shows by example how easily you can eliminate stress, become more independent, raise your children in a safer environment (while spending more time with them, instilling values not based on the mighty dollar) and avoid the traps of commercialism. Because we live and sail simply, we have been wandering for 11 years with no intention of stopping. This is not a trip for us; it is our life, and I hope to share our success with stories of laughter and tears, as well as how-to tips and DIY projects for preparing, sailing and making a boat a home, so that others can join us.

What to do When you Don't Want to do Without

August 4, 2014

Last summer, during our 5 months of living in a van, traveling cross country, we spent July 4th at Devil's Tower, Wyoming. I had a rush project to complete, and I must admit, the view outside my "office" window (aka the van windshield) made the overtime I was making well worth it. But while we were there, we discovered yet another important item that hadn't come with us: the flyswatter. We were at a KOA campground, so we could have simply gone into the store and purchased one. However, KOA's are not known for their reasonable prices in their stores. Besides, our triangle doesn't work that way.

The view out my office window

I've seen many different versions of this triangle. This is ours. Let's say there is something your boat (or house, or van) needs or you particularly want, but you don't have. What do you do? If West Marine is your first option, consider printing out a copy of our triangle and thinking again. In our case, we were in desperate need of a way to kill the flies who had found us in our small home. The bottom, largest slice of the triangle says we should first "use what you have." OK, so we rolled up the Rand McNally and swatted away. Reasonably effective, but these were not reasonable flies in reasonable numbers. Our next step up the triangle is to borrow or swap. Looking around at the tents in our vicinity, it became clear that no one was going to give up their own fly killer, for any trade.

Our triangle

Next up the triangle is MAKE. Sitting in the front seat, concentrating on making my deadline, I had no idea what Dave was up to until he said, "Look what I built." We had purchased screen material to make screens for the van windows and had scraps left over. We also had every tool Dave thought he would need "in case we stop somewhere to build a boat or a house." In these tools was the left over wire from building our latest dinghy, Irie. (She was built stitch and glue.) He also had all his jewelry making tools, including his torch for soldering. Or in this case, for hardening the wire. A few minutes, a bit of ingenuity, materials, and skills we've been collecting over the years and bingo, instant flyswatter.

Part of the MAKE slice of our triangle

But this post isn't really about the flyswatter, though I must admit, I find it very cool. (I also enjoy the rake and hoe he made when we moved onto the farm.) It's about changing how you think. Most people's immediate reaction is "Where can I buy a..?" Dave's is "How do I build what I need out of what I have?" He asked me to make him a copy of this triangle to remind himself, first and foremost, to try to make do with what you have. Then, ask around. If that doesn't work, make what you need. And if you absolutely MUST purchase it, support your local thrift store first. Many items are brand new, all items are reasonably priced, and it prevents you from having to go all the way up the triangle to the dreaded BUY slice.

Remember, money equals freedom chips. The less you spend, the farther you can go.

And while you're making, what about making your own laundry detergent? It is easier than you may think. MONDAY we'll share our recipe.

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