How do you earn cash to pay the bills? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 16 Old 08-18-2011, 09:48 PM - Thread Starter
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This question is directed at those are already living in the country. I understand that one can grow one's own veggies and raise animals for meat, but I can't imagine selling your produce and meat would bring in enough income to pay utility bills, etc. What ''job'' or tasks do you perform to earn money? What sort of services are in demand, what trends have you noticed?


Our family is considering moving to the country. Together, DH and I have significant experience in fields such as IT and marketing, not to mention interests in other areas as well that we'd like to explore. We're just not sure how we can fit into such a small community and leverage our skills and experience within the country context. (I hope this makes sense.)


Ideally, we would be self-employed.





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#2 of 16 Old 08-23-2011, 09:30 AM
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probably not what you want to hear, but i have a woh full time job with a 45 minute each way commute.  but the drive's not bad and we're making it work. 

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#3 of 16 Old 08-24-2011, 03:50 PM
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I grew up in a farming community.  Most of the farmers grew wheat & such, maybe 1/2 to 1/4 of them had cattle.  The cattle do get you money, you just need to have a large herd.  The crops can get you money, again you need good land.    Most of the wives worked jobs in the town.


If you are growing veggies you can make money to pay bills, you need a very large garden.

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#4 of 16 Old 08-24-2011, 05:08 PM
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I don't know if you plan on having internet access, but here's a possibility. Have you ever looked into contracting or freelancing? Places like Odesk put freelancers together with companies for small jobs. Sometimes relationships form and those jobs become longer term. With IT or marketing experience and English as a native language you could market yourselves easily, I'd think. 


For very small amounts of money, but no brain work, there's Amazon Mechanical Turk.


I am probably wrong in assuming there's any likelihood you'd be paying for an internet connection though...

Married to my favorite man in '07. Our firstborn came along in April 2012 (HBC), and our second is on the way, due sometime in May 2014 (planning an HBAC).
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#5 of 16 Old 08-25-2011, 10:34 AM
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DH drives one hour both ways 4-6 days a week to landscape in the city and that brings in most of our money.

I cook for our neighbors and make extra money. Most of our friends sell food at market (not the local market, in the city markets), make crafts to sell at stores or craft fairs, and do small seasonal or part time jobs like working for the census, harvesting food for other farmers, ect. I have one friend who works as transcribing something medical from home that she had to do a years worth of classes for. If you are mainly looking to homestead and farm, I wouldnt try work full time, but instead maybe advertise yourselves as a small computer based service (building websites, designing business cards, pamphlets, brochures, ect.) there is a huge need for that kind of stuff here.
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#6 of 16 Old 08-30-2011, 12:30 PM
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I am a natural light children and family photographer.  I haven't been working much in the last couple of months since my camera was stolen, and I took a temporary position at our city hall (a job I worked for years).  We are really aiming to move to our country home next year, at which point I will no longer work for the city and will resume photography.  I will still only work a few days a week out of the home, consolidating my sessions to a few set days a week in order to save on gas.  Then the rest of my work is from a home office.


The bulk of our income comes from my husbands disability from the VA.  He found a large tumor in his leg when he was active duty in the marine corp, and after multiple procedures, he was honorably discharged with full medical retirement.  He is also in school to be a computer programmer.  He hopes to find a job working from home after graduating, but I don't know much about the field and how realistic that is. 


We have an unusually favorable situation to be able to buy a small farm and persue that life, as a large amount of our income will still come in even if we stay home all the time.  However, considering the fact that the United States Goverment supplies said income, we will never be truly "off the grid". 


*ETA:  I also have some other plans for supplimental income that are based around farming and homesteading.  First off, DH is very handy with woodworking. I've been making idea lists and we've been drawing up plans for simple things he can build, such as stilts for kids (and grown ups too!) and home decor out of salvaged wood and window panes, photo frams and message boards, that sort of thing.  I would also like to get into soapmaking, using goats milk once we have own goats.  I also am learning to sew, crochet and knit.  We have a really neat farmers market where we live 2 times a week, and once we get settled into our farm, I want to start a weekly booth selling these things. Or maybe just do some local craft fairs...I'm not sure yet, but there is definitely money to be made if you can make things.

