The one universal comment made to all wannabe homesteaders through books and peers is “How will you make money?” Many homesteaders, and even farmers and ranchers take other jobs to help make ends meet. I constantly hear around me, “I have to make more money,” from every walk of life and lifestyle. That is a lot of pressure when we are here for such a short time. Is that all there is? Every time my kids say they need to make more money, I say they need to spend less. This annoys them to no end.
We’re in the middle of our journey. We have already had “successful” and monetarily acceptable jobs. We have lived in the suburbs (gag) and driven new cars. We have taken the children on Caribbean cruises with credit cards that didn’t seem like they would become a problem! We have pursued the good fight for the American Dream! We have owned houses (not all at the same time), worked hard, made ourselves nervous and grumpy and not anywhere near where we wanted to be. Jumping ship is scary, but very rewarding as well. In a few years, we’ll be jumping to the next ship; see where that takes us. I have found a few towns that are even cheaper than this one.
Back to jumping ship the first time, ok people pay attention, cause this could be your way out of the rat race.
We now rent (you have more flexibility, if your homestead falls to pieces, you can simply pack up and go to a different one). Owning was an anchor where our house was worth a lot less than what we owed and not worth the long work days. We now live in a town thirty minutes from where we were living where the rent is half the price we were paying for mortgage. Baby steps to the big homestead! I couldn’t afford a house on lots of land so we have a house in a little town; spacious yard, great house, small town philosophies (chickens, gardens, and clothes lines welcome).
We don’t have a home phone, we have a cell phone that is our home and work phone. It was only ten bucks to add each kid on. No data or fancy phones.
We went for a long time without cable. I might have made the error of having Doug transfer the internet (which we wouldn’t have if I were single, but it’s a requirement for Doug) to the new house and somehow we have cable now. With a contract.
We have NO credit cards. Everyone says they pay them off each month. If that were true then these companies wouldn’t be making so much money off of us, screwing us over by changing the interest rate and date due (when we cancelled our cards, they were at 25% interest and we never received any notice; that was with good credit!). It is a mini-loan. If you are going to make it, no loans, no borrowing, period. No loaning to other people either. If you have the money, give it to them as a gift, if not, say no.
No car payments.
We still eat out and go see movies but not as often as we used to. We rent movies and books from the library, play pool at the bar down the street, play board games, and have friends over for dinner. We sing karaoke at the coffee shop. These things cost little to no money.
Ok, now you have your bills to bare minimum. You are putting a little in a coffee can each week and forgetting about it. You have to make money to do that!
We found a niche with the herbs. People can’t afford health care or are sick of it (like us) and want herbal medicines. We have a school. Teach what you know. It seems you would put yourself out of business but it is the opposite. You empower others to help themselves and you make money for a new board game. Teach classes on how to knit, crochet, make butter, make cheese, how to draw, how to garden….simple things that come easy to you are in high demand for others who want to learn.
A girlfriend of mine posted pictures of soap on facebook. She had such an overwhelming response of people wanting to learn that she has set up 2 hour classes every weekend at $25 a pop (we would pay more). They are filled through February.
Farmer’s markets and craft shows are great ways to get your crafts/canned food you put up/baked goods/teas/excess veggies/eggs, whatever your thing is, out to the public. Set up shop in a small town. The rents are cheaper and the people more loyal. Use integrity in your business and small town people will be your customers forever (even if you teach them how to do things).
There is Etsy and other websites to sell your stuff. Get your handiwork in stores in bigger cities. Go to locally owned businesses and ask for them to put a few in the store. They will likely say yes.
Now that you have only a few bills, 5 hand carved bears (or whatever you sell) will cover them.
I can imagine when I get my next homestead I won’t have to pay water (extremely high out here) because I will have a well. I will use a ton less energy because I will have a wood stove that I can cook on and in and heat my small house (we’re talking 500 sq. ft here)! That will drop more bills off of what I have to make. Stepping stones.
While you consider jumping ship in the new year and while you are enjoying your holidays, here is a recipe for calming tea. 1 cup is great for calming children and adults, 2 cups will help you sleep.
1 pt each: catnip, lemon balm, chamomile, hops, skullcap. (health food store or online)
1 teaspoon per 1 cup of boiling water, steep 4 minutes. Add a little honey if desired.