Live Like in Early 19th Century to Become Debt Free

In my about page, I mentioned I can’t write about how you come out of debt, as I never have been in debt. I am rather, much comfortable in sharing ideas of avoiding debt trap and remaining debt free.

Well, for this article I am going against that stated direction because, when I saw my neighbor fishing at a nearby lake few days back, an idea stuck my mind – What if people in debt start making their own food? The way our great grandparents did in early 19th century, and, adopt their life-style? Will it accelerate debt recovery?

This morning I was reading various debt related blog posts.  All views were about concept of cost cutting and increasing income with variation in pitches.

What about a situation where you don’t have control over these two things? I asked myself.

Being a two member family, renting out, it’s very easy for us to cut cost and control spending. Being a hi-tech worker and having 12 years of experience in designing software programs also give me enough opportunity to remain employed even in a dull economy.

Your situation could be completely different, I thought. You may not be able to increase your income, you may have a large family to feed and extremely difficult for you to cut cost.

The act of fishing reminded me of our ancestors, who lived in 19th century to early 20th century.

Electricity was not available in grids, There were no phones, internet, cable or movies. The men and women still lived, they enjoyed, they ate their meals, they fed their families.

When you are in debt, the social taboo prevents you from living like a poor and you start showing your wealth, charging things to your credit line, knowing very well that you can’t repay the debt. If you continue to do that, you will soon be broke, you can’t sustain, you can’t feed your family. So, what you do?

I have an idea!

This is my first attempt to extend some advice to people in debt, live like 15% of Americans, who live in poverty. Live like the way people lived 100 years ago. And come out of debt successfully.

Before I extend my points, I sincerely request regular readers to bear with this article. This is not for you! If you hate my ideas, please remember this is not for average people, the advises are for genuinely poor and people in extreme debt.

1. Move to least costly area of the city/town/rural area – it is must for living with less that you make housing payment as little as possible. While searching for a least expensive area, keep in mind the availability of public transport and health care facilities.

2. If getting job becomes difficult, start growing your own food – Start farming, start fishing. Live like a farmer. You’ll never have to work for others. Ever seen a fat farmer? The exercise involved in farming should also keep you in shape. No more eating out, its home cooked food all the time.

3. No modern-day entertainment – Use public parks, seasonal carnivals, rodeo shows, etc. You can watch local school football leagues, baseball leagues for free. Take you kids to those events. No movie theater, no malls, no Ringling Bros, no NBA or NFL.

Our grandparents and great grand parents didn’t know about an AC or a cable TV or internet, still they were happy. They enjoyed life with their family and friends.

4. No utility consumption – Completely switch off internet, cell phone and cable TV. If you have a public telephone facility near by, sacrifice the home phone too. Remember you are a modern caveman/woman. If weather permits get rid of AC unit as well.

No washer, no freezer no dish washer, everything should be done by you and your family by hand.

5. No car, its public transport always – Get rid of your cars altogether. No more insurance premium, gas fill-up and car repair and maintenance. Invite others to your home, instead of you visiting them. Have them take a tour of your farm land, share home cooked food with them.

You do this for couple of year, and your entire debt can be paid off before you realize hardship. You’ll come out strong.

This is how 15% of Americans live. and 60% of world population live. If you have $50,000 in credit card debt and $20,000 in yearly income or less (having less yearly income than non-mortgage debt), to sustain your family you should look in to living like this, till you reach a positive cash flow.

There bare social stigma associate with this approach, you need to overcome that, you need to ignore criticism. Yes, others would definitely come to know about you being broke. And you might be a subject of ridicule in your social circles but, that much better than living with borrowed money and going further into debt.

Living in hardship definitely going to hurt your ego and self-respect. If you think living with borrowed money and at the end, declaring bankruptcy is a better option, I don’t have anything to say, except that it’s a bad financial karma. You get only one chance this way, you can’t fool the system again during your next financial struggle.

Whatever be the reason of your debt, apply lifestyle track back and live like people in 19th century. Refer to my another article on extreme frugality, living under $10,000 a year.

Warning: If you at-all try to implement this idea, then keep in mind that its foolish to ignore the benefits of modern times, such as advanced medical care and education.

Government provided medical care, opportunity of learning for free at local libraries and, various scholarships for needy, should come in handy for your family need while living like what is described above.

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  1. says

    I see exactly what you are going for here. And it’s what I call going back to the basics. I have never had a credit card debt. Why? I buy what I can afford. I never got caught in that. I do however have a home that I fell behind in payments on. Why? It was a strategy that didn’t work. Lately I have cut that down and should be completely back to normal within 6 months. Did it screw my credit? Yes but hey I never used credit before. When I bought my house it was bought on a no doc loan so in essence my credit (great at the time) wasn’t as much of a factor as if I were to buy now. Anyway I went off topic but I think I love your idea because I think we have it all backwards now. The best way to not go into debt is to not buy out of our limit. Have the money upfront or don’t buy. Not to fun or practical but it works. Enjoyed your post so much I blasted it around.

    • says

      Thank you Jai! The points you made are very good point for avoiding debt. This article for people who’re in debt already. Feels good that you liked the post

  2. says

    Wow! What an amazing idea! I like that you pointed out that 60% of the world population uses public transportation. Makes that tip a little easier to swallow when it’s put into perspective!

  3. says

    Most of the people in those days worked hard physical labor from sun-up to sun-down. Not everyone’s health was up to that demand. And the women patched clothes by candlelight into the wee hours long after their regular chores were done. Not many people want to go back to those days, but they can implement some of the things you mention. Using a budget can help prioritize much of your spending.

    Entertainment was mainly visiting your relatives and neighbors to share a cup of coffee and maybe a cookie.

    Finding a job in the lowest cost-of-living areas can be tough for many people. Some types of jobs are only found in cities. I think most people look for a job first. Then if they are lucky enough to have more than one option, they choose the area based on many factors, including safety, schools, and cost of living. There is no perfect place or perfect combination of factors, but at least we can look for the best combination that is available to us.

  4. says

    Very interesting idea.
    I feel that there is no need to go to such extremes but your article teaches a very good lesson, which is to LIVE WITHIN YOUR MEANS.
    Dont get caught up in Keeping up with the Jones

    • says

      See this article is not written for you and I. This is for people with worst debt situation. to an extent its difficult to survive.

  5. says

    I agree with you. I have learned a lot of things you have mentioned from my grand parents. They always stress on living a simple life no matter what is your income and be ready for bad times.

  6. Mela says

    A few years ago I decided I wanted to take a year off to pursue a personal interest. We are not rich. We rent. We rarely eat out (don’t really like restaurant food for the most part). Already didn’t have a vehicle. We saved enough money to take that year off by doing one simple thing–we established and lived on a budget based on the premise that we both earned minimum wage then banked the rest. In two years we had enough to live for one year at a level slightly higher than during our two years of saving. Interestingly enough the habits we established during that two-year saving blitz havent’ really changed.

    • says

      See thats the thing, once you are used to certain things and start seeing the benefits you no longer willfully return back to life you don’t really like living. Great story here, thanks for sharing and taking time to comment.

  7. says

    Greetings from the Carnival of Personal Finance!

    I love this idea! It seems like the main ideas of living like you’re in the 19th century involve reconnecting with awesome things – family, nature, yourself (through quiet time). I’ll be thinking about this for a while!


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