How to be Self-Sufficient as a Sustainable Future

The Goal is to become Self Sufficient

My husband and I have a goal – to become self sufficient by the time we retire. We have been researching how to be self sufficient, and what we need to consider before we can regard ourselves as self sufficient. Considerations for self sufficiency include how to meet our basic needs: water, food, energy and shelter.

Investigating Self-sufficiency as a Retirement Goal

My husband and I are in our early 50s so we’re not at the official retirement age and won’t be for over 10 years (67yrs in Australia for those of us born in the mid 60’s). The prospect of working for the next 13 years is daunting for me. I have chronic back pain caused by several back injuries and general wear and tear from over 30 years as a nurse. I’ve already reduced my work hours but the writing is on the wall – I know I won’t be able to work as a nurse for much longer.

I have been looking towards retirement for the last few years. Our current situation is that we have a large mortgage on a big property in a very busy city. It’s a rat-race and we feel like we are just rats in a wheel, chasing our tails – working long hours in jobs that aren’t easy, often not seeing each other for days at a time. Quality time together is limited. Our overheads and cost of living are huge. Living here is not sustainable in the long term, either financially or practically. So we must look at alternatives to our current lifestyle.

Downsizing is our First Goal

We have been considering downsizing as the first obvious choice. Once my older son leaves home and there’s just the two of us, continuing to live in our large house would be silly. It’s not designed so that we could create a self-contained unit to rent out so that’s not an option. So our first step would be to sell it and buy a smaller house on a smaller block – one that is easier to maintain.

We would still have a mortgage, however. To be able to buy a house mortgage-free we will have to sell up and move to a regional area where the cost of housing is much lower. The drawback is that we would probably be too far from medical services to be able to do it. That is why we are looking into becoming self-sufficient.

Being self-sufficient to us would mean being able to provide for most of our needs ourselves. It would mean that we would have to set up a property with energy, water and food supplies so that we didn’t have to rely on outside sources.

How to meet our basic needs

Our basic needs are shelter, energy, food and water. To be self sufficient we would need to provide most of them ourselves, and have the necessary resources in place to reduce our living costs. Using sustainable resources is another goal because we would like to reduce our carbon footprint.

Basic needs for self sufficiency - water, food, energy, shelter.
Basic needs for self sufficiency – water, food, energy, shelter.

Here are our most important considerations for self sufficiency:

Shelter – a small house on a small block. If we can afford it, a separate dwelling to rent out for income.

Energy – solar power, with a generator for back-up. Sustainable energy such as solar is cheaper in the long run. We may even earn money by feeding the excess back into the grid.

Water – rain tanks, with town supply as a back-up. Another sustainable choice.

Food – gardens with a variety of food such as vegetables and fruit. Chickens for eggs. A beehive for honey. Any surplus can be sold, or swapped with other gardeners. Any food that we can’t grow ourselves would be bought in bulk from bulk food supplies, or from local producers to inject money back into the economy. We love fishing so we could catch our own fish. I’ll be learning how to make my own preserves, bread, etc. – going back to skills my mother had like bottling fruit, making jam and sauces and cooking everything from scratch. It’ll be healthier as well as cheaper.

Other Considerations for Self Sufficiency

Waste – Recycling and reusing everything we can. Septic tank for waste. Compost and worm farm to use our garden and food waste up and improve the growing conditions for the soil in our garden. We already have those in our current property.

Community – You need to have a network of people who are willing to share their expertise when you are starting on this type of venture, especially if you’re moving to a new area to set up your self sufficient household. Our future plans include being close to my brother so that we have support and can help each other. Getting involved with the local community is also important – being self-sufficient doesn’t mean isolating yourself behind a wall. Just the opposite – you need to be connected to the community in which you live. We’re no doomsday preppers!

A suitable property

Suitable property – My brother has been researching self-sufficiency for over 30 years and much of his knowledge stems from our parents. They researched much of this in their life-time, incorporating vast knowledge of using your property to provide most of the food you will need. They were avid gardeners and often experimented with alternative growing techniques – the first hydroponic system in New Zealand was set up by my father. I’m lucky to have this knowledge base to assist me.

He has stressed the importance of choosing land that is rich and fertile and slopes or faces North. We currently live in an area where the soil is very sandy and doesn’t hold water or nutrients which poses a huge problem for growing plants. We’ve dealt with this by having raised garden beds and containers, and choosing the right type of plants for our climate.

Our raised garden beds.  We grow a variety of vegetables every year
Our raised garden beds. We grow a variety of vegetables every year

Town planning / Council Restrictions – we would have to ensure that the property we buy is in a Council area that allows us to use tank water, keep chickens etc. Most Councils have restrictions on keeping animals, dwelling size and use of the dwelling for commercial purposes, for example.

The Benefits of Becoming Self-sufficient

Self-sufficiency makes a lot of sense to me, both financially and as a way of being more environmentally friendly and reducing our footprint globally. It comes as no surprise that it’s a cheaper lifestyle and it appeals to me to not have to pay large energy bills and rely on the government to supply our every need.

Other considerations for self sufficiency are the costs of setting ourselves up. The initial costs will be the house and land, solar system, water tank, gardens, and septic tank. If we purchase a dwelling that has the basics, we can supply the rest initially or over time.

Comparing ourselves to our parents, my husband and I will probably have at least 30 years of retirement because most of our predecessors lived to at least 80. Our superannuation will not stretch that far and the Government pension will not be enough to live comfortably on, so reducing our cost of living is essential. Providing most of our own needs will save money in the long run, even if the initial set-up costs are high.

I’d love to hear other ideas that my readers may have for self-sufficiency or reducing their living costs. Please feel free to comment.

Our goals for retirement include being as self-sufficient as possible in order to create a sustainable lifestyle
Our goals for retirement include being as self-sufficient as possible in order to create a sustainable lifestyle

If you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy:

Continue Reading

You may also like

How To Increase Traffic to your Blog

Using Pinterest to Drive Traffic to your Blog

One of the most important aspects of blogging is finding an audience for your written word. We would all like our audience to read our work, so increasing traffic to our blog is essential. One of the best ways I have found is to use Pinterest. It is a search engine just like Google, where people can find exactly what they need to know using keywords. This post will give you some ideas on how to increase traffic to your blog using Pinterest and Tailwind.

If you’re new to Pinterest, you can do a free course which I highly recommend. I had no idea how to set up my Pinterest properly, create pins or link pins to my blog until I took this course, Pinterest for New Bloggers. It was incredibly helpful, for people whether new to Pinterest, or even if you’ve been using Pinterest for a while. The Course is presented by Blogging for New Bloggers who have a number of other fantastic courses. I’ve taken quite a few of them, and you can check them out here.

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure

Do you want to increase traffic to your blog?  Midlife bloggers - share your content and increase traffic to your blog with Tailwind Tribes.  Get your invitation here!  Midlifestylist.com  Pin image with above words in it.  Photo of a computer and pile of magazines, rose in glass
Pin image – Do you want to increase traffic to your blog?

Pinterest relies on people to Pin new Pins to their boards frequently. Having an automated schedule for your Pins takes a lot of the work of repinning contents away from you. You can schedule your Pins in advance, to Pin to boards even when you aren’t able to yourself, meaning that your Pins are getting seen regularly, thus increasing traffic to your site.

That’s where Tailwind comes in.

