We all hear the term thrown around, but what does it really mean? Is there one definition that fits everyone?
Well, if you ask me, no. There is not just one definition of self-sufficiency that fits right across the board.
But what could self-sufficiency mean for you…right where you are? It could mean a lot of different things. Which is what I’m wanting to explore and explain to you through this post.
So let’s walk through what self-sufficiency is and what it could mean for you.
What is Self-Sufficiency?
According to dictionary.com, self-sufficiency can be described two ways. First, self-sufficiency is being able to supply one’s own needs without external assistance. Or, it could also mean, having extreme confidence in one’s own resources.
So as you can tell, this could look differently for everyone. It could be someone who lives on a large homestead and grows all of their own food.
But it could also be someone who lives in the suburbs and does their best to prep for worst case scenarios which leave them feeling confident that they’ve done all that they can to survive whatever comes their way, right where they are.
As you can tell, self-sufficiency is a broad lifestyle that can look very different and be common ground for a wide variety of people.
Tips for Being Self-Sufficient
You might be thinking that being self-sufficient might be of interest to you. However, maybe you aren’t really sure where to start.
Well, start with these basic tips. See if you can fulfill these needs right where you are and if so, then begin brainstorming on how to do it.
Here are the items you might want to consider when becoming self-sufficient:
1. Embrace Frugality
Being self-sufficient goes hand in hand with being frugal. You can’t hope for self-sufficiency while still owing everyone and their brother money.
So if you want to be self-sufficient start by living within your means. Look for every way possible to save money. Here is one of our articles that will help you to embrace a frugal lifestyle. You’ll be glad you did. I know I am!
2. Make Your House Work for You
When you decide to embrace a self-sufficient lifestyle, you have to let go of a lot of modern thinking. One of the modern ways of thinking is housing. You live in one house for a while, then you sell it for a bigger house. Most people do this quite a few times over their life.
Well, it’s time to break that thinking pattern. You’ll need to look at where you are at and decide if this will work for you long-term. If not, then you need to start working towards your long-term home.
If so, then you need to start investing right where you are at.
Now, I realize my advice may sound different from some. A lot of people will basically say, “Suck it up, sister/brother! Make where you are at work for you!” In some cases, they are totally right.
However, I shared a while ago that we are actually selling our small homestead to make the move to a bigger homestead. We realized that our definition of self-sufficiency meant that we wanted to be able to grow all of our food and our animal’s food too.
Plus, we want to build a full-blown business out of our farm, not just something that makes us a little extra money on the side.
So we decided it was time to upsize, but we did it smart. We bought a farm at auction, bought more land and less house, and have a plan to pay off any debt quickly. Which would be my advice to you if you decide that you need some more land to do what you feel like is your self-sufficient goal. Be smart and avoid debt where possible.
3. Eat According to the Season
Self-sufficiency also could mean that you get away from the grocery store as much as possible. This means that you grow food as much as you can throughout the year, or at least eat in season so you can buy locally from those that can grow year round.
Also, if you are looking for tips to avoid the grocery store, check out another one of our resources. These tips could point you in the right direction when breaking the chains with your local grocery store.
4. Create a Homestead Right Where You Are
It is possible to create some type of homestead right where you are. If you are in an apartment and have a balcony, you can grow something. If you live in the suburbs, there are ways to grow some of your own food.
Also, if you live on a few acres (like I do now), you can grow enough food to feed your family. We live on 2 acres and have an orchard, large garden, berry patches, grape vines, a herb garden, and livestock. We haven’t even come close to utilizing all of our land yet.
Plus, if you live on a larger amount of acreage, you could grow everything and raise larger livestock as well. So no matter where you are at, you can always take strides to start your own version of a homestead.
5. Live Simply
Living simply is probably one of the most important keys to becoming self-sufficient. The reason is because if you are living simply, then you aren’t going to waste your money on buying all of the latest gadgets. You won’t be eating out all of the time, nor will you be spending big bucks on tons of clothing.
Simplicity will save you a lot of money in the long run. So embrace a simple lifestyle. The less you need, the less you spend.
6. Ask Your Family to Climb Aboard
If you aren’t a single person, it is important to try to get your family to embrace a self-sufficient lifestyle. The reason is that if you are embracing simplicity and frugal living, but your spouse or kids aren’t, you could be fighting a losing battle.
So just try to reach some sort of agreement as to what you all believe (as a family) a self-sufficient lifestyle should or could look like for your family. It may take compromise, but you’ll be surprised how much you all can accomplish together.
7. Become an Entrepreneur
Finances are obviously a huge part of self-sufficient living. The reason is because debt is such a huge part of most cultures these days.
