If you can grow a garden, learn how to forage for wild food, become your own chef, and get to know just 10 herbs to spice up your meals and keep you out of restaurants, then you may be able to save even more F-You money!
I learned about F-You money from a talented group of people at UK Chautauqua, where we met five amazing speakers/bloggers who shared their ideas about financial independence (FI), side hustles, and early retirement.
One of the best parts of Chautauqua was being with a group of people who get it, who understand there is more to life than working at a job (when you’d rather just spend your time puttering in the garden or playing with herbs).
What, you may be wondering, is F-You money? It’s more than an Emergency Fund (3 to 6 months of living expenses), but less than complete Financial Independence (FI).
F-You money is just the right amount of savings that allows you to walk away from a job and do something else that you’re more passionate about for a year or two – maybe start a little herb business.
Check out JL Collins, the mastermind behind Chautauqua, as he channels John Goodman in “The Gambler” to illuminate this concept (warning – explicit language).
(Used with permission from jlcollinsnh. Directed, filmed and edited by Joan @ Meister’s Balogna and Brian @ Inner Parakeet.)
As a baby boomer who didn’t save enough money when I should have, I went to Chautauqua to learn ways to catch up on my retirement savings. The week was spent learning about investing, tax optimization, and side hustles to make and save extra money.
I’ve had a few herbal side hustles in the past, and am still very passionate about herbs and aromatherapy. Growing herbs and making your own herbal products can be a fantastic way to not only save money to invest, but an interest in herbs can also be developed into a money-making side hustle.
While attending UK Chautauqua in Stratford Upon Avon (Shakespeare’s birthplace), I had the opportunity to lead an herb walk. Here are some of the cultivated and wild plants that I talked about with my new tribe.
We started our herb walk in the traditional knot garden where we talked about Tussie Mussies – small, fragrant bouquets or nosegays that were used in medieval times. Tussie Mussies were often held close to the nose to avoid smelling the unpleasant body odors of others (bathing wasn’t big back then).
I’m not suggesting anyone should give up bathing in the hope of growing an IRA with the money saved on soap and water!
As our group strolled over to an ancient chapel on the grounds of the castle where we were staying, we discovered Lady’s Mantle, Lavender, and Roses. This gave me an opportunity to introduce the Language of Flowers in addition to the folklore and traditional uses of herbs.
The Language of Flowers became popular in prerevolutionary France and remained a favorite pastime during the Victorian era both in Europe and America. Tussie Mussies were given as gifts to convey a message or make a statement without saying a word.
Each flower or herb used in the bouquet had a secret meaning. A bouquet containing red roses signified passionate love, while yellow roses said, “Let’s just be friends.”
It was fun to find Lady’s Mantle growing on the grounds, as this beautiful herb was believed to have magical properties. The Latin name Alchemilla comes from the Arabic word alkemelych, which means alchemy.
Alchemists gathered dewdrops from the leaves of this plant in their quest to create the Philosopher’s Stone, which reputedly could turn base metals into gold. Medieval alchemists were into FI, too!
The lovely serrated edges of Lady’s Mantle leaves resemble the scalloped edges of capes worn by women in medieval times. And in fact, women revered Lady’s Mantle as an herb for enhancing beauty, as it was believed that applying the dewdrops to the skin would lighten imperfections.
Years ago, I studied with herbalist David Hoffmann, who noted “Lady’s Mantle has the power to restore feminine beauty, however faded, to its early freshness.” An herb that can restore feminine beauty, sign me up!
Traditionally, Lady’s Mantle was used to regulate the menstrual cycle, as an astringent and anti-inflammatory, and even as a wound healer.
Culpeper listed Lady’s Mantle as one of the important healing herbs used in the battlefields of the 15th and 16th centuries. A wonderful herb for women, men, and even magicians!
Walking across the lawn to a wooded lane, we passed a beautiful specimen of Chicken Mushrooms growing on a tree, and a nice stand of Comfrey in the grass. Along the lane and next to the stream, we found Plantain, Bedstraw, Stinging Nettle, Yellow Dock, Self-Heal, Linden, and Cedar.
We also found 8′ tall poisonous Hemlock, which the hotel staff confirmed that they were trying to eradicate! Not all plants are safe – don’t harvest or use anything if you’re not sure what it is.
Consult an herbalist (and of course, you will want to get permission if you are not on your own land).
LADY’S MANTLE (Alchemilla vulgaris)
LAVENDER (Lavendula officinalis)
ROSE (Rosa spp.)
COMFREY (Symphytum officinale)
PLANTAIN (Plantago spp.)
BEDSTRAW (Galium spp.)
STINGING NETTLE (Urtica dioica)
YELLOW DOCK (Rumex crispus)
DANDELION (Taraxacum officinale)
SELF-HEAL (Prunella vulgaris)
LINDEN (Tilia spp.)
These were some of the herbs that we found on our herb walk while in Stratford Upon Avon, but I’d like to encourage you to pick any ten herbs that intrigue you and get to know them – grow them, use them to beautify your home, make your own skincare products, or eat them (if edible).
There are so many fragrant, medicinal, and culinary herbs – it can be a little intimidating to ponder learning about them all. Start slowly.
Just pick ten herbs.
Anyone can get to know ten herbs. Once you’ve mastered your first ten herbs, move on to your next ten, and so on. Baby steps.
It can be helpful to keep a notebook, journal, or create your own Materia Medica to record what you learn as you grow, taste, and use herbs to enhance your health.
Materia Medica refers to the body of knowledge about the healing properties of plants and how they have been used over time.
Most herb books have a Materia Medica section, describing each herb in depth. Taking a course will also provide this information.
The Culinary Herbal by Susan Belsinger and Arthur Tucker
The Alchemy of Herbs by Rosalee de la Foret
The Herbal Medicine Maker’s Handbook by James Green
The Complete Book of Herbs by Lesley Bremness
Holistic Herbal by David Hoffmann
Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health by Rosemary Gladstar
Herbs for Natural Beauty by Rosemary Gladstar
Growing and using herbs can be a great way to add incredible flavor to your meals without spending all your cash in gourmet restaurants. If you really get into it, you can save buckets of money by making your own herbal lotions, balms, and creams.
Make your own herbal teas and treats to give as gifts instead spending a ton of money in stores. People really appreciate hand-crafted gifts from the heart!
Or even start a little side hustle selling herb plants, dried herb wreaths, or herbal soaps. Have fun, and be sure to invest your savings into your retirement account!
The more you save, the sooner you will have your own F-You money so you won’t have to keep working at a J.O.B. (when you’d rather be outside playing).
Question: What is growing in your garden that helps you to save money? Which hobbies have you dreamed about turning into a money-maker?