The Five-Year Plan

Vegas is changing. The housing bubble has burst and homes bought a few years ago are now only selling for a third of their price. Construction (especially Justin’s specialty in the commercial sector) is slowing down, leaving us unsure of Justin’s career future. And that’s not even mentioning the National economy and what will be coming down the road with our next administration.

During our time off last month, we had a chance to focus and discuss our goals for the future. Namely, what we want and where we want to be in five years. I can’t say I’ve ever known where I wanted to be in five years before now. Now we have a plan. A well-organized and thought-out plan. A plan that gets us so excited it’s difficult not to jump the gun and skip the needed steps to implement this plan well. What’s the plan?

The plan is to get the hell out of Dodge. Just not quickly. Quickly would require debt, a reliance on others (other economies, other banks, other bosses, etc) and a huge variation from the purpose of the plan. The purpose of the plan is to opt out of the System. To be debt-free and self-sufficient. To live off-grid (except for satelite internet ;) ). An Earthship is a good possibility and something Justin wants to learn, but there are other possibilities, too.

We want a self-sustaining home –  one with solar and wind energy, water catchments and possibly, a well – outsie a sustainable community. We want a small organic “hobby farm” – something that will supply us with nearly all we need for sustenance , as well as a small income, possibly from an orchard. Justin wants a woodworking shop to build furniture or whatever else his heart desires. I want a wood-burning stove and a real fireplace and lots of nature surrounding me. Zeb wants goats and chickens and ducks, and a cow. He also wants a treehouse and lots of wild open spaces to run.

Of course, to do all this debt-free means saving up a truckload of money. We’re starting with a goal of $100,000. Enough to buy several acres and begin building our home. We have some ideas of how to save this. Our small Christmas last year was a good start. Selling what was once my business vehicle will save us thousands a year (it’s due to be pain off in less than two years anyway). Add to that fewer vacations, saving tax returns, reduced spending, skipping out on things, any overtime he might get…it’ll be tough – real tough – but manageable and the end result will be worth it. I’m also going to look into making money with my photography, my blog and maybe with the garden eventually.

Their are also a few things that we plan to do before our homesteading venture makes them more difficult to accomplish: medical and dental work before the insurance is lost is crucial, among other more personal matters.

So, there you have it. The synopsis to our Five-Year Plan. I love it! I love the action and the mental organizing. I love SMART Goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timebound). It’s a rough idea and one I’m sure we’ll be adding to and/or amending as time goes on and as we learn more and get closer to our goal. I’m sure I’ll also keep ya’ll updated on specific changes via a blog post too.

And as always, I’m open to ideas – things we should check out (locations, technologies, techniques, etc), things we should consider, or just your own thoughts and ideas or your own goals! And we’re hoping to have some great, like-minded neighbors, if you care to join us. ;)

Here’s the plan:

We currently live in a suburb of Las Vegas, a city who’s real estate bubble burst leaving us with an upside-down home. Because Justin’s field of expertise (commercial construction; mostly casinos) relies heavily on a booming economy, we know continuing to live in Las Vegas long-term will bring challenges in the coming years.  Our current guesstimations to do this debt-free put us at a financial goal of $100,000 at the end of five years, an average of $20,000 a year. This will be the biggest challenge.

We’re applying SMART techniques to this goal; Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Bound. For this reason we’ve begun an outline for accomplishment that we will update along the way.

2009, Year 1:

  • Research local, stable banks and open a new savings account
  • Sell our second vehicle to decrease debt and increase savings: Detail truck, affix sign on window, list online and in paper, pray for a miracle
  • Finish yard and garden conversion and start producing own food: Erect raised beds, plant fruit trees, finish irrigation, sow all seeds, plant more perennial nitrogen-fixers and insectaries
  • Research and implement homesteading skills from a homemaker’s perspective: baking, preserving, sewing, knitting, etc
  • Research and if possible, implement a graywater system
  • Research rabbits and egg-laying chickens and their shelters
  • Find more ways to save (and/or earn) money

2010, Year 2:

  • Continue expanding edible landscaping in front and backyard
  • Adopt animals for eggs or manure
  • Research desired land features- Elevation desired, Average Precipitation needed, Local and State laws, Taxes, Building Codes, Climate Change Models, Localized Communities and their sustainability and resources
  • Research areas that fits our desired land features
  • Continue finding ways to add to decrease spending and increase savings

2011, Year 3:

  • Continue expanding edible landscaping in front and backyard
  • Begin heavy research on sustainable homebuilding, temporary living structures, barn, workshops,  solar and wind technologies, composting toilets, etc
  • Continue finding ways to decrease spending and increase savings

2012, Year 4:

  • Continue Victory Gardening and Urban Homesteading from previous years
  • Continue research on sustainable homebuilding and communities, etc from previous year
  • Consider programs such as WWOOF, EarthShip internships and Permaculture certification
  • Purchase land that fits our requirements
  • List Las Vegas home for sale
  • Continue finding ways to decrease spending and add to savings

2013, Year 5:

  • Continue Victory Gardening and Urban Homesteading from previous years
  • Sell home and find interim living arrangements if needed


Because the job market in Vegas has taken a sudden turn for the worst and Justin may be unemployed at any moment, we’ve established our Plan B. It’s a bit more fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants since we don’t know what to expect in the coming months or years. We’ll make changes as necessary.

