I’m extremely comfortable being a weirdo.
I suspect it may have something to do with my homeschooled upbringing, but I have been accustomed to “sticking out” from day one. Now as an adult, I continue to own my weirdness in multiple areas of my life– including homesteading, entrepreneurship, and even in our finances.
I often ask my readers what is their #1 struggle when it comes to homesteading, and the answer that shows up more than anything else?
Hands down, it’s the response I see pop up time and time again, regardless of age, location, or lifestyle.
Money management is a subject near and dear to my heart, and it’s a big part of my weirdness. Choosing to push against cultural norms in how we’ve managed our money has set the most amazing chain of events into motion for my husband and I. Not only did these decisions enable me to have the bandwidth to focus on growing/starting my online business six years ago, but those choices also enabled my husband to quit his traditional job at age 35 and so we can focus on building OUR dreams, instead of the dreams of others.
I’ve written about our money mindset and philosophy in the past, and as many of you know, we are huge fans of Dave Ramsey. Ten years ago when we initially read his Total Money Makeover book (affiliate link), he was not quite the household name he is today. I quickly had to learn to embrace the ‘weirdo’ label once again as people thought we were insane for refusing to have a car payment and only paying cash for stuff.
But we stuck with it, despite the raised eyebrows and ‘comments’ from others, and I am so glad we did. The rewards have been more than I could have ever imagined.
Because I see so many people struggling to fit their homesteading dreams into their financial reality , I wanted to share some of the guiding principles that have served us so well over the years. As you read through the list, you won’t see anything earth-shattering, but these simple concepts have made all the difference for us. The key? Implementation. You must do it and stick with it– even when it’s not popular and not glamourous. Do it anyway. The harvest you’ll reap is worth it.
How We Started Homesteading on One Small Income:
Top 6 Money Principles for Homesteaders (or anyone!)
1. Avoid debt like the plague
Ten years ago, my husband and I made the conscious decision to stay out of debt. That single choice has impacted our lives more than anything else we’ve ever done. I love seeing debt-free lifestyles gaining more accolades these days, but back when we started, it wasn’t exactly cool. In fact, we were ridiculed and criticized for driving our $1500 Ford Taurus and refusing to carry a balance on our credit card. But we didn’t care what other people thought, and we stuck with it. This mentality of only purchasing what we could afford set us up for success in our homesteading endeavors. (We do have a mortgage, but we borrowed far under what we were approved for, and will be paying it off entirely this year.) I don’t care how much debt you have right now– it’s never to late to shift and start a debt snowball. Will it require sacrifice? You bet. But it is, hands down, one of the best decisions we ever made.
2. Build an emergency fund
Stuff happens… And having all the working pieces of a homestead increases your chances of more “stuff” happening– equipment breaking, animals getting sick or injured, you name it. Start working today to build an “emergency fund” which is simply a dedicated savings account with 3-6 month of expenses set aside. Our emergency fund has saved our bacon so many times, and has prevented us from turning to credit cards when a horse has tried to cut her leg off (ugh), the truck has broken down, etc. The peace of mind that comes from knowing you have the fund if you need it is amazing.
3. Squash the comparisons
Keeping up with the Joneses… Or the homesteader next door… Or those picture-perfect Pinterest People. It’s a real temptation, man… I totally get it. Our human nature tends to drive us to compare and lament our perceived inadequacies, which in turn has a powerful pull in causing us to spend money we don’t have. Can I offer you a gentle piece of advice? Stop it. Just. Stop. Because guess what? The Joneses are broke, and the Pinterest People aren’t showing you the dirty dishes and holes in lawn. Water the grass on your side of the homestead fence, stay in your own lane, and you’ll be amazed at how your mindset will shift!
4. Embrace humble beginnings
Last week I found our list of homestead goals from 2011, and I couldn’t help but smile. Back then, those things were SO BIG to me. Compared to our homestead goals now? They seem like a drop in the bucket, but it makes me proud of the way we started out. We creatively scrimped and saved to make this homesteading dream of ours work, and as our finances grew, so did our ability to dream bigger.
Fight the temptation to go into debt or financial distress in an attempt to have it all at once. You don’t need to buy an “instant farm”. Start small if you need to, live within your means, purchase what you can afford, and add a little bit at a time. That’s what we did. It truly is about the journey, not the destination.
5. Be mindful of money pits if your budget is tight
People are often surprised to learn raising your own food often costs *more* than simply purchasing it at the store. Truly, if this was all about saving money, I’d be much better off to buy the cheap gallons of milk from the grocery store, versus keeping our own milk cow. But for us, this homesteading gig isn’t about saving money, it’s about quality of life. It’s about raising kids who understand the rhythms of nature and the satisfaction of hard work. It’s about fulfilling the childhood dreams of my husband and I. It’s about boosting our self-sufficiency and learning new skills. Therefore, I’m willing to accept that some aspects of homesteading simply may cost more.
That being said, we still try to make wise decisions when it comes to which animals we raise and what projects we invest in. For example: this year we chose to purchase piglets from the breeder down the road, versus shipping in heritage-breed piglets. With our current feed sources, raising pigs isn’t cheap to begin with (even with feeding scraps and milk…), and we couldn’t justify having to feed a slower-growing, smaller breed for a longer period of time and ultimately getting less meat. These sort of decisions will vary from from situation to situation, but I encourage you to carefully weigh which homesteading projects contribute to your long-term goals and quality of life, and which ones would just be throwing money to the wind.
6. Adopt an abundance mindset
Over the last year or so, I’ve become extremely aware of how I have lived my life in a scarcity mindset. Until it was pointed out to me, I had no idea how much it was negatively impacting my life and my thought process.
I define the scarcity mindset of living in a space of “never enough.” People entrenched in scarcity believe there is never enough time, never enough money, never enough resources, and if someone else gets ahead, then it means I can’t. Holding onto this belief will have a huge impact on how you view your life and how you are able to reach your goals– homesteading or otherwise. Trust me– I know this all too well.
Slowly but surely, I’ve been transitioning my mindset to one of abundance. Embracing abundance and shifting my thought patterns has given me so much more peace in regards to finances, time management, and generosity. One of my favorite ways to remind myself of abundance is to simply go outside. Nature is full of abundance (you can’t count the stars, or the blades of grass, or the particles of soil in the garden, or the leaves on a tree), and immersing myself it in reminds me there is enough.
See, I told ya.
Nothing earth-shattering, but following these simple principles has made all the difference for us as we’ve seen our homestead goals come to fruition. They can work for you too, if you simply implement them and stick with it. The choice is yours. 🙂