Living the Dream

There is a family we met in Portugal who are blue collar workers – a mechanic and a school assistant. They have a small farm on the side with 600 olive trees to import to the States, and a smaller home farm.

They make about 30,000 EUR a year in total.

They own a stone home fully paid for, and passed down to them by the grandparents a generation ago.

They only pay the taxes on it each year.

Actual house example in Portugal

The house doesn’t need any maintenance whatsoever (40 years and counting) because it’s made entirely out of stone, is well-made and is durable against the four seasons.

They pay only for extra food that is not grown in their fields and utilities, and they own nicer things that most of the people I have met in North America who are chasing that exact dream.

They each drive expensive cars — Audi A8 and BMW, plus have 2 trucks for working in the field, and a huge brand new John Deere tractor that cost around $100,000.

There is so much food in their home, they actually throw away food into the fields for composting, or give away food to people.

Their DOGS eat better than some families I know!

They have lots of money saved up, and live a simple, happy life.

They have a TV in every room, 3 laptops, the internet, the telephone, a cellphone each, washer.. all the extra luxuries of life everyone here thinks they can’t live without.

And they have never, ever, gotten into debt.

How is this possible?

Everything paid for in cash.

There are no credit cards. What they called a credit card, was really a debit card.

They live simply.

They are happy with small pleasures.

The cost of living is fairly low that’s true, but it’s a low cost of living to us.

Taking their income into consideration (which is considered average), it’s just a normal cost of living. Maybe not on par with New York City or Los Angeles, but reasonable nonetheless.

They work hard — essentially holding down jobs as farmers and their day jobs, but they see farming as fun rather than work.

They save lots of cash because they own a field to grow food for free (just hard work and free water direct from the mountains gets you great fruits, veggies, olive oil and wine) and they are not absorbed by consumerism.

The biggest money saver of all?

They were able to inherit a home to them by their grandparents without having to maintain it or do anything to it other than live in it.

Imagine if you didn’t have to pay rent or a mortgage on a home? Think of the money you’d save!

But still, it isn’t just getting a house passed down that saves them money.

It’s their attitude as well.

There is simply nothing to buy. They feel as though they have it all.

What I learned from all of it, just reinforced my values:

  • Take care of your things
  • Buy quality at every chance possible
  • Buy it in cash

And did you hear? Europe just became the world’s wealthiest region.

Food for thought.

About the Author

Just a girl trying to find a balance between being a Shopaholic and a Saver. I cleared $60,000 in 18 months earning $65,000 gross/year. Now I am self-employed, and you can read more about my story here, or visit my other blog: The Everyday Minimalist.