First, let's look at our current monthly expenses breakdown:
Auto Insurance: $31.22
Satellite Radio: $12.95
Food: Estimated $140 average
Gas: $30-$90, depending on Dan's classes
Auto: average $40 per month for oil changes and any maintenance or repairs
Average Total: $937.25
The largest expense is obviously our rent. We are looking at building our own home, a small home. We like living in a small space, and it is a personal choice as well as a frugal one. Buying the building materials, as much used and discounted as possible, and building the home ourselves would cost around $20,000. After Dan is done with school, we will have his $4000 tuition money, that we get from our tax refund, to put toward this. So, if everything goes according to plan, which it often doesn't, we could have a home in five years after graduation.
Where do I get these numbers, that building a home would cost $20,000? I get it from the Tumbleweed Tiny House website, which is where we will be getting our building plans from. We shaved a little off their estimated cost, as their estimates are from all new materials.
As our family grows, we are thinking we will be building a second Tumbleweed and putting them back to back as one home. This is something that could be done over several years. A second Tumbleweed would be less expensive than the first; it won't need a kitchen, but would just be living space and loft. If you have questions about the Tumbleweed homes, they have their own website, full of information, and a search function at the bottom of the page.
There are portable houses from Tumbleweed, and that is what we really want. Their largest is 130 square feet, but we would customize the loft, which isn't included in that measurement, doubling the floor space. The loft would be for sleeping and clothes storage and downstairs would be our living area. We don't feel that we would ever need a home larger than our current apartment. Two Tumbleweeds, back to back, both with a full loft gives us 520 square feet.
There is the possibility that Dan will land a pastorate with a parsonage. These are rare in our area, as the churches are struggling financially, so we are not resting on this possibility.
With a house on wheels, you can park it temporarily in a trailer park, renting a lot. I've heard of people parking it on a friend's lawn. But we would eventually want to buy our own piece of land. In Maine, land is plentiful. Once we are only paying lot rent of some sort, we could be saving much faster.
The next largest expense is food. I had a small garden this year, and am looking to enlarge it next year, more and more every year. This expense will increase with more children, but will decrease when we have land. We can be growing a large portion of our food and we are looking forward to eventually keeping chickens and a dairy cow. I imagine a $600 food budget will be possible to feed our family at it's largest. Consider also that we won't have all of our children at the same time. I think ten kids is a fair estimate, as we don't use birth control, but at no time will we be feeding ten teenage boys. (The birth control issue will be it's own post at some point.)
Energy and Heat:
Solar panels are getting more and more affordable. I imagine that by the time we are ready to buy, we can get them for $4000, one year's tax refund. Not to mention, you can make your own solar panels. I would investigate making my own pretty thoroughly before investing anything into it, though. There is solar heat, which I've found for under $3000. We would want that to be backed up with propane. Propane would be what we start with, as the cost is included in the estimate of building the home.
The Rest of our Current Expenses:
Phone, internet, and auto expenses are hard to determine at this point. We don't know where government regulations and the market will lead these prices, nor what our needs will be, such as how far we live from the church where Dan pastors.
When we have a home on our own land, we will be paying land taxes. This may change the order of purchases more than anything else. It may be wise to not buy our own land until we have a solar panels and solar heat, so that our tax refund can be going to the land taxes.
Our kids' clothes come from yard sales and from relatives' hand-me-downs. I also sew girls' clothing, mostly because I like to design it. Clothes are and will continue to be handed down from one kid to another. Taking care of the clothes allows them to last a long time and homeschooling will relieve my kids of the pressure of only having name brand and trendy clothes. We really only need to buy two full wardrobes, with some replacements over time. There is one wardrobe for boys, and one wardrobe for girls. There won't be two kids the same size at the same time, unless we have twins. Regardless, I don't consider clothes to be a large expense, as we are very frugal about our clothes choices.
Our goal is sustainability and partial financial independence. I want my husband to be able to devote everything to the work he cares so much about, being a pastor. We don't know when we will reach this goal completely, or if it is something we won't reach until most of our kids have grown. In the meantime, if he has to work outside of his pastorate, he can go from full time to part time, and at some point rest on a few days of independent contract jobs per month to make up any additional income. It is a step by step process, and each step brings us closer to financial independence.
Yes, there are a few overlooked expenses, such as trash pick-up and water, not listed. This is meant to be a general overview of our goals, not a total breakdown of every anticipated expense.