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.
June 2016 Summary
June was technically the first month of summer (the end of June, right?) and summer hit with a vengeance. We had some extremely hot days throughout the month which resulted in us doing… not much of anything, really! We spent A LOT of time trying to avoid the heat by working in coffee shops or driving around in the local mountains trying to find cool areas to lounge.
We did, however, reach some HUGE milestones on our property which we’ll briefly share before talking numbers!
Completion of our DIY Cedar Hot Tub
Our big win for the month was finishing up this multi-month project! We were finally able to get our diy hot tub to hold water and enjoyed our first soak. This was a huge moment for us and it’s everything we imagined plus more. No regrets pushing to get this done – it’s great for the soul!
Getting Started with Solar Power
Our other big win for the month was getting started with solar power! We had no idea it was this easy, and we are kicking ourselves for not doing it sooner (like month one). In June alone, we saved about $40 in generator fuel and we didn’t even have our solar power setup for the full month! More on this in the expense report below.
Okay… on to the good stuff! How did we do? Let’s take a look!
- Groceries: $518.88
This was a somewhat average month for us grocery-wise. We want to lower our food bill but we feel that to truly lower it we need to become much more self-sufficient when it comes to gardening and hunting, neither which we have the bandwidth to take on yet.
- Dining Out: $309.52
Holy cow this was a big month for us! We normally don’t eat out much unless we aren’t home for dinner, but this month was special for a couple of reasons. One, we had precious family members in town so we treated them to dinner (an extra family of four). Two, it was extremely hot, too hot to be on our land much, so we ate out a bit to escape the heat.
- 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.
- Household Necessities: $55.72
Not sure what the breakdown is on this, but we made a stop at Walmart to stock up on stuff. This is pretty typical for us… $50 in randomness for the home.
- Goodwill: $49.46
We make a habit of stopping at Goodwill when we are near one since we always find great deals. This month, I (Alyssa) bought a handful of new, boring t-shirts since mine were getting filthy long before it was laundry time. We also each got a couple of long-sleeved button-up shirts to protect our arms from the sun, and we’re happy we did since we were getting roasted. To top this trip off, we found a bunch of books on gardening, timber framing and law so we picked them up for quality reading material.
- Specialty clothing: $157.92
Because we don’t like to put sunscreen on our skin, we decided that we needed to splurge on a couple quality UPF sun hats. Jesse and I were getting cooked pretty good when working on the hot tub, and one good sun burn convinced us that we need to cover up. I (Alyssa) also got a pair of Keen water shoes that I’ve been wanting ever since Jesse got his and they were on sale. I’ve actually been wearing these non-stop around the property instead of sandals as they are more safe, and I also wear them hiking when it’s hot.
- Coffee: $93.97
Because we were escaping the heat a lot, we had coffee out a bit (plus a scone or two? yikes!). Yes, we can lower this expense obviously, but this isn’t really hurting us either.
- Storage unit: $60.00
- Dentist: $250
Jesse and I have put off getting our teeth cleaned for over a year so while we were playing catch up, we decided it was time to try to find a local dentist. We are all about preventative health care so we happily had our teeth cleaned. The good news is that we have no cavities!
- TOTAL: $1,535.57
- Generator fuel: $57
Somewhere in mid-June, we took the leap and got started with solar power on our property! At least if we were to roast on our property in full-sun, we could at least be taking advantage of free energy! We ended up buying this 120w portable solar panel kit from GoPower! and over last month, it’s saved us almost $40 and the month of June wasn’t even a full month. July is even better but we’ll save that for the next expense report! In a nutshell, our generator fuel consumption should significantly decrease. Since the GoPower! system keeps our trailer battery topped off, we really only need to run the generator when we run our power tools… so maybe a few times within a month? Not too shabby!
- Propane: $0
Unless I lost a receipt, it doesn’t look like we spent any money on propane this month. This makes sense because we didn’t need it to heat the trailer (duh!) and we weren’t home much to do any serious cooking. It’s likely we filled up our tanks in late May, so don’t get too excited about this number!
- 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! In June, we had to make a few extra trips to the watering hole to get our diy cedar hot tub filled up! We were more than happy to spend a few extra quarters for hot tub water!
- 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 $300 installation fee over six months rather than up front. Oops! Looks like the installation expense disappears in August. Darn! Couple months to go.
