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The following is from a Sept. 1986 newspaper article. Very interesting and I don't think this story is told anywhere else. If anyone can find this or more info please post it.

There is not very much from a google search about Bill Hatke but there are a couple sites which I will give one at the end of this article. And here is one out of many stories, books etc. that helped inspire me in the 1980's to become a good survivalist who can live on little money, build a survival retreat and Live differently than most do. The article which I typed out >

Headline: Penny Pincher Gets By on Only $120 a Year

"Bill Hatke sure knows how to stretch a buck: the incredible 41 year old Kansas man lives on $120 a Year and $98 of that goes for property taxes!

But Hatke's no bum. He has two master's degrees in analytic philosophy and clinical psychology. And a Ph.D in sociology.

Despite his education, he earns his tiny income by gardening with hand tools on his 50 by 150 foot lot and four other lots owned by friends. He gives these friends part of his produce and sells the rest to individuals and restaurants in the city of Lawrence, Kansas where he lives.

Last year Hatke brought in $350. After paying his $98 property taxes he put $150 in savings for emergencies - loaned or gave $80 to friends - and spent the rest, a mere $22 on himself.
"It seems a fantastically small amount to survive on for a whole year but he owns his house, has no bills and grows everything he eats," says Margene Swarts, Lawrence's Housing and Environmental Inspector.

Explains Hatke, "I decided to drop out of the rat race and live my life free from the needs of money and other material possessions. I have no electricity, phone, running water, TV, stereo or other money gobbling habits. And I'm the happiest guy in the world for it."


Hatke was studying at the University of Kansas and living in a modern gadget-filled condo when he decided he wanted a simpler life.
"I remembered how I felt as a kid, letting the earth in our garden run through my fingers and I decided to become a gardener."

After graduation Hatke took his first step toward his dream by taking two jobs to earn enough cash to buy his small $7,000 four room wooden house. Then he quit his jobs and began gardening.
"The first thing to go was the phone," he said, "I figured if I needed to speak to somebody, I could go see them. And for out of town family or friends the U.S. mail works just fine.
Next to go was natural gas. I bought an old wood stove for $10 and started using it for heat and cooking. Mother Nature helped me get rid of running water during a deadly cold spell in the winter of 1982 - 83 when my pipes froze and burst.
I built a system to collect rainwater and run it into a makeshift cistern in an unfinished basement alcove beneath my bathroom. And now, when I need water, I simply haul it up in a five-gallon plastic bucket."

In 1985, Hatke made his hardest cutback - electricity. "I liked to watch reruns of 'All in the Family', M*A*S*H and 'Barney Miller' but I felt I was dependent on an outside authority. So I had to cut it off."

Hatke gave away his TV and radio, bought some candles and a battery powered transistor radio - then he began charging the batteries at a friend's house in return for vegetables.
"In the spring, summer and fall I'm in my gardens. In the winter, I read books friends give me, keep a daily journal etc.
For entertainment, I play cards and Scrabble two nights a week. And I go to the movies once a year to keep up with trends."

To maintain his life-style in 1986, Hatke stuck to his budget: property tax, $98; vegetable seeds, $3; handsaw blade, $5; 10 chickens, $5; chicken feed, $3; one movie ticket, $4; transistor radio batteries, $2.
"This year my budget will be smaller because I learned to sharpen my saw blade so I won't have to buy a new one," Hatke says.

Adds local author Kelly Kindscher, who studied Hatke's life-style for a book she plans to write: "He doesn't want to climb the big corporate ladder or be a big success in the rat race. So Bill Hatke is one of the most educated and independent gardeners in the world. He's astonishing!"

There were some photos in the newpaper article which here are the captions >

Back to Basics: Bill Hatke, who doesn't have electricity, reads by the light of an oil lamp and cooks on a woodstove.

Green thumb: Bill proudly shows off samples from his garden.

3rd caption: Bill grimaces as he takes a break while working in his vegetable garden.



I wonder If there are many or any others today who try to live on little money. Probably very very few especially who own their own property who do. Property taxes are much more today. Although mine as I have said before are now $208 a year on my mtn land. And I know of no one who lives on less money than I do, unless they are homeless.

