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.
March 2016 Summary
Coming out of what seemed to be a long winter of just barely getting by and putting in way too many hours on our online businesses, March was our first full month of nice weather and productivity on our land!
In February, we basically started stretching our muscles after crawling out of our winter cocoon, but come March 1st we were ready to go.
The first thing we did in March was commit to finishing up our hot tub deck. We finally had the chance to use our brand new Granberg chainsaw mill which you can see in our first impressions video! We were able to mill up the rest of our pine tree fell over fall and turn those slabs into usable, dimensional lumber.
After we had our lumber ready to go, we were able to complete the decking on the hot tub deck. It looks amazing!
Also, since we decided to slow down a bit this year, we decided to start amending our soil so that we could start a garden this year if we wanted to. Check out everything we did to strengthen our soil in this video – good stuff!
Among other little things such as dressing our first animal, buying a used pressure canner and completing our first soldering project, that was enough to keep us busy for a full month! We can’t even tell you how good it felt to work on the property after being cooped up for 3+ months in a 19′ travel trailer.
Here is a recap of our winter to the end of March in a music video, and keep on scrolling to see how we made our financially in March!
- Groceries: $539.09
This has been relatively consistent month-over-month since we arrived. March wasn’t too busy of a month – we were actually on the property most of the time so we didn’t expect any spending to change drastically.
- Dining Out: $39.14
We must have eaten out once and this was likely because we were out of town when it was dinner time! That, or we may have taken a drive to see some of the lovely countryside that we moved to… I recall eating pizza on top of a mountain at some point, it very well could have been in March.
- Cats: $20
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: $174.20
This includes other things for the home but aren’t classified as tools for the property or food.
- Coffee: $30.00
- Storage unit: $60
- TOTAL: $862.43
- Generator fuel: $88
The fuel we used for our portable generator was the lowest yet, I believe! This is probably because the cost of fuel has dropped a bit and also, we were working outside most of the time. Our chainsaw mill doesn’t require running the generator to use, unlike some of our other tools.
- Propane: $63.55
This is right on par with what we spend monthly. March was warmer, but we still heated the travel trailer many evenings. I suspect this will drop as the weather warms up.
- Showers: $0
We haven’t felt the need to shower at the truck stop in quite a while – this is a good thing! This means we’re comfortable enough taking showers in our tiny travel trailer (covered under our water expense).
- 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: $20
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 two more months to go…
- TOTAL: $288.05
- 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: $86.41
We did a bit more driving around in March than we did in February. The more we work on our property, the more driving we do, and the more money we spend on fuel. Developing a property ain’t cheap in many ways!
- Fuel (travel): $92.09
It turns out that Jesse had to (or got to…) return to Oregon for a week to tie up some loose ends from the sale of the business and also check in on his rental property. This was not really a planned trip but we’re fortunate that the opportunity presented itself at an ideal time.
- Service on truck tires: $35
Jesse had the opportunity to pick up some truck tires from his brother and I don’t remember what was done to them exactly, but $35 covers it.
- TOTAL: $478.50
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.
- Treated fir decking: $154.44
We didn’t want to cut down another pine tree to finish the decking of our hot tub deck, AND we didn’t want to use pine because it will spend a large amount of its life wet. We decided to go with what was locally available which was a treated fir. We were also reminded of how expensive lumber is and why we love milling it ourselves… this was to cover 64 square feet (1/4) of our deck.
- Screws: $47.22
Since these are being permanently used in our deck, we’ll consider them a land development cost.
- Concrete: $12
We bought a few bags of concrete in hopes that we will be able to soon experiment with it. We hope to do much of the foundation of our home ourselves, but we don’t know the first thing about concrete, so we think it’s wise to practice first on a smaller project (steps up to the hot tub, anyone?).
- TOTAL: $570.86
- Gloves: $5.00
- Bar oil: $11
- Generator oil: $5.50
- Chainsaw oil: $21
- Screws: $144.46
- TOTAL: $186.96
- 50′ Wire rope, wire rope clips, ratchet straps: $135.35
I don’t know exactly what this was for, but I doubt it would fall under the consumable category. I think Jesse went on a shopping spree in Oregon while there was no sales tax.
- Canning supplies: $37.38
We ended up finding a Presto pressure canner at Goodwill for $15 so we bought it, and then bought a few canning supplies including mason jars and a book on canning. This will come in handy when we can start to take advantage of great deals on local produce and even roadkill.
- 5-gallon buckets: $10
We can never have too many of these around the property.
- 1/8″ router bit: $33
We picked this up to smooth the edges of our homemade lumber. We hope to collect more router bits as time goes on.
- Ratchet straps: $20
We can’t have too many of these either. Ratchet straps are some of the best homesteading tools we could recommend to anybody.
- We paid off our generator this month: Even though we had 0% interest on our generator for 18 months, we paid it off early. This is exciting for us! Aside from our land, this was the only debt associated with the development of our property.
- TOTAL: $135.35
* 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.
Summing March Up
March was a pretty good month for us and was definitely the “calm before the storm”. We see that we have A LOT of expenses coming up over the course of the year. One lesson that can be taken away from all of this is that growth is expensive. In the end, however, we’re putting all of this money into our land rather than putting it down the toilet by paying a mortgage payment or rental payment. We’re quite happy with where our money goes monthly.
That’s it! Let’s see what April brings for us!
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