Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
Homestead living is a unique lifestyle that many embrace. There is a great deal of work that goes into being frugal, though. Both you and your property must change to accommodate your lifestyle. As one who practices the self-sufficient, fulfilling way of life, I have a few tips that can help you in your journey. Here are some frugal living tips that you can do to save yourself money and help you become less dependent on others.
1. Always Keep Pallets On Hand
Pallets are essentially free lumber. Around my farm, I have used pallets for everything from a floor in the laundry room to a chicken coop. There is so many things that you can do with this free source of wood. Pallet wood is sturdy, does the job, and it is free. The internet is full of crafts with people using pallets as their wood source. Anytime you see pallets pilled by a dumpster or sitting by the road, grab as many as you can.
2. Save Your Seeds
When you have a plant or crop that does particularly well, make sure you save the seeds. You can cut your gardening costs significantly by recycling seeds. Also, rather than buying expense plants that are already growing, start your seeds by pods early in the spring. When you start planting in early March, you will have plants the size of store bought varieties by May when its time to get them in the ground. Save yourself money by doing most of the work yourself.
3. Buy in Bulk
As hard as you try, there are some things that you just cannot produce. Flour, sugar, and other household staples are a clear example. I buy my flour in 50 pound containers. Since I make a lot of bread and other goodies, it goes quickly. My 50 pounds of flour costs me around $10. If I run out and need to run to the local grocery store for a quick pickup, a small 5-pound bag will cost me around $3. It is easy to see that small things like this can add up. Always keep your shelves stocked so that you never run out of food.
4. You Must Have Chickens
I know that having chickens isn't for everyone, however, the bounty that they provide is undeniable. First of all, chickens seem to breed quickly. Your population can become overrun in no time flat. Secondly, you can use what eggs you need and sell the rest. It can be a great way to supplement your income. So many people are using chickens now that even local grocery stores are carrying chicken supplies in their pet departments. You can use chickens for meat, eggs, and for a great source of income.
5. Consider Other Sustainable Animals
While chickens are a great start, it is good to have other kinds of animals on the farm too. For instance, goats and cows provide milk and pigs provide meat. Having some animals can be hard work, but it can pay off royally. Forget the grocery store that charges an arm and a leg for food, you can grow your own. You know what your animals are eating and their living conditions. Even if you live in a small area, you can have a couple animals to help sustain you and your family. Cow milk is at a premium these days, so having a cow around is always nice.
6. Do Your Own Home Repairs
An adequate toolbox is necessary for any homesteader. When the faucet is dripping, you take care of it. Learning to depend less on repairmen and more on yourself is essential. If you get stumped on something, the internet is full of tutorials and helpful videos that can help you out. Since some repairmen can cost anywhere between $65-$100 an hour, even if it takes you a bit longer, it is worth the savings.
7. Make Your Own Soap and Cleaning Supplies
Probably one of the biggest savings around is by soap and cleaning supplies. I am shocked at the prices of cleaning items these days. A simple bottle of window cleaner can set you back almost $4.00 a bottle. Why in the world would I pay that much when I can make my own cleaning products for a matter of pennies? Window cleaner is vinegar, water, and some fragrance. You can also use ammonia, water, and some fragrance. The spray bottle is a one-time investment of around $1.00. This is just an example of how easy it is to save big. Another thing to consider is the chemicals they put into these cleaners. You can make items that are much safer for you, your family, and the environment.
8. Buy Meat From Processing Plant
If you don't have space or time to mess with real animals, consider buying your meats from places other than the grocery store. Meats have a huge markup in the store. If you buy from a processing plant or someone who slaughters and prepares animals for people, they can get you a seriously good deal. It's always best to buy beef and pork in bulk and keep it in a freezer. For instance, lamb goes for $15 a pound in the grocery store, but when you buy it in bulk, you will pay as little as $5.00 a pound. It's a huge saving.
9. Barter and Trade
One of the ways people from yesteryear paid for things was through bartering and trading. If you need a new tractor, perhaps you can make a deal and include that old ATV you no longer use. You can volunteer your services or some meat from your bulk storage. Don't be quick to rush out and get loans on things you need. Learn to trade with locals and get better deals. Sweat equity is always best.
10. Repurpose and Reuse
Recycling goes way beyond bottles and cans. People are recycling cabinets, buildings, wood, and anything they can get their hands on. If you have an old barn on your property that has seen better days, use the wood to help build a new one. There are so many things that you can do when you reuse. Old things can be given new life and character with some paint and creativity. Don't be afraid to try new things. If it doesn't work you haven't lost anything. You can also use your repurposed goods to barter for new things.
Homesteading is easy when you have the right tools. Your initial investment may cost you, but after you're set up, it's all about taking care of yourself. It gives you a sense of accomplishment to make your own things, and it helps teach children an appreciation for the things they take for granted. Do you have some homesteader tips and tricks that can help someone else? Be sure to leave your comments below. We want to hear from you.
Jennifer Poindexter and her husband raise most of their food and a variety of animals in the foothills of North Carolina, where they built a small homestead on very little money. She writes about all of her adventures at Morning Chores, where she shares the knowledge she has gained with others that might want to take the full plunge into homesteading. Read all of Jennifer's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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