25 Ways You Can Be More Self Reliant Today

Updated on November 12, 2014
Marye Audet profile image

Marye Audet-White is an internationally known food writer, food editor for Texas Living, cookbook author, and food blogger.

A good supply of wood is a comforting security measure for winter.
A good supply of wood is a comforting security measure for winter. | Source

Learn Self-Reliance Skills Before You Are Forced To

There are a lot more than 25 ways to be more self reliant so use these tips as a creative nudge. Self reliant living has always been an important skill. From the Pilgrims to the generation that lived through the Depression and World War II the ability to survive and thrive during times of intense hardship made the difference between life and death - freedom and slavery.

Sometimes people become self reliant because they want to and sometimes because they have to. Choosing to be self reliant is better than being forced to in difficult circumstances. Since any skill requires practice spending time honing your survival skills when you don't have to is better and more effective than having to learn on the fly. There's also a deep confidence that develops as you learn to do more.

There is nothing in this world that is guaranteed. Things change rapidly. Stock markets rise and they crash, you may have a job today and yet be unemployed tomorrow. It stands to reason that the more independent you can be the better off you are and the better quality of life you will have overall.

Learning to make bread is one step toward self-sufficiency.
Learning to make bread is one step toward self-sufficiency. | Source

A Guide to Self Sufficiency

5 Acres & A Dream The Book: The Challenges of Establishing a Self-Sufficient Homestead
5 Acres & A Dream The Book: The Challenges of Establishing a Self-Sufficient Homestead

If you want to be self sufficient you know it isn't going to happen overnight. This comprehensive guide walks you through the steps. Written by someone who has been where you are this book (or Kindle) has 24 five star reviews.


25 Steps to Self Reliance You Can Take Today

Becoming independent is not an overnight thing but everything has a beginning and this is no different. The small steps you take today can change your life, even save your life, further down the road.

1. Get Out of Debt

Getting out of debt is the number one priority. You can't be free and in debt.

Come up with a plan to get out of debt. This really isn't that hard. Put up the credit cards and don't use them. Begin to pay an extra five dollars on your lowest balance, more if you can. When that balance is paid off add the amount you had been paying to your next lowest balance, and so on.

When you can pay more by all means DO! Debt costs you money. If you really want to see how much it is costing you add up your finance charges every month. $50? $100? what could you be doing with that money?

2. Learn New Skills

Learn one homemaking, farming, or other skill a month. Sewing, knitting, and crocheting would be my top suggestions and then from their move to soap making and spinning. With these skills you can clothe your family or even make a little money.

Learning to milk a goat or a cow, clip hooves, and handle basic care is important, too. Seed saving, planting, creating compost, and other necessary farming skills will allow you to provide food for your family no matter what happens.

Other skills might include building and woodworking skills, learning about engines and how to fix them, and things along those lines.

3. Choose Simplicity

Make simplicity a habit. When you need to get your nails done, get your hair done, and have the newest technology the lack of these things will leave a huge void in your life. If you create a life without things you don't miss them when they are gone! Learn to enjoy an evening board game with the family rather than DVD's or video games. That's not to say you can't use them! Just beware of becoming too dependent.

The more things you have, the more things you have to keep up with, take care of, and worry about. Try to keep things simple and possessions minimal.

4. Invest in Books

Invest in books. No matter what happens if you have books available you can find the information you need. If the Internet goes down, if power goes off, you won't be able to get your information from your computer however if you have a good collection of books; reference and good literature, you will always have both entertainment and instruction. You can homeschool your kids pretty thoroughly with only a good set of encyclopedias.

5. Learn to Cook

Learn cooking skills. Bread baking, canning, making sour dough starter, and even making things like wine and vinegar are useful abilities.

It's surprising how many people honestly don't know how to make cake with out a mix!

6. Invest in reusable Items

Invest in reusable personal items like cloth diapers and cloth feminine hygeine products. Better yet, learn to make these things for yourself.

7. Plant a garden

Plan a vegetable garden. It doesn't have to be extensive. Good things to plant would be:

  • green beans
  • lettuces
  • spinach
  • broccoli
  • beets
  • tomatoes
  • peas
  • okra
  • eggplant
  • peppers
  • zucchini
  • squash
  • cucumbers

There are, of course many other vegetables to try but these are the most reliable and prolific for the beginner.

8. Plant Herbs

Plant herbs. Culinary herbs should include basil, oregano, dill, lavender (mixed use), mint (also mixed use), rosemary, sage, and cilantro. But don't stop at culinary herbs, there are many herbs that make important medicinal teas. Lavender is soothing, mint calms a queasy tummy. Alfalfa cleanses the blood stream and lymph system.

