Expense Report – December 2015

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.

December 2015 Summary

December was the third full month on our homestead and also the first full month of winter weather! While the first couple of months on our land consisted of a lot of errand-running and land development, December consisted of a lot more hunkering down for the winter, working on our businesses and getting our travel trailer winterized.

Read all about what we accomplished on our property during this month in this post: Month Three Homestead Development Roundup

We did a lot of this throughout the month of December...
We did a lot of this throughout the month of December…

December was a much smaller month for us expense-wise. Because we didn’t do a lot of development on our property, our expenses were minimal. That said, we did run our generator a lot and had to buy a fair amount of materials.

This was also the first calm month since we’ve arrived so it’s a fairly accurate picture of what our monthly expenses will look like from here on out (during winter at least). The goal is to reduce our monthly expenses over time, pay off any debt, acquire more assets, and become more self-sustainable.

Household Expenses*

  • Groceries: $496.60
    This is not something we see the importance of spending a lot of time breaking down. We eat a high-quality diet consisting primarily of organic foods, and we eat both a lot of meat and dairy. It seems that we did a fair amount of snacking our way to recovery from the first three months as well…
  • Dining Out: $10.70
    We met up with some new friends once this month. This was the first month we really didn’t go anywhere so most all meals were eaten at home which has been a nice change.
  • Cats: $68.41
    We make our cats a raw food diet as it seems to be what they thrive on. Read all about our homemade cat food here. This is double the cost as the kitties are chunkin’ up for the winter and they were eating twice as much! Could we feed our cats cheaper? Yes. Would it be healthy for them? Most likely not.
  • Household Necessities: $25.30
    This month this included paper towels, toilet paper, a battery tester and a couple thermometers.
  • Coffee Out: $50.00
    Every time we have coffee out it’s $8-$12.00. We grabbed coffee at a local coffee stand a couple of times and also worked in town at a coffee shop a couple of times to change up the scenery.
  • Storage unit: $60
  • Clothing: $28.59
    Made a Goodwill run for some work pants and a few extra winter layers.
  • TOTAL: $857.70
* These are the expenses that it really just takes to run our household. Your household will likely be different based on the number of family members, how often you eat out, the type of food that you eat (organic vs. not, meat vs. carbs, etc.), pets, coffee, cigarettes, gym memberships and other household needs.


  • Generator fuel: $140
    We have been running our generator A LOT. Because we work from home, we need to keep our laptops charged, and having the wifi on all days drains the RV battery quicker. We are running our generator maybe four hours a day. Learn more about portable generators.
  • Propane: $35
    This isn’t bad at all. This is for cooking and also for heating the inside of the RV. We keep it at around 60 degrees inside when we’re in it, and usually turn the heat off at night as the heat from the wood stove keeps things from freezing.
  • Showers: $5
    We’re able to take showers at the truck stop for $5 but only took one shower there in December. Because we have many 6-gallon water jugs, we’re able to take short, daily showers and keep our water tank topped off.
  • Water: $1.25
    We can get hundreds of gallons of water in town for a quarter. So every time we fill up our 6-gallon jugs, it’s a quarter.
  • Laundry: $20
  • Internet: $115
    This was our first month of an internet payment as we just had our internet installed! The payment is only $65/month but we chose to pay the installation fee ($300) over six months rather than up front.
  • TOTAL: $296.25
* This includes typical household utilities including power, heat, air, water, internet, etc.


  • Car payment: $187
  • Insurance: $78
  • Fuel: $55
    We only had to fill up once this month as we really didn’t travel anywhere far. This has also been our lowest fuel bill since we’ve began this journey.
  • Oil: $21.19
  • TOTAL: $341.19
* This includes anything related to vehicles that we drive. We have a 2006 Subaru Forester and a 1990 Ford F150 that stays fairly stationary.

Land / Development*

  • Land: $357.20
  • Property taxes: $258.04
    These are to be paid every six months.
  • TOTAL: $615.24
* This includes payments on our land, property taxes, and any improvements we make to the property such as excavator rentals, rock delivery, septic, etc.


  • Antifreeze: $7.74 (3 gal @ $2.58/each)
  • Distilled water: $0.88
  • Screws: $13.00
  • TOTAL: $21.62
* These are expenses for things that aren’t permanent… they are consumed, or used up, so we can’t really consider them investments or assets.


  • Air movers: $179.98 (2 @ $89.99/each)
    We purchased these air movers to move the hot air from the wood stove to the back of the carport where critical rv components reside!
  • 6-gal water jugs: $25.94 (2 @ $12.97/each)
    We are using these 6-gallon water jugs to fill up our 25-gal water tank in our travel trailer. These are easy to lift when full and we can fill them all up for a quarter.water
  • Generator payment: $200
    We have a 0% interest rate on our generator for a total of 18 months. Hope to get this paid off early in the year.
  • Insulation: $232.08
    I think this was four rolls of insulation. It wasn’t a purchase we were excited to make but we needed to insulate our carport so that it would retain a little bit of heat from the wood stove. This was a great reminder why we are trying to buy second-hand building materials… they aren’t cheap! However, we can reuse this in either the barn or the house.
  • TOTAL: $638.00
* 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.

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I am an aspiring homesteader on a journey to become self-sustainable and free. In my past, I've worked corporate jobs to make ends meet and get ahead a little; it didn't make me happy or confident in my future. Since taking the leap to self-employment and living a more simple life, my happiness levels have increased greatly and I've never felt more alive. I finally understand what I want in life and how to get there, and that is what this blog is all about.


  1. Jim Stein says

    This page makes interesting reading. You could save $50 by not buying coffee, get a Thermos and take that with you

    • Jesse says

      Few coffee shops/restaurants will allow you to 1) bring your own food/coffee into their establishment and 2) use their internet while doing so. We see it as a cost of doing business. We get to change up the scenery of our daily routine and help support local businesses while we do it. So it’s a win-win for a small cost.

  2. Lauren says

    Loving the blog! I’m hoping to move to a small 2-3 acre property in SW Washington on a tiny TINY budget. Currently I’m city living in Spokane and ready to get out of the dry climate here. I’m very impressed how well you guys have done so far! Keep up the good work!

  3. says

    We live ( a family of 5; my wife and I a 19 yr old son, a 17 yr old son and 8 yr old son) on less than $1,000 a month! It is extremely tight.
    But no taxes. No power bill. No water bill. No car payment. No Nada…….

    Our biggest expenses are fuel and cell service. If we could do away with these then we would live free! Oops there is the F word FREE. Not much free in the USA any more. Including the people.
    We hope to do a work around on the fuel and suffer with the cell service.
    You can do it too.

  4. says

    Another place where electricity is really expensive is Hawaii but there the high cost is due to the cost of importing oil to run their electricity plants. As solar and wind generation are added at the utility level the cost of electricity will drop, reducing the benefits of going off grid.

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