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Modern Homesteading: 8 Practical Ways to Make It as a Homesteader

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So you have the dream of becoming a homesteader? It may look something like you wake up with the sun, feed your chickens, and mosey around your farm all day doing different tasks while being self-sufficient.

But there is only one problem, how do you afford to live this life? And how do you pay the bills when they arrive each month?

This was probably my biggest question when I began dreaming of being a homesteader, and it is still one of the most frequently asked questions that I see on the internet.

So how do you make it as a modern homesteader? Well,  you are in luck because I’m going to share my knowledge with you in this post.

However, before we get started, I want you to know that these are only suggestions. You may find your own ways of making it, and some of my ideas may not pan out for you.

Either way, I hope you find some of these tips helpful.

1. Stop Accruing Debt

The first thing most homesteaders will tell you is if you are thinking of homesteading stop going into debt! A lot of homesteaders will tell you to pay off your debt before you take the plunge, which is a smart idea.

However, I can say from my own experience; I didn’t have that luxury. I was in a fixer-upper house with three kids, a hardworking husband, and we were struggling to make ends meet. I needed to homestead because of the more self-sufficient we were, the less money we owed.

But I did stop accruing debt. Living on credit cards was out, and we signed up with an agency that negotiated the debt we had down to a reasonable price we could afford every month. This is how we began our journey of getting out of debt.

Keep in mind, you can negotiate your debt, but I liked the idea of having someone there to hold me accountable. The company made sure my accounts were closed, and in two short years, all of our consumer debt was gone. It was a huge relief.

So if you are seriously considering becoming a modern-day homesteader, even if you can’t get completely out of debt before you jump in, you can stop living beyond your means. Living within your means is probably the biggest concept to homesteading.

2. Create a Plan to Get Out of Debt

As I mentioned above, if you are currently in debt (whether it be a lot or a little) you need a plan to get out of debt.

Beyond the fact that we had consumer debt, my husband’s job provided unstable income. We never knew what his paycheck was going to be until it arrived. This created an extra challenge, but one I am very thankful for.

The reason is I learned to live on a very meager budget because I always assumed his check was going to be tiny. Then when we got larger checks, it helped me to pay down debt faster than intended or making purchases that we needed.

So I always planned our budget around the smallest amount possible. Even if I could only pay down $5 worth of debt that pays period, I would apply that $5.

This all adds up to me saying that you need to track your expenses, build a budget, and then develop a plan to get out of debt.

3. Look at Your Dream Through Different Lenses

This was probably the toughest part for me. I had it envisioned in my head that I was going to live this slow, simple life that consisted of feeding chickens, playing with goats, making stuff all day, and not having trouble in the world. I wish!

Then I started watching this show about life in Alaska. These people were the real deal, but a few months later I read an article in a magazine about their homesteading life and was amazed to find out that they actually worked on the side of homesteading and shooting this television show.

That is when it hit me. The pioneer days are over. We can no longer trade wild animal skins and keep our property. Property taxes exist, and bills will always be there.

So after I shed a few tears, I realized I could homestead, but it just may look differently than I thought. I can still do things the old school way (like washing my clothes by hand, canning my own food, growing a garden, etc.) but I still had to account for the bills that would inevitably come.

If you can come to grips with that, then you are flexible and well on your way to developing a homesteading mindset.

4. Keep a Town Job

I’ll be honest, my husband still dreams of the day when he can be home and farm full time. He truly loves it that much. That is part of the reason why we are currently shopping for a larger homestead so we can utilize some of the options I’m listing farther down this post.

But for now, he still has his town job. Thankfully, his job is flexible. He usually works from 8 AM until shortly after lunch but makes a good living though he works fewer hours than most.

So remember, homesteading doesn’t have to mean that you quit your day job. It just means that you use your time after work (and before) to be self-sufficient. You can provide your family with healthy food while also working to pay the bills that also come along with these modern times.

However, if you get out of debt and keep your bills low enough you could potentially get by with only having to work part-time, or like my husband, work a job that is based on piece work. That is how he can get by with working fewer hours because if you have a job based on piece work (or commission) if you work hard enough and fast enough, you make the money you need in fewer hours.

But be prepared to budget for unsteady income as things can fluctuate with this route. Either way, a town job can still work with homesteading.

5. Work from Home

This is the route I’m currently taking for my part of helping with the homestead bills. I’ve shared before, but I use to work a town job.

Then we had kids, and then we had kids with special circumstances which led us down the path of homeschooling. So needless to say, my town job had to go.

But I was fortunate to be advised by my mother one day. She said, “Jennifer, you have a college degree and have always loved to write. Why don’t you try that?” At the time I thought she was nuts because I couldn’t help but wonder who would pay me to write.

Then I started researching, and the jobs are pretty well endless if you have the knowledge and skill. Even if you don’t, hopefully, you’ll have someone willing to take you under their wing and show you the ropes like I did.

Either way, with Pinterest, you can figure out how to write for a living in no time.

But if you aren’t a great writer, no worries, there are lots of other work at home jobs. You can find telephone work, you can become a virtual assistant, you can start your own blog, you can become a babysitter and run a daycare out of your home. There are many job opportunities available.

Since writing is mainly what I know, I’ll share a few tips with you to hopefully get you started. Many blogs say to stay away from content mills. If you are in desperate need of immediate income, then go for the content mills. At least you’ll have some income coming in while you try to land bigger (and higher paying) clients.