9. Plant Fruit

Plant fruit. Not everyone has the space for an orchard but there are new varieties of miniature and dwarf trees that stay five feet tall or less and yet produce fruit. Usually you need two varieties of each fruit tree for proper pollination. By planting fruit trees as landscaping you will have s guaranteed supply of fruit in hard times. Strawberries, blackberries, and grapes are other good choices.

10. Consider Keeping Bees

Consider bee keeping as a fun hobby and a way to ensure that your sweet tooth gets fed. An added benefit is the increase in bees to pollinate your vegetable garden.

11. Dairy Goats for Milk

Consider dairy goats. Depending on where you live you can keep a couple of does for far less than you will pay for milk. If your space is very limited consider Nigerian Dwarf Dairy goats. They are about the size of a Golden Retriever or Lab and are sweet tempered with good milk production on minimal feed. You can even use the large Igloo dog houses as shelter for them - at least temporarily.

Do not buy an animal on a whim. It is a responsibility and it's important that you learn all that you can before purchasing them. It will save time and frustration later on.

Raising fruit can feed your family and provide a little income.
Raising fruit can feed your family and provide a little income. | Source

12. Backyard Chickens

Chickens can provide eggs and meat. If you keep a rooster or two you can ensure your ability to continue to produce both eggs and meat as long as necessary by breeding the chickens and allowing them to hatch their eggs. Chickens, if allowed to free range, need little in the way of supplemental foods.

13. Collect Hand Tools

Pick up hand tools and learn to use them. Battery operated and electric drills and saws are great normally but what if the grid goes down and you need to fix something? You can find handsaws,planes, augers, post hole diggers and other tools for pennies at garage sales.

14.Have a Plan

Have a plan. This sounds easy but few people do it. Spend a few minutes thinking about what would happen in a financial crisis, national emergency, or weather related emergency. List some things you would need, plan what steps you would take.

Then discuss the plan with family members. Make sure everyone understands what to do in an emergency.

15. First Aid Kit

Have a first aid kit handy and learn about homeopathics and herbs. These were used for centuries before antibiotics and have a place in home health care today. Colloidal silver can be used as eye drops, nose drops, ear drops, external antibiotic and an internal antibiotic. Keep a medical reference guide where you can get it quickly.

16. Learn to Hunt

Buy a hunting rifle and learn to use it safely. There may come a time when that adorable rabbit that nibbles the clover in your backyard may make an excellent stew.

17. Learn to Forage

Learn to forage for wild foods. Berries, herbs, and other wild edibles abound in most of the United States. get a good reference book for your area.

18. Think Outside of the Box

Change your mentality about money. Working a 9-5 job is only one way to make an income. There are many more from tutoring, selling produce and eggs, to cleaning houses, mowing lawns, and blogging.

19. Create a Reference Library

Start a reference library. Books that have instruction in important survival skills are a great investment.

20. Emergency Rations

Keep some MRIs handy, about 1-2 weeks worth per person. This will give you time, in an emergency, to come up with a plan to feed your family.

Whole grains, powdered milk, and other dry goods can be stored without too much problem. Make sure you have a good supply of water on hand.

21. Wood Stove

Install a wood stove. Whether it is in the den or somewhere else a wood stove will provide heat and cooking surface if need be.

22. Stay Healthy

Exercise. Keeping yourself healthy will enable you to be strong in times of stress.

23. Keep Cash on Hand

Keep some cash at home. 500.00 is a good start. If something happens you have cash to use as you need to.

24. Consider Alternative Energy

Learn about alternative energy and begin moving toward solar power panels.

25. Drill a Well

Have a well drilled that can be utilized without an electric pump.

By doing these things you can feel confident in your ability to lead your family through hard times with a minimal discomfort.

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Questions & Answers


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      • cygnetbrown profile image

        Cygnet Brown 

        4 years ago from Springfield, Missouri

        Long term survival issues may never happen, but short term survival issues definitely will. Back in 2008, my husband and I lost our jobs and got into a situation where we only had an income of $3000 in one year. If it weren't for our survival skills, we would have had a worse situation than what we suffered. Because we had debt, we lost our house and our car, however, we always had food and power. Our garden, chickens, and goats as well as the wood cook stove and furnace helped make that possible. If my husband's eldest daughter's child support had not been higher than our income, we would not have lost the house either.

      • Jorge Krzyz profile image

        Jorge Krzyzaniak 

        4 years ago from Oklahoma

        I dated a girl, we were both twenty years old at the time. She'd had her car for a couple of years. She called me once from her cell phone at the gas station to get instructions on how to pump gas. I was floored, but instantly I understood how someone who has had everything done for them their entire life will find themselves very confused when having to face the world on their own. She was really pretty and not entirely unintelligent. Sadly however, I do believe that she starved to death at a McDonald's drive thru.

