Our 10-Year Plan that Led to a Paid Off Homestead

Our homesteading goal was to save up $150,000 to buy a distressed property for cash and fix it up. In the end we exceeded that goal.

Reader Contribution by Kerry Mann
article image
Kerry Mann
Homestead Family Finds Freedom

Some time ago, my wife and I found out that we were having triplets.  After the shock of it all, well, things got very serious. We decided to get extremely frugal with our money and set out on a 10 year plan to buy our dream homestead mortgage free. We did a full video showing our journey and our eventual homestead. Watch the video at the bottom. Here is what worked for us. 

I realized early that every decision I made could affect our freedom and ability to pay off our mortgage early. I always tell my girls “Life is a result of the decisions you make.” I believe strongly that wisdom and making wise decisions is the key to long term happiness and balance. 

We knew we had to be frugal- extremely frugal and save every penny we could. Our goal was to save up $150,000 to buy a distressed property for cash and fix it up. In the end we exceeded that goal. I will list our very specific plan and savings below. 


The biggest savings were in our vehicles. We NEVER took out a loan for a car. Nearly every car we’ve owned in that 10 years was between $1,200 and $1,500 cash.  Our first car  (a $1,200 Ram 1500 van) lasted almost 6 years and we drove it across the country several times. We had a few junkers but overall if we prorated all of our cars cost to a monthly payment we were under $50 per month.

The average American pays much more than that. We ran the math and over the course of the 10 years leading up to the cash purchase of our home we saved $74,324 in total! We have friends that pay 700-800 per month for a car payment plus the extra high cost of insurance for that high end vehicle. Some people say but I need a reliable car and I say, “oh really is your car so reliable that it’s worth the cost at nearly 11 times the cost of my used car?” I could literally purchase 11 used cars for the cost of one new car.

I think most people are spoiled and think they deserve the nicest newest car. I am just fine with a perfectly functional (yet rust around the edges) minivan that gets great mileage, the AC works and I never have a stressful loan hanging over my head (instead I have several $100 extra to save towards paying off a mortgage).


Next up we went full frugal on our smartphones. I own a used Samsung I bought on eBay. We used only no-contract service which is $20 per month with limited data. My phone has 95 percent off the bells and whistles of a new phone. But I pay $20 per month and many pay upwards of $100. We saved $10,000 using the cheapest phones in the 10 years leading up.


Next up, clothes. With triplets we don’t have many hand-me-downs. We buy all our clothes from rummage sales, Goodwill or thrift stores. We use them and then sell them all back to consignment stores. The average American spends $1,500 per year on clothes. We saved $15,000 in the course of 10 years buying only used clothes and reselling them. 

Real Estate

Next let’s discuss real estate. We took out a mortgage of $86,000 for our first home. It was a fixer upper. We invested in ourselves and put in the hard work to improve our first house. We sold it five years later for $125,000. We mortgaged a fixer-upper for house number two and did the same. By the time we were ready to pay cash for house number three we banked $45,000 in cash from the increase in value of house one and house two. I attribute most of that increase to the improvements we made at both homes. 

Now let’s rapid fire several smaller items:

  • Haircuts at home- saved us $3,600
  • Home Garden Food- saved us 3,000
  • Doing all of our own vehicle fixes and home repairs (thanks YouTube) saved us at least $5,000 in the 10 year lead up.
  • We cut cable EARLY on. We had a $100 cable bill. We reverted to an antenna for local channels and Netflix for $15 savings us $85/month or about $1,000/ year or about $10,000 after 10 years!
  • We are frugal shoppers. Our groceries were almost all from Aldi. We estimate we saved $6,000 with our frugal grocery spending in the 10 year lead up. 

If you add all of these items up we are at $185,924 saved in the 10 years leading up to the purchase of our home.

Plus, even more, when you consider that we invested much of this. Six years ago we bought our dream homestead. It is a two-family parcel on 20 acres, with a huge pine forest for $115,000. I know only $115,000? This place was a huge fixer upper.  About 100 people looked and said no thanks.  We worked for almost a year to make it livable. We love it here now. Early on, we improved the second-family house and turned it into an Airbnb. Over the last four years it has averaged $22,000 in revenue. Two years ago we built a small off grid dog kennel business and it is now profitable, as well. We are still extremely frugal and still driving my rusty mini van. Without a mortgage, we have so much more freedom. Freedom to golf, woodwork, travel and most importantly spend more time with our children! We did a video showing how we managed all of this and you can see our homestead here.

Kerry W. Mann, Jr. moved to a 20-acre homestead in 2015, where he and his family use modern technology, including YouTube and Instructables.com, to learn new skills and teach homestead projects. Connect with Kerry on his Homestead How YouTube page, Instructables, Pinterest,  Facebook, and at My Evergreen Homestead. Read all of Kerry’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts.