100 Days of Useful Homesteading Skills: Day 9 – Live Within Your Means

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We all have this dream that if we could just move to the country and raise our own food, we would be self-reliant and have fewer bills. However, the fact is that if you can’t live within your means now you won’t be able to do so when you are homesteading.

We have several tips that can help you live within your means now so that you can be prepared.

Infrastructure costs money. Fences, gates, hardware, lighting, wire, and so much more costs money. Even if you are lucky enough to purchase a property that has the necessary infrastructure there will always be repairs and upgrades that will be necessary.

You will also have several months before your young chickens, goats, or other livestock are of age to produce any food value for you. Your gardens too will take a month or two to produce anything useful.

It may take months or years to develop any financial gain from your land, if you are very wise and can find the right niche early and if you are a people person who knows how to network well.

In the meantime, things may be lean and you need to be prepared for that. This means that you should, ideally, enter a homesteading lifestyle with as few debts as possible or the financial resources to handle those debts.

The best time to reduce your debts is before you become a homesteader. Simplifying your life, selling things that you no longer need, trading and bartering for the things you do need instead of using credit cards for them, paying off high debts, and spending your money wisely are all good habits to develop now.

Let’s talk about each of these briefly. I’m certain we will talk about each of them in greater detail at another time.

  • Simplify your life – get rid of the things you don’t need. Choose things that you can give away right now and sell, barter, donate, or give them away. Having fewer items to clean and organize when you are homesteading will give you more time to focus on your work.
  • Sell things you don’t need – You can do this online on local lists like Craigslist or Facebook. You can also have a yard sale or put them on Ebay. Books can be sold on Amazon or other booksellers.
  • Trade or barter  – We discussed this on Day 2 of this series. Just because you don’t need it doesn’t mean that someone else doesn’t. Things have value and you can get something useful from something you no longer have a use for.
  • Pay off high debts – There are many systems for doing this. Apps also exist to help you. We prefer the snowball method, where you pay extra toward one of your smaller debts until it is paid off, then apply that payment toward the next one. and the next, and so on, until all your debts are paid off.
  • Spend money wisely – This is a hard one to adapt to. In our world of modern conveniences, we can have almost anything we want instantly or, at least with online orders, within 24 hours. We resist the urge by waiting 48 hours. If we still are madly in love with it, we will return and purchase it. Usually, it must be on sale for at least 50% off if it is in a major department store or very, very cool and it withstood the 48-hour rule. Otherwise, we purchase most of our items second hand.

A few more tricks we’ve employed include:learning ledger.jpg

  • We deposit the amount that our receipts say we saved into a savings account immediately after checkout. Presumably, we won’t miss the money anyway.
  • We also pay ourselves first. This means that savings are deposited before any bills are paid.
  • Bills are set to autopay monthly and we also enacted a rule called OHIO or Only Handle It Once. OHIO means that, if a piece of mail, comes in that requires action, it gets dealt with immediately, that way it isn’t forgotten.
  • When we received raises for our past employment, we banked the difference, realizing that we wouldn’t notice the change.
  • While you’re at it, teach your children the value of their dollars. It will save you a lot of money down the road when they become teenagers and young adults.

What strategies have you employed to live within your means?

 

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