      • anidae profile image

        Anita Adams 

        5 years ago from Tennessee

        I believe in the future everyone will need survival skills ( you know --simple skills -- like how to cook, heat water without electricity, how to purify water, etc.). I am shocked to learn that many people have eaten all their meals in restaurants or friends home and don't have a clue how to make a sandwich or heat a can of soup. You have good information in your article. Thanks for writing this hub.

      • Jorge Krzyz profile image

        Jorge Krzyzaniak 

        5 years ago from Oklahoma

        Good article. Many of Hesse things seem like common sense to me, then I see into my friends garages and see that they have no tools and no resources and I'm amazed at how little they actually know how to or are willing to do for themselves. Good work

      • profile image


        5 years ago

        Chris, You are assuming that everyone on this list has children. I don't with the exception of the furry four legged kind. I own a wide variety of books covering a multitude of subjects. Many were inherited from family members, many I have acquired over the years. Here is the part you need to take a deep breath for and perhaps even sit down. A few might be what you would classify as "slutty romance novels". But they are in good company, for example, Song of Solomon in the Bible, Scheherazade of One Thousand and One Nights and Arabian Nights, even The Canterbury Tales. So if I want to include something a bit more modern in my reading library please don't be offended and dismissive of it. For all you know, you may be insulting a future classic. Some of the most beautiful and lasting classic novels and poems weren't appreciated in their time because they had a few who considered them "slutty" or dismissed them because they were romantic. Don't judge my books by their covers! :)

      • profile image


        5 years ago

        Hah, yes, Meals Reluctant to Exit. I suppose that a distinction between books for relaxation and reference is a fair one, though I would have a difficult time surviving on just one or the other. I enjoy reading reference books and, as Jeopardy contestant Ken Jennings has pointed out, knowing things before you need them allows you to interact with people and to work better.

        I was homeschooled and I have, unfortunately, known quite a few who believed that parents are supposed to shelter their kids from society. Thankfully my parents believed that they were to teach us how to survive in it (and out of it!).

      • Marye Audet profile imageAUTHOR

        Marye Audet 

        5 years ago from Lancaster, Texas

        No one said it was going to be easy... I have seen very few homeschooled kids that have trouble interacting with society... thank you for your comments.

      • Marye Audet profile imageAUTHOR

        Marye Audet 

        5 years ago from Lancaster, Texas

        Sorry. Typo on the first, I was military and I know what MREs are way too well. Investing in books and creating a reference library are not the same at all. One can create a reference library without investing in books. By investing in books I am talking about good, classic fiction, biographies... stuff to read for entertainment.

      • profile image


        5 years ago

        A couple thoughts:

        1) MREs can be useful to keep around. MRI is Magnetic Resonance Imaging, and uses a lot of electricity.

        2) Numbers 4 (invest in books) and 19 (create a reference library) should be the same. I would really hope that the investment in books is not a collection of smutty romance novels.

        2.5) The purpose of schooling is to ensure that the children can interact with society. Please make sure you have a range of books that include classics as well as modern references.

        3) I just talked to someone the other day about beekeeping. They said that they have problems with skunks and hive parasites. Know that doing these things is not going to be easy -- it will take a little work.

      • stanmurphy profile image

        Stan Murphy 

        5 years ago from Kansas

        What a great idea for a hub! I feel our society lost its willingness or desire to be self-reliant somewhere along the way. We rely so much on others that it is rare when someone stands out to us in positive way anymore. These are great ways to set yourself apart and it has inspired me. Thank you!

      • Tashaonthetown profile image

        Natasha Pelati 

        5 years ago from South Africa

        great hubs!! very interesting.

      • Thelma Alberts profile image

        Thelma Alberts 

        5 years ago from Germany

        Very interesting and useful on how to be a self reliant person. Simplicity is the key to a healthy and well balance life. Thanks for sharing. Voted up and useful;-)

      • Availiasvision profile image

        Jennifer Arnett 

        5 years ago from California

        Lovely article! This is a topic that I am extremely passionate about. I truly wonder if half the population could survive a few days of no water or electricity. Knowing how to build a fire and purify water should be taught in kindergarten.

        Given the popular "Preppers" trend, I think you found a nice middle ground for the common person. Not everyone wants to keep ten years of canned apricots in their basement, waiting for the end of the world.

        I think one important thing to add is for people to try, along with advice from a doctor, to wean off as many medications as possible. To holistically figure out why their body isn't functioning properly and find natural solutions. If medications are an irreversible life and death health condition, then they should stock pile up several month's worth. If another Great Depression really does come, drugs will not be readily available and maybe only the extremely wealthy will be able to afford what's left. You can't truly be free and self sustaining if you are reliant on drugs to keep you alive. Figure out ways that you can reduce a fever, fix a cold, and reduce pain naturally. Tylenol may not always exist.

      • Diana Lee profile image

        Diana L Pierce 

        5 years ago from Potter County, Pa.

        These are great tips. One never knows when they'll need to change how they do things just to survive a crisis. Voted up.

      • kosmondcharles profile image


        5 years ago from California

        I enjoyed his Hub for the fact that it's relevant and simple to follow. As an avid reader, it would be a lie for me not to say I was especially supportive of the investing in books portion. The investment in knowledge automatically equips ones with the tools necessary to build their arsenal for success. We should have advertisements for reading on TV as much as we have advertisements for Budweiser and 1800 vodka.

      • epbooks profile image

        Elizabeth Parker 

        5 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

        Very well written. Simplicity can range from cutting back even just a little bit from what we're used to...and it does make such a difference in a positive way. Voted up!

      • Ancillotti profile image


        5 years ago from Brasil, Vitoria - ES

        Loved this Hub! Simply complete super, has everything we need to start a new life, I was willing to print the text and bring it with me always. I think my biggest difficulty would detach myself from the comfort of technology, but I'm sure it would be worth afterwards!

        A big hug and congratulations for the beautiful text!

      • Marye Audet profile imageAUTHOR

        Marye Audet 

        5 years ago from Lancaster, Texas

        I agree it is more financially effective, however there are many people that need to see progress fast. If the low interest loan is also the largest it will take time to see a difference and they may get frustrated. If you pay off the smallest first there is immediate gratification and less change of quitting - at least for some people.

      • profile image


        5 years ago

        Only point I disagree with is about paying of the smallest debt first. One of the golden rules of debt consolidation is to pay off the debt with the highest intrest first. This will always be more effective regardless of the loan size.

      • Marye Audet profile imageAUTHOR

        Marye Audet 

        5 years ago from Lancaster, Texas

        No there isn't. I am working on a small Kindle book with this and more information and ideas that should be available soon.

      • profile image


        5 years ago

        is there a PDF file on this?

      • profile image


        5 years ago

        I think self-reliance begins with leaving the row house and high rise ...

      • mhynson9 profile image


        5 years ago from Baton Rouge

        Love it. Thanks for the information.

      • tobint44 profile image

        Tyler Tobin 

        6 years ago from North Carolina

        Great Hub, I am a big fan of self reliance and I am making steps to move my family toward this type of lifestyle in the future. I think that the 25 steps are spot on and would definitely help someone be prepared.

      • theliz profile image


        6 years ago from Maryland

        Interesting stuff here, but I think your title is misleading. This seems to be self-reliance for those in possession of their own relatively large property. Having chickens and bees and planting fruit trees is cool but not an option in a row house or high rise. ;)

      • Cathyrin profile image


        6 years ago from Philippines

        Great advice to be a self reliant person. Simplicity indeed is a great factor. :)

      • pringoooals profile image


        6 years ago from Edinburgh

        I like your advices. It is really interesting point of view and I will really think about it. Thank you for sharing!

      • mismazda profile image


        6 years ago from a southern georgia peach

        I enjoyed reading this hub, some interesting points that you talked about, and I totally agree that people need to be more independent and not rely on anything too much these days. I myself have cut back my expensives since I have not been employed, it was very hard and still is at times...but you have to do what you have to do. Voted up.

      • qmfaisal profile image


        6 years ago from Dhaka

        "Choose Simplicity" - I can't stress enough on this point. All the world's problem is caused by the lack of simplicity, that's what I think. You adopt simplicity and you adopt a sound life- pretty simple. And yes, I can't also thank enough for such a wonderful and inspiring hub!

      • jaswinder64 profile image


        6 years ago from Toronto, Canada.

        Very nice and informative hub.

      • princesswithapen profile image


        6 years ago

        "..Make simplicity a habit.." These are wise words, Mary. Moving towards alternative energy also seems like the 'in-thing' today. The cost of moving to solar energy is still high and deterring home owners from going 'fully solar'. Hopefully we can soon see cost-effective panels or other equable alternative methods of generating energy. This hub made for an interesting read.


      • Ayaba1 profile image


        6 years ago from Abuja

        What are great way to live a better life! This is a great contribution to humanity. Nice hub.

