How to Start Your Homestead When You Don't Have Any Money (It's ALL About Attitudes of Independence & Self-Reliance)
Many folks have the belief that you need to have a lot of money to start your homestead. BUT, that's just not true. Homesteading is all about attitude. Money does come into play, depending on the main qualities of your personal homestead....but it's not really necessary to call yourself a homesteader. What is most important about becoming a homesteader and fulfilling your homestead dreams is your mindset!
Did you ever stop to think you might already be a homesteader?
If you want more independence from American food systems, the medical industry, and the rampant materialism that defines our country these days, you have a homestead mindset. That's the most important thing you need to have to be a homesteader.
If you are tired of doing what everyone else does, and you want to become more self-reliant in your life, you are already a homesteader.
Being a homesteader doesn't mean you have land. It doesn't mean you own lots of livestock or have a huge garden. Homesteading is all about your attitude, your enjoyment of learning and experimenting, and growing in skills and/or knowledge every single day.
Even if you don't perceive yourself as a homesteader now, if you are doing any of these things:
- loving the idea or activity of making your own natural products for beauty & health,
- doing or thinking of starting your own garden,
- creating or want to create beautiful breads and other foods from scratch,
- wanting to take control of your family's health using natural methods like herbs and essential oils
- sewing/knitting/crocheting fun items or wanting to learn,
- wanting to raise chickens for eggs or meat
- getting healthier in your food and eating habits....
then, you are probably a homesteader to some extent already.
Isn't that exciting?
But: Money! You say you don't have any? I know exactly what that feels like, my friend. But you don't need a ton of money to get yourself started.
All you really need is an attitude of curiosity, a love of experimentation, and wanting to learn whatever skills you can to further your independence from the system and do things the way YOU want to do them.
Here are some ways you can start homesteading wherever you are with whatever you have right now. Why not give some of these ideas a try?
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How to Start Your Homestead Without Any (or Very Little) Money
Money is NOT the be-all end-all, my friend! Homesteading is really all about action and attitude. Here are some things you can do and ways to think about your homesteading growth that require little or no money. I hope to encourage you on this self-reliant path!
1) Use the Internet to Learn Skills and Increase Your Freedom from the "Systems"
If you have a computer, smart phone, smart TV, or tablet---you can learn a TON from the internet. Even if you don't have internet yourself, you can go to the public library to learn. Checking out books from the local library is also an educational course of action you can take to learn skills.
You don't need a great deal of money to start your learning journey. All you really need is the time and desire to start.
Homesteading at its core is about learning the skills you want to learn that will help you be free(er) from the chains our material, big business, big government world has tried to wrap around us.
Here's my own example with just one of the skills I wanted to learn about. Years ago, I decided I was tired of having pills pushed down my throat for every single little malady by doctors who didn't take the time to even ask questions about my life.
I decided I wanted to be more in charge of my health and my family's health. Did I wallow in pity? Did I accept the verdict of a medical doctor who didn't even know about common herbs for healing and health? No.
I started reading, watching videos, experimenting with making my own home remedies....And now, here I am today. I have essentially become a community and family herbalist. And I love it. I get to help people. I am NOT a doctor. However, I am that person who can help a person come up with a plan to support their health.
Best of all---Mr V. and I do not buy medications, either Rx or OTC, anymore. With lifestyle changes and knowledge about how to use herbs and essential oils, we've got pretty much every OTC drug covered naturally for ourselves and many Rx drugs too.
Here's the thing: If you already go out and purchase Advil, then buying the herbs (usually less expensive than OTC meds) and making your own natural headache/pain reliever will actually save you money. Yes, the herbs and essential oils will cost a bit up front, but the savings will be extreme in the short-and long-term too.
That's how it is with all these skills I'll share here.
The point is, the more things you know how to do, the more independent from the "system" you can be. Does this mean you'll be completely free? Probably not.
However, once you start working on your homestead journey, you will meet other like-minded people. This is where it gets fun! You can start bartering! But you do need some skills to be able to barter and exchange goods and services well.
At any rate---LEARN. And DO. And LEARN some more.
Want to learn more about becoming an herbalist? Check out The Herbal Academy of New England. They have many courses for all levels and interests. It's a great investment in yourself!
2) Garden Small
Don't have a yard? That's ok.
Don't have a big patch of land? This is fine, too.
Do you have a balcony? A kitchen sill? A little patio?
All you really need to start learning about gardening and growing are a few pots and some good soil. You'll need some non-GMO seeds, some water, time, patience, and love. You do not need a lot of money.