Also,  I have several friends/family members that would be more than willing to pay for farm fresh eggs, produce, raw goats milk, and such, but they would never drive out to my place to get them.  I was thinking of coming up with a program where I'll provide a few people with these things for a set price of 20 dollars a week (or whatever, I haven't exactly thought it out entirely) and I'll deliver it every week.  We will still be driving to town once a week for family dinner (Sunday evening at MILs), so I could just come an hour early and deliver the baskets of stuff.  Also, once we get into meat birds and pigs, I could include meat.  I also brew kombucha and make kefir, and like I said I want to make soap.  So potentially, just with friends and family that want to enjoy these things without doing the work, I could make a good bit of extra money a week by making it convenient for them.  This might not provide enough to pay the bills, but it could offset the cost of keeping the animals.

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#7 of 16 Old 10-23-2011, 03:41 PM
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When we moved to the country I had great plans for being more self-sufficient.  The truth is (especially the way we choose to live), selling eggs and veggie, or even meat really doesn't contribute much to our bottom line.


DH is the main bread-winner.  He has an IT job and commutes to the suburbs.  He's worked for the same company for 15 years and has worked his way up the ladder.  It's a 30-35 mile commute (depending on which roads he takes), but he's a car person and truly enjoys the drive.  He's also able to telecommute 1-2 days a week.  He used to work from home more often, but because of company-wide changes and DH's current position (he needs to be present at meetings), he need to go into the office most days. I was a homeschooling/SAHM when we moved to the country, but I now teach part-time at the charter school in town.  It's an 8 mile drive, but since my children also attend the school, I'd be making the drive every morning and afternoon even if I didn't work there. 

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#8 of 16 Old 10-23-2011, 07:04 PM
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We look at a lot of what we want to do (gardens, chickens, a few animals, etc.) as being a way to be more independent & self-sufficient but not as a means to make money. Dh works a full-time job & we are fortunate he can do it from home for now. We JUST moved this spring so it is all new to us but we have already started boarding a couple horses & took hay off our fields. This year we made no money off the hay as we traded it for on the job training basically but in the future it will bring us a small amount of money. The boarding of horses is decent income for little work & is a consistent income year round. We may look at boarding more horses in the future but have to figure it out as our fields are not big & are not great quality so realistically we could only provide hay for a limited number of horses & would lose any income on it. We also are considering pasturing cattle for other farmers as our land is a little more suited to this than crops & apparently there are a number of cattle farmers in the area who need this.


We don't really expect we will ever be completely able to not work a job outside of our homestead but will continue to work towards more self-sufficiency & if it works out to no jobs at some point that would fabulous.

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#9 of 16 Old 11-10-2011, 09:46 AM
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My husband and I literally live off the land. We rely heavily on the sale of our produce. For extra cash, I do a few shifts a week in town and my husband helps neighbours with general labour and cabin building.

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#10 of 16 Old 11-23-2011, 06:17 AM
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We live on an acre.  During market season, we have a market stand where we sell my handspun yarns, knitted creations, fermented drinks such as Kombucha, natural body care products, and any available produce from our gardens.  We also deliver eggs to the city once per week.  My husband is a computer programmer and does contracts from home when we need extra cash.  I teach violin lessons six hours per week.


We have an Etsy shop - and do a lot of local custom orders for knit hats and such. 


All this is to say - we have tons of family time together. We pay our rent, bills, and vehicle expenses with casual income. We've reduced grocery costs greatly by producing a lot of our own food. We make our own rules and live for nobody but ourselves.  It is totally possible, if you are willing to be creative and live frugally.


You can follow our journey on my blog -  Feel free to ask questions!!

Happy mama to L (Sept '06), R (Apr '08), R (Apr '10), and G (Mar '12)! - Homemade , Home birthed , Home schooled , Home grown

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#11 of 16 Old 11-24-2011, 09:00 AM
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DH is a nurse at the hospital (local still being an hour away) and that's our main income.  I supplement with subbing as a teacher's aide.  But, we also make a fair bit of income at farmer's market selling sprouts, microgreens and handmade, natural toys and handfelted clothing and home items.  We sell and deliver eggs as well, too.  DH sometimes trades computer repair services (he used to be a computer engineer but is handy with computers in general) for other goods or services.  There is a lot of barter in our location.

