Money is often tight on farming operations. Asset rich, cash poor. It seems silly with the thousands or millions of dollars that are spent and received on our farming operations to worry about a few dollars. But lots of time, that’s the difference between making it and failing. There has to be thought to spending a dollar to save a dime mentality, but if it can feasibly be done without sacrificing life quality, do it!
We all know how stressful farm life is. There is thousands of dollars riding on every decision. The weather is uncontrollable and decisions have to be remade depending on what it does. There is never enough time to get it all done. Some of these things I suggest, may help improve your quality of life. We all get so little down time and maybe these are your stress relief. There has to be give and take. You must decide whether to save some money or it improves quality of life and not worth the money savings.
Here’s my favorite ways, while also living the crazy busy farm life, to save some money. Every little bit adds up.
Cut your own/partner’s hair
Shortly after we got married, we were deeply in debt, Matt went to get his hair cut at the local barber. When I found out how much it cost, I hit up YouTube really fast. The first clipper set we got from Walmart was the cheapest one that was less than the cost of one haircut. We used it for several years on my husband Matt’s hair before we were given a nicer kit from his grandpa.
Don’t be scared to do this! Most of us farmers where hats everyday and long hair is tied in to buns. And honestly in the world we’re living in, not very many people notice slightly uneven hair. And if they do, they just assume it’s on purpose. This can save hundreds of dollars a year depending on how many family members you have, how many times you cut your hair, etc.
Check your auto renew/subscriptions
I’m guilty of signing up for promotions to get a free this or that. Remember to cancel them though. Go through all the subscriptions that are automatically coming out of your credit card. Cancel the ones that are necessary anymore. Really think through your goals and if it’s absolutely necessary.
Do your TV subscriptions save you money from going out to movies? Or do they cost you time that shouldn’t be spent watching TV?
Thrift stores/garage sales
We grew up garage saling. As an adult, I’ve come to love thrift stores as well. There are people that make their living flipping things found at garage sales and thrift stores. I don’t have that desire, but I do love a good deal. My mother-in-law and I have found some incredible deals on farm related goods: buckets, shovels, tools, fuel cans, tires, straps, etc.
But like I remind my husband, it’s only a good deal if you’re going to use it. Doesn’t matter how cheap it is if you’re not going to use it.
Consider how much you use equipment. Maybe renting is a good option. Or sharing with fellow farmers in the area. The farm sale is the farm version of a garage sale. Sometimes the deals are really good. Sometimes they’re not.
Time always seems to be such a precious commodity. Take note of how much is being spent at farm sales looking for a good deal. If the sale is worth it, maybe try to make the best of it and make a date day out of it with your partner.
Plant your own garden
Another double edged sword. Food is expensive in the grocery store. However, anybody who has ever grown a garden, knows how much time and money can be sunk it to a garden. This all depends on your lifestyle and role if this is a money saver or not. If you’re a stay at home mom, this could make sense. It could make sense if you’re interested in quitting the town job, it can be a way to save money to make that happen.
Just be careful about how much money you’re spending. It can add up really fast. Starting your seeds instead of buying plants can save a bunch. Depending on your set up, a lot of money can be spent on pots and raised beds. Make sure if you’re spending money that it is something that’s going to last. You can make it eye-appealing with the “scraps” from around farm. As with anything, there’s gobs of books you can check out from library and of course the internet gardening groups. Don’t plant things that you aren’t going to eat or be able to preserve. We don’t want this to be a source of food waste.
Again, it all depends on your “stress relieving” activities. Maybe garage sales/thrift stores would be a stress reliever, but maybe for others it would just be another stress causing activity. Financial freedom makes me happy, and I’m willing to sacrifice by not having the newest car, cutest house, or brand new items. Maybe you’re not willing to give up your paid TV subscription because it’s what you look forward to watching while running equipment.
You have to decide what you’re willing to give up and what you’re not. These things can save you lots of money, but quality of life must be considered.
Kelsey Pagel is a Kansas farmer. She grew up on a cow/calf and row crop operation and married into another. Kelsey and her Forever (Matt) farm and ranch with his family where they are living their dream and loving most of the moments.