One of the pillars to self-sufficient living is being frugal. It is hard to break free from the “rat race” when you have to work a 9-5 job just to keep up. At the very least, learning to live more frugally can allow one parent (in a two parent home) to stay home and run the homestead.
I suppose being 100% self-sufficient would mean you would never have to deal with money. But, that could never happen simply due to property taxes and other small incidentals. And most of us will need more money than just property taxes. One of the ways to start moving towards having a self-sufficient income is to create multiple income streams.
Benefits to Multiple Income Streams
- If the worst happens you will still have some money coming in. The more income streams you have, the less likely that you will be left with nothing. Even if it isn't enough to completely keep up – it will help you pay at least some of the bills (and not lose your house, power, or water) until you can get back on your feet.
- You can designate extra income for things you want on your homestead without having to dip into your regular budget
- Most extra income streams can continue into retirement (and might even allow you to retire earlier).
A small amount of money can go far, especially if you are applying it to debt. If you add $100 to your mortgage payment each month (on a $100,000 mortgage) you will pay it off 8 years 9 months sooner! There are a lot of ways to earn an extra $100 each month.
Six Extra Income Stream Ideas
- Selling Products from your Homestead – selling extra product can be lucrative if you find the right place to sell and get some regular customers. Extra produce, eggs, milk, meat, cheese, baked goods, and more can be sold for some extra cash. One thing to keep in mind is to make sure you review the rules for your area. Baked goods are highly regulated in some places. And the other items in that list might be too (raw milk can usually only be sold for animal use). That said, our local farmer's market was willing (at no cost) to help get people certified to sell locally sourced items as long as you sold in that farmer's market so check your area to see what sort of help you can find.
- Selling Products Online – if the “extra” products from your homestead can be shipped then you can sell online. Some examples include wool from your sheep (and products you make from it), fertile eggs (make sure you know how to ship these!), products you make/sew, some types of baked goods, and lots of other options. Here are a few sites that can help you sell:
- Etsy – etsy is a sales site for homemade goods, vintage items, and craft supplies. It is easy to set up a website. It costs $0.20 to list a product for 4 months and when you sell they take 3.5%.
- Hyenacart – hyenacart is similar to etsy except the products are geared towards parenting and natural living. It is $10 for the first month and $5 for every month after that. There are no selling fees (you keep it all).
- Ebay – I used to make a lot of money on ebay, but I have since stopped selling there. Nonetheless, there are still plenty of people who make a lot of money using the site. You can list on ebay for free, but it will cost you 10% of the final price when it sells. You can create a store on ebay. The smallest option is $20/month with a 4% sale fee.
- Craigslist – local products can sell via craigslist. It is free to list and sell.
Searching and Offers – This is often overlooked, but it is one of my favorites. Earning a small extra income via online sites is easy to do and can be done in the minutes during the day that are in-between other activities (or even during, such as while you are watching TV). I average about $100/month via these sites:
- Swagbucks – my biggest search and earn site. It is easy to use and you can make a decent amount of money for the time involved (especially if you also have access to the mobile apps).
- Bing – Bing is smaller, but it is reliable. It takes 5-10 minutes each day and I earn $5 every 6-10 days. The hourly rate for these sites will never equal a part time job, but you don't have the unpaid drive and lunch time and you can fit the time in anytime during the day.
- IRazoo – IRazoo doesn't pay me much, but when I am on facebook I check for their codes and enter them. I also click on the 6 bonus points each day. Time spent is less than a minute so it is a nice surprise every time I can cash in for $5.
- Cashcrate – Cashcrate is not a search site (only an offers site). That said, they usually have some of the highest pay-outs for offers and it is easy to use. They send checks via mail or paypal and I have earned well over $1000 with them. The best thing about cashcrate is you do not earn points – you earn cash. You do not have to figure out how many points you need to get a “prize”, you just pick offers that pay cash.
- Mystery Shopping – like most jobs, you have to start small and work your way up in mystery shopping. Your first few jobs will be for fairly low pay and small products, but as you prove yourself by filing good reports you will get better jobs. I think these are especially fun if you are looking for a free night out. My starting jobs paid $5-$50 and came with free products also ranging from $5-$50.
- Shadow Shopper is a great start if you want to start mystery shopping. You can apply for many different jobs through them and they will notify you of jobs in your area.
- Blogging – I must warn you, if you want to make money blogging you must first love to blog. The truth is, you will not earn much and you will have some ongoing expenses, especially at start up. But, these expenses pale in comparison to starting up a small business. If you like to write then blogging might be your calling. There is a tutorial at Little People Wealth on how to get started blogging.
- Joining a home business. Home businesses (like Avon) can be a good match for some people. I sold Avon in the past and although I love the products, and still purchase them, selling was not for me. It does work for lots of people though and has a fairly cheap start-up cost so you can test it out. It is free to check out!