekend a month (plus two weeks’ training a year) is a huge factor for me, since it still gives me tons of time to do other things.
A CD?!? In this interest rate environment? Dude, you locked your money up for NOTHING. Banks are the last place you should EVER go looking for investments. They are a place to GET money, not invest money; Even if you are working with their trust department, or their supposedly smart people who work with “high net worth clients”, banks are not the place to look for investments. Let the bank handle the checks you write, handle your automated bill pay, or your credit card. But don’t let them invest your money.
“So, why haven’t I enlisted yet? The short answer is, fear.”
Na, that’s just bullshit you are telling yourself. Look at your own thought process…you said it yourself. When do you consider the military option? When you are desperate and don’t know what else to do. The military is not a “career change”, it’s a cop out. The reason I see that in you is that I used to do the same thing. For me it was Linguist school (the money was very tempting I assure you). You don’t want to mess around with the military. It’s unhealthy, it’s a waste of time, and it will do nothing good for you that you can’t do for yourself. Don’t you watch CSPAN? The military doesn’t give even half a shit about you. Why give them your life so they can maintain their empire? And look at it another way…does it really make any sense at all to think of joining the military as a solution to a financial problem? You’d still be poor, but in addition you won’t own your own body anymore and you’d have to wear silly hats. F-That. Get off your ass and get a job man. Money is everywhere. Go get some.
The CD was to secure a loan for a friend, not for “investment” (see this post for background). For investment, I bought stocks, and made a 40% return in a year 😉
As for being in the military and being poor, that’s not true with the National Guard. Since guardsmen only serve one weekend a month, they’re expected to have some other job to make a living. In other words, joining the National Guard doesn’t prevent me from also going back to the corporate world and earning six figures at the same time.
As a person who is currently on disability and going back to school, use what you’ve got Ryo. You have the ability to make six figures a year. Go back to writing code to support your current lifestyle. Save enough cash and look for some decent investments while you’re doing it so you can support your dream once and for all. Since you enjoy living simply, I would also propose having a “Tiny House” built on your land so you don’t have to pay rent.
Maybe you could have tiny house dwellers live on your land for a fee to pay your bills? Lastly, consider teaching what you know about writing code for a fee. No matter what, you would most likely be much cheaper than any educational institution.
work is work/money is money, but I’m pretty sure the guard _will_ send you to iraq/afghanistan at some point.
so, is experience…experience?
Short, old and weak? Shut up, handsome.
Oh dude, not the military. You haven’t seen stupid and flatheaded until you’ve seen the military. Any country. I’ve had a lot of dealings with the military bureaucracy. Makes a cubicle farm look good.
I’m a broken legged race horse too. I’ve lived in my equivalent of a hut in an empty plot of wasteland for nearly 8 years. Listen, I’ve pretty much figured out that for the rest of my life I’m going to have to take short term contracts to pad out my income while I do something else that I happen to love. I’m training to do stuff that can be done from outside major cities, but the reality is I will always need some kind of straight job, part time or contract, to remain independent. S’okay, as long I get to do the thing I love and I never get locked into the cubicle farm all day every day again.
You’ll figure out your balance point too.
Having spent years in the National Guard, on active duty, and in Silicon Valley — and loved all three — I’d suggest a couple of things about adventure c: (a) don’t believe anything the recruiters tell you that isn’t in writing with no other weasel words buried away that can invalidate the promise; even then be skeptical; (b) national guard units, particularly support units like maintenance can actually end up deployed overseas as often (and sometimes more often) than their active duty counterparts. The commitment is also probably for 8 years, although only N of those have to be in active (reserve) service. The remainder of the years are IRR where you’re still recallable if they need your specialty (typically only for deployments or very short-handed specialties). Oh, also, there may not be a specialty dedicated to rescue helicopter mechanics. That said, it can be a great experience. I have a friend who’s just finishing helicopter flight school and loving it.
I think you have plenty of first-hand experience with A and B, so I won’t comment on those.
 The recruiters aren’t intentionally or maliciously dishonest; it’s just a complex system with lots of competing needs combined with plenty of loopholes that mean you can easily end up doing things that don’t interest you.
