December 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.

December 2016 Summary

December came in with a bang as we were finishing up the installation of our two 1,000-gallon water cisterns and preparing the 300′ trench for the accompanying plumbing. We were so determined to finish up the project by the time the snow started flying that we pushed with everything we had! Yes, we were on the ragged edge!

While we got dang close to finishing up the project, winter got the best of us. After the first snow, the ground froze shortly after and it took a little creativity to install our first frost-proof hydrant and then backfill it with frozen dirt! We used a little redneck ingenuity to get the job done.

frozen-soil IMG_2635


After we had the gaping trench into our RV garage sealed up, we hunkered down for the winter. And that’s that! Not much else happened property-wise so we turned our attention to working on our videography skills, bought a drone, and bought a new camera for 2017!

Here’s what December looked like expense-wise.

Household Expenses*

  • Groceries: $663.33
    This month we harvested our first road kill… we hope to do more of that next year (in addition to hunting) which should help cut the food costs!
  • Dining Out: $156.20
    This included a few trips to Mexican food as well as a couple meals when we were out of town.
  • Coffee: $57.07
  • Household Necessities: $151.05
    Laundry, cash purchases, shipping (jam + shipping the pneumatic excavator back that we used to dig our trench), wool socks, etc.
  • Storage unit: $60.00
  • Chiropractor: $180
    Jesse took a trip 3.5 hours away to a chiropractor we thought might be able to tackle Jesse’s back. Here’s a recent video we did on the subject as well as how we’re trying to maintain our health while building a home… check it out here!
  • TOTAL: $1,267.65
* 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.


  • Generator fuel: $134.11
    This was a spendy month for us generator-wise. For one, we had just about zero days of sun, so our generator use was heavy as we couldn’t depend on our solar power setup. Second, we’ve been having issues with our battery bank freezing , the inverter, and our generator, so we had to do A LOT of troubleshooting which meant running the generator A LOT more than normal.
  • Propane: $92.17
    December was a cold, cold month for us. In addition to running our wood stove round the clock, we also went through quite a bit of propane keeping the trailer warm. Here is how I dress warm in winter to minimize propane use.
  • Water: $1.25
    We were back to carrying our water in 6-gallon jugs this month since we didn’t get our water system completed in time. Were we disappointed? Sure. But carrying water really isn’t a big deal. Check out our water solution progression
  • 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: $312.53
* This includes typical household utilities including power, heat, air, water, internet, etc.


  • 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: $193.75
  • Other: $60.94
    Oil filter, oil for a change and a headlight bulb.
  • TOTAL: $519.69
* 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.
  • 1 week of air compressor + 1 week of excavator: $1,715.70
    This expense was in relation to installing our water system and it was a lot larger than we had planned. The air compressor was cheap to rent for the week but we had hoped to only have the excavator for a day or two. However, we had some problems with our project and ended up needing the equipment longer than planned. Whatever you THINK your project will cost… double the final number and THAT’S more accurate!IMG_2540
  • Fuel for equipment: $26.54
    A lot of or fuel for the equipment for our water project was purchased in November, so this by no means tells the entire story… this was likely just topping off some equipment before having it returned!
  • Plumbing for water system + frost free hydrants: $2,836.39
    This was a huge expense but the idea is that we’re trying to go with quality everything and install our water system right the first time. We ordered sturdy pipes to run water up and down the hill (one each way) PLUS a secondary set for either a backup or for a rainwater system we hope to install one day. Not only that, but we decided to double-encase the entire shebang in 4″ ABS pipe so that IF we have to dig something up one day, in theory, we can just pull a pipe through a pipe and not have to dig up the entire trench again. Here’s hoping. Not only that but we ordered a number of bulkhead fittings for our cisterns, check valves, and a variety of other hardware and plumbing connectors to complete the system. Unfortunately, this all sits under 2′ of snow right now but we will resume the project come spring.
  • TOTAL: $4,935.83
* This includes payments on our land, property taxes, and any improvements we make to the property such as excavator rentals, rock delivery, septic, etc.


  • Chemicals for hot tub maintenance: $21.99
    I’m sure we had more consumables than this but here is a video on how we maintain our hot tub.
  • TOTAL: $21.99
* 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.


  • Chimney brush + extension: $79.48
    Just before winter set in, we had our chimney clog up pretty bad and had to give it a good sweep. Check out that video here!
  • TOTAL: $79.48

* 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

December was an interesting month to say the least! We were disappointed that we didn’t finish up our water system as we had really hoped that we wouldn’t have to carry our water all winter. However, nature had other plans for us which is okay.

We were a little bummed that we had thousands of dollars in plumbing sitting under the snow all winter as we could have put that money towards other things, but on the bright side, we don’t need to spend too much to finish up the project come spring!


Winter is an interesting time on the homestead and progress on outside things halts. However, this winter wasn’t a boring time for us – we made a lot of great progress and flew into 2017 with a bang!

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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.