To ascertain how much money you will need to live on, you first need to work out how much you spend now. Obviously you will not be spending money on food bills, but you should take into account other outgoings such as council tax, utility bills and money for emergencies, such as medical care for you and your family and veterinary care for you animals.
Before you embark on your self-sufficient life, you must get all of your finances in order. Make sure all of your outstanding debts are paid and look at your household bills to work out how much you will have to pay each month. It’s a good idea to pay off your mortgage before you become self-sufficient to avoid the monthly chore of paying it. Also, if you can afford the initial cost, invest in a wind turbine or a set of solar panels. This will dramatically reduce your monthly outgoings; hopefully rendering electricity bills a thing of the past (you may even find the National Grid pays you for the surplus electricity you generate).
Add up bills such as council tax and utility bills such as water (will you be using main water? If not, you won’t have to pay a water rate). Look at each monthly bill and see how you can reduce it – for example switch to electricity instead of gas and use your wind turbine to generate it.
If you drive, consider how much you need to use your car, and if you can manage to live without it. If not, think about switching to a diesel engine and running it off hydrogenated oil (recycled vegetable fat). You will also need to pay car tax, insurance and maintenance costs, so factor these into your yearly outgoings.
Food and Clothing
Living a self-sufficient lifestyle should mean that you grow all of your own fruit and vegetables. However, there are some things you cannot grow, such as tea, coffee, sugar and rice. Work out how much you spend on these every month, and consider setting up an arrangement with your local shop owner, who may be willing to swap a bag of sugar for half a dozen eggs.
You should also be prepared for poor harvests. A particularly wet or dry summer can wreak havoc on the vegetable plot, and you may find you have to turn to buying some food items if your harvest has been poor.
Obviously you will not have the same budget for clothes shopping as you had when you were in full time employment, but you will find you will not need to buy so many clothes. You will need plenty of old clothes to wear for working in the garden, and many other items can be made yourself, or bought from a charity shop at a fraction of their original price. However, you should still have a budget to buy clothes even if just for the basics.
If you keep animals, you will need to pay for their food and bedding, unless you grow it yourself. The cost each month will depend on the type of animal and how many you have. You will also need to set aside an amount for any unplanned veterinary costs if your animals become ill.
A self sufficient lifestyle doesn’t require as much money as your current working life does, which probably involves travel costs to work, buying food to both cook at home and eat on the go, and clothes to wear for work. However, there will be some bills that won’t go away, and you should save money to pay for these, or sell some of your produce to pay for them.