We are frequently asked the question “How much does it cost to start a homestead?“ so we thought we’d start a homestead expense report series. Every month we will document how much money we’ve spent on our homestead-related activities and also on running our household. This is to track both our own progress and also to give you some insight as what it costs to start a homestead from scratch.
August 2016 Summary
August was quite the month for us work-wise, and it was flippin’ hot! I can sum up August in very few words so here it goes: We spent the first two weeks of the month both collecting firewood and escaping the heat, we worked on a few canning projects, we built a firewood storage shed and then it was September.
Collecting Firewood for Winter
Even though it was hot, we spent the first part of August collecting firewood. Why? We were afraid that if we waited much longer there would be chainsaw restrictions in the woods due to fire danger. Shortly after we finished gathering our wood, the restrictions were in place so we got it done just in time. We wore the same clothes for days on end, sweated our butts off, and ended up with about eight cords of wood. That’s about $1,200 in wood, mind you. Maybe more. Always a good idea to get ready for winter early.
Preserving Fruit & Canning
In between firewood-getting, we canned up many more hundreds of dollars in fruit. One thing we canned of a lot this month was elderberries… these grow on the side of all of the roads here. Gathering buckets of them was a piece of cake. Here is the canning bible we used this year to get started… easy if canning is new to you!
Made Our Own Root Beer
This month we also tried our hand at making our own root beer. We ordered a bunch of herbs online and figured that if we could make it ourselves, then it would save us money AND be WAY healthier. Probiotic soda anyone?
Built a Firewood Storage Shed
Just a small project… but to make room for the new wood, we needed to relocate the old wood near the wood-fired hot tub! We ended up building a small structure, mostly with materials we already had. Take a look in this post where we also share our plans!
- Groceries: $601.99
This was a pretty average month for us. We didn’t do an excessive amount of canning like we did in July. We mostly worked hard on the property and tried to eat enough calories to keep us going… even then, we temporarily shed some weight with all the firewood collecting we did!
- Dining Out: $134.08
We did have a few meals out this month. Mostly, because it was extremely hot at home and it was unbearable until about 8pm at night.
- Cats: $40.00
Not sure exactly how much we spent on the kitties but we feed them a raw diet which means buying meat about once a month… check out the homemade cat food recipe we use here.
- Chiropractor: $80.00
Jesse is still having back issues so he went to the chiropractor twice during this month.
- Household Necessities: $146.27
Not sure exactly what this was… probably a couple trips to WalMart for an assortment of goodies to tidy up the home, keep us going and complete various small projects.
- Coffee: $134.45
This was an extremely high coffee-out month for us… we consider this our A/C bill for the month. This was kinda our air-conditioned coffee shop toll.
- Storage unit: $60.00
- Entertainment: $20
What?! Entertainment?! How dare us… we took a visit to a festival to see our favorite Celtic band of young kids perform live. Figured we should enjoy the summer just a little bit.
- TOTAL: $1,216.79
- Generator fuel: $19.00
This was our lowest month ever in power… like ever, in our entire lives! This is something to celebrate and a sample of how lower a power bill can be with a properly-sized solar setup! Learn about how we got started with solar affordably in this blog post on our portable solar panels.
- Propane: $42.09
This was double our normal cost in summer… we must have filled up on the 1st and 31st of the month or something, or we were just trying to keep up with our 3-burner propane stove for canning purposes.
- Water: $4.50
Even though we have a 650 gallon cistern at the top of our hill now, our water needs are still pretty low. We need to fill up this tank maybe twice a month (we never let it get below 50% so that we always have a reserve supply) which is way better than our water solution when we first arrived on our property!
- Laundry: $20
Not sure exactly what laundry was but $20 sounds like a good number. We didn’t do too much outside work so our clothes weren’t that filthy overall!
- Internet: $115
Our internet is really only $65/month… but we chose to pay the installation fee over many months instead of up-front. This was our last month of the payment… yipee! Progress!
- Firewood permits: We bought a permit good for 8 cords of wood which was a total of $40. Cheap for heat for winter.
- TOTAL: $240.59
- Car payment: $187
We bought a used Subaru Forester a while back which was a great investment. It hasn’t lost much of its value in two years and we plan to pay off the loan in the next year. For our lifestyle, this was a much better investment than the brand new car that we sold just days prior to moving to our land.
- Insurance: $78
- Fuel: $309.99
Fuel was quite a bit higher this month, probably due to the fact that we spent a deal of time collecting firewood and scouting firewood. We also took some trips in the Subaru to escape the heat. So just because our power bill is low because we have solar, doesn’t mean that we are saving money overall this year, because we can’t live on our property in that heat. This summer convinced us that we need to dig into the earth when building our home so that we can actually enjoy summers.
- Auto repairs: $299.39
We did A LOT of maintenance on both vehicles this month. There are cons to having used cars with high mileage, but they don’t outweigh the pros at this point. The good news is that the truck is running better than ever before, and we are set to get a bit more mileage out of the subaru.
- TOTAL: $874.38
Land / Development*
- Land: $357.20
Our land cost $45,000 and we put $5,000 down. The loan is amortized over 15 years with a 5% interest rate. No early pay off penalty. We don’t plan to take the full 15 years to pay off the land, but optimistically hope to pay it off in 1-2 years. Learn about our property here and to find out how we found and purchased this land, read this post.
- TOTAL: $357.20
I have nothing documented here for this month. I’m sure we spent something on consumables… but not sure what.
- TOTAL: $0.00
- Workwear: $216.09
Jesse was desperate for t-shirts that actually fit so he splurged on a few Carhartt shirts and I splurged on some fleece-lined pants that I know will be really comfy for the colder weather. Jesse also bought new Romeo shoes because his were thrashed… incase you were wondering, they lasted a solid year of extreme abuse and daily use.
- Firewood-gathering equipment: $210.11
We ended up needing all sorts of cables, clamps and hooks to do some serious logging to get our firewood. We consider this a great investment and will help us to get firewood out of the forest for may years to come.
- Random stuff: $148.53
It gets really time-consuming keeping track of every last deal, but we spent this much on additional tools / materials for the homestead to get various projects wrapped up. Nothing specifically is worth mentioning.
- TOTAL: $574.70
* These are expenses that should only happen one time, or at least very infrequently. These generally are quality tools and building materials that are reusable.
August flew by like nobody’s business… hard work will make a month feel that way! We acknowledge that summer has flown by quicker than we could have ever imagined, and we didn’t realize just how consuming firewood-gathering would be or how resource-intensive it would be. As with anything, there is a huge learning curve here, so things will get easier over time.
We also had a harsh wake-up all to how hot our property is and we’re so happy we didn’t start building yet since we now want to build into the hillside. The extra investment in cement will be worth it to have a permanent home that’s sheltered from the summer heat AND winter cold.
That’s it for August… on to September for expenses! The year is winding down before our eyes!
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