I’m going to tell you something.
It’s something that I at least find very important, and once someone told me, I found very comforting.
It’s not going to hold true for everyone, because there’s always going to be that person that’s completely fine with wherever the path takes them and acts with grace and love and light in all things.
I am not one of those people. [And unrelated to everything in this entry I just realized I’ve managed to start every paragraph with the letter I. Go me.]
If you’re one of those people who feel completely in over their heads, who don’t know where to begin, maybe doesn’t even -want- to begin: I want you to sit down. Find something to drink. Coffee, water, tea, milk…whiskey…I don’t care. Get comfortable.
This is the big secret to reworking your budget to try to rebalance after extreme financial loss. Or even just financial loss. Or even just try to get money in the bank: It’s okay to hate the process.
It’s okay to not find frugality enjoyable. It’s completely okay to want to buy a new dress just because you haven’t worn clothes that someone else hasn’t already worn in five years. It’s fine to buy that dress. It’s fine to want to have someone else make you a $6 latte-and it’s even okay to go get that coffee. It’s fine to break down in tears and buy yourself a cheap take out pizza.
This is part of the reason that whenever I work on crisis budgeting with people (which I’ve done off and on for years since before I was in grad school) I tell people that if at all possible budget for something fun and enjoyable and to make it feel less like deprivation and more like a lifestyle. Even if it’s just $5 for coffee at 7-11. And, by the way, not that I feel like I need to defend anything, but that’s five small coffees. I just love coffee, and if I have to start going to 7-11 for $1 smalls, I will.
Blogs especially are pretty terrible at telling you how awesome homesteading is. And it is, I’m not denying that. But where things get weird is that they often forget to tell you how -hard- it is and how that hardness can sometimes start eating you up inside. Because it’s a ton of work. Sometimes that work is just a major head game; people forget how important head games are and how painful they can be.
Unfortunately the easiest way to save money is to not spend money. It’s unfortunate because you can’t just coast through life with no belongings. You can, and I’m sure some people do, but most people need housing and food and clothing. Maybe a vehicle or at least access to one in some way-even if that vehicle is good walking shoes or a bike. If you’re going to try to save money on your items you often have to make up the price difference with work. And often that work is hard.
My personal pet peeve in the homesteading reality is with gardening. Gardening will give you -some- food. Most people aren’t going to be able to be farmers. They may not even want to be farmers. Your garden is probably not going to be able to support you year round, fully and completely.
The bigger issue for gardening is this: blogs make it sound easy. Even if they’re talking about how hard it is, they make it sound like minor annoyances. Not, you might watch wild animals destroy your crops like the year the deer took out every squash like object in our plot, or fighting weather, like the years it -never- rained or it never stopped raining and everything floated off in floods. They don’t mention the years that you can do everything right and everything still goes wrong and stuff just doesn’t grow. Or you get 85 pounds of tomatoes and nothing else.
I hope you like pasta sauce because that’s what you’re going to be living off of.
My point is that there’s very little in homesteading that’s easy. And that work can eventually start grinding on you.
It’s okay to admit that. It’s okay to start to hate the process.
Homesteading doesn’t have to be all or nothing, and my main two pieces of advice when it gets to the level where you just want to stop and go back to mainstream lifestyles is this: you don’t have to do everything all the time, and it’s okay to sometimes break pattern. There are things that I can mentally do just fine, no major issue, no emotional strain: I can cook dried beans, I don’t have any issue with kitchen and cleaning cloth, I like to can. I don’t even mind mixing my own cleaning supplies. If I do nothing else in a week, I can do those things. I absolutely cannot stomach the thought of wearing used shoes or sleeping on a used mattress. I can’t do it. So I don’t. It’s also completely fine to come home with a frozen pizza or bottle of shampoo. If that’s what you need to do to keep your morale high enough to keep doing it, go ahead.