Being self-sufficient has been a tradition throughout history, as families were tight-knit social circles that relied on each other for farming, protection, and interaction. In our global trade world, the products you consume could be from anywhere in the world, and we rely on many other people and factors for the goods we use every day.
This is a huge blessing, but also a point of concern when one blocked trade boat can halt global trade for weeks (remember the Suez Canal?). Being able to support yourself when your regular resources dry up is an important part of life. Here are a few ways to become more self-sufficient.
Self-Sufficiency in Food
Food is our most basic need, so it’s a logical starting point on the road to being self-sufficient. It’s really hard to get 100% of your food from your own land or garden, so if you are just starting, don’t stress about needing to run to the grocery store because a cow is outside your rental agreement.
Even if you are living in an apartment, a garden is an awesome first step toward self-sufficiency. Having a window or balcony planter full of a few of your favorite veggie plants can supplement your grocery bill … and is just fun to have! Start with what you already like to eat. Leafy greens, tomatoes, and bell peppers all are beginner-friendly and make for a delicious plant-to-plate salad with dinner. You can even compost your table scraps to help them have rich and healthy soil, which reduces waste, too! It’s a win-win!
If you have access to a lot of freezer space, you can buy meat in bulk from local cattle ranchers and butchers, which will increase your ability to be self-sufficient. Often a group will split the cost of beef or pork, and then share the meat equally. This means you will have A LOT of meat at your disposal … and it’s usually tastier, too!
Food storage can be a lifesaver when it comes to being autonomous. The best part? You can build it up over time and don’t need to plant anything! Here’s a suggestion. Next time you are at the grocery store and have a little extra cash, buy a few extra shelf-stable items that you can store for a rainy day. Try to get things you will eat. If Vienna sausages aren’t your thing now, you probably won’t change your mind later.
Here are some foods that do great in storage:
- Peanut butter
- Dried or canned beans
- Canned chili
- Tuna fish
- Oatmeal packets
Make sure you rotate your storage, so food doesn’t expire! You can work these into your weekly meal plan once you’ve built a solid stash and replace as needed.
Show Me the Money
Being financially stable is always a good idea. It might not feel like self-sufficiency when you rely on someone else for a paycheck, but it’s just as important as having a garden.
Get Out of Debt
The first step is eliminating debt and not accruing more (put down the credit card application and back away slowly). Your debts are tying you to whoever you owe money to, so cutting those ties by paying it back will ensure you are not going to have someone knocking on your door if you were to lose your job. Dave Ramsey, financial guru and author of Total Money Makeover, suggests the debt snowball to tackle your collection notices head on. Read more about it here.
Become Self-Efficient by Saving
Once you’re out of debt, and even before this, bulking up your savings is the next step. We hope you never lose your main source of income, but if you do, we want you to be prepared. A savings account with a healthy interest rate is a great way to do this. Once you’ve paid off your debts, consider taking that money you WERE throwing at your bills every month and depositing it into your savings account. A good rule of thumb is to save enough for 3-6 months of expenses.
To really take your financial autonomy to the next level, work toward having a passive income stream. This is a big step, so take the time you need to choose the right option for you and your family. Passive income doesn’t mean no work, either. It’s more that the heavy lifting is done up front and the payout is strung out over many years with a little upkeep.
Passive income can look like a lot of things. Rentals and real estate are a classic example of passive income. And with the accessibility of Airbnb™ and VRBO™, it’s easier than ever to rent out a room in your home, your lake cabin, or any other vacant space you own. It only takes a few booked nights to start adding up quick, especially if you live in a desirable town.
Other examples of passive income could be:
- Blogging (learn how to turn a profit here)
- Affiliate marketing (Amazon has a great program for this; view more here)
- Investing in stocks (take great care with this and maybe leave it to the pros)
- Start a weekend side hustle
- Write an online course in your field for Udemy™, Pluralsight™, or LinkedIn Learning™
Whatever you choose, make sure it’s something you’re excited about doing and can provide you the passive income you are looking for.
The world doesn’t need to be ending for you to be more self-sufficient. It has benefits that will set you up for a more successful life. These are just a few principles that can help you be more prepared for whatever life throws at you.
Learn more about how gardening can improve your family unity at our blog here!