Prepping on a Budget in 2014

| January 2, 2014 |

prepping on a budget

Being a prepper is all about setting priorities and being responsible. If you’ve been on any survival forums or watched doomsday prepping shows on television, you’ve likely seen individuals that have committed an enormous amount of their time and money into preparing for TEOTWAWKI. By all means, if you have the disposable income and resources to devote toward prepping, you should be free to do so. However, the reality for most preppers is attempting to develop a quality survival plan while working on an already tight budget. That begs the importance of knowing how to prioritize your prepping needs so that you have all the essential supplies (and skills) to keep you and your family alive when SHTF.

The good news is that prepping can be done successfully (and quite easily) with a limited budget. No one should ever go into debt or risk their financial well-being for the sake of prepping, as there are always alternatives. Below we will take a look at a few wallet-friendly ideas for prepping smart on a budget.

Planning Ahead

As noted, prepping is all about setting priorities. With that said, many preppers feel the need to do everything at once and rush their preps with a false sense of urgency. Realistically, slow and steady wins the race, as is the case in many aspects of life. The first priority, which comes into place before you even consider allotting part of your income to your preps, is establishing a general plan for survival. You must consider things like:

– What am I preparing for?
– Do you intend to hunker down or bug out?
– How much do you need for your entire family?
– What skills do you have/need to learn?

Only after formulating a general plan should you begin to think about a realistic budget to maintain and contribute to your preps. For instance, if you intend to fortify your home and hunker down no matter what goes on outside, you may focus more of your effort and budget into storing water, shelf-stable foods, and other necessary supplies for long-term survival. If you intend to get out of dodge as quickly as possible, the money in your budget will likely go into more portable gear like water filters and shelter-making tools needed for short-term, on-the-road survival.

Build From What You Already Have

Before going out and purchasing everything you might think you’d need to survive a disaster, start by taking inventory of the supplies and gear you already have. You may be surprised as to how many everyday household tools (and groceries) will serve an important role in your family’s survival–the majority of us have way more equipment than we realize. Take a look at the items you consider “junk” in your basement, attic, garage, and shed and you will likely find things that will serve a purpose; Do the same with the food in your pantry. This will prevent you from wasting money on duplicates of items you may already have.

Creating a Budget

After formulating a plan and taking inventory, your next step is creating a realistic prepping budget. If you have a set income, start by subtracting all of your weekly/monthly expenditures and bills for things like your mortgage/rent, insurance(s), groceries, etc. Whatever is left over is what you have to work from for your prepping budget. However, even if you still have $500 a month leftover, not all of that has to go into prepping. Be realistic about what you should allocate toward your preps so that you’ll still have a savings cushion to fall back on at all times. Accordingly, you can make room for your prepping budget to grow by cutting back or eliminating expenditures from other areas. You don’t always need to buy the premium groceries, brand name products, or latest smart phones and video games. These “wants” could just as soon be turned into potential survival “needs” if prioritized in your budget.

Food – Buy What You Eat

A lot of beginner preppers make the mistake of purchasing commercial survival food. This stuff is typically overly expensive and contains obscure freeze-dried and shelf-stable packaged foods that most people find unappealing. That’s why it’s recommended you only stock up on foods that you already enjoy to eat. Don’t make the mistake of wasting money on food that you won’t be able to stomach in a survival situation when your body is in demand of nutrients.

Buying in bulk is a great way to stock up on essential non-perishable items like rice, beans, and canned goods. Again, don’t buy anything you don’t already eat in normal times. Also, bear in mind the need to store foods appropriately to preserve their quality and ensure they don’t go bad. Learning how to can your own foods and purchasing tools like vacuum sealers and food dehydrators can go a long way to prolonging your supplies. Make sure than anything in your stores with an expiration date is rotated and used in your daily diet. Only replace items as you use them (or they expire) and as you can afford to do so.