      • Ricki Landers profile image

        Ricki Landers 

        6 years ago from Gatlinburg, Tennessee

        I like the ideas here, we are moving into becoming self reliant again and it is not an easy move for us right now. Your article has really encouraged me a lot, and it also makes me want to look back into my dream of owning a cherry farm again ;)

      • profile image


        7 years ago

        You mentioned a lot of important things. I am a teen, reading this article inspired me to start being self-reliant from today.

      • Gerg profile image


        7 years ago from California

        Nicely written and researched. I have a hub in development on nourishing self reliance in my kids. You've given me some fodder for thought!

        Best, G

      • profile image


        7 years ago

        I have been letting my chickens free-range for years, but I got a group this last time that ate my whole garden! They even dug up and ate my potatoes. So now I am having to coop them up.

      • profile image

        Kevin Adams 

        7 years ago

        I would add one more thing to the above list and that is to know how to clean water in case your water source is or could be contaminated. Then have a way to store bulk water.

      • li smith ion-eco profile image

        li smith ion-eco 

        7 years ago from Hermanus, South Africa

        Great hub! It contains just about everything that anyone could wish to know about self reliance.

      • FirstStepsFitness profile image


        8 years ago

        Very nice well written and useful Hub !

      • optionteacher profile image


        8 years ago from Santa Barbara, CA, USA

        In a world full of victims, self reliance is like a brilliant diamond

      • treasuresyw profile image


        8 years ago from Savannah, GA

        This was such a fantastic hub. I loved it. Great work and tips.

      • Jodah profile image

        John Hansen 

        8 years ago from Queensland Australia

        great hub.......along my way of thinking totally....


      • jimcain207 profile image

        James Cain 

        8 years ago from HUMPHREY, ARKANSAS

        Wow!! What a great hub!!!This is just what I needed and right up my alley. Looking forward to more.

      • Danton Young profile image

        Danton Young 

        9 years ago

        I think these tips are becoming even more relevant during this economic climate, nice hub.

      • emievil profile image


        9 years ago from Philippines

        A 2-year hub that is very much in keeping with the current year's trend. Great hub Marye Audet. Makes me glad I'm your fan =).

      • cjcarter profile image


        9 years ago

        I've been trying to get my grandma to teach me to knit and can for years! Thanks for the hub.

      • matthewneer profile image


        9 years ago from California


        Thanks for your thought on self relience, it is truly a skill that must be mastered in order to achieve the success you want out of life. Because in the end it is only YOU who can make YOU. No job, person, amount of money, cars, clothes, or anthing else can truly bring you true happiness because that is gained from within.


      • profile image

        Business Financing Guru 

        10 years ago

        Lela- It may sound a little depressing but if it ever becomes necessary and you have the right tools, you'll be the least depressed of everyone! Anyway, thanks for the tips, if only you had a guide for protecting a small business from this sort of thing. ;-)

      • Angela Harris profile image

        Angela Harris 

        10 years ago from Around the USA

        Great ideas. I sooo want dairy goats. Perhaps when I retire... Oh, by the way, I don't have horses. I would if I could, though.

      • grantsforwomen profile image


        10 years ago from Chicago

        Great hub! I just recently ran across it… thanks for the info!

      • Michele Engholm profile image

        Michele Engholm 

        10 years ago from Hutchinson

        Loved this hub....I just finished canning 68 cans of carrots....I am moving on to my apples. I am so thankful that I am not the only person into this stuff. I feel like I am at times.... Thanks so much!

      • Marye Audet profile imageAUTHOR

        Marye Audet 

        10 years ago from Lancaster, Texas

        Then you might be interested int he emergency preparednes Hub I just finished in response to Lela's comment. :)

      • VickeyK profile image


        10 years ago

        Great hub, great info. And reading that you went through a flood made me think twice about the advice.

      • Marye Audet profile imageAUTHOR

        Marye Audet 

        10 years ago from Lancaster, Texas

        Oh Lela, dont let it be depressing. Everyoen is in different stages. We still haven't done all of this and because of a business going under a few years ago we had to take out a HELOC on our paid off home so are starting over to an extent. We went through a massive flood a few years ago (CNN was filming in front of our house) and so I am more aware of the needs than maybe some others, having experienced it. Yeah, I will owrk on an emergency preparedness hub later. :)

      • Lela Davidson profile image

        Lela Davidson 

        10 years ago from Bentonville, Arkansas

        Wow, this is inspiring but also a little depressing. I just went to the food prep place and bought some meals! Guess I need more work. Would you do a Hub on emergency preparedness? Seems like a good place to start.

      • Jennifer profile image


        10 years ago

        Awesome hub! We are trying to move more in this direction as well. Thanks for the great info!


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