If you are tired of relying on others in all aspects of your life and you are striving to become more self-sufficient; the first thing to remember is that you are not alone. Numerous adults in today’s society find themselves drowning under the pressures of generations past or more specifically, the need to have a home, good job, spouse and children by a certain age.
These rules don’t really apply anymore because everyone has a different timeline for when they want these things to happen, if they want certain aspects of them at all! But if you find yourself doubting your abilities to make it in the world alone, then today we are going to discuss just what it means to be self-sufficient and how with a few changes; you can be on your way to becoming a completely self-sufficient adult.
What Does It Mean to Be Self Sufficient?
Some people make the mistake of thinking that self-sufficient describes only how you feed yourself or clothe yourself or how you live your life but to be completely self-sufficient, you need to apply this way of thinking to your entire life.
The exact definition of self-sufficient is having the ability to maintain yourself without outside influences or aid of any kind: the capability of providing for one’s own needs.
This doesn’t specify what needs they are, just that a self-sufficient person will be capable of providing for all their needs and wants on a day to day basis.
Self Sufficiency and Food
The first thing that comes to mind when someone hears of another person being self-sufficient is in terms of food and food security. While this is one aspect of total self-sufficiency; it isn’t the only one. Saying that, we are going to touch on how to be self-sufficient when it comes to daily food intake and how you can provide for yourself without running to the nearest grocery store or reaching for your handful of delivery menus for every meal!
Buying in Bulk
If you are unable to grow your own vegetables or sustain a lifestyle that doesn’t involve trips to the grocery store for fresh items; then reduce costs by pending money upfront. While this sounds like an oxymoron and doesn’t really make sense – in the long run it does.
To buy spices, condiments and non-perishable items; it can cost a small fortune if you run to the supermarket each time something is needed. The markup on these items is insane and can reduce your budget and savings in minutes.
Visit your local bulk warehouse (think Costco) and instead spend the money needed to stock your pantry with the basics:
- Spices – salt, pepper, garlic powder, etc.
- Condiments – ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard, etc.
- Non-perishables – beans, rice, pasta, etc.
- Snacks – nuts, dried fruit, etc.
Growing Your Own Food
Growing your own food and being able to provide particular items on your dinner table without reaching for your wallet will certainly make you self-sufficient but it is important to remember that isn’t an option for all people.
To grow enough food to comfortably live on a daily basis, you need land, a healthy water supply, a storage area to prevent spoilage and most importantly, time to work in your garden.
If you have the means, then there is nothing stopping you from growing your own vegetables and herbs. Provided that you have the land, you can also raise chickens to decrease the amount of money spent on eggs (always check with your municipality to find out the laws for owning farm animals).
Think of how much you eat in on a daily basis, in a week and even a month to plant your crops accordingly and prevent waste. Plant crops that will actually be used and can last through multiple seasons when stored properly:
One of the highest costs people cite when completing surveys is the cost of food, especially fresh produce. Always shop local and shop seasonal produce, which can reduce the amount of money and the amount of waste you accumulate.
If you don’t have the room to plant and maintain a full garden (perhaps you live in a small apartment complex or share a townhouse), then look into window boxes and grow lights. You can easily grow a minor crop of herbs and tomatoes, peppers, etc. using just these to reduce the amount of money you are spending on a daily or weekly basis in your groceries.
Self Sufficiency and Your Carbon Footprint
Your carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gases you are producing on a daily basis through direct or indirect actions. This could cover the type of vehicle you drive, the amount of water and resources you use on a daily basis, or even the house you live in and the way you live your lifestyle.
Reducing your carbon footprint is an important step to becoming self-sufficient and living a sustainable lifestyle. This doesn’t mean you have to give up every pleasure in life and live like a monk, but it does mean you downsize and spend only where necessary, increasing savings and decreasing debt.
Consider Your Vehicle
Yes, it gets you from point A to point B but at what cost? Are your payments more than you are comfortable with and the gas mileage atrocious? Is the model of vehicle you are driving one of the biggest on the block and to be honest, you barely use all the room?
