June 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.

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.

getting started with solar off grid, rv or boondocking

Okay… on to the good stuff! How did we do? Let’s take a look!

Household Expenses*

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


  • 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
* 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.


  • 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.

Final Thoughts

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.

IMG_8505 2 IMG_8509 2

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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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.


  1. Colleen Dunn says

    Have you considered bartering? I would love to know your thoughts and experiences regarding bartering.

    • says

      Heck yea! We cover our thoughts on that throughout the blog but specifically in this blog post: http://purelivingforlife.com/finding-reclaimed-building-materials/

      Bartering is common in our area and we like going that route when it’s an option but right now, we don’t have a ton to trade with that others want as we only have what we need or will need… but we did find that huckleberry jam is a currency so we’ve bartered with that, small scale of course 😉

  2. says

    We love watching you guys. One day we will buy you guys dinner!
    thanks for showing us how you do it. We are out to do the same thing. thanks Heather says hi!

  3. Rocky says

    I enjoy following your progress on developing your property. You seem to be going at it sensibly. Take a little time off to enjoy the scenery.

  4. Melanie says

    Wondering if you have monthly bills on cell phones or is that a bundle package deal with internet. I didn’t see cell phones listed on your expense report. Enjoy watching your videos.
    Melanie Jones

  5. Ty Tower says

    I looked at the hot tub pictures .drill the timbers with a small drill first to avoid splitting. I use roundup too because its cheap and quick .Trouble is wherever you then get bare earth some other weed grows later. Its a salt and regardless of what they tell you some stays in the soil for years . best method I have found is to cut through the weed about a half inch below ground level with a hoe or I use an old adze. This allows the soil bacteria to infect the weed root and stem and kill it and also if there are no viable seeds on the weed leave it on the ground as mulch, so no cleanup and the ground is protected

    I don’t know how a main crankcase pulley fails ,they are usually very solid weighty affairs called harmonic balancers . The one thing we have to avoid here in Oz is being ripped off by lying tradesmen and there are a lot of them . Motor mechanics are the worst of them.

  6. Ty Tower says

    OK I’m finding out what posts you want here and what you don’t . Thought that was what was going on so I won’t bother posting anything if you can’t take criticism . Your site just becomes false rubbish when you do that. Why did you delete the post about dodgy car mechanics and drilling the boards before screwing to avoid splitting? Dodgy mechanics and especially car dealerships are some of the most blatent rip offs that people need to be warned of .

    • says

      I responded to this on Facebook but I will here as well. As of right now, we have to auto-approve comments before they are live due to the large volume of spam we receive. We don’t delete or not approve comments unless they’re highly inappropriate which it doesn’t sound like that one was… I’ll take a look to see if we missed it for some reason and if we did, my sincere apologies!

      • Ty Tower says

        OK, Look its fine to edit out bits if you don’t like that stuff on your site . It is your site, but I implore you not to fall into the trap of just deleting anything that you dislike offhand . Some of the most useful content will come from readers who have done all this 50 years before you and I for one want to read that on your site . Thats why I am here ,not because your inexperienced views are informative necessarily but that you are trying and relating your experiences to everyone . Those readers of experience will post back in your comments to try to help. You are entertaining but that’s the good oil.

        I hope you don’t get too cranky with me for that.

        • says

          Not at all! We love feedback from folks of all walks of life, even if it’s completely different than what we’re doing or highly critical. We only delete comments that are extremely inappropriate that we would never want our readers to see on our site. Thing rated R, or things equally not okay to put on a family site. And spam… lots of spam.

  7. Dustin Horn says

    4 Random Thoughts:

    -Brake Cleaner in Auto Aisle works great for removing tree sap and it evaporates quickly. Its rather cheap (~3$).

    -I might catch flack for this, but Gas works great for killing weeds and it evaporates leaving little behind. I put it in a cheap spray bottle and label it. Do not, Do Not, Do Not use it to start fires.

    -I see your cutting quite a bit of pine. You need to check your Chimney religiously. That is the worst material for creosote, and a chimney fire is scary (been there). Some will not burn pine due to this. It’s great for outside burning. Buy the wire Chimney Brush not Plastic.

