“If you’re remarkable, it’s likely that some people won’t like you. That’s part of the definition of remarkable. Nobody gets unanimous praise – ever. The best the timid can hope for is to be unnoticed. Criticism comes to those who stand out.” — Seth Godin
I totally agree with that quote. Those that stick out get criticized at first. Then the world slowly realizes that this person might be more interesting than they though.
The other day I shared Angelo’s story of how he’s totally dominating his finances in high school. Angelo is back by popular demand!
Welcome back Angelo!
Why didn’t you just attend the high school beside your home like we all do?
When the time came for me to start high school, my family wasn’t impressed with the local options. They wanted a place where I could get individualized attention, quality education and a unique experience.
We were desperately looking everywhere because it was starting to get late into August. We started considering homeschooling, but then a family friend told us where they were sending their son.
We got the information and were impressed with the program as well as the tuition rate and other expenses.
[Read up on how to graduate college debt-free!]
I sent in an application and two weeks later I boarded a plane to Kalispell, Montana.
Then what happened when you arrived at your unconventional high school?
When I got there, I was surprised to find a family who had been living totally off the grid with all of the conveniences of modern life that they wanted. It was nothing like I had ever seen before in my life.
My school program is kind of like a homeschooling experience away from home.
It’s on a forty acre piece of prime wilderness property overlooking the mountains in Glacier National Park. We have a pretty cold winter with lots of snow which means awesome snowboarding!
What’s the story behind your school?
My teacher and his wife decided when they got married that they weren’t going to follow the same life-route that everyone else did. They loved nature and the thought of living a country lifestyle where they could raise their family. They wanted to be independent of society and to be financially free.
They set a goal for themselves and were willing to do whatever it would take to accomplish it.
Teachers by trade, they got jobs at a school in Southern California where they worked and lived for about five years on one salary. They saved the other’s salary for their property. After five years, they found their property in Montana and paid the whole price so that they owned it free and clear. They feel strongly against debt. The property they chose had millions of dollars worth of resources on it. There were ten gravity fed springs, virgin timber and flat spots for gardening as well as some hills. The view of the mountains would make any million drool.
They worked another three years to save the money they needed to build their home and then quit their jobs. When they moved to their property full time they started building their house themselves with the help of their neighbors and friends. They saved a lot of money doing this because they chose quality material and made quality lumber with their chainsaw mill. They also didn’t have to pay for someone else’s labor.
After their home was built, they started working the land to produce gardens and firewood. It took a lot of work because the Rockies aren’t exactly prime farming country especially with the cold winters that can get as cold as 40 degrees below zero. Almost forty years later, they have a well developed garden that grows all the produce they need to live on and two large winter greenhouses that house their fifteen fruit trees so they won’t die in the winter.
The 10 springs provide their water, plumbing and irrigation for their gardens. They have a couple small pools in their solarium and a fountain in their circle driveway that pumps 10,000 gallons of new water which ends up in their pond. They don’t have to pay it for since the water comes out on their land and goes back into the ground on their land.
All of the facilities are heated with wood. This includes cooking and water heating. The Mrs. has a wood stove in her kitchen that they recovered from an old homestead cabin in the area that she cooks all of the meals on.
All of the buildings where people live have water tanks that have been welded on to wood burning stoves. To heat the building and the water for showers, swimming and cooking, simply throw a few logs in the firebox with some diesel starter and light a match.
How did the actual school form?
After they built their home and had a daughter, some former students contacted them and were curious if they would tutor them. The word soon got around and before they knew it, they started taking teens into their home and have been running a high school program ever since.
After thirty years, they will be retiring soon and will consequentially will be closing the school.
This couple devised a plan to become financially independent that involved living an active life in nature and working the land.
It took a lot of hard work to get started and it still does take a lot of work to maintain it, but they have vowed to live there until the day that they die. They plan on being buried there too!
They save so much money because they have no utilities. They provide their own electricity using the gravity fed water to run a small hydroelectric powerhouse. All of their plumbing needs are provided for by the springs. They have a continuous supply of firewood and lumber in the wood on their property. Groceries are never a necessity. They could live on what they grow indefinitely. Although they go to the grocery store for oranges, avocados and bananas, they will never be dependent on anyone for their basic needs.
By running the small school program, they have been able to provide a steady income for themselves. When school is out, they make plenty of money working for neighbors that can’t do what they can do. Keep in mind, this couple has a daughter in her thirties and just got on Medicare. They keep active to live so they are physically capable to do a whole lot more than others their age.
They have taken advantage of the financial opportunities that the government offers as well. Because they run their own business, they turn a lot of what they make in for business expenses and maintaining the facilities which just so happens to be his home. Since he doesn’t need a whole lot to live on, he doesn’t need to earn a whole lot. This worked great when his daughter was still living at home because he could claim the earned income credit that government gives to low income families. He tells me all the time “the government can’t tax your carrots, figs, potatoes and firewood.”
The produce you grow anyway is better than the stuff you pay for in the store anyway.
He has also put money away in various retirement accounts such as roth IRAs. Their biggest investment has been the land.
The school program teaches us all of this. It involves your normal school subjects such as Algebra, Geometry, Physics, English and Economics.
In addition to the traditional curriculum, we also have a physical work program that involves helping them maintain the gardens, buildings and forests.
We always joke with them that they have figured out how to get people to pay to work for them. As far as physical education goes we have annual camping and raft trips in Glacier National Park, frequent hiking trips all over the area and snowboarding every week in the winter.
With all of this going on, I don’t have the time to worry about using the Internet, not to mention the hassle it takes to just get cell phone reception. I get all the internet usage I need when I’m home. It’s hard to get into trouble when you are so far out like we are. We are sixty miles from the nearest town.
At the end of day, I’ve learned that you just need a few essential things to live. It’s fine to have conveniences, but not allow them to take over your life.
Sometimes we need to ask ourselves if the things that we want are worth the stress at work, the taxes we pay on the money and the time that we could spend doing a whole lot more with our life.
I think that everyone needs sit and think about the time that they have left to live. Most likely, the bulk of us will live into our seventies or eighties. If you’re eighteen like me, that’s maybe sixty or so years to live and thirty to forty years to work. What do you want to do with that time you’ve got left?
Any final thoughts, Angelo?
I know that this is a financial blog, but if you look at finances from the big picture of life and think about the impact it makes on us now, we should realize that it should only be a part of life and not the consuming factor of it.
The goal of this blog anyway is to get to a free financial state.
Because when you get to be financially free, you’ll be free to do all the things in the world that you want to do. My generation of millennials needs to realize that we don’t need everything right now and that we don’t need everything that we see.
I’ve found that the less that we have, the better off we will be.