As a prepper, your main goal should be to become self-sufficient, this way you know that you can rely on your own supplies and resources in an emergency situation. Being completely self-sufficient is fairly difficult, we are all social creatures and we need the help of other people to survive and to thrive. Self-sufficient living has started to become increasingly popular over the past couple of decades and one of the best examples of self-sufficient living is people who are living off the grid.
You can be self-sufficient by growing your own food, raising livestock, saving seeds, selling at the farmer’s market, collecting your own water, generating your own power, owning your home, living in a homestead, living frugally, getting out of debt, learning to cook from scratch, learning how to fish and hunt and even by joining an off-grid community.
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Being self-sufficient doesn’t mean that you only rely on yourself for absolutely everything, some things you will never be able to do by yourself, instead, you should focus on becoming self-sufficient when it comes to water, food, and shelter. Once you are self-sufficient with your basics then you could expand your self-reliance on other areas like financial freedom and so on. Most preppers and survivalists try to be as self-sufficient as possible although not all of them will be able to be self-sufficient.
The problem with being self-sufficient is that it takes a fairly long time, and in some cases, it also takes a big financial investment. The good news is that once you can rely on your own food, water, and shelter for the long term then your monthly expenses will be extremely low. The geographical location where you are living will also determine how self-sufficient you can actually be, usually in rural areas it is a lot easier than in the middle of a city.
There are some people who manage to be self-sufficient for the most part in a city, although everything you need to do in order to become self-sufficient will cost you a lot more money in an urban setting. People who tend to live off the grid are self-sufficient, so you can learn a lot about self-sufficient living from off-grid communities, if you want to know what states are good for off-grid living then check out my recent article Off grid living legal states ( Top 13 ).
1. Grow your own food
The first step in being self-sufficient is to grow your own food, although this is easier said than done. Most people who live off the grid will have a small garden, yet not all of them will be able to grow enough food to last them for an entire year. On the other hand, you could also grow different types of crops, this way you will be able to sell your excess crops at the farmers market. First, you should find out what kind of crops grow well in your local area.
The size of your land will also determine how much you can actually grow, if you have a small garden then stick with crops that grow vertically, this way you will grow a lot more crops even in a small plot of land. If you have a fairly large size of land then you should grow several types of crops, keep a portion for yourself, and a portion you can sell. If you want to know what are the easiest crops to grow then check out my recent article Easiest crops to grow ( Top 20 ).
2. Raise livestock
If you live in a house and you have a garden then you should consider raising some livestock. Start with chickens or ducks as these tend to need less maintenance and they are beginner-friendly. You can raise them for their eggs, meat, and even for their feathers. In addition to this, you can sell them at the local farmer’s market, making you a nice amount of profit. Just keep in mind that different livestock have different needs and you should focus on one livestock at the beginning.
3. Save your seeds
If you are growing your own crops then you should save a couple of seeds which you will use the next year. Although seeds are generally speaking fairly cheap but you will be better off by saving a couple of seeds from your current crops. In addition to this if you have some delicious crops then you would want to replicate them the next way. Just take the seeds from the best-tasting vegetables, fruits, and so on, and use them next year.
4. Sell at the farmers market
A lot of homesteaders who grow extra crops will sell them at the local farmers market. This way you get rid of your excess crops and you will also make a nice profit. You can sell a lot of homemade stuff at the farmers market, from bread, soaps, cookies, and so on, so you do not need to have excess crops to make a profit. A booth at the local farmers market will cost you some money, and depending on the area this can be fairly expensive.
5. Collect your own water
Your second basic need is to have a source of fresh water, and depending on your location this might be a massive obstacle when it comes to being self-sufficient. By far one of the easiest ways to have a constant source of freshwater is to harvest rainwater and store them in water storage tanks. On how much water you can actually harvest will depend on the amount of rainfall in your area, and the local laws.
In states where the climate is fairly arid, you will find that harvesting rainwater is actually illegal or heavily regulated. So before you set up a rainwater harvesting system make sure to check the local laws, as even if you can legally harvest rainwater you might still need a permit for it. One major headache will be how to keep the water storage tank clean, for more information check out my recent article How to keep water fresh in a storage tank? ( Top 10 Ways ).
6. Generate your own power
People who are self-sufficient tend to grow their own crops, harvest rainwater, and they also tend to generate their own power. By far your best options for generating power will be with solar panels, as these will work during summer and during the winter as well. Some areas get more daily sunshine than others so the solar panels will also generate more power. Although solar panels do work even during the wintertime they will generate a lot less power.
Generally speaking the further up north you are the less power the solar panels will be able to generate during the wintertime. Most states do have solar incentive programs and even some rebates, so you should know what are your options when it comes to financing.
