One of the comments that I hear often is that you have to be wealthy to homestead. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Yes, land and infrastructure do require an investment, however, you can start homesteading without acres of land and without breaking the bank. If you want to start a homestead, but can’t figure out how to make it happen, read on for some actionable tips for homesteading on a budget.
How to Start Homesteading on a Budget
Starting a homestead doesn’t have to drain your savings and push you into debt. It isn’t a requirement to purchase expensive property and high-end tools to be sustainable. If homesteading is a dream of yours, take these tips into consideration to help you stay on budget.
1. Be Intentional
This seems like a common sense step, but it is extremely easy to get caught up in the novelty of raising all of the livestock species and growing a large variety of plants that you may or may not eat.
Make it a point from the start to only raise and grow what you will use, eat, or sell. You don’t want to end up caring for plants or animals that aren’t serving your family and homestead.
For example- If you really want to raise meat rabbits, but your family won’t eat rabbit meat, then you may need to focus your meat supply on chickens instead.
Do not skip this step. Setting actionable goals and planning for each season will save you a chunk of money, time, and frustration. It’s like the woodworker’s saying “Measure twice, cut once.” When you plan and “measure”, you reduce the number of mistakes that you will make and the amount of money that you will spend.
You can use a notebook, spreadsheets, or a full planner like The Homestead Journal Planner to plan and track your progress.
3. Avoid Debt
If you don’t remember anything else from this post, remember this- stay away from debt! This is a tough one because many of us don’t have huge cash reserves to work from, but it is so important.
If you don’t have cash for a project or an addition, then you can’t afford it. Cut unnecessary expenses and save until you can fund the project without using a credit card.
4. Start Small
Choose skills that require little to no money when you begin homesteading on a budget. Skills like foraging, gardening, sewing, hot water bath canning, and cooking from scratch can be learned without spending additional cash. Try to tackle one new task, project, or skill at a time.
Keeping goals and ambitions small in the beginning will give you the space that you need to learn and make mistakes without costing too much extra time and money.
5. Use What You Have
This tip is my favorite. You don’t have to buy everything new. Many projects can be accomplished with items that you already have.
A few examples include:
- Using 5-gallon buckets to make compost bins, watering systems, feeders, planting containers, nest boxes, and more.
- Using pallets to make compost bins, vertical gardens, and anything that can be built with scrap wood.
- Use an oven instead of a dehydrator to preserve food.
- Use any scraps and useful items that you have lying around.
Anytime you are starting a new project, find creative ways to use items that are already available to you.
6. Trade & Barter
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure! Find neighbors and other local homesteaders to barter and trade with. You may have an item that could be traded for something you need. If you don’t know where to look for other homesteaders in your area, check out Facebook! You can typically find multiple homestead groups for a specific region.
You don’t have to buy everything when you are starting out homesteading on a budget. Turn to friends, family, and neighbors to borrow tools and anything else you might need. Be sure to be respectful and careful with the items that you borrow and return them when you are finished.
8. Save on Seeds
Before you buy seeds, consider attending a seed swap or asking around for plant starts from local homesteaders and gardeners.
You can also save heirloom seeds at the end of each season to use for the next season. Remove the dried seeds from your plants and keep them in seed packets until next year.
9. Build your Own Compost
Quality compost can cost a load of money if you buy bags from your local farm & garden store. Consider building your own compost to avoid this cost and improve the sustainability of your homestead.
Composting seems complicated, but it is pretty simple once you understand the science of it. The main thing to remember is that you will need more carbon materials than nitrogen materials (30:1). It is also not recommended to consistently compost meat and dairy products as they can stink and attract animals. Read this post for details on building compost.
10. Grow Your Own Feed
Feed costs seem to keep going up. Luckily there are options for making your own livestock feed and for making grain go further.
- You can grow crops like tromboncino squash and mangel-wurzel beets to feed your animals.
- Growing fodder is another great option especially if you don’t have land to grow crops in.
- Make your own chicken feed.
- Soaking and fermenting feed is a good option to make your grains stretch further.
- Feed animals straight from the garden!
11. Make Money from the Homestead
Find different ways to earn money from your homestead. Consider the items that you produce (milk, meat, eggs, produce, etc.) and the by-products, then decide how to can turn those items into money-makers.
You can even create digital products like planners and courses to sell. Selling extras of products that you already produce can provide enough extra income to pay for feed and other supplies that you need for your homestead.
Be sure to check your local cottage food laws if you are selling food products.
Some ideas include selling:
- extra fresh eggs
- extra fresh produce and herbs
- value-added products like soap, syrup, beeswax wraps, cheese, salves, etc.
- honey and beeswax
- raw milk
- live animals
- jams & jellies