The peace of self-sufficiency

Learning to provide for and take care of your family and yourself can bring you peace of mind and be fun!

Self-sufficiency is a difficult subject for some of us to think about in our current world. We may feel like we are failing in this area. It may help you to realize that in truth, we are never truly 100 percent self-sufficient as an individual. We are almost always part of an interconnected community, faith, family or rely on a higher power for help.

Becoming self-sufficient is a journey. Think of it as a goal. Visualize yourself succeeding and working toward being able to sustain yourself and your family and being able to feel secure about your ability to care for yourself with as little help as possible.

The good news is that every successful step on the journey can be exciting and fun. Your good work benefits and allows you to serve your friends and family.

Being self-sufficient can be fun and challenging. Here are a few areas and ideas to get you started:


This is a great way to start down the road to self-sufficiency, all you really need is some dirt and a few seeds and time. The benefits of gardening are many: fresh produce, exercise, meditation, sunshine and family time. Here are some fun links to get you started.

  • Garden Guides has an online community of gardening experts. Much of the website is dedicated to backyard gardeners.

  • The National Gardening Association has great information for the beginning gardener, as well as tips on gardening with kids.

  • Preserve what you grow. Learn to can, dry or freeze what you grow. This can last you through the winter with careful planning — cutting down on your grocery budget and allowing you the peace of mind of knowing where you food came from.

Gardening can be great fun for the whole family, it’s truly magic to watch a seed turn into a vegetable or fruit. You may realize you have a green thumb. If you have excess produce and don’t know what to do, you can donate it to a food bank or a nearby shelter.

Financial self-sufficiency

This does not require you to be your own boss, or go off the grid. This is the ability to put some money away for a rainy day or a torrential flood. Emergencies happen, make sure you’re prepared with some savings to save you.

  • Start with $10 and work up to $1,000 in a savings account. This can normally cover any small cash emergency or car repair.

  • After your first thousand dollars, start building until you have enough to sustain you for a few months. The feeling you get when you suddenly realize if you lost your job tomorrow you’d be OK is amazing.

  • Debt can eat at your savings. There are great resources and tools available online and locally to help you get out of debt. This alone can help you become financially self-sufficient.

Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without!

My grandmother used to tell me this, and it stuck. This doesn’t mean you need to wear those threadbare shorts until they finally fall apart. There are many ways to become self-sufficient in what you consume.

  • Re-purposing is huge right now. Pinterest and blogs are full of tutorials on how to turn one thing into a useful something. Turning small sheds into chicken coops, or mason jars into deck lights. There’s something for everyone and every skill level.

  • Too small? No problem! I love cutting my kids jeans off in the spring, after they’ve grown an inch or two and they fail to reach their ankles. We pull out the cute ruffles and ribbons and they get a fresh pair of shorts or carpi’s.

  • Try the thrift store, or garage sales. Most of what we consume doesn’t need to be brand new. You can find anything from decor, to clothing, to pets at garage sales and thrift stores can be a treasure trove of items to re-purpose for your own style and use. We’ve even found brand new items here.

Food storage and emergency supplies

. Everyone should have a small emergency kit on hand for an unexpected moment. A few days of nonperishable food and water and a few other necessities can set your mind at ease. If your laws allow it, try and build a food storage, just like financial security, knowing you can feed your family in an emergency will lower the stress of a job loss, or other emergency.

  • Provident Living has some great tools to help you build your emergency kits or food storage.


Obtaining and continuing your education gives you broader opportunities for employment and a better understanding of the world around you. Unexpected situations arise all the time, make sure you’re prepared mentally, and have the knowledge you need to get you through life as it ebbs and flows.

Spiritually self-sufficient

This may be a head-scratcher, but when life throws you a curve ball be prepared spiritually. When an unexpected death, or illness occurs being connected with God and having an understanding of his great plan for you will help get you through the rough patches. Like a food storage or a financial plan, being spiritually self-sufficient can be just as important and necessary.

Finally, the journey you take when becoming more self-sufficient can be exciting and fun, if you let it. Keep an upbeat attitude and look forward to the next step, the peace of mind you receive when you know you can take care of your family and those around you.

Shannon Symonds & Erin Oscarson

Shannon and Erin are a mother and daughter with lots of children and Utah and Oregon roots.