    -Also it’s obvious, but all and I mean ALL flammables must be stored outside of the building that the wood stove is in. Safety is Paramount, and I’m sure Fire Dept where you live will be 20 mins+

    **Sorry I’m sounding all Motherly, but you 2 have a great thing goin and do not want to read Bad News Post.

  8. says

    When we first moved to our property, nearly 10 years ago, we waged war on the weeds too. It soon proved to be a relentless, and completely ineffective use of our time, no matter how we approached it. We didn’t use Round- Up as a blanket control method, but if we had, there would be no way of going back. Because as we learned, when you remove weeds, they only come back in greater numbers anyway. If you succeed at keeping them away, it’s only because of two reasons, 1, you improved your soil, or 2, you killed it.

    The thing about owning acreage is, nature will wear you down before you manage to wear it down. We learned to live with weeds, until we had a purpose for using that section of land. Then we would turn them back into the soil, via mowing. Things like footpaths and the areas we visited a lot, got mowed.

    We’re getting to the point now, our weeds are changing and some have gone completely. That’s what happens when you improve the soil with weeds, instead of poisoning them. I understand that some weeds can make life difficult, but they’re only a sign the the soil is depleted enough or bare enough, for them to show up. If you’re going to care for your land for the long haul, consider everything on it as a resource. Something which can value add over time. Weeds show up for free, and they’re nature’s remedy for naked or impoverished soil. They’re attempting to assist you with land care, and spare you from buying inputs later on.

    Which is ironic, because I know in our own way, we used to wage war on weeds too. But that was an old, suburban hang up, we had to get over quickly. Or else we would have gone broke, and most likely, insane! That money is better spent on mower fuel, because it value adds a resource (in this case, weeds) back into the landscape. Which will improve your soil quality over time. What you do when you spray, is poison your own investment, over time. Which you will then go and spend money, on improving the soil with amendments for anything to grow. It’s the Monsanto food chain way.

    Nature is attempting to make quality compost in your landscape, by applying weeds. It’s also attempting to lower the temperature of the soil. When we let things grow on our land, we noticed the temperature drop in summer and increase in winter. We had to learn a balancing act though, because we also had to use the landscape – living in a complete jungle, wasn’t conducive to that. If we weren’t mowing, I was pulling weeds buy hand to feed to the chickens. Or I laid them down across the soil I just exposed, making it harder for other weeds to grow, and I’ve just fed the soil, with the nutrients nature intended, had it gone to flower and died a natural death.

    On the whole, I thought you did great with your monthly expenses. But take a leaf from our book, and ditch the poison. Attempt to understand where nature is coming from, and value add your natural resource instead. You will save a lot of money over time, because your weed problem will become a soil asset. You also won’t be spending as much money to leave your homestead, because its baking in summer. Trust me, when I know exactly what you’re talking about. We had a bare, north facing slope (different side of the the hemisphere for full sun) and even with a roof over our heads, we were baking. It was the radiant heat, from all the bare soil around us. When we allowed thick vegetative cover to grow, a natural cooling process happened. It does take time though, so get started as soon as you can. Think of those abundant weeds, as a free temperature control.

  9. Paula says

    Ive been enjoying the summer posts on canning & foraging. This post made me wonder what your next timber framing project might be – a place to get out of the sun and maybe catch a breeze!

    Any thougts on putting up an arbor or lean-to sunshade? maybe up top the ridge?

    Just a timber lean to for shade in a place that catches a breeze would be helpful and also another learning experience pre-barn. Arbors are great because broad leaf vines growing over it can decrease the temp by as much as 10-15 degrees underneath. grapes for food or flowers for scent and beauty – either are fun and work well. ran into these a lot in colonial areas on east coast and you can REALLY feel the difference – it even felt less humid under there.

    good luck for last of summer and fall!


    • says

      Glad you’ve been enjoying those posts – we’ve been loving the diversion as well. Nice to have some tasty diversity in our lives. We have a temporary canopy for shade if we need it but haven’t used it yet. Long-term, we’ll definitely have to think about how to design the property to stay cool, starting with building the barn significantly into the hillside (glad we didn’t build it before experiencing the summer heat)! I love your idea about an arbor… that’s a great idea to use vines for cooling, not to mention they are beautiful and can produce fruit! Not sure if we’ll do something like this pre-barn but you never know! Thanks for the wishes!