Thanks for your comment Scott. Yep on (a), good to know on (b). It seems like the whole issue of deployment is a huge unknown because there are tons of factors involved. The thing about the 129th is that they do fly rescue missions within California, so they never send everybody somewhere, and supposedly they’ve been able to fill deployments with volunteers (though, obviously not something I should count on happening in the future). At the end, it doesn’t bother me muc because I wouldn’t mind getting deployed if it came to that — seems like part of the job.
you are at a crossroads, and that is the time to see what kind of a person you are. ‘Chronicles of the Funemployed’ or chronicles of the unemployed?
i suggest option 2, as i am self employed, and have been for 8 years. worked in IT, got laid off twice – first one a month after 9/11 – thanks Compaq – can you say NO ONE was hiring after that! but before the second time i started a sideline that took me where i am today – working 2-3 hours a day if at all – mostly as i was sick of the tech world – or maybe just it’s customers/cube world.
if you are tired of coding, i suggest that then option 2 is not good, unless you can adapt and think outside the circle. but in my 8 years of self employment, i have had 3 different ‘careers’ – all internet based; not because i had too, but because i was bored and wanted to change and too something different and new. i am funemployed.
hint on self-employment tip: you seem to love guns, go with it. there is a reason people say do what you love. not sure how to turn that into a income source but that is your job. i grew up playing guitar, into music big, now i followed, er use, that knowledge of guitars to make money online.
as #2 may take 6 months min, option 1 would allow weekends at property, and time to think/plan for second career. i like option 3 too as a sideline, but if you cant get in writing something you would like to do, it would just be 4 years of heck. if you could get lifetime free health insurance out of it, that is something to consider too though – if they do that for the guard?
i stumbled across this blog a couple months ago from a post on another like themed blog – i was excited to live vicariously through your adventures – being older and with multiple young children i just can’t do this myself at this point although we are considering a move to much more rural areas as a step towards the ultimate goals.
sadly, i feel like you copped out of your own dreams – this hut 2.0 should have been built in a couple weeks total, going to burning man non-essential, buying a new car non-essential, no plan for (human) waste management – just crapping in random places is no plan and creates multiple health risks. getting out of debt, self sustenance was the goal not getting deeper in debt!
i feel you failed yourself.
someone as smart as you seem to be should have been able to plan better. the land should have been paid cash – even if it meant less land, now land payments are your enemy and taxes will soon be too.
i can’t help but wonder if it is now embedded in our social structure that “somehow someone will come save me” which precipitated this situation. the whole planet seems programmed to that now.
you should have planned and budgeted and stuck to it – to suddenly find you are out of money is not planning. i feel this was just a fun hobby that you somehow thought would turn out just by luck (not much different from the state of the economy and countries plans)
have you researched and considered these other sites and other similar options for self sustainability?
i fear you did not take this serious enough. i’m sad things don’t appear to be working out as you envisioned. but i and others should learn from your mistakes.
and now? asking for random peoples ideas on the path and plan for your life is not an independent thinkers way forward.
only you can make that choice and you should make it with no regard or regrets to what anonymous posts or friends (or even family) think (ironic i know i am giving advice yet saying that) – only you can make your life choices for you and then you can only have yourself to blame for your choices – with no regrets.
i know too many people are always looking for a future scapegoat – one ex-friend of mine used to poll people around him in the store what type of socks to buy! too afraid to even commit to socks should something go wrong he could always remain blameless! (which when i matured enough to “see” this i realized i needed to remove people like that from my life)
by asking others what you should do – if in a year you choose what someone else says you can then use that as yet another excuse as to why it went wrong.
i don’t mean to sound harsh, but life is and can be. i’m not perfect, but i am older now and have myself learned from my many mistakes, i am guilty of many same or similar failings in my younger years and working hard to keep learning and not repeat them now – so i am not passing judgement on you, just my experiences – i want you to succeed.
live your life, make your own decisions. i am rooting for you!
good luck and safe journey whatever that may be,
Thanks for your thoughts. For what it’s worth, I don’t think I failed myself. I’m doing exactly what I set out to do, which was/is to journey through life, through good times and less good times. Honestly, it sounds like I failed to live your dream, but hey, that’s not my job.
yes in a way you are living the dream that i’m sure many who follow your blog dream – i’m know i wish you well and i want you to succeed as it gives motivation and encouragement to myself and those of us who have to move slower in progress for whatever reason. the recent world changes have i think awoken this dream in many – less dependence on the “system” is what we are planning for too. (if only i was young and single again i’d be in the next wooded lot from you doing the same thing right now)
my “dream” is just moving slower due to the (my choice) dependence of multiple others at this stage in my life – but as a positive it also adds that element of having to be extra careful and cautious with my planning to have so many others dependent on my decisions. if i fail the consequences go much further then just “me” – when i was younger i did not always plan far enough ahead.
if at all possible you should not be in any unplanned situation even unexpected things should try to be accounted for happening and money/parts etc set aside for – your writing today (out of money by december etc) sounded to sort of catch you by surprise is all – maybe i misread it – if you were to stay through winter i would have expected winter preparations to be in progress – it’s only a month away! food, water and other plans should be in place by now. and hut 2.0 is not done yet, what will you eat, how will you cook, what will winter bathroom use consist of? the snow will be quite cold ; )
i do wish you good luck and i hope you continue to blog – as yes, i’m sure to the many who follow this all have a bit of “living through you” i enjoy seeing your progress, your successes and i have empathy for any mis steps – and yes, i hope to learn from your journey so when my time arrives to unplug from the grid i have planned for as much as possible.
remember that old saying – those that fail to plan, plan to fail.
good luck with your upcoming decision – only you can truly make that choice – i wish you well in it.
