This is a guest article by Laurie, a wife, mother to four, and homesteader who blogs about personal finance, self-sufficiency and life in general over at The Frugal Farmer, winner of the Fifth Annual Plutus Award for Best Green/Sustainability Blog. Part witty, part introspective and part silly, her goal in blogging is to help others find their way to financial freedom, and to a simpler, more peaceful life. In this article, she shares her family’s story and the background that led to The Frugal Farmer.

Laurie

We launched The Frugal Farmer near the end of December 2012. Earlier that month, we’d come to the realization that our debt had gotten WAY out of hand. For the first time in our lives, we sat down and calculated our debt numbers and our debt-to-income ratio. It was not pretty.

It was a time of great change in our lives; we’d recently sold our mini-mansion in the suburbs in order to buy a small hobby farm. We wanted peace — a more simple life. We didn’t understand the whys and hows at the time; we only knew that city living was stressing us out. We moved into our hobby farm in October 2012, and the weight that was lifted off of our shoulders was more than noticeable.

It was at that point we began being able to dissect why that weight was there in the first place. Years of working our tails off to keep up with the Joneses had taken a toll, both on our finances and our emotions. We didn’t see it before, but being out in the country, away from it all, made us realize how hard we had worked to fit in with the Joneses in our upscale suburban community. We bought what others had, went where others went, did what others did, all in the name of “being successful” and “fitting in.”

After 15 years of this, we were just plain tired, and no wonder!

The Frugal Farmer

Moneywise, we always did… okay. We’d wrack up debt, and then pay it off. Then we’d do it again. Then Rick got laid off from his failing company in the beginning of 2010. We made it through the layoff fine with unemployment and savings, until he got a job in September of that same year. The job he got, although with a great company, only offered to pay him 80% of his former pay.

He took the job, and we foolishly declared that we would simply make up for the income loss by using our credit cards until he got enough raises to move up to his former wage. Without a budget or a spend-tracking plan, as you can imagine, those credit card balances skyrocketed as we justified purchase upon purchase as a necessity.

Soon the balances were way out of control, but we didn’t know, look or care, until we moved to the farm and our minds became clear enough to see the mess for what it was. And boy, what a mess it was.

So our goal became to simplify our lives as much as possible. We began living with a more minimalist, self-sufficient mindset, and we began learning how to live like fiscally responsible adults. This was no easy task. Neither one of us had much experience with managing money responsibly. We simply spent.

Mind you, we weren’t living lives of luxury. Our debt was nearly all nickel and dime stuff: a stop at a drive through here, a few things at the big box store there.

We started The Frugal Farmer as a way to stay accountable, to chronicle our journey out of debt and into a more simplified life, and to inspire others to leave the rat race — at least from an emotional standpoint — and start living life in a way that truly brought them peace and joy. Our readers have been with us through our ups and downs, our mistakes and our victories. We are still learning about what it takes to manage money properly, live simply and make the necessary sacrifices so that our family can have debt freedom and, eventually, financial independence.

Without the hard work of the hundreds of awesome personal finance bloggers that share their wisdom on the Net and gather at FinCon every year, we certainly wouldn’t be where we are today. Our debt isn’t gone yet, but it’s going. And thanks to the personal-finance blogging community, we’ve gone from blogging newbies to impactful, successful bloggers and freelancers.

When we won our Plutus Award for Best Sustainability Blog in 2014, it was a confirmation for us that we are indeed making an impact and helping others, which was a major goal of ours when we began our blog over two years ago.

The Frugal Farmer

Our goal now regarding blogging is to continue to inspire others, dump our debt, and learn to emulate the many fine mentors in the personal finance blogging world, inspiring others to keep chasing their dreams and achieving their goals.

The biggest lesson we’ve learned? Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t achieve your dreams. With a solid plan and the willingness to persevere, you can indeed have success.

Thanks to Laurie for sharing the origins of The Frugal Farmer. If you would like to share your blog’s origin story, contact Luke.


