I talked about in a previous article about how permaculture applies to more than just gardening. I want to go into that idea a little more, and talk about debt and finances.
Yeah, I know, money is a sensitive subject, but everyone wants more.
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So let’s talk about the the “climate” we’re working in.
Based on the 2010 Census, the total U.S. consumer debt is almost 2.4 trillion, which is about $7,800 for every person in the U.S. About 1/3 is revolving credit, like credit cards and other unsecured debt.
The rest is mostly loans like car, house, and student loans. With the current condition of the real estate market and the record foreclosures, it’s safe to say that we’re worse off now than in 2010.
We as Americans lovelovelove debt. It lets us have things now, and pay for them later. Well, later enough to not really worry about it.
And then pay for them over and over again. How?
Did you know that if you buy a house with a mortgage, it can cost you twice (or so) the purchase price in interest payments? So basically you’re buying one house for the price of two.
Not such a great deal.
So considering this landscape, let’s look at what permaculture principles we can apply to this situation.
Holmgren’s Principles, #5 – Use and value renewable resources and services
Make the best use of nature’s abundance to reduce our consumptive behavior and dependence on non-renewable resources.
With regard to finances, let’s identify the renewable resources and services.
For most people with a job, they are:
- Money from wages
- Time spent working
We can always make more money, but most people have to exchange time to get more money. This is (usually) a linear relationship, so you have to work more to earn more.
In order to value and make the best use of our resources, should we
A. Spend them on needless and wasteful debt? Or
B. On increasing our personal food production and self-reliance.
Don’t use debt
To me the answer is clear: don’t use debt. Avoid it as much as possible.
Debt is like continuing to use synthetic fertilizers to factory-farm a depleted soil.
It does allow you to get something from it, but it also makes the recovery process harder. And it just isn’t possible to continue that way forever.
The one exception I would make for using debt is for a mortgage.
But even for this exception, there are ways to reduce or eliminate the necessity of debt. In the book Mortgage-Free! by Robert L. Roy, he talks about creative ways to avoid a mortgage and gain home ownership without one.
Language Lesson: Incidentally, the word mortgage is from Old French, mort = dead/death + gage = pledge. So basically a death promise.
Yeah, it can kill you if you let it.
Another way to look at it is as though you’re asking to be sold into slavery. The Bible even says that the debtor is slave to the lender.
What about reduce our consumptive behavior and dependence…? If we stop buying stuff we don’t really need (hello China-mart), that will reduce our need for going into debt.
Why? Because we’ll have more money to spend on making our lives and our family’s lives better.
Being able to feed ourselves and produce power and other utilities from our own land is important. This is a large portion of most budgets. Reducing outgoing cash means we can spend non-debt money on furthering our self-reliance, instead of enslaving ourselves deeper in debt.
Here at Rehovot Forest Farm, we’ve bought some land to call our own. The meaning of the Hebrew word Rehovot is “room to expand and flourish”, and that’s what we want. We’ve planted lots of trees, and are working on animals. Slowly we’re learning and getting better at permaculture homesteading!
To get more ideas for creative ways to reduce and eliminate debt, here’s another book.
I’ve listened to several interviews with the author and his story is pretty amazing. He was able to “retire” at age 33 after doing the normal consumer thing and getting into debt. Now he does what he wants with his time, and he has freedom.
That’s what I want, I want freedom to pursue my various interests as I see fit. If you want your freedom too, don’t keep selling yourself into slavery, but make a plan to get out of debt.
If you want a course to show you how, I have taken Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University course. It really helped to make a budget and realize where all the money was going. If you don’t do that course, do something!
Make budget, reduce your expenses, and increase your income. It’s simple, but not easy.
Take a step towards financial independence today!
OK, that’s all folks! Do you have any questions or comments about more practical applications of permaculture? Ask your question down below and let’s talk! You can also use the contact form, or email me at info at thepermaculture dot life.
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