Does Homesteading Save Money? Costs And Benefits

Does Homesteading Save Money? Costs And Benefits

does homesteading save money


Everyone wants to know, when it comes down to it, does homesteading save money?

In my life, I’ve experienced freedom from debt and the reduction of my living expenses through a series of choices that include downsizing to a tiny home, becoming a minimalist, and starting homesteading. Every step along the way has led to the success I now experience, but each homestead is as unique as the person who runs it. Let’s dive in and see if the costs or the benefits of homesteading will come out on top for you.

ryans tiny house

Hi, I’m Ryan

I credit homesteading with playing a large part in my current physical, mental, and financial well-being. Does homesteading save money? It has for me, and it can certainly benefit you as well, either by saving you money or by increasing your health — or both.

ryan mitchell simple living expert

Does Homesteading Save Money?

Does Homesteading Save Money

When I sat down to add up the costs of starting a small homestead on my land, I was surprised by the mounting list of expenses, and I couldn’t help but wonder, how does homesteading save money when everything costs so much? If you’re considering starting a new homestead, you might have similar questions, so let’s look at the cost-effectiveness together.

Factoring In The Whole Cost

The cheapest way to start a homestead is armed with a plan, a budget, and a good knowledge of the costs and rewards you’re aiming for. Is your main goal to save money? Or do you want the more intangible rewards of growing your own organic foods and living in tune with the process of nature that homesteading offers? Personally, I wanted a little bit of both.

Melissa K Norris of Pioneering Today Podcast

“Getting ready for animals costs money, bringing animals to your homestead costs money. But in the long run, by keeping track of it all, you’ll see where you’re saving money and where you’re not. Like this year you did, and last year you didn’t. What was the difference? Was it the weather? Did you spend more on animals that you brought to the farm? Were there vet bills that came up? Keeping track of that is going to put you in a good place.”

– Melissa K. Norris, Pioneering Today Podcast

When it comes to calculating the full cost of homesteading, be careful to consider all of the expenses involved, not just the obvious ones. You don’t just have to purchase your livestock, you’ll have to feed them (every day, believe it or not), build them shelter, provide water, and cover necessary vet bills or property damage.

Time is money, so don’t forget to factor in the labor involved as well. I enjoy getting my hands in the dirt to help my vegetables thrive, but not everyone loves the outdoor work of homesteading as much as I do or has enough time for a garden the size of mine.

minimalist budgeting guide

Does Homesteading Really Save Money On Food?

Now, let’s look at how to accurately compare the cost of food as a consumer vs. a grower. Again, everyone’s homesteading situation is unique, so you’ll want to break it down according to each aspect of homesteading you want to undertake (chickens, goats, gardening, etc.) and weigh the costs against the positive outcomes you’re aiming for.

First, Count The Cost Of A First-Year Garden

Like many homesteaders, I started out with a garden, so let’s ask the question, does homesteading save money on vegetables? When you create a cost vs. return list for your vegetable garden, include not only the seeds and labor but also the costs of necessary irrigation, soil amendments, tools, fencing, and mulch. If you’re planning on cultivating an orchard or berry bushes, list out your potential costs here as well (including pest and predator deterrents).

how to prepare garden soil

Next, Factor In The Cost Of Livestock

As I mentioned before, your livestock need to be fed, watered, sheltered, and protected, and they might also need veterinary care from time to time. Here’s an example of a cost vs. return comparison chart that I put together. You could draw one up for each of your different livestock groups.

Raising Chickens – Costs Raising Chickens – Returns Consumer Costs
Initial purchase of chicks or hens Organic Eggs Purchasing organic eggs
Incubator Organic meat Purchasing organic meat
Materials & labor for chicken coop Bug control Purchasing pest control
Yard fencing materials and labor Free garden workers
Chicken feed and water
Hay or other bedding

If you create a similar list for each of your endeavors, you’ll see that the startup costs of homesteading are where the real financial investment takes place. The ongoing costs and labor involved in feeding and caring for livestock aren’t small either, but once you get past the initial costs and into a good rhythm of homesteading, you’ll be more likely to break even and, in time, maybe even surpass into savings and profitability.

slow living guide

Third, Count The Cost Of Grocery Shopping

Once you have a good idea of what a yearly homestead will cost you once it’s up and running, I recommend you compare it to your average grocery budget. What do you currently spend in a week on produce? Are you purchasing a lot of processed foods and non-organic produce? If so, your food budget will likely increase rather than decrease when you switch to a homesteading lifestyle.

That said, if you’re currently eating or wanting to switch to a healthier, more organic diet, a homestead garden will probably be able to break even with store prices, or even save you money once you’ve established your gardening habits. I live in North Carolina, where the cost of groceries is pretty average, but I also choose to eat organic, pesticide-free food, so I paid a pretty penny for my fruits and vegetables from the store before I began homesteading. Now, I grow my own all-natural produce on my homestead without having to compare store prices or read labels to determine what’s healthy.