Using Tailwind to Schedule your Content

If you are new to Tailwind, it is a scheduling service for sharing content to Pinterest. You can join for free, and this will allow you to join 5 tribes, and schedule 30 posts to your tribes per month. Click on this link to watch a short video which explains what Tailwind is, and how it can help you share your content. In addition to the free service, you can Pay for a subscription. If you use the following link you will get $15 off Tailwind Plus:

https://www.tailwindapp.com/i/chenry1320
I will also receive $15 credit from Tailwind if you use this link

I have started a new tribe on Tailwind called Midlife Bloggers Aging Well. About this Tribe:
Midlife Bloggers Aging Well is for people in their midlife (40s-60s) who write about midlife, for example, lifestyle, health, menopause, travel, challenges of midlife, planning for retirement, looking and feeling good in your midlife. The tribe will focus on tips on aging gracefully and maintaining a healthy lifestyle as we age

This is the link to go directly to the tribe:

https://www.tailwindapp.com/tribe/join?h=lKvGsomnpiOjDe

If you write for midlifers, I invite you to join my tribe so that you can share quality information with other bloggers in our niche.

Pinterest Group Boards

I’m also taking this opportunity to invite you to my Pinterest group board, Midlifers Group Board. Sharing our content is a win-win situation for everyone. If you are not yet a member of this group board, here is the link to request to join here

I also have another group board on Pinterest for bloggers who write about maintaining a healthy lifestyle called Staying Healthy – Group Board. This is for all age groups, not just midlifers. Request to join here:

My third group board on Pinterest is Planning for Retirement. This is a group board for midlifers who are planning for their retirement – financial, lifestyle, downsizing, health, family. Request to join here.

One of the best outcomes I have received from blogging is networking with other bloggers. I really enjoy reading their content and have learned a lot this way. I would love you to join me in sharing quality information by using these platforms.

Continue Reading

You may also like

How to Make the Most of Your Staycation

It’s not surprising that more people are choosing to stay home when they have a holiday. Termed a Staycation, it’s a nickname for just that – staying at home instead of traveling. The latest coronavirus outbreak in China has given everyone the spooks, but over the years there have been multiple reasons to stay at home rather than travel, such as terrorism, natural disasters, plane crashes, outbreaks of gastro on cruise ships to name but a few. Other reasons may be ill health, economic or commitments at home.

My husband and I try to make the most of our annual leave and travel either overseas or within Australia. Our time off is precious to us because we both work odd hours and can go days at a time where we barely see each other. He has to go away for work sometimes, and I do shift work.

I am currently on annual leave for 2 weeks, and my husband only has one of those weeks off so I find myself with some time to myself. So that I don’t waste this time, I’ve compiled a list of tasks to do. It’s a chance to do things uninterrupted. I thought I’d share some ideas that other people may find helpful, to make the most of their Staycation.

  • Get on top of chores e.g. spring cleaning, yard work, gardening
  • Make appointments to the Dentist, Optometrist, skin clinic, etc. for your six monthly or yearly checkups.
  • Have coffee or a meal with friends and family you haven’t seen for a while
  • Visit the local art gallery, museum or historical society
  • If your town/city is in a touristy area, be a tourist for a day and go to a theme park or local attraction
  • Invest some time in yourself. Have a day of pampering at a spa, do a course on mindfulness or meditation, get your hair restyled
  • Read a book, do some craft or another hobby that you usually don’t have time to do
  • Cook some meals in batches to freeze for when you’re back at work
  • Rent accommodation or go camping in a nearby area that you wouldn’t usually stay. I often have a weekend away in a unit or house I’ve rented through Airbnb, in a town or suburb within an hour or two of home. That way we can feel as if we’ve been on holiday without the outlay of transport costs. I’m constantly surprised at the difference it makes to have a weekend away without going too far from home – it’s enough to revitalise you.
  • Declutter and sell or give away all the excess “stuff” you have. Your holiday at home might end up making you some extra cash
  • Do a short course to learn a new skill
  • Do any repairs around your property or organise for tradesmen to do work while you’re at home. We’re getting our roof repaired and repainted while I’m on a staycation
  • Rearrange the furniture in one room, redecorate it, add indoor plants or change the soft furnishings. Just giving one room a new look will be uplifting.
  • Plant a herb garden or some vegetable seedlings. If you don’t have a garden, use pot plants. Adding fresh herbs and vegetables to your diet will improve your health and wellbeing
  • See a movie or concert with a friend
  • Take your children or grandchildren to the park or beach. Make the most of your local area and spend quality time with the younger generations
  • Make the most of not having to do anything to a schedule. Sleep in, stay up late, have a rest during the day or exercise every day. You’ll go back to work refreshed and feeling great

