The Money/Security Dilemma

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by amelia, Aug 22, 2004.

  1. amelia

    amelia Well-Known Member

    May 2, 2003
    Washington State
    Like many would-be homesteaders, I'm hanging with a traditional job in the city, trying to save up as much as possible so that I can finally make the break. Problem is, it never seems to be enough. As I have gotten older, the need for security has become pretty dominating in my life. Being a single woman, I think, has made me (perhaps realistically) fearful of being unprepared.

    I read about various list members' financial struggles and the fact that in many rural areas, getting a job that pays a double-digit hourly wage is not always so easy. So in many ways it makes sense to do my earning now. The risk, of course, is that you stroke out and die before you ever get there.

    There's a part of me that says, "Just do it now." I realize that an essential part of self-sufficiency is making do and figuring it out, and that homesteading wouldn't be homesteading if you had everything you need. In fact, I'm drawn to the homesteading lifestyle precisely because of the elements of simplicity and challenge.

    So I struggle with the question when enough is enough--both in terms of savings and in terms of preparation in general.

    I wonder if there are others out there who have grappled with this question. Thanks in advance for your thoughts.
  2. countrygrrrl

    countrygrrrl PITA

    Aug 4, 2003
    Zone Unknown
    The majority of people out where I live have traditional jobs, in the sense that a substantial portion of their income comes from outside the home. There are still some people around here who are able to make it entirely by ranching or farming or backhoe work or whatever --- but not all that many, when compared to the ones who work outside the home --- and the ones who do are *very* *very* *very* good at what they do. I know I simply could not compete with them because most of them have been doing it all their lives --- and they REALLY know what they're doing@!

    A few people on this board are also living entirely off income from their homesteads-farms-ranches, whatever.

    I teach and, interestingly enough, this year, I have several older students who've bailed out only to discover they can't find jobs which pay enough to pay the bills. So they've gone back to school to acquire the skills/whatever necessary to get higher paying jobs. One said to me, in fact (and much to my surprise) that she quickly found out, without a degree, you're out of luck back here.

    Not entirely true, but there's some substance to it. When I thought about it, I realized the people who are doing well work as nurses or (like me) teachers or paramedics or electricians or whatever. A few run stores, but that's a LOT of work --- there's veggie stands around and the local stores will sell your produce, esp. if it's stuff like homegrown peaches or strawberries or corn. However, you'll have some competition, depending on where you move.

    The first thing you need to do before you get out here is guesstimate your monthly bills. My feelings are, if you're not taking in enough now to pay ALL your bills and stick a little aside every month, it won't be that different in the country. Each place has its advantages and disadvantages --- what's expensive in the city may be cheap in the country --- but the gain you've made by that can quickly be eaten up by other expenses (cost of gasoline, mowing, equipment, stuff like that).

  3. deberosa

    deberosa SW Virginia Gourd Farmer!

    Dec 13, 2003
    Floyd County, VA
    I am single also and aquired my place at 48. I still have the job though - what it took was relocating the job to a place where I could set up my homestead and work the job also. Not all jobs are in the city - I work in a smaller town at a College.

    It will take 4-5 years to pay off everything, then be in a position to take on odd jobs here and there to support my place or phase out at my regular job by going to half time for a while. By that time I would have it set up to be more self sufficient and would perhaps have a means of income set up also from the property - I have 4.5 acres. It's scary to me also - I have never been unemployed since graduating from College, always getting one job before letting go of another. I was going to take the leap in 1999, but found this job instead!!!

    Being single makes it easier to relocate where ever it is convenient. I moved 1000 miles from Denver to the Olympic Peninsula.

    Good Luck!
  4. Cyngbaeld

    Cyngbaeld In Remembrance Supporter

    May 20, 2004
    SE Missouri
    Is there anyway you can find a place that you can start paying off now, while you still have a good job? Even if you have to stay in town for now.

    Is there a place close by, but in the country that you could move to and still keep your present job?

    Can you cut expenses to the bone now? Find a much cheaper place to live? Stop spending anything on fast food? Ditch cable or satallite tv in favor of studying homestead, DIY type books. Start doing some of those things like making soap, growing a garden (in containers if necessary), have a couple chickens in the backyard. Some people actually get two or three bantams and keep them in cages in their apartments!

