How one family happily lives off the land, making $6,500 a year, and how you can too.
Kevin and Donna Phillip-Johnson were an ordinary, middle class American family making around $42,000 dollars a year. After years of working hard to make ends meet, they decided to realize a longtime dream of living a better life. And they did.
Now, they make $6,500 a year. And they're happier than ever.
In their inspiring story, which they call Thinking Small, the couple documents the road to a low-impact life of self-reliance. With the recession looming large, there's no better time to consider a comfortable, earnest downgrade to a simple greener life. Here's how they did it, and how you can, too.
1. Aim for Self Reliance
Emerson would be proud. The couple made a decision to do whatever they could to support themselves without the aid of others. This meant striving to produce food and building what they could themselves, among other things.
2. Ditch What You Don't Need
For the Philip-Johnsons, that meant a lot: they got rid of cable TV, cell phones, Internet, junk food and credit cards.
3. Head to the Hills
Sorry, city dwellers and city lovers—a plan like this probably isn't going to work if you have to pay rent every month. The Philip-Johnsons moved to the country on a 2.5 acre plot of land they bought on a loan. They built their home themselves while living in a dome tent. Kevin worked a day job while Donna tended the garden, which is an important part of this story... 4. Grow Your Own Food Growing vegetables in a garden, and making your own bread are two key ways to cut costs and stay healthy. Kevin and Donna became adept at both, and began surviving mostly on food they grew themselves. 5. Compost to Feed the Soil Donna started composting to keep the garden healthy, and to cut down on waste. 6. Find A Natural Trade Once the cabin was finished, Kevin realized commuting to his job wasn't worth it anymore—but they still needed a small income to buy supplies with. At this point, the Phillip-Johnsons had lowered their cost of living to $540 a month, which is far below the poverty line in the US. So they decided to focus on their whole grain bread making, which had developed into a sort of a passion. They found that by selling it in a sort of co-op, they were able to make enough money to stay afloat. 7. Live Sustainable With their trade in place, the couple is now able to live a comfortable, rewarding life off the fat o' the land. Their ecological footprint is about as small as any modern human's in the world. As long as they continue to live according to the balance they've created, they'll truly be living sustainably—and cheaply. Pretty impressive, right? Just goes to show, if you've got the guts and dedication, you can still live for cheap in America. And greenly, at that.