The world can be terrifying at times. Whether you’re afraid of the economy bottoming out again or glaciers melting, you need to be prepared.
Many people die from exposure every year, but what is exposure? Dying of exposure outdoors isn’t just heat stroke or sunburns. Exposure deaths are usually due to dehydration. In order to survive exposure, you need to have a clean source of water and non-contaminated food, as well as sunscreen and other protective materials to help you protect yourself from the elements.
This article is going to help you out by giving you survival tips that were used during the Great Depression so you can be prepared for any situation that may arise.
The Great Depression wasn’t completely terrible for every single person in the United States. Some people weren’t even aware of the Depression, because they were self-sufficient. People in cities with typical jobs found it difficult to provide for their families. Stocks and bonds lost value, and money got harder and harder to acquire.
Your first step for survival is to be frugal. It may seem obvious, but just hear me out. During the Great Depression, being frugal was one of the most important survival techniques that allowed people to retain a small sense of normalcy. Being frugal can make it sound like you’re being stingy or even unfriendly. When you hear the word “frugal,” Ebenezer Scrooge might come to mind!
Have you heard of FOMO? It’s the Fear Of Missing Out. And that comes with being frugal. When you stop buying things that you don’t really need, you can save a lot of money. Why keep up with the Joneses when you need to keep up with yourself first?
Remember that you only present some of your best qualities to your neighbors, friends, and family. Other people do the same. They may seem like they’re doing great when they’re actually struggling. Unless you can hop into someone’s mind and learn about everything they’re doing, you don’t know what their situation is like. Maybe that brand-new car your neighbor got was a gift from a parent who recently passed away. You just don’t know for sure! So live within your means without trying to account for what everyone else seems to be doing.
Work on learning how to budget yourself and then teach your children - or anyone else who needs to learn these lessons - how to do the same themselves. Rather than following what everyone else is doing, just lead by your own example.
Ask yourself: What do I need? What’s a necessity, and what’s a waste? Minimalizing is a great way to save money and house space. Being self-sufficient becomes easier when you realize how much money you waste on a yearly basis. You don’t have to completely deprive yourself of the things you enjoy—after all, being happy is one of the greatest ways to stay healthy. But you need to ask yourself what you’re going to be using a year from now and what will end up in the attic just a few months after Christmas.
When I’m especially crunched for cash, I use this motto: if I can’t eat it, I don’t need it.
If you can alternate between your previous spending ways (if they weren’t too extreme) and living frugally, you’ll be able to do what you like while cutting down on clutter and waste.
It also helps to find happiness in things that are simple and inexpensive. Spending time with people you care about is priceless. Going to the park is free. Learning how to fish is one of the best survival tips you can get. It can start out pretty pricey but can lead you to being more self-sufficient, especially if you can learn how to prepare your fish for eating.
When you were a kid, you may have found entertainment outdoors or even in the form of books. If you like to read, you can drop a little money on an e-reader and then purchase books in mobile formats. Many books are only 99 cents online now, and any books in the public domain can be found for free! A lot of libraries now offer digital editions of their books that you can check out on your device. Not only is it cheaper to go digital, but it also saves you precious house space. It can be really easy to fill up a book shelf, but e-readers and tablets can hold way more than your shelves ever could.
You can also find other simple ways to have fun, like sports or sitting on a swing. You can easily set up a swing in your own backyard if you have a tree you can use! You can also build a treehouse, do puzzles, learn how to play an instrument, host dance-offs, bird-watch, learn how to jump-rope, hold board-game nights, or even bust out that old chalk for a game of hopscotch.
These old-fashioned ways of having fun are cheap and often can get you outside for some much-needed fresh air and Vitamin D. They’re also great for developing friendships if you can get other people in on the fun. Nurturing relationships with other people helps you remain emotionally stable, and you never know what you can learn from them! Maybe your neighbor can teach you how to knit, or you can have potluck dinners with them. Don’t be afraid to welcome new people into your life.
The next step is to learn how to be your own doctor. I’m not saying you need to ignore medical advice or try to do surgery on yourself, of course. Instead of relying on prescription medications, figure out what you can take care of on your own. This will be a useful survival tip if you find yourself out in the boonies without a doctor on hand. If you can learn how to do your own stitches and clean a wound, you’ll be all the better for it.
Many doctors recommend exercise to solve a variety of health problems, so don’t go to the doctor just to get told that you need to exercise! Do it yourself. Exercise whenever and wherever you can. You don’t need a treadmill or anything expensive like that. You can go for walks, learn yoga, do crunches, find heavy things to lift, and so on. Doing this will make you healthier and happier!
And here’s the other part that no one likes to hear: you need to eat better. Rather than going to McDonald’s, you can get a crock pot and make your own stews, roasts, and much more! If you can go to farmers’ markets, do so. Buying locally sourced foods will support your community and help you avoid overly processed foods.
Another one that may make you cringe is that you need to drink more water, instead of sugar-laden, calorie-heavy sodas. Alcohol is expensive and has a lot of empty calories, and most juices are more sugar than juice. Cutting out drinks with a lot of calories and sugar (like that one coffee you can’t seem to stay away from) will help you lose a lot of weight, and you’ll feel happier for it.
This isn’t to say that you can be your own dentist or surgeon, of course. But do what you can. If you want to avoid cavities, floss and brush more often. Prevent heart problems with exercise and a better diet. If it’s something you can do to avoid going to the doctor’s office, you might want to consider it. It’s important to save doctor’s visits for the stuff you can’t take care of on your own, like cancer or arthritis. This is a great way of being frugal while making yourself healthier.
