The best definition I've ever seen for "Homesteading" is that it is the act of turning a household from a unit that consumes and making it into one that produces.
By that definition, if you make the choice to grow all your own(insert your choice here) next year, you have begun homesteading. And don't let anyone else tell you differently.
Whether you're tired of the rat race, tired of chasing every dollar just to have it sucked up by higher cost of living, tired of the consumption society we live in or any other reasons, most of us could use a little more simple living in our lives.
A few thoughts on how to get started :
1) GROW YOUR OWN FOOD.
Sure, not everyone can grow all their food, but pretty much everybody can grow something. Every ounce of food you grow is one ounce you don't have to buy. If you use heirloom seeds and proper soil management, this is free food folks!!
2) MAKE YOUR OWN FOOD.
Learn to bake bread. Did you know that it can cost as little as 75 cents to bake a loaf of organic bread? Learn to preserve food in season. Start small. Pick something you use a lot of (eg. diced tomatoes). Decide that you're going to produce that one product for yourself next year and make it happen.
3) SIMPLIFY YOUR ENTERTAINMENT.
Do you need to go to the movies every week? How about once a month? Maybe spend the extra time with family. We spend most Saturday nights around the dining room table with friends and family. Playing cards, board games, or...heaven forbid....just talking. Read a book. Not sure where to start when it comes to raising chickens? Read a book about it!
4) CUT YOUR ELECTRICITY USE.
This one seems like a no-brainer, but how? Why not start with a clothesline? Did you know that the average dryer uses $2.50 of juice to dry a load of laundry? Switch to LED bulbs. and remember, anything that produces heat is expensive to run. Here at the homestead, we get a little extreme. Once our morning coffee is ready, it goes in a thermos and the coffeemaker gets shut off. On weekends in winter, the coffeemaker doesn't get turned on.. we brew on top of the woodstove. Speaking of which...
5) CHANGE YOUR HEAT SOURCE.
Want to get extreme? Heat with wood. We heat the homestead exclusively with wood. Yup, it's a lot of hard work. But it means we can heat our modest home for around $300/year. What's that? You say you just don't have the time to get the wood, cut it, split it, stack it, bring it in the house, stoke the fire? Well then, keep paying thousands of dollars to heat your house. See folks, it's about choices. You make the choice as to how you're going to spend your time. If you already have a woodstove, maybe make the commitment to use it to heat the house on weekends when you're home. Start small and work towards something larger.
6) BORROW, BARTER AND BUY USED.
If you use a rototiller (yuck) once a year, does it make sense to own a $500 piece of equipment that sits in the shed gathering dust the other 364 days/year? Rent one instead. Let someone else worry about the maintenance. Or borrow your neighbour's. Yes, I am suggesting that you talk to your neighbour. And while you're there, talk about sharing produce between you. Maybe they have a shady yard, great for growing lettuce and greens all season, but are lacking sunlight. Maybe you have the opposite problem? Trade produce. Barter. We used to do it all the time. In The Netherlands, there are entire neighbourhoods that do this on a plan. You grow tomatoes, you grow squash, I'll look after the beets and chard.
If you need a rototiller a lot, buy a used one! If you do your research, you can save hundreds of dollars. I have a 60 year old table saw that I wouldn't trade for the newest, fanciest new model. Cost? $50.
Living more simply is rewarding. Both monetarily and spiritually.
Our family has had more fantastic conversations while splitting and stacking firewood than we've ever had sitting in silence watching tv. We've learned more about each other while weeding a vegetable bed than we ever have walking around a mall. We've had more fun together sowing seeds than we'll ever have shopping for a new washing machine.
Give it a whirl. Simplify.