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Now what?

We lost our farm. Ten years of making it ours, only to lose it all. Here we are, renting a house with a couple of acres.

Has anyone ever addressed the problem of going from "owning" (with a mortgage) to renting? We feel so unsettled. What about those of us who will need time to get back on our feet? Is there time before it all collapses? Who knows if we even have five more years!

You have our sympathy. Questions of this nature usually come from people who haven't made it beyond the sidewalks at all, and you're probably under more psychological stress than they are. On the brighter side, you have some valuable experience that should make your comeback easier.

Your predicament was quite common during the Farm Crisis of the '80s, but we haven't heard from any of those people since then, telling us how they're faring. (If you're in this group, your experience might help others: let us hear from you.) What we're hearing about today is unemployment and underemployment, which involves some of the same considerations.

There is no starting gun

Do we have five more years? Of course! Not that life couldn't get even nastier for even more people in that time, but look at it this way:

If you're determined to get back on your own farm or homestead, there are ways. The timing, and what goes on in the rest of the world, is immaterial. Yes, it might be much more difficult in the years ahead, especially for those with meager incomes and few resources, but "difficult" doesn't mean "impossible."

Don't expect to hear a starting gun or read a headline saying the crash has begun: it has already - so quietly most people don't realize it. You don't say why or how you lost your farm, but there's a good chance you're already a victim of the crash. And remember that not everyone is or win be affected equally.

What's a "depression'?

A "depression" as defined by economists is meaningless to individuals, to whom depression means having lost their farm, home, business or job. While such losses aren't always necessarily connected to an economic downturn, you'll note that many people - perhaps even you - are in a depression right now. just don't try to get much sympathy from anyone whose income and general fortunes are on an upswing: they don't see anything wrong. And the newspapers won't can it a depression until it affects more people, or until the "leading economists" give them permission.

Some people will at least maintain an even keel because they have no debt, have simple needs and desires, and are at least partially self-sufficient. And some will even prosper in a crash.

The first step is to recover, emotionally and financially. For some people, this is very difficult, and it might take time, but it's essential. You have to look at the past like a book that you've finished. It probably had sad chapters and happy chapters, but even if the ending was sad it can still be hopeful Close the book on that hopeful ending and start a new one.

The problem at hand, for anyone who has yet to make it beyond the sidewalks or who has already personally experienced depression and wants to achieve self-sufficiency, is getting from here to there. But alas, there are no road maps.

Even the most basic and important advice - to have no debt - while it may seem impossible to millions, has a minion alternate solutions. That's because no two individuals have exactly the same debt (in both type and amount); current and ongoing needs; income, potential income; and family, educational, social, technical and psychological resources. When someone asks how they can ever hope to attain a homestead when it takes every penny they can acquire just to keep a roof over their heads and put food on the table, there can be no answer until every conceivable facet of their fives that could possibly relate to finances has been thoroughly examined.

There are many who don't know how to do that, and unfortunately, there isn't a great deal of help available. It's a personal journey in any case, but unless you can find a competent family financial counselor, and maybe even if you can, you have to blaze your own trail.

Everyone needs a budget

A budget is mandatory, but many people can't handle even this most basic management tool. Therefore, they don't manage their finances at all, which means they can't manage their lives. Their economic situation controls them, instead of the other way around.

There is no easy, simple recipe, no boxed cake mix solution. Many people want everything laid out 1, 2, 3, like instructions for programming a vcr, not only for financial solutions but for almost every a steading. But homesteading - and life - isn't that simple. You have to think for yourself.

Like many other aspects of homesteading, self-reliant drinking is best learned from childhood on, so it's almost second nature. It's not taught in schools. And also like many other aspects of homesteading, vast numbers of people don't even think about it.

The place to start is with an in-depth personal assessment. Then set goals and priorities. Make a plan... and go for it.

If you can flesh out this bare outline, success will be yours.
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Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:homesteaders lose farm
Author:Billings, Linda; Belanger, Jd
Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Date:Nov 1, 1993
Words:892
Previous Article:Warnings about sewage sludge ... and well water.
Next Article:Are the "twenty-somethings" discovering homesteading?
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