    Once you have some knowledge of how to do 'homesteading stuff', you will be more self sufficient even in town and will be more prepared when you do get a place of your own.
  5. i am heir to a lovely 120 acre estate in farm country but leave it rented to the neighbor due to the fact i have no propects for gainful employment in the locale. It is a familiar struggle and just owning the land free and clear is not enough in my eyes to make it feasable. If you have a decent paying job in todays economy my advice would be to hold onto it like your most treasured possession. Plenty of good jobs are evaporating every day and the decision is likely to be made for you any day.
  6. Making a good living doesn't necessarily depend on a traditional job or education. I have an engineering degree and worked for many years in the oil refining industry. During the mid-90s I left the oil business, never intending to return.

    I decided that computers, networking and the Internet would be my future. I started by earning money fixing home computers, then eventually began taking care for networks at schools and small businesses. Then I started my first dialup Internet server in remote Arizona in 1997.

    During the year 2000 I changed from a facilities based internet service to a virtual Internet Service, where I offer nationwide dialup service and could do it all from home with no equipment of my own, except for one Linux server.

    I didn't intend to give you my life story. The point I wanted to make is that I make a good living virtually and I don't (directly) use my traditional education in that work at all. At this point I could setup a 2-way Internet dish and run my business from anywhere, including mountain tops and even another country if I wish.

    The best part is that I can take advantage of a metropolitan customer base while living in the country. There are many other ways to do that. Don't get the idea that a traditional job or setting-up a rural produce stand are the only ways to earn a living in the country.
  7. Mudwoman

    Mudwoman Well-Known Member

    Dec 18, 2002
    I recommend 2 books that may help you answer your question. "Your Money or Your Life" and "Choosing Simplicity". You should be able to find them in paperback or get them through your local library on interlibrary loan if they don't have them.
  8. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

    Aug 13, 2003
    I know I can always get a job. It might not be the ultimate job, but I can get a job.

    There are high paying jobs just have to find them.

    I made more working in this small town than I did working near Los Angeles!

    I think people feel confident in their ability to make a living in an area where they are comfortable. The people who were born and raised here don't doubt their ability to make a living at home and they do. Just pretend you were born and raised there and that you WILL be able to make a living. There are plenty of people in this rural area that are making a why can't I?

    This isn't exactly scientific, but sometimes you just gotta' jump and see what happens. It has always worked for me. Jumping does involve giving up a bit of security, but you can mitigate that through savings and leaving bridges unburned where you came from. You can always go back.

    No matter what the end you'll still be breathing and that's all that really counts.

  9. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

    May 10, 2002
    I am not a single homesteader, but I AM pushing 50. I understand your need for security.

    First things first. Have you qualified for a pension when you reach 65? Have you figured out what your social security will be? Right now you are young enough to start over, but you will need SOME security when you are older.

    As for making a living when you are on your land, have you considered job-hunting in a nice area first, THEN buying in that area? Just find an area you would like to live in and pass out your resume. Price land while you are at it.

    And, if you cut your expenses to the bone NOW, you will know how much in the form of wages you will need to live. Even if you move in in the spring it will take some months before your homestead produces food or aged firewood.

    OH! I DID forget to say that passing out resumes is not enough. First, GET the job, THEN find a place to live.

    DH and I did that, once. We rented part of a duplex while we sold the house, then we looked for land. Our offer was accepted, and we moved. The landlord let us off the lease 2 months early because he had another person who wanted our place.
  10. even if you leave on good terms there is no reason to think you will be welcomed back. Once you leave companies see you as unloyal and are not typicly in any hurry to welcome you back not to mention once gone you are replaced and why should anyone dump your replacement to make room for someone who has proved they will just quite on you. It is great to have confidence but unless you find employment first there is no guarentee at all you will have any oportunities. more good workers are out of work every day. Employers simply don't have to be very ambitous in recruiting efforts these days, and in fact are in a positon to be rather selective. A good clue is to look at the offers in the area you are intrested in. You may find work but it sure may not be anything like what you have. Times are tough right now and it is not a very good climate to gamble on unknown prospects wait untill it turns again and when employers start to realy beg then make your break. Unless you are fine with any walmart or macdonalds job you can get. It is always easier to find work when you are employed already. most positions get 100's of applications these days. Nursing is about the only hot job market so if you are a nurse it may be easy to find work you want but i would still do it first.
  11. rio002

