Having a homestead can be expensive. Do you want to homestead, but don’t think you can afford it? I feel that the benefits greatly outweigh the costs. But if you need help in the financial end of homesteading, here are my best tips on saving money on the homestead.
Grow your own animal feed.
This is an excellent way to reduce costs AND improve your self reliance. If you have a garden, consider growing extra goodies for your chickens or rabbits. Greens are very easy to grow. If you don’t eat radish or turnip greens yourself, give them to the animals.
Plant for utility instead of beauty
Don’t just plant for beauty, plant for utility as well. Plant sunflowers for lots of seeds for your birds and goats. Amaranth is both a beautiful flowering plant and a good food source, with about 18% protein.
Jerusalem Artichokes can be a great food for animals and humans, and they look like sunflowers. They re-grow and multiply every year, and they are a great “stealth” survival food. You would never know that there are nutritious potato-like root veggies underneath the pretty foliage!
Use the weeds
Even if you can’t seem to grow anything, consider the weeds! Most weeds are very nutritious for animals and humans alike. Just do a little research to make sure you know what the weed is, and if it’s edible.
Lambsquarters, purslane, and mallow grow rampant in my yard and garden, and they are fantastic wild food sources. When I weed my garden, I save the weeds for the animals.
Buy grain in bulk
You can also check into buying bulk grain from your local grain mill. I like to mix grains for my chicken feed. My girls love wheat berries, barley, sunflower seeds, and corn. I even buy cheap bags of lentils from the grocery store and sprout them in a mason jar.
You can also buy whole grains, such as wheat and barley, that sprout easily for fodder. Fodder is cheap and easy to grow, especially if you buy the grain from a local mill, and it can be grown year-round if it’s kept warm enough.
Research other ways to grow animal feed as a way of saving money on the homestead. I’m sure you’ll be able to figure out other ways to cut costs.
Grow your own medicine.
You can grow all kinds of herbs in a homestead garden. Read up on some herbal remedies and consider which ones would be easy and good for you to grow. Herbal teas are the most widely used herbal medicine.
You can also make salves from certain herbs. Mary’s Heirloom Seeds has a great selection of herbs to choose from. She even has herbal medicine making kits if you would like to easily try out making your own!
Check into growing your own cooking spices (most double as herbal medicine), peppermint, ginger, or garlic. These are easy to grow and can save you some serious money. Check out my post on the 10 best remedies for cold and flu. I also have posts on how to grow and use lavender and chamomile.
Reduce, reuse, recycle.
This eco-friendly concept actually helps you in saving money on the homestead. Reducing your waste results in less costs for trash and less strain on the environment. You can also reduce your waste by giving chickens or pigs your leftovers, which saves you in both ways.
Reusing is fantastic on the homestead. I reuse coffee cans as feed scoops, pallets as fencing, kitty litter containers for nesting boxes, and old barrels for feeders. You can usually find lots of free or really cheap stuff on Craigslist to use for various projects if you get creative.
Think outside the box, and you’ll probably come up with other ways of reusing what would otherwise be trash. Check out this post for other ideas on upcycling on the homestead.
You can recycle your used animal bedding as garden fertilizer if you take the time to compost it. Fun fact – rabbit manure is GREAT for gardens, and it doesn’t need to be composted! I also recycle newspapers and toilet paper tubes for fire starters. If you have a lot of newspaper or junk mail you can even recycle it into your own fire bricks.
Find a use for all parts of the animals you process.
You may not think of this as a way of saving money on the homestead, but it really does help. Especially if you’re into learning vintage skills.
Make lard or tallow
When you butcher a pig you get lots of fat that you can render into lard. Butchering a cow gets you a smaller amount of fat that you can render into tallow. Tallow and lard are great for cooking and baking, make great candles, and can also be used in soap.
Make bone broth or stock
After you roast your holiday turkey, what do you do with the carcass? We like to put it in the crock pot all night and make turkey stock with it. This makes a great base for some homemade turkey noodle soup.
Did you know that after you make stock, you can also use the bones as a garden amendment? Just boil the bones for much longer until they are very soft and almost crumble in your hands. Put the soft bones on the wood stove for a day or two, then they will crumble into a powder that you can use in the garden. Voila, free bone meal!
Tan the hides
If you raise meat rabbits, you can learn to tan the pelt. If you get good at this, you can even sell them for use in crafts. Little bit of homestead income! Cow, goat, and sheep hides can be tanned and used as well, if you get good at tanning.
Make dog treats
You can dehydrate ears for a healthy dog treat. When you butcher chickens, you can also dehydrate the feet for dog treats. You can also give your dogs cow hooves, but be prepared, they get a little stinky! Soup bones from the butcher can also give you some nice dog treats.
