Recently we were asked by a reporter who, in an email, asked:
“I am curious to know how urban homesteading has decreased your family budget on a monthly and/or annual basis? In other words, how much do you save by growing the majority of your own food? How often do you go the grocery store? Also, does your ecological conservancy tie into your consumer practices in anyway (i.e. are you careful to be frugal when it comes to material items as well?) Looking forward to hearing more…”
We highlighted a few things back in an email which included:
Food & Energy
- “Liberated” front yard from a lawn in the early 1990s by covering in mulch and growing edible flowers and, later, fruit and vegetables also.
- Grow 98% of our produce – never have to buy eggs (and hopefully dairy products soon ) Providing up to 80 or 90% (in summer) of vegetarian diet.
- These are averages +/- depending on season and special occasions (most of the cost comes from dairy products – no thanks to the rising foods cost). Grocery bill ~$80-100 per week. Plus buying in bulk ~$125 per month from a co-op….. total food (a vegetarian diet) bill is about $500/mo. and this feeds our family plus volunteers (Do not know how much we save because we don’t have a way to compare; it has been over a decade since we last depended on the grocery store for produce.)
- We go to the grocery store now 1 time a week on a Friday. However, our routine has become irregular due to outside disruptions. When we were “purely “urban homesteading and not busy with outreach work, we pushed the gap between grocery store visits to (our record) 1 time in 8 weeks.
- Utility bills are averages depending on season and other happenings.
- Electricity bill is ~$20/mo. (includes customer fees) / Our household uses about 6 kwh a day
- Natural gas: ~$20/mo.
- Water & sewer: the amount of this bill is skewed because we operate a produce business out of our home, selling surplus to restaurants, etc and we have to water the garden a lot to irrigate the plants during the dry SoCal weather. We also conserve water by bathing/showering on average of once a week.
How frugal are we?
We are so frugal that:
- We have not owned a new sofa since 1974.
- Our only electrical appliance in the kitchen is the refrigerator and it is energy-star.
- 90% of our household furnishings are second hand.
- We have no electric clothes dryer, no microwave, no dishwasher, no AC and no central heating.
- We have had no new car in 30 years and drive less than 4,000 miles per year. Current vehicle is a “second hand” 20 year old diesel.
- We wear second hand clothes mostly. Bought from thrift stores, e-bay, and through catalogs.
- We eat granola (or oatmeal) for breakfast 6 times a week, 52 weeks a year.
- We don’t go out to eat, don’t go out to the movies, don’t have cable TV (but do watch DVDs from Netflix), don’t go to clubs or bars.
- We labor on Labor Day.
Because of this we are happy.