You certainly don’t have to go out of your way or clock up a huge credit card bill to enjoy a vacation. Globally, the increased fear of traveling due to disease, natural disasters, terrorism etc., will lead to more people staying home. That doesn’t mean you should feel deprived – make the most of it! I’m such a homebody that I never feel as if I’m missing out by having a staycation.

I’d love to hear about my readers’ ideas for a staycation. Do you usually go away, and if so, are you considering staying at home for your next vacation?

Make the most of your holiday at home.  How to enjoy your staycation.  Useful tips so that your staycation isn't wasted
Make the most of your holiday at home.
How to enjoy your staycation. Useful tips so that your staycation isn’t wasted
shared at this link-up party https://www.denysewhelan.com.au/denyse-blogs/why-did-i-32-51-lifethisweek-64-2020/
Shared at this link-up party – life this week, https://www.denysewhelan.com.au/denyse-blogs/taking-stock-3-27-51-lifethisweek-54-2020/

If you enjoyed this, you may also like:

Continue Reading

You may also like

The Half-Empty Nest

The Half Empty Nest

When a Child Moves Out it Feels Like Grief

A week ago my son moved out of home. I knew it was coming – he’s nearly 25, but it still caused an upheaval in my life all the same. I have my other son at home still, so the nest is only half-empty. Despite this I’m feeling a sense of loss akin to grief that only another mother could relate to. Empty Nest Syndrome, while being a cliche, is very real.

This is the son who I bonded with immediately after birth when he latched on in the delivery suite. It was complete love at first sight with my second baby. My first baby had been born three years earlier when I was mourning the death of my mother. This meant my bonding with him was affected by post natal depression and anxiety. And from not having the one person there for me – my mum, whose presence would have made such a difference to a new mother. He had colic as well so he cried a lot. In contrast, my second baby was a calm, relaxed and cuddly child, and I was a more experienced and confident mum.

The Close Mother-Son Bond

For years my second son was my shadow and clung to me. Our bond was strengthened by our similar sense of humour as he grew older. We enjoyed banter where we fed off each other, talking about diverse subjects at great length. This was often to the bemusement of the rest of the family who didn’t really ‘get’ us. Our mutual love of animals and our taste in music, our enjoyment of cooking together, and our daily walks with the dogs meant that we spent a lot of time together over the years.

My son went through a period of depression a few years back and he dropped out of university. 18 months later he decided to re-enroll in a different course in another university. I told him I would be keeping a close eye on him to make sure his mental state didn’t suffer by taking on another course of study. Our conversations became more in depth as I didn’t hold back with communication. I needed to make sure he was OK this time around, and that the pressure of studying, working and internships didn’t impact his mental health.

To my absolute joy he thrived under pressure, and was able to take on a heavy study load while working full-time and doing two internships at the same time. He was more motivated to accomplish his goals when his schedule was full. He completed his degree in communications, public relations and journalism in just over two years.

Coping With Disappointment

My son applied for jobs all over Australia in his chosen fields. He was keen to start his new career and leave the crappy retail position he’d held since the age of 14. He struggled to get so much as a reply to his application. The few interviews that he attended did not even bother to let him know he’d been unsuccessful. After six months of knock-backs we were both disheartened and incredibly disappointed. For me as a mother, it was like a stab in the heart to watch him go through this.

Honestly, I do not know what is wrong with employers these days. They do not even send out an email to let applicants know they’ve been unsuccessful. No wonder young people struggle to find a job, and when they do, there’s not the sense of loyalty that we had to our employers. I’m disgusted by how rude it is. The least they could do is send out a polite email thanking them for their application and telling them they have been unsuccessful.

