You have probably heard the saying “Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day”, well I’m here to tell you a debt-free homestead isn’t usually built in a day either.
Homesteading is a never-ending journey full of possibilities and surprises, and it can be a bit overwhelming at times. However, not all aspects have to be surprising or overwhelming, especially when it comes to money matters on your homestead.
Starting something new is exciting, especially when you have this big dream within reach. It can be tempting to jump in with both feet (I totally understand the sensation) and race to the finish.
I remember when we were brand new homesteaders….we were full of dreams for our homestead and yet also trying to become debt-free. It can be so hard to balance buying all-the-things and paying off debt.
So I thought I would help y’all out and put together these tips for building a debt-free homestead in order to help you contain the financial overwhelm and be able to jump in on the right track.
Tips for Building a Debt-Free Homestead
Tip #1: Start with a Clean Slate
I truly believe that the best way to begin building a debt-free homestead is to start off without any debt. When we started on our homestead journey Christian and I made the decision to follow these 6 Money Principles in order to remain debt-free (besides our original house mortgage). No matter how much your current debt is, you can make the decision to do the same!
Look at your current debt situation and take the necessary steps to eliminate it. I know you’re thinking “easier said than done.” Right? No one makes the decision to start homesteading because it is easy, so think of this as your first actionable step.
Please know that you are not alone and that there are different methods that can help you start to build your debt-free homestead with a clean slate. For example, Dave Ramsey has always been our go-to resource for money management and his debt snowball method is a great place to start when you are trying to build a debt-free homestead.
It might seem hard to buy used cars with cash and to go through some years without expensive debt-causing vacations, but the end result and that thrilling feeling of freedom you get when you pay off your last debt….it’s so worth it.
Tip #2: Create Your Homesteading Plan
Planning is going to be your best friend when it comes to setting up your homestead. This is when you will set goals, decide what your priorities are, and really organize your focus. Your goals and priorities will help you decide what projects need to be completed.
When creating your plan, always remember to look at the “Bigger Picture”, and don’t just plan a year out. For example, try making a 1 year, 5 year, and 10 year plan. Really take a look at what you want your future homestead to be, this will give you a better understanding of what projects you will be undertaking and what will fit in your budget.
Goal Setting, planning, and organization have been such a huge help in accomplishing so much over the years. I will admit there is one secret tool that helps me through it all, it is a paper planner. A planner allows you to keep track of and organize your homestead all in one place (I believe in the awesomeness of using a paper planner for goal setting and organization so much that I even designed a planner…).
Tip #3: Always Be Prepared for the Unexpected
Homesteading can be chaotic, things don’t always go as planned, and the unexpected will happen! Instead of scrambling to find the funds when the unexpected happens, it is better to anticipate them and plan ahead.
Building up an emergency fund is the best way to prepare for those unexpected costs. This fund doesn’t have to be a year’s worth of paychecks, but it should be enough for you to stay away from credit cards when disaster strikes. Emergency examples can include things like: a vet visit, equipment repairs, and anything else that happens unexpectedly that you will need to pay for on the spot.
We like to set aside 3-6 months’ worth of expenses just to be safe, but according to this Emergency Fund Guide, 1000 dollars is a great place to start.
Tip #4: Always Do Your Research
Once you have a plan and a good understanding of what your financial state, don’t forget to investigate what homestead startup costs are and what kind of investments you will need to make for your priority projects.
We started our homestead 12 years ago, and since then the world’s financial climate has changed. The cost of everything has gone up, and that is why now more than ever it is important to do your homework and try to get a better picture of where your projects will take you.
For example, if you are planning on raising your own livestock, make sure you research the costs of feed, housing, vet visits, and butchering costs. Maybe you are dreaming of raising beef but starting out, your budget will only allow for chickens. That’s okay, try to take it slow so you avoid debt while trying to live out your homestead dreams.
Another important factor to consider while doing your research is to remember that budget-friendly choices aren’t always the best choices. (We may have learned this the hard way after having to replace budget-priced barbed wire more than once.) When you are doing your research and figuring out the cost, look for quality if you can. You may be spending more upfront but in the long run, it can save you time and money.
