Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Time and Money Conundrum

Everything you want to do in life involves time and money. This is true no matter what you are thinking about. If you are like we are, you have found a sad situation where when you have the money you don't have the time and visa versa. We are going to talk about what I have come to name The Time and Money Conundrum.

You can homestead relatively inexpensively, but when you do it takes a long time to get things done. A good example is you can move the same amount of dirt with a pick, shovel, and a five gallon bucket as you can with a bulldozer but not in the same amount of time. We a people who are longing for a more self sustainable lifestyle have to be able to balance these two critical aspects of life.

What to do if you have neither time nor money?

If you are in the situation where you don't have the time or money is there still anything you can do? Yes there sure is.For some this step is just as satisfying as the actual work, for others this a a plague that must be endured. I call this the planning and development stage. In this stage you will have to be completely honest with yourself.

Everyone should spend at least a little time in this step, but some will have to be here longer than others. That is okay, as long as you are working toward your goals you have nothing to be ashamed of.


This is a step that you never truly finish and coincidentally, this is where my wife and I have the most difficulty. As of right now we both have jobs in which there is no lack of opportunities to work. I have overtime almost every single week and she works at three hospitals so there are always people who want her to come in and work for them. This is great for the budget, but it is hard on the day to day responsibilities of not only the homestead but also the relationship. I know it is difficult to turn down the extra money, but unless you are doing it short-term and for a specific goal, many times the you may find it is not worth the strain on your body and your life in general.

At some point everyone has to learn to say no or we become a slave to our commitments and by extension to others.

Developing a Budget

I put this one first because it can determine all of the subsequent steps. This is where you find out exactly how much money you earn and how much you spend. Not only that but you will learn where you spend the money you do get.

I am not one of those people that necessary believe that everyone has to have a perfectly structured budget where you not only know dollar amounts, but also percentages of net income for each category. They do help many people, but if we are honest there are some that if they had to do that would quit right there and never take another step.

Once you have a full understanding of how much money you make and how much you spend you can start making an action plan. You may have to reduce spending, you may even have to cut luxuries. If that is all you have to do, count yourself blessed. There are many that find they are in the negative financially each month. If you fall into this category you will have to spend more time in steps one and two.

If you find that you have little or no money left,  there are still things you can do to advance your homestead dreams, you will just need to realize that it is going to take longer. You will also want to consider using Dave Ramsey's debt snowball system, it works but it takes discipline.

Overtime and Second Jobs

If you happen to work somewhere where overtime is available, you may want to take advantage of some. In the US overtime pays 1 1/2 your base rate of pay. If no overtime is available you may have to take a second job. Both of these options should be temporary. It is very easy to get dependent on this extra money. This extra money can be set aside for projects or used to pay down bills.

Time Assessment

Steps two is determining how much time you have to invest in your dream. Time cannot be stretched or created. There are only 24 hours in a day and 7 days in a week. It doesn't matter how much we wish we could change that. Time and money are both mutually exclusive resources. What I mean by that is once you spend 10 minutes on a project you can never get those minutes back and you cannot spend them on anything else. Money is the same way once you spend it, it is gone forever. You can get more, but you will never have that resource again.

Like money, when you are doing your time assessment you have to be completely honest. If your job is like mine, you cannot just schedule 8 hours a day. I have to work till the job is done. Some days it is only 8, some days it is 16. In that situation you will have to run an average. This average cannot be based on a single week either. It needs to be based on a minimum of a month.  Right now my workday averages about 11 hours. That is what I have to consider. You also have to schedule sleep time. I strongly recommend scheduling 8 hours of sleep time each day. It doesn't matter if you don't normally stay asleep that long. My wife during her work week might get 6 hours of sleep per day, but she will still lay there and rest the other two hours.  Just right there we are to 19 hours. That only leaves 5 for all of the other things we actually want to do. On top of that I have to have time to eat, spend time with the family, write, make videos, work in the garden, cook, can, and relax. So you see I can really relate to not having time.

There are two extremes when it comes to time. There are those like my wife and I, that cram as much as possible into the time we have. Our daughter has asked if we are workaholics. Then there are others who never have time and appear to have not accomplished anything. Neither of these is preferable. Something we have had to work on is making sure that we have relaxation time. This time doesn't have to be everyday, but it does have to be fairly often.

How to set up your homestead

Now that we have talked about finding out just how much time and money you have to put into a homestead, we are going to cover how to set up a homestead that fits which resource you have the most. You can set up a homestead where you don't have to spend a lot of time or money but not both. I am going to talk about the extremes on both sides. I will cover both of the following in greater detail in a later post and will link them all together.

Capital Intensive

Most commercial farms are set up like this, but you can do this with a self reliant homestead as well. Things like automatic waterers, feeders, using landscape fabric or in my case cardboard and mulching your garden can really reduce the amount of time you have to spend on the day to day duties of a homestead.
All of the infrastructure of a homestead can be installed. There are even companies that specialize in agricultural applications.

Labor Intensive

Almost everything that can be done with technology can be done manually.  Remember throughout most of history most wells were hand dug. Doing things manually is much less expensive, but it takes a lot longer.
The are several projects that can be completed with just basic tools and the only cost is your time. You can put in a garden with just sweat and hard work. Irrigation systems, if you do them yourself, do not have to be expensive.

Somewhere In Between

Most of us fall somewhere in the middle of these two extremes. Some projects we work through with blood, sweat, and tears, others we save up money to be able to pay someone to do the work for us.


After you have determined the amount of time and money you can dedicate to your homestead dreams the next step is to set some goals. Everyone will tell you to set short-term, mid-term, and long-term goals.
It is important to set goals, but I for one believe that if you set too high goals it is easy to get frustrated and give up. It is better to have several goals. Some of which should be able to be accomplished in just a week or two. The rest should be gradually increasing in difficulty.

A short-term goal can be anything from growing a certain percentage of your family's food or making homemade salsa from your garden.

Just do something

Homesteading is just like anything else. You are guaranteed to never succeed if you never get started. Every step matters.

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