Ah, I see. As you can see, I don’t plan very far ahead, though I was by no means surprised by the fact that I ran out of money. I mean, it’s basic arithmetic, and though it happened about 2 weeks sooner than I’d predicted, it basically only meant I had to make one extra unplanned trip away from my property (though, I did over dramatize things a bit, because I figure it’d make more interesting reading that way… after all, I assume y’all are here for entertainment, and I aim to please 😉 ).
We all have varying degrees of comfort/discomfort when it comes to (un)preparedness. And as you point out, the stakes are obviously higher when you have people depending on you. As for me, I seem to have a much higher tolerance for volatility in my life than most people, and in fact, even relish it to some degree. I like to improvise, and solve problems as they come up. To date, I’ve never failed to overcome obstacles that life throws at us. That’s not to say, I don’t have contingency plans, or backup plans. For instance, I have never let my debts outgrow my financial assets; I have money (that I didn’t mention in the original post) that I could use to pay off all my debts, though I don’t plan on using that money unless I absolutely must.
As for winter preparations, well, it’s not winter yet. What might seem like only a month to you, seems like enough time to me. Who’s right? I don’t know. If I’m found frozen to death, then you can call me out on my unpreparedness. Until then, I ain’t failed yet.
Plan B will make you a better person.
Option C, face your fears & learn some things about engines as you always wanted to. I’m not a big fan of wars either but satisfying ones curiosity is sometimes more important! And heck you get free food, haha, and it helps you build up your confidence and all (or thats what I would think). I don’t think that many helicopter engine people get killed nowadays so you’ll be fine. Yes all of us may not agree with the politics, but sometimes it just doesn’t matter.
Call it a modified version of “A” but I would look at ways to monetize your blog and create a small newwork of other sites that will provide you a fairly steady income without a great deal of work. Take a look at ‘NerdyNomad.com’ for an example. She posts her earnings each month from advertising, e-book sales, etc. Could also be something you work on in the evenings if you decide to go back to a 9-5 for a year or two as it will take some time to develop. In the case of NerdyNomad she has a small network of mostly static sites focusd on travel that earn her consistently between 2-4k per month.
It sounds to me like the ANG is what you want to do next. The only downside I can see is that I think you are locked in for whatever your term is — if you decide you hate it you can’t get out. And don’t count on not being deployed, you do know that Murphy was an optimist…
And since you’re asking for advice 😉 Do what you have to do to pay off those debts. They limit your choices and control your life. Ideally you would be able to work remote/contract from your land with customers who are aware of your situation. Living off of credit cards is like digging a hole in sand, you just can’t win. And while you’re at it, sell the car and buy yourself a cheap truck with 4wd for the winter months.
You should contact the editor at http://www.backwoodshome.com and talk to her about writing about your adventure, I’m sure they would be interested in articles from you.
I’m not terribly worried about my debts, because if I wanted them to go away, I have enough money squirreled away to pay it off a few times over. I’m just trying to get by without tapping into my secret stash 😉
First of all, thanks for the blog. It has been an interesting read.
What keeps you from just paying the debt and NEVER thinking about it again? That was a scary step for me as well but I haven’t had debt or bills for a very long time and still have money in the bank (but not easily accessible and in CD form). Maybe this seems obvious and you have some reason for preferring to keep the debt. I just think we are trained early to think its okay to have a bunch of debt floating around and not having to ever wait and save to get what we need. Maybe your new lifestyle could benefit from thinking more along these lines and carrying no debt whatsoever. Pay off the car and credit cards and then learn to wait. Just my two cents.
I look forward to finding out what your decision will be.
It’s clear that you have a decision to make and that you’ve thought fully about each of your options, but it does seem that you are leaning towards the National Guard Option.
Let me just say that the National Guard would most probably prepare you in a lot of ways for living in the woods because you would learn skills of survival and toughness you might not know now. I’m basically the opposite of military but it could teach you some skills. And even though your friends and family might not approve, there is learning strength in what you want for yourself as opposed to what others think you need and want.