15 Comments

Brian @ Luke1428 · February 23, 2015 at 10:19 am

Thanks for sharing your story Laurie. Your journey is really inspiring. No doubt you will continue to be an encouragement to many. Keep up the great work!

Laurie @thefrugalfarmer · February 23, 2015 at 3:18 pm

Thanks much, Luke, for letting us share our story, and thanks for heading up such a great program in the Plutus Awards!

Sabrina | Frugal Italian Family · February 23, 2015 at 3:42 pm

Hi! We are working hard in order to pay our debt and achieve our dreams. You and all the other financial bloggers are so an inspiration to us! Thanks to you we have understood that we can change our life! 🙂

Tonya@Budget and the Beach · February 23, 2015 at 4:46 pm

Yay pictures (although I still want to see more!)! All I had of what your hobby farm looked like was from my imagination, being that I live in a totally different world. I’m glad you made the right decision for you and your family!

Prudence Debtfree · February 23, 2015 at 9:48 pm

Laurie, you certainly have had an impact. What a pleasure to read your background story. Even after reading so many of your posts, this gave me a broader perspective on your journey. It has so much in common with ours – and no doubt with millions of others. If you can change your course, it gives the rest of us hope in changing ours. Very cool to see your picture too : ) All the best as you move forward!

Jason @ Islands of Investing · February 24, 2015 at 7:16 am

Awesome to read this background to your story Laurie! I’ve often joked to my wife that we should go and live somewhere far away on a hill, away from the craziness of the crowd, and so inspiring to see what you and your family have done to create the life you really want. Also second Tonya’s comments about the pictures! Amazing how these pics really bring your background to life! I look forward to reading more of your inspiring articles and seeing you achieve the life you want for your family!

Brian @ Debt Discipline · February 24, 2015 at 9:09 am

Great story Laurie! Looking forward to continuing to following your journey!

Jayleen @ How Do The Jones Do It · February 24, 2015 at 12:42 pm

It’s interesting how the move to the hobby farm made you realize just how much weight you were carrying trying to keep up. Sometimes we don’t realize how much we are a product of our environment. It was good to hear more of your story, Laurie. Thank you for sharing!

Done by Forty · February 24, 2015 at 12:51 pm

Great stuff, Laurie. Yours is one of the really different blogs out there. Needless to say, I love it.

Gen Y Finance Guy · February 25, 2015 at 2:09 pm

Great and inspiring story. Keep up the good work.

Cheers!

Mrs. Frugalwoods · February 26, 2015 at 10:14 am

I love your story, Laurie! Also, I’m loving the photos, but I’m with Tonya, I want to see more! I think it’s just awesome that you and Rick have turned your financial lives around. So inspiring, especially to an aspiring homesteader like me ;).

The Phroogal Jason · February 27, 2015 at 12:39 am

Great story Laurie. I know the feeling of the yoyo debt relationship. Get into it and get out of it to get into it and so forth. Drastic changes needed to happen.

Thanks for sharing your story again with all of us in the personal finance blog world.

kay ~ lifestylevoices.com · February 27, 2015 at 3:46 pm

Now that was fun! Your story is inspirational. Debt is like weight gain – you just try so hard to ignore it, and then suddenly it’s staring you in the face and you have “no idea how it happened”. And it’s true. You really don’t, because you really can’t see it under that comforter of denial. Love your story Laurie! Keep on being the awesome homesteader we all know and love and aspire to be like! 🙂

Kendra Diaz · October 7, 2015 at 7:31 am

Living in a small hobby farm truly brings peace and joy. My cousin and his wife moved to a farm and they explained this step as the most important thing in their lives. I am going to show him your article. He will be so glad that there are other people like them. Best regards!

How Moving From the Suburbs to the Country Changed our Lives - The Frugal FarmerThe Frugal Farmer · February 23, 2015 at 7:19 am

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