Category Archives: Urban Homestead

Backyard Chickens, Honey Bees, Gardening.

Potato Tower!

Grow lots of potatoes is a small space with this tower method. It was super easy and fun. Continue reading

Sick Chicken

I can’t begin to tell you how happy I am to see this girl up and foraging around the yard. Two weeks ago, we thought she was a goner. Continue reading

Kale Harvest and Storage

It is the middle of the growing season and time to harvest the kale. When I worked in public accounting we called tax season “harvest time!” I am happy to say this harvest is much more fun and healthier.

We’ve been eating it every morning for quite some time. We have kept the kale from flowering by cutting the center stems. This also helped to make the plants bushier, with lots of tender, small leaves. Continue reading

Road to Early Retirement

I am on the road to early retirement.  It is something I have been motivated for since was 19 years old when I read “Rich Dad Poor Dad,” by Robert Kiyosaki.  I started my first Roth IRA at the age of 19 with $500.  I was so proud that I told everyone I just save $10,000 towards my retirement! When they looked at me like I was crazy until I explained that the $500 I invested today will be worth $10,000 when I retire.

While I’m not retired yet, I believe there are 5 easy things everyone can do to get on the road to early retirement.

#1 – Start Saving Young

Have you heard of the time value of money or compounding interest?  These are the two reason you must start saving for retirement at the earliest possible age and the reason why I started at age 19.  Let me explain…

What is the time value of money?  It is the reality that one dollar today will not be equal to one dollar in the future.  This is why you must invest your money.  You cannot simply leave it in a savings account or under your mattress because it won’t be worth as much later.

You must start an investment account. This account can be an employer sponsored 401k or 403b. It can also be  Roth IRA or Traditional IRA.  You might be confused about what the best place to start an investment account is, unsure of what type of account or fearful of investing in the risky stock market.  You might let this confusion prevent you from getting started, but don’t!

You must start as early as possible because of compounding interest.  Compounding interest is earning interest and investment gains ON your interest and investment gains!  Over time, these earnings will grow exponentially.  This is how my $500 at age 19 will equal $10,000 at age 65! Click here for an easy to use calculator.

#2 – Increase Savings Over Time

I started contributing to the company 401k plan on the very first day my company allowed me to.  I started with $50 per month. It doesn’t seem like a lot. It was only $25 per paycheck, which is less than a weekly habit of Starbucks coffee.  Starting with just $50 per month is over $500 per year…which as we just noted above can be more than $10,000 by retirement. Then, with every annual wage increase, I increased the amount I contributed it toward retirement.  I did this with each wage increase before I got used to the new higher income level.

#3 – Pay Yourself First

One of the best reasons to contribute to a company 401k plan is because it is deducted from your paycheck automatically.  There are other benefits such as tax savings and possible employer matching of contributions, but the best reason is because you are paying yourself first!  If you don’t have a company retirement plan, you should set up an account credit union. Credit Unions generally offer better interest rates and lower fees than a bank.

When you set up an automatic payment plan, you never see the money in your account.  Then, whatever is in your account, you are free to spend without any guilt.  I remember my mom always told me to save 10% of my money for college but that was so difficult to do on my own.  I couldn’t do it consistently and I felt guilty whenever I didn’t.  I’ve decided I don’t have time for guilt anymore. I’ve created a plan and that is good. GO ME!

#4 – Create Secondary or Passive Income

I enjoy my job but I enjoy earning money by doing hobbies or by doing nothing, which is even better! When you earn money on hobbies, it is income for doing what you love. When you earn money by doing nothing, it is called passive income.  Passive income is taxed differently, but that is a topic for another day…do not get bogged down in the details.

This blog is my first attempt at hobby income. It isn’t purely about making money. I am enjoying sharing and documenting my journey through life. I feel like I am at the happiest point in my life that I’ve ever been and I believe my neighbors upon me shouting it from the rooftops! Currently I’m accumulating hobby losses, please click through my links and buy something on Amazo, post comments or share me on Facebook. I encourage you to think about what you enjoy doing and then think about how you can make money at it.  If you like art, how do you get in a gallery? If you like crafts, how do you get a table at a craft fair?  If you like gardening, how do you open a roadside stand or get a table at the local farmers market?

