So….Money. That’s Awkward.
I’ve mentioned in other posts that I am undertaking Keeper’s Croft on a pretty tight budget and it seemed like it was time to do a whole post about homestead personal finances. To represent this WHOLE experience, money has to be a topic.
There is a belief out there that homesteading will save you money. That it is a more economical, simple and less consumerist way of life. It’s not that this isn’t true but I think it is a little more complicated. It depends on the homesteader! I subscribe to the notion that homesteading is a wide umbrella that covers many ways of living but which are all united under striving for a more sustainable existence. And that’s a worthwhile goal regardless of the money that is or isn’t involved!
In particular, it’s important to consider money when thinking about starting to homestead. For many people it will NOT be cheap. I think the money saving aspects is a (I hope) long term prospect but there is a lot of initial investment to get there. There are certainly more economical ways to do it but that can also be influenced by many different things, from your personality to the real estate market.
Believe it or not, I’m not bringing this up to be discouraging! I feel incredibly grateful and privileged to be living the life I am. However, I think it’s good to go in knowing all the possible considerations. Money has 100% been the most stressful thing for me on this journey. My story and experience has of course shaped my views but I hope the thoughts below are helpful. I will first present some considerations that might play a role in your homestead’s financial picture and the talk about some ways I’ve been addressing them.
These are just some of the considerations that immediately come to mind that have influenced my endeavors. They’ve been important factors on what I can get done within a small budget. Do you have others that you could add to this list?
I can’t say how many times I’ve said and will continue to say to myself “what was I thinking?” It usually comes during a period when I am particularly stressed about money. So that encouraging wink from Cal above and the hopefully encouraging words below are as much for myself as they are for you, if you also find money to be a stressor. I also try to sprinkle in some tools and techniques that I’ve been finding helpful.
As much as I hate it, this has to be the number one thing on this list. I am not a patient person, so this is my mantra. What’s that saying about enjoying the journey as much as the destination? That’s an idea to embrace with every fiber of your being. I hate it but it’s a lesson I need to learn.
NOTE: Social media can really damage patience so beware. The times when I am most discontent is when comparing myself to other homesteads which started about the same time I did but have 7 different kinds of farm animals and an enormous raised bed garden and, and…. When I start to get anxious about this, I remind myself that all our journeys are different and that’s beautiful.
I want to be super thoughtful about every penny I spend on the croft. I could easily spend $10,000 on equipment and projects tomorrow. And $20,000 the day after that. There’s a lot to do but once I’ve broken through the worry and anxiety, it is teaching me to be more self-sufficient and think creatively.
What does the thoughtfulness and creative thinking look like?
The biggest example of the self-sufficiency is the french drain I installed last year. Hiring it out would have cost $2,500. I did it myself for roughly $170. Is it done as well as the pros? Meh. But I learned things and it is currently working so it’s a win. When something breaks these days, instead of immediately calling in a professional, I do some research and try to figure out if and how I can do it myself. It’s surprisingly rewarding!
Shopping my own house is a major strategy for me to exercise creativity. Whenever it pops up that I need something, I look around the house and see if there might be something that would work. It’s crazy how often I am able to make something else work. Akin to this is also sitting on that “need for something” for a bit because often, with time, I figure out another, cheaper way to get something done.
The most important thing here, is that I’ve come to enjoy this exercise of problem solving. It would be easier to throw money at it but in the last 2 years, I’ve learned that it’s not nearly as satisfying!
To generous offers. To opportunities to learn. Sometimes I feel awkward or tired or overwhelmed and I just shy away from offers of help, of hand me down equipment or produce or anything. I’m working hard to say yes as much as I can because it’s saying yes to community and not just to an object or knowledge.
I’ve been researching this a lot lately and have ideas. Selling rabbit poop. Selling “super” compost by having my vermicomposter compost my rabbit’s poop, lol. Selling unique vegetable starts and native plants. Selling microgreens. Selling pollinator friendly garden plans. ??? This is where personality comes in though. I am NOT a seller or entrepeneur, nor a risk taker. Every idea I have would require up front investment and what if there’s no marke? Or I sell a product that just isn’t good. UGH!
I have doubts but DO think developing a small side income to specifically support projects on the homestead is a terrific idea. So, for those of you with bolder spirits – go for it!
This is a (unsponsored) tool recommendation. I started using YNAB (You Need a Budget) at the beginning of 2021. It is very detailed and demands attentiveness. It demands that you think about every dime spent. This is exactly what I need. It has a pretty steep learning curve and it’s not free but I think it is my forever budget program:).
You can do it however you wish but if living under a budget is not something you’ve done before, I highly recommend finding something that works for you. A spreadsheet or program that not only allows you to plan how you will spend your money but then tracks exactly how you spend it. It then becomes a learning tool as well as helping you stay organized.
I have a lot of work to do in this arena of money and I feel quite behind. However, pushing myself forward in my life also forces me to learn and develop new muscles. In the end, it’s not about amassing a huge fortune and having all the nicest things. It’s about lowering stress and anxiety, taking care of my animals, living more sustainably and frugally, and being able to give generously.
If you want to know more about me and Keeper’s Croft, check out the ABOUT page.