picture of farm animals

How to Start Homesteading on a Budget Right Now

Have you ever thought about starting your own homestead?

It is a great way to save money in the long run, but it will require an investment of time and energy…especially the first year. 

 Where I live is a great place to grow your own food, even on a tight budget. 

Don’t have much money?  That is ok because having a lot of money is not the only way to make your homesteading dream a reality.

It seems like in just the past couple of years the word homesteading has become this big famous word. Can words become famous? I think so!!!  

Why are people drawn to the word homesteading or the lifestyle? In this post I will go over some of my thoughts on it.

Homesteading on Budget Right Now

Homesteading is not new to me. I have actually been living this lifestyle off and on in my married life. In my

mind it is just the way we live. I never really considered it homesteading. 

Homesteading to me is what the pioneers did!!!  It is a way of life! It’s just what we do day in and day out.

What is the definition of homesteading? According to dictionary.com, homesteading means to “acquire or settle on land under a homestead law. To live as self efficiently as possible from their own land.”  

So, with that being said you can homestead on a small piece of land. That is what a lot of people are doing. This has become very popular over the last two to three years.

Why is this lifestyle so popular?

More and more people are drawn to a slower way of life.

Life has become so fast past that we get lost and loose who actually thought we were.

People are just wanting to come back to their roots. 

They long for a simpler life where it almost seems a bit old fashioned.

You remember the stories Grandpa would tell you about?

Grandpa always had a way of telling a story to make you feel like you were right there with him doing his chores. 

Have you ever thought about starting your own homestead on a budget?

It is a great way to save money in the long run, but it will require an investment of time and energy…especially the first year. 

Where I live is a great place to grow your own food, even on a tight budget. 

Don’t have much money? 

That is ok because having a lot of money is not the only way to make your homesteading dream a reality.

When thinking about homesteading you need to take into considerations a couple of things

  1. Do I want to be totally self-sufficient- almost living off grid- no electric, no running water-?
  2. Do I want to be just food self- sufficient?
  3. Will my homestead be my only income or will I keep a town job while you pursue your homestead dreams?

As of this post we are  just trying to be food sufficient.

Except on flour, sugar, salt, oil and some of our herbs and noodles, dry beans.

We still have canned food that we are using as well until I am able to can enough for a year’s worth of food.

My ultimate goal would be to have 3 years worth of food preserved.

Homesteading on the Cheap

Homesteading on a budget

Is it possible to have a sustainable homestead on a tight budget?

Yes, it is very possible.

When considering a homestead, it important to know your finances inside and out.

Some decisions will need to be made on how much you can spend on this new adventure. 

You will need to get your personal finances together and make a budget for the expenses that you will occur.

If you have zero money but, are wanting to get started now you will need to get creative and learn some new skills.

Don’t let having zero money stop you from having your homestead dreams become reality.

This is a time to let your creative side kick into full gear. 

Where to Find Free Stuff

You can find many useful items for free.

On Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, and even on citywide large item trash day.

I have been known to go up and down the streets of our town looking at (or through) another man’s trash.

You just never know what you might find!! People throw away really useful items.

Old free pallets are great for building a chicken coop, or any other small shed that might be needed.

Need a compost bin on the cheep?

Use pallets for a compost  bin. Fallen trees can be used to line your garden site or for making your strawberry bed.

My husband tore off an old deck for a neighbor and got to keep the wood. Have you price checked the price of treated lumber lately? WOW!!!

Your local thrift stores are also another great place to find old tools. A little oil and a wire brush can make an old tool look new again.

Homesteaders never let things go to waste – you use up what you have.

I felt like this was something difficult at first; I had a hard time envisioning how to use things and stop waste. 

Muscle and true grit is used rather than money, then that’s what is done!

In general, you want to learn how to reuse things you already have.

If you tear down an old shed, don’t burn the wood – take out the nails and screws and figure out if you can use the wood in another way. 

Gardening

Gardening is probably one of the first things that beginner homesteaders do. It isn’t very costly.

By growing your own food, it cuts down the grocery bill and really helps when you are on a tight budget.

This will save you time and money by not needing to go to the grocery store as often.

Having good soil is a must for a prosperous garden. Don’t have good soil?

Start your own composting pile on your kitchen counter.

Save your scraps by putting them into a countertop compost pail. A used ice cream bucket works just as well.

The only items that should go into your pail is vegetable and fruit peels, egg shells, coffee grounds, teal bags. 

Once the pail gets full you will need to start putting it into your compost bin outside.

If you are starting from scratch you can need to first have a layer of brown -cardboard, twigs, then the next layer will be your countertop compost. 

If you have animal waste this too can be put into the mix as well.

The compost will  need to be covered either with a tarp or some kind of lid.

