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Voluntary Poverty

     Voluntary poverty. Some people think it's a rationalization to avoid hard work. Others view it as knowingly relying on the social welfare systems in place in our country. Others would view it as doing your best to live a life of less impact on both the environment and other people. Somewhere in the gray lies views about self-sufficiency, frugality, and happiness.
     Having lived in Florida almost my whole life, I can tell you that very few people in Florida were born or raised here. Most people have moved from someplace less hospitable to the heat and insects that they forever love to complain about. I have spent much time trying to understand what would make someone leave their family to come to a place that they hate, and the only conclusion that seems worthwhile is the one that says that they came here to have more with less. Taxes in the Northeast being what they are, they can come here and have huge ranch-style abominations, four cars, and spoiled brats that refuse to work hard for the community they now share. I'm not bitter, but it is a phenomenon that needs looking into.
     After working at a difficult and poorly-compensated career for several years, I am proud to say that I have paid off my house. It's not a big house, but it is more than big enough for our needs, which is very different from a person's wants. And I figure that if something happens to me, it will be three years of failed tax payments before we will be homeless.
     Now that shelter is covered, the next biggest expense is transportation. I'm still working on that one. The local transit system is not a far walk, maybe 2/3rds of a mile to the closest bus stop, and much cheaper than the car insurance for your average cheap car. I still use a cheap car at the moment, but that might change someday.
     After shelter and transportation, the next largest expenses are electricity and food/toiletries. Most of electricity is air conditioning. I have halved the air conditioning expense by raising the temperature setting in the house to 83F. It's warm but not actively sweating warm, and much cooler than outside. It's still good to drink plenty of cold water and do all outdoor activities before 10:00 AM. Installing solar water heating and an efficient clothesline system will save even more electricity over the long run.
     Food is a much more difficult expense to cut down. My love of sandwiches has led me to egg-salad, chicken-salad, and tuna-salad as my favorite warm weather foods. Easy to make, cheap, and nutritious. Unfortunately the kid prefers peanut butter and jelly, but sometimes I can talk her into grilled cheese and tomato soup, another cheap, easy, and nutritious meal. The next best way to save money on food is to grow as much of it as possible, and that is a topic for another post.
     People worry about healthcare a lot, and learning about the healthcare system as it stands today and in the future will prevent this anxiety. If you have a small child or a disability (Hmmmmmm?), you qualify for medicaid, provided your income is sufficiently low. Over the age of 65 should qualify for medicare, the cadillac of health plans at the moment, provided you have paid enough income tax to qualify. The most important thing about healthcare is to prevent sickness and injury in the first place, which is not easy or everyone would do it. Sometimes illness happens, and healthcare agencies will work with you to set up a payment plan. They don't mind, believe me. As long as you are paying it, even slowly, they will not put it to collections. And hospitals are unable to deny you critical care based on payment status, but they have been known to transfer patients once stable based on ability to pay. Not such a big deal since the patient still receives the needed care.
Finally part of the 3%. 
     After having recently re-evaluated my life situation, goals have changed somewhat. I still want to take this house off-grid as much as possible, and continue learning about sustainable living. I don't feel the need to slave to buy junk like so many others, and retirement savings seem not as important since it's so cheap to live here. Obviously having some money is worthwhile, but having a lot of money seems pointless, since the more you earn the more they take, for every category mentioned above.
     Did you know households that are led by a single mother have a 31.6% poverty rate? Are they like minds or deliberately accidentally poor?

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