Doing things yourself is a great way to save money! If you can learn how to do gardening, sewing, woodworking, car repairs, plumbing fixes, cooking, food preservation, sharpening, tool making/repair, stonework or a variety of other skills that you often need in your daily life, you can save yourself a lot of trouble and precious money. Because you’re using the Internet right now, hop on over to your favorite search engine so you can find out how to take care of necessary skills that even people during the Great Depression could do.
Plus, these are good skills and survival tips to pass on to your children so that they can become self-sufficient adults in the future.
YouTube is a great place to start, but if you lose power or Internet, you can go to the good, old-fashioned library and check out some actual books or even take free classes if they offer them. Many communities offer free or inexpensive classes for learning life skills that are best learned in-person.
While you’re at it, try to avoid that pesky thing no one likes: debt. Going to the doctor’s office can be expensive, right? Make sure you can afford it before you go in and put yourself into debt.
In general, if you don’t have extra money to spare, don’t buy it if you don’t need it. Credit cards make it easy to get into debt if you don’t keep up with your expenditures, so avoid using them when possible. Pay with cash, because handling physical money makes you consider your purchases more.
Dave Ramsey has some great recommendations for paying off your debt. Get rid of your debt ASAP and then stay out of it. Do you need that fancy new TV, or does your old one still work as well as it did the day you bought it? TVs and cars can take thousands of dollars out of you. Don’t toss them to the curb as soon as your neighbor buys a new vehicle or electronic device. Use what you have. When it stops working well, that’s when you can buy a new one… if you can spare the money.
This is an important survival tip, because you never know when you will need to spend your reserves. If you find yourself buying expensive new cars when you don’t need any more or adding to your house, then you may not have the funds you need when something bad happens.
Try to think in terms of worst-case scenarios. If you buy that painting, will you have enough money left in case you end up in the hospital or your house gets damaged?
No one wants to have debt, so just avoid it as much as possible.
The Dust Bowl was another source of stress during the Great Depression. It removed a large portion of topsoil in those regions. What’s topsoil, you may ask? You’ll find it at the top several inches of your soil, and that’s where you’ll find all the nutrients and organic matter that allows us to grow plants.
During the Dust Bowl, people were plowing deep into the plains because of the technological revolution that provided them with new tools that made farming a lot easier. Because of this, a massive drought happened, and the skies were as dark as the ones covered in smog.
Make sure you take care of your topsoil so that you can grow food yourself, thus saving you some expensive grocery bills. Respecting your topsoil, capturing rain water, and composting are other ways to help yourself become more self-sufficient. If any of this isn’t feasible for you, just go check out that farmers’ market I mentioned earlier. Support your local farmers!
On that note, it’s also good to learn how to respect food. Rather than throwing away whatever you don’t eat, try cooking either the exact amount of food you’ll eat or enough to save for your next meal.
Starting a garden or keeping small livestock is a great way to manage what you’re able to eat without spending $10 on a meal. Don’t plant trees that don’t bear fruit. And of course, only grow what you’ll eat!
You can also learn how to determine what foods are edible out in the wild. For example, you can eat a lot of flowers and mushrooms if you know which ones aren’t poisonous. This survival tip can help you if you need to go on a long trip or avoid a stalker.
Still ending up with food you’re not eating? Composting or donating your unwanted food may make a difference in your life or someone else’s.
Not wasting food is a great way to save money and set a good example for others, including your kids. Other people will see that you eat as a family and don’t let anything go to waste. Your habits reflect on you as a person, so make sure that what people see is a good, self-sufficient person.
You can also take your leftovers to work or send them with your kids for lunch at school.
Another way to be less wasteful of food is to try MREs. Meals Ready to Eat used to be reserved for people in the military, but they’re now available for public consumption. They provide much needed nutrients and calories, and they don’t even need to be cooked. You just open it up and munch away! If you ever find yourself in an emergency situation, you can have MREs set up in a bag for you to take with you. Going camping or simply going on a road trip can be made easier if you keep MREs on hand. Instead of stopping at a fast-food restaurant (so many calories!) or a nicer restaurant (so expensive!), you can dig into an MRE.
Our XMRE is a great brand of these, because we provide such a wide variety of foods. Disaster prep and law enforcement are just a few reasons to use MREs. We also provide Halal-certified meals. They’re 100% compliant with Halal requirements, which is actually quite new for the industry. This way, even people with dietary restrictions can get the nutrients they need to survive when traditional food supplies are unavailable.
A great survival tip is to have MREs ready in case you need to spend a long time away from home. It can be difficult to find good, nutrient-rich, non-poisonous food when you’re on the go, so MREs are a safe way of ensuring that you get what you need.
Above all, reusing things is one of the best methods of becoming self-sufficient so you can survive just about anything. Can you reuse product packaging? Hold on to your buttons? Donate your old clothes? Turn fabric into something else (like changing an old towel into a washcloth)? Save your grease? Learn how to compost?
Do what you can to reduce your need for buying new things by reusing what you already have. Some items can have three or more lives as something new. That old, dingy throw pillow could end up as a square on a quilt. Your moth-eaten clothes could be repurposed into doll or teddy-bear outfits if there’s enough fabric left. Get creative!
On that note, you don’t have to live in the Great Depression to learn valuable survival and self-sufficiency skills. They’ll do you good no matter when or where you go. I hope these survival tips will help you now and in the future.
Here’s some valuable old advice I can leave you with:
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.”