And here is one link that tells a little more with even a pic of Bill Hatke > http://images.google.com/imgres?img...images?q=Bill+Hatke&hl=en&safe=off&tbs=isch:1

Any other links to his life and life-style will be welcome as well as any comments.
 

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That was a great read! Thanks for sharing! :)

I know a lady that is rich yet lives a very frugal life- Her husband was an insurance salesman & he had every kind of insurance there was (figuratively speaking) and when he passed away, she became very wealthy (though it is sad that he lost her husband).. She still only flushes her toilet twice a day, and she works just because she gets bored at home & has no one to travel with... and she's still extremely frugal.. i mean a serious penny pincher... even though she doesn't have to be.

i've seen video of people that live in earthships.. their total yearly expenses (for food/water/utilities/etc) were like 50.00 a year. the house is a big greenhouse, it collects rainwater & has cisterns to keep it, it has filters, uses greywater systems to water the plants and runs off of solar or wind power... some people use propane powered refrigerators, but they grow all their own food inside the house, have their own water source & don't have to pay utilities, because they also provide 100% of their own power.
 

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That was a great read! Thanks for sharing! :)

I know a lady that is rich yet lives a very frugal life- Her husband was an insurance salesman & he had every kind of insurance there was (figuratively speaking) and when he passed away, she became very wealthy (though it is sad that he lost her husband).. She still only flushes her toilet twice a day, and she works just because she gets bored at home & has no one to travel with... and she's still extremely frugal.. i mean a serious penny pincher... even though she doesn't have to be.
It is sad. I've seen it and that verges on OCD issues unless "that" is what makes her happy. Really truly happy. Otherwise it don't mean nothing.

I have been fortunate in life.

I watched as I was able as folks grew in life. Saw the changes that occured at the milestones as they were passed. Here we sit with more than we need and less time than we want to do things we thought we could not do.

I am truly blessed. We shouldn't be to self absorbed.
 

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No electricity, frugal, self sufficient, that sort of sounds like someone else I know. Now if he just had a remote mountain retreat he would be all set!

It seems like a rough way to live, but I bet he was happy with that simple life. Society almost forces us to have jobs now days just to pay property taxes, things just aren't like they used to be. It's sort of my goal in life to be self sufficient on my own land, but I'd like to have electricity if at all possible. I've often thought that fruit trees might be the way to make a steady yearly income.

Thanks for sharing Mike!
 

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Tested in the Wilderness
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks so much for taking the time to type all of that out!!!

A most fascinating story. I was looking to see if that author Kindscher ever wrote a book about him post-1986 but didn't find anything.

I think this is the same guy, if so he died in 2007:

http://billhatke.wordpress.com/about-bill-hatke/
That is the same guy. I think there was only One Bill Hatke. And that site you gave is the longest biography I have ever seen on him as well as on most people I have wanted to know more about. There are 7 parts and 7 long pages if any want to read that link above.
He sounded very interesting, too bad he died in 2007 from pancreatic cancer although one site said he killed himself before the cancer did.

He was also in the army with a stint in Korea then went to college as told above. For what he did it seems like he did not need all that formal education but maybe it helped him in some way. He also wrote quite a bit although I don't think he wrote a book, mainly his journal and other writings.

But that link above gives more about all his biography, for any interested.

On one page it said he also was a dumpster diver and got about all of his furniture and other needs from dumpsters.
He was different and not really like me although in some ways but I am not as social as he was for I really don't enjoy talking too much and it said he was gay. Which I am definitely not.
Well, all about all that.

He did sound like an expert gardener. The first page of the link composter gave tells his love for gardening. And that gardening was a meditation and therapy for him....
 

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Explains Hatke, "I decided to drop out of the rat race and live my life free from the needs of money and other material possessions. I have no electricity, phone, running water, TV, stereo or other money gobbling habits. And I'm the happiest guy in the world for it."


