Saturday, April 15, 2017

Country Life - Finances ...

... & other resources.

Although I am on the road, I wanted to post the next topic in my series about Country Life.  Yes, Mr.B and the littles are "holding down the farm" while I'm visiting our new grandbaby.  I am a little nervous of what I'll find upon my return home. But if I am to enjoy myself, I must have confidence that Mr.B will ensure the house is still standing when I get back. 

When we lived down home, there was an auto dealership commercial that boasted, "Trucks and eggs are cheaper in the country."  Lending the illusion that a country lifestyle is an inexpensive lifestyle. Um, not so.  It costs a lot of money to move to the country. And, once there, depending on your vision of a country lifestyle, it can cost a lot of money to get your place going and established.  I will say that, in general, the farther one lives away from a metropolitan area, the cheaper land and houses seem to be. But that is where one needs to have a clear vision of the type of lifestyle they desire to lead.  Do you want to live close enough to the city to commute to your current employment?  Do you plan to change careers, take a local job, start your own business?  If starting your own business will you need access to the diverse demographics a metropolitan area offers? As mentioned in my first post in this series, Country Life - Family Dynamics, nearly every family in our community has at least one adult working away from home.   Unless you are very wealthy, it is likely someone in your family will also have to work away from home.

Once there is an established vision of what we desire our future country lifestyle to look like, we have to figure out a way to pay for it.  This is a Reality Check. Winning the lottery or one of those "get rich quick" schemes found on late night television advertisements are unrealistic financial plans for one's future, no matter what sort of lifestyle one dreams of.  Those who are serious about obtaining any life long dream or goal need a serious and methodical financial plan on how to get there.  I think the first step in obtaining one's long term financial goals is to eliminate all debt outside of one's mortgage, and maintain a debt free lifestyle.  You can not save the capital needed to finance any dream or goal by dragging a truck load of debt behind you.  Eliminating debt is not complicated, maintaining self-discipline to accomplish it is the hard part. 

Back when I did a little bit of "debt elimination counseling", I found that most urban folks are really, really addicted to the urban financial drains that keep the wheels of an urban economy turning - fun things like smart phones, eating out, movies, bowling, snacks and expensive to-go coffees, put-put golf, kayaking, vacations, home décor, symphonies, playhouses, bars, newer cars, boats, motorcycles, etc.  It was shocking for a "simple life" sort of girl, like me, to realize how much U.S. households spend on entertainment and luxuries annually.  Try this for one year ... eliminate any entertainment or luxuries that costs money.  Put all the money you would have spent doing all that stuff, toward paying off the debt those things bought you.  Yes, you heard me right, all of that entertainment and those luxuries bought you a truckload of debt.  Many respond with, "But what about all the memories we made?"  1. Memories will not finance long-term dreams and goals. 2. There are TONS of free memory making activities. We just need to utilize our creativity.  3. When you move to the country, you won't have easy access to those money sucking venues anyway. So, why not get used to living without them now?

Dave Ramsey, Larry Burkett's Crown Financial Ministries, Howard Dayton's Compass 1-Finances God's Way, are only 3 of the plethora of financial resources available to help people get of debt and stay out of debt.  By the way, if you peruse any of these web-sites and decide to purchase one of their books to help you get started on your journey to eliminating debt, please check out a library, used books stores and re-sale shops for copies of their books.  It makes no sense to spend unessary money on books that teach others how to save money.  Mr.B and I began listening to these guys on their, free to us, radio programs when we began our journey to a debt-free lifestyle.  It wasn't until we had been living debt-free for nearly two years that I purchased one of their books, from a re-sale shop for less than $2. Mr.B and I did not spend any money on learning how to get out of debt. Instead, we paid close attention to the snippets of "free to us" information we could glean from these time tested and proven financial mentors.  Nowadays, when I give away copies of their books, I purchase them, deeply discounted, from re-sale shops.

Once all the debt, outside of a current mortgage, is eliminated, you can then begin a financial savings strategy to finance your dream of country living.  The above resources will also be of assistance when mapping out and working toward that plan.  In addition to cold hard cash, the investment of your current home will most likely be a significant financial resource when it comes time to make "the move".  One just needs to decide, should I sell my home and use the capital to invest in my "country estate", or would we be best served by using our current home as a rental property to generate some semi-passive income?  Of course, if you find yourself moving very far away from your current location, like Mr.B and I did, a rental property may not be an easy long-term situation to deal with.  Because we moved more than 1,700 miles away, we chose to use the sale of our previous home as part of the capital needed for our current country lifestyle.

