Monday, October 5, 2015

So You Want to Quit Your Job: Backyard Homesteader Edition

I quit my corporate job over a year ago. Walked away from good pay, good benefits, good coworkers, and a good boss. Why? Sometimes, like days when I feel like my contribution to the planet is zip to nothing, I really don't know. I sometimes forget what life was like driving to work each day and then fighting traffic on my way home. I forget what life was like when I woke up at 4AM and catered to the agendas of everyone else instead of the passions that slink around in my own heart. I forget the stinging sensation of missing yet another school event, another volunteer opportunity, another chance to spend an afternoon with my kids.

Life's like that sometimes. It's funny. It likes to laugh in your face. When I was working I couldn't stop thinking about anything other than getting home and creating a life I didn't want a vacation from. And now that I'm not working in an office, on a set schedule, with an insurance card listing my name as the subscriber, I can't stop thinking about how I want to make more money so I can feel that sense of self-worth and independence. It's like I tipped the see-saw and instead of hovering nicely in that precious space surrounded by nothing but air and carefree bliss and balance, I'm clunking down on the other side, rapping my rear so hard on the ground it makes my teeth hurt.

I thought maybe opening my own business would solve that problem. A little part-time work, with a schedule I create, helping others. But I lost my biggest client at the end of August and instead of feeling free, I feel frantic. And yet I have zero motivation to secure new clients. I had a business plan all drawn up, did research on potential clients in my area...I even designed a set of discounted packages and proposals to offer my new customers.

But I can't seem to get out there. I feel like my feet are stuck in two giant cement blocks. My brain is telling me to move forward, make money, secure your future, but my heart is holding me back.

The thing is, I have a unique opportunity here. My financial situation is iffy, but fairly secure due to the steady contributions of my spouse. If he takes a hike tomorrow, I'd be done for. But if I use this time to learn and hone into what my heart is telling me to do, maybe it'll be worth the risk. It doesn't make me comfortable by any stretch of the imagination, but what risk does?

The question I keep asking myself is do I continue picking up one heavy foot after another in the name of financial gain, or do I turn my head in the direction of my heart and choose to fill my time with things that shoot me into the stars? Light my imagination so it's brimming with literary goodness? Push myself to learn and cross limits I never knew I had?

Is this chance of a lifetime? Can I feasibly quit working in the traditional sense of the word and find a way to survive selling only the talents and gifts I'm so eager to share?

I want to revamp my chicken hoop house. Get my gardens prepped for the winter. Turn my front yard into an herbal sanctuary. Convert the laundry room into a food cellar. Teach my children how to grow and cook a meal all by themselves. Take a permaculture course. Teach new moms how to make their own herbal remedies. Write more.

This is how I want to spend my life. This is who I am....at least for today.

But truth be told, bills need to be paid. I didn't know about tiny houses or cob cottages when I bought my house. I owe the bank over $135k. My electricity is tops! But only because I'm paying for it. I'm still paying for an education I was never actually compensated for in the working world. And my home is warm because I have a gas furnace that runs strong and steady from October to May. Kids are expensive. Chicken food is expensive. Hardware cloth is expensive. My garden was an almost epic fail this year - even canning my own food is turning out to be expensive.

So I've paid close attention to the homesteading forums. I've taken notes on how other, more experienced homesteaders, or people who share my passions, make ends meet. And the responses are incredible. And creative. And a pure representation of what it means to live with what you've got. Prolly woulda helped had I looked into this prior to leaving my corporate job, but people, this is flaws, forgiven, and I change my mind more than I change clothes.



Sell what you grow. This is an obvious one. Sell your extra kale. Your extra chamomile. Heck, some of the echinachea I have in my yard is wild and free, planted years ago by the birds of the prairie. Selling the root costs me nothing and gives me a few extra dollars in my pocket....and since purple coneflower is easy to grow, I can depend on it for a little income each year. There's this website called justfreshy - it's new, and free, and no, they're not sponsoring this post - I'm just trying to spread the word about them because they allow people like me, who want to sell what we grow, to create listings for free. It's like a free Etsy for growers/makers and people who wish to purchase locally.

Sell what you raise. No, sorry, your kids don't count. But other animal babies and animal output sell for a premium these days, especially if you're in a non-agricultural area filled with people who have little access to farm-raised products. Got a roo you don't like? Take advantage by hatching chicks and selling them. No roo? No problem, sell your eggs. I kid you not, in my area farm-raised, fresh heirloom-breed eggs sell for up to $7 a dozen. Got cows? Sell milk (I'd be your first customer!). Grass-fed cow manure is great for gardens. People love gardens. Did you know a Nigerian Dwarf Goat (next on my must-have list) kid can sell for anywhere from $200 to $500 each? Sometimes more. I'm not kidding (see what I did there).

