We have been financially independent for four years now. In that time we have not rested on our laurels. We have changed country and renovated an old farmhouse.
We continue to use our financial independence free time for multiple challenging projects. The main ones being:
- Make our farmhouse as resilient as possible.
- Setup our own businesses
- Continue our family education on diverse topics.
I touched on a few of the things we have been working on in my last post Fragiliska Part 2.
In this post (and subsequent posts) I am going to talk about Permaculture - living as local and sustainability as possible. I am going to relate this back to financial independence and its resilience. I will cover why I believe the two should go hand in hand.
Why Permaculture?As part of our financial independence journey we drove down our cost of living relentlessly. We really enjoyed it. It helped us realise how wasteful we actually were..... and still continue to be.
These cost savings have freed up our cash to have more fun, Able to buy useful items and entertainment, invest more, set up a business, education and our house. We have split our money between these areas and are currently focusing on one in particular - Permaculture.
Why? Permaculture aligns with our values of healthy living, an outdoor lifestyle, driving down our cost of living and reducing the waste we produce.
What is Permaculture?Permanent - culture is a way of observing our surroundings and using them to provide for our selves with little to no waste. There is no right or wrong way just how you personally want to implement it.
For the purists it may be living off the land with little to no external goods and services. For us it is respecting and using the resources we have available to us.
Permaculture: meeting human needs while preserving and increasing ecosystem health - Rafter Sass-Ferguson
"Integrated, evolving system of perennial or self-perpetuating plant and animal species useful to man" Bill Mollison and David Holmgren
"Consciously designed landscapes which mimic the patterns and relationships found in nature, while yielding an abundance of food, fibre and energy for provision of local needs" - David Holmgren "Permaculture Principles & Pathways Beyond Sustainability"I have included a book list at the end of this article.
Permaculture and Financial IndependenceThankfully a lot of work and research has been carried out to help us understand and implement sustainability changes in our lives.
Permaculture is a way of maximising, whilst using responsibly and sustainably, the resources around us. It encourages trial and error. It is one thing reading about something to actually trying. It takes practise and perseverance to learn how to do it effectively.
This is the same as striving for financial independence. There are plenty of blogs and personal finance websites out there that give ideas on how to do it - what works for you is a bit of trial and error and lots of perseverance.
The financial independence community can learn lots from the permaculture movement. Permaculture has principles covered later in this post that align with good financial management, communication, observation and putting it into practise. Permacultures way of looking at what we have really helps to put in perspective what we actually need to be happy, healthy and sustainable over the long term.
Permaculture is a reflection that our current society is all about material things and energy intensive experiences which we are all aware is unsustainable in the long term. We as human beings are better than the next sugar high, flashy gizmo.
is our personal skills, our thinking processes and our own definitions of happiness. Permaculture teaches us that we already live in abundance in the West so why do we over do it to no real benefit to ourselves. Taking on debt for stuff and never being able to "retire" or have significant free time to ourselves.
Permaculture and usMy main interpretation of Permaculture is that we can be better guardians of the land around us. We stop wasting so many valuable materials by throwing away and buying new. We reduce our reliance on piped in utilities (nuclear, water and gas in our case)
Our family are lucky to have resources to hand which would be irresponsible to ignore. We have good farmland by the house, a water source, fruit trees and hot summers.
We have the local culture of SW France which has been kind enough to take us in. We help neighbours and they help us. We have been given plants, fruit, vegetables and eggs. We have had socialised with them at home and at community events.
The culture is one of market towns and quality fresh produce. Celebration of the harvest. Protection of its heritage (buildings and museums). Love for its language spoken on all of the cafe terraces.
We are in constant trial and error mode. Constantly learning how to re-generate our commercially farmed land. Understanding how to integrate in the local community and be accepted as its members.
What Permaculture is doing for usPermaculture principles are beginning to enrich our lives. From financial, health to mental well being positive changes are happening
- Our base living costs continue to drop
- We are growing quite a bit of our own food and the food miles are just from garden to door.
- We are generating some of our own energy (fire wood, solar water and electricity)
- We are paying less tax (VAT on food and energy)
- We are insulating ourselves from price and tax rises
- We have learnt how to do household repairs ourselves.
- We have spare time to pursue paid work \ our own business ideas aligned with our values
- A large amount of our vegetables and fruit are being grown organically in the garden. They travel all of 10 meters to our table keeping their freshness and nutrients intact.
- Our diet mainly consists of vegetables, pulses, grains, beans and fruit now - there is no cholesterol in vegetables!
- We have to work outdoors a lot. This is regular exercise. I get much more vitamin D from the sun in the process.
Mental Well Being
- The whole family are learning new skills
- We are far more resilient to external shocks (we could quite easily fend for ourselves for 6-12 months).
- We are are far less stressed. We no longer have firm commitments to be at a place of work at a specific time each day or have to do business trips or appraisals.
- Being able to live on less, do a little bit of paid work and continue to save we can be confident in our financial independence.
- We have much more spare time to get our heads in order. Appreciate the world around us and play.
