How to Start Homesteading when you have Barely any Money

Many people who dream of homesteading often feel like they have one big thing standing in their way – lack of money.  They wonder if there’s any possible way to start homesteading when they have a tight budget.  Are you wondering how to start a homestead with no money?

start homesteading

Homesteading costs money.  It can cost a lot of money. Even a small homestead can be expensive. But, there are ways you can build  up your own homestead on a budget and for less money.

However, let’s be honest here.  If you are going to be homesteading on a budget, you are most likely going to have to be realistic on what is attainable and what is not.

I believe that you can homestead even if you have barely any money, but most likely you’re not going to be buying a bunch of cows, building a brand new barn, and buying all your kitchen supplies to start canning, baking, and cooking all at once.  It’s a daunting task to try and do it all the minute you move to a rural area and have your own land.

If there is anything I have learned from just three years of being at our small, 2 acre homestead it’s this:


If you are someone who has been dreaming of a piece of property for years and you finally have been able to move out to the country  and on a few acres of land like you have always dreamed, you are probably eager to build up your homestead.

I get it.  All us homesteaders were there at one point.  We desired the homesteading life and wanted to jump right in with both feet.

But for many of us that is just not attainable.  The start-up costs for a large scale operation is too high. Even three years here in our new life on our homestead and we are still a very small operation.  We have chickens for eggs and a garden to grow our own vegetables.  We tap our trees for maple syrup. We raise meat birds. We preserve our own food.  We cut wood (that we buy in big logs because we don’t have enough property to harvest our own) for our woodstove.  In just a few weeks will be adding lambs to our homestead.

We aren’t even close to being done. We talk about adding a pig and other farm animals to our property.  We want to build cold frames and a small shop, and fix up an old small barn that is on our property.  

We talk about growing our garden even larger for a more productive homestead.  And there’s even a small part of us   (okay, maybe not ALL of us, but some of us in this house) who dream of one day having a cow or a horse, or both but are unsure if we can ever make that happen because of finances, and the fact that we don’t have that much land.

So, I get the desire to have a full and functional homestead. I understand wanting to fulfill your homesteading dream. But it’s often a process that takes YEARS to build up, as well as a lot of work.  And it’s kind of better that way sometimes.

If you try to do too much all at once you can feel overwhelmed and you may throw in towel.  For us, homesteading was all new.  So we have had to learn from square one.  Each year we get a little more experienced in certain areas, like caring for chickens.

But what if you want to start out slow anyways to build a more sustainable lifestyle, but are not sure how you’ll even fund that because we don’t have much money?

Well, today we’re going to talk about some ways you can grow your homestead on an extremely tight budget.

chickens on a farm


Make use of reclaimed materials for animal shelters, fencing, and gardens

You can build a LOT from reclaimed materials.   Pallets are a homesteaders best friend.  Do you know you can make animal fencing from pallets?  Do you know you can make animal shelters from pallets? You can even make a chicken coop from reclaimed materials. Basically, start collecting materials people through away.  We’ve created a lean-to for our wood, and stalls for our animals all from reclaimed material.

Start with just a few animals

You can get quite a few eggs with just four or five chickens.  You don’t need to start with 15 chickens.  The same goes for goats or lambs or whatever animal you are interested in. Start with just a couple, and build up your herd from there.  

It’s wise to start with small animals as well as opposed to bigger ones, like cows an horses.  Bigger animals take a lot more money to feed and care for.  While you are at it, do as much research as you can about animal husbandry so you can a lot of what is necessary to care for the animals yourself.

Make your own seed pots

You can make seed pots to start your garden seeds with newspaper or toilet paper rolls. Check out how to do that here.  You don’t need a bunch of fancy equipment to get started with planting your own seeds.  If you have zero money after you bought your seeds an soil, making your own seed pots are a great way to grow your garden.

Go with functional over pretty

I really wanted raised beds for our garden.  However, it would have meant we had to purchase some supplies, along with getting a load of dirt delivered to fill them in.  It was definitely a cheaper option for us to do a garden that was right in the ground and not raised.  

It doesn’t mean I won’t eventually do some raised beds when I have the money if I want to, but for now our choice of garden was solely based on what was the most functional for our needs for the cheapest possible price we could do it for.

