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.
February 2016 Summary
February was an interesting month for us. Somehow over the course of winter, we managed to get ourselves on a schedule where we were working all night (to bed at 8am) and sleeping all day (awake at 5pm)!! Working on the computer does weird things to a human body. The first half of February as spent trying to break this wacky schedule, and at the same time we were experiencing major burnout from our online business. We felt extremely overwhelmed with the amount of pressure we were putting on ourselves (for our business and also for our property). We ended up spilling out our emotions on how we were feeling in this confession post here.
We decided to put our business on hold for a couple weeks and get outside to check if the world still existed. It did! We went on a couple beautiful walks, sat by a beautiful river, went out to dinner a couple times, watched a lot of great documentaries on Netflix, and just relaxed. We don’t do that often but it was much-needed.
After we had the opportunity to recover a little bit, we decided to take advantage of the nice weather and get to work on our property. We winchedsome logs to a flat, millable position (watch the short video below, it’s pretty fun!), milled up some lumber, assembled our new Granberg chainsaw mill and did some basic cleanup on the property. We decided that our new motto was “Tie up loose ends!” so that’s what we got to work doing to free up some mental bandwidth.
I’d say that emotionally and mentally, we went out of February and into March with a bang! We’ve accomplished so much already in March but we’ll share some of that stuff in additional blog posts.
Here is what February looked like for us expense-wise.
- Groceries: $554.12
February was a pretty typical month for groceries for us. Our largest expense categories are meat, dairy, eggs and snacks. We continue to look for ways to decrease our grocery bill but at this point, there are bigger things to tackle that will help us in more powerful ways.
- Dining Out: $175.64
In the beginning of February, we were suffering from cabin fever pretty bad. We were also trying to recover from a nighttime work schedule where we would sleep all day and work all night, so we were eager to get out of the cabin every chance we got when it was daylight! We also had disappeared all winter long so we got out of the house a bit, worked on the property towards the end of the month, and all of this resulted in a few meals out.
- Cats: $20.55
I think we spend on average about $30/month to feed our cats a completely raw diet… check out the homemade cat food recipe we use here.
- Household Necessities: $88.24
This month included things like toilet paper, tooth paste, bulk soap, and we had to renew our PO box for the next year which was about $50.
- Coffee Out: $38.39
This is pretty typical for our coffee-out expense. We did work in town a couple times in February and we don’t simply mooch wifi… we order coffee to. A win win! This is a luxury that we do enjoy but at least we don’t smoke, go shopping, or drink copious amounts of alcohol on a weekly basis.
- Storage unit: $60
- TOTAL: $936.94
- Generator fuel: $93.98
Either we lost a couple receipts for our portable generator fuel or our expense this month really was this low. The cost of fuel did drop by 23% down to $2.99/gal but our normal generator expense is about $150. We did spend less time in our trailer this month working on the laptops and the work we did outside involved use of the chainsaw for the most part rather than power tools, so maybe our fuel expense really was lower.
- Propane: $66.41
Even though it’s warmer outside, we’re still using quite a bit of propane to keep the inside of our travel trailer heated to a comfortable level. PS: In case you missed it, check out this post on our winter living tips!
- Showers: $0
We didn’t shower this month! Just kidding. We showered just about daily, but we didn’t splurge on any “luxurious” truck stop showers. Instead, we chose to shower within the comforts of our own home.
- Water: $1.50
We continue to satisfy our water needs from the local watering hole where we can get more water than we can carry for a quarter. We fill up 6-gallon jugs whenever we are in town.
- Laundry: $15.00
I’m not actually sure what we spent on laundry this month, but it’s usually in the $15-20 range depending on how many clothes we go through.
- Internet: $115
Our internet is really only $65/month but we chose to pay the $300 installation fee over six months rather than up front. We have three more months to go…
- TOTAL: $291.89
- 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: $58.29
We did a bit more driving around in February than we did in January. We went to town more frequently, did work on our property which always involves a little extra running around, and even made a couple additional outings to rid ourselves of cabin fever. Our fuel budget is actually much higher and we anticipate as we get out and do more this cost will increase quite a bit.
- Bulbs for headlight: $42.39
One of our headlights went out in the Subaru so we had to buy a couple new bulbs.
- TOTAL: $365.68
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
- Utility knife blades: $5.15
- Firelogs: $125 = appox 1.5-2 cords of wood (50% cheaper than seasoned wood)
Early in February, we had no idea if we’d go through another cold snap. We were fairly low on firewood and had no idea if we would make it throughout the winter without running out. A neighbor let us in on a little secret that we could score “seconds” from a firelog producer in our area. Basically, these are firelogs that aren’t perfect so they cant’ be sold retail. WE picked up a large pallet (supposedly equivalent to 1.5-2 cords of firewood) for $125. Learn more about this firewood alternative in a fun Youtube we made.
- TOTAL: $130.15
- Pins for winch: $8.67
We had a pin fall out on the clip on our winch / cable so we had to replace it. In theory, this pin should be a forever solution!
- ATV battery: $76.69
The four wheeler we bought when we moved to our property had a pretty old battery in it. I think the battery was due to be replaced, but I think we helped it die by leaving it out in the cold all winter long. Either way, we now have a shiny new battery that keeps our ATV and winch in business.
- Generator payment: $200
We have a 0% interest rate on our generator for a total of 18 months. I’ll let you in on a little secret… THIS WAS OUR LAST PAYMENT! Two days ago (it’s mid-March as I’m writing this), we paid off the remainder of our generator. This is the only thing we put on credit as it pertains to our land and this journey.
- TOTAL: $285.36
Expenses We Don’t Share
We try to share the expenses that we think are relative to living an off grid lifestyle. Some expenses have nothing to do with living on or off grid, so we don’t go into detail on everything.
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