October 2016 Expense Report

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.

October 2016 Summary

So we’re a little late to getting this expense report out (it’s January 2017 as I’m writing this) but better late than never, right!? I don’t even know where the time went.

Jesse was gone for a large portion of the month (I ran the homestead solo), and the day he got back we dove in head first into our permanent water system and didn’t come up for air for a while, then winter hit, and here we are!

It’s been a while since we’ve talked about some of the happenings around this time so here we go!

Butchered Our First Roosters

Our neighbors called us one day to let us know they had two roosters that needed butchered, and if we did it, we could keep one for ourselves, so we said yes! Then, we realized we may have gotten in over our heads as we didn’t know what we needed to do the slaughtering… so we had to go buy a cone and sharp knife. Watch the video on how it went down here.

Money-wise, we hope that this experience prepared us just a tiny bit for harvesting our own meat.

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Finished Fruit Preservation for the Year

It was a long, long summer of foraging for fruit and finding ways to preserve it, but we got it finished up this month! We bottled all of the black currant and huckleberry mead, and really went out with a bang by canning 16 pins of apple butter! We’re happy to be taking a break from canning, but I’m sure we’ll be ready come spring or maybe even in another couple of months.

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Jesse Spent Two Weeks in Oregon

Things were slow on the homestead this month because we put Jesse’s house on the market to sell, but he wanted to do some tidying up since the house has been rented out for the past six years. He took the truck and all of our homestead tools with him. This meant I laid low for a couple of weeks and spent a lot of time checking in on our online businesses that we neglect what seems to be nine months out of the year. We’re hoping that the sale of the house will catapult us into a great year next year.

Unfortunately, until the house sells, it will cost us a loss of $400/month in income (profit from renting it out) and we will now be responsible for about $1,000/month for the mortgage payment, so in total, we are going to be out $1,400/month until the house sells. Grr #2. But we will be okay and set up our life so that this type of thing won’t break us. This is the harsh reality of trying to get free and start a new life elsewhere.

One of the things Jesse did in Oregon was install and paint new garage doors.
One of the things Jesse did in Oregon was install and paint new garage doors.
Would you believe that Jesse's tenants did this to his laundry nook? Unbelievable!!! Don't worry... he actually was able to paint it white.
Would you believe that Jesse’s tenants did this to his laundry nook? Unbelievable!!! Don’t worry… he actually was able to paint it white.

Finished Up Our Timber Frame Battery Box

It’s important that we have a place to store our solar batteries throughout the winter, and it’s really not ideal to keep them in the cabin, so we built an insulated box for them outside. For the most part, we built this with materials we already had, so the expenses associated with the box were quite minimal. Check out the 2-part video series here.

A timber frame project: building a battery box!

Created a New Compost Pile

While Jesse was in Oregon, I was busying scurrying around trying to grow a new compost pile with all of fall’s offerings! This was a free activity and we hope will benefit us next year when we’re able to grow more of our own food

Check out my compost happenings here… it’s a fun video!

Now… time for the financials!

Household Expenses*

  • Groceries: $408.55
    This was a slightly lower month for us grocery-wise because Jesse was gone half the month. Theoretically, this should cut expenses in half, but we stocked up on things like meat before he left since we have a chest freezer now. We aren’t including his expenses on his trip.
  • Dining Out: $45.22
    The night before Jesse left, we went on a date (WHAT?!) so we could really just enjoy being together and not be tempted to work like we do when we’re at home.
  • 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.
    * We actually had to put down one of our kitties this month due to inoperable lymphoma. There were considerable expenses involved with the diagnosis but we don’t wish to include them here. We also brought the other kitty up to date on vaccinations – all a reality of being a pet-owner.
  • Household Necessities: $26.58
    Toiletries, laundry detergent, etc.
  • Storage unit: $60.00
  • TOTAL: $580.35
* 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, gym memberships and other household needs.

Utilities*

  • Generator fuel: $89.96
    The terrible thing about solar power is that when the sun’s not out, you don’t get power! We’ve had to charge our batteries for about an hour a day with the generator, so our generator fuel expense will start climbing throughout winter as we have fewer and fewer sunny days. Grr. That is, until we can get a larger solar array that can really give the batteries a boost when there is any amount of sun. Check out our solar power setup here.
  • Propane: $47.07
    It’s certainly been a cold, wet October, so we had the propane heater running almost daily, to keep the inside of the trailer at about 60 degrees. This is Alyssa’s comfort level combined with warm clothing.
  • Water: $1.25
    Check out our water solution progression… but we fill up our 650 gallon cistern twice every month, and that is extremely cost-effective! Yay!
  • 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: $65
  • TOTAL: $223.28
* This includes typical household utilities including power, heat, air, water, internet, etc.

