Homesteading isn’t for the rich, so if you want to start a homestead from scratch with no finances, here’s how to start homesteading with no money.
Starting a homestead is a dream for so many people, but if you’re broke, it may seem like a pipe dream – something that will never cover true. Before you scratch off this dream, you should know it’s possible to start homesteading with no money.
The truth is, it may require a bit more elbow grease and creativity, but those are two things I think homesteaders need to have any way.
I love when I watch my husband come up with a solution for a problem, using what we have already laying around our house. That’s the spirit that truly embodies a homesteader, and if you’re ready to do that to make your homesteading dream come true, you are halfway there already.
Before we get started, I have two myths I want to debunk, which are:
- You need a lot of land to homestead.
- You need two incomes and plenty of income to start a homestead.
Both of these statements are myths. While years ago, homesteading was typically defined by the free land available through the homesteading act, that definition is gone now. You can have a lot of land or no land at all and be a homesteader.
Likewise, you’ll find homesteaders all over the place as far as income goes. Some have two incomes with plenty of extra money to invest in infrastructure and new projects, and you’ll find those pinching pennies to make the dream work for them.
Neither one is better than the other. Everyone can homestead, and you can start homesteading with no money wherever you are RIGHT NOW.
Let’s jump right in!
What is Homesteading?
Before we get started, it’s important to talk about what homesteading is because, over the years, the definition has changed.
Decades ago, a homesteader was someone who got land from the Homestead Act. They often had a lot of farm land, lived in a log cabin, and lived completely off the land with their family.
However, that’s not the reality anymore.
Homesteading is more than just growing food; we believe it’s a mindset. It’s a determination to be more self-sufficient and self-reliant. When you start focusing on increasing your self-sufficiency and doing the hard work to make things happen for yourself, a homesteader is made.
Nowadays, homesteaders cover a wide range of people.
You can be a homesteader living in an apartment building with a gorgeous balcony garden, a stocked pantry, microgreens on your counter, bread rising on the counter, and a worm compost in the corner.
You can be a homesteader in the middle of the woods or a rural area with five acres of land, a dairy cow, a large garden, and a root cellar.
Neither one is more superior than the other; it depends on your vision for your life. So, if you’re ready to start the self-sufficient journey, a homesteader you are.
How to Start Homesteading with No Money
1. Know Why You Want to Homestead
Everyone has and needs a reason to start homesteading – it’s what will drive you forward when things get a bit tough.
Not if but when – things always get tough.
Knowing your WHY is personal, and it’s different for every family. It may be a deserve to decrease your dependency on the grocery store, especially as prices increase all over the world for different products.
Your why may be that you want to be more self-reliant and self-sustainable as a form of preparing for the future. You don’t have to be a crazy prepper to be prepared; an emergency doesn’t have to the the zombie apocalypse. It could be the loss of a job – which my family just experienced – or a natural disaster, like a tornado or hurricane.
Spend time figuring out your why, and it will undoubtedly help your journey as you start homesteading with no money.
2. Get Out of Debt
Getting out of debt is a big deal when you want to start homesteading.
First, it opens up money that you might not have right now. Cut up the credit cards and work towards paying them off. Once the payment is gone, that’s money in your pocket you can put towards homesteading.
Second, debt reduces your freedoms; you OWE someone else, and that means they have some sort of control over you.
Last, one of the reasons many people go into debt – myself included – is to live a lifestyle you cannot afford without using credit. When you start homesteading, you have to shift your focus and focus on being content with what you have rather than envying what others have.
3. Stick to a Budget
Sticking to a budget is a skill – don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Those of us who struggle to stay on a budget can tell you that it takes time to learn how to do this.
It’s not as easy as it sounds.
We live in a society that encourages you to get what you want whenever you want it. Slap it on a credit card and all is good, but that’s a lie. It’s easy to get sucked into this mentality.
Learning how to wait and save for what you want is a major key when you’re homesteading with no money. Trust me, it’s easy to buy things you really don’t need, but then you did yourself into a bigger hole!
4. Buy Used As Often As Possible!
Our great-grandparents knew that they needed to get the best deal on the things they needed. They didn’t necessarily go for the cheapest things on the shelf – cheap often means it will break and need to be repurchased again – but they found the best price.
Whether you are looking for a tractor, gardening supplies, or anything else, used is often cheaper, and we have all sorts of places to look for used items nowadays. Sometimes, you can find the exact item you want for half the price because someone used it several times.
