Thrivalist - that's me

"I'm a thrivalist" is my response to friends of mine who accuse me of being a survivalist. They see my fire wood, greenhouses, wood stoves, freezers full of food, animals for meat and eggs, backup generator and bulk fuel tanks, and they automatically assume that I'm preparing for some catastrophe.

I'm not preparing for a catastrophe. I'm just prepared for life and what it might have in store. I explain to my curious friends that I don't intend to merely survive, but to thrive in nearly any situation that I find myself in, whether self-created or foisted upon me.

It's a matter of individual responsibility and being able to help others as well.

A friend of mine in Colorado has much the same view. She said, "survive is what deer do in the winter." If that doesn't paint the picture, I don't know what will - temperatures in the teens and twenties, high winds and dry snow creating impassable drifts around the house, and deer digging through the snow to find grass to munch on.

The idea of being a "thrivalist" is about not settling for what you might be handed, but rather making your own way. As an acquaintance of mine in Ohio would say, "You either make dust, or you eat dust." Ain't it the truth, and who likes eating dust? Not me.

Let's look at six characteristics of a "thrivalist." Your idea of a "thrivalist" might be a bit different than mine, but the intention here is to let you take a peek at my world.

1. Self Responsibility

At the core of me is the idea that I'm responsible for myself. I didn't ask to be born into this world, but that's where I am, so I'm going to take care of myself. Taking care of myself means that I need to plan, prepare and take action on my behalf because no one else will, and no one else should have to either.

I've long had the idea that if friends were over at the house and we were snowed in and the power failed, we shouldn't have to worry about how we were going to make it. We should just enjoy our time together and wait for the storm to pass.

I take care of my friends much like I take care of myself. If I didn't have that kind of an attitude, then what kind of a friend would I be?

2. Living Deliberately

Have you ever noticed that some people simply go to work during the week and play on the weekends? I used to be that way. It worked okay for a few years, and then I decided that I needed more opportunity to be successful, and that required me to make decisions and accept a more challenging path.

The "thrivalist" in me knows that I must be deliberate in order to be successful. No one ever "fell into" the role of a corporate executive or an exceptional performer or artist or scientist. They all worked hard and lived their life in a very focused and deliberate manner.

Success, growth and achievement require deliberate focus. Simply "getting by" isn't quite so demanding - nor rewarding.

3. An Economic Survivalist

You can't influence the economy like you can "your place" in it, so being a "thrivalist" also means surviving during hard economic times. I've seen at least 3 recessions as an adult, and I never felt any of them. I saw some of the effects in my investments, but I never had a hard time finding work, and I've never been laid off either.

Perhaps I selected the right career field, but I think it's much more than that. When it comes to employment, I've learned that opportunity is everywhere, and there isn't any such thing as security.

I have a different attitude and approach than most. Here are two examples of polar opposites in our economy:

  • In a recent conversation (summer of 2009) with a close friend, I was told "no one's hiring" and "there just aren't any jobs out there." My first thought was "bullshit," but in a rare moment of good decision making, I kept quiet.

    She went on to tell me that even McDonald's isn't hiring. Well, how are you going to find a job with that kind of attitude? And, I wouldn't exactly say that the idea of working at McDonald's is "aiming high."

    My friend doesn't exhibit a "thrivalist" attitude, but something more like a fatalistic view of life - whatever happens, happens. I don't believe that you have to settle for "what's in store for you." You can make shit happen! My philosophy is that talent is always in demand, and the first talents you need to hone are confidence, a positive attitude, and tenacity.

    It's not luck that makes for a nice life, it's hard work that creates a satisfying lifestyle. You have to be willing to make it happen.

  • Another friend of mine works for the auto industry, and they are considering another round of layoffs (summer of 2009). He's dodged the first round, and doesn't know what his future holds. He hasn't updated his resume, he hasn't been interviewing to see the potential value of his skills outside of the automotive industry, and he's going to take a long vacation just as the company is making decisions about laying off employees.

    It's clear that he can't move "off center" with respect to his employment and he's waiting for someone else to make the all important decisions. I know this as "waiting to be shot." Some people just aren't brave enough to make their own future, they wait for others to force them into it.

I don't mean to be harsh with my observations. I just want to point out that people do things differently, and they wind up with different results. Change what you do, how you think, and the decisions you make, and you'll change your results. You can be an economic survivalist or even a "thrivalist" in this economic downturn if you'll only start stepping to a different drummer.