Gardening is a great way to start homesteading with what you've got to work with. I started growing herbs and plants in my home in the windows. And now that I do actually have a large garden area, I still grow in my windows.
My point is, you CAN garden in your space, in some way. With all the information in the world now about vertical gardening, hydroponics, lighting, community gardening, sharing land, and more---you can grow your own foods if you desire it badly enough.
You won't be able to grow everything (I still can't do this, even with some land), but you can start growing anyway. And that's what's important.
And when you get the to the point where you have a little more land, or you meet up with like-minded people and form a garden co-op, or you are able to join a CSA and volunteer, you'll be well on your way to having already learned the gardening skills you'll need for when you do get your larger homestead property.
3) Cook from Scratch
Cooking from scratch may or may not be your thing. However, this is a skill that will serve you well in your homestead journey. And guess what? It doesn't take that much money. It costs less to cook from scratch than it does to buy those processed, chemical-filled cookies from the store, too.
You don't have to get fancy either. I am a from-scratch cook most of the time, and my food tastes so much better than even eating in the finest restaurant. I feel better for it too.
I have a confession to make in this regard: I am also a lazy cook. Bread? I bake it the easiest ways I can. Someday, maybe I'll get into fancy artisan sour-dough---but for now, I love my traditional, vintage French White Bread or my super easy Seeded Whole Wheat Bread. You can make both of these lovely loaves in just a few non-time-intensive hours.
I used to really hate cutting up vegetables. Now, I don't mind. And I can see the day where I may actually like it. I am not the perfect chef, but home-cooked food made from scratch and not from a can is a GREAT way to begin your self-reliant journey.
In fact, now that I make bread reasonably well, it's really hard to justify spending $4 to $6 on a loaf of processed, GMO, nutritionally lacking, chemical bread. Seriously.
Here are some scratch recipes from the blog, too---and there's a lot more over there! Immune-Boosting Southwest Soup, Southwest Quinoa Salad, How to Make the BEST Perfectly Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits, Chocolate Zucchini Bread (Amazing).
4) Make Your Own Cleaning Products
At first glance, making your own cleaning products may not sound like a homestead skill. But it is. Anytime you are making your own, you are engaging in an act of self-reliance. You are performing a form of homesteading!
And did you know that making your own cleaning products is easy, CHEAP, and way better for your family's health? Making your own cleaning supplies will actually SAVE you money, rather than costing you more.
Here is my favorite cleaning spray recipe, and it's fun and easy to make. Here are some other quick ideas for cleaning:
Here are a couple of easy cleaning examples:
** To make a scrub: Instead of using Comet powder, sprinkle baking soda in your sink/tub/whatever, and spritz with some vinegar. BAM! You've now got the best scrub you'll ever use. Want it to smell nice? Add a few drops of essential oils!
** To make fabric softener sheets: Cut up some old cotton pillow cases into 7x7 squares. Get a Mason Jar (one of my favorite things in the world), and place the cotton fabric squares in it. Fill 1/2 full with water, and 1/2 full with white vinegar.
Add a few drops of essential oils like Lavender, Peppermint, Tea Tree, or other fresh-smelling scents. Place one or two of these squares into your dryer with your wash! You'll never use those commercial, dangerously fragranced dryer sheets ever again!
See how easy that is? Do a little sleuthing, and you'll find all kinds of great ideas that will save you money instead of costing you cash.
A book I like is Naturally Clean Home: 150 Easy Herbal Formulas for Green Cleaning.
5) Make Your Own Body & Skincare Products
Making my own body cream, salves, facial serums, soaps, and more is one of my favorite homestead skills that saves me a ton of money instead of costing me dollars for expensive products.
Going back to Number One above---All you have to do is learn, do, experiment. There are a TON of body care recipes on my website. Here are just a few to get you started if you are interested:
- How to Make the BEST Anti-Itch Salve
- How to Make a Broad Spectrum Balm Bugs Hate and You'll LOVE
- How to Make the BEST Hot Process Soap--Fast & Easy
- How to Make Foaming Hand Cleanser That is Actually Good for Your Skin
For trying your hand at hot process soap, you might enjoy my eBook, Create Your Own Natural Hot Process Soap.
6) Start Fermenting Foods
Not sure what fermentation is? You can find out more about it in this article: What is Fermentation, and Why You Need to Eat Fermented Foods Every Day.
Fermenting foods is a form of food preservation that deserves its own section because of the immense health benefits fermented foods provide for you.
