If there is one word used most frequently to describe the homesteading lifestyle, it is “frugal.” The modern frugal homesteader is someone who embraces and makes the most of what they have – be it food, clothing, tools, and other belongings.
Homesteaders embrace the concept of self-sufficiency wherever possible. Benefits include saving money, a healthier family, and the satisfaction of consuming less while producing more.
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There are many ways to become more frugal, and experience is the best teacher along the way. Here – in no particular order – we offer 50 of our favorite frugal living tips for homesteaders.
1. Grow your own food. Even if you live in an apartment, you can grow tomatoes and strawberries. If you have more land, a thriving garden can be one of the most satisfying and money-saving aspects of homesteading.
2. Grow your own medicine. Eating fresh food is its own medicine. However, you also can grow your own healing herbs in your garden or on a sunny windowsill.
4. Bake your own bread. The smell of baking bread is intoxicating, and it is surprisingly easy to bake bread and rolls with only wholesome ingredients.
5. Make your own candles. The process is simple, and the results are gratifying. Kids love to make candles, and a homestead can never have enough of them on hand.
6. Live within your means. It’s a simple lesson that can be life-changing. If you don’t have the money for it, don’t buy it.
7. Limit the use of the dryer. Hanging clothes and bedding on a line outdoors in the sunshine (and indoors in bad weather) will save money. Plus, you can’t beat the fresh air.
8. Wash clothes in cold water. It’s a myth that you need to use hot water to get out most stains. Save money by using cold for machine and handwashing.
9. Make your own soap. With just a few simple ingredients, you can make your own hand soap, dish soap and laundry detergent.
10. Make your own cleaning supplies. Have you read the chemicals on the labels of most household cleaners? You can make cleaning supplies with just a few staple ingredients you probably already have in your pantry.
11. Replace disposable paper towels and napkins. Use and reuse cloth towels, napkins, and handkerchiefs. They absorb more, feel better on the skin, and cost less.
12. Cook meals from scratch. Home-cooked meals include healthier ingredients than store-bought ones. And they don’t need to be fancy to taste great!
15. Make your own compost. The ultimate way to recycle is by keeping a compost. Your kitchen scraps can feed your healthy garden.
16. Mend your clothes. Darn socks, hem dresses and pants, sew on buttons and patch knees of pants, just like your grandmother did.
17. Make your own spices and seasonings. Forget expensive store-bought seasoning blends. It is easy to make your own spices at home.
18. Make your own salad and salad dressing. There’s nothing like home-grown greens topped by your own home-made dressing.
19. Make your own broth and stock. Use leftover bones and veggies to create your won flavorful broths for nutritious soups and stews. Start by learning to make chicken stock.
20. Barter and trade what you have for what you need. Build up a network to exchange skills and services. These can be anything from music lessons to auto repairs.
21. Make your own cheese and butter. Not only are these tasty for your family’s table, but you can also sell or barter the fruits of your labor. Here are the basics of cheesemaking.
22. When you can’t raise your own, buy from local farmers. You will save money and have the added benefit of knowing how your food was raised.
23. Build a greenhouse. Having a year-round greenhouse lengthens your growing season and save you money. Building a small greenhouse isn’t that hard.
24. Do your own home repairs. Learn to depend less on others and more on yourself is the key to frugal living. Apprentice with others and make use of YouTube videos to learn new skills.
25. Buy in bulk. Stock your pantry with bulk sizes of staples such as flour, sugar, rice, and beans.
26. Use dinner leftovers as lunch the next day. Never throw away food. Eat your leftovers, or freeze them for another day.
27. Save your seeds. You can save on gardening costs by saving your seeds and starting your own plants.
28. Learn basic auto mechanics. Learn simple vehicle maintenance skills such as changing your own oil and checking your tire pressure to keep your vehicles running better and longer.
30. Make your own entertainment. Learn to play an instrument, sing, read aloud, tell stories, or play board games. Who needs Netflix when you have each other?
31. Become your own barber. With a set of the right scissors and hair clippers. You can skip the trip to the salon.
32. Make your own gifts. Why waste your hard-earned money on store-bought gifts that may be returned or unappreciated? Instead, make hand-made gifts that show you really care about someone.
33. Create home-made cards and gift wrap. Similarly, you can both save money and show your love with original greeting cards and wrapping paper.
34. Recycle plastic bags. Zippered bags are surprisingly washable. Plastic grocery bags work well as liners for indoor wastebaskets.
35. Limit use of the dishwasher. Hand wash and dry items to use less energy when you can. When you must use the dishwasher, turn off its dry cycle to let things air dry.
36. Switch to LED light bulbs. LED lights are far more energy efficient than other bulbs.
37. Get the most out of personal products. Add a bit of water to what’s left in the bottle of shampoo and fully squeeze that tube of toothpaste.
38. Re-wear clothing that doesn’t need to be washed. Today’s consumers toss things in the wash that have been barely worn. Consider whether something is really dirty before laundering.
39. Buy generic medications. They may have boring labels, but the ingredients are usually the same for a lower price.
40. Shop only from a list. Learn to separate wants from needs as you avoid impulse purchases at the supermarket.
41. Start a home business. Teach your kids hands-on economic lessons by launching a homesteading business.
42. Buy used vehicles. The savings are massive when you purchase used cars, trucks, lawnmowers, and tractors.
43. Wash dark clothes inside out. Avoid unnecessary fading by following this simple rule.
44. Close and open windows and window coverings in the winter. This will allow the sun to warm your home even when it’s cold outside.
45. Close and open windows and window coverings in the summer. This will help keep your home cooler when it’s hot outside.
46. Save on electricity. Plug appliances and electronics into power strips that you can turn off when they are not in use. Set computer to power down into sleep mode after a period of inactivity.
47. Lower heating bills. Get in the habit of wearing layers inside the house during cold weather. Add a sweater or a throw blanket rather than turning up the thermostat. Here are other ways to stay warm.
48. Monitor internet and data usage so you pay for what you really use. Consider the use of free internet hotspots to avoid payments.
49. Drop the health club membership. Get your exercise for free by going for walks, hikes, bike rides, and runs alone or as a family.
50. Keep a journal of tips and ideas. As you continue on your homesteading journey, you will come across more tips and ideas than this list contains. Start recording them in a journal. That way, if you learn something new that you can’t put into practice right away, you’ll be able to look it up later.
Another benefit of a homesteading journal is that you can pass on your experience to others. The best way we learn and grow is from experience. You may now be the student, but one day, you will be the teacher.