Hatke was studying at the University of Kansas and living in a modern gadget-filled condo when he decided he wanted a simpler life.
Wow, he has no electricity, phone, TV or stereo! However does he survive? And he's the happiest man in the world. Yet in our gadget filled world, we're a bunch of sad sacks. We've let ourselves become so isolated from nature that we've lost touch with ourselves. The folks who figure they need power, DVD players and such to survive are sure in for a rude surprise.

i've seen video of people that live in earthships.. their total yearly expenses (for food/water/utilities/etc) were like 50.00 a year. the house is a big greenhouse, it collects rainwater & has cisterns to keep it, it has filters, uses greywater systems to water the plants and runs off of solar or wind power... some people use propane powered refrigerators, but they grow all their own food inside the house, have their own water source & don't have to pay utilities, because they also provide 100% of their own power.
I've always loved the earthship concept. To me that would be the ideal core of a self sufficient lifestyle. If only they weren't so expensive.
 

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It is sad. I've seen it and that verges on OCD issues unless "that" is what makes her happy. Really truly happy. Otherwise it don't mean nothing.

I have been fortunate in life.

I watched as I was able as folks grew in life. Saw the changes that occured at the milestones as they were passed. Here we sit with more than we need and less time than we want to do things we thought we could not do.

I am truly blessed. We shouldn't be to self absorbed.
she is happy. just wishes she had someone to travel with. she doesn't want to pay for anyone to go anywhere with her- even her kids or grandkids.. she's stingy, but she enjoys working, and saving all that money makes her pretty happy. she's happy she'll have something to leave her kids. :)

i do agree, though, it is very sad. i couldn't live that way myself.
 

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That was a great read! Thanks for sharing! :)

I know a lady that is rich yet lives a very frugal life- Her husband was an insurance salesman & he had every kind of insurance there was (figuratively speaking) and when he passed away, she became very wealthy (though it is sad that he lost her husband).. She still only flushes her toilet twice a day, and she works just because she gets bored at home & has no one to travel with... and she's still extremely frugal.. i mean a serious penny pincher... even though she doesn't have to be.

i've seen video of people that live in earthships.. their total yearly expenses (for food/water/utilities/etc) were like 50.00 a year. the house is a big greenhouse, it collects rainwater & has cisterns to keep it, it has filters, uses greywater systems to water the plants and runs off of solar or wind power... some people use propane powered refrigerators, but they grow all their own food inside the house, have their own water source & don't have to pay utilities, because they also provide 100% of their own power.
I want to do that but power is just so cheap and easy to get... in the long run it pays off.. but I would still want my toys :p o well I could live with very few things I saw my grandmother do it.. grow her own food raise it and eat it.. but she came from a diffrent genration and allot of them were that way..
 

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she is happy. just wishes she had someone to travel with. she doesn't want to pay for anyone to go anywhere with her- even her kids or grandkids.. she's stingy, but she enjoys working, and saving all that money makes her pretty happy. she's happy she'll have something to leave her kids. :)

i do agree, though, it is very sad. i couldn't live that way myself.
and then they just go blow it on something.. I remeber my grandmother was like Ok heres 3,000 each.. you cant stick it in the bank and you have to spend it all or you get none.. I was like ahhh I already bought everything I want.. but it was fun to just go spend a good amount of money...
 

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and then they just go blow it on something.. I remeber my grandmother was like Ok heres 3,000 each.. you cant stick it in the bank and you have to spend it all or you get none.. I was like ahhh I already bought everything I want.. but it was fun to just go spend a good amount of money...
yeah.. i suppose that's why a lot of the wealthy people these days are donating the money to charities. i guess they figure it's better to put their money where it will do some good, rather than let their families fight & bicker over it & blow it on garbage that doesn't benefit anyone except themselves.
 

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I had an excellent chat on the phone with my mum tonight about growing veggies and chooks and being a lot more self reliant. Comparing the contemporary lifestyle of throwaway and disposable everything and takeaway food for every meal. Mum and dad are rather wealthy and have not been in a position to need to work for many years but they still both work full time past retirement age. They have a strong work ethic and very strong morals and are very frugal people.
they could buy and sell me many times over but they still share a tea bag because using one each would be a waste. A chocolate biscuit is a big treat for them and they live extremely frugally. They are both very happy and live a happy life. I am trying to make a concerted effort to live by their example and have a more fulfilling self reliant lifestyle. I think these sort of people are excellent examples for the rest of us. You definitely dont need money to be happy and healthy.
 

