I love the meme that says “How to make a million dollars homesteading. Start with two million dollars and work hard.” Because, let’s face it, homesteading and doing things on your own, isn’t cheap. But, there are plenty of ways to save money homesteading.
Frugality is an integral part of the homesteading way of life. By learning simple ways you can save on your dreams, you can fulfill them without needing a huge bankroll or going into debt.
12 Ways to Save Money Homesteading
1. Source Free Lumber
We got a massive amount of lumber to make our 120 square foot chicken coop!!
It was all free for the taking. Minus the gas, time, and labor of course. There were almost 100 pieces of completely useable 2X6s and 2X4s there! All 8 foot or better. It was being thrown out by a construction company that no longer needed it.
There are tons of places to get free lumber. Heck, if you browse around on facebook or craigslist, you can probably even find a few people that want their sheds or barns removed. While it’s a massive undertaking, you could have an entire building for free if you know what you’re doing. Pallets are another great resource for free lumber.
2. Grow Plants from Seed
Started plants are much more expensive than buying seeds. You may even find someone willing to give away some seeds for free, or super cheap. While I highly recommend you start small when it comes to gardening, you can buy a few different seeds each year and build on that stash for each coming year.
So, find a few tomato seeds, onions, and other staples you know your family will use and get them growing this year. Next year, you can add a few more. That way your seed bill isn’t crazy expensive. Though… it would still be cheaper than buying starts.
3. Save Those Seeds
My goal this year is to save seeds from any and all plants we actually enjoyed growing. If we have a variety we didn’t care for, I won’t. But, everything we liked that was used well and canned or froze well, those will be saved.
Saving seeds each season will help save on that seed bill in the winter/spring. You won’t have to buy as many and can begin to be even more self-sufficient! Note that you have to use open-pollinated, heirloom varieties of seeds. Hybrids will go to seed but do not breed true!
4. Preserve Your Own Food
You grew it, now it’s time to put it up for the winter so you can have a winter of produce without having to buy it from the store. Preserving food isn’t difficult and it saves from having to buy $1 a can (or more) canned goods from the store.
You can can your produce, freeze it, or dehydrate it for a little bit of your time. You learn a skill that is essential to homesteading and self-sufficient living and you know what you’re eating!
Could’t grow everything? Find a local farmer’s market or CSA and buy a bunch to preserve for later use! It’s possible, folks, I promise.
5. Hatch Your Own Chicks
Find some great chickens that you love and get a rooster and breed them! If you’re not sure what breeds to buy, I have some great suggestions in this post. This is much, much more frugal than buying new chicks each year.
While we went ahead and bought more day old chicks (and ducks, and guineas) this year, we won’t be in the future. I’ll take our best stock and breed them and hatch our own eggs.
You’ll need an incubator (I’ve been eyeing this one, but here’s a more frugal option). And electricity, but after they’ve hatched, caring for them is essentially the same. This can save you a ton of money. You can start with just a handful of chickens and grow that number by leaps and bounds after they start laying. Assuming you have a good roo…
6. Find Good Deals on Non-Working Tools
We just bought a rear-tine tiller for $10. Ten dollars!! It wouldn’t go in gear and the man was going to scrap it. My husband took it apart and tinkered with it and we have a working, rather dirty, functioning tiller for little of nothing.
In homesteading it helps to be creative and mechanically inclined. If you find an old tractor, tiller, or the like see if the person will sell it to you for dirt cheap. Take it home and tinker and you’re likely to have a working tool. Worst case scenario is you can’t fix it and you’re out the money. I know this would be a bit more for a tractor (even non-working ones aren’t cheap), but you can look it over before you take it to see if you think it’s repairable. And you can always keep it for parts or scrap it out for a little money back in your pocket….
7. Search Garage Sales and Scratch and Dent (even online)
We have been finding some amazing deals lately. We purchased two brand new pantry cabinets at our local Lowe’s for $50 a piece. Regularly $269 a piece. The next day we bought 189 canning jars for $50. A few days later we bought over 200 more canning jars for $70.
You'd be amazed at what people give away for next to nothing. Those cabinets were a little dented on the edges of the bottom and one had a back that was slightly bowed out. My husband fixed the back of the one and they went right in our kitchen.
Nothing is wrong with any of these jars and we should be set for a long time. Those pantry cabinets can hold all that amazing canned produce come harvest and it cost us next to nothing. All we need are a bunch of tattler lids or a few new rings and lids and we're set!
You may even find old fencing for dirt cheap. Years ago when I was young and dumb we took down a ton of cattle panels and wire welded field fence and sold it for pretty much nothing.
8. Butcher Your Own
Butchering your own meat will save a ton of money. Even if you don't raise the meat on your homestead. You can find animals ready for butcher available numerous places. You buy the animal live and butcher it yourself.
That's what we did with our recent pig butcher. We bought the finished pig, butchered it, and saved a ton of money on bacon, sausage, chops, and ham by doing it ourselves. We relied heavily on the farmer we bought it from and YouTube for how to process, but we did it! And next time we will know even more from the learning experience.
We packaged everything in vacuum seal bags and I'm so glad we did. It will keep a lot longer and won't freezer burn like it would if we had used butcher paper. We also cured our own bacon, we're curing our own hams, and we made our own sausage.
If you raise your own animals for butcher, you'll save even more than you would buying the finished animal. It's much cheaper than sending it to a butcher and it gives you a new skill.
9. Learn to Hunt and Fish
Hunting and fishing can be a great, frugal way to supply you and your family with meat. As long as you learn how to butcher the meat yourself, you'll be well on your way to cheap, healthy meat to feed your family for a huge savings over conventional meat from the store. You'll even save over finished animals purchased straight from the farm.
10. Barter and Trade
There aren't a ton of like-minded people in our area, but there are a few and finding them is like finding gold. Most of these people are more than willing to barter for goods and services. Find something you can give someone else that has a skill or product you want and trade. When you find your people, you will find that bartering is very much alive and well.
Know the value of what you're trading and the value of their work and you'll be well on your way to cash-free living (at least for some stuff).
11. DIY Repairs for Your Home
Contractors are expensive. Really expensive. You'll save a bundle by learning to do it yourself. Recently, our water heater sprung a tiny little leak that we were unaware of until it practically rotted the floor in our laundry room Oops...
We saved a bundle by ripping out the rotted flooring and replacing it and the broken pipe ourselves. We also replaced the water heater ourselves which saved even more. Learning to DIY basic home repairs (or even major ones) can save you so much money. They're all skills worth learning!
And if it isn't broke, don't fix it right now. You can make things the way you want them in due time. Work on the imperative and work your way down your priority list one job at a time. It will save you time, frustration, and money in the long run by taking your time. Don't ask how I know ;).
12. Make Your Own
You can make your own soap, cleaners, repellents, bread, yogurt, and more for next to nothing. This, in turn, will save money for things you have to have lots of cash for. Like... actually buying animals.
13. Buy in Bulk
Some things you just can't produce on your homestead, or not at the quantity you need. This is where buying in bulk comes in handy. You can buy a 50 pound bag of flour a lot cheaper than you can buy 10 individual 5 pound bags.
Buy your staples in bulk at a place like Costco. It requires a yearly subscription, but you'll save in the long run.
You can homestead without a ton of money if you play your cards right. Sure, land isn't cheap, but you don't have to waste a ton building your infrastructure once you're wherever you are homesteading. Learning ways to be frugal and build and make things for little or nothing helps tremendously. All of these savings can help you achieve your homestead goals faster when money is a nagging factor!
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