  10. says

    Glad your hot tub is up and running – can’t wait to get ours! We have had a pretty toasty summer also and I completely agree that cooking in the heat is not a wonderful thing to do. What I do is make my meals in the AM (I usually make a couple of one thing, such as 3 lasagna dinners or 4 meatloafs), and then I actually cook it in my sun oven in the afternoon! Not only does the sun oven work like a charm, but it takes NO fuel and doesn’t heat up the trailer – which would take fuel to cool it down! I absolutely am in love with my Sun Oven. I have “boiled” eggs, baked bread, roasted roasts – just about anything an oven can do, a Sun Oven can do! Oh – and about the Round-up thing? Yeah – I used it also in the beginning. We were over-run with poison oak and I am highly allergic to it. We found, however, that the best thing was to just dig it out. If you keep digging up the little plants before they get bigger, they don’t get any energy to their roots and eventually die out. Another thing I have done is to pour boiling water on some of my weeds… instant death! :)

    • says

      Sounds like a great strategy! I think at some point in our lives we may be able to do something similar, but we’re always on the go in the morning so we’re lucky if we can cook up a decently healthy breakfast. Our sun oven is a little small for things other than dessert… which do you have? We found that we could dig up the napweed as well but there’s too much of it and it comes back too quickly… hopefully we can find a better solution in the future.

  11. Doug Knight (Webfoot) says

    Just found your postings and have read through and watched the vids. My wife and I are planning a similar journey when she retires, I already am, but we are going to do it on Social Security alone!! We have our camper and truck (we are former full-time RV’ers but have had to sell out and move back into a house due to a death in her family), a generator is a next expense, and then the WHERE!
    I’ve heard a lot about Idaho but Mexico seems like a good bet, too, although you can’t own your own property there and maintain your US citizenship. We like the warm but we also love the mountains. Decisions… decisions.

    By way of introduction, I’m a former general contractor from Florida now living on the Oregon coast (it’s a whole other long story!) and I can sympathize with your building challenges. I’ve had many in my life… sometimes you just have to dive in head first and let the chips fall where they may. Sounds like you have got good heads and hearts so I see nothing but success for you two.

    Just a thought about your waste water in the future. You realize, of course, that you can use your grey water from the “barndominium”, and the trailer to water your future garden. (Hopefully I haven’t missed that you’re already doing this!) Simply filter it to remove the soap and other residue with a passive water filter (sand, gravel and charcoal – see Pinterest – which you could also drink so it would be fine for the garden) and pipe it to a cistern for use on the garden. Saves on your septic system as well. It’s simple to plumb it when you’re building so you have the option of running water into the septic to keep it healthy, or running water to the filter/cistern for watering… just a thought.

    Glad to see you are considering building into the hillside as well. If for no other reason than to make an underground pantry, it’s worth doing.

    Good luck to you. There are plenty of people here following that have lots of knowledge about what you’re doing. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice.

    • says

      Hey Doug! Yes, there are certainly lots of decisions to be made as far as where to live. We were curious (are curious, I suppose) about living outside of the US, but to get started, it seemed that there was way more research to be done than we had time for. I know that land ownership or even gaining residency in another county isn’t always straightforward. We were extremely interested in Chile, and we still don’t know that where we are now is where we’ll end up “settling down”.

      We would love to get creative with how we dispose of water and even waste. A septic system was the easiest for us to get started since we could plumb our RV straight into it, and everything else gets more complex which we simply weren’t ready for. Having the option to put the gray water in the septic OR use in the garden could be a nice option… guess we’ll have to do our research! Luckily, the internet isn’t short of ideas!

      I believe there are TONS of folks that follow us that have way more knowledge than ourselves, haha! We’re certainly not bashful when we don’t feel informed about something but we try to balacne that with taking action rather than getting stuck in analysis paralysis… all too easy to do. Some things are easiest to do I’m sure prior to starting construction at all, and others I think can be done after the fact. We’re trying to finalize our barndominium plans as we speak. We probably wont get TOO creative with the barndomiumium as we are eager to get our of our travel trailer but will likely get way more creative with our second build, or the house-house rather than the barn-house, hah!

      Best of luck to you and your wife! Sounds like you’re well on your way to beginning a new adventure!

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