The 10 Pillars of Self-Sufficiency
Do you identify as a prepper or homesteader? Or dream of living an off-the grid life that centers around freedom from the “system”, a holistic lifestyle or preparedness for what may come. While subtle differences exist between these lifestyles, they all have one important principle in common: self-sufficiency. In reality, we all strive to be self-sufficient. In many ways, it goes hand-in-hand with independence and freedom. Teenagers want independence from their parents, employees want freedom from a nine-to-five and many people want autonomy from high income tax rates. These prevailing thoughts that society propagates all converge on a deep-seeded desire for self-sufficiency. We are egotistical beings, so we don’t want anyone to be able to diminish who we are, or have dominion over our ability to survive in this world. Becoming more reliant on yourself and less on society instills a degree of independence that facilitates personal stability.
‘Self-sufficiency’ is the quality of feeling secure and content with oneself, a deep-rooted sense of inner completeness and stability. –Psychology Today
However, we can’t all abandon our jobs and places in the urban jungle to start a homestead pursuant of inner peace. Self-sufficiency though, or at least some measure of it, is still within your grasp! We’ve come up with what we think are 10 pillars of self-sufficiency. Attempting to align your life with these pillars is a great way to begin your journey to self-reliance.
1. Achieve Financial Self-Sufficiency
Everyone needs money. However, the amount of income that you need decreases proportionally to your costs. Lowering your monthly costs will lower the minimum amount that you need to earn in order to survive. Learning a trade, starting a side business or writing a blog are great ways to become more self-sufficient. There are many businesses with low startup costs that you could consider. These include: selling goods that you produce (food, furniture, honey), providing a service (landscaping, gardening or dog walking), or consulting. Start slow, keep your old job and run your business on the side. When it gets to the point that it can support you, quit your day job and enjoy financial independence! Whatever you decide to do, make sure you save a little bit each month as a reserve. You never know when you might need it.
2. Participate in a Community of Like-Minded People
Tempering your dependence on society and its institutions is not easy. It’s kind of like quitting smoking, you know that being so dependent is harmful but you do it anyways. We’ve become addicted to the easy life, but the rewards of “quitting” far outweigh the difficulty. Like any addiction, the best way to stay the course is through a community. Joining a group of people who also value self-sufficiency will provide with you the support that you need to thrive! There are many online and offline communities focused on prepping, homesteading and self-reliance.
3. Keep a Supply of Clean Water
Having a personal and renewable source of clean drinking water is even more important than having a stockpile of food. Humans can live for 30 days without food, but will rarely live past four without water. There are a few ways to obtain your own source of water, but the easiest and most practical is to harvest rainwater. By collecting rainwater and channeling it to a barrel or tank, you are taking advantage of a natural process. Use this water for your plants, purify it to use as drinking water, or just stockpile it for later.
4. Produce your own Food
This is a big one for you if you run a homestead. You can raise crops, chickens, dairy cows and livestock to produce a variety of whole foods for you and your family. However, if you are just transitioning into self-reliance, your options are a little more restricted. One way to start producing is by planting a vegetable garden. Even apartment dwellers can have small vegetable gardens by growing them in pots on the balcony or using custom planters.
5. Hunt, Fish or Forage for Food
Another way that space-restricted individuals (and everyone else) can generate food is through hunting, fishing and foraging. Hunting and fishing are not only a source of natural and hormone/antibiotic-free meat, but they’re also ethical and cheap. A hunted animal lives a free and wild life, just as nature intended. Further, foraging for mushrooms, herbs and berries in your neighborhood and local forests is also a great way to stockpile food. Even foraging at your local farmer’s market may yield some interesting results!
6. Preserve your Food
You can stockpile food until your heart’s content, but if you don’t preserve it properly it will rapidly decay. Preserving food (self-produced and purchased) is an important part of becoming self-reliant. It will ensure that you and your family are well fed with healthy natural food, no matter what. It also serves as a cheap source of “groceries” when you are going through a personal financial crisis. Common food-preservation techniques include: canning, vacuum sealing, freeze-drying and pickling. Check out these 12 home food preservation methods for inspiration.
7. Equip Yourself with the Right Tools
Living a self-sufficient life requires work, and that’s great! Instead of working as an employee of some company, you will be working for yourself. There are few feelings in the world that are better than that. However, often times you will need specialized tools or machines in order to maximize your output and results. For example, to preserve the food that you collect, having a reliable can sealer, vacuum sealer or pressure canner is important. To produce honey at home, you will need to build your own hive and acquire an arsenal of beekeeping supplies. Having the right tools makes becoming self-sufficient a joyful and stimulating experience.
8. Gain New Skills
You can’t truly be self-sufficient without being able to build, maintain and repair things yourself. Knowing how to construct a shelter, maintain your home and repair damage to equipment means you will no longer have to hire other people to perform those tasks. Achieving an overall higher level of handiness allows you to fix just about anything, saving you bundles of money. Learning new skills will also open up the income opportunities that you have. For example, becoming proficient in a CMS like WordPress will allow you to develop, maintain and monetize a blog or business website.
9. Have an Alternative Energy Source
We’ve all been victimized by power outages and the tyranny of the power company’s electricity bill. The grid is notoriously unreliable. Recently, hackers linked to Russia hacked and took down Ukraine’s power grid. While we’re not into fear-mongering at Wells, it’s entirely within the realm of possibility that your power grid could go down unexpectedly. Unless you’re a vampire, this isn’t an ideal scenario. Having a back-up generator will allow you to power your home as long as you have fuel. However, going a step further and installing an alternative energy source like solar will greatly impact your level of self-sufficiency. Solar power is a low-maintenance, renewable and green way to constantly be generating your own power.
10. Learn how to Protect Yourself
This is an important and broad pillar. Learning how to protect yourself doesn’t only refer to defending yourself from physical violence (which is also a valuable skill to learn). To be truly self-sufficient, you must be able to survive and thrive even in the absence of societal institutions put in place to protect you. You must be able to prevent or withstand crime, fires, emergency medical scenarios and more. Create action plans that dictate how you and your family will respond to all conceivable emergency scenarios and take precautions to protect your belongings.
Agree? Disagree? Have something to add to our list? Please leave us a comment and let us know!