- TOTAL: $196.50
- 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: $178.24
Our fuel consumption was pretty on-par with what we typically spend. We didn’t drive all around the state of Idaho in search of tools or materials too bad this month, but we did spend some time exploring our local mountains in attempt to escape the heat. Did we already tell you that June was a scorcher? We’re not kidding in the slightest!
- Car repairs: $407.92
The main crank shaft pulley was failing and a complete failure would have been catastrophic. We took the Subaru to a Subaru dealership to have this fixed. There are pros and cons to owning a high-mileage vehicle but so far, the pros outweigh the cons.
- TOTAL: $851.16
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.
- Sakrete: $28.80
Because we will be working with cement on the foundation and footings of our barndominium in the near future (This year? We don’t really know but it’s still a possibility!), we figured that we should at least get our feet wet with concrete. We picked up a few bags of Sakrete and got to work on our first concrete project!
- TOTAL: $386
- Roundup: $23.00
Before you go hating on us for supporting Monsanto, there is a time and a place for using chemicals such as this. We’d love to look into a more natural weed control method but right now, the weeds are winning HARD
- Pool stuff: $44.00
We have started experimenting with ways to keep our diy cedar hot tub clean, so we picked up some hydrogen peroxide and test strips from a pool supply store. We will see how this works out, but hopefully this will be an infrequent expense.
- TOTAL: $67.00
- Draw shave: $30.00
We’ve been wanting to add a draw shave to our homestead toolkit for quite some time. We were hoping to find one used at a garage sale or antique store, but the ones we found weren’t that great of quality so we decided to just buy one new. The one we found is affordable and actually is of decent quality. This will help us to de-bark our lumber more easily.
- Solar cable + connectors: $22.64
We ended up needing a little more cable and a couple connectors to hook up our portable solar panel which we were able to get from a local supplier.
- Pool filter: $140.00
We ended up buying a pool-sized filter to keep our hot tub clean. When we run the pump off of our generator, the filter does get dirty after a few filter sessions, so this tells us that the filter is doing its job!
- Hot tub hardware + accessories: $66.93
We we were finishing up our hot tub project, we needed to buy a few last items to finish it fully. Most of this was to get our filtering system set up so we needed various hoses, connector and hardware to get it looking both pretty and efficient.
- Wood stove gasket: $12.71
It’s never too early to start preparing for winter! Our new (to us) wood stove is refurbished, and all it needed was a new gasket to be winter-ready! We’re happy we checked this off the list months in advance.
- Mattress: $543.99
Jesse has been having severe back spasms for the past couple of months so we decided it was time to upgrade our bed. We were sleeping on a memory foam mattress that came with our travel trailer, but it wasn’t strong enough for two people. We ended up buying a firm box spring mattress and our backs have said “thank you” every day since. Some things aren’t worth saving money on, and a mattress is one of them. We avoided buying a new mattress for a few years because we didn’t want to move it with us anywhere, but now that we are stable and don’t see ourselves moving for a LONG time, or moving in a way that would require us to sell all of our belongings, we are finally okay splurging on nicer things.
- TOTAL: $816.27
* 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.
June was a busy month for us, like every other month! We didn’t go too crazy on property projects as we primarily wanted to get our hot tub done. It’s really hard for the mind to have unfinished projects sitting around, so we figured that if we could get our hot tub completed and usable, we’d be content. We had our hot tub completed by mid June and had our first soak! It was epic, and we continue to fire up the hot tub anywhere from nightly to weekly, depending on the mood and weather!
One thing we didn’t realize about our property is that the non-obstructed Southern view can get quite toasty. Having sun from 7am to 7pm, we didn’t realize how much things would heat up. It’s not the temperature that kills us but the intensity of the sun, and that intensity feels amplified when it’s over 90 degrees!
We had to be kind to ourselves and get away many days in June whether it was working in coffee shops, driving around the local mountains, or finding new creeks to sit by with iced tea.
Another thing that has been hard for us is that the expenses seem to continue creeping in. We put off a lot of things to get the ball rolling on our journey such as teeth cleanings and buying a mattress that felt great to sleep on, so I guess it’s good that things were slow enough this month to play catch-up. As said in a previous blog post, this year we were planning on slowing down and playing catch up, all so that we could free up enough bandwidth to start on larger projects such as our barndominium.
We have made it through the halfway point of 2016 so let’s see what July has in store for us expense-wise!
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