Are you looking to live on less, grow your own food, conserve energy and be more self-sufficient? Maybe you are just looking for ways to simplify your life. Where ever you find yourself, there are ways you can start today.
Making the transition from a consumer driven life to a simple way of life can often be a challenge. But, if you set your mind to approaching it one-step-at-a-time you will soon be on the road to a self-sufficient lifestyle.
Many think living a self-sufficient lifestyle means moving to the country to raise animals and tend a large garden. It can mean that for some, but for most it means learning how to take care of yourself.
With the economy becoming more difficult and the cost of living skyrocketing, families are feeling the strain. Most are finding themselves working 60 hours a week to keep up with the lifestyle they are accustomed.
Not so long ago we found ourselves falling into that same trap.
We were overwhelmed by consumerism and drowning in debt, doomed to a live a life of unsatisfying purchases and surrounded by like-minded people. As Americans, we gladly followed the crowd to fit in, but behind closed doors we dreamed of a life where how much we made and what brand of clothes we wore didn’t matter.
With one swoop of a for-sale sign, we traded in a life of possession obsession for a life of personal fulfillment.
It wasn’t an easy path, but looking back it saved our lives and taught us that we could be more self-sufficient by just changing the way we lived.
So how did we do it?
We tackled one area of our life at a time, doing what we could with what we had. We changed our mindset and were determined to simplify our life by cutting back and learning that less is really more!
Here are the six areas we concentrated on:
1 – HOUSING
- Downsize – We took a good look at our house…we had more of a house than we needed or could afford? Our house in town was 2500 sq. ft. and cost a small fortune to heat and cool let alone the taxes we paid each year.. We have downsized to a 1400 sq. ft. house and saved over $800 a month just in taxes, insurance and mortgage payments.
- Less is more – There is something about purging all the stuff you collect over the years. When we downsized, we felt a real sense of freedom from owning less and ridding ourselves of all that useless clutter.
2 – FINANCES
- Debt reduction – This was top on our list. Like every other family in America, we were caught in the vicious circle of debt. When we made the choice to live a more simplistic life, we knew that our first plan of attack was to deal with our outstanding debt.
- We created a 5-year plan and wrote it down. Our goal was to work less and live more! In order for us to work less we needed to be debt free. Being debt free allowed us to build our homestead and become more self-sufficient.
- Created a budget – We had to know where every penny was going and what was being wasted. Once we reviewed our budget we clearly were able to make adjustments to our income and expenses.
- Started a payoff plan – We took the smallest of our debt and added anything extra to it every month, in no time we had it paid off.
- Stopped using credit – We knew we would never get anywhere if were still charging. We cut up all of our cards except one we kept for emergencies.
- This did not happen overnight and it took us five years to have all our debt, except our mortgage, paid off.
- Understand the difference between needs and wants – This was hard for me to come to terms with. I now put myself through a list of questions before I make any new purchases.
- Have I researched this product and found the best price?
- Can I fix, repair or re-use the product I am replacing?
- Have I waited a few days to see if the need outweighs the want?
3 – EXPENSES
- Use only one phone service…choose land line or cell phone we didn’t need both.
- Cut out our cable completely.
- We rent movies instead of going to the theater.
- Shop at second-hand stores.
- Limited eating out to special occasions, if at all.
- Use up leftovers.
- Stay out of the stores.
- Replaced paper towels with old cut up towels.
- Replaced paper napkins with cloth napkins.
- Replaced Kleenex with old fashion hankies.
- We make our own laundry detergent.
- Replaced fabric softener with white vinegar.
- A monthly box of baking soda, Borax and white vinegar go a long way. The vinegar diluted with water cleans all mirrors, windows and floors. The baking soda and Borax cleans all sinks, toilets and tubs.
- Recycle, Reuse, Reduce
- In our home anything that can be re-used and re-invented is done so.
- Any kitchen scraps, chicken and rabbit manure, are turned into rich compost that fertilizes our garden and refills the raised beds every year.
- Rain water is gathered to water plants around the yard and garden.
- We give everything a second look before it heads to the trash. Our recycle bins leave an unsightly pile beside the barn, but if something needs repairing the fix is waiting in our re-use pile.
4 – FOOD
- Buying out of season fruits and vegetables is very costly. We plan our menus around what is fresh and in-season.
- We watch the sales and only buy items when they go on sale.
- We shop at stores that offer volume discounts and those that are typically cheaper. The Dollar Store and Aldi’s are two of my favorites.
- We grow our own vegetables.
- We raise your own meat.
5 – ENERGY
- Replace light bulbs with energy-saving ones.
- Unplug anything that is not currently in use.
- Stop using your dishwasher.
- Use the sun as your clothes dryer.
- Plan your meals ahead and don’t rely on your microwave.
- Naturally dry your hair.
- Save all errands for one day.
- Have no TV days.
- Close doors to rooms, not in use to conserve energy.
- Have no light days…enjoy the flicker of an oil lamp.
- Replace electric clocks with wind up ones.
- Go to bed when the sun goes down…this is my favorite since I love going to bed early!
- Find an alternative heat source. Wood, solar or wind power.
6 – PREPAREDNESS
As we strive to become more self-sufficient, we are also planning for the un-expected.
- We have 3 – 10 gallon filled water jugs stored in case the electric goes out and we do not have access to the well.
- Bottled water for drinking is always in the pantry set-back for emergencies.
- Our generator is in working order and always ready to put into service to keep the freezer and refrigerator working.
- Our pantry is stocked with staples and home canned goods that could feed us for weeks.
- The grills propane bottle is always filled and an extra is always stored away.
- Candles and oil lamps are a staple in our house.
- Our first-aid kit is readily available.
Living a simpler self-sufficient life is quite different than what I imagined. Changing from a typical American family who consumed too much energy, had terrible spending habits and thought enjoyment came from what we could purchase next …we have truly been reborn!
The more things we do for ourselves and the more time we focus on providing our own means of survival, the happier and more content we are.
P.S. Do you like what you are reading? Join the homestead and homemaking movement and get some Our Simple Homestead inspiration delivered straight to your inbox! Sign up Now!
DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation from affiliate and sponsored posts on this blog.