September 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.

September 2016 Summary

September started out with a bang for us with the visit of Jesse’s sister Anna… when Anna comes, it always means it’s time to work! We tried to show her a little bit of fun too, but she stayed for 10 full days and we got a lot done on the property (which also means we spent a lot of money)!

Right after that, my (Alyssa’s) parents came to visit the property for the first time so Jesse and my dad tackled a couple solar projects while my mom and I dove right back into canning! We also showed them around our new home a bit which meant spending a bit of money.

Jesse and Anna working on the stairs!
Jesse and Anna working on the stairs!
My dad retired a couple months ago... he's doing it right in his Hawaiian shirt and sipping his wine on our deck!
My dad retired a couple months ago… he’s doing it right in his Hawaiian shirt and sipping wine on our deck!
My mom had fun playing homesteading by canning elderberry stuff and making elderberry ice cream!
My mom had fun playing homesteading by canning elderberry stuff and making elderberry ice cream!

Financially, we actually got a lot done this month for not a ton of money. A summary is below.

Modified Our Driveway

The big event of this month was modifying our driveway so that we could get a physical address. Why? We wanted to make sure we could get one prior to building out house and then also so we could get things like drivers licenses in our new state.

We’ll write a blog post on the subject, but these driveway modifications ended up costing us around $1,500… just to get a street address.

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Built Stairs to the Hot Tub Deck

While we had the excavator we built stairs to our hot tub deck. We actually did this with reclaimed materials for the most part, but we had to buy some treated fir for the faces of the stairs as well. In the end, we love the stairs! Oh yea… we also published a video on why we built a hot tub & deck before a house… give it a watch if you haven’t seen it yet!

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Fine-Tuned Our Solar Setup

We continue to work on this month over month, but we got three new panels setup, tidied up our battery bank, and built a tilting mount for the new solar panes. Watch our solar update here. We spent a decent amount of money on quality hardware for everything solar-related, but that’s okay because it’s an investment.

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Bought Garden Makings

This year’s garden sucked to say the least. Because we had the excavator already we figured we could dig footings for the framework of a fenced garden. We also bought 6′ high garden fence, lots of cement, cement forms, and things like that to complete the garden, even though we didn’t get around to it this month.

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Installed New Wood Stove + Upgraded Chimney

Last winter, we barely squeaked by with our heating setup, but this year we made major improvements! We refurbished a Fisher wood stove, got it installed, and also upgraded to a triple-wall chimney. We’ve already tested the new setup and lets’ just say it’s way more efficient and puts out way more heat. I think we’re golden for winter… ahead of schedule! This wasn’t free though, there were costs involved even though we were able to score many items second-hand.

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Now… time for the financials!

Household Expenses*

  • Groceries: $423.88
    This was a lower month for us food-wise! Because we spent the prior month canning up a storm, we may have saved a little month this month by only buying the staples like meat and veggies. We even fed a guest for 10 days… not bad, not bad!
  • Dining Out: $91.48
    We ate out quite a few times because Jesse’s sister was in town and not only did we have to do a bit of driving around, but we also took a couple day trips. We ate out maybe 3-4 times with 3 people… not bad!
  • 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: $27.00
    This month, we spent $11.00 on shipping and $16.00 on repairing a couple of chairs we bought at Goodwill.
  • Coffee: $108.12
    Typical coffee bill.
  • Storage unit: $60.00
  • Entertainment: $128.01
    Because we had guests in town for 15 days out of the month (WOW!), we went to our favorite hot springs twice, did a couple historical tours, and paid a bit in parking for said entertainment.
  • TOTAL: $878.49
* 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: $76.51
    Even though our portable solar panels saved us a bit on fuel this month, we also did A LOT of running our power tools as well as running the ATV, so we had to buy fuel quite a few times. It happens.
  • Propane: $34.63
    Even though it was summer this month and we didn’t need to run the heater much (we did a couple times towards the end of the month), we still canned quite a bit on our three-burner stove, so we had to spend a little on propane.
  • 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: $197.39
* 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: $167.38
    Our fuel was somewhat high this month because we drove to Canada twice and to a large city once… plus did lots of other running around for projects.
  • TOTAL: $432.38
* 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.
  • Excavator twice: $538.50
    We rented an excavator twice this month, 8 hours on the clock each time. We feel we got our money’s worth out of it which was nice. We wrote a post on what it’s like to run and rent construction equipment… check it out, good stuff if you’re new to equipment rental!
  • 11 ecology blocks: $417.30
    We bought these for our driveway and we got them at a 50% discount if not more because the company was moving and needed to get rid of them so they didn’t have to move them! In the end, they were smaller than what we were told, so we really didn’t get enough to finish the job. Oh well, maybe we can get more later.
  • 11 yards of 3/4 minus rock: $207.75
    We had to get this to pave the new section of the driveway. This was 11 yards plus delivery.
  • TOTAL: $1,520.75
* 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.

  • Chainsaw sharpening supplies: $9.44
    Had to buy new blades to sharpen the chainsaw chains as well as a new handle for the sharpener.
  • Jigsaw blades: $10.58
  • TOTAL: $20.02
* 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*

  • Hardware: $162.54
    This is random hardware to upgrade our solar power setup and I think we had hardware for our diy hot tub insulated cover and even the hot tub deck (finishing touches).
  • Exclusive solar power stuff: $136.15
    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

We feel that this month we did a great job of completing jobs with what we had instead of running out to buy something for our every need. We did spend a lot of money, but trust us, it could have been a lot more.

We also feel that our asset list has grown a lot in a year and we need to buy fewer and fewer tools to complete projects… just materials.

We still have one large project we want to get done before winter sets in (installing our 1,700 gallon cistern) and that should be our last large expense. Then, it’s time to settle down for the winter and expenses should drop like a rock! Winter is money-making time, not money-spending time!

Here’s to a great October expense-wise!

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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.

Comments

  1. Lee says

    When you are putting up your garden fence, you may find it very useful to dig down about 3 feet and start the fencing down there. This will keep any small little things ( like voles and rabbits and moles) from burrowing under your fence to feast on your work. I speak from long experience here.

    I would also suggest that before the winter really starts you ought to look at Lehman’s stove fans. They sit on our wood burning stove and the heat of the stove starts them–no electricity. However, they broadcast the heat from the stove through to our dining room and kitchen–it’s wonderful– and I think they might give you a little more walking space in your quarters–both temporary and final.

    • says

      Thanks for the tip on the fence! And the Lehman’s stove fans look interesting… I sent the link for Jesse to take a look at! We are using two electricity-powered fans now which work well for distributing heat but they sure do take electricity. If we could get away with something heat-powered, it’d distribute heat all night long!

  2. Gregory & Karen says

    Hey guys, we have been watching you two from the beginning of you journey and what a journey so far, I myself had always wanted to do what you are actually doing and I’m loving it. Karen and I are both retired now and we have been following different homesteader blogs but they already have been established for many years, you and Alyssa on the other hand have started from scratch and are learning as you go and with awesome determination I might add. We look forward to all your posts and all news of your building and living adventures, you’re an American dream come true and we are thrilled to be witness to you’re journey. Thank you for inviting us, may god bless and keep you safe. Karen and Greg…

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