My passive income strategy is rental properties. Instead of buying a house, we bought a duplex. There are several advantages to this. We lived in one side and rented the other. The rental income paid half of our mortgage payment for us. It was also easy to manage because we were right there to take care of things. I know this might not be what you dreamed of, but see the 5th top below for more reasons why this works! This will also provide income monthly when we finally do retire.

#5 – Live Below Your Means

My last bit of advice is to live below your means and to embrace and be proud of it.  This means you cannot try to compete with your friends. It means you never incur credit card debt that you cannot pay off monthly. Most importantly, living below your means is buying a smaller and less expensive house than the bank approved you for.

There is no reason why we need the mini-mansions that developers are calling starter homes these days.  Our family of four lives comfortably in 1,200 square feet.  Why do I need a bigger house, when my family loves being together anyway? I can’t think of anything worse than cleaning 3 bathrooms that barely get used and vacuuming carpets that only have pet hair on them.

Another reason to buy a smaller house is because your mortgage payment is smaller too! You don’t want to be house rich and cash poor.

Living in a smaller house also means we buy less stuff. We buy less clothing because we don’t have unlimited storage space. We buy less furniture because we have fewer rooms to furnish. We buy less electricity because there are fewer rooms to heat and light. You get the idea!

The last reason is diversification.  This is a point emphasized in Rich Dad Poor Dad.  If all of your money is tied up in your house, you cannot diversify your investments.  Diversification means to invest in multiple opportunities and therefore reduce your risk that one of them will lose value. Until 2008, people thought that real estate doesn’t lose value. After nearly a decade, we can’t be sure the real estate market won’t dive again. So do NOT put all of your eggs in one basket…unless you’re gathering them from my backyard. These ladies just like to hide their eggs from us so that every day is an Easter egg hunt!

I knew I could get an urban farm picture in this post!

Alright, well go get started now if you haven’t already.  Please let me know if you have any questions or feedback.


Backyard Chickens

I love raising chickens in the back yard.  I think everyone should do it.  These lovely ladies are good friends. Here are three quick reasons why I love my chickens.

Reason One: They have made my back yard greener! They roam free during the day and have completely cleared my yard of dandelions. They leave fertilizer where ever they go so the grass is greener than ever. They love digging around the yard with their big feet which gives the soil air and keeps weeds at bay in my flowerbeds.

Reason Two: They eat all of our leftovers!  Here they are eating some tomatoes that were too ripe for me.  We feed them everything from the fridge, except chicken because that would just be weird. Chickens will eat everything you eat. They eat vegetables and fruit, no matter how ripe.  They won’t eat the peels…because you wouldn’t eat the peels!  They do love to eat the seeds from cantaloupe or squash, when I’ve cleaned it out for the family to eat.  I wonder how much garlic I would have to feed them to get garlicky scrambled eggs?

Reason Two (continued): I did say they eat all of our leftovers…below they are having a little leftover pizza.  I don’t feed fatty foods to them often, but they love a good slice of pizza every now and then.  Who doesn’t?

Reason Three: They make me laugh! One day I was looking for Speedy (my son named her).  Speedy is our escape artist.  She likes to go over the house to escape to our front yard garden.  We didn’t know it at the time, but Speedy is a perfect name for her.  Anyway, we found Speedy in the little green house (see below) we constructed to protect our kale from winter frost. The look on her face when she knew she was busted was priceless.

I also love feeding them blueberries and watching them run to get them first. My second favorite treat for them is a string cheese.  I toss small strings out and the ladies grab them and run. The cheese dangles from their beak, while the other chickens try to snatch it away from them.

Reason Four: I know I only said three, but here is a bonus.  Their eggs taste amazing.  Our chickens spend most of their time looking for bugs and worms. This foraging diet is high in protein and make their eggs a deep yellow color and an amazing rich flavor.  Plus, we have an Easter Egg hunt every day when they find fun little places under bushes or tall grass to lay their eggs in.