Reducing our living costs is prosperity. It reduces complexity in our lives. It reduces our need for money and a large "pension pot" to buy stuff and services that we can provide for ourselves at little monetary cost.
It is not all about the money.Money makes your life comfortable but after a point it introduces opulence into your life. Opulence is not a good thing for yourself and especially when raising kids.
From a personal standpoint opulence can be about showing off, living beyond your means, having negative traits and thoughts. Engaging in non productive activities.
As for the impact on kids - being brought up with everything on a plate is a huge dis-service to them. Core skills such as having grit and determination, inquisitiveness, creativity and thoughtfulness are not nurtured. Ignoring the importance of these skills will keep them dependent on the system and will reduce their ability to achieve their dreams.
I have unfortunately seen this with several people I have met down the years where they have been mollycoddled all their lives. As a result, in my opinion, lacked any sort of drive or questioning of the way the world works. They live average lives, in debt, servitude to a job and the bank instilling the same traits in their children, surrounding them by "entertainment" junk. Engaging them in "entertainment activities". Hardly developing skills to excel in life that are valued by others.
Instead of buying junk or thrills we are using our ability so save and re-invest 40% of our passive income in our projects and our kids. Our goal is to be productive everyday - not wasting our valuable and limited time on trivial activities.
Engaging in productive activities is far more challenging, beneficial and satisfying - "I did that!". This approach is providing a real world education to our kids and skills that are valued by others such as honesty, grit \ perseverance, problem solving, manners and inquisitiveness.
We are protecting them from passivity, being beholden to technology, false opinions, the out of date education system and the media scaremongering. They are being taught to be free standing individuals capable of achieving their dreams and.... Permaculture Principles fit nicely with this outlook on life.
"When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years."
Permaculture PrinciplesA set of permaculture principles has been laid out in the book “Permaculture Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability” by David Holmgren co-originator of the Permaculture Concept. I highly recommend the book as it is a high level thinking approach to living and observing the world around us. The overview of the principles are as follow:
- Observe and Interact – Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder
- Catch and Store Energy – Make hay while the sun shines
- Obtain a yield – You can’t work on an empty stomach
- Apply Self-regulation and accept Feedback – The sins of the fathers are visited on the children unto the seventh generation
- Use and Value Renewable Resources and Services – Let nature take its course
- Produce No Waste – A stitch in time saves nine. Waste not, want not
- Design from Patterns to Details – Can’t see the wood from the trees
- Integrate Rather than Segregate – Many hands make light work
- Use Small and Slow Solutions – The bigger they are, the harder they fall. Slow and steady win the race.
- Use and Value Diversity – Don’t put all your eggs in one basket
- Use Edges and Value the Marginal – Don’t think you are on the right track just because it is well beaten
- Creatively Use and Respond to Change – Vision is not seeing things as they are but as they will be
Most of these principles can easily be retrofitted to financial independence principles:
- Observe and Interact – Collect information about your spending habits and learn about finance
- Catch and Store Energy – Have a high savings rate and invest in resilience
- Obtain a yield – Put you hard earned cash to work to create a CASH FLOW. This can be an income investment or something that eliminates your spending.
- Apply Self-regulation and accept Feedback – Track all spending and saving and review on a regular basis. Discuss plans and finances as a family - agree spending plans and the investments you want to make.
- Use and Value Renewable Resources and Services – Continuous personal development information is freely available on the internet, at the library etc. Buy second hand, Freecycle etc.
- Produce No Waste – Ditch wasteful spending (items that will only be used infrequently and are unlikely to be resellable), buy quality, re-usable items such as shopping bags.
- Design from Patterns to Details – What is the detail of your spending, why do you do it and when? Do you need to build new habits (e.g. shopping only once a week) to eradicate bad habits? How do you save and invest? Do you automatically pay your savings account each month. How is the money being invested is it the most cost effective way?
- Integrate Rather than Segregate – be a team player and get involved in as many things as possible, you do not know where they will lead you.
- Use Small and Slow Solutions – invest regularly and do not put your capital at risk (invest in solid companies)
- Use and Value Diversity – Spread your assets around. Different currencies \ countries. Alternative investments (forestry, art, stamps, jewelry, antiques etc.)
- Creatively Use and Respond to Change – What do you think the future will look like? Does this impact your thinking about where and how you should live? What do you think the opportunities for a business are in the future?
Learning about PermacultureWe have been reading up about permaculture for several years and are now in good place to have a really good go at it. I have read the following books:
"Permaculture Principles & Pathways Beyond Sustainability" - David Holmgren
"Permaculture Two" - Bill Mollison
"The Permaculture Way" - Graham Bell
"Permaculture Design - A step-by-step guide" - Aranya
"The Resilient Farm and Homestead" - Ben Falk
"The Market Gardener" - Jean-Martin Fortier
"The Transition Handbook" - Rob Hoskins
"Zen in the Art of Permaculture" - Stefan Geyer
"The new complete book of self-sufficiency" John Seymour
Peace, prosperity and happiness
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