I have 15 pioneer skills I’written about today that hopefully will help save you money and my reader how to be prepared for the unexpected. I believe we are very close to economic challenges in this country like what we saw back in 2007-2009. This was the most recent recession. There have been many over the years, but this one is still in many of our minds today. House prices were inflated and families and the businesses who sell and finance real estate took on too much risk, and it came back to bite them in their pocketbooks and balance sheets. This is why I am updating this post today.
Some in the industry made out like bandits, so to speak, based on how they documented the sales and loan agreements. But we all know people who lost their jobs because building and/or selling homes stopped dead overnight. This caused a ripple effect that brought on financial challenges for millions.
Here’s the deal, much of the strength of our economy is based on the building of homes since that’s viewed as achieving the “American Dream.” It impacts every aspect of our economy when that segment slows down to any significant degree. People need housing permits, concrete to build basements or foundations, lumber, tile, cabinets, carpet, and the list goes on and on.
We need the trades workers like plumbers, electricians, and carpenters. We also need the finance industry to effectively support the building, selling, and financing of those homes. We also need the retail businesses that feed and clothe those workers and their families.
We need the housing market to be strong, but not overly inflated. It will always have cycles, and at some point, will slow down as “corrections” take place. History repeats itself, as we’ve learned over the years.
We have all heard that interest rates are going up. I have to laugh because they are still great rates right now. I remember in 1983 building a home and we were so happy to lock in a rate of 10%, YIKES! Today’s home interest rates are still really low in comparison.
I remember when I owned my mortgage company and I had two computers side by side, one for working on loan applications and one for watching the stock and bond markets. If the rates trickled up, people slowed down buying homes. If the rates were low people refinanced or bought a bigger home if their family was expanding. Some of my smartest clients downsized to pay off their homes quickly.
I was also a realtor for 12 years, so I know a lot about the housing market. I am still very active in watching how much homes are selling for and how much the seller paid in concessions. Concessions mean the seller pays closing costs or repairs.
I have always encouraged people to sell their existing home before they purchase a second one, even if the numbers show they qualify for both homes. You never want to own two homes, unless you are planning on a second home as part of your financial plan. If the market crashes and you can’t sell one of the homes, you could be in financial jeopardy. Of course, if the rental market is strong, you can become a landlord and rent it out and let the renters help make the mortgage payment.
The economy is so unsettled, that I’m anxious to remind people to learn at least these 15 pioneer skills. We need to be ready in case we lose a job, a family member becomes ill who can no longer work or care for the family, or a family member dies unexpectedly.
We need to store water, food, and cooking fuel at the very least, my friends. Here is my 15 pioneer skills list to hopefully help you deal with emerging challenges, and possibly save or make even more money as you put the skills to work for you. In other words, get your affairs in order.
15 Pioneer Skills
1. Make Cloth Toilet Paper
I know, I can hear you say, “there is no way I am going to do that!” Well, we may have no other choice. I highly recommend cutting flannel into 7-inch squares. I cut hundreds into 9-inch squares, but I think smaller is better. You can buy new flannel or cut worn-out nightgowns, or go to local thrift stores and start cutting squares from shirts or nightgowns. If you can serge them, that would be awesome.
You can also save phone books and newspapers, or use leaves. I’d rather have some soft cloths to use, and hopefully, we’d have some water to wash them properly. I have a lot of TP stored, but when it’s gone the stores may be empty.
This is one easy way to become more self-sufficient. Yes, it’s not as convenient, but personal hygiene is important, and this is a step you can take that will mean a lot to you and your family.
