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Having control of your finances is crucial to living a self-sufficient life. These three things are vital to us as a couple to get control of our money and build the homestead of our dreams.
In 2014 we set in motion a plan to escape suburbia and build a homestead paying cash as we go. Perhaps you’ve found yourselves with similar dreams.
Maybe you and your partner want nothing more than to escape to the woods and live off the land. Or you just want to live life on your own terms. Spend more time together. Escape the rat race. Live your values.
I completely relate to this dream! However, living a self-sufficient life together is more than just gardening, chickens, or hikes in the countryside. It takes considerable determination and partnership to make your dreams a reality.
It also takes MONEY.
We should know. We dug ourselves out of $24,000 in debt and built a homestead with our own hands from scratch.
How did we do it?
How We Used to Be With Money
Maybe you can relate to this.
Debt-free financial guru Dave Ramsey always says that there are two people in every relationship:
The Free Spirit and The Nerd
And if you were to ask Mark he would without a doubt say that I am the nerdiest nerd in Nerdtown. I had Excel open before I even started writing this post! My mom said that even as a small child I was always making lists. I used to organize her shoes for fun. I CATALOGED MY “LIBRARY” OF PICTURE BOOKS WITH CARDS AND RUBBER STAMPS, PEOPLE.
This has, of course, transferred into me being a bit of a nerd about our finances too. I’ve always been the Keeper of the Budget. Heck, I put together a little “feasibility study” of our potential budget including incomes and expenses before we even got married to see if marriage was the right decision for us at the time since we were still relatively young.
Mark, on the other hand, was definitely my free spirit. I’m finding with the homestead project that this is becoming less true, but earlier in our marriage he just let me handle the bookkeeping. “You can plug in the numbers and keep track. Just keep me in the loop.”
When we started we knew just enough about personal finance to get us in trouble.
We just sort of let our money float along that way for a long time without really having much of a plan. And you know where that got us?
$24,000+ in debt and a sense of utter hopelessness.
So while we were waiting out the rain as we worked on our homestead today, we ended up having a pretty deep discussion about how we got out of our toxic money situation and into a life of financial freedom. We kept circling back to the same ideas, and these are without a doubt the things you must do if you want to win with money AND homestead. No, I’m not talking about what funds to invest in or whether you should hoard your money in a mattress.
I’m talking the relationship habits YOU need to build with each other so you can actually live your dreams.
Our Three Big Money and Goal-Setting Tips for Homesteading Couples
1. Have an honest conversation about your biggest money goals and dreams.
You talk with each other all the time, right? You both share your aspirations, the things you’ve always wanted to do but never have, the things your parents used to do, and so on. But are you listening? Are you retaining? Are you making any attempt at all to think of your partner’s needs and, here’s the big part, make a connection from their needs to yours?
Ask yourself: Do I know my partner’s biggest professional or money goals? Do they know mine?
If not, you need to sit down together and have a deep and honest conversation where you both are receptive.
But if you’re thinking, “Hey, I thought the point was to escape from the rat race? What do professional goals have to do with homesteading?”
Homesteading takes a serious amount of money. Even if you’re just planning to build a tiny house and have a few chickens, you’ll need to be able to pay for your endeavors. You’ll need to have the means to pay for ongoing homestead maintenance. For any food you don’t grow (or the seeds and starters to grow it yourself). Homesteading sometimes looks like a pastoral bliss where money is irrelevant, but it’s not.
So figure out where your homestead dreams and your financial dreams intersect and then move onto the next step.
2. Determine what actions you need to take.
Your current financial situation and financial philosophies will dictate what actions they are, but the biggest point is YOU HAVE TO DO SOMETHING. Anything! If I had a dollar for every person I’ve encountered who likes to just daydream away about what they’d do if they won the lottery, or what they would do if they didn’t have to go to work, or what they would like to do for their kids…
Look at your homestead and financial dreams from above. What similarities do you have? Where can you make room for compromise?
Then THINK: WHAT COULD WE DO TO MAKE THESE DREAMS A REALITY?
Related: Should I Quit My Job?? Questions to ask when you want OUT
Case in point: Our homestead project was born out of a daydream Mark used to have very early on in our marriage. He had some green building books with loads of lovely photos of cob homes, straw bale houses, and of course cordwood homes.
I thought they were nice, but I wasn’t deep into it like he was. But I WAS (and still am) passionate about saving money, making sustainable choices and reducing consumption, which these building styles all fulfilled in a way that conventional building never could.
And the BIG overlap for us was that we both wanted to be debt-free and financially stable enough that we could afford to work less, be with our future kids more, and travel the world with them.
From there, we looked at what it would actually take to get us to that point.
Related: How We Lived On Half Our Income While We Built Our House
Our action items?
1. Debt Snowball our way out of the $24K in debt
2. Save up a 3-6 month emergency fund
4. Buy land
5. Build a house with the cash reserves from the home sale and additional savings
The fact that we’ve actually completed number 5 is a testament to how having these conversations changed the entire course of our lives for the better.
If you haven’t made a budget already, or if you need to revisit yours, I have a free PDF guide to walk you through it here:
3. Follow through on your action items and keep communicating about them.
Okay, so you sat and had a lovely talk. You set some goals.
Now you have to do this crazy thing called FOLLOW THROUGH.
Following through on your action items might look different depending on what stage of the game you’re at. If you’re in the “paying off debt phase”, that might mean hanging your snowball worksheet on the fridge and crossing off debts together as you pay them off.
Or if you’re in the “buying land phase”, that might mean scheduling time together to look at listings on the local MLS, contacting real estate agents, or working on your land-buying budget.
If you’re building a home together, you’ll obviously be taking action on homebuilding tasks together, but it’s also important to meet regularly to talk about your plans. It might mean keeping your Owner-Builder Home Planner out on the table and open to the most relevant page so you’ll see it and talk about it.
No matter what phase you’re in, you’ll be doing a lot of communicating about your thoughts, ideas, and plans. This is a time to be really attentive to each other and see what is happening in your finances for what it is. It isn’t a time to place blame, find fault, or try to commandeer the situation.
I’m fortunate to have a spouse who sees this as an equal partnership and I value that immensely. This is essential to a healthy financial partnership. You are both equal and both bring your aspirations and values to the table. LISTEN to them and together you can 100% reach your goals.
Need help getting started? Download our free Budgeting and Goal Setting Worksheet below!
You’ll also gain instant access to our free Members-Only Resource Library, full of tons of great resources to help you start planning the homestead of your dreams.
If you want to know more about our off-grid cordwood homestead project, click here. Like this content? Be sure to share it! Join us on Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram for more homesteading goodies that don’t necessarily make it to the blog. Thanks!
This was such a needed read! We are in year 3 of homesteading but have not done it debt free and just started an aggressive plan to get there. I feel like we talk about goals but in no way is it structured, and I am realizing now that we probably aren’t really listening to eachother sometimes…..we have way too many moments where Mr Free Spirit buys supplies from the hardware store on his way home for a project that I had deemed low priority. I really like your suggestions and since we live an hour from town maybe we can start using the drive for something more productive than car dance parites.
That’s so wonderful to hear! I’m glad it helped you. Good luck to you both in your journey!
This is so wonderful. I love reading about your journey and I love seeing and hearing about couples that work together to make it happen. Good for you guys and thanks for sharing with all of us out in the world! It’s truly inspiring.
Thanks so much for the kind words! We really hope that sharing our journey and knowledge can help others on the same path. Good luck to you!