105 Best Ways to Be More Self Reliant


How To Be More Self-Reliant Right Where You Are!

If you are wondering how to be more self-reliant you are in good company! Many people are interested in increasing their self-reliance, saving money, and living a more sustainable lifestyle. The good news is that you can achieve this no matter where you live.

When we think of being self-reliant, the image of a large garden, apple trees, cattle, or fields of grain comes to mind. But there are many things you can do to increase your self-sufficiency without moving to a large farm in the country!

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Self-Reliant Skill Sets

People who grew up learning self-reliance skills from their family do have an advantage on a homestead. However, you can do more for yourself and learn new skills no matter what your age or background.

If you are new to self-reliance and homesteading, remember to take on one or two projects at a time and build your skill sets over time. Don’t rush into a dozen projects all at once and burn out!

Here are some important skills that will make you more self-reliant:

  • Horticulture – Grow plants for food, medicine, fuel, building supplies, and for sale. Learn to identify and forage wild plants to supplement your garden and orchard.
  • Carpentry & Woodworking – Build structures, remodel existing buildings, and create furniture, tools, fences, utensils, and other items for the homestead.
  • Cooking from Scratch – Cook and bake from basic ingredients instead of purchasing prepared goods. Turn the food you grow into healthy meals.
  • Food Preservation – Can, dehydrate, ferment, cure, and freeze your homegrown foods to save for winter.
  • Fiber and Fabric Arts – Sew, knit, crochet, spin or felt wool, weave, and quilt, embroider or cross-stitch to create clothing, home goods, and gifts.
  • Animal Husbandry – Raise and care for poultry, rabbits, goats, alpacas, sheep, pigs, cattle, horses, pets, and guardian animals.
  • Natural Health – Leading a healthy lifestyle and learning basic healthcare skills may reduce trips to the doctor. (But please see your doctor if you are sick!)
  • Making Your Own Cleaning & Personal Care Products – Ditch the store-bought products in plastic and learn to make your own non-toxic products.
  • Trade Skills – Plumbing, electrical, mechanical, and engine repair skills will save you a great deal of money on the homestead.

What Resources Do You Need to Increase Your Self-Reliance?

You don’t need a large plot of land in the country, an orchard, a tractor, or livestock to be more self-sufficient. Apartment dwellers in the city can do many things for themselves! However, Suburbanites have even more options, and those with rural land have the most potential to provide for themselves.

Some products make homesteading and self-reliance projects easier and faster, but they are not all necessary. Consider purchasing a hot water bath canner, pressure canner, food dehydrator, and mason jars for food preservation.

Some basic tools are needed for preparing and tending a garden, such as a spade, trowel, and perhaps a bucket and some gloves. You’ll need seeds and plants, too.

An off-grid homestead will require hand tools instead of electric-powered tools unless you are using a generator.

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Acquire Resources Over Time

Many of these things are not necessary and you certainly shouldn’t go out and buy everything all at once. Wait and see what you need to accomplish the tasks at hand.

Try some of the self-reliance projects you can take on with the resources you have available. As you build on your skills, purchase or barter for the items you need to be more productive.

Urban Self Reliance

You might wonder how self-reliant you can be in an apartment or small urban home. Looking at the list of skills above, there are many things you can learn to do for yourself. Some of the suburban self-reliance projects might also work for you. Be sure to check building codes, zoning laws, and health department regulations when necessary.

Try some of these ideas to be more self-reliant, save money, and provide for yourself:

