Is the homesteading lifestyle attainable? It seems like such a challenge to achieve for busy people on a budget. Here are four things you can do to set yourself up for homesteading success.
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In an earlier post, I wrote about how I quit my job and started homesteading.
You might be thinking that I’ve gone bonkers with all of this talk about having an adult in the household who is managing the homestead instead of out working as an employee somewhere.
First, we need to clear something up: Homesteading is a lifestyle. It is creating a productive home by increasing the home’s self-reliance and efficiency. Whether you have a person homesteading full time in your house, whether you have two people working together as weekend homesteaders, or whether you’re living in an apartment, it all counts if your goal is a more productive home.
Mr. TAF and I have a unique story because we came together from the beginning learning how to get by on a single income. We’ve had some luck along the way, and we’ve made some bone-headed mistakes financially, but by and large we know what our single income is, and we’ve learned to live on that.
You may dream of a bigger piece of land, but there is power in appreciating where you’ve already landed and making it the most productive and efficient as your time and budget allows (regardless of location or size).
4 Things Budding Homesteaders Can Do to Stay the Course
If you’re having trouble getting started or are feeling overwhelmed, here are some things you can do to feel empowered rather than paralyzed.
1. Don’t be disillusioned by homesteading perfection.
Homestead Perfectionism: Grow, harvest, cook, preserve all of your own food! Raise and process all of your own meat, eggs, and fiber. Make all of your own clothes, buildings, energy, personal care products, and medicines. The list goes on. And on.
Don’t let perfection be the enemy of good. Pick the things you are passionate about and want to learn. Once you’ve mastered one, you can move on to another skill.
2. Get your priorities straight.
What is it that you really want? How many of these apply to you:
- work full time
- participate in a couple of groups or sports teams
- have some friends that you see occasionally
- tend to your kids or aging parents
- allow your kids to participate in multiple activities per season
- attend/participate in a religious or spiritual community
And have you found yourself dreaming of:
- homesteading full time
- maintaining and/or improving your home
- keeping a clean house
- tending and/or expanding your garden
- cooking and preserving food from the garden
- improving your diet through cooking healthier food in general
- retiring early
- taking amazing annual family vacations
- buying a “better” home or a vacation home?
How many of these things apply to you? Did you know that you can’t do all of these things and do them well? This is the myth of the American dream.
It’s a fairy tale when we convince ourselves that we can actually do all of these things. We see people doing these things, and we spend a lot of energy feeling envious or idolizing them for appearing to do them all (which is impossible).
Ultimately, you have to choose a few things and really do them – really commit to them and integrate them into your life. Are you a wisher or a doer?
Ask yourself some hard questions:
- What’s really important?
- What brings joy?
- What can be let go or reduced?
A productive homestead must be considered a priority (not an afterthought) and allotted time for it to work. Perhaps you realize that homesteading activities are more of a hobby, and that’s okay, too.
Maybe you discover that now’s not the right time because there’s not enough wiggle room in the schedule, and you’re just educating yourself in the meantime.
Be honest with what you are willing and able to commit to, and decide what your priorities are. They can always change in the future.
We are all busy people with lots of commitments and responsibilities, and the last thing we need to do is waste precious time feeling paralyzed by envy or–worse–feeling inadequate, rather than feeling empowered to make a plan and achieve our goals.
Make a plan!
Are 5 hours in the garden + kitchen per week achievable? Don’t set yourself up for failure by turning your whole yard into a garden if you can only commit one hour per week. Make realistic priorities and goals.
3. Get in the kitchen
No matter your homesteading goals for the future, the most important thing you can do now is tend to your health by eating real food. Without your health, you will struggle to find the physical energy and mental motivation to stay the course.
If the only thing you have time for outside of work and caring for family matters is preparing healthy meals, then this should be the priority, no matter if the food is coming from your own homestead, a local farmer, or the grocery store.
4. Get out of debt
This is so important that I probably should have listed it as number one. I didn’t, because without knowing your priorities, you won’t be disciplined enough to set a goal for debt freedom. And if you aren’t getting the nutrients you need for energy from your food, you won’t be motivated enough to break free of debt.
Life is about choice. Sure, if I choose homesteading, then I might not be choosing other things of a consumer-based lifestyle, like a swanky car or a long vacation on the beach…at least at first.
Having the discipline to get out of debt and regain control over how you choose to spend expendable income is an amazing feeling. Perhaps this year you’ll choose to put up a garden shed and go on a camping trip instead of taking a bigger vacation, for example. Being a grown-up is hard!
We recommend Dave Ramsey for debt elimination (it changed our world!), but the debt elimination plan you follow isn’t important. Pick one and go.
Why is debt freedom important to homesteading? Because homesteading is about making the home a unit of production. Debt is the opposite–consumption. More debt equals more people in the household working as employees somewhere to pay the debt off.
More people working outside the home equals less production in the home, and more consumption, which becomes a never-ending loop. Debt freedom allows you to jump off the hamster wheel and choose how you want to live. Within the boundaries of reality, at least. (Of course, we’ll always need some money).
For more tips, see my post 7 Ways to Start a Homestead (without being overwhelmed).
Setting your priorities, getting to know your kitchen, and making a plan for debt reduction will allow you to feel the empowerment that comes with eliminating distractions from your life, so that you can funnel all your energy into creating a productive homestead.
You can do this, your life is waiting for you. Set your goals and go!
Tell me in the comments below: What has helped you be successful in your journey to a homesteading lifestyle?