How are you "making do"?

Amanda Witman
By Amanda Witman on Mon, Aug 26, 2013 - 12:01pm

I came across an article I wrote here a couple of years back, called Making Do.  In it, I wrote about my old house, which did not seem to have been designed with resilient living in mind at all.  I lived there for 9 years and then moved, but for most of that time I truly thought I would not have the means to relocate, and I spent a lot of time thinking about how to make do right there with what I had.

I would like to hear other people's stories.  User paranoid posted in the general forms with a question about possibly building resilience with a camper or trailer home on a piece of land, if one cannot afford to relocate to an idea spot for homesteading.  Has anyone tried that?

I think many people, especially in today's economy, are tempted to lament that building resilience is just not possible without a chunk of money that we don't already have.  I even have moments where I fall prey to the belief that some cash would make things a heck of a lot easier.  No doubt it would, but that doesn't mean I am off the hook.  We still owe it to ourselves and our families to continue increasing our resilience in whatever ways are possible. 

I love this quote, attributed to Theodore Roosevelt:  Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.

It's a worthy challenge.

How are you "making do" and building resilience where you are?  Go ahead, feel free to first complain about all the ways in which your current living situation is not ideal.  It is good to be able to commiserate with others, if only so we know that we're not uniquely qualified to moan and groan.  W

But then tell us what creative ways you are finding to get around the limitations of your situation.  Even if the steps you are able to take toward greater resilience seem small to you they are still valid, and most likely they will open the minds of others who would not have thought of the possibility.

Go ahead, inspire us -- tell us about your situation and how you are making do!


Mike Dill's picture
Mike Dill
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Nov 8 2009
Posts: 28
Being more resiliant in Las Vegas, Nevada

Las Vegas is one of the last places in the world for resiliency. Average rainfall is three inches a year, temperatures in summer average well above 110F for some months. Not much grows within about a hundred miles of here. Everything is trucked or flown in.

I have a reasonably good job that keeps me here. How do I become more resilient?

I have moved closer to my job, which reduces my commute, and if required I can walk to work. I have purchased a bicycle, which is good exercise, and can eliminate my use of the car if required.

With the purchase of my house, I decided that I could put some solar panels on my roof, which gets me a current return of about 8% a year on my investment. Not great, but it is there for the next twenty-five to thirty years and reduces my exposure to increases in the electric rate, which is not predicted to decrease.

I have built up my pantry, so that I have about three months of food stored, and I have a two month supply of water. If an emergency here is going to last longer than that I will need to go somewhere else, as will ALL the two million people who live here.

 I have paid off my cars, and will have my house paid off in another two years. While I would like a new car, the old ones still run, and the cost of running them is still less than a new car payment, even if the new cars would be more efficient. When they cost more than they are worth I will (hopefully) be able to replace them.

I still have a problem getting anything to grow here, but that is more due to my gardening habits than the environment. Some things will not grow, and if there is a water shortage, there might not be enough to support much in any case. Some people local are able to grow things besides cactus, which is the current limit to my skills.

Are there more things that I can do? I think so, but let me know what you think.

Wendy S. Delmater's picture
Wendy S. Delmater
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 13 2009
Posts: 1988
Welcome, Mike

It sounds like you've made great progress on things like getting out of debt and cutting your exposure to things requiring fossil fuels. Those were my first steps, too, when I realized how badly things will change in the near future.

It's rough being stuck in a place you consider less than optimal due to your job being there. Until a few years ago I was stuck on Long Island because I had a job in New York City, so I know how that feels. Only I was a renter which might have given me some mobility but made it impossible to do things like cutting certain expenses. I had like two weeks worth of an emergency pantry, a month tops. You've done better, but you have a secure base for sheltering in place for a short-term crisis. You stated that you'd need a place to go if things get really bad. Do you have one? I had relatives 300 miles away, which stank but was better than nothing.

I now live in a hot climate--South Carolina--albeit a more humid one.