2. Monthly Homemade Menstrual Supplies
I wrote a post on making your own menstrual monthly supplies. Trust me, if you don’t need them anymore, there is a neighbor that may need these. Oh, I can hear some young girls say, “no way!” Well, if the stores are closed, you will use them or it’s going to be very messy and uncomfortable. Pattern For Menstrual Pads
3. Make Elderly Diapers
As much as we hate to think about this, there are a lot of elderly people that are affected by incontinence. I know you can buy some reusable adult diapers, but you can also make some with diaper fabric. I have purchased some, just because I have some neighbors that may need them should we have a grid down. And we will. Please be prepared for it. If the stores are open the shelves will be empty very quickly. These are washable Adult Diapers
4. Buy or Make Baby Cloth Diapers
Cloth diapers will be critical to have on hand. My daughters grew up with cloth diapers and waterproof pants. They make really awesome ones now that are washable. Yes, you will have to hand wash them when we lose power, but hey, everyone wants to be comfortable, even our sweet babies or toddlers. They have fancy ones, but you can just buy these inexpensive products. Cloth Diapers and Waterproof Pants and Diaper Pins or Fancy Pancy Diapers
5. Ditch Paper Towels
Here’s the deal, the kitchen is one place that is very easy to use cloth “paper” towels, you may save hundreds of dollars per year by making this switch. I like a certain one because they are thin diapers, but thick enough to absorb the liquid. Cloth Towels will change your life. Yes, you must wash them, but I wash whites almost every other day so that works for me. These are cheap and wash and dry by hand easily. Just another one of my 15 pioneer skills that work by saving us money.
6. Learn To Sew and Quilt
I’m grateful my mother taught me to sew, I started out with an apron. Easy peasy. I grew up taking sewing classes at school that sharpened my skills even more. I also learned to cook at school, even though I was already cooking from scratch at home. I always enjoyed learning a new technique and I will be forever thankful for those patient teachers as I remember learning to make my own clothing.
I also made my daughters’ clothes for many years. I know fabric may prove to be more expensive than buying products from your local Target or Wal-Mart, but there is something to be said for being able to make things on your own when the stores have limited inventory, or have closed all together.
I’ve purchased sewing machines for my daughters and some of my grandkids if they wanted to take sewing lessons. For years I didn’t live near any of them, but when we did get together, I will always tried to teach them a new trick or two on the sewing machines.
This grandma was so proud when she learned one granddaughter was making bobbins, that may sound like a small thing but it’s not. If the bobbins are “squishy” they will not work. So to hear one granddaughter making several bobbins out of different colors of threads was music to my ears. Proud grandma here.
Please note, be sure and get your sewing machine serviced, cleaned, and oiled at least yearly. It should last a lifetime. You can oil it yourself, between servicing. If you know how to sew, please teach others, and if you feel so inclined, take sewing lessons yourself. If you have a good machine anyone can sew, I promise.
The picture above is of my oldest grandson, Jake. He wanted to make his own pajama bottoms. He said, “grandma let’s make our own pattern.” We then made our own pattern, gotta love it. It reminded me of how I picture skills being handed down just like they did back when people were involved with setting up their first homestead.
Just like other skills used at the time, such as a butcher, baker, and candlestick maker, we can pass on those things we’ve learned from others to bless our lives and the lives of those around us. Maybe it’s learning to work leather, raise chickens for eggs, raise livestock for meat, have our own hives for honey, have rabbits in pens, make our own butter and cheese, etc.
There are so many skills to learn and pass on. Which ones have you mastered?
Did your mother or grandmother piece different shapes of fabric together to make a quilt? I know my favorite all-time quilt was one my great-grandmother made with strips of fabric I recognized from dresses my mom made for me. I call it a treasure, hand sewn together and then hand quilted.
7. Sharpen Your Garden Skills
Please learn to plant at least potatoes, anyone can grow potatoes, I promise. Get good potato seeds, preferably Non-GMO varieties. You can plant them non-stop over and over. Plant, grow, harvest, and start another planting of potato seeds. This is where I buy all of my seeds: SeedsNow
If you can take some garden classes that would be awesome. I have learned to grow a garden by trial and error, but I never give up. I will try year after year until I learn how to work with the soil where I live. I have had a garden for over 60 years now. I learn something new every year.
