We preppers like to talk about self-reliance and independence and, perhaps, we achieve a bit of that when it comes to growing our own food, having multiple ways to survive if/when the power goes out, and storing water for emergencies. However, we can still be very much chained by habits and mindsets that are much harder to change than just snagging a few extra cans of soup every trip to the grocery store.
This Independence Day, why not declare your personal independence in ways that will establish a whole new course toward true freedom?
1. Get ride of DEBT. When my husband and I paid off the last credit card a few years back, I cannot tell you how great it was to finally be free of that financial burden. With 2 vehicles that are paid off as well, we only have our mortgage each month, and my goal is to have that paid off within 10 years. We applied Dave Ramsey’s popular money management system from his very easy-to-read book The Total Money Makover, and soon were free of debt with savings in the bank as well.
Declaring financial indpendence isn’t easy and will take time, but every little bit helps, even if you save just $1 a day or use something like this 52 Week Savings Plan.
2. Free your household from CHEMICALS. I’m not an enemy of all chemicals but most consumers mindlessly purchase products for cleaning, personal care, our pets, pest elimination, and even food without checking the ingredients. And, all too often, those ingredients are words we can’t even pronounce, much less understand how they might impact our health.
For many years, the #1 cleaning product in my house was simple white vinegar. I mixed it in a big bucket with some water to mop my floors, used it on countertops, tabletops, and had a spray bottle with half water/half vinegar for an all-purpose cleaning spray. You can increase your independence from questionable chemical additives by making your own lotions, lip balms, toothpaste, pet treats, and soap.
3. Along those same lines, establish FOOD FREEDOM and set yourself and your family free from preservatives, high fructose corn syrup, excessive sodium, and other undesirable ingredients in your food. Take a look at what is in your grocery cart and if most of it is processed, figure out ways to make those same foods from scratch but with wholesome ingredients. This is so much easier than you might think.
Years ago I went on a from-scratch-cooking kick and was amazed by how simple it was and how I could adjust recipes to suit my own taste, include in-season produce, and, in general, tweak recipes in multiple ways. I’ve written about using a no-recipe cooking method for soups and casseroles and suggest giving it a try. There’s no need to ingest ingredients that food production companies decide to add to their products when those ingredients are unhealthy.
Growing your own food, learning to preserve it by canning and/or dehydrating, and even raising chickens and bees (both are entirely possible in the suburbs) are all ways of declaring independence and increasing self-reliance at the same time.
TIP: Want to get started with canning? Tomatoes are in season everywhere right now and are one of the easiest of all foods to can. Here is more information to help you get started.
4. Take a long, hard look at how you might get your children out of the PUBLIC EDUCATION system. Even though I was a classroom teacher for several years and then I trained teachers for an additional 4 more years, I’m not a big fan of public schools. I’ve homeschooled our kids from kindergarten through their senior year — my daughter just graduated from high school as a homeschooler — and I wouldn’t change a thing.
When you homeschool, you remove your kids from “the matrix”, as I call it. They are free to become their own, independent-minded individual, free to explore their God-given interests and talents, free from daily, intense peer pressure (and sometimes bullying), and this sets the entire family free from the demands of public school.
Our family has enjoyed the freedom to travel, visit relatives, and vacation throughout the year, not just during the summer months. Some years we’ve spent less than $200 on school books and supplies, other years more, but that was by choice of curriculum, special classes, sports, etc. Homeschooling can be VERY budget-friendly.
I’ve written numerous articles about homeschooling — how to get started, the curriculum I use, etc. — and you can read them all right here.
5. Reduce your GROCERY BILL. Can you imagine spending just $200-400 a month on groceries? Well, some families do just that by cooking all meals from scratch (this is almost always cheaper than buying processed foods), starting and expanding a backyard garden, raising chickens and other small lifestock, buying in-season produce at farmers markets, and basic meal planning focusing on the most frugal meals possible.
You may not have much control over your rent, mortgage, or car payment amounts, but you have a ton of control over how much you spend on food! Check out this article about planning meals to get started. Knowing ahead of time what you will be cooking and serving several days in advance alleviates a lot of stress and allows you to shop the grocery store ads and clip coupons in order to save even more.
6. Get over MATERIALISM already! Wow, will this one set you free in more ways than one. There’s no need to keep up with the Joneses, especially when you think about how much the Joneses are spending. They may very well be in debt up to their eyeballs, as this old commercial reminds us.
That sure doesn’t look like freedom or independence to me!
Every day we are inundated by both subtle and blatant messages about what we “should” own. Women’s websites and magazines are among the worst. Unless we use a certain cosmetic, we’ll never be beautiful. Until we go on an expensive diet, we’ll never have the body we want, and of course, the message of this never-ending drumbeat is BUY-BUY-BUY!
Well, you and I can say, “NO!” to these messages of materialism and get back to just the basics and focus on wants vs. needs. This, by the way, is a great way to help our kids and grandkids also declare their independence and avoid the debt trap as adults.