Sell what you make. This is a huge one. I make a special salve - I call it my Triple B Balm - and sell it for $10 a jar. Can you knit? Crochet? Sew? I bought a roll of unpaper towels off Etsy and, with shipping, the dang things were well over $45. For two pieces of fabric sewn together with a couple of snaps. I was too lazy to make them myself and guess what, so are a million other people. Cha-CHING! Are you good at scrapbooking? Throw a holiday special. Offer to gather holiday photos and give back a scrapbook full of all the cute little designs and stickers they have for scrapbooks these days. Can you cook? Create your own line of homemade sauce, jam, or liquor.

Sell what you know. Figured out how to grow a boatload of tomatoes using only a few square feet of gardening space? Apply to give a class at the local park district. Know how to grow an organic victory garden? See if your library has a space for you to set up shop. If you have a food co-op in your area, go ahead and set up an opportunity for women in your community to come learn about creating healthy meals for kids, or the elderly, or vegetarians, or those with immune disorders. What's your passion? What do you know about? How can you take advantage of current trends (like organics, self-sufficiency, living with more, for less, being happy)? What have you learned that changed your life? Share it with someone else! Create a course and change the life of someone else while making some cash.

Sell what is making you crazy. I hate clutter. When my kids grow out of something I want it gone and I want it gone right away. I typically donate everything as soon as possible, but when money is tight, selling some of the big-ticket items can certainly pay off. Cribs, strollers, baby clothes, high chairs, pack-n-plays, diaper bags....babies are so temporary....people love scoring a good deal on a high chair because kids grow so fast. I tend to accumulate holiday decorations, too, and it makes my head spin when I go downstairs and see a bunch of stuff lining my shelves. So sell it, Jen. Make a holiday bundle on Craigslist and say something like "$10 takes all." Sell the old lumber you have in your backyard. I'm willing to pay up to $25 for a hunk of good lumber (heh heh) so sell it, people. I, and many others, will buy. Tear down that old shed. Sell parts off that old car. Sell your boxes and boxes of old textbooks. Even if you get 1/100th the original value, that's 1/100th more than you had when that stuff was just sitting inside your house collecting dust.

Sell your skills. Now this one is a tricky one. This entire post is about how I'm moving away from selling my administrative ninja skills. I don't want to work for strangers. Friends, sure. Family, absolutely. Small businesses who've helped me in the past, you betcha. But marketing myself and cold-calling clients? Don't want to. There are people out there who work and make money doing things they adore, though. My mama is fantastic with the elderly and decides to get up every day to help her clients enjoy their last few years on this earth. I have a dear friend who loves children and her job teaching them. I also know someone who stuck to her passion and now spends her days teaching others how to dance. Maybe someday I will find my calling, my true calling, and figure out a way to sell my skills without feeling like I'm selling myself short.

If your heart is telling you to head in another direction, though, take heed. You owe it to yourself to check it out. You can come up with a million reasons why you can't do it. But excuses get us nowhere. Believe me. I've got plenty of them. And the weird thing is, I know I won't care about many, if any, of those reasons once I've reached the end of my journey on earth. We only have one journey, after all. Perhaps it's worth the risk.

What are your favorite ways of making money? Anything you've always wanted to do, but never have? What's holding you back? I'd love to hear about it in the comments down below and as always, thank you so much for reading :)
Jen

18 comments:

  1. Nice!

    I make some money while blogging, so that's helpful. Writing is what I love to do anyway, so it works!

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    1. Rockin girl! Your blog is HILARIOUS and I HIGHLY recommend it to anyone reading these comments! Great stuff!

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  2. My full time job is my primary money maker but would love it make money from blogging or freelance writing.

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    1. I thought freelancing was the way to be for me but I am finding I don't get enough creativity in my day! Maybe fictional freelancing? Is there such a thing?

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  3. I seriously LOVE this post and wish I could have you over for a cup of tea! I am stuck waiting for my kids to graduate (4 years) so we can move into a tiny cabin in the country and I can do what I love. I have been sitting on a business plan for years and just don't have the courage to get the ball rolling. I work non-profit for a garden which uses all my energy leaving me with week-ends for my home. Wish I could do what you have done. Thanks for sharing such an honest post!

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    1. Thank you Jenny! I would totally take you up on that tea! I know you'll make that plan happen - stay motivated and take baby steps to making it happen! I wish I could just pack everything up and take off for my own piece of land somewhere isolated and quiet...so instead I work on learning little things that will eventually help me when I get out there. You know what helps me the most? My Facebook Homesteading and Sustainability group. Those people are incredible. Some of them are living the dream, others are like me, working toward it, and others are like you, in a holding pattern. It is a fantastic support group that keeps my head focused on the right stuff and encourages me when I feel like a failure! So excited you stopped by!!!!

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  4. i spend my workday counting the minutes until i can leave and actually start doing something i want to do. i hate the fact that we need money so badly to do just about anything anymore! you are a brave, inspiring person!

