Want to move your family out of town and onto a small hobby farm? Come learn how we saved money for a home in the country!
I get questions from readers about how my man and I managed to make the move from town to an acreage in the countryside. And they are particularly interested in the financial details that enabled us to follow our dream!
But here’s the thing: at this point in time, I don’t really tell people what we paid for our land and home. It’s not because I’m overly private (though I can be) or that I’m a snob (hopefully I’m not that either!). It’s just that our reality probably won’t look anything like yours.
Land costs vary so much from place to place. So do homes, whether you build it yourself or purchase something you like. Sharing my financial information won’t help you. But something I can help you with is your money-saving journey.
So rather than telling you what we paid, I’m going to tell you how we saved money for a home in the country while living on one income.
Here are the principles we followed!
#1: Set Yourself On the Fast Track to Saving Money
The more you can save from the money you already make, the faster you’ll get your home in the country!
My man and I were both raised in families where debt was generally discouraged. Even before we met, we had each made the personal decision to avoid debt. Which meant…
- No charging things to credit cards if the $ wasn’t on hand.
- No buying things (cars, furniture or toys) on payments.
- No student loans, even if meant working part time thru college.
We both came to marriage with the mentality of…you don’t have it, you can’t spend it. The only thing we were willing to go into debt over was a mortgage to buy a home, something that would grow in value as the years went by.
As I look back, I can see that our decisions to avoid debt served us very well! Once our basic living expenses were paid (rent, food, taxes, car insurance, etc), we were able to put all the rest of our money into savings.
Having no debt moved the needle for us in a way that wouldn’t have otherwise been possible. Especially because we were living on one income!
I know most people have debt, whether it’s car payments, medical bills or something else. And if you do, all hope isn’t lost. I highly recommend checking out this book HERE and that you follow the process it recommends. It has served us well!
Debt should always be paid off before you try to save money for a home in the country!
#2: Get in Touch With Your Income and Your Expenses
Long before my man and I got married, I knew he was a frugal-minded individual. When we were dating, the only flower he ever gave me was one he’d gotten for free! 😉
Gifts are not his love language. Or mine. In fact, if gifts had mattered to me, I’d have dumped him in the first few weeks!!! 🙂
He was a frugal fellow and having been raised in a large family, I also knew a thing or two about saving money myself. We both thought we’d be able to quickly save money for a down payment, if we put our minds to it.
A few months after being married, the two of us sat down and took an honest look at our financial situation. On a piece of paper, we scratched out the total of our income and then accumulated a list of our living expenses. We were unpleasantly surprised to discover that (frugal as we were), we weren’t pulling ahead. In fact, some months we were losing money!
And we knew that something had to change if we wanted to own a home in the country.
#3: Do Whatever it Takes to Lower the Cost of Living
Costs of living varies from area to area. And after my man and I took an honest look at our expenses, we realized we were trying to live on one income in an expensive area where double-income households were (almost) necessary to get ahead.
My man isn’t one of those ambitious types who wanted to build his own business. And I didn’t want him working so much, he was never around.
In our location at that time, the cost of groceries were high. Rent was even higher. The winters were long and cold, which also increased the cost of raising our own food (which we were eager to do).
Financially, we realized it would be nearly impossible to get ahead if we stayed in the area.
And so, we pulled out our Atlas roadmap and started exploring different towns and communities in the western part of the country.
Less than half a year later, we had moved over 1,000km away to a totally new place. You can read about that journey HERE.
#4: Live Below Your Means While You Are Saving
Everyone likes living in the ideal situation. But when you only have one income and are saving money, you need to live below your means. For a time, anyway!
After moving across the country, my man and I took our sweet time settling into the new community. We “camped” for several months while waiting for the right living situation to come up in the right price range.
Four months later, we found a place that suited us.
The home wasn’t ideal. We dealt with mice in the winter and ants in the summer. About 20 ft off the back door was a busy street. Directly across was a large beer brewery. Our front door opened out onto the parking lot of a greenhouse business. And the backside of our house overlooked an RV park.
It would have been nice to rent something shiny and new, in a quiet part of town. But by renting a home that was “below” our means, we saved at least an extra $400 a month.
And we still can’t thank the owner of that home enough!
It nearly doubled what we were able to put into savings every month. In fact, when we made our move to the country 3 years later, our decision to rent below our means had saved us more than $15,000!
All of which went directly towards a down payment on land and home.
When you’re living on one income, every dollar counts.
#5: See a Budget as the Key to Success
Some people love budgeting. And it makes other people feel confined. But regardless of how you feel about it, trying to save money without a budget is like trying to drive to a specific location without an address or map!
If you aren’t intentional, you’ll go in circles and it’ll take you a lot longer to get there.