Also, I thought of an option to add to your writing about living in the woods and surviving, which I think would be a very good read. If you could put the spin on your story of your time as a software engineer and your road to leaving that and the big money with how you change your life and life in the woods. This is a time in our history of people looking at other ways of living and trying to let go of living a life that involves making lots of money to have the things they think will make them happy instead of figuring out what will really make them happy in the long run, which is learning who they really are and following their heart no matter where it takes them even if it’s a fearful road.
I’m on that road now and it is full of fear at times, but the big picture is that I’m learning exceptional lesson every day and I’m eager to get up most mornings to dive into my day. And I know there’s more good stuff to come. I always say to do what you fear if it’s something you keep thinking about and know in your heart that it’s the right thing for you.
My husband retired from the Navy. My brothers-in-law and brother from the Army. My son spent 8 years in the Navy in the nuke field. Believe me, you do NOT want to go there. If you are an individual in thinking and acting that is the LAST place you want to go. Don’t think the National Guard is any different. One time a month? Tell that to the people spending a year at a time in Iraq or Afghanistan. Don’t do it! The person above who said the military wipes out your individualism is right. That is exactly what they do in boot camp. That’s the purpose of boot camp. You can do better working at a local McD’s!
Do you have something to offer via online work? If so, even if it doesn’t pay as well as you are used to, try that. What about teaching? Computers and sofware education along with science and math are needed and many school systems will hire you without a teaching credential as long as you enter their program to get one. Kids really need teachers who are individual and creative.
A question for you – how much debt do you owe?
It sounds like the debt is what is holding you back. It should be much easier to live on your land full time with no debt, paying for only property taxes, utilities, and food. You could probably cover this by taking a few consultant jobs a year would be my guess.
Minimal work and the opportunity to live how you want. I think that should be your goal – let me know if I’m wrong here.
Regardless, I think that you should choose the option that works out best for you in the long term.
A – You said that it would kill your soul to go back short time. So that’s out of the question, unless you were able to steel yourself for a year or two, live like a monk, and pay off everything (I don’t know if this is possible or not).
That would probably be the fastest way out of any long term debt, which then frees you up considerably.
B – I actually think that this is the worst idea. You’re essentially trying to make the current situation last as long as possible, and you know it’s not sustainable for very long. In this situation, what ever comes up for work you’d have to take in order to remedy the situation.
I think it’s putting it off too long. You know you have a situation and you need to deal with it.
C – This would work with several caveats: 1) You know you’re going to get deployed during your stint. Since we’re in a war in Afghanistan, and involved in multiple missions around the globe, you’re going to be deployed for 6 months to a year on mission, and then add the required training time before you get in-theater and out-theater, and you could be looking at spending real time away. Not the 1 weekend a month / 2 weeks a year situation. 2) The military is a conformist organization – for good reason. In order to fight wars, everyone has to be on the same page. This includes the CaANG.
I’m a bit curious, though, why would you choose to enlist in the ANG instead of going in as an officer?
If you do go into the CaANG – go in with eyes wide open. Know you’re going to be deployed. Know you’re going to experience culture shock. But don’t worry about being laughed at – so long as you do well in your ASVAB and medical exam, you’ll do fine.
I think that there may be other options other there
As I said elsewhere in this thread, I’m not worried about my debts because, in the worst case scenario, I have enough stashed away to pay them off. Right now, I’m trying to figure out a way to get by without doing that because that’s a last resort.
I’m not interested in being an officer because (most) officers are basically managers, and if I wanted to be a manager, I can do so in the corporate world. I’d rather learn a hands-on trade, like aircraft maintenance.
You should enlist, its the best of both worlds, you’ll make enough to cover your expenses if you cut way back on them, and you’ll have the time to work on your land and have time for short term contract work to help bump up the ol’ bank account.
You won’t regret it.
We are growing and need to add another tech support person. Send your resume to me and I;ll fwd it to my bosses. We have three and they are wonderful. It is the best place on earth to work that I have found in my lifetime.
This is an option you havent thought about! 🙂
You have an interesting set of options listed here. First off, I see debt as a bad thing, especially for anything that depreciates. Education, tools for your job and land/house are the only typical things that are considered acceptable debt. But it is a little late for that, and I think you probably agree with me, but you did what you had to, to live the way you felt necessary.
As for my opinions of your options. Option A – get a job, is the one I would take, but then I am not very adventurous in that respect. For you, that might be the last option, considering your writings.