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Tested in the Wilderness
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thanks for the link Browsercat and all the comments from everyone.

Bill Hatke was a very interesting guy from all that I have read about him. After I first read that article in 1986 I felt like going to Lawrence, KS to find him and see how he lived. Probably should have but it was a few hundred miles to the east and I guess I was too busy back then.

He also died way too young but it surely was not because he lived unhealthy? But who knows for certain why he or others die especially of cancer? Smoking, not exercising enough etc. contributes greatly to dying before ones time but sometimes people may just not know why bad things happen....
 

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Weed 'em and reap
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No electricity, frugal, self sufficient, that sort of sounds like someone else I know. Now if he just had a remote mountain retreat he would be all set!

It seems like a rough way to live, but I bet he was happy with that simple life. Society almost forces us to have jobs now days just to pay property taxes, things just aren't like they used to be. It's sort of my goal in life to be self sufficient on my own land, but I'd like to have electricity if at all possible. I've often thought that fruit trees might be the way to make a steady yearly income.

Thanks for sharing Mike!
Just planted 15 fruit trees today, partially for that very reason. But they won't even put a dent in my $7000 property taxes, though. I do hope that timber will, especially after I buy some more land, and get it re-assessed as forest land. I have 14 1/2 acres now, but I need 25 acres for an official "forest."

But back to the OP, I just had this conversation with my better half today, that if we grow our own food, make our own electricity and fuel, and need very little from the outside world, we can live on next to nothing. The best part is that we could, theoretically, fall below the threshold for having to pay income taxes. And almost everything I made after that point, after taxes, would be gravy, not debt service or expenses.
 

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Weed 'em and reap
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The following is from a Sept. 1986 newspaper article. Very interesting and I don't think this story is told anywhere else. If anyone can find this or more info please post it.

There is not very much from a google search about Bill Hatke but there are a couple sites which I will give one at the end of this article. And here is one out of many stories, books etc. that helped inspire me in the 1980's to become a good survivalist who can live on little money, build a survival retreat and Live differently than most do. The article which I typed out >

Headline: Penny Pincher Gets By on Only $120 a Year

"Bill Hatke sure knows how to stretch a buck: the incredible 41 year old Kansas man lives on $120 a Year and $98 of that goes for property taxes!

But Hatke's no bum. He has two master's degrees in analytic philosophy and clinical psychology. And a Ph.D in sociology.

Despite his education, he earns his tiny income by gardening with hand tools on his 50 by 150 foot lot and four other lots owned by friends. He gives these friends part of his produce and sells the rest to individuals and restaurants in the city of Lawrence, Kansas where he lives.

Last year Hatke brought in $350. After paying his $98 property taxes he put $150 in savings for emergencies - loaned or gave $80 to friends - and spent the rest, a mere $22 on himself.
"It seems a fantastically small amount to survive on for a whole year but he owns his house, has no bills and grows everything he eats," says Margene Swarts, Lawrence's Housing and Environmental Inspector.

Explains Hatke, "I decided to drop out of the rat race and live my life free from the needs of money and other material possessions. I have no electricity, phone, running water, TV, stereo or other money gobbling habits. And I'm the happiest guy in the world for it."


Hatke was studying at the University of Kansas and living in a modern gadget-filled condo when he decided he wanted a simpler life.
"I remembered how I felt as a kid, letting the earth in our garden run through my fingers and I decided to become a gardener."

After graduation Hatke took his first step toward his dream by taking two jobs to earn enough cash to buy his small $7,000 four room wooden house. Then he quit his jobs and began gardening.
"The first thing to go was the phone," he said, "I figured if I needed to speak to somebody, I could go see them. And for out of town family or friends the U.S. mail works just fine.
Next to go was natural gas. I bought an old wood stove for $10 and started using it for heat and cooking. Mother Nature helped me get rid of running water during a deadly cold spell in the winter of 1982 - 83 when my pipes froze and burst.
I built a system to collect rainwater and run it into a makeshift cistern in an unfinished basement alcove beneath my bathroom. And now, when I need water, I simply haul it up in a five-gallon plastic bucket."

