Self-sufficiency has lessons for surviving tough times – The Royal Gazette

Self-sufficiency: People returning to landers lead more sustainable lives, but with challenges

Spend less, consume less, save more is a common mantra for financial advisors around the world. This is relevant advice that can work when everything in a personal, community, and government life is in balance: good, stable job, educational opportunities, affordable health care, manageable budget with a surplus in a government safety net, great potential economy and unlimited career growth visions. .

Address the physical and financial challenges of Covid, still ongoing after more than three years of coping with the current escalating inflation costs of so many necessities, this message becomes empathetically irrelevant.

So much so that dear readers, you or your family, regardless of your position on the financial spectrum, may have reached a state of sensory overload indifferent to yet another repetitive article about the current economic climate.

A perfectly normal reaction

The current situation of our community is a continuum on the scale of the previous economic events of many other communities. What will be the outcome of ours is still unknown. The research indicated that some communities’ financial, economic and environmental challenges had far worse outcomes while others were resolved back to normal, quickly.

My last two personal finance columns in The Royal Gazette on Fighting Inflation examined historic efforts by governments to spur economic revitalization with labor renewal projects, incentive programs and more to encourage communities to recover.

Why bother looking back, one might ask? These were wartime communities of so long ago: how might their stories be relevant today?

My answer is that people don’t change.

To have hope for the future, to have the resolve and the determination to move forward as individuals, communities and nations, whatever the challenge, is a huge motivation for the human psyche.

Moreover, history is a gift of knowledge, giving us greater insight into how people handled money and costs, how they fought war, inflation, pandemics, recessions and Natural disasters.

A lifestyle proudly embraced self-sufficiency. Note that at various times in history, this was the only method for thousands of families to manage costs, limit dependency and some inflation.

Economic Indicator: The Growing Popularity of Thrift Stores Tells a Story


The idea was that if you didn’t depend on your father, the government, utility giants, global agricultural corporations and imported consumer goods, you could do it yourself and be self-sufficient.

This dream was revived some six decades ago in a social phenomenon called the counterculture migration movement of the return to the lander. He embraced the simple life, sustainability, experiencing nature, doing it for yourself, self-sufficiency – all the interesting aspects of generational change.

People were leaving polluted urban areas, the pressures of corporate success, consumerism, to return to land (or sea). They farmed land near water sources, practiced animal husbandry, built a log house or other native structure (some took yurts and teepees), accessed solar power and electricity sources. alternative wind energy and build communities of cooperative sharing or barter.

A lifestyle that meant physical and economic survival a century ago – before the industrial revolution changed the working lives of millions – is now reborn in the form of a new philosophy, a willful simplicity and a return to old values.

Such a lifestyle would also include a large garden cultivated with good organic concepts, drying, canning, building a root cellar for winter food storage, an aviary, a truck farm stand selling garden and related products, honey, candles, soap, maple syrup harvested in winter. , cords of wood for heating by felling trees (one of the most dangerous occupations of the time), raising sheep and cotton for weaving and clothing, livestock: cattle and pigs for meat and leather, cows for milk, poultry, horses for haulage and transportation, kiln for family pottery, blacksmith for ironwork to produce decorative arts and horse shoeing, teaching home cooking, old-fashioned meal prep, hand-churn butter, grinding whole wheat into flour, wood-stove cooking, and many other day-to-day occupations that the individualistic farmers and independent producers of all kinds done in a routine day.

Mother Earth News became the inspirational leader of this very local counter lifestyle: 50 years later, he still has more than 500,000 ardent subscribers.

An independent, self-sufficient life was (and is) hard, backbreaking work. Long, cold, dark winters spent in isolation from the consumer, merchant, and interactive physical world could have detrimental effects on the mind. Fishermen, another group proud to be self-sufficient, face the omnipresent challenges of an unforgiving ocean, constant renewal of equipment, subject to the vagaries of fish runs or not, and market prices to be made profitable.

No matter how independent, thrifty, or barter-friendly the lifestyle might be, money was needed. Gas, medical, dental, emergencies and heavy taxes on income, land and real estate.

Self-sufficiency then also meant earning money through “regular” world work.

A memorable story. “She regularly snowshoeed a mile of unplowed road to a snow-covered car, then a half-hour drive to waitress work where ordinary consumers enjoyed an evening, then several hours later, reversed course to lug firewood to fuel the woodstove.

According to Green Politics, a Back-to-the-land movement, the few people who managed to lead a good self-sufficient life had three attributes:

a) Other income, for example from a trust fund or from nationally recognized artisans

b) A fully committed partner

c) Previous rural experience.

In later practice in the United States, it was very evident that many self-sufficient back-to-landers who had integrated were now approaching retirement with little personal savings.

Nor would they qualify for a decent government pension: the rule being what you contributed was what you would receive in retirement.

It was so disturbing. These were independent people who lived simply by not overwhelming the system and who now had to rely on government assistance in their old age.

What does all this mean?

Self-sufficiency and economy can fight some inflation and reduce costs, but they can’t do everything.

Government incentives and interventions can typically include: reducing government spending, issuing government bond securities (for locals), lowering excise duty rates, reducing or exempting imports , the application of incentives for increased job creation, etc.

Readers, tell me how you are doing!

Please remember that reader contributions are absolutely confidential and are always cropped without any resemblance to personal information.


The Complete Tightwad Gazette (Series I-II-III) Promoting Thrift as a Viable, Alternative Lifestyle, by Amy Dacyczyn available on Amazon

Mother Earth News

The Whole Earth Catalog

Martha Harris Myron is a Bermuda Islander with US connections, a former qualified international financial planner and author of Dawn of New Beginnings: Bermuda’s First Financial Literacy Primer, 298p, Amazon and Bookmart, Bermuda. Author of The Bermy Island Finance blog, coming soon

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