Stacked Incomes; Reducing Overhead

Mike Hoag started a couple of great threads in Transformative Adventures, giving examples of what a “stacked permaculture income” / regenerative right livelihood might look like. You can read Thread 1 here; and the follow-up Thread 2 here. The discussion also includes how to secure housing for minimal cost.

I weighed in with my thoughts, which I am copy-pasting for you here:

My “stacked income”:

On my tax forms, my occupational description for myself is “Sustainability Educator, Self-Employed.”

That has been my description since around 2008ish.

It is a convenient umbrella that encompasses a mixture of the following:

  • organizing & promoting PDCs
  • teaching classes (permaculture; living skills; consciousness training)
  • public speaking
  • consulting
  • landscape labor, farm labor
  • graphic design
  • writing and marketing a book
  • commissioned artwork
  • making & selling jewelry
  • a pt job i had for a couple years at a retail shop a block from me. I got to sew for money.
  • house-cleaning & decluttering gigs
  • Having roommates / housemates covers part of my housing overhead, and I consider it part of my “sustainable education ministry,” as low-footprint living comes with the territory of living at my place, and is how I keep the room rents modest.
  • I have a blog, and just added my Cash App info to my page in case readers feel like they have gotten value and want to contribute to my “tip jar”
  • I want to start marketing Mike Hoag’s book and the creative products of other fellow permies
  • Other plans include: write more books (including fiction); start making custom hand-embroidery creations


I find that low-cost housing is essential to a low cost of living, which in turn I consider essential to my personal resilience and occupational freedom.

Back in Austin TX, I lived in an RV park where the rent was $220 when I first moved in in 2000. By 2010 when I moved out, it had gone up to 375. The various artists & blue-collar workers who lived there may sometimes have had to stretch to make rent, but all in all we were lucky to have such a cool spot for modest rent. Many of us did not have cars so that eliminated a huge expense.

When I moved to Florida, I found an adorable micro apartment for $400. Then later moved to a bigger sweet apt, 1br, for 550 but I made it into a 2br by making a roomette for myself in the living room out of bookcases, so i could get roommates to live in the real bedroom and our rent would be just 275 each. (By the way, I LOVED my cute little bookcase roomette; loved the creativity of making a cool space out of tall bookcases scrounged from curbside that were still perfectly good. And I loved hanging out there; it was cozy and full of life and I always knew where pretty much all my stuff was. I even fit little knicknacks and tiny artworks on the shelves along with my books.)

Over the years in my neighborhood, low-priced apartments have become pretty much extinct. A cheap apartment now is like 750. Most are more like 1100 or 1200!! The few remaining apartments for 600 are never empty, and constantly have people asking if there are spaces available.

In 2017, my Mom died (my Dad had died 7 years before), and my siblings and I inherited money. I used my money to buy a house mortgage-free, so the expenses are just taxes and utilities and insurance. I rent out the 2 big bedrooms to help cover those overhead expenses. And I turned the tiny dining room into an emergency space for friends to stay if they need it. (The livingroom doubles as the default guest room.)

Ultimately I feel like I would love to find 2-3 longterm deeply compatible folks to become co-OWNERs of this darling house. This would include us all being portable & adaptable enough to migrate elsewhere as a pod if climate or other conditions made leaving this place necessary or desirable.

Regardless, my goal is always to build community, reduce social isolation, help my space-mates on their own paths to financial stability and right livelihood; creative/occupational freedom.

My bedroom/studio/office, a 6-1/2 by 7-foot micro cube of a room, was previously the utility room. I prefer to wash clothes by hand in a pot of rainwater and line-dry them, rather than use big clunky machines which burn too much fossil fuel and can break down. So the itty bitty former utility room is now freed up to serve as my creative zone & bedroom.

Housing is a huge area of my permaculture activism. I am always working for expansion of lower-end housing options (adding back in SROs, Mom & Pop urban RV parks, tiny house villages, bungalow courts, micro apartments). If I had not inherited money I would still be housing-precarious as a renter in a tight market. I will never forget that experience which sometimes included skipping a meal or three to make rent. (Or, I would have moved to some old industrial town and tried to go in with 2-3 people to buy a place for 20 or 30k — many are available, or at least many were available as recently as 2 years ago. But, I felt called to serve here in my Florida adopted hometown, and am happy to have been able to work things out thus far.)

I will never lose my passion for small low-end housing. My days living in that little RV park were very happy, and I am committed to helping to create more environments of a similar kind, not only to help people economically but also in terms of social cohesion.

I have become convinced that extreme income inequality is a huge source of ecological damage and social injustice on the planet. My aspiration is to only make as much money as I need. Right now that is about 13k/year. (At times over the past years I made as little as 7k before taxes. Most of it went to rent.)

Finally – like many fellow artists and permies, I have been burdened by limiting beliefs about how much money I “deserve” to be paid for my hard work. A couple years back I realized on a deep level how little I thought I deserved. I even believed deep down that I was self-indulgent for being so stubborn about insisting on pursuing my deepest calling and “not getting a real job.” But, I have worked through those beliefs and am forging a path that meets my ethical standards AND allows me to meet my basic material needs as opposed to (for example) skimping on healthy food.

I want to encourage people to pursue what lights them up and helps ecosystems and fellow beings. You can do it!!!!