Before I move on to discussing other resources, please pay close attention to, and take, the following advise.  Please DO NOT EVER take money from your retirement funds or plans to finance a dream lifestyle.  There is nothing adventurous, exciting, noble or interesting about living in abject poverty or being financially dependent on one's children and grandchildren during retirement years.  In today's economy social security purchases nothing above a poverty lifestyle.  I dread to see how much worse it will be in future decades.

While working toward the necessary financial goals needed to finance a desired country lifestyle, there are other useful resources, or knowledge and skills, one can, and should, develop prior to moving.  Gleaning as much knowledge and developing as many skills as possible before making a move to the country, will contribute to minimizing the culture shock of moving into a rural lifestyle.

Vegetable gardening is one of the most common activities associated with country living.  Tackling a DIY edible landscape project or a back yard vegetable garden at your current home is a great way to find out if gardening is your "cup of tea".  I always encourage folks to begin small by doing something like using the annual landscape maintenance budget to fund a DIY edible landscape project. There are many, many books on this topic that can be  borrowed from a local library.  The huge resurgence in back yard vegetable gardening is a bonus for beginner gardeners because it's easy to find others with lots of advise and suggestions. When the whole family gets involved, all may find it's a fun, educational and "free" memory maker. In addition gardening is a healthy and purposeful exercise program. Best of all, everyone gets to enjoy all sorts of "good for their bodies" vegetables.  It has also been noted that children are far more likely to eat, and like, vegetables they've grown themselves. If you currently employ a lawn maintenance service, let them go, and involve your family by learning to maintain your home's landscape yourselves.  Landscape maintenance is a DIY when living in the country anyway.

It has been my personal observation that when urbanites have country living dreams, those dreams generally align with what's commonly known as a hobby farm; not a full-time career, multi-section crop farming or ranching enterprise.  Which introduces my next skills topic, livestock.  As mentioned, most urbanites are most likely not dreaming of several hundred cow/calf pairs, but they do dream of a few chickens, a dairy goat or milk cow, and maybe a couple hogs. In my opinion, chickens are a great introduction to the management of livestock.  They are inexpensive and very easy to care for.  Best of all, their composted droppings are great fertilizer for the aforementioned vegetable garden.

Rabbits are another backyard livestock option for urban folks. Especially those who are interested in learning animal husbandry.  They are another "easy keeper" in the livestock arena.  They are very quiet, which makes them an excellent fit for urban areas.  Raising back yard rabbits will provide one with a great education about providing weather appropriate housing, breeding records, sales, processing, etc. Rabbit droppings are a FANSTASTIC garden fertilizer that doesn't need to be composted prior to use.  Rabbits are also an excellent food source, another aspect of country living that one should familiarize themselves with, even those who don't plan to raise and process their own animal proteins. It is very likely some neighbors will and thus, it only makes sense for one to have a firm understanding of this aspect of a country lifestyle.

I know someone who lives less than 10 minutes from downtown Charlotte and there are two households in their neighborhood that have a hen house and chickens in their back yard.  They don't have roosters, but a hen doesn't need a fella around to lay an egg.  She only needs one to fertilize her eggs.  Like Charlotte, there are urban cities all over the U.S. that are beginning to allow chickens, and other, small livestock, in back yard settings.  I recently read an article where Minneapolis has passed a new city ordinance that allows residents to keep "back yard" type livestock.  Wherever you live, please review and adhere to the local ordinances before setting up any animal housing or purchasing any stock.

Of course, urban "farming" isn't exactly the same as country living, but learning some of the skills associated with a country lifestyle will better prepare everyone for the future move. Or maybe when all the entertainment and luxury venues are eliminated and everyone's toiled for months putting in, maintaining, harvesting and preserving in a decent sized back yard vegetable garden and cared for a half dozen chickens for a year, all that may bring a dose of reality prompting a decision to exchange the country lifestyle dream for something more suitable for your family.  For those who find they love all the rewards, challenges and adventures associated with "urban farming", it will only encourage them to enhance their financial disciplines so the dream of a Country Life will become a reality.

I hope this short Country Life series has provided all those dreaming of a country lifestyle a few realistic topics to consider and explore prior to making the big commitments associated with obtaining and living the Country Life.  If you have questions or would like more information on how our family achieved our goals of a rural lifestyle, please inquire in the comments section and I will do my best to continue sharing our family's personal experiences with you.


  1. That you for this detailed post Mrs. B! It sure does put things into perspective. I honestly think that right now no matter where one lives, country of city, finances are tight for everyone unfortunately. Wishing you a peaceful stay with your family and a Happy easter. God Bless, Silvana

    1. Good Morning Silvana,
      I pray your Easter Sunday is abundantly blessed. I agree with you. Although the media boasts of an economic recovery, it seems most average Americans have not experienced that recovery within their own households.


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