By Jennifer Woolwine

How We Afford to Homestead on a Fixed Income


baghdad to barnyard

November 8, 2022

The question I often get asked is, “how do you afford to homestead?”  You might be surprised to hear this, but my husband and I actually live on a fixed income. What? Crazy, right? So, how do we homestead on a fixed income? Well, If you’ve been following me for a while, you know my husband, and I are both disabled combat veterans.


We receive 100% disability compensation benefits for physical and mental health injuries that occurred during military service. VA disability compensation (pay) is a monthly tax-free payment to Veterans who got sick or injured while serving in the military and to Veterans whose service made an existing condition worse.

Since we do not work outside the homestead and rely solely on our disability compensation, we have learned how to prioritize and stick to a budget to continue homestead comfortably. I wanted to share how we afford to homestead on a fixed income and how you can too.

homesteading on a fixed income

We did it on our own

  • We did not inherit our property
  • We are the only homestead owners in our family
  • No one helped us purchase our property
  • We’ve never borrowed money from family or friends


  • We don’t use any credit cards. We have a mortgage, a vehicle payment, and a tractor payment, so we’re not 100% debt free…but 100% credit card free. However, we didn’t always live credit card free. We had several maxed-out credit cards a few years ago- I’m talking 35 to 40k on each card! Our monthly payments were more than 1k. It took many, many years, but we finally paid off all our credit card debt in 2018, and to celebrate- we cut up every single credit card, closed all of the accounts, and have never owned another credit card.

  • We stick to a budget. At the beginning of the month, we pay all our monthly bills and have a grocery store and tractor supply budget, and my husband and I have a set allowance that we can use for whatever we want throughout the month. We also put money into a monthly savings account to help pay for unexpected vet bills, feed bills, or hay.

  • We don’t go out to eat. If we do “go out to eat,”- it’s either McDonald’s or Chick-fil-A (maybe once or twice a month). All we have in our small town is a Subway, and the nearest restaurant is 45 minutes away. I haven’t been to a sit-down restaurant in two or three years.

  • We don’t go on vacation. Now, this is for several reasons. One, we don’t have anyone we trust and can rely on to farm sit over 50 animals. Two, we used to go on several vacations a year, which was so stressful because our PTSD interfered with so much, and we rarely enjoyed ourselves. Third, we are perfectly content at our homestead and don’t miss going on vacations. When we want to get away, we will take a few hours and go fishing or take a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

  • We DIY all homestead projects and pay for each project in cash. Thankfully, my hubby is very handy. He was a welder and mechanic for over 15 years and is knowledgeable in general construction. He has been an invaluable resource for our homestead and has saved us thousands of dollars. We’ve remodeled our barn, built several animal shelters, installed fences, plumbing, and more without hiring a professional.  Plus, you can learn how to do almost anything on YouTube.

  • We don’t go “shopping.” Another added benefit to living 45 minutes away from the nearest Target or Wal-Mart- we don’t shop much. If we do go shopping, it usually involves Sam’s Club or Tractor Supply. If we can’t find it there, we will order it on Amazon.

  • We live within our means. We make sure all of our expenses are well within our available income. We also make sure to have plenty of wiggle room for unexpected events. Equipment breaks down, animals get sick and fencing need repairs. It is so important to live within your means so you can have an emergency fund for those unexpected expenses, especially when owning a farm or homestead.

  • We don’t have kids (well, let me rephrase that. We don’t have any human kids). Children just haven’t been on our radar. Being able to rescue abused and neglected animals, and give them a loving home, brings so much joy to our lives. We enjoy having the freedom to spoil our animals, and don’t have the desire to add children to the mix.


  1. Know Why You Want to Homestead.
  2. Get Out of Debt.
  3. Stick to a Budget.
  4. Buy Used As Often As Possible.
  5. Know Your Local Zoning Laws.
  6. Look for Free or Cheap Land or use the land you already have.
  7. Focus on Being Happy with What You Have


Anyone can homestead right where you are. You don’t have to be rich to homestead or own acres and acres of land. Whether you live in an apartment in the city or live in BFE like me, whether you have two incomes or no income, as long as you are willing to work hard, live within your means, and not give up, you can homestead right where you are.

xo, Jen

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Jen Woolwine       Author

Jen is a combat veteran and wife who is passionate about animal rescue, homesteading, and mental health advocacy. Jen's amazing journey of transitioning from military service to homesteading can be followed on her blog and social media platforms @baghdadtobarnyard.

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