20 June 2011

Eight easy and fun hobbies to increase your self-reliance

Becoming more self-reliant means doing more for yourself, relying less on others, and/or buying less mass-produced products. In short, it's do-it-yourself time.

Of course, few people can jump right into doing everything for themselves. Fewer still can make all the goods they need to survive. An alternative is to pick one area at a time in which to work on being self-sufficient.

Below is a list of eight hobbies to consider taking up. Becoming proficient in any one of these will increase your independence in a very tangible way:

  1. Gardening: Growing your own food is as basic as it gets. Even if you don't have a yard, or much space at all, you can still start container gardening for just a small amount of money. With a bit more space, you can grow considerably more food and really put a dent in your grocery bill.

  2. Hunting/Fishing: Although not for everyone, hunting and/or fishing can also help reduce your food bill. Costs can be considerably more than getting started in gardening, depending on what game you're after. You'll also need to learn about cleaning and processing what you catch. In addition, hunting has the side benefit of learning to properly use firearms. (You are taking a hunter's safety course, right?)

  3. Camping/Hiking: "Roughing it" is a win-win situation — you get to go relax in the great outdoors, and learn how to live "unplugged" from all of the conveniences of modern life — assuming you leave the laptop at home and turn the ringer off on your smartphone. Camping can cost a little or a lot… generally, the more "home-like" your experience is, the more it will cost.

  4. Canning/Dehydrating: Learning either of these is pretty simple, and you can get started with them for a small investment. Once you become proficient, you can stock up on a lot of food, which will increase your level of preparedness against storms, job loss, economic problems, and so on. (This is a great hobby to learn after you've started gardening.)

  5. Cooking: Learning to cook for yourself is not only fun, but you'll probably eat more healthily. Plus, your food bill will typically be lots lower, since you're not paying someone else to prepare the food, package it, and transport it to you. If you expand your cooking to include grilling and other outdoor methods, you'll be better prepared for power outages or similar disruptions.

  6. Sewing: Learning to sew means that you can make clothes that are exactly your style, and fit like they were made just for you — because they were! Generally, sewing requires a sewing machine (which can be a bit costly), but you can learn the basics of hand sewing too. That's handy to know anyway, since it can help with mending existing garments.

  7. Knitting/Crocheting: Either of these hobbies will allow you to make garments (or other items) that are useful and attractive. You can get started in knitting or crocheting for a fairly small amount of money. My mother and grandmother said they found these kinds of needlework to be relaxing, and easy to do while you're talking, listening to the radio, or watching television.

  8. Carpentry/Woodworking: Learning to build things from wood can be extremely useful. You can build simple outdoor furniture or elegant indoor pieces that are decorative and functional. Or, you can build sheds, fences, and more. Even basic carpentry will require you to buy some tools and equipment, which can be pricy. More elaborate woodworking can mean more expensive power equipment (or good hand tools and a lot of patience).

Mastering one of these hobbies will also give you the peace and satisfaction of knowing that you can fend for yourself a bit more than before. Once you're comfortable with one new skill, pick another one and work on it. Keep doing that and before you know it, you'll be well along the way to self-reliance.

What do you think? Did I miss your favorite self-reliant hobby? Please add your suggestions in the comment section below.

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