If you can begin to save money and live simply, then you can beat that mindset. But what happens if your source of income is suddenly yanked away from you?
Well, that is another area of self-sufficiency that you should consider. Think of ways you can begin to form your own businesses. It could be selling eggs, selling livestock, becoming a consultant, being a freelance writer. The ideas are pretty well limitless. Here are some tips we offered up on how to make it as a modern homesteader.
8. Ditch Your Debt
The last tip I have for becoming more self-sufficient is to ditch your debt. You need to work really hard to get out of debt as fast as you can. Debt drags people down, and as long as you owe others money, you’ll never embrace true freedom.
So I know it is not an overnight thing to get out of debt, but it should always be something that you try to avoid. And if you have to go into debt, you should always think of ways to pay that debt off faster than agreed upon just to relieve yourself of that struggle.
How to Cover Your Basic Needs
There are basic needs that have to or should be covered in order to be self-sufficient. Here are the items and ways for you to accomplish those on your own in order to embrace a self-sufficient lifestyle:
Food is probably one of the easiest needs to meet in a self-sufficient lifestyle. The reason is because food can be grown in the ground or in containers.
You will need to secure some type of long-term residence. In my own experience, I’ve found it best to buy cheap and fix up as you go. We did that with our current residence, and are carrying that same strategy over to our new larger homestead.
Let me share with you why I think this works. First, it is easier to buy something that is less expensive because obviously, it requires less money. It also gives you more of an opportunity to avoid debt, or to pay it off faster because the debt is much smaller.
Second, let’s say the bottom falls out, and you have to sell your land. Well, if you owe very little on your land and have fixed it up, then you’ll be able to have wiggle room on pricing for a faster sale and may actually make a profit off of your land because you bought cheap and fixed up.
Whereas in comparison, if you buy land for $500,000 and need to sell quickly, you probably aren’t going to have the luxury of equity in your property. You’re just going to be looking to rid yourself of a large debt.
So when purchasing a property, think long-term usage and also about making a smart investment as well.
I’m not a prepper, at least not what I would consider a prepper. But I do know that things can happen quickly in this world.
For instance, a large tree fell on our road in a storm a couple of years ago. We were without power for days. This means no electricity or water because we use a well. This made me think because had I not been storing water, we would’ve been up a creek.
So think about your water source. Do you have water stored in case of an emergency? Do you have a water source on your property? If not, then start thinking of ways to meet this need with or without modern technology.
We are planning on investing in solar panels on our new property. I’m all about living frugally so the idea that I can produce my own electricity and pay less per month than what I do to the power company make me happy.
But I also love the fact, that once my solar panels are paid for, I get free energy. This is exciting to me because regardless of what is going on in the world, I’ve still got electricity.
You need to think of ways to secure your finances. I don’t just mean getting out of debt and living within your means. I mean you should also find ways to create income on your own so even if you lose your job next week, you aren’t left without any income flowing in.
Honestly, my husband has a town job meaning he goes to work every day like most other people. I work from home writing and homeschool our children.
However, since he is obviously the main income of our home, when we take on any kind of debt we make sure if something were to happen to his job that it is still something I could cover between writing gigs or content mills if needed, and he could take over schooling the kids.
We all need relationships in life. You can’t do anything alone. Granted, some of us are more ‘people oriented’ than others.
But still, everyone needs someone to talk to and depend upon. That is a requirement that you still need to find ways to meet even when living a self-sustained lifestyle.
Thankfully, the self-sustained community is broad and very friendly. So go to your local farmer’s market and strike up a conversation with the local egg lady. She’ll be happy to talk to you about her chickens and ducks, and you’ll be meeting your need for relationships and meaningful conversations.
What Self-Sufficiency Could Look Like for You
As mentioned before, self-sufficiency could look very different for each person. If you live in the city, you could grow a small container garden, live frugally, can your own food, ditch your debt, and find ways to start seeds in your apartment.
If you live in the suburbs, you could do all of these things while raising a few hens in your backyard, and stockpiling the foods you can’t grow when on sale.
Finally, if you live on a few acres or a larger homestead, you could raise all of your own food from A to Z and live strictly off of your land. You could have a secure water source on your property and make a living from your homestead.
So it all depends on where you live and how self-sufficient you desire to be. We all have different goals and find ways to achieve those goals differently as well.
But I’d love to hear your thoughts on self-sufficiency. How does your self-sustained lifestyle look? What are your goals for self-sufficiency? And please feel free to toss ideas around on how to reach a more self-sustained lifestyle.
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