Plenty of people dream of running away from the fast-paced modern life and settling into the slower, more sustainable, more rewarding lifestyle of homesteading — but not everyone has the financial chops to do it. Succeeding as a homesteader doesn’t mean closing your bank accounts and moving onto any chunk of land you can find in the countryside; it means slowly and carefully making financial choices that give you more freedom and power in how you live. Here are a few of the most pernicious financial myths surrounding homesteading — and what you should think and do instead.
Money Isn’t Important
Many people jump into homesteading because they believe it is a lifestyle that will allow them to gain true financial freedom — that is, liberty from the tyranny of modern financial systems. Novice homesteaders tend to believe that money isn’t important, that if they are smart enough, they can completely abandon the use of money forevermore.
Unfortunately, that simply isn’t the case. Homesteaders, especially in their early days, have a greater need for money than consumerist city-slickers. It takes all sorts of cash to buy the land, move, gain knowledge and acquire the right tools and supplies for homesteading. Even assuming homesteaders have the benefit of established, experienced friends and neighbors, they need to be able to manage their money to ensure they don’t run out.
Because there are so many responsibilities associated with homesteading, most tech-savvy homesteaders happily outsource the headache of money management to software. Digital tools help with building budgets, automatically track expenses and bills and make it easy to move money into designated accounts. This allows homesteaders to focus their passion and attention on more interesting and invigorating pursuits while still understanding the importance of money.
You Need a Huge Amount of Land
Many novice homesteaders have big dreams for living off the grid: They are going to have two huge chicken coops, a few pigs with annual litters, maybe some goats, a fruit orchard and without a doubt a huge garden full of seasonal veggies and herbs. In the hopes of reaching these dreams, inexperienced homesteaders might choose to invest in a huge plot of land — acres upon acres — which takes an enormous bite out of their savings as a down payment, not to mention sizeable monthly mortgage payments into the future.
The truth is that most homesteaders function just fine on smaller plots. In fact, beginner homesteaders might consider being as self-sufficient as possible on the property they currently occupy, so they can first get a feel for homesteading before investing their life’s savings in the endeavor. Leasing corners of larger land parcels might also be a wise way to build up to more serious homesteading operations. Homesteading is already a significant financial commitment; homesteaders don’t need to compound their financial struggles by purchasing more land than they currently need.
You Need to Be Totally Self-sufficient
It is inspiring to see a homesteader who uses wind and solar generators to power their home, who distills their own vinegar for cleaning products, who weaves their own clothing and linens, who recycles their water for use on crops and who has so much food that they can sell their excess to neighbors or at farmer’s markets. However, even these homesteaders buy chocolate bars at the gas station or order furniture online. Almost no one in the world, especially no one in America, is completely insulated from consumer culture.
Total self-sufficiency is a pipe dream, and homesteaders that have blinders on for self-sufficiency are likely to waste way too much money trying to acquire the equipment and supplies to get there. Instead of pursuing that impractical goal, homesteaders need to assess what homesteading activities best suit their interests and needs and what expenses they will continue to have going forward.
There is only one rule in homesteading: Homesteaders shouldn’t compare themselves to other homesteaders. There is no award for being the biggest, best homesteader — or if there is, no real homesteaders care much about it. Homesteaders need to be able to work with what they have, and that goes equally for their land, their energy and their money. Homesteaders who are able to build realistic budgets will avoid the feelings of inadequacy and will feel fantastic about their homesteading life.