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Affording the Whole Cow

So, last month we talked about Buying the Whole Cow – reasons why you might want to buy meat in bulk and the cost savings involved. At the end of that post, I told you this month we would discuss how you could afford to make that large purchase – and it is a large one. Most people don’t just have $500+ extra lying around. It is very possible to make a large purchase like this, but it does take a little bit of planning.


First, you need to know that 200+ pounds of meat takes up a LOT of space. You’re going to need somewhere to store it, and a refrigerator freezer isn’t going to cut it. I can honestly say that our deep freezer was one of the best investments we ever made. It has paid for itself many times over – it allows us to buy at deep discount and have the ability to store the food. 

Yes, a brand new deep freezer can set you back a pretty penny – but I see them available used all the time. Check out your local used appliance shop (most of them offer warranties) or even Craig’s List. That is your very first step in buying large amounts of meat – finding the place to store it.

DO NOT BUY ON CREDIT. Purchasing a large freezer on credit negates the savings of purchasing a whole cow. If you can’t pay cash, you cannot afford it. DO NOT BUY ON CREDIT.


How to afford purchasing a whole cow/pig:

1. Do extra side jobs or sell items you don’t use until you can come up with the amount of cash you need. This might take a couple months, or it might be something that happens rather quickly – especially if you have a lot of things hanging around that you never use. A dusty drum set? Cash in the bank. A repurposed treadmill ( a.k.a. “clothes drying rack”)? Moola. Trade in your moola for mooooooooooooooooo!

2. Save a little each month. This is my favorite way to pay for large items. When I know there is something we need to purchase, I tend to get a little stingy. I will make sure that for a few months the things that I am buying are REALLY necessities. If we can do without them, I won’t buy them. Doing without for a little while, so that I can purchase something we do need, is totally worth the temporary sacrifice. Whatever money I have left from our monthly budget is set to the side and I compile that until we have enough money to purchase our item with cash.

3. Go in half with a friend. A purchase of $500+ at once can be a bit of sticker shock for many of you. But, if you have a friend who might enjoy getting a cow with you, you could split the cost and the meat. $250 is a little easier to swallow.

4. Consider only purchasing a ½ or ¼ of a cow. You’re still going to save money this way. As you’re eating up your ¼ cow/pig, you continue your savings strategy so that when your meat is gone, you already have the cash to purchase the next amount – and maybe this time you’ll have saved enough to get more meat.

5. Consider the Barter System. Yes, I realize that for most people this type of thing has gone the way of the dinosaur. But really, if you have a special skill or business, you might be able to get a discount on your meat. If you run a successful side printing business, maybe you can trade advertising for a discount on your beef. Do you cut hair? Ask the farmer if you can cut his family’s hair for free for a while to get a discount. Don’t be afraid to ask. Sure, they might say ‘no’. But, they might say ‘YES’.

So, those are my tips for buying a whole cow. Do you have any to share?


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