Then you need to look at how you can save money, reduce your carbon footprint by perusing a vehicle that is right for your lifestyle.
Consider Your Usage
Are you constantly running water through the taps and forgetting to watch how much you are using? Are you buying more items than you need and instead focusing on trends? Do you leave the room and forget to turn off the lights? These are all signs of irresponsibility and they are stopping you from achieving your goals of self-sufficiency.
Consider the cost that it would take to install solar panels in and around your home to harvest the power and energy of the sun. The sole purpose of these panels is to reduce the amount of energy you are using on a daily basis while reducing your drain on non-renewable resources. These panels are becoming more and more common when it comes to heating and light necessities because of the low cost per month. The higher emphasis on global warming and climate change also plays a part when it is in the news every single day how the planet is failing.
Another nifty bonus to solar panels? Some insurance companies even offer homeowners a discount when they use sustainable energy sources.
Consider Your Home
Are you able to walk around your home and realize that there are times you don’t even visit certain rooms? Are you living in a three-bedroom home when it just you? Then it is important to make your house work for you and live a simpler lifestyle.
Downsizing your home and instead living in a residence that is sufficient for your means allows you to control your expenses better, utilize space better and enjoy life overall more than you previously did. Another bonus? You will be able to use the money made from the sale of your current residence towards a new home and if there is some left over, you will be able to make a dent in your debt while increasing your savings.
Self Sufficiency Financially
One of the key steps to becoming a self-sufficient adult is being able to provide for one’s basic needs through financial means. You don’t want to find yourself during your midlife years, owing a high chunk of money to credit companies but instead you want to find yourself actively preparing for retirement with savings in the bank and money in places that can be accessed easily once a certain age is reached (pension, RRSPs, etc.).
Think of what you spend on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis. How much money is actually going towards necessities and things you need to survive? Then look at the amount you are spending on trends, gadgets, and unnecessary expenses. Consider what is truly important to you and will increase your value of living and what expenses are instead draining your savings.
Here are some examples of expenses that could be eliminated or changed:
|Expense||Change to Make|
|Cell Phone Plan||Talk to your provider about a plan that is better suited to your needs – cut services that you are paying for but not using|
|Landline Telephone||Unless it is truly necessary, a cell phone with good service coverage is sufficient|
|Clothing, Toiletries, Hair||
|Satellite and Internet||
Contact your bank to discuss your current credit and financial standing to discover different products and services that could increase your net worth. Think credit cards with lower limits, combination plans for both automotive and home mortgages and services that will provide you with benefits and rewards instead of leaving you sad when you check your account.
Becoming self-sufficient in terms of your personal finances does not mean you live a lifestyle that leaves you sitting home alone on the weekend but instead spending your money wisely while investing in your future.
Self Sufficiency Socially
Socially, your self- sufficiency level depends on the level of confidence you have in yourself and your abilities. This could mean how you handle yourself in new situations at your workplace or while out with friends. This could also mean how the different plans you have in place should a particular situation arise to prevent panic and confusion.
Mental Health Impact
If you are one of the thousands of people in the world that suffer from some form of mental illnesses or disorders; becoming self-sufficient can help with that. Seeing results because you put your mind to something is extremely rewarding and will build your confidence.
Those who live with anxiety might find that gardening or other activities that increase their self-sufficiency relaxes the mind and allows them to concentrate on one task instead of 10 at a time. When you’re whole, in body, mind and soul as a person; you are becoming self-sufficient. If you can manage your daily life in between visits for mental health treatment, then you are becoming self-sufficient in your own skills and worth as a person.
To sum up this entire post, the definition self-sufficient means to one person may mean something entirely different to you. This is absolutely ok and you can set the pace of which you achieve self-sufficiency for yourself. There is no timeline but instead changes to your current lifestyle that increases your self-worth and allows you to become truly self-sufficient – for you.
If you enjoyed this article and felt that you have gained some valuable insights as to what self-sufficient truly means; then please feel free to share this with peers and family members. Have you achieved your own personal level of being self-sufficient? Then comment below and let other readers know what steps it took you to get there!