Prepping cheaply but not on the cheap. Now that’s the trick, isn’t it? Let’s face it, preparing for the worst can be down right expensive. Searching through disaster/doomsday prepper supply stores, it’s difficult not to become disheartened as the costs rack up into the multiple hundreds of dollars. It’s almost enough to make you throw your hands in the air and holler, “That’s it, I can’t afford this stuff!” and decided then and there to give up the goal. But prepping doesn’t have to be that way. There are plenty of options that will fit into the average person’s budget. It will take some ingenuity, a little strategy but most importantly… patience.
The entirety of the business of prepping can truly be overwhelming with all the different needs for survival pulling you in all directions at once. When you reach this point take a step back and think about what you really need. Focus on those individual emergency essentials that will get you through a disaster. If you shift your perspective from having to buy it all at once to buying one or two things at a time, you will have a stockpile of supplies before you know it.
How to save and where to buy?
Start off light. Put away or spend $5-$10 a paycheck on your emergency stockpile, be it food, water, medical kit items or general equipment or storage supplies. You could do both. Spend $5 each grocery trip on prepper pantry food and put $5 away in an emergency fund each paycheck to save for higher priced items. Save spare change. Find a bottle or a jar, something you can drop spare nickles, pennies and quarters into where they will pile up over a few months. You will be surprised at how fast they adds up.
Let’s begin with how to save on food. There are so many ways to save money that only need a bit of imagination and simple strategies. Coupons! Coupons are your friends, Take full advantage of manufacturer and store coupons but keep in mind, even with coupons brand name foods can still cost more than their lesser known counterparts, like store brand items. Make the clearance aisles or shelves a regular stop. Sign up for rewards programs, especially those that offer monthly coupons based on your purchases. Bulk bins are great for buying staples like flour, sugar, salt, rice, oats and grains, drink mixes and pasta. Unfortunately, these days, bulk bins have become trendy and many stores treat these products as specialty items. Avoid these stores and seek out more reasonable suppliers. Also, make checking the “per unit” price a habit. These are usually found in small print, in the lower corner of the prices labels on the grocery shelves. They will help you determine if the deal is as good as it looks.
Other strategies to consider:
- Shop the dollar stores for such items as generic first aid supplies sewing needles, rope, packaged foods with long shelf-lives, freezer bags and storage containers.
- Stock up on travel sized toiletries. These tend to sell for about a $1 each and work great for storing in the family’s bug-out bags.
- End of season clearance shelves and sales. Department stores will significantly discount holiday versions of food wraps, storage containers and the like. Christmas tree decorated cling wrap works as well as the regular stuff.
Repurpose and reuse. Start making a weekly excursion to the local thrift stores and yard sales for items you can reuse and repurpose for your needs. Add to those secondhand store trips a regular check of online classifieds like Craigslist for anything and everything from packaged foods, storage containers, radios to stay in communication, tools, building supplies, spare parts to repair your own equipment and even opportunities to barter and trade for other supplies your family needs. Instead of purchasing how-to books on gardening or home canning or even how to build a chicken coup for all those emergency chickens you intend to raise look to your local library or even free ebooks that can be read on virtually any device or computer these days.
A few other stray thoughts that wouldn’t fit anywhere else:
- Reuse coffee cans for storage.
- Save toilet paper rolls, dryer lint, old birthday cards and even pine cones for tinder to start fires.
- Plant berry bushes. If you find you’re lacking a green thumb plant blackberries. They will grow like mad no matter how much they’re neglected. A few bushes will produce enough fruit for homemade jam to keep you in stock well into the next growing season.
The best strategy is to keep it simple. The most frequent disasters will not involve a global society ending event (although this could still happen and there’s no reason not to prepare for it). They will most likely be a wildfire heading for your home, a tornado cutting a swath through your town, a blizzard that cuts power for days in the middle of winter, a hurricane or an earthquake. Having the ability to drop down the money for the ultimate survival shelter capable of weathering everything thrown its way, bursting at the seams with years of freeze-dried sustenance and all the emergency essentials a family could ever conceive a need for is the dream for any doomsday prepper. But sometimes it’s enough to prepare your family to survive the first 72 hours of a given emergency situation as that is the most critical time between the disaster and when help arrives.