I also suggest to try buying with cash as often as possible. This helps reduce your temptation to pull out the credit card.
So many things can be purchased used. I posted on social media looking for the next size up in my daughter’s clothing, and my friends brought me boxes! Head to your local Goodwill, hit up garage sales and yard sales, look at consignment stores, a local thrift store, check the Facebook Marketplace and more.
5. Know Your Local Zoning Laws
When you start homesteading, no matter where you live, it’s important to know your local zoning laws for your home. You might assume you are allowed to have chickens, but not all areas allow that.
It’s ridiculous, but true!
You need to know what you can and cannot do before creating your homesteading plan. No use wasting time focusing and making a plan for something you cannot legally do.
If you live with an HOA, make sure there are no rules about owning chickens, livestock, or gardening. Some HOAs are more strict and even limit whether or not you can add fruit trees, vegetable gardens, and more.
Of course, I think these restrictions are frustrating, but when you’re homesteading with no money, you don’t have the ability to move – yet. So, you have to work with what you have!
6. Use the Land You Already Have
Speaking of working with what you have, avoid land envy.
I get it all the time. I look on Instagram and watch other homesteaders on these big chunks of land, and I get land envy. Even if you don’t have a large backyard, you have space to homestead because homesteading is a mindset not a set amount of land.
If you wait until you have all the space in the world, you may be waiting forever, and that’s not ok. It’s time to get started with what you have! Remember, it’s a mindset.
7. Look for Free or Cheap Land
When you start homesteading with no money, it’s best to wait to get more land until you have a good savings and secured your financial situation better.
Remember, homesteading is a true mindset.
If you live in a large city, it’s going to be hard to find affordable land near you. Be prepared to move an hour or more away from the big city to find something semi-affordable.
Keep in mind that land prices vary greatly based on where you live. Some states are simply more expensive than others, such has California, New York, New Jersey, and Hawaii. Relocation can be a reality of homesteading because a serious goal.
Once you are prepared to buy land, figure out where you want to move and start searching for land. You can use all sorts of websites to find land, and I suggest even searching on social media. I see listings all the time!
8. Focus on Being Happy with What You Have
It feels discouraging when you’re ready to move forward with your journey but lack the funds to do so. Our society encourages us to “keep up with the Jones,” and the pressure to have nice things and more things can be stressful.
Envy is an evil thing, my friends.
Be happy with what you have; learn to be happy. You don’t need the most fancy chicken coop in the world; you simply need a place to keep your chickens warm, watered, and fed.
You cannot and shouldn’t compare your journey with anyone else’s; it’s a surefire way to steal your joy!
9. Use Up What You Have
Remember I told you that creativity and ingenuity is a big deal?
Homesteaders never let things go to waste – you use up what you have. I felt like this was something difficult at first; I had a hard time envisioning how to use things and stop waste.
In general, you want to learn how to reuse things you already have. If you tear down an old shed, don’t burn the wood – take out the nails and screws and figure out if you can use the wood in another way.
Waste is a no-no. Grab pallets and turn them into fencing or compost bins, use fall trees to line your garden beds, and reuse fencing rather than buying more. If all it takes is some hard work and muscle rather than money, that’s what you do.
10. Start Bartering with Like Minded People
Years ago, bartering was a big deal; everyone bartered! I recently traded some extra garden seeds for quail hatching eggs – I thought I did a good job!
Bartering is something more people are open to but have no idea how to get started, so give it a try. Offer a service that someone needs for some items that you need.
It could be as simple as cleaning their home twice for some goat supplies, or maybe you could offer other services – perhaps lending out your tractor – for some extra electric fencing they have laying around.
The sky is really the limit, but bartering is a practice that needs to come back into play. With the current inflation situation, it just may!
11. Learn How to Fix Things Yourself
We all know that person that fixes EVERYTHING no matter what it is.
Sink is leaking? They can fix it.
The AC gave out in the house? They got it.
Need to fix the drywall after the kids tossed a baseball inside the house? No big deal.
My father-in-law is that person for me, and he has instilled that in my husband. Learning how to fix things yourself is an important way to increase your self-sufficiency and work on those important skills.
Calling help like plumbers is great, but so many things can be fixed with simple tools and a bit of knowledge. With things like YouTube on our side, we can save money just by giving it an attempt ourselves before calling a professional.
However, leave stuff that has to do with electricity to someone who understands it!