Vehicles*

  • 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: $95.09
    Jesse took the truck to Oregon so he filled up before he left ($45) and the rest was me putting around this month. We won’t include Jesse’s running around in Oregon because it’s not really reflective of what homestead life looks like.
  • TOTAL: $360.09
* This includes anything related to vehicles that we drive.

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
* This includes payments on our land, property taxes, and any improvements we make to the property such as excavator rentals, rock delivery, septic, etc.

Consumables*

I have nothing documented here for this month. I’m sure we spent something on consumables… but not sure what.

  • Roof sealant: $8.79
  • TOTAL: $8.79
* 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.

Assets*

  • Kill cone + sharp knife: $12.82
    Basic tools needed to slaughter a rooster. We could have gone the DIY route but chose not to this time around.
  • Timber frame battery box materials and hardware: $40.69
    We bought new hardware for the battery bank as well as for mounting our new solar panels.
  • Chest freezer: $201.39
    Our neighbors had to kick our huckleberry ice cream out of their freezer to make room for hunting meat, and we had power available to us as a result of upgrading our solar setup, so we invested in a chest freezer! It also gives us the option to keep more food on hand which is a huge bonus.
  • Chimney thermometer: $10.58
  • Chimney stuff: $35.97
    I swear we spent more than this… but I can’t find any more receipts. The hard part with projects like this is that we frequently buy and return a lot of stuff, so it’s hard to keep track of the true expense.
  • Tarp + extension cord: $10.58
  • TOTAL: $557.21

* 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.

Final Thoughts

October was quite the month for us. Jesse’s tenants moving out and deciding to sell the house in an up market was a big thing for us, and took a lot of mental bandwidth. It was hard to focus on much else because we felt pulled in many directions, and there are a lot of “what ifs” when it comes to selling a house. We didn’t know how long Jesse would be gone for, or when he would have to leave exactly, so we didn’t get too deep into anything early on in the month. We realized that the sale of the house can be one of our big tickets “out” and do a lot of good for us, so we decided to prioritize it not only to not lose much money in keeping it afloat, but to potentially make quite a bit off the sale.

We are both so fortunate that I was able to stay on the homestead for more than half of the month on my own with no problems – this means we designed things fairly well, so far!

This entire year was dedicated to freeing up bandwidth, and if we can end the year with a fairly blank slate we will be happy.

We have no idea what November has in store for us but we’re happy to find out! Here’s to another great month of progress!

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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.

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Comments

  1. bobbi dougherty says

    I am so sorry about your kitty. I had a feeling this had happened due to a comment or 2 previous. We have a Bengal and she is such a wonderful girl.

  2. says

    Our family is doing the same thing you guys are in North Carolina. It’s funny how most of the time we are neck and neck with you. We started building our house in June after selling our house that we lived in for 15 years May 6. At this point we are about to get our roof on. We dug a well and put a septic tank system in. Our property is 15 1/2 acres in the foothills of western North Carolina. I raise dairy goats and have a goat milk soap and bath products business and my husband is an online professor and author. We have two sons 17 and 15. It certainly has been rough being in the cold this winter but we hope to come out on the other side totally debt-free.

  3. Gary says

    We are so very sorry about your Bengal kitty! Being a cat lover myself I can absolutely say they become part of the family and will be sorely missed!
    I love your blogs, videos and your homesteading life you both have chosen. Keep up the great work and I wish you both nothing but health, happiness and success with your homesteading way of life!

  4. Samuel Clare says

    Hey Jesse & Alyssa. Glad to see you guys are hangin in there. Thanks for the update. Sorry about kitty. I know all too well how much pets are more like children, than, just animals to take care of.
    Cant wait to see the house take shape. I followed a couple of u-tubers on their journeys while they were building their homes. ” Fouchomatic” and “J.C. Desclos” AKA “Boss of the swamp”. All you guys are an inspiration to the movement. I have given up watching TV for your U-tube vids. I’m right there with all you guys. I probably should have logged/shared my progress with my off grid homestead, but it’s much too late for that. I’ve been on an almost parallel journey with J.C. (small world) with the exception that he still has his side kick “Frankie” . I lost my MAGGIE, of 17 years last summer.
    Keep on keepin on, Sam

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