Option B – Stay on your property for the winter. Sounds like a challenge, but I don’t see it as being an adventure, unless you are planning on living off the land as well. Might be an excellent way of “finding” yourself, or self realization or whatever, and might be the best time in your life to do such a thing, but that is something you would have to decide for yourself. Frankly, I would find it boring.
Option C – Well, I don’t know. The first bit of advice that I will give you, as was given to me by my father and many other people is DON”T TRUST THE ARMY or whatever. The person talking to you and making promises is not the person who will be fulfilling those promises. Even if the person really wants to believe that you will get the job they promise you, that person will not be able to make that decision. This is not to say that it won’t be a good career, or that it is a bad move. But, as with your CD experience, you have to fight for what you want. Your lack of fear of being deployed says a lot about you. That you don’t fear realistic risks. The other fears, the unknown, foreign culture, commitment, failure, freedom etc. Those fears show that you are a thinking man. People who do not fear such things, or worse, do not even think of these things, are people who are either so cocky that these thoughts don’t show up, or are so simple that they don’t think that deeply. Whether you should pick this option or not, should not be based on these fears. Well, the fear of commitment might be a real fear IF you are not ready to commit to what they ask for. But then, anything you do in life commits you to something. Your purchase of the land was a commitment. As was your choosing the jobs you chose. I know many people that really loved the military, some eventually retiring from it. Most of these people were educated officers. There are a few that I know that loved it while they were young, but got out as they got a little older. It is a very different world from the corporate world, but with it’s own kinds or frustrations. One thing that might be good about this option is that your are committing yourself to something that you can’t easily back out of. That could be a good thing for you.
Which option is right for you? Well, pick one, then in ten or twenty years you can tell us if it was the right one. You never really know ’til then, if ever.
Thanks for your thoughts. I think your closing comment reflects my attitude as well. Part of what draws me to the Air Guard isn’t so much that I have expectations of what it’ll be like, but I’m curious, and no matter what people tell me, there’s only one way to find out.
I suppose that I should have read the other comments before I posted mine. Although the various advice is conflicting, I think there is a lot of good advice here. You just have to decide for yourself what is the best path.
Unlike one commenter above, I do not see anything wrong with you looking for outside input in order to make your own decision. You seem to be looking for additional input and POV’s, whereas the commenter felt you were looking for someone else to make your decision so that you could later blame them. That allegation smacks of someone projecting their own issues onto you. So far, I have only seen you take ownership in your choices.
I see a lot of people commenting on what you should do to achieve your goals. But (unless I missed it) it seems we do not know what your goals and criteria are for your life, because you have not stated them. So I think people are going off assumptions.
So what are you trying to do? You said your goal “Journey through life” but what does that mean? What is journeying and what isn’t? Is it that a cube job is not a journey. but a mechanic’s job is?
The real question is not just what you’re trying to do, it’s “What need(s) are you trying to get met?”
A need for fun?
Need for intellectual stimulation (learning about helicopters, etc.)?
Need to discover more about yourself and your capabilities?
Need to believe in, and derive some enjoyment from, your employment?
1. As compared to a used car with liability insurance, does having the new car and full coverage insurance positively offset the cost of having to give up freedom to earn the money to pay for it? I don’t know what your insurance+car payments are but I could see them being half your $1200 number, therefore half the cash flow problem.
2. You say you are not concerned about paying off your debt because you could pay it off if you wanted. Ok. But your monthly overhead of $1200+ seems to be a big issue here because without that burn rate you wouldn’t be in this position at this time. So the debt *is* negatively impacting your freedom to live as you choose.
Have you considered things from the other way? Which is, instead of carrying debt because you don’t care and *could* pay it off, to take a look at how the debt does impact your life. What if you didn’t have the debt, now what would your life look like? Would you have the same constraints on your life, time, and finances? And is having that debt, worth these constraints?
If not, what about coming up with a strategy to pay off the debt from your stash, and replace the money by earning it in a way you choose and enjoy? Because the freedom from the overhead opens up your choices. What’s better, to be able to live inexpensively and as you wish, and to suffer through paying yourself back slowly? Or to take the desk job?
3. “[J]oining the National Guard doesn’t prevent me from also going back to the corporate world and earning six figures at the same time.” Not so, if you get deployed or relocated.
Thank you for sharing via your blog, and for your comment on mine.
Thanks for your comment. I’m glad you pointed out the fact that I’ve never articulated what my goals/needs/desires were, even though people seem to have made assumptions about what they are or may be. Unfortunately, that is at the heart of my indecision, and the short answer is: I don’t know. If I knew what I wanted, I don’t think I’d be stuck the way I am.