7. Start homeschooling
A couple of decades ago only people who were living in remote areas would homeschool their children. Today however more and more people are homeschooling, mostly because of the current state of the educational system. Today homeschooling is easier than ever, with the help of the internet you have access to vast amounts of information. You can legally homeschool your children in all states, although the requirements to be able to homeschool are different in some states.
For the most part, you will have to notify the local authorities that you want to homeschool your children and they will let you know the exact steps which you have to take.
8. Own your home
The third basic need of people is shelter, most people either rent or buy a property with the bank’s money. The problem is for the most part that your home is costing you a lot of money, and if you want to be self-sufficient as possible then you have to lower your monthly expenses. Buying a house or an apartment isn’t really an option for a lot of people, especially without the help of a bank.
If you are living in a rented apartment or house then you would be better off buying a house with a mortgage and try to pay off the mortgage as soon as you can. Mortgage and rent will cost more or less the same every month, the difference is that after you have paid off your mortgage you will be the owner of your home. If you live in a rented place for more than a couple of decades than you are just throwing out the money.
9. Live in a homestead
People who live off the grid tend to live in a homestead, this way they can raise livestock and grow crops as well. Setting up a homestead can be expensive, but the good news is that you do not have to pay for everything at once. In the first year set up your crops, second-year start raising some livestock, and so on. Some people try to homestead in an apartment by growing some food on their balcony, although it is better than nothing but it is not an ideal setup.
10. Live frugally
Self-sufficiency can be achieved by living frugally, this means that you should live within your budget and not spending money on useless things. Frugal living has started to become fairly popular over the past couple of years, but a couple of decades ago a lot of people looked down on people who were living frugally. The truth is that you simply do not need that $1000 smartphone or $700 belt, so stop throwing money at these kinds of things.
You should calculate what are your expenses every month, and try to lower your monthly expenses. You will notice that you will still have some money left in your bank account even after the expenses, do this every month and you will start having some spare money.
11. Get out of debt
A couple of decades ago people were living on a fairly tight budget, today however it seems that anything can be bought by anybody as long as they are willing to go into debt. Sadly a lot of people are willing to have debt and pay a lot more then what they should for a certain item just because they have bought the item with debt. Some things are impossible to get without debt, like a house for example.
The problem is that more and more people are going into debt for useless things like a vacation, the latest smartphone, or an extremely overpriced laptop. Unless any of these things doesn’t make you a return on investment then do not go into debt for them. Ideally, you should pay off your debt as soon as possible, and if you have no other option then to go into debt than think carefully if it is worth it in the long run, ask yourself if you will be able to pay it off and if in the long run, you will make more money with it then you have spent in the first time.
12. Learn to cook from scratch
By cooking, I mean cooking from scratch, and not microwaving a meal. We live in a fast passed world and a lot of people do not have the time to cook. On the other hand, even if you have never cooked you can still learn fairly fast, there are plenty of tutorials online no matter what you want to cook. If you will grow your own food then you will have to learn to cook sooner or later, so try to cook a couple of meals and see how they turn out.
If you are often eating fast food then you are throwing money out of the window, and if you want to be self-sufficient then you have to reduce your expenses and learn how to cook from scratch. You do not have to cook every day, every time you cook you should cook for a couple of days at least. This way you do not have to constantly cook and you will also have plenty of cooked food in your fridge.
13. Learn to fish and hunt
You will need a license both for hunting and fishing, although generally speaking these tend to be fairly cheap and you can get them even online. Some people hunt and fish as a sport, but you should do it for the food. Here in Alaska, most crops do not grow that well, so most people hunt and fish. They fill their freezers with meat and fish, so it lasts them through the winter. Just keep in mind to hunt or fish only as much as you can carry with you.
The excess meat and fish can be sold locally, you do not even have to go to the farmers market although in certain areas this is illegal. One of my favorite meals during the wintertime is the spicy meat soup, it sounds and looks disgusting but it tastes like heaven.
14. Join an off-grid community
Being self-sufficient on your own will be fairly difficult and it will also take a long time. The good news is that there are a lot of off-grid communities that are self-sufficient, and many of them are accepting new members. Usually, the off-grid communities which accept new members will offer housing as well and all you need to do is to contribute to the community with your labor. If you are new to self-sufficient living then I highly recommend you join an off-grid community.
You do not even have to live there permanently, stay for a couple of months and you will learn a lot about how to be self-sufficient. You can then use the newly learned skills for your own homestead.
As you can see there are a couple of steps to becoming self-sufficient, although it might seem like there are a lot of steps but once you follow through all of them you will be completely self-sufficient. My personal recommendation is to take it one step at a time, becoming self-sufficient doesn’t happen overnight, for most people it will take a couple of years to reach complete self-sufficiency.