12. Start a Compost Pile
Starting a compost pile is another ultimate way to use up what you have. Toss all of your fruit and vegetable scraps, lint, newspaper, grass clippings, and more into a compost pile.
Later, you’ll have nutrient-dense compost to spread over your garden to grow food to feed your family.
Composting is an awesome way to true things you typically toss out into something you actually need. Bags of compost are $5+ per bag, and bulk compost, while cheaper, still costs plenty when you need a lot of it.
Anyone can compost, even if you don’t have a backyard.
Get a countertop compost bin. These sit on your kitchen countertop, and you simply toss in your scraps as you gather them. They hold scraps for several days, without any strange odors, until it’s time to dump them into your composter.
Living in an apartment doesn’t stop you from composting either!
I love this Worm Factory Composting System. It stands on its own and houses thousands of worms that can easily decompose all the waste your family puts out. A 1/2 pound of worms eats 1/4 pounds of food per day!
13. Grow Your Own Microgreens
If you’re a bit nervous about growing a large vegetable garden, start by growing micro greens. They won’t feed your family full, but they are an excellent income stream for homesteaders AND the greens are FULL of nutrients and vitamins.
Learning how to bring in small extra streams of income is a big deal when you’re trying to homestead with no money!
Getting started with microgreens is so easy. You need a mix of greens to grow in the trays and a self-watering kit. I prefer these kits because they come with the mats, and they mean I have to water less.
This is totally reusable for each round fo growing.
14. Start a Small Garden
Starting a garden is often how people start homesteading, and if you want to reduce your dependency on the grocery store, you’ll need to get your hands dirty.
Too many people assume that gardening requires a large backyard, but nearly anyone can grow a supply of fresh leafy greens and other vegetables. All you need is a sunny spot like a patio, a balcony, or even your backyard to get started!
Many urban neighborhoods have a community garden where local residents work together to grow healthy food as a joint effort.
Despite what you think, gardening doesn’t have to be expensive; you can garden on a budget and save even more money on your grocery budget – if you grow what you eat!
15. Sell The Produce You Grow for Profit
Homesteading can be profitable if done properly, so if you’re homesteading with no money, turning what you are doing into cash can help you achieve your end goal faster.
Chances are you won’t get rich fast by homesteading. If you figure out how to do so, please share because I want to hit that goldmine!
However, as most of us work on becoming more self-reliant, we realize we can produce goods to sell to others, and this can help you raise money for expanding your homesteading goals.
Head to the local farmer’s markets and sell your extra garden produce or your homemade bread. Make homemade soaps and sell them through online markets. You may be surprised how much of an income can come from these things!
16. Learn How to Sew
Centuries and decades ago, everyone knew how to sew. Fixing and mending were normal parts of life.
You don’t have to learn how to sew all your clothes; that’s a serious undertaking!
However, learn how to hem your pants, fix small rips, and sew your pillow closed. These are traditional skills our grandmothers knew how to do that saved them money, and as homesteaders, we have to learn how to make do with what we have.
Getting rid of that mindset that things can be just simply tossed away rather than fixed is a big part of learning how to homestead.
While a sewing machine is often – I have this budget-friendly model from Singer – all you really need is a basic sewing kit with some needle and thread. I like getting quilting patches at Wal-Mart to use for practicing different stitches.
17. Try Knitting & Crocheting
My grandmother taught me how to crochet, and I later taught myself to knit. Centuries ago, these were common tradition skills, and people didn’t just make cutesy accessories.
Grandmothers would knit sweaters, socks, and other warm wear for the winter. Blankets could be made and even bags – useful. If you want something to do in the winter, try learning how to crochet or knit. YouTube has plenty of helpful videos that will show you all the basic stitches you need to know.
18. Make Skin & Hair Products
Another project you can take on as you start homesteading wherever you are right now is to learn how to make skin and hair care products.
The reality is companies use all sorts of ingredients that are unnecessary and may pose different risks to you. The United States does a poor job regulating the ingredients in skin and hair products.
You can make all of your own things at home with easy-to-find ingredients, plus it will save you some money.
19. Try Making Your Own Soap
Making soap at home is another way to increase your self-sufficiency, and it helps you save money over time. At first, when you buy all of the soap making supplies, you might assume there is no way you would save money, but it does!
Especially when you compare the cost of buying high-quality soaps at your local store.
Start by learning how to make soap at home. I love all information and ebooks created by The Nerdy Farm Wife. I swear her books are THE best and make soap making feel a lot less intimidating.
