Learning how to save money is a vital skill every homesteader should learn. Learn some tips and tricks you can do to stretch your money as far as you can take it.
In this article:
- Create a Budget (and Stick to It!)
- Cut Down on Food Expenses
- Be Smart about Groceries
- Use Bank Accounts and Credit Cards Wisely
- Keep Tabs on Your Household Expenses
- Other Ways You Can Save Money
How to Save Money as a Homesteader
1. Create a Budget (and Stick to It!)
Before you learn how to save money, you need to do some prep work first. This comes in the form of your budget.
Step 1. Track Your Expenses
At the beginning of each month, start compiling the receipts of everything you buy, or write up how much you usually spend on stuff you buy and need. Next, sort them into easy-to-follow categories like:
- Transportation Expenses
- Entertainment Expenses
The goal here is to have a clearer idea of where your money goes. You can’t start saving money if you don’t know where you stand in terms of your finances.
Step 2. Create Your Budget
Next, sit down with a pen and paper and create your budget.
- Write down how much income you consistently get from various sources. This is your ceiling.
- Subtract 10-20% of that amount and set it aside as savings.
- List down your essential expenses and how much you need to pay for them. This includes rent or mortgage payments, insurance, utilities like water and electricity, etc.
- Whatever you have left ends up as your discretionary spending budget. Write down categories like groceries, gas, clothing, and other expenses you may have.
- Based on the results your expense tracking and cutting, set a budget for each category.
Step 3. Consider Using Envelopes to Set Money Aside for Expenses
Once you have your budget all set up, use the envelope method to curb your spending.
- Get as many envelopes as there are spending categories on your budget.
- Write down one category per envelope.
- Based on your budget, insert the money you’ve allocated for that category.
- At the back of that envelope, write down the amount of cash you initially have on each envelope.
- Use only the cash you have on each envelope. Don’t cheat and take out your card for any extra expenses.
- Write a record of your spending at the back of the envelope, or in a separate card inside.
- Deposit the leftovers into your emergency fund.
2. Cut Down on Food Expenses
Now that you have an idea of how much of your money ends up where, ask yourself where you can cut down on expenses. Food expenses are one of the biggest things people spend on, and here’s how you can save some money on your food:
Step 1. Grow Your Own Food
Fill your garden with nutritious fruits, herbs, and vegetables. Planting herbs and vegetables on containers you have lying around helps if you don’t have a lot of outdoor space.
Every homesteader knows the many benefits of growing your own food. Not only will you be able to know what you eat, you save a lot of money too because your plants pay off multiple times each year.
Step 2. Make Your Own Coffee
Make your own coffee instead of dropping $4 in a fancy coffee shop. A batch of cold brew can last you quite a while.
Step 3. Pack Your Lunch
Consider making your own lunch at home instead of eating out at restaurants every lunch break. A mason jar salad is a fast and easy way to not only save money but get your nutrients in during your break.
You can save as much as 50% of your food budget this way.
3. Be Smart about Groceries
Being smart about grocery shopping can help you save money and stretch your budget out as far as you can go. We already have some tips here, but here are some more to consider.
Step 1. Make a Grocery List
Before heading out to the grocery, create a list of staples you need to get instead of deciding on a whim when you get there. Shopping with a list can save you hundreds of dollars’ worth of groceries a year.
Step 2. Clip Your Coupons
Cut out all those coupons you get and use them in the grocery store for lots of savings.
Step 3. Buy Essentials in Bulk
Buy the items you use frequently, like laundry detergent, in bulk. You can get a ton of savings as long as you make sure you only buy what you know you’ll use up.
4. Use Bank Accounts and Credit Cards Wisely
While cash is king for most homesteaders, sometimes you just need to have that piece of plastic lying around. The good news is that even if you still use credit cards, you can still save money each year.
Step 1. Set-Up Auto-pay On Your Bills
Set up all your bills to automatically deduct payments on your bank account or credit card. This ensures that you pay them on time and avoid costly late charges.
Step 2. Get Your Credit Report
Make sure you get your free credit report every year. Landlords and financial institutions like banks and credit unions use your credit score to assess how much you'll have to pay for various things, like loans and rent.
Step 3. Pay Your Credit Cards in Full
Always pay your card in full every month. When you just make the minimum payment, you end up racking interest fees and into a black hole of debt that's hard to climb out of.
Step 4. Unsubscribe to Online Store Emails
Hit the unsubscribe button on online store emails. This steers yourself away from unintended spending.
5. Keep Tabs on Your Household Expenses
Your home is one place where you can cut some corners. Get started with these tips.
Step 1. Do Household Repairs While They’re Manageable
If you can see small amounts of damage in your furniture, repair them right away while they’re still small. Many people end up spending a big chunk of change on professional repair jobs because they let the issue go unaddressed for far too long.
Step 2. Go Green
Use green energy and water sources to reduce your reliance on the grid and save on utility bills.
- Install solar panels so you can make use of the extreme summer heat.
- If you live in a windy area, install wind turbines to have a good alternative energy source.
- Build a rainwater collection system to make use of nature’s resources (if your state allows it).
Step 3. Make Natural Cleaning Products
Use natural items you have lying around at home and in your backyard to clean your home.
Other Ways You Can Save Money
1. Be on the Lookout for Entertainment on a Budget
Check out Facebook or meetup groups for any free or cheap local events to go to. Not only will you have fun without breaking the bank, but you will be able to meet new people who you share things in common with.
2. Learn When to Splurge and Save on Clothes
Sometimes, investing in clothes that last for a long time (even if they’re initially more expensive upfront) is the more practical option.
- Splurge: Coats, shoes, jeans, classic pieces that go with anything
- Save: Children’s clothes, trendy items you’ll only use once
3. Make Your Own Gifts
Here are 14 store-bought vegetables & herbs you can regrow and start saving money in this video from Daisy Creek Farms with Jag Singh:
Those are just some of the ways any homesteader can save money. With these tips and tricks, you can use the money you save towards bigger projects you've been putting off.
What are your favorite money saving tips? Have you given any of them a try? Let us know in the comments section below!
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