We’ll go over some of the homestead startup costs, and how to start a homestead from scratch with nothing and little to no finances.
You’ve read up on what homesteading is, you’ve set some first year homesteading goals, and now you’re ready to get started! But wait! You’re just making it by on paycheck to paycheck, how are you going to afford this whole homesteading thing?!
Don’t fear, contrary to popular belief, homesteading does not have to cost you an arm and a leg. Of course, like with anything, there are glamorous ways that you can go about it that WILL make it cost an arm and a leg. But that’s not what we’re going for right? Right.
First, things first, assess your money situation. If you really are flat broke, maybe now is a good time to figure out why. After all, its valuable skills to have as a homesteader to be able manage money well, live frugally if necessary, and utilize your resources.
If you’re going to jump into homesteading you need to be able to handle your finances well, and save enough extra money over time to be able to cover the expenses of some of your bigger homesteading projects that you’ll get to in the future. That will come with time, but even if you’re flat broke and don’t have ANY extra money, you can still start homesteading today.
How much money do you have RIGHT now to work with? How much would you be able to put aside each month towards homesteading goals or projects? Even if its hardly anything, don’t disregard it. Every little bit counts especially when you are just starting out.
Try to take note of your financial situation on a piece of paper so that you know exactly how much money you do or don’t have to work with. Also, take note or your resources. What spaces do you have? Tools? Equipment? Friends with resources or knowledge? Anything that can be used and utilized for homestead projects, be sure to write them down so that you know just what you’re starting with.
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Possible Homestead Startup Costs
LAND – this is the very first one because this is one of the main startup costs that keeps people from living their homestead dream; if they have some they don’t think they have enough, and if they don’t have any they think they can’t homestead.
Of course land is extremely convenient if you are planning on having a large garden and caring for different homestead animals like a dairy cow, chickens, sheep, and pigs. Land is not necessary though to start homesteading. This is just the beginning for you, and you shouldn’t think you need 2 dairy cows, 3 pigs, a couple dozen chickens, and 100 sq ft vegetable garden to be a homesteader. Those things will come with time.
Remember, if you checked out our post here on what homesteading is, then you know that homesteading is more about the lifestyle rather than the land or the buildings that you have, with the lifestyle being one that values self-sufficiency and often times resourcefulness.
If you are flat broke, you probably can’t afford to purchase land at the moment. If that’s the case then take a look at what you already have to work with. Do you have a backyard? Is there a community gardening area that you could utilize?
I have even heard of homesteaders (that are extremely successful homesteaders now) that when they were flat broke borrowed a small plot of ground from a neighbor to plant a garden in, in exchange for something they produced. This is called bartering and its an awesome way to make ends meet when you don’t have the money to pay for something or you don’t have the resources available to you. We’ll get into bartering more in a bit!
Even small yards in neighborhoods can house a small garden and maybe be home to a few laying hens. Check with your local ordinances to see if that’s a possibility for you. You can also start composting with just a few bins right outside your home. Start where you’re at and do what you can, no matter how much land you have.
ANIMALS – Obviously, the more land you have the more animals you’re able to care for. Whether you have land or not, homestead animals are a cost in and of themselves, and can be upwards of a few thousand dollars at times.
Here are some average costs of typical homestead animals. This is just the cost of purchasing the animal, not providing feed, shelter, water, etc. Keep in mind these costs will fluctuate depending on a number of different factors such as the area you are in, the economy, etc.
- Dairy Cow – $900-$3000
- Laying Hens (purchased as chicks) – $1-$5 ea.
- Sheep – $150-$250 per ewe
- Pig (purchased as a feeder piglet) – $35-$200
- Bees -$95-$135 for a 2lb package of honey bees
Take note of the animals you would eventually like to have on your homestead. Now, can you afford any of them right now in this moment? What about if you saved for a few months what would you be able to afford?
Also, be sure to only be thinking about animals that are in your long term homesteading goals. If its not in your long term homesteading goals to raise meat chickens, then don’t worry about them now.
Even if you can’t get all of the animals you want to raise right now, you can start learning how to raise them, collecting supplies you may need, and preparing yourself in every way you can and when the time comes that you are able to purchase and raise all of your own homestead animals, you’ll be knowledgeable and ready.
Tips for Homesteading When You’re Flat Broke
- BARTER – like mentioned before, bartering is when you don’t pay cash for something, but rather you do a trade to provide the other person with something that they value enough to give you what you’re wanting. If you don’t have the cash to pay for the feed for a dairy cow, try bartering with a local farmer who sells feed. You could offer to pay them in raw milk or other dairy products, or anything else the farmer would find valuable.
- GET CREATIVE – sometimes you just have to get creative. Always be aware of the things that you have and what can be utilized on your homestead. Before you purchase ANYTHING, be sure you don’t have something already that can be used. Think outside of the box in every situation.
- BE RESOURCEFUL – along the same lines as being creative, is being resourceful. Utilize what you have. Can you use some old pieces of wood that you found dumped on a road to build a trellis for your tomatoes? Can you ask a friend who has a garden if they could save some of their seeds this year to let you plant?
- BE PATIENT – like mentioned before, if you’re just starting out and you’re flat broke, you’re probably not going to have a dreamy homestead with all of the land and animals you could imagine. That may not even happen for several years. But be patient! Enjoy the efforts that you’re putting in now and remember to treat it as a lifestyle. Set your goals and work towards them, but don’t be so caught up in what you don’t have yet or what you’re not able to produce, that you forget to appreciate where you’re at and how far you’ve come.
Something to keep in mind, is that often times the money and effort that you put into your homestead, will pay itself back in time. If you plant an apple tree now, and you spend the $30-$50 on the tree itself and all of the effort in planting it and caring for it over the years, someday that apple tree will be producing upwards of 500 apples a year. You’ll have apples to eat, apples to dry, apples to freeze, and apples to can. I’m confident that $30 will pay itself back in one year of production.
Just remember this when you’re putting money and effort into your homestead dream even when times are tight. If you are smart about the way you do it and make conscious decisions to invest in things around your homestead that will produce and pay you back for years to come, then you know the money spent will be worth it.
Finally, always remember that there are a plethora of ways that you can live more self-sufficiently, no matter where you live or how much money you have. You can make your own household and beauty products, which can often times save you money. This can be considered homesteading just as much as raising a dairy cow and planting a garden.
Do what you can with what you have, where you are. Continue to learn, and embrace the lifestyle! Where are you at in your homesteading journey? What creative ways have you found to combat any money challenges? Let us know in the comments below!