  1. Walk or bike when possible
  2. Look for a community garden plot nearby
  3. Turn a small yard into a permaculture oasis
  4. Start a container garden on a rooftop or balcony
  5. Buy reusable water bottles and a water filter instead of bottled water
  6. Keep bees on a rooftop or in an approved park
  7. Pack your lunch instead of buying it
  8. Volunteer at a botanical garden for free gardening experience
  9. Forage for wild edibles
  10. Reuse and repair items instead of replacing them
  11. Plant vegetables in a parkway or abandoned lot
  12. Learn to bake bread and make a sourdough starter
  13. Use vinegar and baking soda for cleaning
  14. Reduce meat consumption
  15. Purchase dried beans instead of canned beans
  16. Grow microgreens and sprouts in a sunny window
  17. Grow herbs and greens under lights indoors
  18. Shop at farmers’ markets or join a CSA for fresher produce
  19. Chop up vegetable scraps and use them to make broth
  20. Keep 2 or 3 chickens if possible
  21. Make wine or beer at home
  22. Save bones to make bone broth
  23. Preserve food with a canner, dehydrator, or freezer
  24. Ferment, pickle, or cure extra food
  25. Sew, knit, crochet, or weave your own clothing and accessories
  26. Learn plumbing, electrical, and home repair skills
  27. Join a buying club to purchase at a discount
  28. Learn woodworking and carpentry skills
  29. Make yogurt, sour cream, buttermilk, fresh cheese, and other dairy products
  30. Eat more meals at home
  31. Share babysitting and pet-sitting responsibilities with friends you trust
  32. Start a worm composting system for your kitchen scraps
  33. Go to the library or read free ebooks
  34. Stream free movies and videos instead of paying for cable
  35. Try hobbies such as drawing or whittling for entertainment
  36. Try a ‘staycation’ instead of an expensive vacation
  37. Give up bad habits to save money and stay healthy
  38. Hunt and fish on public lands (follow local laws)
  39. Make your own non-toxic bath and body products
  40. Put together mason jar mixes for hot cocoa, muffins, and cookies
  41. Use a vacuum sealer to divide up bulk goods and keep them longer
  42. Invite friends for a potluck and play a board game instead of going out
  43. Make your own vapor rub and honey cough syrup for cold symptoms
  44. Bake a cake, cookies, or muffins to give as gifts instead of purchasing
  45. Learn to sew a tote bag from canvas or a recycled birdseed bag
  46. Buy dishes from a thrift store instead of using paper plates and cups
  47. Make organic pest control instead of using toxic sprays
  48. Hang insulating curtains in your windows to save energy
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Suburban Self Reliance

Many of the self-reliance skills and projects for urbanites may also work well on a suburban plot. However, you can do quite a bit more in the ‘burbs. You’ll probably have more space to store materials, tools, and finished projects. Don’t forget to check building codes, zoning laws, and health department regulations before taking on some projects.

Try these additional ideas to increase your self-reliance:

  1. See projects for urban self-reliance, above
  2. Build a raised bed garden
  3. Plant dwarf fruit trees
  4. Build a coop and keep laying hens if approved
  5. Plant perennial fruits (strawberries, blueberries, grapes, etc.)
  6. Install awnings, trellis, or an arbor to keep the home cooler in summer
  7. Keep one or two Nigerian dwarf goats for milk
  8. Learn to make soap
  9. Raise rabbits for fiber, fertilizer, and meat
  10. Plant perennial herbs and vegetables
  11. Start your own vegetable transplants indoors
  12. Build a small greenhouse for extending your growing season
  13. Install solar panels on your roof to provide energy for your home
  14. Use public transportation to reduce your fuel needs
  15. Carpool or work from home, if possible
  16. Plant trees for shade and windbreaks
  17. Add extra insulation in your attic to reduce energy costs
  18. Purchase a fuel-efficient or electric vehicle
  19. Compost yard waste and kitchen scraps
  20. Start a community group for potlucks or kids’ playgroups
  21. Go to the library, park, or a community center for entertainment
  22. Remodel or organize your home instead of moving to a larger home
  23. Start a small aquaculture system in your backyard
  24. Grow heirlooms and save seeds in a seed bank
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Rural homesteaders often have more land to increase their production.

Rural Self Reliance

Having a nice-sized parcel of land opens up a whole new world of possibilities to be more self-reliant. There are trade-offs, such as commuting to a job, distance to shopping, and fewer opportunities for entertainment. Think carefully about relocating if these issues will increase your cost of living.

Of course, you can take part in any of the projects listed above for urban and suburban dwellers. Here are other options to increase your self-reliance and even subsidize your income:

  1. Raise wheat, oats, corn, & field peas to feed your family and livestock
  2. Make maple syrup for home use and for sale
  3. Grow a large garden to provide enough food for your family, to preserve for winter, and sell extras at a farmer’s market
  4. Hunt, fish, and forage for wild foods on your own land
  5. Store root crops for winter vegetables
  6. Use a pond to raise fish for harvesting
  7. Raise livestock for meat, milk, eggs, and fiber
  8. Plant an orchard and preserve extra fruit for winter
  9. Raise cutting flowers for your home or to sell
  10. Make cheese and other cultured dairy products from extra milk
  11. Start your own beekeeping business and sell honey, comb honey, and beeswax
  12. Make your own candles from beeswax
  13. Replace sugar with honey or maple syrup in recipes
  14. Harvest and split firewood to heat your home and sell small bundles or cords if you have extra
  15. Start a Christmas tree farm
  16. Raise holly, curly willow, Henry Lauder’s walking stick, pussy willow, or other decorative plant materials for sale to the craft supply industry
  17. Grow black oil sunflower seed to feed poultry, pigs, goats, and wild birds
  18. Raise pastured poultry, pork, goat, lamb, and beef to sell
  19. Plant several rows of evergreen trees on the north and west sides of your property as a windbreak
  20. Build and sell garden sheds, Adirondack chairs, chicken coops, picnic tables or other woodworking projects
  21. Learn basic veterinary skills to treat sick or injured animals when possible
  22. Raise purebred livestock to show and sell
  23. Butcher old laying hens to make soup and chicken stock
  24. Start a boarding kennel for dogs or horses
  25. Keep broody hens or incubate eggs instead of ordering chicks
  26. Offer a farm-sitting service
  27. Propagate perennials from cuttings or division to sell
  28. Sell eggs, pickles, preserves, and other value-added goods
  29. Butcher extra roosters and can the meat
  30. If you have a livestock trailer, offer a livestock hauling service
  31. Mend clothes instead of buying new ones
  32. Start a pumpkin patch, corn maze, or apple orchard for a seasonal business
  33. Reduce the size of your lawn to save on gas for the lawnmower
  34. Sell excess hay and straw
  35. Feed kitchen scraps to chickens and pigs
  36. Don’t raise more than you can use or sell, to save money and energy
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Grow and Save Your Way to Self-Reliance

We often think of self-reliance as increasing our production of food and other resources. That’s important, but there is another side of self-reliance…reducing the resources that we need.

Start with all of your purchases and homegrown resources and take a hard look at how much is wasted. Do you throw away groceries every week because you bought more than you need? Are freezer burned veggies and meat tossed out because you raised or bought too much? Take some time to rethink purchases and production.

Marys Heirloom Seeds 4 105 Best Ways to Be More Self Reliant

Before you order 200 chicks, plow up an acre for the garden, or buy a gross of canning jars, stop and think carefully about how likely you are to use all of those eggs, veggies, and canning jars.

Start with a dozen chickens and learn from that experience. Put in a small garden. Wash and reuse jars from store-bought goods to store dried fruits and herbs. Find out what projects are worthwhile before investing your time and money in a large venture.

Find ways to reduce your expenses on entertainment and extras. You may find that sitting on the porch watching chickens scratch in the grass is more entertaining than television!

Free or Cheap Ways to Increase Self Reliance are Best!

  • Work smarter not harder.
  • Use the resources you have already on hand.
  • Reduce waste and cut back on spending.
  • Wait a week before you make a large purchase unless it’s an emergency.
  • Shop at garage sales and thrift shops.
  • Grow heirlooms and save seeds.
  • Know how to tell a good quality tool from a cheap one.
  • Learn from your neighbors, family, and friends, or watch Youtube videos before you start a project.
  • Get free resources from the library.
  • Find your local Extension Office. They have good information about food preservation and preparation, gardening, and farming.
  • Once you learn a new skill, practice it…then learn another skill!
  • Learn to be happy with less. Sometimes, when we slow down and learn to appreciate the little things, we realize that maybe these are actually the big things in life.

How do you increase your self-reliance? Leave a comment!

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>