We’ve all seen the pretty pinterest pictures of the perfect homesteads and while they are absolutely gorgeous, don’t get set on a certain style if the money isn’t there fund it.

seed pots for a garden

Build on everything over time

I talked about this up above, but take your time growing your homestead, even with the little things.  Last year we bought some buckets for tapping our trees.  We were also given a couple buckets.  The buckets we were given didn’t have lids.

I just covered them with plastic last year instead of spending any more money on our maple syrup venture.  This year we bought the extra lids we needed. It is just a small cost, but they all add up and if you can spread that cost out a bit it can really help.

Think outside of the box

We can get caught up in thinking there is only one way to do things, but with homesteading there are a variety of ways to get the job done.  Don’t have the supplies to build  a wooden nesting box? Use an old tire or milk crate.  Don’t have tomato cages?  Some good solid poles made from trees can work.  Need a trellis for your beans?  There’s a ton of things you can use.  Take a look around at what you have access to and see how you can use it on your homestead.

Do things yourself

Homesteaders generally tend to be DIYers but that doesn’t mean we do everything ourselves!  If you want to raise meat birds but money is extremely tight, learn to butcher the chickens yourself instead of bringing them to a butcher.  If you need an animal shelter built, learn how to build it yourself (with reclaimed materials of course!).  The more you can do for yourself, the more you will save.  If you feel like you just don’t have the skills, remember that the internet is full of tutorials online to teach you just about anything you want to know.

Learn to sew

Sewing can save you a ton of money and you can often do it on the cheap.  Sew your own clothes, or just use some scraps around your house that you have to make quilts or potholders, or whatever else you can think about doing.  

This is a homesteading skill you can learn to do that won’t cost you a whole lot of money if you have a sewing machine already and use secondhand fabric scraps.  Ask around from people you know.  They just might have some fabric lying around they’d be willing to part with.

Ask around for plants like fruit trees or rhubarb

Sometimes people have plants taking over their gardens.  I got three cherry trees from a friend who was trying to make more space in their yard, chamomile from someone who had it taking over their garden and just needed some if gone, and rhubarb from a neighbor who was going to dig up the rhubarb plants and dispose of them.  All for free!  Ask around, you never know what someone might be getting rid of when it comes to plants.

apple trees on a homestead

Plant vegetables that will give you the best bang for your buck

If you don’t have a lot of money you’ll want to be strategic about what to plant in your vegetable garden that can contribute to food preservation for the year and for the winter months.  You don’t want to spend 100 dollars in seed packets (trust me, this can happen a lot quicker than you think. Some women buy too many shoes, others buy too many seeds…)

Plant vegetables that produce A LOT with little seed.  So, things like tomatoes, zucchinis, squash, and beans are great options.  Make sure to plant things your family will eat.  Skip the pretty flowers.  You can plant those when you have more money.

Also, plant a small garden as opposed to a big garden.  This will reduce the amount of money you put into it.  And I’m going to advise against raised garden beds to start out like I  mentioned above.  Raised garden beds can be nice, and are quite popular these days, but they don’t come free.  Unless you can get the wood AND the soil needed to fill them for free, I’d avoid going for the raised bed option. 

If even a small garden is out of the question, you could take part in some community gardens.  Homesteading doesn’t always have to be on your own property.

Buy secondhand

If you need things like canning supplies, a sewing machine, or garden tools try to find it secondhand first.  Mason jars are often something I can find secondhand or even for free from people I know who are getting rid of them.  Bread pans to make your own bread in can be found at thrift stores.    


Many times we think we can’t achieve our dreams because we just don’t have enough money.  While lack of money does stop us from reaching some dreams, homesteading doesn’t have to be one of them.  With a little bit of creativity, patience, and hard work you can start homesteading today.  

Have patience when it comes to your homesteading journey and it’s a good idea to start on a small scale.  Understand that in your first year, or even your second, third, our fourth year, you most likely won’t have a completely self-sufficient lifestyle.  These things take time to grow.  It takes time to develop homesteading skills as well so be willing to take it slow.  The homestead life is very fulfilling, but you don’t need to get there all at once.    

Keep an eye on your bigger goals, and put your head down and work hard to get there, using any extra income that comes your way to put into the next step of your homestead but being patient and waiting to do bigger and better homestead activities when you just don’t have the money.

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