The compost will need to stirred or mixed every so often to help the decaying process.

 I also like knowing how my food is grown and processed.

Making your own food is so rewarding. Yes, it will require learning new skills.

After all you are on a new adventure. 

You can save money by being creative in your thinking about how to get the necessary items you are wanting to grow in your garden. 

Greenhouse

You can make a greenhouse out of old windows.

You can sometimes find these at auctions or posted for free on Facebook marketplace or Craigslist.

Have a neighbor who is replacing the windows in their house?

Ask them what they plan on doing with the old ones.

Chances are you just got yourself some windows.

A greenhouse is a great addition to any homestead because if you buy your plants before the last frost, you

can put them in the greenhouse to keep them from the damaging frost.  

Some people like to start their own plants, but we will not be going into that in this post.

If you start your plants from scratch and you have too many you can sell the extra.

Fruits & Vegetables

Potatoes can be grown from potatoes that you have in your pantry. If the potatoes have eyes, you can use

them. If you do plant potatoes that you have on hand just keep in mind that they may not be long the long

storing kind.

Onions that have sprouts can be planted as well.

This may not be helpful for just starting out but if you think about next year when the stores clearance out

their seed packets at the end of the season pick some up and freeze them till next year.

Herbs are fairly easy to grow. Some will populate ask a friend if they have any cuttings that you could have

this will save you some extra money. Herbs can be grown in small spaces.

Which is really nice if you are limited on ground space. They can be grown in flowerpots. 

Fruit trees are a great way to add value to your homestead. You will not benefit the rewards of having some

fruit trees for at least two plus years. Here is a list of some types of fruit trees you might be interested in

growing:

  1. Apple
  2. Pears
  3. Peaches
  4. Mulberry
  5. Thorn less blackberries (unless you have them growing wild like I do BUT they aren’t thorn less)
  6. Plum 

Some varieties if you get a dwarf kind it will produce sooner than the larger trees.

Nuts

 Even nut trees are good to have around. A couple varieties are:

  1. Walnut
  2. Hickory
  3. Pecan

These are just a few of the kinds you can grow. A lot will depend on what zone you are in and how long your

growing season is.

Where I live, we have a lot of wild berry trees and nut trees that grow near us, so we take of advantage of

that. I actually had no idea that we had so much readily available to us until I got more into wanting to start

preserving more of our food. Last year was the first year that I really took advantage of the wild trees and bushes.

Also, check around to see if you have a local orchard and or a farmers’ market. These sources are a good

way to start preserving your food if you are not able to get started right away on your garden.

Bartering & Sharing

Another great way to save money is to go in with a friend who is also gardening split the cost of seeds and

plants. If you happen to have too many of one kind see if they would like to trade. Nothing like adult trading

seed packets! It really is better than trading baseball cards!! 

 Are you good at a particular skill? Offer to use a skill for something your neighbor has that you need. This

type of service is called bartering. This is a great way to get something that you need and they get

something they need as well. There really isn’t any limit as to what can happen once you start bartering. 

I know of a family that share a milk cow. They will move the cow from farm to farm nothing like having a

moving dairy cow and what a great way to split the cost of owning a cow.

Animals

Wanting to raise animals? Here is another way to reduce your dependency on others.

Raising animals is job in itself. Along, with animals you must have a way to them in. We were fortunate

enough when we moved we had a lot of our fencing already.

If you are needing fencing, ask around. We had a local farmer who didn’t want his bent gates anymore. With

a little time and a chain we straightened them out good enough to work. Again, asking is free. The worst

they can say is no and we all have been told that before.

When you are ready to purchase your animals, it is a good idea to think of dual purposes. 

 A cow can provide milk, cheese, butter, and yogurt. But you could also raise cows for meat! Goats mean

milk, cheese, yogurt, and even soap. Chickens are known mostly for laying eggs, but don’t forget you can

also raise them for meat. Then there are rabbits.

Most people tend to raise these animals for pets, but when homesteading on a budget we have to think

outside of the box. So you can raise rabbits for both meat and furs.

Raising animals is full time job in itself. 

Along, with animals you must have a way to keep them in. We were fortunate enough when we moved we

had a lot of our fencing already. 

If you are needing fencing, ask around. We had a local farmer that didn’t want his bent gates anymore. With

a little time and a chain we straightened them out good enough to work. Again, asking is free. The worst

they can say is no and we all have been told that before.

Chickens

A chicken coop can be made out of recycled material. Wood pallets make a great coop when just starting

out because they are easily excisable most of the time you can get for free.

Make sure when you build your chicken coop that you keep in mind that you may add to your flock. Because

once you get a few you will want more. Kind of like if you give a mouse a cookie. You give a gal a chicken

chances are she’ll want another and another!