In 1985, Hatke made his hardest cutback - electricity. "I liked to watch reruns of 'All in the Family', M*A*S*H and 'Barney Miller' but I felt I was dependent on an outside authority. So I had to cut it off."

Hatke gave away his TV and radio, bought some candles and a battery powered transistor radio - then he began charging the batteries at a friend's house in return for vegetables.
"In the spring, summer and fall I'm in my gardens. In the winter, I read books friends give me, keep a daily journal etc.
For entertainment, I play cards and Scrabble two nights a week. And I go to the movies once a year to keep up with trends."

To maintain his life-style in 1986, Hatke stuck to his budget: property tax, $98; vegetable seeds, $3; handsaw blade, $5; 10 chickens, $5; chicken feed, $3; one movie ticket, $4; transistor radio batteries, $2.
"This year my budget will be smaller because I learned to sharpen my saw blade so I won't have to buy a new one," Hatke says.

Adds local author Kelly Kindscher, who studied Hatke's life-style for a book she plans to write: "He doesn't want to climb the big corporate ladder or be a big success in the rat race. So Bill Hatke is one of the most educated and independent gardeners in the world. He's astonishing!"

There were some photos in the newpaper article which here are the captions >

Back to Basics: Bill Hatke, who doesn't have electricity, reads by the light of an oil lamp and cooks on a woodstove.

Green thumb: Bill proudly shows off samples from his garden.

3rd caption: Bill grimaces as he takes a break while working in his vegetable garden.



I wonder If there are many or any others today who try to live on little money. Probably very very few especially who own their own property who do. Property taxes are much more today. Although mine as I have said before are now $208 a year on my mtn land. And I know of no one who lives on less money than I do, unless they are homeless.

And here is one link that tells a little more with even a pic of Bill Hatke > http://images.google.com/imgres?img...images?q=Bill+Hatke&hl=en&safe=off&tbs=isch:1

Any other links to his life and life-style will be welcome as well as any comments.
What a fantastic story. I would love to live like this. My wife would probably want a modified version, where we still have utilities. Of course, nowadays, somebody would call DCF and try to get our children taken away.
 

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Tested in the Wilderness
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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
No electricity, frugal, self sufficient, that sort of sounds like someone else I know. Now if he just had a remote mountain retreat he would be all set!

It seems like a rough way to live, but I bet he was happy with that simple life. Society almost forces us to have jobs now days just to pay property taxes, things just aren't like they used to be. It's sort of my goal in life to be self sufficient on my own land, but I'd like to have electricity if at all possible. I've often thought that fruit trees might be the way to make a steady yearly income.

Thanks for sharing Mike!
Almost forgot to respond to this post which I should respond right away or forget.

I did read that Hatke was born in Idaho but moved east to go to the universities. And he stayed around Kansas City - Lawrence, Kansas the rest of his life out of college.

I would think that he had a fairly hard life. Physically hard from all the manual labor but possibly hard without much money also.
Those with too much money or at least an abundance of money can hire everything they need done. Which if they do hire everything out, then they don't learn how to do much and they don't get too much exercise. Although I am sure some belong to expensive "health" clubs.

I know of NO one who is completely self-sufficient, such as having to Never go to a store or buy anything Ever. IF anyone knows of someone, even on the internet, then plz post a link to them which hopefully have many pics to help prove that they Do live completely self-sufficient.

Having fruit trees is good. Many can do it especially if they some land.
I planted some wild plum trees, which were only a foot high I grew from seeds. But the deep snows crushed them and the slow melting of the snows rotted those little plum trees. They were supposed to grow almost anywhere but the 10 plus feet of snowpack is hard for many things to grow.

I do at least have some raspberry bushes and Many grouse berry bushes all over the forest floor but grouse berries are real small.

Here is a link to a fruit tree thread for more info if any have missed it > http://www.survivalistboards.com/showthread.php?t=103167
 

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There are many living completely self sufficient in the underdeveloment countrys, like in afrika etc if that counts Mike.
Read some of the stories of Hatke, seem like a very interesting guy that focus more on the minds happyness more than anything. Filosofy and psycology truly are strong tools, aswell as gardening ^^
 
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