And guess what? You don't need fancy equipment, and you don't need to lay out a lot of money. You can if you want, but basically, you just need a few basic supplies, some water and salt, and you are ready to go.
Here are some other articles you may enjoy to help get you started:
- How to Make Homemade Fermented Ketchup
- How to Make Fermented Tomatoes (A Traditional Russian Recipe)
- What is Kombucha and How to Make It
- What Secret Lives Live in Your Kombucha SCOBY? and a TON more on the blog.
If you prefer some great books, my favorite books on fermentation are The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Katz, Fermented Vegetables by Kristen Shockey, and Ancient Sacred Healing Beers by Harold Buhner. There are many others, but I love these best.
7) Learn How to Can, Dehydrate, and Freeze Foods for Preservation
How about trying your hand at other food preservation methods like canning, dehydrating, or freezing foods for later? This is another homestead skill that will actually save you money instead of costing you money in the long run.
Buy your fruits and vegetables in bulk and in season. Buy more than you can eat at a time, and you can preserve the rest!
Here's what I used to do when I lived in Las Vegas, NV. There was a local orchard called Gilcrease, and they grew all kinds of seasonal fruits and vegetables that would actually grow in that desert environment.
We'd go and pick our own wagons-full (yes, I had a little red wagon) of wonderful, fresh fruits and vegetables. Then I'd preserve them. I always had a pantry store of foods to enjoy all winter long this way!
My favorite dehydrator is the Excalibur 9-Tray. Honestly, it's pricey, so just remember you can dehydrate your foods in an oven, too! You can find out more in this article: How to Dehydrate Apples for the Perfect Snacks.
8) Keep Chickens or Rabbits if You Can
You do need a little bit of space and some cash to get started with keeping small animals like chickens and rabbits. However, if you have the space and the money for supplies, and if the local laws allow it, growing your own food like this is a great way to get started on your homestead journey.
Even though you'll put out a certain amount of money for supplies like a chicken coop, cages or hutches, and feed, you'll recoup the cost in delicious fresh eggs and meat.
9) Shop Seasonally & Locally
This one has been mentioned a few times in the ideas above, but shopping by the seasons and within local boundaries is great for a couple of reasons.
First, the food often costs a lot less than purchasing it in a grocery store.
Second, you may also get to talk with the farmer and learn some things about the food, too. Often, small farms have tours or allow the public to visit and pick their own, too.
Third, you'll begin to develop an intuitive sense of the seasons and food availability in your unique area. When does garlic ripen? When will the cherries and peaches be out? When can you pick up some great zucchini squash for next to nothing?
You'll be able to start planning your cooking and preserving needs---and when you are ready to start your own gardening adventures on a larger scale, you'll have amassed some seasonal knowledge too!
10) Learn to Sew, Knit, Crochet, etc.
I have a love-hate relationship with any kind of fiber art. I love the idea of sewing, knitting, and crocheting, and in fact, I have made some pretty cool afghans in my younger days.
However, I admit to having some difficulty sitting still for very long. I'm learning to get over this, though, because I personally really want to learn to sew. My mother creates the most beautiful (and functional) quilts that are heirloom treasures. Someday, I want to do this too!
I also want to learn how to spin and create rugs at some point. I can dream, right?
I'm sharing my own personal homestead dreams with you to show that you'll never have learned everything you need or want to know. And that's ok! The key is to keep on learning, doing, and growing.
Anyway, you may already have learned useful and enjoyable fiber arts skills. If you have, that's GREAT! You have a homestead skill or two! If not---this could be a very inexpensive way to get started with your own personal homestead. It's also a way to make money or barter--as are all of the ideas above.
Final Thoughts About Starting a Homestead When You Have No Money
You know what? You have to look down the long road and envision what you want your own self-sufficient life to look like. Then, you just start small, where you're at. Start now! You will be so surprised at where you are five years from now!
I look back on my entire life, and I realize I've been growing toward full-out homesteading for just about all of it. In baby steps.
How? By being interested, by learning, and by actually DOING the things I feel might be important for me to know.
So start out by 1) thinking about what you'd like to learn; then 2) figure out how you can get that knowledge; then 3) TRY DOING some of the things and learn from those experiences. And grow.
Nobody starts off knowing everything (or anything, for that matter). We all have our own paths and ways to evolve.
It's so exciting! I am excited for you! Pick a skill, and start learning where you are with what you have!
So what do you think? Are you a homesteader? Leave a comment for us all :-)
Hugs, Health, & Self-Reliance,
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