Tag Archives: possum living

Full life on next to nothing

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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?