Our first budget was scratched out on a piece of notebook paper. There was something about actually seeing it all laid out before us that really drove the point home.
“If we can just save ______ amount per month, that means we’ll be in the country in _______ years.”
We had to figure it out as we went. But I’ve created a shortcut for you, so you don’t have to! Click HERE or on the image below to grab a printable version of the budget and system we created while living on one income.
It will drive your reality home in a whole new way and give you specific steps you can take to increase your savings.
#6: Make a Game of Saving Money
As a full time homemaker, I found there was something very satisfying about living on a budget. You see, when we started budgeting, I suddenly realized I played an important role in the money-saving game.
I discovered that saving isn’t about how much money you bring home. It’s about how much you can hang onto after your expenses have been paid every month.
So I started plugging the holes that our money was dribbling out of.
I learned how keep a frugal kitchen. I grew bigger gardens and preserved lots of that food for winter. We started butchering old laying hens for meat (read how to HERE). I learned lots of old fashioned, money-saving skills that women have traditionally practiced for centuries.
And I made it my goal to not only stick to the budget, but I tried to “beat” the budget!
If I had money leftover in various categories at the end of the month, I knew I’d won. And that money went into savings.
Getting competitive with your budget is a great way to save even more money!
#7: Take On Extra Work and Get Ahead Faster
When you’re trying to build the savings account, extra side jobs can really speed the money-saving process! Unlike your pay cheque, money earned from odd jobs goes straight into your pocket. You don’t have to spend a portion of it on groceries, utilities or car insurance.
It’s all yours. And you can quickly double or even triple the amount of savings you have in a month, just by taking on extra work. At least we did.
During our 3 years of intense saving, we often took on odd jobs. My man was working 4/10’s for his boss at the time, so he had the freedom to take on extra jobs Friday-Saturday. And at his price!
I started teaching a few piano students every week and took on occasional odd jobs (window washing, babysitting) when I had the strength for it.
Together, we moved the needle much faster than if we’d just relied on my man’s pay cheque alone.
#8: Learn New Skills That Lower the Cost of Living
When you’re living on one income, you can save a lot of money by learning to do things yourself. It takes more time and dedication, certainly! But it also significantly cuts back on the cost of living.
Here are a few of the skills my man and I embraced in our season of saving.
- Grow big gardens for (almost) free food during summer-fall months
- Canning and preserving food in season
- Buying foods in bulk
- Cooking meals 100% from scratch
- Making your hygiene items
- Do your own vehicle mechanics (my man hated it but learned anyway)
- Fixing plumbing and leaky faucets
- Use Youtube and learn to repair instead of replace appliances and items
- Barter and trade
- Hunt for your meat (this isn’t always a good idea; it depends on your area! See my post HERE)
- Take and butcher friend’s old laying hens for the stew and soup pot
The list goes on! As my man and I look back, we can see that this season of life offered us something more than savings. Because we didn’t have the money to put out, we were forced to learn how to do things we wouldn’t normally have troubled ourselves with.
It built our confidence as adults and really expanded our skill sets and knowledge.
I hope we never face another lean season. But if for some reason it comes our way, we now have the skills and the confidence that we’ll be ok if it does happen.
#9: Don’t Have Any Fun Until You Reach Your Goal
I’m kidding. Sort of. 😉
When you’re in money saving mode, it is important to still have fun so you don’t burn out. But keep it simple and limit it to events that don’t really take money. Here are a few ideas for country-minded folks.
- Have campfires in the evenings
- Go on walks and talk
- Share a simple meal with someone in your home
- Plan and dream about your move to the country
- Watch a show or movie on Youtube
- Take a weekend to go camping at a nearby lake
- Go canoeing
- Fish and hunt together
We also found that we were more likely to stick to our budget if we each allowed ourselves some individual spending money each month. It wasn’t much (less than $15 ea), but at least it gave us permission to go out for coffee 2x a month if we were invited out!
You’ve Gotta Live Like Your Dream is Important
There are many couples who dream about having a home in the country where they can grow a garden, keep a few animals and have room for the kids to run.
We were there ourselves, not so long ago!
For us, the key to getting a home in the country was this. We had to live like our dream was important. We had to be strategic. Budget. Plan ahead.
And that’s exactly what my budget and printables will help you do.
Take Control of Your Money & Pursue Your Dream Today!
My printable charts and easy, step-by-step directions will help you discover where you are at financially.
You’ll also learn how to set a budget and start creating more savings that will take you toward your BIG goal faster!
When you live on one income, it won’t just fall into your lap. If you want it, you have to go after it.
It takes sacrifice, but for us, it was the way to the life we wanted. Now that we’re here, I’m so glad we chose to go through those lean years. It was worth it.
So there you have it.
All you folks who want to know how it happened for us?
Now you know how we saved money for a home in the country!