Self-Sufficiency Leads to Financial Independence
Fact- it’s often a lot more expensive to pay someone else to do something you can do yourself, in terms of your money, time, and attention. Self-sufficiency matters.
When I look at my day to day life, there are lots of things which I taught myself or which we perform ourselves, which save both time and money.
Our stretch goal is to buy a home in 2018. When we do, our self sufficiency will increase, as we plan to put a solar panel on the roof, collect rainwater, plant a garden, and have a tenant.
Right now we live in a townhouse, and we shovel our own driveway. We will always shovel our own driveway. Because it can get done in half an hour or less, immediately, unlike waiting for a contractor. This also keeps our dough from leaving our pockets.
We also wash our car. I guarantee you, by the time you have purchased your car wash pass and waited in line for your car to be washed at the gas station, you could have filled one bucket with water, with soap, and then with water again to sponge wash your car. Try it! If you don’t love it, you can always go back to the $7.99 car wash.
Self-sufficiency also extends to home improvement and decorating. My rule of thumb is to try something myself and if I can’t figure it out, call a professional. This has led to me painting my own room (remember that proper cleaning and set up is 80% of the job), changing my own doorknobs and light plates (spend a bit of money on this and your house will really look luxurious all of a sudden), and making my own wall art. In real life, you get to phone a friend. My uncle came over once to help us clear out a blocked sewer pipe.
If something looks pretty in a store, try to make it. I saw a gorgeous pom pom cactus on sale for $50 at a flower shop downtown. I made it myself with $10 of materials:
I have found it is less expensive and better quality to buy clothes rather than make them. That doesn’t mean you can’t mend or alter your own clothes, which I do all the time. I’m not afraid of buying dry-clean only clothes, however, because I hand wash them. I steam my dry clean only clothes between uses and can usually wear them two or three times. I make my own natural stain remover (I use eco-friendly dish detergent rather than Dawn).
You’re already a superstar who knows to make your own meals, whenever possible, over eating out. You make batches of soup and freeze them for meals or dinners on the fly.
But do you grow your own herbs? Nothing perks up a morning omlette than fresh mint or chives from your herb box. It’s the gift that keeps on giving, requiring little more than watering once a day (or less, if you plant the herbs in the ground), and at the end of the season, you can cut the herbs, tie them with a string, and hang them to make dried herbs for the summer:
For those without land like me, you can grow your own sprouts. It’s pretty awesome watching seeds become sprouts out of thin air, and enjoying the variety of crunchy goodness.
Maintenance and Gifts
Why anyone would bother taking their pet somewhere for a $10 nail cut is beyond me. With a few practice sessions, you and your dog or cat will be used to you cutting their nails! I even used to cut my hamster’s nails using a baby nail trimmer! We use this clipper for both our cat and dog.
DIY weddings are also a big thing. I made my own cards for my wedding, and I got used to making my own cards. Invariably, when a friend comments on a gift, they will appreciate a crafty homemade card more than the gift itself. I really enjoy the creativity of making different cards, and you can usually do 5-7 in an hour.
Sometimes, self-sufficiency cannot work. I have found that knitting something is more time intensive and can be more expensive than just buying something. Making time-intensive things like dumplings will never be cheaper than buying them in a store (they could be healthier, though). Of course, in your DIY frenzy, never work on plumbing or electrical yourself.
This is actually just the tip of the iceberg of what we do for ourselves. Always try to learn new skills and become a “Renaissance Woman”! When you’re paying a vendor to do what could take you under one hour to perform or master, you’re relinquishing control to a small part of your life, and to your money. You’re missing out on the opportunity to say to your friends, ‘I did this myself.” You’re fussing over having to go to a location to have a service performed, or to drop off and pick up an item, and using your previous time. Self-sufficiency brings you closer to financial independence.
What do you do yourself to save time and money?