If you don’t know your current grocery costs, you can check out the USDA’s food cost chart to determine the average cost of food for your household size. Comparing this with your estimated startup and maintenance costs will give you an idea of your expected surplus or savings margins.

how to set up a garden

Finally, Don’t Forget About The Hidden Costs Of Food

Once you have a good idea of what your groceries currently cost and an estimated number of what your homesteading expenses would be, there’s still more to consider. The larger you expand your homestead, the more equipment you will need and the more time, exertion, and mental energy you’ll have to put into it.

tractor to plow homestead garden and cropsA larger garden might require a tractor and plow, larger livestock will require larger pens, and larger orchards will require noise or light equipment to keep pests away from your fruit.

What’s important to remember is that your homestead’s success isn’t dependent on how large or small it is. It also isn’t dependent on how much money you save. Instead, focus on the benefits that really matter to you.

I think you’ll find that your real ROI (return on investment) will come from the process of cultivation rather than from any money you can save.

While homesteading is worth the investment to me because of the money savings and the health benefits it has provided, not everyone has the time, energy, or desire to spend a significant portion of their time feeding animals and cultivating gardens. If homesteading is likely to stress you out rather than help you slow down and enjoy life, it might not be worth the savings margin you could achieve. Money, how we invest it, and how we save it are very personal decisions, and investing in homesteading is a decision that I’ve made because it’s worth it to me.

off grid tiny house guide

Is The Cost Of Homesteading Worth it?

Is The Cost Of Homesteading Worth it

At the end of the day, homesteading doesn’t always save you money, but I firmly believe that the cost of homesteading is worth it. It can save you money once you’ve practiced and refined your process, but unless you’re aiming for a large-production farm where you’ll be selling produce, it’s likely that your savings won’t be significant. So, why homestead at all?

When we’re talking about the cost of homesteading, it all comes down to cost vs. value, and only you can decide what matters to you. Because I’ve already simplified my lifestyle with a tiny home and a minimalistic outlook, homesteading was an easy choice for me. It was an intentional and fulfilling next step, and one that has saved me more and more money the farther off grid I’ve ventured. After weighing all the factors, and I’ve included some more to consider below, only you can decide whether or not homesteading is worth it for you.

benefits of minimalism

Farm Fresh vs. Store Bought Produce

I believe that one of the primary benefits of homesteading is having farm fresh, nutritious produce readily available for your household. There’s nothing like harvesting the ingredients for your homecooked meal directly from your land.

If you’re already in the habit of purchasing organic and/or grass-fed produce and meat, you’re more likely to break even and possibly save money by raising your own meat, eggs, fruit, dairy, or vegetables on your homestead.

homestead garden vegetables

The Health Factor

Homesteading is great for your health, full stop. Not only is fresh, homegrown food packed with nutrients and free of many toxins, but the work you put into your homestead outside in the fresh air is also great exercise for your body and mind. I was surprised by how much simply having animals and plants to care for drew me away from dwelling on my problems, getting me to live simpler and enjoy the benefits of whole foods. In this way, homesteading can work wonders for your own peace of mind like it did for mine.

homestead garden basics

Homesteading Builds Relationships And Life Skills

Whether you’re homesteading on your own, with your family, or with your community, you will find yourself fostering relationships and adding important life skills to your personal development resume. As you tend to the earth, your animals and your gardens, you’ll learn how to navigate new things side-by-side with family or make connections with fellow homesteaders and local owners of farmer’s markets. You’ll learn what plants grow best in each season, how plants and animals can work in tandem to make nutritious food, how to care for animals that are completely dependent on you, and how to be a better human as a result.

what is homesteading

Growing Your Own Food Gives The Best Return On Investment

The truth is, most of us homesteaders do what we do because raising animals and cultivating our land brings an abundance of healthy food and activity to our lives while also helping us develop an unexpected sense of self-worth, confidence, and self-sufficiency. Think about how much peace and life satisfaction is worth — a step away from consumerism, materialism, and the busyness of our modern world and a step into a quieter, slower, more nurturing environment.

For many of us, homesteading is, simply, the good life.

fall gardening

Resources For Cutting Costs As A New Homesteader

Resources For Cutting Costs As A New Homesteader

Even if you’re sold on homesteading for its multitude of lifestyle benefits, we all want to save money wherever we can. The first step is to start a budget and record your expenses. You’re already well on your way to the next step — reading up on how to cut those expenses once you know exactly what they are.

Melissa K Norris of Pioneering Today Podcast

“If you’re not already doing [basic budgeting] with your homesteading stuff, definitely start and keep some records. If you already are keeping track, there are ways that you can adjust those feed bills and bring your costs down.”

– Melissa K. Norris, Pioneering Today Podcast

Below are some options and lifestyle changes to implement if you really want to start homesteading while still cutting down on your costs. Some of these are practical how-tos, and some are explanations of mindset shifts you can take (to slow living, minimalism, tiny living, or off-grid living) to cut down on your expenses while also improving your quality of life.

Does homesteading save money? Sometimes yes, and sometimes no. In the end, homesteading brings more meaning, health, and enjoyment to life, and that, more than anything, makes it invaluable.

Your Turn!

  • In what ways have you cut costs to make your homestead sustainable?
  • Do you want to homestead to save money or to eat healthier food?

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