My main expertise here at Peak Prosperity is gardening. You're right, the dessert is a rotten place to try and grow your own food. You will need to invest in a drip irrigation and mulch, and will be severly limited in the things you can grow, but there are plants adapted to that biosphere. Native Americans like the Pueblo managed to grow enough to live on in similar climates so it can be done.

A few other thoughts. One thing you have in Vegas is lots of sun.  You say you have "some" solar panels on the roof. Don't be too sad if you have not put up a lot of solar panels yet; there are huge innovations in solar panels that will make installing more of them cheaper on a Kwh basis. However.... The ROI (return on investment) for solar hot water is much quicker than for solar electricity. Much quicker. You might also want to consider eco foil reflective insulation for your attic - we spent $250 on eco foil and lowered our air conditioning bill by 30% a month. We also put in a solar-powered attic fan for about $750 including installation.

Meaganhowland's picture
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 9 2013
Posts: 1
Very helpful

Hi Wendy-- thank you for your helpful reply to Mike. Your suggestions were a great help to me. We currently live in the country in Kentucky. I feel very lost as to where to begin in resiliency. The attic insulation and fan would help us a lot! We have started to learn to garden; this is our second year. I was so thankful when Chris Martinson said it's about a five year learning curve.  Every year we learn new important lessons. We have a cow and several other farm animals including dozens of chickens. Being way out in the country it's  impossible to get rid of our car and since it's a suburban I feel horrible every time I drive it. I would love to put in a well and a wind mill and solar panels, but these things all requirement cash I can't part with right now. We are focusing on trying to pay off the house. Currently we have trees ready to plant for fruit orchard. Do you have any suggestions about the best way to do this? I'm a city girl and my husband is also from the city. We are spending a lot of money on mistakes. Any suggestions you can help with we would greatly appreciate!

Thrivalista's picture
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 5 2011
Posts: 60
A Las Vegas Neighbor Who's Growing Lots of Food

Mike, you might also see what your "neighbor" in Vegas is growing, and very frugally, too:

She's starting seeds for fall/winter crops now, I believe.

aggie74's picture
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 7 2013
Posts: 9
Making do on a budget with a solar backup generator

Hi Amanda...I live in a 50 year old cabin in the mountains and am short on money but high on creativity. I had a solar eval and was told no go but replace all appliances so they are efficient.  Did that.  Then started dehydrating meats and veggies to get rid of one freezer...did that with the help of a bear this summer that pulled over and ruined the second freezer. 

I have now purchased an 1800w solar generator not to power the house but to power individual appliances as needed when (not if) we have an extended power outage. Sort of like "heat the person not the room".  So, I can use it selectively to power my microwave (I can heat a damp washcloth for 25 seconds for a sponge bath), operate my satellite radio boombox to get  news and entertainment, run an LED light or selectively run my freezer then fridge to keep food from going bad.  One appliance at a time just to get by.

My hot water heater is a long way from my bathroom, so I use the MW now to heat my washcloth to wash my face.  I am trying to think of ways every day to trim things down.  Have you tried the cornbag yet? 




Hladini's picture
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 28 2011
Posts: 83
Creative Housing

Just started "waking up" in 2008 - after getting myself into massive debt, thinking my little law office was going to grow forever.  Bottomed out in 2012, had drag of 2 or more children sort of mooching for last 10 years, and had a fire that burned me out of my home and office in 2010!

Watched the Crash Course two years ago - the end of 2011.  Immediately started farming (my response to watching the Crash Course).  Since then, have negotiated a 15 year lease/option-to-purchase on my home with special terms and conditions:  I live in the mother-in-law suite (a perfect 750 sq.ft. efficiency apartment) with a life long lease in the apartment and 5 acres of land to farm.  I pay the second mortgage, 1/2 the property taxes and 1/3 of the homeowner's insurance.  Renter pays first mortgage, half of property taxes and 2/3 of insurance.  We split the pest control and maintenance on the well and septic.  Any future sale of the property is subject to my life-long lease. 

The renter, btw, is a dear friend of 20 years and we have a solid history of successful business ventures together.

I am just crazy about this deal!

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Login or Register to post comments