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    1. Thank you grace! There are so many people in that position and it's gotta make us wonder - is that living?? There's gotta be another way! I don't know what it is yet, but I'm trying! Thank you so much for stopping over :)

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  5. Great post! I would love to quit my job to do something I love... I am working on a couple of things that hopefully work out so eventually I will be able to realize this dream. Until then, bills have to be paid and kids have eat (darn kids!) so my passion is a hobby while I work the boring 9-5.

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    1. HAHA I know! Those little ones sure eat up a lot of our money - literally! I love that you keep your passion up after work is through! Keep the faith! I am so glad you stopped over :)

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  6. This is really interesting.

    I love medicine too much to ever give it up (and I don't think I could stand blogging full time even if I made enough money in blogging to equal a doctor's pay), but I commend those who have the strength to find and do what they love if they don't love their regular job!

    www.obsessivecooking.com

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    1. Thank you Natalie! I think you've found your passion, girl! You're a walking, talking representation of what I wrote about up there ^^^. I betcha it wasn't easy getting to where you are today, right? But you're a DOCTOR! You did it, and love it, and I am loving that for you....and for all those you come into contact with, because happiness is contagious, and I bet you bless those you touch!

      Thank you for stopping by :) Heading over to check out obsessive cooking right now!

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  7. We're trying to get there, but with homesteading it takes a lot of investment (money and time). Like, take our goats. We bought them a year and a half ago. We've been feeding them since then with no return. We'r breeding them now, which help hopefully result in some kids to sell, and milk to drink and use. So it will come, but right now we're still tight. Anyway, thanks for sharing on the Homestead Blog Hop! I hope you find your passion soon.

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    1. So true. So, so true. I bought 6 chickens in the spring. Received a store-bought, pre-fab coop as a present. Figured out the coop was too small, needed to build something bigger. Built and spent money constructing a hoop house, only for a predator to get 3 of my birds and my roo needing to be culled because he was an ass. So $300+ later, and hundreds of dollars in organic, non-gmo, balanced feed, and all I've got is about an egg a day. It can be SO frustrating.

      What will be awesome, though, is when you get those goats where you need them to be. It will create this cycle you can come to depend on and that. Will. Be. Awesome. I am so excited for you. Starting out is always a huge investment. You are well on your way!! And thank you for hosting the blog hop! I love it!

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  8. Wow, it's been over a year already? I remember you announcing the change, but man, time flies. Money is not a particularly good motivator for me, fortunately or unfortunately, depending on perspective. I love doing what I love, money or not...apparently I was cut out to be one of those flighty poets who never worries about such worldly things as paying bills. To me, when getting a job actually means lowering quality of life in order to have more money, then it's never worth it. Most people, though, have to have a job of some sort just to eat and have somewhere to sleep, so then it's an easy decision--job. What I am pretty good at doing is keeping costs lower than income--for me, I find it easier to cut costs than to find more ways to make money. I'm spoiled in that I get to do what I love these days, which has turned out to be creative education with kids and teens in my own home and I don't have to go anywhere to work. Dream come true--but if my life was about making my bank account look good, I'd be in the USA where Angel's nursing degree earns what it should. I'm pretty much a poster child for following your heart over choosing financial common sense. :)

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    1. I know, isn't it crazy? I should write a post dedicated to what I learned in a year after quitting my job. Hey! I actually really like that! Thanks for my next blog post idea!! HAHA

      Your happiness with your work is radiating - I can tell you absolutely love what you do and just reading your posts about it makes me smile! I love that you two live out the life you want to live instead of pushing for the unattainable "American dream" of never needing to worry about money and living a full life. It seems quite the opposite, these days, and you are so right - you and Angel are living proof of that! Keep on rockin the happiness! It lightens my heart to read about it!

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  9. I've read this post a gazillion times, but was waiting for a moment when I was feeling less stressed to post. I don't spend any time trying to monetize my blog. I do use AdSense and am an Amazon affiliate, but only make about $110 a year. I don't have the energy for that.

    My main job is the money maker. I did do a stint mystery shopping when my husband was laid off, but don't recommend it. It was too much messing around for a free pair of socks or a hamburger. None of which would fit into your minimalist lifestyle.

    As to trying to make money as a freelancer - I don't think I could do it. I'm too much of an introvert to keep having to sell myself. My goal is to live simply, save as much as I can and retire early. Then I will pursue some of my other interest without the need to find a way to make money from them.

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    1. Haha do not even worry Savvy - and thank you for reading the post so many times haha! I think I often fall into this line of thinking that with a few simple tweaks, the money will come flowing in. I am learning each and every day that simple tweaks simply isn't enough. I wish I could spend 2 hours a day at the computer and make enough money to not worry about money (like a famous author I know) but unfortunately, that's not my reality right now. And sometimes I think maybe it wasn't the reality for the author I look up to, either. Pretty sure he had to work tirelessly to get there. Just like I do. Just like you do.

      But once we get there, be it through early retirement or the attainment of some pretty special goals, I know it's gonna be awesome!! :) Thanks for stopping by Sav! I've missed you!

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