7. Let go of THE PAST. Some of the most miserable people I’ve ever known are tied to past mistakes, past grievances, past relationships. They have never let go and moved on to see what the next chapter of their lives might hold.
This Independence Day, forgive yourself for mistakes you’ve made and learn from them. One thing I’ve taught my own kids is this: Would you ever talk to your best friend the way you talk to yourself? Would you ever blame and never forgive your best friend because they made a mistake? Of course their answer is always no, and I say, “Then why do you talk to yourself like that?”
Be kind to yourself as though you were your very best friend. Give yourself grace, forgiveness, and mercy.
Have a grudge against someone who hurt or rejected you? The best thing I ever did in a situation like this was write a friendly, neutral email to the person wishing them the best of luck, and you know what? I NEVER THOUGHT ABOUT THEM AGAIN! Really. That one simple step totally removed any power I thought they had over me, and I stopped my mental conversations of what I’d like to say, what I should have said, etc. I just wish I had thought to write that email months earlier!
When you take this step, also seek out people who are positive, happy, and excited about life. It’s been said that you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. If that’s the case, be purposeful and selective about who those 5 people are! Married to a perpetually grumpy spouse? Then determine the other four people will be rays of bright, shining lights in your life!
8. Decide to stop STUPID/RISKY BEHAVIOR. Why chain yourself to bad habits that are affecting your physical, mental, and/or emotional health? Even not getting enough sleep every night has extremely negative effects after a while.
Some people avoid going to the doctor, the dentist, getting any exercise, among other bad decisions, and end up paying a high price with an unhealthy body that couldn’t run a block if they saw a mushroom cloud on the horizon.
Don’t be that person!
9. If you’re a prepper, you may already have set yourself free from worrying about WHAT OTHERS THINK, but if not, this is something you need to make a habit of today. Nothing will bind you down more than worrying about what other people think, when the truth is, they really don’t think about you very often at all.
10. Declare your independence by taking charge of your TIME. You do realize that time is life, right? As those seconds and minutes tick away, that’s your life ticking away, so why squander it by saying “yes” to commitments you really don’t want or need in your life? Spending it on mindless video games and forms of entertainment that have no value at all. When we don’t manage our time, we give control of our lives over to everyone and everything else, and there’s certainly no independence in that!
When we manage time well, our lives become more balanced, and this leads to better physical, emotional, and mental health. Granted, it’s hard to achieve this during the baby/toddler/little kid years, but even an hour or so of alone-time can help. I love this book, Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives, because it sheds so much light on the importance of using time strategically.
11. If you’re still SEEKING STATUS and approval from others, you aren’t truly independent, my sweet friend. Learn who you are, clarify your values, and decide what your own definition is of success. If you define success as having a happy marriage, healthy kids, and a home that is a haven for your loved ones, then you can hold your head up high because you’ve succeeded!
Self-confidence, modeled in front of your children, is a magnificent legacy that will extend to generations long after you’re gone.
12. If you do nothing else, set yourself free from SOCIAL MEDIA!! What a scourge this has become. On Twitter and Facebook, I have never seen so much rage, hatred, disrespect, and pure meanness on display every single day. Sometimes it’s aimed at “friends” but more often at total strangers. People who wouldn’t even look you in the eye in real life have no problem calling you a &*(&*!!! or a $%^^& or even a $%&^*&@ simply because you voice an opinion they don’t like.
Who needs that kind of “social” in their lives? Not me. Not only does social media expose you to a steady stream of negative vibe but it also sucks away time like nothing else can. I’ve found myself scrolling through Facebook posts for hours each week, maybe getting a recipe idea here or there, maybe watching a funny cat video — but how is that really useful or helpful to me? I have plenty of cookbooks with hundreds of recipes, maybe thousands, that I’ve never read and if our 5 pets aren’t here for my entertainment, then what are they good for???
I’m being a bit facetious with that last bit there, but you get my point. Nothing online, nothing at all, will ever contribute to your quality of life the way real relationships and real life will.
13. Finally, find ways to reduce your DEPENDENCE ON OTHERS. Preparing for emergencies and being ready for things like power outages, bad weather, and unexpected expenses. Simple things like clearing your home of clutter and unwanted/unneccessary belongings and getting organized, setting aside some money each week, and developing practical skills will all help you become independent and able to face challenges without total reliance on others.
Foster this attitude in your other family members as detailed in this article.
I’ve always wondered if it really is the nature of humans to fear independence and both need and want someone to rule over them, give them orders, and then obey, as in this speech by Loki in The Avengers movie,
I think you and me, though, we’re different. We were drawn to the idea of preparedness exactly because we reject the thought of being controlled and ruled over by others in a time of crisis and seek independence in ways that are often small but gradually accumulate to something of real significance.
Enjoy your Independence Day, not just this July 4th, but on every day of the year!