Reusing different parts of processed animals are a big help in saving money on the homestead.
Make the most of your dairy products.
If you have any kind of dairy animal, consider better options for your dairy products. Goats milk soap is a very trendy item right now, and you can learn to do it to bring in some income. You can learn to make cheese, which (if you haven’t noticed), is incredibly expensive from the store!
With our big family, we go through about 2 gallons of milk every day. We are considering making the move from dairy goats to a milk cow. The goats don’t produce enough milk to make it worthwhile to us (even though I love them!).
Cow or goat?
There are a few things to consider when you are wanting to add a dairy animal to the homestead.
The cream in goats milk is already partially homogenized, meaning it is difficult to separate. We want to be able to have all the milk we can drink, and have enough to raise bottle calves without buying expensive milk replacer. We also want to make cheese and give the whey to the pigs, and make our own butter, yogurt, and ice cream.
A milk cow will be the most efficient animal for giving us the milk we need. It will help us so much in saving money on our homestead. Buying a milk cow will be cheaper than what we spend in milk alone for the year. Plus we will have all the other dairy products. And probably a bonus calf as well!
Raise animals, learn to garden, and preserve.
It’s a very lofty goal to provide the majority of your food, but it can be done! If you raise animals, learn to garden, and learn to preserve your garden goods, you can do it on a larger scale each year until you do just that. Can you imagine how much money you could save for the year if you were not so dependent on the grocery stores?
For our family, we could easily save around $500 a month if we planned it correctly. That’s a homestead funding itself! There is no way that our homestead costs would be more than that, so we would actually come out ahead.
Raise heirloom plants and save the seeds.
Heirloom plants are the only ones that you can plant, save the seeds, and plant the next year for the same plant. This can be a money saver as well. Check out this post from Nancy On The Homefront on saving seeds.
If you’re going to garden, why not garden with plants that can reproduce seeds to re-plant? This can help you have a more self-sustaining garden. As a bonus, heirloom plants often produce the most delicious, flavorful food out there!
Mary’s Heirloom Seeds is an amazing place to start dreaming of all the heirloom goodness. She has 600+ varieties of non-GMO, non-hybrid, open-pollinated heirloom seeds. Tell her I sent you!
Find free or cheap garden soil amendments
If you get creative and look around, you will probably be able to find all sorts of free or cheap soil amendments. Fall leaves are great to cover your garden area. Old waste hay and straw is great improving soil tilth and texture. Making bone broth can be a good source of bone meal to put in your garden.
Make your own compost.
If you have farm animals, you likely have lots of manure to deal with. Why not turn that into a fabulous garden amendment that you would normally have to buy? Compost is easy to make, and you use what would normally be left to go to waste on the homestead.
Composting is a great way to turn manure, spoiled hay, and food scraps into a nutritious soil amendment. And if you do “hot composting“, it can be made pretty quickly too. With hot composting, you can have wonderful compost in as little as 18 days.
Use eggshells in your garden for free fertilizer
If you have chickens, you probably have lots of egg shells to deal with. Put them in the garden for a free fertilizer! Eggshells are a great soil amendment, adding lots of calcium for your plants.
Saving money by reducing electricity costs.
Ideally, we would be off-grid. I would love to have solar panels and wind turbines for our power needs. But it’s not that feasible for us right now. We do like to try to reduce our electricity costs, though. This is important and do-able in any home.
Check into LED lights. They are more expensive, but last longer and use less power.
Use a wood stove
Heat with a wood stove. If possible, buy wood permits and cut your own wood in the summer. This will save you tons of money on heating your home. We get our own wood, about 4 cords a year, to use for heating in the winter. This alone helps us save $400 per month in the winter!
Use a clothesline
Line dry your clothes. This is such an easy thing to do to cut costs, especially in the summer. Sunshine also helps make your whites whiter and the clothes smell good.
Get smart with your window coverings
Use your window coverings to your advantage. You can get thermal curtains for winter. Consider leaving the curtains open during warm days in the wintertime. During really cold times, you can even hang blankets on the windows to further insulate them. In the summer, use your curtains to block out the light and heat.
Learn to build
Building your own animal shelters, coops, and rabbit hutches can be a huge money saver. Especially if you can get your material cheaply or even free! Learning to be handy with a hammer and a saw is a skill that will be helpful throughout your whole life, both on the farm and off.
If you have a handy person in your life, have them help you build something so you can get a feel for building things on your own.
Get free or cheap building materials
Scour Facebook marketplace, Craigslist, or other online shops to get free or cheap building materials. Lots of people want to get rid of their old wood scraps and such. Even pallets are often found for free. This is a great opportunity to start your own building material stockpile!
Most homesteads have a wood scrap pile, to build and repair things cheaply throughout the year. If you don’t have one yet, you should start one!