Selling soap is also another way to make money at home! A friend of mine supports her entire family by selling homemade soap and body products.
Related: 35 Ways to Make Money on a Homestead
20. Use Those Herbs to Make Herbal Remedies
Homesteading is a change in your mindset and a reduce in dependency. As you learn how homestead and start eating better foods, I bet you will find yourself dabbling in herbal remedies.
You would be surprised by how many minor health issues can be treated at home without ever needing to go to the doctors. Most herbs easily grow in your backyard, turning into homegrown medicine.
For example, whenever my family has colds, we drink an herbal tea that contains thyme, marshmallow root, and chamomile. It helps ease the symptoms, and everyone – including my kids – know how well it helps!
Here’s what you need to do if you want to learn more about herbal remedies.
- Take a course or two. I encourage everyone to take an introductory course to herbal medicine. While herbs are natural, it’s crucial to learn all you can about how to use them safely.
- Grab some herbal remedy books to study. I like Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide and the Modern Herbal Dispensatory: A Medicine Making Guide.
- Order some bulk herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs. If I don’t or can’t grow the herbs, I get them from this bulk store – their quality is amazing.
This is one of the skills you can truly develop while in the waiting room for your homestead. Don’t wait until you can grow all of your own herbs – get started now!
21. Learn How to Preserve Food at Home
The reality is, unless you live somewhere you can garden year round, you have to learn how to preserve homegrown food at home. When you’re starting to homestead and feeling like you’re in the “waiting room” before you can fully dive in, I highly suggest learning how to preserve food.
You don’t need a full scale garden to preserve food. Before my garden produced a lot, I asked local farmers and gardeners at the farmer’s markets if they sold food by the bushel – most do – and if they sold canning tomatoes (ones with blemishes). You also can hit up your grocery store sales and preserve what you find on sale.
If your local grocer has green beans on sale, grab a few pounds and learn how to can fresh green beans. If you find a banging deal on fresh corn – I get it by the bushels from a local farmer – freeze or can your fresh corn!
The most common methods of food preservation include:
- Root Cellar Storage
- Freeze Drying
22. Start Baking Bread at Home
So many people are afraid to try baking bread, but I promise you – it can be so easy! Bread in the store costs more than it will cost you to make at home, and you know what you put into the ingredients.
Nothing is more satisfying than making a hardy loaf of bread and eating it warm with dinner. My kids cannot get enough of homemade bread.
23. Make Wine and Beer at Home
Here’s another awesome skill to learn when you start homesteading with no money. Adult beverages cost a lot of money, but learning how to make wine and beer at home is so fun, and you can create unique flavors!
This is a skill that takes time to learn – but that’s okay! Homesteaders aren’t afraid to take time to learn a skill that interests them.
24. Get a Small Flock of Chickens
If you live somewhere with a backyard, you can have chickens – assuming you checked your local zoning laws!
Having a small flock of backyard chickens gives you plenty of benefits like a sustainable source of eggs and meat. They also give you wonderful garden fertilizers – for free – and give you a small source of income. Selling eggs can give you some spending money (or at least pay for feed costs) or you can sell hatching eggs if you have a rooster.
25. Try Raising Backyard Quail
If your housing zone prohibits chickens, look to see if you are allowed backyard quail. Quail are technically a game bird, and many areas have no rules against keeping them.
These are the perfect addition to an urban homestead. They are tiny and cannot free range; they’ll simply fly away. You can place them in hutches outside or inside your shed and barn.
Quail are a sustainable egg and meat source; they start to lay eggs 6 to 8 weeks after hatching. Since they reach their full mature size quickly, you can separate your meat flock from your egg flock and have extra homegrown meat for your dinner plates.
26. Find a Homesteading Community
I said it once, and I’ll say it again – homesteading is more than just how much money you have. It’s a lifestyle and a mindset, and you can start by working skills.
Finding like-minded people to go on the journey with you is one of the best resources you’ll find. Online communities are amazing, but local homesteaders can lend you a hand or give you advice that works for your area. They know the climate, weather, zoning laws, the best places to get supplies, and more.
In my experience, most homesteaders are more than happy to befriend newcomers. We all love new friends, and we know how hard is it to start homesteading with no money.
Even if you’re flat broke, there are ways to start homesteading with no money. Use these 26 tips to get started and remember, it’s a mindset that involves removing yourself from the constant consumerism and start producing for yourself instead.
Enjoy the journey!