  • Continue doing everything we can to save and earn money
  • Continue growing everything we can
  • Only invest money or time into the house or garden that will pay for itself
  • Continue doing all we can to stay in our home, while still saving money
  • If moving out of our home is necessary, we’ll stay in Las Vegas and continue to work towards moving debt-free
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12 Comments. Leave new

If I had my laptop… « TheOrganicSister
January 13, 2009 11:28 am

[…] Our Five Year Plan: This one is big. Huge. Ginormous. Life-encompassing. It doesn’t actually involve photos, so maybe if you ask me pretty-please I won’t keep you waiting as long. […]

That is so exciting! There are many places you could buy land and maybe a house even for $100k. Just start looking!

Sounds great! :D I’ve left you some web site links in answer to your learn something new comment on my blog.

You can do it!!


That is VERY exciting. I can feel your excitement all the way over here, and it’s warming. :D

That is my ultimate dream too. We had to adjust our dream a LOT what with baby, lack of resources in this country, on and on…. So we’ve settled for a self-sufficientish life. Terhaps next time we’ll go the whole hog. Literally :)

This is the time to research research research. there is SO much to learn.

January 14, 2009 9:05 am

LisaZ: We’ve actually considered that; finding land with a house and retrofitting it. But Justin is really loving the Earthship design and I don’t know how difficult it would be to retrofit that system into a regular house. It’s definitely something we’ll look into though! From what we’ve seen a large amount of land doesn’t look too pricey, depending on the area, so if we get only land we should still have plenty to build on it.

Jennifer: Thanks for the links!!

Mon: Yes. LOTS to learn. Mind-boggling loads of research. I think that’s one of the only things forcing us to take our time and do it right rather than jump in head first.

I used to daydream of this idea when I was a kid. Living in the mountains (I’m a Colorado girl after all), off the land, relying on no one. I love seeing this dream in word on your blog!! Go for it and have a blast along the way!

I can’t help to build an Earthshi but I will help you learn to monetize your blog. It is the one specialty I think I can add to this. I have always told you that you have a small goldmine in content here and you would do well once you start marketing and monetizing it in a way you feel comfortable.

Remind me to put you in touch with some PR reps that handle the types of products in your plugs section. I get contacted quite often for stuff like that that I pass on cause it is not a good match for my family. Oh, we should plan very long day at the park!I need to leave at 3ish but can be there as early as nine

Love the plan! And earthships – yeah…I’ve been looking at those for a while.

Mama Podkayne
January 16, 2009 1:37 pm

Cool. That’s where we were a couple years ago. While we didn’t do it debt free, that’s still the end goal. Our plan takes a bit longer and we’re already on the farm, so it’s a trade off. ;)

Also, same exact farm/life goals. Neat.

Hey Tara,

Your plan sounds great, and attainable too. I’ll miss you though when I come to Vegas and you’re not there.

My five year plan is to be totally debt free. I’m sending in extra on my car and when that’s paid off I’ll send in the money I was paying on the car for extra on the house. I can do it in five years if I stick to my guns. It will be so nice to not owe anybody anything, except for utilities, insurance and taxes, which still amounts to quite a bit of a chunk of change every month. Especially with taxes, I guess nobody is totally debt free. The government has made it so nobody can TOTALLY opt out of the system…damn politicians.

I love you, and know that you and Justin work very hard. In fact, I have a way you can make even more money…give your Aunt Teddi and Uncle Steve a massage when they come into town:-)

I’ll be there March 5th – 10th. Just me, Steve is going to bach it for a long week-end. We didn’t get to see much of each other at Christmas, as I was passed out on Nyquil, so I hope we can spend a bit more time together this time.

See ya soon,


You can do it! I have had the opportunity to see many “alternative” lifestyles via my job before becoming an unschooling mama myself. I was a producer for HGTV and other fluffy cable shows and got to spend lots fo time hanging out with the Earthship folks, cob homes, strawbale communities, co-housing communities, yurts, monolithic domes, you name it. The irony of all this housing love, is that all the while my husband and I were living on a sailboat… and still do with our son and one more on the way. We also unplugged and sailed away back in 2001-2002 and plan to go again when this bun in the oven is 2 years old (old enough to sail safely and sanely) to see more of the world again. Anyhow, I am running on and on to say — you CAN do it, you won’t regret it, and best of luck to you in all of your goals!

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