Shop thrift stores and garage sales
Many times, you can find great homesteading items at thrift stores. I’ve found a lot of building materials and gardening items for really cheap at thrift stores. And a ton of garage sales in farm country have valuable items for cheap. I love hitting a good farmhouse garage sale!
Do you have more ideas on saving money?
I’m not going to lie to you, having a homestead can be expensive. Saving money is super important in making your dreams a reality. There are so many ways to cut your expenses on a homestead. If you are creative and think outside the box, you too can have a homestead!
I hope I have given you some ideas on saving money on the homestead. If you have more tips to give, please share them in the comments!
This post may be shared on Family Homesteading and Off The Grid Blog Hop, Simple Homestead Blog Hop, Farm Fresh Tuesday, and Old Paths to New Homesteading & Self-Reliant Living.
Since we raise or hunt for most of our meat we are learning new ways to use all the animal. From using the organs we usually didn’t use to learning how to tan and make rawhide. Knowledge is key.
I agree, knowledge IS key! There is so much to learn. I’ve learned so much in the short time I’ve lived this lifestyle. And I know it’s never going to end!
Great tips for how to be self reliant. Using weeds for food and medicine is something that many people don’t think about – yet there are so many great weeds that work so well for many aliments and to heal. Reuse recycle and reduce is one of the things I feel is really important to living healthier and reducing pollution, but all you tips are great!
Thank you, Marla! I’m a sucker for reusing things…some people may call me a hoarder, lol!
Thanks for a great list of ways to work towards reducing your costs on the homestead. lots of work to some of them.. but others are easier.. its a good mix 🙂
You’re welcome Farmgal! Homesteading isn’t easy. I figure you either gotta put in time/work or money!
So many good ideas! We’ve grown meat birds, raised bees, always had a garden and preserved the harvest. Lot’s more to be done however!
Oh I know, always so much more to do!
A great list of money saving ideas, Shawna! I want to try sprouting lentils for the chickens (and my salads) I hadn’t thought of that one.
We’ve gotten to the point where we hardly ever buy meat and mostly eat the poultry I raise and butcher each year. It’s a good feeling. 🙂
Thank you, Lisa! Sprouting lentils is super easy and high in protein. Buy a bag in the dried beans area of the grocery store for like $1.99. You’ll get about 4 times the volume, and it makes the nutrients easier to digest as well. Plus the girls love it!
It really is a good feeling to raise most of your food. I haven’t bought beef in months, and have lots of chickens in the freezer still!
Great tips, Shawna! I agree with you about the goats milk–definitely hard to separate. I have done it before with my Nigerian Dwarf milk, but it takes time. Thanks for all the great ideas!
Thanks, Kristi! I had such high hopes with my Nigerian Dwarf. I heard lots of wonderful things about them, and decided that’s what we needed. We got a doeling, got her bred (by an obnoxious billy that we had to get rid of!), and had beautiful twin kids. I figured I’d just let them do their thing for a while and didn’t milk her until it was, well, way past time to wean and sell them. When I finally did milk her, I got about a cup of milk. A CUP!! I cried. I decided it wasn’t worth it to milk her for a cup.
I also heard about the milk being very hard to separate – AFTER I got my goats. So disappointing!
Great ideas. I do a lot of canning and preserving. Would love to have a cow for milk, cheese, butter…. meat
Thanks for the share
Thanks Dianne! I’ve looked into dairy cows a lot lately, and for the price that we can get either a pregnant cow or a cow/calf pair, they would pay for themselves just in the milk that WE drink. Let alone the cheese (so expensive!), butter, yogurt, and ice cream! I just have a hard time parting with my goats. Maybe I’ll have to convince the hubs that we need BOTH!
Excellent! Wow. You have a lot of great information here. I’m always excited to see someone using an animal snout to tail. One of my daughters gave the dogs dried cow esophagus for Christmas. The dogs loved them. I never would have thought of such a use.
Thanks so much, Robin! I believe that if you’re going to raise an animal and butcher it humanely, you should try to value it by using all that you can of it. I’ve never thought of the cow esophagus, but I guess it would make sense!
So many good ideas. I want to try to grow fodder this year for my chickens. I saw a plan to keep fresh grass growing in chicken runs I want to try! Animal feed can be costly.
Thank you, Bethany! Animal feed IS so expensive, isn’t it?? Fodder is really easy. I need to do it again, I think my rabbits might like it better than the chickens did.
Excellent ideas! Homesteading can seem like it just drains money, but there are definitely lots of ways to recoup your losses!
Thanks Lacey! It ain’t cheap OR easy, but I wouldn’t want it any other way.
You know it all starts with one thing, and you have given folks many things and ways they can be more self reliant and self sufficient. Great article.