4. Preparedness

For this "thrivalist," being prepared is more than just canned goods, first aid supplies, a generator and extra fuel on hand. It's also about planning and being able to anticipate things. "I had no idea" or "I didn't know" aren't comments you often hear from me. It's more like "no surprise there" or the sarcastic "gee, who would have guessed that?"

I've always been big on planning, and it's served me well. I plan my career, my personal life, allocation of financial resources, and management of my other assets. I realize that not everything can be planned, but if you're "making shit happen" instead of letting it happen to you, then you have to be a planner. If you're doing instead of just watching, and you intend to be successful, then you have to be a planner.

Along with planning comes "what if-ing" various scenarios that you might need to contend with. Asking "what if" is all part of planning and being prepared for things that might go in directions different than what you had hoped for.

I won't go so far as to say that if you fail to plan, you're planning to fail, but I will say that if you fail to plan or fail to at least think things through carefully, you shouldn't be surprised if success is elusive, short-lived or not exactly what you expected it to be.

If your planning is only for catastrophes and disasters, then you're investing in something that will help you be a survivalist during various unlikely events, but you aren't focused on being a "thrivalist" in the present and foreseeable future.

5. Reasonableness

As a "thrivalist," it's important to view things in a reasonable manner. Let's look at two examples:

  • Fuel shortages. After Katrina knocked out some of the refineries around the Gulf of Mexico, there were shortages of fuel at refineries across the country. I spoke with a local hauler of fuel here in Cheyenne, and he told me that he couldn't get fuel.

    I know some folks that paid nearly $3 a gallon that year to fill their bulk fuel tanks, but I just waited it out, and purchased fuel later on at about $2 a gallon in the dead of winter. It wasn't reasonable to me to panic about the sharp increase in the price of fuel. It seemed reasonable to me that there would be a recovery soon enough, and I resisted a knee jerk reaction.

  • I'm growing vegetables and raising small animals as a way of creating my own marketplace alternatives to the ever higher prices of food at the grocery store. I'm focused on quality, nutrition, and organic methods, all at a reasonable cost. I'm not trying to replace the marketplace because I think something disastrous is going to happen to it.

    Our marketplaces have long been established, and they'll always be here. Trading is something that human kind has been involved in for thousands of years. We'll see perturbations from time to time, and this will shift things like cost, quality and availability, but we won't see the marketplace change radically or disappear overnight.

    As a reasoning individual, I know that too many people have too much invested in production, transportation, distribution and sales to have the marketplace do anything more radical than simply shift and evolve.

6. Frugal Living

Being a "thrivalist" doesn't mean you live a lavish lifestyle, it simply means that you prosper, grow and succeed, instead of simply hanging on. I practice frugal living on a regular basis. My ability to be an economic survivalist depends on my ability to curtail my expenses, and my approach to frugal living helps me achieve just that.

You don't have to be wasteful to thrive, and being frugal has a lot to do with not being wasteful. Waste gives your wealth to others, and that's not in the cards for this "thrivalist."

Another aspect of my frugal living lifestyle is to be a financial conservative. The idea is rather simple - once you create wealth, it's largely about preserving it and making it work for you rather than blowing it on fleeting interests.


Everybody makes it through life. That's survival. I'm a "thrivalist" because my intentions are much more than merely making it through. I want to have abundance, and that means success, growth, fun, wealth, achievement, and personal satisfaction along the way.

The keys for me include individual responsibility, living in a deliberate manner, reasonableness, knowing how to navigate the economic waters, and frugal living. These are some of the characteristics that distinguish me from others.

I've been accused of being a survivalist only because I'm prepared, and I create marketplace alternatives. I think being prepared is simply being responsible, and my lifestyle of alternatives is simply me exercising my freedom of choice.

You'll survive if you go with the flow. You might be much happier and more satisfied if you choose to thrive instead.

Done with Thrivalist, take me back to About

There certainly is a broad scope of topics here at Frugal Living Freedom. When you think about it, money permeates so very many activities in our lives, therefore, being frugal encompasses a wide range of interests, from being employed to taking a vacation, and just about everything in between. Enjoy the variety, pick up some new ideas, and start making frugality a part of your signature.

I'm a big proponent of being debt-free, and I mean entirely debt-free - no mortgage payment. It's not essential for financial freedom, but you'll love the feeling once you get there. If you didn't have a rent or mortgage payment, how much more could you do for yourself with your current level of income? I suspect plenty.

If you ever hope to see an abundance of wealth, you need to plug the hole in your boat. The wealthy don't necessarily make lots of money, instead, they know how to hang onto what they make, and make it work for them.