Tag Archives: possum living

Full life on next to nothing


One of my new year aspirations was to buy clothing only at resale shops, except for bathing suits, shoes, and underwear.  So far so good, except for one “slip,” a well-reasoned one.  I bought a shirt, a sort of hippie thing that looks like it time-traveled from the 60s and is ready for BlissFest, for $5.

I’ve been talking up the “get rid of stuff” thing pretty well evidently, because my cousin Scott, who really does manage to live a good life on next to nothing, dropped off a book called Possum Living, published in 1978 by Dolly Freed.  She was an 18-year-old 7th-grade dropout living with her dad north of Philadelphia on next to nothing.  The book’s subtitle is How to Live Well Without a Job and With (Almost) No Money.  This she did for five years, after which she got her GED, went to college, and became a NASA engineer.  Then she decided she’d chosen a life she didn’t really find rewarding, so she became an environmental educator.

Now the book is very 70s, back-to-the-land, and has some crazy ideas Dolly has since repudiated.  It also has some wonderful ideas, and philosophical underpinnings that seem so familiar to me that I wonder whether maybe I read the book back then.  Probably not — that was the year Jason was born, and I believe I had to give up reading for a few years.  Don’t think I read it in law school, either.

So here’s what I’m wondering:  could I live a great “retired” life on next to nothing?  How much would I really need?  Dolly was and is a homebody, grows or catches much of her own food, doesn’t really need a car because she doesn’t go anywhere she couldn’t get by bicycle or on foot.   Her husband and children live a very frugal life, but it isn’t my life.

So that’s going to be my challenge.  Figure out what exactly I need to be able to do to enjoy myself, and then figure out the very cheapest way to do it.  What do you think, Boomers?