    rio002 Well-Known Member

    Jul 29, 2002
    Look at it this way..every day your dreaming about being out in the country, and that is one less day you'll know if you can do it. In five years you can either already know or still be dreaming. But it is amazing the things you find you can do when you get to come home to a place you really enjoy, and on this place the work may be harder than any job you've ever been paid to accomplish but it equally pays you back more than any job before it. Simply cover your butt, pay off anything you can now, cut to bare bones to do so, try it as a temporary basis, then get outthere and find a place don't worry the financial troubles will still find you as they find all of us no matter where we live lol. Expect to commute or keep a regular job for atleast awhile, start slow but start looking for that place you may find a heck of a deal right around the corner. Equally network with friends and family, let them know what you are looking for, this can drastically improve your chances of finding what you want because then you have several sets of eyes and ears instead of just yours. Plus there is a book called Smart Women Finish Rich by .....last name is Bach it covers in great detail how much is enough for a single or married woman to retire comfortably and how to attain it through IRA's, savings, etc. No it's not a get rich quick book more of a set yourself financially over a lifetime to attain what you really want plus security, I finished reading it a few weeks ago at the recommendation of a friend and learned tons about different insurance policies, retirement accounts, how much interest I should be getting and how much it all adds up to- basically making the money you have work for you.

    You know we found our place by accident, just driving back home, decided to take the scenic route, saw the sale sign, the owners showed us the place right then. 9 months later--after selling the truck and much of what we owned plus having a realtor that offered to take a cut on his profit ($1500he gave up) to get us into it and here we are going on 8 years this October 15th. It's hard but you make do, Learn this saying: Use it up, Wear it out, Make it do or Do without........Words to live by out here. Good Luck
  12. why not try country life where the work is? Once you are over 40 industry is not particularly intrested in you unless they think you have a particular skill they desperately need and lets face it most anybody is replacable. We get small parcels like 10 acres up for sale all the time by people who wanted the country life tell they tried it and the sewer cost too much the well broke or the trampoline blew away and the kids didn't have any friends for miles. they are never productive too big to mow too small to farm preditors eat the stock fences are expensive to maintain or they wanted to be free to go on vacation.
  13. City, country, suburb, remote rural... whatever. Life is difficult wherever you go, so ya might as well go somewhere which makes ya happy. Security, guarantees... no such thing.

  14. Shrek

    Shrek Singletree Moderator Staff Member Supporter

    Apr 30, 2002
    North Alabama
    Getting laid off from "The Job" was the most valuable step toward my life today. Along with the job went my ex wife , her kid and "pita" family. Then I was able to redirect all my efforts to a lifestyle customized to my desires. Three years later Im happy, better rested, overheads are lower and I am more secure than I have been since I was 19 . Back then I had all my bills paid , money going into savings each month, a decent pick up, the rent on my apartment paid 6 months ahead and I had 2 paychecks un cashed 80 hour in my wallet. Now I have a house and acreage, all bills paid, a pick up and a SUV, a years salary put back , still saving and I have computer and investment capabilities I did not even dream of 25 years ago. In my opinion, single self reliency is the only way to go. I have done 10 fold in 3 years as compare to what I was able to do in 7 years hobbled with a family that didnt share my goals.
  15. Jack in VA

    Jack in VA Well-Known Member

    Jul 24, 2003
    I'll keep it's not what you earn , it's what you keep. The less you spend , the less you need to make(or have)..........jc
  16. BamaSuzy

    BamaSuzy Well-Known Member

    May 10, 2002
    My husband worked for more than 20 years in a "traditional" job in a large steel plant....I hated the job and I hated the long commute (about 40 miles to and from) every day....

    But he thought this was his security....then the plant closed, in part because of much for security....

    Now he works as a licensed electrician and a handyman, in his own little business....I think this is his fourth or fifth year....he loves it and says he will never ever work for anyone else again!