I personally use Textbroker.com. If I’m in between finding new clients and need a little extra money during that gap, I use that site to help make the ends meet. I also use job boards like problogger.com. They are an excellent way to locate freelance writing jobs.

Also, I recommend doing a few open submissions while you wait. You may not get paid for them, but it is an excellent way to get your foot in the door and build up your resume while you wait. You can actually write for us!

But working from home is a great way to have the flexibility you might need with homesteading while also making an income.

6. Sell Your Goods

This might seem like a no-brainer, but any extras you can grow on your own property could be used as potential income. I touched on this topic a little in this post.

However, it should definitely be mentioned again. When you become a modern homesteader, you can still make some money the old fashioned way too.

So go ahead and raise some extra plants, grow some extra vegetables, and sell the babies of your livestock. If your bills are low enough you could potentially make enough money to support yourself with this method.

If not, you can still use it as a way to earn extra money. Don’t forget to advertise your product though when using this method. You can place a sign on the road, advertise through social media, or set-up a stand at your local farmer’s market. People love local goods so if you sell a quality product, you can hopefully build your clientele quickly.

7. Raise Larger Livestock

Larger livestock requires more, but they can also bring a higher price when sold. So if you have plenty of land with your homestead, use it to raise grass fed beef (or other livestock). You could sell the cow at auction, sell the babies of the cow at auction, or sell the cow for beef.

Since you have the land, hopefully, you can raise it on pasture, and it won’t cost you an arm and a leg to feed either. This means more product for you.

So make your land work for you, but don’t be fooled either. The larger the livestock, the more the work. Homesteading isn’t a ‘get rich quick’ dream. You will have to work for every dime you make. Keep the amount of work in mind if you decide to choose this method for your modern homestead income.

8. Become an Entrepreneur (Multiple Income Streams)

This is the option I think most modern day homesteaders choose. The reason is that most homesteaders use a variety of the methods listed above. They create multiple income streams so if one goes away they and their animals aren’t starving.

For instance, in our situation, my husband has a town job, I am a freelance writer, we raise bees for money, I am coming out with a book soon (hopefully), and we sell livestock as well. There are many other income streams I could add too. That is the great thing about homesteading, the options are pretty well limitless.

So you just have to decide what income methods will work best for you. Your method of making a living from homesteading will probably not look the same as the guy (or girl) next to you. Remember, that’s okay.

But if you can make it work for you, then go for it. It is great to work for yourself, though. It provides a lot of flexibility but also takes a lot of self-control as well. So keep that in mind before you start a bunch of new businesses.

Well, there you have it. I hope I haven’t totally crushed your homesteading dream, but the idea of slipping away in a mountain somewhere to never be bothered again just isn’t a reality (unless you live in Alaska maybe?)

So you’ll always have bills, but they don’t have to be huge, and you can still have independence while making money to pay them.

Now I want to hear from you. How do you make a living as a modern homesteader? Do you use another income stream that I didn’t mention here? What have you found the greatest success with?

We love hearing from you, so please leave us your thoughts in the space provided below.

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Comments:

  1. Wow, this article blessed my debt-free soul! It’s funny how much this article describes us. My wife and I have never had any kind of debt together. Ever. We also never wasted the money required to rent, but we had to live like no one else, which has made us feel a bit alone in our ideals sometimes, but it enabled us to purchase 18 acres of land in Alaska to start our homestead off with nothing else to pay. You know what? We feel so free! If we find we can’t stand it in Alaska we can just sell the place and move back into an RV (since we have done that ever since we got married) and go find a better place I put down roots. I really dig this article, and can tell you from experience that the debt free idea is spot-on, as well as the practical advice to find several sources of income for those expenses that you just can’t expect or predict.

  2. We are modern homesteaders. I run a in home daycare my 3girls go to regular school. My husband is a full time carpenter who does renovations and builds new homes. We live on a 10 acre homestead with our live stock. Chickens,ducks ,geese,cows and pigs. We grow our own food as much as possible and are starting bee keeping in the summer hopefully.

  3. This is a great post for beginner homesteaders. By the way i have a 35 acre Homestead in Palmer\Sutton Alaska where I raise goats cows rabbits ducks chickens pigs geese quail horses and garden to be more self sufficient.

  4. Hello! I started sewing for people making doll clothes, repairing clothes, making blankets or whatever someone wants. I’m lucky I still have my mom to sew with and continue to learn from her. We also sell eggs from our 35 chickens. We hope to continue for many years!

  5. This post really fuels my fire to find a way to invest more in urban homesteading and less in the day job. Very much appreciate the comments too. Question for the community: Does anyone know how much beeswax you can generally get from one hive? I make beeswax candles and currently buy the wax, which is pretty pricey.

  6. This is Carolyn. We don’t actually “homestead”. We do live completely within our means. We own our little lot (100′ x 150′). Our home is a mobile home that has been paid for for years. Since we are both disabled one way or another, it’s a great thing to have all paid off. We have two Pitt bulls and two birds and one mean black cat respectively.

    We are just now able to afford a fence around the whole yard. We had to learn the hard way about plumbing repairs. NE t on my list to research is electrical wiring. My house is a 1968 model. That means it is not only a fire trap, but it’s way out of sync with current electric codes. We love to raise chickens. So, because of my dogs, we need to get the fencing up before we get Chickens again.

    Your article is very useful for everybody. Homesteader or not!

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