Herbs and tomatoes are also pretty easy to grow. We all use herbs and spices, so why not get them from your own garden? There is nothing more rewarding than growing some of your own food. You can not only save money, but it could make a difference during an emergency situation since you’ll have food on your table. It may be a whole new mindset, but growing your own food can also provide an opportunity to eat more healthy meals, something we all want to achieve.
Please don’t wait until next year to “learn to grow a garden,” it will be too late. Start this year, and grow whatever your location’s weather can tolerate. I can almost taste my fresh tomatoes. I’m waiting to put them in the ground when the last chance of frost is passed.
8. Wash Clothes by Hand
I have talked about having the equipment to wash your clothes by hand. You can use a bucket or washtub. Please be prepared to be able to wash clothes before we lose power for days, weeks, or months. The laundromats will not be working if we lose power. The bathtub is not a smart idea because if the sewer lines don’t work, the drains in the tubs won’t work, or they may back up.
We all take our modern conveniences for granted, like our dishwasher and clothes washer and dryer. Learn the skills necessary to accomplish the same tasks by hand, you’ll feel more confident you’re better prepared.
Please get a clothesline or wooden clothes rack to dry your clothes. Don’t forget the clothespins, you will need them. Update, my favorite emergency washing machine is a Lavario (currently unavailable).
9. Make Laundry Soap
This is a really easy way to save money and use one of my 15 pioneer skills at the same time. It’s almost comical how cheap it is to make. Here is my recipe:
1 Fels-Naptha Bar-grated either by hand, food processor, or salad shooter. You can use your own favorite bar of soap, but I’ve found the Fels-Naptha Bar is very effective at getting out stains.
1 cup Borax Detergent Booster
1 cup Super Washing Soda (not regular baking soda)
Put these 3 ingredients in a blender to blend and grate the Fels-Naptha even more. After doing this it will look just like the store-purchased detergent, but will not include all the “fillers.” You’ll use less product per load and will have fewer “bubbles.” Remember, just having bubbles doesn’t mean clean…..I use 1 teaspoon per load. I have a HE-High Efficiency washer and it works great! In case you missed this post, DIY Laundry Detergent
- 1 bar Fels-Naptha Soap-grated either by hand, food processor, or salad shooter
- 1 cup Borax Detergent Booster
- 1 cup Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda (not regular baking soda)
Grate the bar of soap by hand, or use an electric vegetable grater. Put these 3 ingredients in a blender to blend. After doing this, it will look just like the store-purchased detergent, but will not include all the “fillers." You will use less product per load and will have fewer “soap bubbles." Remember, just having bubbles doesn’t mean clean. I use 1/2 to 1 teaspoon per load, depending on the size of the load. I have a HE-High Efficiency washer, and it works great in regular washing machines as well. Store the finished product in an airtight container, preferably glass to keep it dry. I store some in 5-gallon buckets, but I don't live where it's humid. Just giving you the heads up.
10. First Aid Kits and Healing Skills
Oh, I love first aid and healing myself. I have a great Medical Handbook that I highly recommend. If we have a disaster and the pharmacies are closed and the hospitals are overflowing we must have some first aid supplies at our house. If we have a pandemic, we must be prepared with essential oils or over-the-counter products we are used to using. Here is my First Aid Kit List, you can add your own favorites to my list. Survival Medicine Handbook
Besides having the first aid kit, we need to learn how to use the supplies in the kit. Knowing what we have and how to put it to use will prove to be an essential skill. We hear all the time how even some young people have saved others’ lives because they know first aid skills. Consider signing up for a class that you and other family members can take together. It could be fun!
11. Baking Bread
You don’t have to buy a book to learn how to make bread. I have all of my no-fail bread, cinnamon rolls, dinner rolls, and so much more on my blog for FREE. I feel God has asked me to share my bread-making skills with others. This is my all-time biggest post on making bread Linda’s No-Fail Bread Recipes. Here’s the deal with making bread, if you have FRESH ingredients you can make bread, I promise. Oh, and my cinnamon roll recipe is the best in the world, enjoy!