You can have a chicken yard, or you can let them free range.  Free range is a good option if you can go this

route. but you need to be on the look out for predators. The hens tend to do better if they can roam around.

They eat a lot of bugs, spiders and ticks which is a good thing for us.

Feed costs should be lower with chickens out all day eating. Another win for free range chickens is that their

yolks are also more yellow.

The downside to free range is that they may tend to lay eggs wherever they feel like they have privacy.

Which means they may not lay in the nesting boxes they may lay outside in the horses hay.  

It is best not to let hens free range until you have trained them to come to you. This will make it easier to put

Rabbits

Meat rabbits are great asset if your limited on space. Rabbits produce large quantities of high-protein, low-

cost meat in a small amount of space.  Again, you can build a rabbit cage out of pallets. They are a lot of

  All around, they’re just a great way to add a little more self-sufficiency to your homesteading efforts, no

matter where you live.

Different size spaces

Did you know that your backyard can be a “homestead”? Now days it is very easy to have a garden and

maybe a small flock of chickens in your backyard. 

Backyard gardens have been around for years. There is so much available now then there has been in times

past for the backyard garden. 

  1. Hanging fruit bags
  2. Dwarf plants
  3. Herb towers

Those are just a few. A lot of vegetables grow well in containers. You can use old flower pots. If you find that

tilling under your yard isn’t your cup of tea you can do raised garden beds. This is a box made from wood

that you fill with dirt and plant. Not into building your own you can order some premade ones.

 If you are building your own you will need to be on the look out for wood or save the money to buy the

wood and the other supplies that will be needed. I haven’t tried this but we have two old metal stock tanks

that would work great for this project.  You can also walk around your bed and not into it. Which is great if

you don’t like to bend over because you can make them as high or low as you want them.

Raised beds are filled with dirt so there isn’t a  need for equipment to work the ground. If you are going this

route and don’t have the dirt in your back yard that you are going to use I would price this out then decide if

you really want -afford- raise beds. 

This is also works great even on a small space of land. Gardening is so versatile you can grow almost

anything in some dirt and a pot. 

Urban Homesteading

Living in an urban area can be tricky to homestead. But take heart I have good news! Some, cities and towns

have different laws that may allow you to have small animals, have a garden. Some properties at the edge

of town may not be considered in city limits. It’s worth checking into.

You can plant veggies and herbs in pots. Plant your plants in pretty pots and show case them on your patio

or deck. Herbs can also grow in a window sill in your kitchen.

When your herbs are done growing you can hang them to dry in kitchen as de cor.

While you are waiting to have your own homestead dream keep mind that there are lots of farmers markets

that sell fresh produce, eggs, cheese and other homemade goods. This is a really good option for those

living in the city who have no way of digging up the earth.

 Instead of buying store bought seasonal produce go to your local farmers market. This can be a very good

way for you to be able to do your own food preservation. By buying extra produce you can can the extra.

This will give you a really good idea of what it is like to pick, process and preserve your food.

 One of the important things to keep in mind that there is so much learning involved in preserving your

food. By doing it this way you slowly can learn the process and enjoy it more.

Over the last couple of years you pick it farms have become very popular. This is where you can go and pick

your food. How cool is that?! 

This is really a great way to get to know the  people who are selling the food and get some knowledge about

how they grow the food and if any chemicals at all was used on the food. Most people are eager to share

their knowledge with others. 

One of the biggest tips I can give you is to start learning NOW!!

If getting land isn’t an option right now then take this time to just learn. Read lots of books, scour the

internet for homestead ways, ways to be become self-sufficient. Learning doesn’t cost you a dime and may

in the long save you money just from the the knowledge you have gained from the books, and articles.

Another great idea I can give you is to up your kitchen skills. You can do so many things in the kitchen to get

you started on your homesteading journey. Look to see what you are buying and see if you can’t recreate it

with ingredients you already have. 

Here is a quick list of things that you make from scratch:

  • brownie mix
  • biscuit mix
  • yeast or sour dough bread
  • cookies

This is just a partial list!!!

Therefore, when you go to the grocery store start looking for food that contains less ingredients and ones that you can

actually pronounce!!

Generally another rule of thumb would be to just shop the outside aisles. The inside aisles are mainly fillers there is a

reason why the milk is located in the back of the store.

The ultimate goal is not give up on your homestead dream. Remember you don’t need to own a lot of land

to homestead. Just think outside the box! Start small by learning, growing items small scale to learn more

about what it is going to take.

Don’t give up! Rome wasn’t built in day, and homesteading on a budget won’t happen overnight!! Enjoy the

journey and keep your eyes focused on the prize.