Note: Buying Quality fencing or other homesteading materials can save you from buying more and having to do the job twice, thus saving you money.
Tip #5: Build a Budget You Can Live With
Understanding the amount of money that you actually have is important when you are trying to build a debt-free homestead. Creating a budget can show you the amount of money you have and help you control where it is going.
There are a ton of different budgeting tools and methods that can be found these days. One well known budgeting method is the zero-dollar method. The zero-dollar method works by dividing your incoming money and giving every last cent a purpose. Your income can be divided between expenses, savings, and miscellaneous things, then left with a zero-dollar amount when done.
Note: This method does not mean that you need to spend every cent, it just gives each cent a purpose whether that be for bills, homesteading projects, or savings.
A budget can be a useful tool for building a debt-free homestead, but only if you stick to the method you choose!
Tip #6: Live Within Your Means to Build a Debt-Free Homestead
Simply put… living within your means is when you only spend money on things you can afford. If you want, you can go out and buy everything all at once with a credit card, but that isn’t how you are going to stay debt-free.
Sticking to your budget, only spending what you have, and making sacrifices to get what you want is how you live within your means to build that debt-free homestead. Down the road, you will look back at those sacrifices and appreciate all you have done to live a life without debt.
Tip #7: Use What You Have and Do What You Can Yourself
One reason people make the decision to homestead is to live a self-sustainable life. Learning to use materials and skills that you already have can help to build your debt-free homestead. You will not need to buy certain things or pay someone for a service when you are able to provide for yourself.
Recycling or repurposing may not be the prettiest solution, but it can be very useful for animal housing, DIY brooder boxes, gardening trellis materials, it all depends on what you have. These things don’t have to be your permanent solution but they can be used until you are able to fit what is needed into your planned budget.
Tip #8: Network and Cultivate Community
Homesteading isn’t something that you have to do alone, there are a lot of like-minded people out there. It is important that you find your community, it can be a group online or your little neighboring town. A community can provide support and advice to keep you moving in the right direction. A community also might help you keep costs down through traditional options like bartering and trade.
I wasn’t always a community-minded person but time and time again our little community has shown me how great it is to be apart of something and help when you can. Learn How to Cultivate Community While Homesteading and see what being apart of a network of like minded people is all about.
Tip #9: Get Creative When Building Your Debt-Free Homestead
Think outside the box when it comes to funding your homestead dreams. Sit down, write out a list of ways that you can create a side income to help fund your homestead.
Your list might include selling extra eggs, selling DIY projects, having a yard sale, pet sitting, or finding odd jobs. Your list can be as extensive as you would like it to be. The one thing you need to remember is that your side funding business ideas shouldn’t be taking money from your main goal. If you would like some support as you figure out how to make money from your homestead, check out my course Self-Funded Homestead for some additional tips and support.
Note: Don’t go into debt funding your side projects!
Tip #10: Learn to Enjoy Where You Are on Your Journey
It can be tempting to go down the rabbit hole of comparisons and checking out everyone else’s homesteads on social media doesn’t help. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side, and going into debt to jump ahead won’t help you or make you happy in the long run.
This last tip is all about changing the way you think about your journey and learning to enjoy where you are at this very moment. You may not have the prettiest garden or the most animals, but if that is “Your Dream”, then you will make it happen when it is the right moment.
FINAL TIPS: Overcome comparisons, stop believing that there is never enough, enjoy where you are and what you have right now. Appreciating your own journey will help you stay debt-free and reach your goals in your own time.
Start Building Your Debt-Free Homestead
Building a debt-free homestead isn’t going to happen over night; you will have to be patient, make sacrifices and remember to enjoy where you are on your journey. Homesteading can be chaotic and overwhelming, but your financial state doesn’t have to be. Plan for those unexpected moments, find support within your community, and stay debt-free.
–> If you want to learn about how to create a self-funding homestead where you and your family could invest your energies into something that matters and that helps your homestead, check out my program Self-Funded Homestead.