If you want some happy campers in your house, have some warm bread or cinnamon rolls on the counter waiting for them when they get home from school or work. Trust me, nothing tastes better. Have some butter, jam, jelly, or honey nearby so they can slather one or more of them all over your homemade goodie, they’ll love it!
12. Cook from Scratch
Please learn to cook from scratch, the drive-throughs will not be open or available if we lose power or the ability of the food trucks to deliver food to the grocery store chains or restaurants.
Learn to make white sauces, beans, rice, and pasta dishes, to name just a few meals. Browse my entire website, I cook from scratch and have since I was very little. Here is my White Sauce that’s very easy to make.
Here is a list of 101 Budget Meals by Linda
When the power grids go down in the US we will be in big trouble. Our country is not prepared to handle a grid down. I am so tired of a few of our government workers telling us our country is resilient. We are not. This country is totally unprepared for a cyber attack and/or grid down. It would take 20-30 years to replace or repair our old decrepit power substations. PLEASE read Ted Koppel’s book “Lights Out“. Don’t be fooled into thinking we are going to be alright, we aren’t going to be.
13. Cooking Outside
If you can start a fire, please store some matches, you’ll need them. If nothing else, learn to cook outside with a Dutch Oven over charcoal briquettes. You don’t have to buy several cooking devices to prepare meals outside, or even to boil water. One Dutch Oven will work. Please store charcoal briquettes without lighter fuel built into them in some airtight containers. Lots of charcoal. I prefer the 6-quart Dutch oven size because it’s easy to lift since it’s smaller. Please look at the lid on the Dutch Oven, this lid makes it easier to put charcoal on the lid when cooking. Lodge gave me permission to make this printable Lodge Dutch Oven Cooking Sheet:
I also like the idea of having a SunOven. It uses FREE sunlight to cook your food. I put one on my patio so it’s ready to use out on my back lawn anytime. I’ve cooked bread and casseroles many times. They seem to always turn out
Another handy product is a butane stove. I used one for a few weeks when we had to wait for the plumber to swap out our electric stove for a new natural gas stove. I found the butane cooked fairly fast and the small tank lasted longer than I expected. There are lots of product options, check them out.
You should also consider small camp stoves that a fueled by propane. They are generally reliable and fairly cheap to run. As with other fuel-based options, fuel storage can become an issue. Always follow safe practices as you cook with and store various fuels.
14. Canning and Preserving Food Safely
I’m going to caution you about reading what is being taught online concerning canning and pressure canning food. Some will tell you certain food items are safe to can/preserve, they are not. I’m not going to argue with anyone, I have my Master Canning, Preserving Certificate from our state extension service. It was a fun class and I even learned a few new safety items for canning.
Here are the only books I recommend for canning or pressure canning food (be sure and check with your local county extension service to see if you can take the classes for canning safety): USDA Canning Guide or The Ball Canning Guide
If you grow your own food and then can them for storage it is the best of both worlds. Having a fresh jar of canned peaches with your breakfast is a meal addition to die for!
15. Learn to Use Tools
The time to learn to do carpentry is now, not next year. If we can learn to work on cars, tractors, trucks, etc. the door is wide open to be self-reliant. If you have tools to cut tile, hammers, screwdrivers, and wrenches, please teach your offspring how to use them. Build a shed or shelter, finish a basement, learn to do plumbing, and electrical work, life is good if you can repair your own washing machine. These 15 pioneer skills can carry you through almost any disaster, I promise.
This is a short list of 15 pioneer skills, how many do you know? Can you teach others? Do you have skills you think need to be added to my list? Let me know and I’ll pass them along.
Keep in mind that you can use these and other “pioneer” skills as bartering chips. You may not have extra preparedness items to share or barter, but skills can be used by others in need anytime. Please be prepared for the unexpected. May God bless you and your family.
My book: “Prepare Your Family For Survival”
Covered Wagon: AdobeStock_173076754 by BJphotographs, Kneading Dough AdobeStock_78954368 by highwaystarz