Even small expenses can soon add up on a monthly or annual basis on the homestead. Here are five ways that homesteaders waste money that could be put to better use elsewhere.
1. Not repairing clothing
Working on the homestead is hard labor, and it takes a toll not only on the body but also on clothing. However, when good quality clothing becomes worn with a hole, or torn, or loses a button, resist the temptation to automatically discard it and buy new replacements. Instead, learn to mend clothing. A simple sewing kit, manual sewing machine, and basic supply of cloth can greatly extend the service life of clothing.
Also, consider hanging your laundry out to dry. Air drying is much easier on clothing than using a drying machine. After all, that lint in the drying machine filter is just small pieces of clothing material that belong with the clothing, not in the trash.
2. Paying too much in property taxes
Property taxes are an annual evil that siphon away serious dollars that would be better managed by the property owner instead of the government. While there’s no magic wand that can reduce the property taxes on a given piece of property, off-the-gridders should give serious consideration to how much acreage they really need.
A lot of people yearning to escape modern life in the cities or suburbs dream of 40 acres or a hundred or a thousand. And if your heart’s set on it and you can afford that, go for it.
Otherwise, think about how much property you really want. I lived for years on 40 acres and loved it. But maintaining the perimeter fencing and keeping an eye out for trespassers was a lot of work. When I decided to move, I bypassed the 40-acre and 80-acre properties and settled on five acres. I have enough room for gardening and small animals, but the area is small enough for me to keep an eye on.
3. Throwing away material that can be reused or recycled
While many homesteads don’t have trash pickup and they routinely haul it to the dump, many do subscribe to private trash pickup services. If you do, scrutinize the size of the container you’re paying for. You may be able to downsize. Frankly, for homesteads that should be reusing or recycling a lot of material, the smallest trash container available should be sufficient.
4. Not bartering
If you have a thriving homestead, you probably have excess goods or services that others may be willing to barter for. Why buy something from a store when you can barter for it?
For example, my neighbors own a ranch and raise cattle and pigs. Instead of buying beef or pork from a store, I trade chicken eggs, rabbits or produce from my garden for meat from my neighbors.
It works with services, too. I can help the neighbors on their ranch and get some meat in return.
5. Not buying used
There are many opportunities for thrifty homesteaders to buy used items that are acceptable. For instance, new books these days cost close to 10 dollars. So browse in a used bookstore and pick up a great read for 50 cents.
Clothing is another opportunity. While I buy much of my clothing new, I buy used clothing for when I’m working outside. When I’m digging soil or cleaning animal pens, used clothes work just fine for me. Goodwill stores and garage sales often yield gently used clothing for a dollar or less.
Simple changes can yield small savings. However, over time, these small savings become big savings.
What other ways do homesteaders throw away money? Share your ideas in the section below: