SAVE TONS OF MONEY; BY SWITCHING TO SELF-RELIANCE
Self-Reliance seems to be trending these days and it should come as no surprise. People are realizing that trading the only time they have on earth continuously chasing a Federal Reserve Note - with a depleting purchase value - sucks up their best years. According to a Charles Schwab survey, at least 59% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck and employment in no way a guarantee. It's a rat race and for many of us, it is a neverending struggle to make ends meet. Self-Reliance can inch you toward time and financial freedoms, saving you money from the very start. When you know how to provide life's most basic needs all by yourself, most of the stress and fear that comes from "living" (trading time for Federal Reserve Notes) - disappear. All you have to do is apply a Do-It-Yourself approach to any and many areas of your life. Self-Reliance can be easier to achieve when you own your land and can harvest food from it but it is, by no means, the only way. Many people have found self-reliance while remaining completely mobile. The information you learn and experience you gain on your journey is invaluable. Here are some ideas on how to start:
HOUSING & CLOTHING
Learn (this is going to be a common theme). Learn how to be your own plumber, carpenter, and electrician (<-- be careful with this one). "How-to" information is readily available. There are sites dedicated to the stuff! You can watch others do nearly anything on youtube. If you're more of a reader, there are libraries pretty much everywhere. If you are more of a hands-on approach kinda person, invest in a workshop. Use something breaking as an opportunity to gain information that leads to self-reliance instead of a crisis that's going to cost you.
Look for a tool-lending library in your area. It's basically a library for tools. You won't have to fork out thousands to complete any projects you take on, you won't have to keep space to store a bunch of tools you only use once in a while, and it's definitely an environment-friendly choice. If you can’t find a tool-lending library in your area, you can try starting your own.
Use recycled material. Scour craigslist "free" section, many times construction crews put up leftover material for free so that someone who wants it will essentially clean up for them by taking it, network with people who do demolition, visit a Habitat 4 Humanity.
Estate sales, thrift stores, and yard sales are excellent places to get good as new household appliances and necessities including clothing at a fraction of the price. Always make an attempt to haggle at the yard and estate sales, sellers will almost always come down on the sticker price at one of these places. Not having to pay tax on the items you purchase from these places is an added bonus that allows you to keep more of your own money.
Learn how to knit, sew, crochet, spin cotton into thread... okay, I went to far. Really though, repairing the clothes you have already invested money in matters. Especially when you were taxed and paid full price. Know how to fix a button, patch a hole, or repair a tear. You can do it!
Cut your own family members' hair and save potentially hundreds a year in hair cutting costs. Especially if you have multiple boys who prefer fresh cuts to long locks. I get fancy and go all out with shampoo service and a complimentary head massages. Saving money while creating a memorable experience to bond over.
Make your own body products. Making all-natural "luxury" body products at a fraction of the price and absent harmful chemicals is incredibly easy. When I say luxury it's because they want an arm and a leg for some of this stuff in the stores. Beeswax, water, Shae butter and oils make up many of the body products on the market. Facial and body scrubs, even shaving cream are just a few simple ingredients. These also come in handy as (organic) gifts for others.
Make your own cleaning supplies. Vinegar, lemon, and baking soda are just a few ways to get your stuff shiny and clean. Skip the chemical overload and save funds by making your own products. This route has tons of benefits all around, not only for you but for the environment as well.
Cook at home. Not only is cooking a bonding tradition that is passed down within a family (as to say special), it is also essential when it comes to cutting costs in the area of food. You'll be hard-pressed to find somewhere you can eat healthier for the price per pound you pay by preparing food at home. Knowing what goes into your food can help cultivate a healthy relationship with food itself. Plus, you'll likely be avoiding ingredients you can't pronounce along with tons of sodium/high-fructose corn syrup/ undesirable preservatives, etc.
Shop at farmer's markets and buy in bulk. Canned or processed items can be purchased raw and dried and at a fraction of the cost ie. beans, rice. Costing you less and giving you more product that comes ready for long term storage. Avoiding preservatives is always a plus. Look for deep discounts on extremely ripe items at produce stands and the like. Shopping based on what is in peak season saves you money too.
Learn how to can and preserve or dehydrate things you have purchased in bulk or things you have grown yourself. Imagine shopping for dinner in the home pantry you stocked yourself. Purchasing items in season then preserving them for year-round consumption is a money saver.
Creating your own seasonings and rubs, jerky, even spirits. The possibilities are endless when you begin to explore them. Trail mix is a favorite of mine. I purchase the items separately in bulk and throw the mix together myself. The quality of the products I purchase vs a company that packages is oftentimes better. The savings though, that's where it's at. Have you priced a decent trail mix lately?
Coffee is an item that, if prepared at home; could save some people as much as a car payment a month. I'm not kidding. If you want coffee on the go invest in a thermal travel mug that will keep it warm for hours. Don't go broke because you need a boost. That's money you'll pee out and never see again.
