Over the last few years, there has been a noticeable shift… a homesteading movement… and I for one couldn’t be more excited.
Decisions to bypass the system, support local businesses, and live more sustainably are being made across the country. The good news is, you don’t need 50 acres, a milk cow, and a commercial-sized garden to join in.
It has always been my belief that homesteading is a state of mind. Homesteading is about living a more sustainable life no matter where you are. But if rolling acres, a garden, and a milk cow are what your dreams are made of, then now is the time to learn how you can afford them.
How to Afford a Homestead
Our homestead wasn’t always what it is today, as we didn’t always have multiple successful businesses. We started out with big dreams and we were homesteading on one income. It wasn’t easy; there were a lot of hard lessons learned, but I wouldn’t change a thing.
Figuring out how to afford your homestead isn’t an easy first step to take; it can seem a bit overwhelming. Allow me to share the lessons we have learned over the years while on our homesteading journey.
#1 What Does Your Dream Homestead Look Like?
Before you think about how to afford a homestead you should try to imagine what your future homestead will look like. Everyone’s idea of homesteading looks different, you need to really think about what your ideal homestead might include.
It can be tempting to look at someone else’s homestead and to want what they have. It’s fine to look at other homesteads to gain inspiration, but don’t travel down the comparison rabbit hole. Comparing your homesteading journey to someone else’s can leave you feeling discouraged. When it comes to making decisions about your own homestead, the focus should be on what is really best for you.
The best way to get a better idea of what you want is to sit down and write it all out. Make a list of anything that comes to mind when you are imagining what you want. No goal or idea is too big or crazy after all this is your dream homestead.
Consider figuring out how to design your dream homestead with my FREE handbook— grab it here: http://theprairiehomestead.com/layout
When it comes to affording a homestead, you need to set your goals and understand What Homesteading Really Costs at that point.
#2 Money Management to Afford a Homestead
Many people believe that starting a homestead takes a lot of money and I suppose it can, but it doesn’t have to. The best way to afford a homestead is to start thinking about money management. We have lived by these Top 6 Money Principles for Homesteaders and the results have been bigger than we ever imagined.
Our money mindset and these principles are not the only answer; there are different things you can do to get a better handle on your financial situation.
Here are a few things to consider that can help with money management:
- Remove all existing debt
- Create a budget you can live with
- Change your Money Mindset
- Stop comparing yourself to others
- Live within your means
When it comes to money management, Dave Ramsey has always been our go-to resource. I am a big fan of the debt-snowball method and his books on money management. (For the record I am very picky about the books that I read and recommend!)
#3 Making Sacrifices to Afford a Homestead
Making sacrifices goes hand in hand with smart money management. Take a look at what your current spending habits are, and then get rid of things you can live without. This could mean spending less on eating out or saying no to a fancy vacation.
Deciding in the moment what you can live without is the easy part, it is the follow-through that can be difficult. When times get tough, remember why you are making these sacrifices and why affording a homestead is so important to you. And if you need some inspiration and encouragement in this journey about WHY homesteading is worth it, check out my Homesteading Manifesto.
If you think following through will be difficult, start by making small sacrifices, for example, stop buying a coffee on your way to work, and continue to add more as you progress.
Trust me, I get it. It was hard for us at first, too. We worked side-jobs, we budgeted carefully, we didn’t eat out, we bought used cars and tractors….but we stuck to our plan, continued our journey, and now we are able to work from home while supporting our homestead life. When you make these sacrifices, you are often giving up the instant gratification for a much more rewarding future.
#4 Self-Fund Your Homestead
Time and time again people have told me that money has been their number #1 struggle when it comes to homesteading. As I mentioned earlier, things haven’t always been this way for us, and we haven’t always had different businesses, a greenhouse, or milk cows (read more about our story here).
Before we could afford our current homestead life, there were a lot of different ways we supported our homestead dream. Having a self-sufficient mindset can help you come up with ideas for a self-funded homestead.
When I say self-funded, what I mean is creatively coming up with ways that your homestead can help pay for itself. You can build a self-funded homestead by using things or skills you already have. If you are unsure what you have or how you can create a self-funded homestead, take a look at this list of 39 Ways to Make Money Homesteading.
Get creative and think outside the box! If you’re ready to create your own self-funded homestead from things you are already doing, then I can help. My course The Self-Funded Homestead is where you can learn how to build a homestead that will self-fund the projects you have been dreaming of.
#5 Start Small and Gradually Add More
Don’t go into debt buying things for big projects! We didn’t make the decision to homestead and then immediately go out and buy a milk cow. We saved up and worked on one thing at a time (of course, we aren’t perfect, we’ve made plenty of homesteading mistakes along the way). Start small, and as your savings and finances grow, then your projects can too.
When you are starting a homestead from scratch, there are so many options for you to get your feet wet. Great starter projects can include:
- Laying Hens (check out my Beginner’s Guide to Laying Hens for some tips)
- Meat Chickens
- Container Garden
- Herb Garden
- Small Garden
If animals and a garden are too much, then you can start other actions inside your home:
- Learn From Scratch Cooking (find some great recipes in my cookbook to help you in your from-scratch cooking adventures)
- Cut Costs Bulk Pantry Buying (read more of my tips on bulk pantry food here)
- Sourdough (I would start with my tips for making a sourdough starter)
- Make Candles (check out my tutorials for: beeswax candles, soywax candles, and even tallow candles)
- Make Soap (check out my tutorials for: hot process soap and tallow soap)
- Preserve Farmer’s Market Finds (if you’re a beginner, check out my Learn How to Can course)
There are so many different ways you can start homesteading without taking on too much too soon. In the end, you will be much happier remembering your small start, and that you lived within your means and you learned so much from the humbler parts of your journey.
#6 Build Relationships to Help Afford a Homestead
One part of homesteading that often gets forgotten or left out is the necessity of building relationships with others. Get to know your neighbors and become a part of a community. It isn’t always easy, but you can learn how to cultivate community while you’re homesteading.
In olden days, pioneers depended on one another in their covered wagon communities while traveling. They traded, helped, and supported each other. The same can be done now in modern communities, and it might be able to help you afford a homestead.
One great reason to get to know other like-minded people in a community is to continue the homesteading tradition of bartering. Bartering within your community can be very helpful when you are trying to afford a homestead. No money is spent, while goods or services are exchanged.
You can trade extra goods such as eggs, milk, meat, and even swap animals if that is what you have. Services are a great way to barter as well, with things like chopping firewood or helping build a barn.
Here area a few lists in order to inspire you:
A Few Extra Goods for Bartering:
- Canned Goods
- Baked Goods
- Maple Syrup
- Animal Manure
Service Ideas For Bartering Include:
- Handy Man – Plumbing, Electric Work Etc.
- Chopping Wood
- Animal Transport
- Hoof Trimming
- Herd Management Help – Disbudding, Tattooing, Branding
- Sheep Shearing
- Animal Herding
What Does Your Future Homestead Look Like?
Affording a homestead doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all solution. We followed our money principles, lived within our means, and made many sacrifices in order to build the homestead that we have today. Your homesteading journey will change, have its’ own obstacles, and yet also have some really great moments.
Remember to start your homesteading journey small, without debt, and look for ways to produce a homestead that works with you to fund your projects. Homesteading, after all, is really about what you learn on the journey that you are taking to reach your destination in self-sufficiency and independence.