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.
January 2016 Summary
While the year 2015 was full of chaos, 2016 is off to somewhat of a slower start and January has been a calm month on our homestead. Jesse and I have been steadily working 14-16 hours per day and have been on a wacky sleep schedule. When we took six months off to start this entire adventure, we had to let our businesses run on their own and we’ve had a lot of cleanup to do!
As far as expenses go, this has been probably our cheapest month yet. We spent a lot less money on food, household items, vehicles, and on tools compared to the first, second and third months on our homestead.
The fact that we had a cold month meant that expenses were going to be higher which was predicted. We spent more on generator fuel, propane, antifreeze and fuel treatment.
For any new readers, our goal is to eventually move away from needing so much money (we accept that we will likely never be 100% free from it) but it doesn’t happen overnight. We still have a land payment, car payment and even a generator payment. We hope to wipe out all debt in a short amount of time, but right now we have more important uses for those funds, such as growing our business. It’s a balancing act and we simply see money as a tool to get what we need, and we use it to our advantage. The idea is that while our expenses are on the higher end right now, they will diminish over time as we get close and close to being self sufficient.
Here is an overview of what January’s expenses entailed.
- Groceries: $456.12
This is one of our lower months for groceries since we’ve been here, but not by much. We try to eat a high-quality diet consisting of whole foods, so food isn’t something we pinch pennies on. Over time, we hope to lower this expense as we grow more and more of our own food and look into hunting for our meat. But that day is not today!
- Dining Out: $29.84
We only at one once this month. We’ve actually been on a night schedule (sleep all day, work all night) so we got off of the island once to grab a bite to eat while businesses were still open! The food was terrible which was a good reminder why we cook at home most of the time.
- Cats: $26.23
The cats haven’t been eating much… they are eating half of their normal amount. I think this is because it’s too cold and snowy for them to be outside, so they spend most of their time indoors with low activity levels. Read all about our homemade cat food here.
- Household Necessities: $14.35
This month we bought ear plugs (sometimes required for good sleep!), fuel treatment and a couple thermometers for the inside of our cabin.
- Coffee Out: $34.75
We probably grabbed coffee when we were in town three to four times. At least one person has commented that we could save $30-$50/month by not drinking coffee and this is absolutely correct. That said, it won’t really help us accomplish our goals quicker so instead of saving $30 by having coffee at home, we choose to spend our time building our residual streams of income or saving money on larger-ticket items. Be fully aware of what you spend, and then decide which things make the most sense to cut out.
- Storage unit: $60
- TOTAL: $579.88
- Generator fuel: $150
We have been running our generator A LOT because we are at home almost 24/7, working online. Our MacBook Pros don’t last a super long time on their battery (especially when editing videos on Adobe Premiere Pro!) so we have to fire up the generator to charge them back up, and then we frequently have at least one incandescent light on because our LED lights feel way too dull. Sometimes we just need extra light. This does drain the battery a little bit quicker. All things considered, $150 is not bad for our electricity needs.
- Propane: $51.35
We went through quite a bit of propane in January… our highest month yet. The previous month was $35. We definitely had some cold snaps in January and while we try to turn the heat off while we sleep, some nights were so cold that we had to keep it on with cupboards open so that nothing froze. This expense will be almost non-existent in summer, especially if we cook more with our sun oven.
- Showers: $10
We took two showers this month, and oh how wonderful they felt! Aside from that, we just take quick rinses in the trailer. It gets the job done, does an equally great job of keeping us clean, but is no substitute for a 15-minute hot shower.
- Water: $1.50
This is a predictable expense. We fill up our (8) six gallon water jugs in town 1-2 times per week. Check out our latest post on how we are handling our water when living in an rv off grid.
- Laundry: $12.50
It turns out than when we’re not working on the property, there really is no need to do laundry frequently. I think we did maybe four loads in January.
- 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 four more months to go.
- TOTAL: $340.05
- 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: $46.78
We only fueled up the Subaru once in January. This was our lowest month yet on fuel usage.
- TOTAL: $311.78
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
- Antifreeze: $2.58 (1 gal)
We’ve been putting a little of this into our black water tank when the temperatures are really cold. This probably isn’t ideal for our septic system but we’re using very small amounts and it seems to be the least of all evils.
- Fuel treatment: $1.99
We’ve decided to start adding HEET to our generator fuel since our generator was running poorly in the cold weather.
- TOTAL: $4.57
- Tools: $240
I made the mistake of going onto Facebook one day only to find that someone was having a moving sale and getting rid of a lot of tools, so we had to go take a look. It turns out we were able to get a Makita metal chop saw, Delta miter chop saw, Makita reciprocating saw, a router and a skillsaw for $240. I think we got one more tool as well but it’s not coming to me at the moment. We didn’t plan on purchasing any tools this month but when you know of a great opportunity, it’s really hard to pass it up.
- 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.
- TOTAL: $440.00
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