Thrifty Shopping

If you want to prep on a budget, you have to learn how to shop for bargains, use coupons, and find useful items at discount stores. Most major retail and grocery stores offer coupons online, on Facebook, and in the newspaper that can add up to significant savings on your purchases. Many stores also have free membership rewards programs that allow you to save money on certain items with the swipe of a card. You don’t have to become an extreme couponer and spend hours each weekend searching for savings, but a little bit of extra time shopping for deals can add up to hundreds or thousands of dollars in savings each year.

Though the quality is sometimes lacking, discount and dollar stores also have their share of useful products at affordable prices. They are a great place to stock up on canned food (as long as you eat them), toiletries like toilet paper, toothpaste, and soap, and first-aid items like antibiotic ointment, rubbing alcohol, and bandages. Just because the prices are so low doesn’t mean you need to overwhelm yourself and overstock with supplies you may not need or use.

On the same token, don’t be afraid to shop for deals at thrift shops, flea markets, and garage sales. As the saying goes, “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure,” and there are always hidden treasures to be found at these sales. It’s important to know what you are looking for and to know the value of various items in their secondhand state. If you do, you can find a variety of camping/hunting/military/outdoors gear and other things like radios, gardening tools, and other important survival equipment.

Craigslist and Freebies

There are a variety of online forums where you can find used and discounted items and people looking to give stuff away for free. Craigslist has a “free” section where you can find things like lumber, fish tanks, kitchen sinks, clothes, building supplies, and a hodgepodge of other items. It also has a barter section where you can trade your own goods or services for someone else’s goods (or services).

You can also find good deals in some of the other sections under the For Sale listing. Browse through the farm and garden section for livestock, feed, fresh/frozen/canned produce and meat, chicken wire, and starter plants. In the household section you can find various storage containers, food-storing equipment, and other useful utensils and tools. You may even find some essential survival gear under the antiques section in items like lanterns, military footlockers, and tried and true hand tools. There are also resources like Freecylce, a grassroots network that promotes waste reduction through the free exchange of unwanted goods. Sign up for the network in your area and keep an eye out for supplies that may serve you and your preps.

If you want to add a few extra bucks to your prepping budget, consider selling your own unwanted goods on Craigslist or other listing services. You could get rid of any old DVDs, sports and exercise equipment, electronics, or furniture you may no longer use and have lying around. Even if you let them go for a nominal price, every little bit helps when it comes to increasing your prepping budget.

Spend More Time Than Money

Regardless of your budget, you should spend more time than money on your preps. Devote as much of your free time as possible to learning necessary survival and life-sustaining skills, as knowledge will give you a much better chance of surviving over gear alone. However, having a basic understanding of the art of survival is not enough. You have to practice these skills and undergo as much hands-on training as possible to equip yourself with the ability to sustain and protect you and your family when SHTF.

Keep in mind that whether you’re honing your shooting skills or fire-starting prowess, doing so in your backyard isn’t the same as doing so under duress. In order for your knowledge to serve you in a survival situation, you need to exercise your skills in a variety of environments and scenarios that mimic what it would be like in reality when disaster strikes. It never hurts to become an expert on any given trade or skill, but it’s also beneficial to become a jack-of-all-trades (even if you’re a master of none). Whether shelter-building, trapping, gardening, sewing, first-aid, or hunting, learn as much as you can to help you become self-sufficient for survival.

Prepping doesn’t have to be expensive or overwhelming. Start small, only buy what you can afford, and invest your time (and money) into learning important skills. Knowledge is free and, unlike your gear, cannot be stolen or left behind. Don’t buy supplies just to have them or just because they’re cheap. Keep an inventory of what you have, make a list of what you need, and purchase and rotate accordingly. Take your time and don’t be discouraged, as it can take longer to acquire all the supplies and skills you need (and want) when on a tight budget. Ultimately, there is no such thing as being fully prepared and no prepper’s work is ever done, regardless of his budget.


Category: General, How To Guides

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