The purpose of this post is to share how I accomplish my goals on our homestead with a very limited budget. Sometimes our budget is actually zero, but this plan makes even a zero budget work at times.
Two years ago I was making progress by focusing on one project at a time. I did get things done, but there were always so many more things to do. My new approach came two years ago when I started the year with a list of projects that I wanted to get done that year, however my break through didn’t come until I put my list in a place that I would see it on a regular basis. What is important to know is that everything on my list was there because it was part of my goals. Here are the 6 steps I took to make my goals a reality.
- I made a list of the projects I wanted to work on. Sometimes it was simply buying something for my homestead lifestyle. For example, we live on a homestead that is off grid, so on my list was a stove top popcorn popper. I wanted to be able store and cook popcorn because it is inexpensive and stores well. If I had the right popper I could easily use it off grid and store popcorn to use now and later. By putting the popper on my list I was able to buy one after my husband had worked some overtime. I looked at my list and my budget and purchased the popper. Until I had the list where I could see it often I frequently forgot to buy it when we got extra money for purchases. That leads me to the second thing that I did.
- I put the list in places that I would see often. To begin with I made more then one list. I wrote one in my planner. I put a second list in my Journal (but I didn’t see that often), and I put a third list on my bedroom wall. Perhaps the most important list was in my bill binder. By putting it with my bills I was able to look at it on paydays and determine if we had the means to get anything on the list or work on any projects that were on the list. If I felt like we had money to put towards my goals I could then talk to my husband and determine what item on the list we would work on that payday. This leads me to the third thing that I did.
- I discussed the list of things I wanted to do with my husband, my kids, and my friends. By telling others about my list it created opportunities for others to help me work on my goals. For example, my husband brought home a wood box and said, “I thought this would make a great chicken coop for you.” He knew that a chicken coop was on my list.
It took a few days, but I was able to turn this box into a chicken coop using things I had laying around. The only thing that I bought was screws (I am always buying screws), door hinges, and some paint.
The point is that when I share my goals with others they are able to help me accomplish them. They encourage me or keep their eyes open for things that might help with my goals.
Once I told my friend that I wanted to purchase a small washer for my home. She responded by telling me that she needed help at her place and offered to let me come and work for her for a few days to earn the money to purchase the washer.
Just recently a friend gave me some fertilized eggs to try out my new incubator. She had plenty of eggs and knew that I needed to learn how to use my incubator. When we share our goals with others they love to help us find ways to accomplish them. Sometimes they just give us encouragement, but that is extremely valuable. One friend tries to ask me often what my project for the day is. She knows that just by asking me what I am working on encourages me to set a goal for the day. This leads me to my fourth suggestion.
- When I get something for free I adjust my schedule to fit in a project on my list that includes the free items I get. Being flexible is very important to getting things done on my list. Its not realistic to drop everything on your schedule for projects, but I do try to work them into my schedule as quickly as I can. For example when a neighbor dropped off a box of tomatoes that were going bad I worked canning stewed tomatoes into my schedule as quickly as I could so the tomatoes wouldn’t go bad.
Also I don’t have a garage or a barn so when I get free wood I try to work in my wood projects as quickly as I can because the wood will warp out in the sun, wind, and rain.
When I told my husband that I wanted to enclose my loft area he brought home some reclaimed wood for me. However it was the middle of winter so I set to work getting the doors built and the rest of the area framed and installed so that the wood wouldn’t sit outside in the snow or sit inside as a trip hazard in our small house.
Working on projects as soon as time permits also helps to get projects done quickly instead of stretching it out over years. This leads me to my fifth suggestion.
- Have patience. Although it is great to jump on projects as quickly as you can, doing things before you can afford to do them can double the price of your project. Although I do everything I can as quickly as I can, I do it with free supplies as quickly as I can get free supplies buying things I need that I can’t find for free when needed. However patience is crucial to getting things done and doing it with a small budget. We try to do as much as we can as fast as we can, but patience enables us to wait for free supplies. This is where my last tip is very important.
- Have a long list of things that you want to work on. By having a long list of things to do you can switch up your projects as resources present themselves. My list includes inside and outside projects. It includes winter, spring, summer, and fall projects. My list is huge because life is so varied. I have projects that require supplies on it, and I have projects that just require time. I might have an organizing project that just requires time. I might have a planting project that uses left over seeds from the previous year so I can put them in the ground if i don’t have the money to run to the store and get seeds for this current year.
When it comes to paying down my debt focus is very important. Focusing on one debt at a time brings a lot of power, but when it comes to getting things done on my property, the long list actually allows me to keep making progress no matter what the weather or what my finances are. This method won’t work for everyone, but it has made it possible for our family to double or triple the number of things done over the past two years. Make your list today and start sharing it with the people in your life who encourage you.