I also wanted to respond to a few specific issues you raised, so here we go…
1. I don’t know if you read my posts from earlier this year when I was looking for the car that I have now, but I did consider a number of alternatives that would’ve been cheaper, and would have eliminated or lowered my debt. Ultimately, I decided that I needed a reasonably new (it’s a used ’06 model) car that I could depend on, because while my life is full of uncertainties, my car had become one of the few constants that I lean on heavily to get me places, places where I feel safe and supported. So, in my case, I don’t regret the fact that I had to take out a loan to get a somewhat more expensive car (btw, my payments on the car are $250/month, insurance is about $100/month).
2. That’s a good question. If I didn’t have debt and aggressively lowered my costs, I can probably get my bills to about $500/month (of which $200 is health insurance, which I do not feel comfortable cutting). But I’d still have to come up with $500/month (or, if I include gas, food, etc, more like $800/month), and from where I stand, the difference between earning $500/month and $1200/month is negligible because that doesn’t answer the question “How am I going to make money?” So, to answer your question, yes, even if I didn’t have debt, I would still be facing the same problem, if not today, then eventually. In fact, if I’d paid for the land entirely in cash last year, I wouldn’t have been able to spend any time on it and would’ve had to go back to work right away, and I wouldn’t have had the wonderful experiences I’ve had over this past year. Is that better? Some people seem to think so. Me? I have no regrets.
3. While I can’t make any assumptions about deployments in the future, the unit I’m thinking of joining has had deployments lasting 30 days to 3 months, consisting only of those who volunteered to go (i.e. they don’t send the entire unit). So, from historical data, it seems unlikely that I’d face long or multiple deployments, if at all (again, not something I can count on, but it’s the only data I have). Even if I did get deployed, I’d take a pay-cut while I’m away, but it is unlikely I would lose the job because of it. That’s assuming I even want to go back to a full time corporate job again, which is rather iffy. Or perhaps I’ll instead have the kind of job where they would heartlessly fire a guardsman while he’s on deployment. Or maybe I’ll be dead in a week. Who knows. Some people live their lives worrying about the future. I try not to.
I just started reading your blog and enjoy it a lot. I would stay away from Adventure A. I am currently in that situation and am a little jealous that you have jumped the wall. I would choose either B or C. I have two cousins in the guard and one who is a helicopter mechanic in the army. The chance of getting sent out of country in the guard depends on your units specialty and if they are needed. My cousins in the guard were sent to Afghanistan, but they stayed back at the base and did not see any action. The cousin that is a helicopter mechanic gets sent to Afghanistan every few years, but that is due to the unit he is attached to. And he stays back at the airfield. Plus the chance for assistance at a career change is something that may be hard to pass up
Whatever you choose, Good Luck.
How about a contracting gig that you start out in person that lets you work remote once you build up a solid remote working, winter proof infrastructure on your property?
You might have to come to the city/valley couch-surf for a bit to fire up your network and find the gig that fits a longer term remote working plan, but you’re a solid developer and the valley has lots of gigs, and you know people who want to help.
If you take a slightly longer term view you might be able to work a few months a year and work remote.
Hey JP. Yeah, that’s an option. I kinda like not having internet on my property, but it might be the lesser of evils in the long run.
A or C , But A more likely, live easy and small ,pay down…off… you bills. You can not live until you are free .
Cellphone …a tracfone
search insurance, higher deduct
sell car get a small pick up 4×4
Re: money situation, Why not charge for your blog. I would be willing to pay for a yearly subscription, maybe others would feel the same. If you have enough fans, perhaps that coud generate enough income to keep you going without selling out. I don’t think the military is a good match for you. You are too much a free spirit and the politics would get you down.
I hope you are able to find a solution without too many drawbacks, so you can continue on the journey you have begun. Best regards, Sandra McDonald, Iowa City, Iowa
I’ve found that as a rule… when presented with a choice, the best option is always the more difficult one.
took me a year of studying Kaballah and 40+ years of being on earth to figure that out.
best of luck whichever path you choose Ry, there are no wrong answers to these sort of questions. I would opt for the option that pays off your land loan the quickest. I bought my mountain for cash, I can’t tell you how good it feels to know that no one can take it away from me (as long as I keep paying the property taxes!).
Whatever you do, before the weather turns bad make sure to batten down the new hut for winter, you don’t want the wood to rot or get soaked!
ps, sorry I missed the hut-raising, I was in the big city makin’ bank from the man! let me know if you’re ever within 2 hours of LA, I’ll buy you a beer!
Fork in the road? In order to continue on the road you’re on, you’re gonna need some cash, pay off some bills and then come back to your dream.
