How To Start A Rural Homestead, Part 2: Pay Off Debt


This is Part 2 of the How To Start A Rural Homestead series. Before reading this post, I recommend starting with Part 1: Income.

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Now that you’ve taken some time to envision how you want the days on your future rural homestead to play out, and have gotten familiar with how to make [legitimate] online income and the freedom that will contribute to this lifestyle, the next big step is to simultaneously work on paying off debt.

I know this doesn’t sound glamorous or fun right now, but once we get a plan in place for you, you might be surprised at how fun paying off debt can be. (…I guess rewarding is a better word.)

“Why pay off debt? I’ll just use cash or owner financing to buy my homestead.”

This is the mindset I used to have, so I completely understand this train of thought.

But after years of working to build my ideal lifestyle —that is, a cozy rural homestead that I don’t have to commute away from everyday— and seeing what is realistic and what isn’t, I’ve changed my mind on a few things.

Even if you plan to buy a homestead outright in cash or you’re hoping for owner financing, I still recommend paying off debt if you have any. And I recommend doing this before you transition to that homestead life.
As in - now, start now.

By doing this, you’re planning for long-term success and preparing for unforeseen circumstances in which you might have to rely on credit.

“But that’s money I could be saving to buy a homestead with!”

I know. But this is a long-term approach, not a short-term. We’re not going for instant gratification, we’re going for a solid 2-year game plan, that if we follow closely, will almost certainly result in us having the rural homestead and lifestyle of our dreams.

If you have under $10,000 worth of debt, I promise this is not going to be as difficult as you think.

If you have more than that, it’s still okay. People get out of debt all the time, many of them making very little annual income.

Not sure how much debt you have? Keep reading and I’ll show you how to find out, for free.

Get acquainted with your debt + start knocking it out using the snowball method

A lot of people push debt out of sight. But we’re going to stare it straight in the eye.

To do that, go to Credit Karma and create an account.

You’ll be able to see your current credit score and a list of accounts that have gone to collections.

I recommend using Dave Ramsey’s snowball method. Here’s how that works:

  1. Contact each debt collector using the contact info provided by Credit Karma and setup a payment plan. Pay the minimum amount monthly on all accounts. Even if it’s $10 a month on each account, that’s okay! Let each debt collector know that you have plans to pay them off in full, but in order to do that you can only afford this much for the time being.

  2. Budget and save as much as you can with each paycheck and start paying off your lowest balance accounts in full. For example, if your lowest balance account shows you owing $283, budget and save with each paycheck and when you have that amount, call the number (provided by Credit Karma on each debt account), and pay the account off in full. Do this for each account until you have them all paid off!

If you aren’t familiar with this snowball method of paying off debt, I cannot recommend Dave Ramsey’s book “The Total Money Makeover” enough! I’ll be highlighting this book again when I write the next post in this series (Part 3: Budget + Save).

A matter of integrity

In my opinion, paying off debt is a matter of integrity.

If a good or service was provided to you, you owe money for that.

This is the reason I don’t recommend the route of bankruptcy for clearing debt.

I think in our culture and age we’ve become a little too accustomed to things being given to us without a sense of having truly earned them. It seems that an air of entitlement and lack of responsibility are the new norms.

I doubt that if you’re reading this, and really wanting to be a rural homesteader, you would fit into either of the above descriptions; You know you have to work hard and be smart with the money you make.

And this is one of the many reasons we will turn these dreams of ours into a reality— we will develop a strategy and a game plan and see it through!

I hope you’ll stay tuned for the other parts in this series, and that in roughly two years from now, everyone reading this is moving onto their new homestead and finally getting to dig in to the lifestyle we all long for and value.

Now, you can make your way over to Part 3 in this How To Start A Rural Homestead series: Budget + Save!

How To Start A Rural Homestead
Part 1: Income (Making A Living Off-Grid)
Part 2: Pay Off Debt
Part 3: Budget & Save
Part 4: Deciding Between Raw or Developed Land
Part 5: Determining Location

If you have any questions or anything to add, don’t hesitate to leave those comments below. I’m happy to help in any way I can, and I love brainstorming solutions with others. Thanks for stopping by and don’t forget to sign up for The Sunday Postcard!


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Enjoying life on the Olympic Peninsula while we work toward a homestead in the northeast Washington wilderness.


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