Busy keeping up with three children and an awful lot of chickens!

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#12 of 16 Old 11-26-2011, 05:59 AM
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We live on 27 acres. Dh is a horse trainer and the income from that meets our living needs. We also raise numerous critters and sell a few steers every year (butchered - meat- not live) and a pig or two (same way) and that covers butchering one of each for our consumption as well as covering our winter hay bill ($5,000 this winter!).
Hubby, however, got trampled about 6 weeks ago and while, thank God, he's doing well now, he still has vertigo so his work is limited. Fortunately, we're old school and have only 3monthly hard and fast bills (housing, power, phone/internet - we also have Netflix but could, obviously scrap that if needed) and our guest room stores food we preserved this year or bought ahead (beans, grains etc). So, to help make ends meet I opened an Etsy shop I'd been planning forever ( where i sell soakers, wipes, diaper cream, mama cloth coming soon, etc... and started selling Avon.

If something happened and we weren't doing the horse training business, I believe we could make ends meet by boarding horses, raising and selling more beef and pork and perhaps some produce at the farmer's market (not much money in that, in our experience, and a lot of work). We have also thought about formally teaching others to do what we do as a way to earn income if we needed to... I think the key is keeping expenses down. The less you owe/spend, the less you need to bring in.1

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#13 of 16 Old 12-03-2011, 08:37 AM
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Many Belgians who want to go live on teh country, move to France, Italy or Spain and open a B&B there.

I don't know if this would work where you want to move to, and I don't know if you want to go live off the grid or not (would be hard to have a B&B then), but this could be a way to get an income.

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#14 of 16 Old 12-18-2011, 12:47 PM
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We live on 50 acres and the bulk of our income comes from the horse business....we train racehorses and have room to house 41 horses between both barns. We also have a large riding arena and trails, so we offer boarding for pleasure horses as well. My husband is a blacksmith and also picks up work on the side building barns.


One of our partners is from "the city" and is a financial advisor/insurance broker and you would be surprised at the amount of business he has picked up out here. There aren't too many places in our area that offer those types of services, because truthfully there is not a whole lot of money here anymore, but people still want health, life and disability coverage for their families at an affordable rate, and he loves to work with all different budgets to get the job done.


My advice is to do tons of research before setting up camp in the country. Visit places, talk to the people, see what the towns have / don't have....remember that two of the best places to mingle with the locals are the feed store and the local diner or luncheonette!

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#15 of 16 Old 12-20-2011, 08:46 AM
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We have always lived in the country.  We have a smallish organic farm- 150 acres.  That provides pretty well in some years and horribly other years.  DH is also a farm equipment mechanic and works 100 ft from our house in our shop- so that is absolutely awesome.  We have some cows and some hogs- and sometimes chickens and ducks.  These are mostly for us- but we do sell some too- not really a significant source of income though- but it pays for what we eat and pays for the hay for my milk cows.  I also have a garden- which since I get busy- isn't a really reliable source of food.  We are by no means self sufficient on our farm- although I have delusions of being.  


What we do have though is 100% freedom.  DH works when he wants to and I take care of our kids.  We wouldn't want to change a thing.  I am blessed to have such a talented husband.  I completely agree with the PP who suggested keeping your bills low.  If you don't have a vehicle payment- you never have to worry about making it you know?  We can live off a little bit of nothing and that is pretty nice.


Also- something to think about is internet service in the country.  We can only get dialup or wildblue- which is what we have- but not reliable for something like internet based work from home.

Iowaorganic- mama to DD (1/5/06), DS1 (4/9/07), DS2 (1/22/09), DS3 (12/10/10), DD2 (7/6/12) and a new kid due in early 2014

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#16 of 16 Old 12-23-2011, 10:37 AM
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Good point Iowa regarding the internet service. Out here there is only one way to go and it is supposed to be "high speed" but in reality, it is slower than diap-up. Sites like Facebook that have a ton of things trying to download all at once take forever and usually come up with a ton of errors....and forget about watching anything on YouTube, unless you have an hour to let a 5 minute video buffer.

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