Invest in a pressure cooker. The time it will save and the ease of access when preparing things like beans or tough meats (that are the least expensive cuts) make it worth every penny. This appliance pays for itself immediately. It saves you on food costs and also energy consumption since you only have to run it a fraction of the time as conventional stoves and crockpots.
Save and start fruits and vegetables from seeds. Purchase seeds or learn how to store or germinate organic seeds from the food you are consuming. Create an unlimited supply from a single seed. If you discover you are a natural at starting seeds outright, consider becoming part of a sprout swapping network with local gardeners or sell extra sprouts to local buyers and earn money - while you're at it.
Fish and hunt to supplement some of your meat costs. If you can effectively hunt and have enough to barter you can trade your meat with local hunters who specialize in different meat. One hunting trip can result in a year's worth of meat fairly easily depending on the variables. I knew a guy who would trade a dear during hunting season for a day's pull of crab during crabbing season. Fishing is another memorable, special, bonding tradition that gets passed down generationally. It's also a very real way to stock your freezer for pennies on the dollar when the costs are compared to the price of fish in the supermarket. Also, tons of fun. I will never forget fishing with my dad.
Raise chickens. Chickens can serve multiple purposes but knowing the source of your eggs it up there. A decent feed can cost you around $2.00 per dozen eggs. Selling or trading extra eggs is possible. Their poo can go directly into a compost bin fertilizing your garden for free. Plus, chickens (especially free range) are responsible for eating a lot of unwanted bugs so they double as a natural pesticide.
Composting. So important when running your own food production to compost everything you can. Not only does this close the food-to-waste gap but it supplies you with something in-house you need and would otherwise be paying for. Composting will save you big time when it comes to nutritious soil but it also reduces the amount of garbage you create and eliminates the majority of food waste. I can't say enough about composting.
HEALTH & WELLNESS
This ties back into food. Eating well IS preventative medicine. Growing your own food and/or knowing your farmer is a great way to figure out EXACTLY what you are consuming. It's easier to have faith in something being truly "organic" when you grew it yourself. "Let food be thy medicine, and medicine thy food."
Which brings us to medicines. Grow those too. Pharmaceutical companies are being paid to replicate nature with some form of synthetic garbage. There are many effective herbal remedies for just about any ailment you can think of. Making tinctures is a great way to preserve the herbs you grow as medicine while creating a home remedy. It is surprisingly easy and nearly free when you grow what you need.
Getting out of the rat race has a stress-reducing aspect to it. Mental health is important for physical health. Dropping the stress will help your body and mind become less prone to illness. The physical labor involved in some of this stuff will also help to keep your body in shape and being in nature for even a few minutes reduces stress hormones, boosting immunity.
Trade your gym membership for free nature activities. Ride a bike, go hiking, find a lake and jog around it. You can even just step outside your front door and start doing jumping jacks. Turn on music, have fun, save your funds. The earth is your playground, go play!
Replace incandescent bulbs with LEDs. I have a strand of LEDs fitted with a USB that I run off of a small solar-powered power bank. I can create light without using any electricity whatsoever. Other than the initial investment it costs me nothing to have light when I need it. This may not be ideal on a large scale but it can help you lower the amount of electricity you are consuming/paying for, in turn saving you money. Amazon has LEDs in strands ranging from 3 to 50 feet or more. This is definitely an effective way to cut energy costs/consumption.
Utilize a power strip and cut power to multiple appliances when not in use. This can prevent appliances from phantomly sucking energy even though no one is using them and they aren't turned on. Adjust the setting on your computers, laptops, tablets, and phones. Having them power-down faster when not in use saves battery life/electricity use, which means you charge them less, which saves energy/money.
Getting on solar entirely is an obvious end goal but if you aren't quite there yet you can always make small investments in items that work off of solar. The market is flooded with all kinds of neat things that can solar power themself these days.
Consider heating your home with a wood stove. This can save you quite a bit on your energy bill during winter. Firewood is often given for free if you check your local paper or free section of craigslist for your area.
Educating yourself has never been easier in the information age. Sites like EdX.org allow you to take classes backed by Harvard completely free. You can simply gain the knowledge or if you want to gain a certificate in the programs you take they can be purchased for next to nothing in comparison to attending a university. Kahn Academy also has free lessons on a variety of subjects starting at the pre k level and going all the way up to college prep.
Youtube can be helpful when learning how to do things but that's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to online resources. Sites like wonderhowto.com has an amazing customizable interface and it covers every subject under the sun. Seek and you shall find, I promise.
Lastly, look at your network. You would be amazed and what you can learn from the people you are in contact with the most. If someone you know has a skill you would like to learn, ask them to teach you. It's called a network for a reason.