by Casey Quinn
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Any financial planner will tell you the best way to control your wealth is to set up a budget. In that budget, allocate how much money you need to spend on housing expenses, utility bills, gas, and of course, food. Ideally, if there is anything left over, you stash it into savings. The average person will make about two trips to the grocery store a month and eat out once a week. This person could spend anywhere from $250 to $350 a month on food! If the budget is for a family, then the amount allocated will increase by hundreds of dollars.
What if by making some changes to your everyday life you could take that number and divide it in half, increase your and your family's overall health and be able to stash away more money for retirement? Would you keep reading? Of course you would! Learning to be more self-sufficient is an easy to do and satisfying lifestyle change.
So, what does self sufficiency mean and how can you get started? Glad you asked! The idea behind self sufficiency is that you pay a premium on anything done for you. If you could learn to do it yourself, you could pay what it is actually worth and avoid premium fees. Did you buy a coffee in the morning from Starbucks? Congrats! You just paid a premium for someone to brew some beans for you! Anytime you find yourself paying someone to do something that you could have done, you just overpaid for it. Self-sufficiency is being able to control your own living, provide for yourself and remove the convenience premium applied to restaurants and grocery stores.
Now with definitions out of the way, let's start with a few basic changes you can make, which will lead to big rewards to your bank account and your health.
Make Your Own Bread
Starting in the mid 1950s, chemicals, such as hydrogenated oils and artificial preservatives, were introduced to the bread-making process. Also, have you noticed the cost of bread rising in the last few years? In some places, consumers are paying 50 cents to $1 more than they did even one year ago. Making your own bread does not have to be a time-consuming chore. If that is your concern, get a bread maker. All you need to do is plug in the ingredients, start it up, come back in three hours, and enjoy a great tasting loaf of bread. There are no chemicals, and it's cheaper and leaves your house smelling like a bakery.
Start a Garden
Have you noticed the price of produce at the grocery store lately? It keeps going up. I won't go into the details of how many chemicals are sprayed on produce before you eat it as I am sure you have heard it all before. However, if you are a regular veggie eater, then did you know you could have a year's worth of produce for the cost of what you are paying now in one month? Interested? Here is all you need:
- Packets of seeds (pick whatever you want to grow)
- Some dirt (either in a pot or in the ground)
That's it. Seems simple, right? All you need to do is plant the seeds at the right depth, make sure they get some sun and water, and in no time at all, you will be eating fresh produce all year round without paying a convenience premium.
Make the Most of Canning
Now that you have your own veggies in the garden, you can make your own tomato sauce, ketchup, salsa and many other products that you are currently buying. Once made, it can be canned and stored for more than 12 months! When canning on your own, you are using no preservatives or chemicals, you're using your own veggies, and best of all, you paid practically nothing for them!
To get specific recipes, I would recommend getting The Ball Blue Book of Canning and Preserving Recipes. It has great recipes and provides specific instructions on how to heat, prepare and store your goods.
By following the steps in this article, you could save hundreds of dollars a year! Start today and save!
These items are just the start. Examine what you spend your money on and ask yourself the question: Could I have done this myself? If the answer is yes, read up on it, start doing it, and escape the convenience premium. You'll see a difference in your savings and in your health.
Take the Next Step:
- Making your own bread doesn't have to be a big chore. Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking shows how to make bread without a breadmaker.
- For help on starting a garden, click here.
- Take control of your finances. Subscribe to our weekly "Surviving Tough Times" newsletter. This free html newsletter will provide ways to survive in this challenging economy. Each issue features nine articles to help you stretch your dollar!
- Discuss "What Does Self Sufficiency Mean to You?" in The Dollar Stretcher Community.
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