Enjoying a cup of coffee on the porch while the ducks splash in their little swimming pool and the chickens scratch in the sunny pasture. Deciding what to bake from scratch. Walking through the garden to see what rows need to be weeded, replanted, and what ought to be harvested. A chat with the neighbor over the fence. Homesteading allows us the great privilege of simplifying our life to the point where our days are spent how we wish. Homesteading doesn’t mean we don’t work anymore (we have been in a position where we didn’t have a homestead or jobs, and not working is just not fun)- we do plenty of work around here, but we do it out of gratitude and we have the ability to live on less.
Here are some farmgirl money tips to help you achieve your dream- whether it is to farm full-time, buy a homestead, homestead where you are, be a stay-at-home mom, or just live on less.
You Don’t Need to Make More, You Need to Spend Less
I love books on pioneering and old ways of living. In the Foxfire books that I am reading, the old timers chose to continue living how they always did, even in the 1970’s, when they could have lived a modern life. Many of us do not want to give up anything. We work, and work, for things that do not add to our life or that could easily be lived without. It’s all in your perspective. I didn’t grow up with much and my husband grew up with a lot, so I think we live in the Ritz and he thinks we are living rather low on the totem pole. I would be just as happy in a much smaller house (our current house is 1100 sq. ft.) in a warm climate, off-grid. Doug cannot live without his IPOD and wifi. So, we meet in the middle and homestead our own way. You can too. Remember, don’t make more, spend less.
Do you need cable television?
How much do you spend on subscription services like Netflix, Amazon, and the like?
Can you use the computers at the library for wifi?
Do you need a new car, or can you buy a used one with cash?
Do you need a smart phone? Do you need all the bells and whistles?
You can lower your electric bill substantially by unplugging anything that leaches energy. Unplug phone cords, lower unused freezers down to their lowest setting, turn off the porch light, turn off lights when not in use, turn off the LED lights on appliances. When making a new purchase, try to get one that is manual instead of one that plugs in. Use a clothes line instead of the dryer. Get some kerosene lamps for winter!
You can lower your gas bill substantially by investing in a wood stove. Not only will you be set if the power or furnace goes out, you will have the lovely ambiance of a stove that you can warm by or cook on while cutting your gas bill.
Good Savings Habits
Stay away from credit cards! Warning, money trap! 28% interest! You do not need them to raise your credit. You can still buy a house. And for everything else we are going to try not to take out loans and use cash, so the high credit score is moot anyway!
Use a cash based budget and you will save money. It is far too easy to use plastic money these days.
Put up $1000 for emergencies and then pay off debt.
Some money every month needs to go towards debt. The sooner we all get out of debt (we’ve made our fair amount of bad decisions and have a bit of debt), the sooner we regain our freedom and live better.
This one came from my son (who is, thankfully, much smarter than we are about money)- take half of what you have left over after paying bills and put it in savings. “Even if you have $25, put $12.50 in savings!” Andy told me. Smart kid.
Look where your money is going to. At the beginning of the month, before the lockdown was over, I had $400 extra to put towards my car payment in addition to the regular payment. Once the restaurants opened up again, there isn’t a cent of it left! What is your vice? Around here, a lot of people spend a lot of money on marijuana. Alcohol isn’t cheap. New cars aren’t cheap. In order to live a simpler, more peaceful lifestyle, we all have to figure out what can go. What we don’t need. What we no longer want to work towards.
How To Make Money to Homestead
Start your own business. Keep it simple. Keep it small. We used to do several farmer’s markets a week selling our herbal medicines. Before that I sold handmade puppets and throw pillows at craft fairs. In some places you can set up a roadside stand. Or do larger shows. Or advertise online. What do you do well? Can you teach it? Demonstrate it? Write about it? Sell it?
There is no shame in having a 9-5 job. My husband enjoys having a set paycheck. We have created a lifestyle that only requires one income.
“A penny saved, is a penny earned.” What can you do that you typically pay someone else or a company to do for you? Be your own grocery store! Grow some of your own food. Preserve your own food. Make some of your own clothes. Learn new skills. Have your own animals. Cook and bake from scratch instead of buying processed foods. Walk or ride your bike.
Living simply doesn’t mean suffering. If something means a great deal to you and you really enjoy it, then keep it in your life. If you fell for advertising on facebook and just bought cheap clothes from China, that was a money trap (and one less bag of chicken feed you could have bought).
There are plenty of free activities to keep you busy. Make a phone call to an old friend. Write a letter. Go hiking. Have people over for dinner. Utilize the library for books and movies. Play an instrument, paint, sew, weave, and spend time with people you love.
Be brave and really look at your money and how you can live simpler and live a homestead life. Do you need a big house and green lawn? Do you need all the electronics? Do you need a vacation to the Bahamas? Do you need the new Subaru?
Or would peace of mind and coffee on the porch suit you better?