So my son stayed in his retail position, stayed living at home and gave up on applying for jobs. My husband and I went on holiday. While we were there my son rang me to tell me he’d quit his job. He couldn’t work there anymore – it was making him ill, both physically and mentally. He was getting migraines nearly every day and spiraling into depression again. Of course this caused alarm and I begged him to reconsider. His employers met with him and pleaded with him to stay as he is a hard worker and reliable employee. He dropped back to casual and took on another job (retail as well!).

Then he decided to go back to university and do his Masters Degree in Secondary Education. He’d be able to teach high-school English and History. I wrote about it in my last blog post Don’t Hold Back . He was all set to start university this month then out of the blue he decided to move out of home and take on a full time position in his new workplace. Just when I thought he was set on one path, he did a 360 turn. He has now put off going back to university just so he could move out of home.

The Turmoil Caused by a Child Leaving Home

Our household has been in turmoil for the last few weeks. Quite a few deep discussions have occurred between my son and I as I attempt to persuade him to reconsider this decision. But he was set on this path and has now moved out. My main concern is that he’ll regret this down the track, and he won’t be fulfilled in his current job. I know it won’t be challenging enough for him mentally. He needs a job that will stimulate him intellectually for his own well-being. He acknowledges that but is still keen to spread his wings and become a fully functioning adult by cutting the apron strings.

I was fine until I drove toward our house the evening before he was due to move out. I realised it would be the last time our family of four would sleep in the same house together. The floodgates opened and I couldn’t control the tears for the next 12 hours until I had to show up for work again. It felt like I was grieving for my father again – he’d passed away 18 months prior. That’s understandable because a partial empty nest is a loss, just like all the other losses I’d experienced. I’d had the same reaction when my mother and sister had passed away, and when I separated from my ex-husband. No-one died obviously but I was losing a massive part of myself all the same.

The bedroom my son left behind is now my new writing space.  This has eased the feeling of an empty nest slightly.
The bedroom my son left behind is now my new writing space. This has eased the feeling of an empty nest slightly.

Close Bond Reinforced Through Shared Experiences

I was prepared to be emotional because my son and I had been together during several of the hardest periods of my life. Despite his youth, he had proved to be an incredibly resilient person and very supportive, emotionally mature and caring. When my father was suffering from cancer and spent the last few months in and out of hospital, it was my son who came with me to New Zealand to see him.

I leaned on him more than what a mother would normally do with their son. His strength of character showed that he could handle this. He did it willingly and generously, not holding back from seeing the brutality of his grandfather dying from pancreatic cancer. We grew even closer from that shared experience. We both felt honoured to have spent that time with my father, who, despite being in pain and hallucinating from his condition, displayed utter peace at being so close to dying. He was praying that God would take him and he had incredible faith right until his last breath.

If my son had moved out a year ago I would not have coped as well as what I have, because I was still grieving my father. For anyone who has lost someone that close, you know that the acute stage of grief varies. It has been different for each person I’ve lost – my mum when I was 24, my sister when I was 45 and my dad when I was 52. But eventually it becomes easier to bear. So in no way do I feel that my son moving out is in any way as bad as losing someone who has died. I still see my son as he’s only 20 minutes drive away. But it won’t be the same without our daily walks, cooking sessions and nightly banter at the dinner table.

My pets keep me company as I write
My pets keep me company as I write

How Has Your Empty Nest Impacted You?

I’d love to hear from you, my readers – how was the empty nest for you? What helped you to adjust to the gap left in your life? Do you still miss your children or are you enjoying the freedom of not having dependents at home? My immediate way to adjust was to clean out his room and turn it into a study for me. A space where I can write freely without interruption, and decorate it according to my taste, in soothing colours. I write surrounded by my pets who are great company.

If you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy:

Continue Reading

You may also like