My husband and I are working on a little 12’x20′ cabin in the middle of 75 acres. No cell phone reception, no nothin’…
We’ve been working on it for 2 years. Thing is, we live in one state and the cabin is in another. We have to live and work to pay for the cabin, so it’s paid for as we go along. We take two 1-week vacations a year one in the spring and one in the fall. We use that time to work on the cabin; the rest of the time we are looking on ways to improve it, save money to get the things we need. So far we’ve spent 3 vacations on this cabin – next one coming up in November…
We know we’ll need food, seeds, water, sanitary conditions and hopefully, a little bit of comfort in this cabin. In order to do this we need money. To get the money, we need to work. In order to work, we need to maintain a life/lifestyle outside of the cabin…we know this, it’s our reality…but we’re willing to work on it as we can, with what money we can…you just have to decide what’s more important to you, to decide which fork (it sounds more like a branch) to chose to follow.
My dads been im the guard for 20some odd years and he’s loved it.
I spent four years in the Navy. When I enlisted, at 18, I forgot that they have boats there and that I might have to actually leave dry land. Yah, I know, but I was a dumb kid with my head up…you know.
I have to disagree with many who have said that the military will steal your soul. I agree with the statement that they will try, but no one can take it if you don’t surrender it willingly. I thoroughly enjoyed my term of service and came away richer in many ways including a healthy sense of self respect as well as a wealth of information and experiences that I could never have afforded anywhere else. They feed you, they house you, they clothe you and they pay you to travel to some pretty interesting places. Danger, sure, but you could step off a curb in the city and meet your maker. DO NOT believe any of the promises that you are safe from harm. My son was a mechanic in the Army and ended up riding gun turret on a 50 cal for someone officer because he was good at it and he didn’t know how to not do his best, but that’s another story.
All three of your choices have positive and negative aspects to them. Me, I’d join up in a minute, when they start takin’ over 50 year old guys again. I’m not holding my breath, but I loved the adventure.
Get off the fence and start livin!
How about a different option?
Get a part time job close by that pays something. Cut your bills to the quick (do you need health insurance? I bet that is a huge cost) and rough out the winter where you are.
If you can make more $ on your investments than the maxed out credit cards charges perhaps you should look into investing.
Heres a blog you might like: http://earlyretirementextreme.com/
True enough that the NG is only one weekend a month, but allow me, as a NG member to reply to you this way. I think it’s a bad idea to enlist at this juncture. Yes, your MOS would be for a helicopter mech, but that doesn’t guarantee thats what you’ll DO over there if you get deployed.
I’ve done two tours and we’ve had cooks, water purification, tank mechs get put in with us infantry grunts to go out fighting. Granted you’d be in the AIR NG, but I fought with some of those guys too.
As smart, determined and focused of a person as you seem to be, I’m certain that if you put your head to it you can figure out a lucrative and personally satifisfying solution to your problem.
FEAR NO FEAR! You’ve already accomplished more in life than most will. Even a Navy Seal will have fear, it motivates them. You won’t fail at anything you try. I see it.
Why do they offer a $20k bonus? If its such a great job you would think lots of people would apply.
I’ve been in the militaary. i also disagree that it steals yours soul, and most highly negative descriptions of the lifestyle come from people who’ve never served.
However, it WILL steal you life, in the sense that your time is not really your own, you could be called up, for open-ended deployments, etc.
Doesn’t seem like who you are, and I think skill training (other than combat skills if you go that route, which you don’t want to) is a highly over-rated reason to join. Think about it — some kid joins the USAF to become a helo mechanic. He does it 365/yr for many years. Then maybe he has marketable skills.
How much you going to learn in one weekend a month, 2 weeks a year (during which time you might be training in other, more general matters)?
On freeing up the cash from your CD, assuming it is no longer pledged against your friend’s loan, often the most cost effective thing to do is talk to the issuing bank about a strain “CD-secured loan”. Nothing is considered a lower credit risk on the bank’s books, and they generally charge maybe 2% over the CD rate (so effectively you borrow a portion of the CD face at 2% interest, while the remainder earns whatever the CD rate is. Frankly, I’d borrow the whole amount.
disregard the word “strain” in line 4th from bottom. That is not a technical term — it is a mysterious interloper in my text.
You seem like a smart enough chap, Ryo, perhaps a little too smart for your own good.
The solution seems quite clear from my outsiders point of view.
Pay off all your debts. Go to school for whatever training you think that you want. Pay cash for your training.
Even if it takes 2 or 4 years, you are going to be 2 or 4 years older by then anyhow and whether or not you are living debt free by then is entirely up to you. Either way, remember that you’ll still be 2 or 4 years older.
