These DIY Magazines Can Help You Be Self-Reliant
Everyone’s looking to become less dependent on the traditional economy. As we wean ourselves from manufactured luxuries and discover ways to create for ourselves, it can be difficult finding where to start. This handful of print magazines offers timeless advice and step-by-step instructions for living on less. There’s something here for everyone!
Countryside – This black-and-white mag is a bi-monthly compilation of the best folksy advice from those who live the homesteading lifestyle. Completely reader-written, you won’t find any half-baked freelance studies here. Tips, tricks, and plenty of “what-not-to-do’s” give instructions on how to live rural for maximum freedom. (Of course, ideas can be adapted for those with little land or in an urban area.)
The magazine has been in production for over 90 years, and claims to be:
“the truly original country magazine (established 1917) serving that branch of the Voluntary Simplicity movement seeking greater self-reliance (homesteading), with emphasis on home food production. This includes gardening, small-scale livestock, cooking, food preservation, resource conservation, recycling, frugality, money management, alternative energy, old-time skills, home business, and much more.”
Favorite articles (that can be previewed online) include:
As a long-time subscriber of Countryside, I can’t tell you enough how much I enjoy reading and learning. Even the ads in the magazine have been useful and full of ideas. There are also quality classifieds, recipes, and real estate listings!
Mother Earth News – This “original guide to living wisely” has a more earth-friendly bent than some others. Packed with tips for getting the most from your garden and yard, this magazine also covers alternative fuel and natural health topics. Mother Earth also provides tons of free online content, including searchable articles, blogs, and Q & A discussions. You might also want to check out their store, with unique gifts (like hybrid car blueprints) and my favorite offering, the 4 disk collection of all issues from 1970 – 2007 (that’s over 6,000 articles of stuff that never gets old!)
You can sample some of my favorite articles:
There’s always way too much good stuff here to read it all!
Family Handyman – Not exactly as crunchy as the other mags, this DIY resource for any skill-level is also a favorite read at my house. With simple, doable tips for a variety of home and car issues, you can easily follow along to fix it yourself. Plumbing, electrical, carpentry, and mechanic work can be in your hands (eliminating the need for the expensive service call and $65+ hourly fee). Every step is outlined in detail with full color accompanying photos. (And for any who are concerned about the general term of handy-“man”, many of the photos feature savvy ladies in work goggles, too!)
Handy tips that I’ve personally benefited from include:
Again, this is a magazine that I subscribe to, and I’ve realized savings beyond the subscription cost time and again. (It also made the perfect gift for my fix-it hubby!)
There are lots of other mags on the market that also offer great info, but not so much that I would pay for them. They are either very narrow in their scope or have too much advertising or promotional focus. Two that made my “honorable mention” list, however, are Ready Made and Farm Show. You could call these my “entertainment” magazines.
ReadyMade is relatively new. I have enjoyed flipping through the pages to get ideas, although several of the projects featured are way beyond my price range. Geared toward more urban lifestyles, the articles focus more on looking good than keeping things inexpensive. That being said, I’ve enjoyed short pieces on micro-housing and DIY yogurt. I can always take away one or two pieces of really useful info from this mag, however, I’m more likely to rip out a page or two for later than keep the entire thing.
For a sample of some of their best tips, check out A Flash in the Can: How to Rid Yourself of Stuff That Can’t Go in the Recycling Bin. Very, very clever!
Farm Show – Part Astronaut Farmer, part popular mechanics, this mag is a newspaper filled with the DIY projects of farmers and junk-yard dogs who leave little to waste. Want detailed plans for a homemade fuel vaporize that boosts gas mileage? How about stories of successful and unusual home businesses (including a farm-based software company, a rustic furniture business, and a profitable custom sawing operation)? All invention and success stories include contact info for the farmer-inventor so that readers can contact them directly for questions and followup. The “Made it Myself” Encyclopedia is a favorite at our house – it includes 482 pages of the craziest and most useful inventions from past issues of Farm Show. Self-propelled wood cart or Home-built Field Burner, anyone?
All of these magazines are great for inspiring creative and innovative lifestyle changes. If you’re not in a position to buy a year for yourself (most run more than typical magazines, due to their content value), why not see if your local library will carry them?