When you think about self-sufficiency and frugal living, maybe you envision a family living off the grid on a homestead. This family is growing their food, feeding their family with their livestock, churning their butter, sewing their clothes, and providing for their power via solar panels.
Frugal living could certainly look like this. However, many people who aspire to save money aren’t ready, willing, or able to go to those extremes. Maybe that’s you. Perhaps, you would like to slowly migrate to an existence where you rely more upon yourself. Maybe you would like to live more sustainably; know where more of your food is coming from; make some of your household items; live with minimal debt and less financial stress; or create a simpler and happier home life.
Regardless of your reasons, know that frugality is something you can work towards from the comfort of where you live now. Whether you dwell on a homestead or live in an urban apartment, you can reap many of the benefits of self-sufficiency while enjoying modern comforts. Here are 10 tips to help you work towards a more frugal lifestyle today.
- Plant a garden. One of the best ways to achieve self-sufficiency is to grow some or all of your food. Food is a significant expense. Growing your own food will have a positive effect on your family’s budget and overall health. If you don’t have a plot of land in your backyard to cultivate, you still have options. You can use planters to grow potted vegetables. You can also take part in a co-op garden in many communities and lease some growing space.
- Learn to preserve your food. If you have a surplus from your growing efforts, you will want to learn to preserve this bounty for the non-growing seasons. You can preserve what you grow by freezing, canning, drying, fermenting, or dehydrating. Once you learn to preserve, you will have access to healthy foods from your summer harvests all year round — think pasta sauce, jam, pizza sauce, pickles, salsa, and so much more. And if you don’t have a garden, it still makes sense to preserve your surplus from the farmer’s market for the winter months.
- Learn how to make your bread and pasta. If bread is a staple in your home like most homes, baking your own is a great way to go. Making your bread will save you money and offer your family a tastier and more nutritious option than the store-bought variety. You can freeze the extra loaves, so you always have fresh bread on-hand. The same is true with pasta. Making pasta yourself is easy, and you can control the ingredients.
- Stop wasting time. If you think about creating a more frugal lifestyle but feel you lack time, you might want to think again. If you woke up one hour earlier every day and cut back on one hour of television or social media every day, you would gain 56 hours per month. That is about 2 ½ days of time in one month. Just think what you could accomplish in 2 ½ days. You could start a side gig like make extra income from taking online surveys for cash, for example.
- Get some chickens. If you were to keep a small flock of chickens in your backyard, you would have a fresh and healthy food supply every day. Homegrown eggs are a lot more flavorful and nutritious than store-bought. Chickens who roam freely and dine on grass produce eggs with more Omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamin E. You will know exactly where your eggs came from when you eat them. Plus, chickens make fun and lively pets.
- Learn how to DIY. Don’t be afraid to learn how to make or build some things yourself. Maybe you want to try your hand at building a chicken coop for your new chickens. You can find a lot of free instruction online. You could make soap, laundry detergent, cleaning supplies, spice mixes, clothing, beauty products, and so much more. When you do it yourself, you make less of an impact on the environment, save money, and can be picky about the ingredients or materials you use.
- Get out of debt. The main thing that keeps most people from achieving any level of self-sufficiency is having debt. Debt is not frugal. Debt is both a mental and physical roadblock that can keep you tied to a way of living that might not suit you anymore. By paying off your debts, you liberate yourself in many ways.
- Buy used and save the difference. When you are looking to get out of debt or trying to put some money aside, buying used is a great option. Buying used is another way to live more sustainably by easing the burden on our landfills and so much more. There are many options for buying used today from thrift stores, garage sales, online marketplaces, in-person and online auctions, online sellers, and so much more. If you are pretty handy, you can find free items along the road to fix up and use yourself or sell for a profit.
- Add some solar panels to your home. By adding solar panels to your home, you can drastically reduce or even eliminate your electric bills. By harnessing the sun’s energy, you are insulated from the global energy markets’ price fluctuations. Solar power for your home offers a great return on investment, increases your property value, and helps to protect the environment.
- Start a home business. If you are looking to become more frugal and less reliant on an employer, you may want to consider starting a home business. Explore ways you might be able to take a skill you have and turn it into a revenue-producing venture. Maybe you could even sell something you make or grow yourself.
If you have been thinking about how you and your family can be more self-sufficient, give some of these ideas a try. Remember, there is no one definition of frugality. You can create a definition that works for you — whether it’s completely living off the grid or just offering your family safe, clean, and organic food. It’s up to you. Hopefully, you will discover a better lifestyle on your journey.