If you’re trying to be more self reliant you will definitely want to do more things yourself. After all, you want to rely on yourself and the community around you so that your way of life can be more sustainable.
But you can’t do everything yourself; or maybe you can, but it might not be the wisest choice.
When I say doing things yourself, I don’t mean living in a cabin off-grid and building things out of fallen tree branches and fastening them with rope like you might think, if you’re like me and have seen one too many survival movies…..:)
Let take a minute to define what I don’t mean and tell you what I do mean when I say do things yourself. So we can all be on the same page about exactly what I’m talking about.
I don’t mean
Growing your own wheat to make bread
Wheat is a little hard to grow if you’re just growing it for one family. Not so much growing but harvesting. It’s more economical to grow it in a little larger quantities.
Spinning your own material to make clothes
I know a few people who like to do this and love being creative with it. I’m not talking about those people. I’m talking about doing it for every cloth you own. It would get a little labor intensive.
Forging your own metal to build a car
Again there are hobbyists out there, but doing this to a degree to make a safe automobile is not what I’m talking about when I say doing things yourself.
I do mean
Grinding your own flour
You can learn how to grind wheat into flour pretty easily. You don’t have to do it all the time, but you might like the freshness, and it’s better for you to do this yourself.
Sewing and mending some of your own clothes
I feel like this is a life skill that’s disappearing. Everyone should know basic mending, and I’ll go a step further and say that everyone should know how to read a pattern to sew something.
Routine maintenance on your car
Everyone should have a basic understanding of their vehicle and the maintenance it requires.
Some other areas of your life where you can learn how to do more things yourself include: cooking, preserving food, growing some of your own food, taking care of medicinal needs, basic house repairs, taking care of your animals, and some basic woodworking.
Why it’s important to do some things yourself
Saving money is what drives a lot of people to start doing things themselves. There are families that would simply have to do without if they didn’t make some things themselves.
Increases your skills
A huge advantage to doing things yourself is that you can get good at doing them, and people might pay you to do it for them at some point. And of course, it’s never a bad idea to learn new things.
Increases your knowledge education
Not only do you learn new skills but your knowledge increases. In other words, you understand what things go together and how they go together, whether it’s in a recipe or making an herbal remedy.
Helps you problem solve
Since your knowledge increases you become better at problem solving. There is nothing more frustrating than buying something and finding out it won’t work. Usually you have no clue why it won’t work and nothing to really investigate. If you do it or make it yourself you’ve got a lot more experience with it when looking for ways to solve problems.
You appreciate it more
When you make something you appreciate it more. You spent time to make it. In some cases it might have cost you blood, sweat or tears; sometimes all three. At the very least, you worked hard to produce it.
When you do something yourself, you have more freedom. It means that you don’t have to buy things you don’t like or from people whom you don’t think are honest.
There is no feeling in the world like the one you get when you know you did a good job with something. It’s the feeling of a job well done.
If you make something you get to decide how you’re going to make and what things you will use to make. So you can put onions in your recipe or leave them out. You can use any kind of paint for your house, not just the ones used by a painting service.
So which things should you be doing yourself?
Things that you like
This one is kind of obvious, but if you are blessed enough to have a choice, do the things you enjoy. You’re usually going to be better at those things anyway.
Things that save you the most money
Try to find the things that will save you the most money. Baking your own bread saves a lot of money. Making your own pasta might not save as much.
Things that you want to last and/or are too precious
If you want something to be of a certain quality doing it yourself and taking your time is probably going to be the best option. Because no one is going to take more time and make an emotional effort like you will. Also, if you have a family heirloom that you just can’t bring yourself to trust with someone else then you’re better off going slow and doing it yourself, especially if it’s something you’ve done before and have confidence that you can do the job.
Things that make you healthier
When you cook from scratch you’re going to be producing healthier food than if you are eating processed food. Also, if you have special dietary needs, then making or preserving your own food is going to be a good option for you.
What goods or services should be buying?
You don’t trust yourself
If there is a job you don’t trust yourself to do because you don’t have the experience yet (like plumbing), or maybe you have a family heirloom and needs some work and you don’t trust yourself to fix it.
Things that cost just as much to buy as to make
Unless it’s a hobby, you probably shouldn’t make things that are cheaper for you to just buy than the materials would cost you to make it. Baby clothes are fun to make (and a great thing for beginners), but as far as making them to save money, it’s really not worth it. Kids grow so fast and you can buy reasonable quality baby clothes pretty cheap.
Things that you do not like doing yourself
If there is something you just don’t like doing then instead of making yourself miserable, have someone do it. Call it a splurge or a necessity for your sanity. Life is too short to make yourself miserable. Of course, sometimes we don’t have a choice. I have a standard poodle and he needs to be groomed on a regular basis. It’s not my favorite thing to do, but spending over $100 to have him groomed is something I would never think about doing, partly because of the cost, partly because I don’t want to put him through that. So I reward myself after I do it and I remind myself how lucky I am to have the breed of dog that I have.
Something you need a warranty on
If you are relatively new at doing something, don’t have a lot of experience, and it’s a rather expensive repair (like putting in a new air conditioner or water heater), you might be better off paying someone to do it so you’ll have a warranty.
Of course if you do something yourself it’s going to take some time, and if you don’t have the time then it might make sense to pay someone to do it. Even though you can pack a good portion of you food when traveling you still need need to pay for some food. If you don’t have time to plant a garden one year, don’t beat yourself up, just buy locally and be happy to support your local community.