    I don't think there is anything like "security" any more....sometimes you just have to follow your heart....just try not to starve in the process!
  17. Ann-NWIowa

    Ann-NWIowa Well-Known Member Supporter

    Sep 28, 2002
    Don't forget health insurance. That is a major issue when you're no longer employed and over 45. This is especially true if you have a "pre-existing condition".

    As far as saving money now - take a long hard look at your spending. Write down every penny you spend for a month. Until you know where your money is going, you won't know where could you save by eliminating various things. I counsel clients to do this all the time and am always amazed at what different people consider "necessities".

    Add the Tightwad Gazette books to your reading list. You'll find it helpful in reducing your spending and finding just how "low" you're comfortable living.

    I've given up moving to the country due to my husband's health issues. We've chosen instead to live in a small town on a large lot so we can garden extensively. We aren't oppressed by city living here and although I'd love to live out in the country this is a choice I have to live with.
  18. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

    Jan 20, 2004
    You must be having a tough time with your job right now, as you are increadably negative! Good to see both sides of it though, your advise is valuable to weigh as well.

    I would look at it this way - someone asking to go out homesteading is probably intellegent, hardworking, and does good work - whatever field that is in.

    Those types of people can _always_ find work - might take some effort, but these are the exact type of people 'selective employers' are trying to find. :)

    There is no garentee of anything for tomorrow.

    I say, get your ducks in a row, get a nest egg, plan where you are going & what you will do there. Be responsible about it.

    But single and want to try?

    Jump sooner than later. You'll regret not trying when it's later & becomes too late. If it's sooner & it doesn't work for you - you still have time to land on your feet & re-establish your city life & retirement.

  19. all you have to do is read the writing on the wall more good workers are put out on the street every day. It does not mean they won't land on their feet it does not mean they won't find work it does mean they will flounder in a sea of people looking for work for a while. If you are happy in your career that is great. I just think it is not very prudent or resposible to be a quiter in todays economic environment. the time to make moves is when the cycle is in the opposite phase like 10 years ago when employers were all begging for help not when the 45 year olds are bumping the 18 year olds out of cashier jobs and a house is for sale on every street due to people going broke after loosing their jobs maybe youall are living in areas with great economies but i am not we have an exodus of people from my town due to layoffs and plant slowdowns. employers are being quite selective and credentials and abilities are just not working here any more it is getting to the point here even the low pay clerk jobs are going to family and church members. to me that is not the time for making a change without first having somwhere to go. If you get layed off sure make the move you got nothing to loose if you have a job today is the day to hold onto it. Exersize patience sometimes the best move is no move change is the only constant in the universe times can not stay this bad forever we have always gone through booms and busts the time to quite is when it is a boom then you won't skip a step . ultimately it is up to the person making the decision but my opinion is that when unemployment is high and growing is not the time to gamble with a bird in the hand.
  20. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

    Jan 20, 2004

    Not anywhere around 'here' - housing & land is going through the roof, employment has been stable for some time, people in the building trades are getting burnt out from too much work. Lots of people are 'worried' about their job, but actually are in better shape than they were 5 years ago...

    Perhaps the best advise is to make your move soon, but don't go whereever 'unregistered' lives - sounds like a bad area!!!! :) :) :) :)

    There is one problem with your advise. If you move & change jobs when times are good, you are part of the bubble. When the buble bursts, then you are a part of the wave of lay-offs. Because you were hired only for the good times, by the companies that have a boom & bust mentality.

    You are actually not at all secure by doing it your way.

    Carefully & responsibly finding a new job during a poorer time - that is the job you can count on to be there for the long haul. Not as eas to find, but a lot more stable if stability is what you are really after.

    If one is 50, and needs to wait another 10 years to start looking for a homestead with a new job - the stress & time wasted; and one is more likely to be looking for an assisted living apartment than a homestead by then! ;) The dream will remain a dream - forever. Just my thoughts, I enjoy your comments 'unregistered' and again, I think they are very valuable for someone asking advise on this. Need to hear both sides & see what applies to oneself. Neither of us is wrong, just offering different views.