Looking to reduce costs on your homestead? Discover our top 10 favorite ways to save money with our old fashioned frugal living tips.
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“Cut your living costs in half!”.
We’ve all heard those words before. Maybe on a tv commercial or on an ad. Or even on one of those junk mail pieces you pull out of your mailbox.
Everyone wants to save money.
Most articles you read online are about saving money to buy bigger material items. Or saving money to get out of debt. I’ve seen advice about paying off your mortgage in 5 years. Only buying used cars. Don’t ever use a credit card. Avoid subscriptions such as Netflix or some type of streaming service. And while those recommendations have their place and time and can be valuable to many, this blog post about saving money as a homesteader is different. You won’t see the typical money-saving advice. But rather old fashioned frugal living tips.
I must admit, this isn’t the way we always lived. When I used to work in the corporate world as a graphic designer, I was all for buying the latest technology and having stylish attire to wear to the office. At one point, the employees at DSW began to know my name because of how frequent I shopped there — how embarrassing!
But gone are those days. My focus has changed. My life has changed. And with that so have my family’s finances. Our income goes towards building our homestead. If I can find a way to cut costs and reduce the number of trips into town, I will. Below is a list of our top ten ways we save money on our little homestead.
Frugal Living Tips
1. Grow Your Own Food
Number one on the list, and probably the most obvious is to grow your own food. There are a variety of benefits to gardening or raising livestock but one of the most prominent is the cost savings involved. Have you seen the cost of organic food lately? It ain’t budget-friendly folks.
Just one little tomato plant planted in your backyard can produce months worth of fresh produce to add to your family meals. Now compare that to the cost of one those plastic cartons of grape tomatoes from the grocery store. How long does that typically last your family? A week? A couple of meals worth? Now imagine you had multiple tomato plants in your garden. Those fellas will feed your family all summer long, and potentially into the fall and winter if you can or freeze the tomatoes. Talk about saving money. And that is just tomatoes. Consider a whole gardens worth of various veggies.
Sure, you have to purchase seeds and gardening supplies such as tools, containers and dirt but if you compare that to the cost of buying organic veggies in the grocery store, you will be saving a lot. Plus think of the cost savings of gasoline when you make less trips to the market because you already have a produce isle right in your very own backyard.
Going hand in hand with growing your own food, is preservation.
Preserve the green peppers you grew in your garden this past summer to use in meals throughout the winter.
Can’t eat all those cucumbers you grew? Turn them into pickles to enjoy for many months.
Preserving food doesn’t mean you have to grow it all. During the summer, we purchase lots of sweet corn from a local farmer. We then cut the kernels off the cob, bag it and store it in our deep freeze.
There are several ways to preserve food. Canning, dehydrating, freezing, fermenting and storing in cold storage such as a fridge, basement or root cellar. We do a little of each but primarily freezing, dehydrating and fermenting. By preserving our homegrown food, this ensures that we will have plenty of nutritious food year around as well as saves us from having to buy it from the store — especially during times like today when food prices have gone up drastically.
3. Make Meals at Home
Another way to save money on your homestead is to make food at home. Clearly you reduce costs by preparing your own meals and snacks rather than buying packaged goodies at the store or wizzing through the nearest drive thru. But what about creating the ingredients that you use in the homemade meals?
Are you making your own chicken noodle soup? Why not make the broth with the bones from the chicken that you’re going to use in the soup recipe?
Serving up pot roast for dinner? Don’t buy an expensive can of rolls. Make the bread at home.
Instead of purchasing a bottle of dressing, make your own salad dressing using simple ingredients you already have on hand.
These simple switches are not only lighter on your wallet but healthier for your body.
4. Create Your Own Cleaning Products & Body Care Items
Last year I switched from using store bought cleaning products to homemade cleaning solutions. Tell me why did I have dozens of cleaners for each job in the house? Did I really use all of them? Evidently, I wasn’t getting good use of them. I really only needed a few simple cleaners to keep my home dirt and germ free. By reducing the number of cleaning chemicals in our home, I removed unnecessary toxins and saved our hard earned cash. Many of our cleaning products now use items that we already had — vinegar, water, castile soap, essential oils — no additional costs added to our budget by using these supplies.
In addition to making our own cleaning products, I began creating some body care items such as homemade bar soaps, lotions, hand wash and lip balm. Making my own cosmetics was a bit of an investment up front but it proved to be an effective way to reduce costs over time, considering the price I paid for the commercial product and the number of uses I got out of them.
5. Skip Buying Paper Products
A new way I recently found to reduce expenses is to ditch the paper products.
Instead of using a paper plate for your food, use a glass plate. Rather than using a paper napkin at meal time, or a paper towel to wipe up messes, use a reusable cloth towel such as these. Or better yet, make them yourself!
- Rather than using plastic wrap for your bread while they it is rising, try a flour tea towels or dish rags. They make great bread covers.
- Freezer trays prevent you from using so many plastic storage bags.
6. Save Seeds
Saving seeds from your garden is an art. It takes a little learning and organization. If you’re a beginner, here is a great place to start. People save seeds for a variety of reasons but for the purpose of this article, I will focus on cost savings. The average packet of seeds sells for around $3. Potted plants from a greenhouse can start at $4-5 and go up from there. By growing your food from the seeds you saved from the previous year, you can cut back on the cost of having a garden.
7. Conserve Money on Laundry
To save money in the laundry room, try these ideas:
- Use less detergent. The recommended capful is nearly twice the amount you need for the average size load. An overabundance of detergent leads to residue that traps dirt and stains in your freshly cleaned clothes. Using a smaller amount will not only save cash, it will keep your clothing cleaner.
- Add some reusable wool dryer balls to your laundry. Instead of using liquid fabric softeners or dryer sheets, try natural, budget-friendly dryer balls. Tossing a few into the dryer along with your clothes will soften your laundry and reduce drying time.
- Set up a clothesline or drying rack to air dry your bedding or garments.
8. Repurpose and Reuse
Reusing items or giving them a new purpose is a great old fashioned way to save money around your homestead. It can be as simple as reusing a canning jar to store crafting supplies. A few ways we gave old items new life is by turning an antique kitchen cabinet into a decorative bookshelf. Or using our friends barn ladder as a trellis in our garden. This past Christmas I took lath board from my parents 1900s farmhouse kitchen renovation and turned them into a rustic wooden star for our front door.
9. Drink More Water
Soda is expensive. And so are many other flavored drinks. Many aren’t kind to your waistline or your pocketbook. Drinking water will not only help you feel better, it’ll cut costs on your grocery bill. If you want to take it one step further, stop using plastic water bottles. Use a reusable bottle, fill it with water and take it with you on your travels.
10. Start a Medicinal Herb Garden
As a homesteader, I want to find things that make me feel well and bring healing to my body. Creating an herb garden full of plants to treat stomach aches, sore muscles and dry skin is a great way to take charge of my health. These herbs can be used to boost my immune system or added into plenty of homemade cleaning products and cosmetics. Either way saves me a trip to the doctors or a trip to purchase expensive store bought items.
The best way to start is by designating a spot in your yard to grow your own herbs. Sage, mint and thyme are great for beginners. Simply plant it in a large pot and you’ll have medicine for years to come. If you don’t have space for an herb garden, plant them in a few pots on your porch or try a window sill garden.