Or, think of it like this – the “you” of the future is already waiting for you. Make decisions now to become that person.
Oh, and btw, paying interest is about the dumbest thing a smart person can do. Your land is worth what it’s worth, why pay more?
This is an opportunity to figure what you really want in life. Do what you love and the money won’t matter. It’s time to meditate or pray and write. Get all your thoughts out on paper and the right thing will come to you. The best long term solution is happiness which money does not buy.
QUOTE. As you pointed out, the fact that Guard duty only takes up one weekend a month (plus two weeks’ training a year) is a huge factor for me, since it still gives me tons of time to do other things. END QUOTE
I don’t thing you understand this yet. Guard drill is for TRAING. Training makes you ready to deploy when and where you are told to go. My state just had a guard unit return from a year in Afganistan. They were replaced by another unit. Guard units TRIED to restore order to New Orleans. Are you willing to be deployed? You better be ready and willing because DEPLOYMENT is why the guard exists. Don’t let any recruiter tell you otherwise.
Also go research STOP LOSS and you will learn that a contract with the government is no contract at all. They can break terms and conditions at will but you get courts martialed for the same behavior.
One more thought. Why do you consider entering the guard as an enlisted recruit? Because they will bump your pay two grades? Your thinking is clearly being colored by cash flow concerns. You already have a degree and that should qualify you to be an officer. Being an officer in the military is a very different experience than enlisted. For one, it pays MUCH more. Second you are a manager, you issue orders. You start much nearer the top. You receive more salutes than you give.
I was in the army 30 plus years ago as a tanker. It was peacetime, I was 18 and received the GI Bill which led to a bsme and bsee. It worked out for me but you already have a college degree that is worth something. My worst day as an cubicle engineer was better than my best army day and I never heard a shot fired in anger. Nor did I ever work for google!!!
You don’t seem to be the type of person who will like the military. While it appears the days of easy national guard duty are well over, even then it probably would not set well with you having a such a long term shit pay obligation.
In the military you are essentially a modern day slave where you can end up in a spot where you’re every minute is decided by people you will never see. Shit rolls downhill and even a Lt is pretty close to the bottom so don’t think being an officer is a cake walk.
Think hard about it. It easy to raise your right hand and sign here but then you are in the machine. Can’t say ‘Fuck this job I quit’ unless you like spending your time in a jail cell. You don’t hear much about the wounded but there are many and a very large percentage are suffering from brain and/or spinal cord damage thanks to medical advances. Unimaginable suffering from my view. I bet some national guard are amongst those fellows. You better believe in something more than a paycheck to join up at this time in our history.
You will think a lot about that fancy google cafeteria, those big paychecks, friendly bosses, time to be alone, solitary showers etc. Everyone will rib you about being an ex google employee as in “WHAT THE FUCK WERE YOU THINKING”. LOL
p.s. Hint Plan B
i know… this is unusual plan…
for unusual reality
( the world will not the same as we know )
1. Buy some 1 oz SILVER coin and bar… like American Silver Eagle, etc
i know… this is unusual idea ( as many people don’t get it )…
silver will mantain our purchasing power
( we can sell it for cash in local coin dealer or elseware in the world )…
and by the way… silver price have gone up 100% from 2010
( that means… we have 100% more cash… if we sell it )
2. Buy some 1/10 oz GOLD coin or bar
( same as silver… gold can preserve our purchasing power )
1000 oz of silver will cost us $ 40.000
or you can start with 100 x 1 oz American silver eagle… for $ 4000
or 10 x 1 oz will be good start… for $ 400
There are other reason to buy silver and gold…
we can barter it with food, tool, clothes and so on
there are thousand community in the world…
that will happily barter with us for silver, gold or other item ( and for our skill )
And by the way… silver and gold… has been used by human
for almost 5000 year… without decrease our purchasing power
( you can pass it for your grand children too… because silver and gold is an asset … that not depend by other people promise to pay )
And by the way… you can buy your land… or other land… or buy house
for cash… ( with your 1000 oz silver )
i know it’s not logic… but history teach us one thing…
history always repeat his self…
as silver gone up for 1000% in 1980… then 2012 will be interesting for us
Check this site
3. Buy used car … cash …
light truck will be better ( we can load heavy things with it )
( i know this is difficult… but we know… we will not have to pay bill for car loan )
4. Buy food from local store ( or local people )…
( local food means cheap… and healthy…
and the other purpose is we make network with other people …
that have same idea with us… and we can learn from them about raising our own food, raise chicken , etc )
and for the rest… you can decided for your self
i just show you the door…
and you decide for your self… to pass that door
( as i did for my self… too )