Of all the reasons I’ve heard on why someone doesn’t prep, affordability is the second most popular. The first most popular is that most non-preppers don’t see the need for preparedness, whether they think it’s a paranoid thing to do or what have you. There’s not much I can say to anyone to convince them that preparedness is a sensible thing to do. No, excuse me, lifestyle. Prepping is a lifestyle. It’s something you live. It’s something you’re conscious of. It’s something you do on an ongoing basis. So, how one chooses to live is strictly up to them. But if affordability is your concern, I can help you.
About 4 or 5 years ago, I had thoughts on wanting to be a prepper. At the time, “prepper” wasn’t a term I was familiar with. What I was familiar with was the idea of being prepared in an emergency. I started saving all of my soda and juice bottles and refilling them with water. I was putting back packages and cans of food to save for a rainy day. Then one day I stopped. Whatever it was going on in my life took the steering wheel and drove me in another direction.
Then a few months ago I started reading more, and watching videos, and learning different things. That’s when I made up in my mind that I wanted to be a prepper. That’s when I made the conscientious effort to change my lifestyle so that I wouldn’t lose sight of what I was doing as soon as something else came along. But guess what? A few months ago, I was broke. I had nothing to work with and Christmas was just around the corner.
(Photo credit: maureen_sill)
Ways to Prep With No Money:
I learned. I read. I watched. The first step in doing anything new is learning as much as you can about it. YouTube is full of videos. The internet is full of articles. Books are full of information. As you have time, learn all that you can. Don’t just study how to be a prepper, study skills. Learn about herbal remedies and first aid techniques. Gather information on how to handle certain types of emergencies. Study food preservation methods. Print many of the articles you find and make yourself a reference book… or two… or three. This is what I did for two months until I was able to do things that required a little money to start prepping.
Evaluate your spending. Most of us will spend $20 (or more) a month and have no idea where it went. Maybe we bought lottery tickets when we went to put gas in out car. I bet we didn’t even win, did we? Maybe we ate out at restaurants or swung through a drive-thru window for a #1 at Burger King, but we could have eaten dinner at home. Maybe we picked up a few things on impulse while waiting in the check-out line; a magazine, a few candy bars, that cool new gadget we could have done without. If you look over your spending, and become more aware of your habits, you’ll find that if you can afford the internet, you can afford to prep.
Look over your monthly bills. Is there anywhere you can save a few dollars? Perhaps you have a revolving charge account where your monthly payments shrink the more you pay on the bill. Each month, take the few dollars that it decreases and (1) put it towards prepping, or (2) put it on that bill so you can pay it down that much quicker. That’s something else I’ve been working on. First, I’m paying a few dollars more on each bill each month. That means, I owe a little less the next month. From there I can do the same thing again, or I can take those few extra dollars and buy a food vacuum sealer or something.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
What’s your light bill like? Do you have a gas bill? Are there any cable or satellite channels you can do without? (I found that I could save a bunch of money by cancelling premium cable channels and subscribing to Netflix, instead.) How many trips do you make each week to run errands? Can any of those trips be combined to save on gas? Do you physically go pay a bill that you can pay online or by phone at no extra charge? What about bills you mail? Stamps cost money, too.
Pay attention to your trash and what you throw away. There’s a lot of value in trash. Every plastic grocery store bag is saved at my house. I use them to go in small trash cans. In a SHTF (Shit Hit the Fan) scenario, these bags will come in handy for waste disposal. See? That’s one thing you can stockpile at absolutely no additional cost. Empty cans can be turned into heating sources or fashioned into weapons. Old sheets, pillow cases, underwear (clean, of course), and blouses can be made into face masks to help prevent the spread of germs. Old magazines or junk mail can be saved for fire starters. Used plastic table cloths that you bought from the dollar tree can be used as tarp or protection barriers. Junk cell phones (PCs and other electronics) often have gold parts inside. Learn how to scrap them for it. You may also know a few people who have cell phones they plan on throwing away. Once the gold is scrapped from them, you can sell your precious metal, or save it to go towards future wealth.
Look for money savers. Many preppers are into extreme coupon usage. If you can find some coupons that offer big savings (50 cents or more), and that coupon does not specify the size of the product, head straight to the travel size section of the item. Sometimes you can actually make a few cents on each coupon spent because the little item cost less than the coupon value. This is another something I haven’t done, but plan to. Just save any coupons that come in the newspaper or in the junk mail. Ask family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors for theirs that they don’t plan to use. Build a relationship with local hotels to collect their unused newspapers. You ever hear about those people who buy $300 of grocery for $28.16? The next one might be you.
How much food do you throw away? Did you know that more food gets thrown away in the United States and Europe than any place else in the world… probably combined? Get in the habit of preparing just enough. If you fix more than is eaten, find a way to save as much as what’s left as you can. That extra quarter cup of peas can be dehydrated, vacuum sealed, and saved for your rainy day. Leftover mac n’ cheese? Dehydrate it and seal it.The three leftover hamburger buns that have gotten stale before you could eat them, can now be crumbled, dried in the oven, and turned into stuffing, which can be vacuum sealed and stockpiled. Sour milk in the fridge? Make cheese. Fruit peelings? Dehydrate them, grind them in the blender, vacuum seal it, and save it for tea or for plant fertilizer or for air freshener. Leftover turkey or meatloaf? If you have a pressure canner and jars, you can “can” it. I don’t know what’s in your kitchen, but you do. Make an effort to never throw away food again, unless you have to.
leftovers (Photo credit: Muffet)
Learn to make things. I’ve learned to make laundry and dish detergent, candles and oil lamps, deodorant, and wine. You can make laundry detergent out of borax, washing soda, and a bar of soap and one batch yields 5 gallons. Start up costs to buy the items might be about $25 or $30. I spent $80… but because I wanted to be able to go ahead and stock up on the items. Anyway, you’ll have plenty of powder left in the box of borax and laundry soda to make several more batches as long as you have the soap bars. The cost boils down to about $7 per batch (and that’s a 5 gallon batch). As an added value, because your soap doesn’t have all of the extras that’s in the commercial brands, you can use less of it to get your clothes clean; about 1/8 cup in high-efficiency washers, and about 1/4 cup in regular washers. Now figure that there are 640 ounces in 5 gallons; that’s 640 loads in the h-e washer and 320 in regular washers. You can’t buy that many loads for that price in the super market.
I’m actually in the middle of making my first batch of dish detergent, so I can’t really give an explanation on that yet. But the deodorant? Baking soda, corn starch, and a binding agent. I used olive oil as my binding agent. You can also use baby oil or petroleum jelly if you really want to save costs. It’ll work just as well. Just use equal parts of the two powders and just enough oil to make it the consistency you want. You can buy an essential oil to scent it if you wish, but I didn’t do that. I went straight to the cologne and perfume that my husband and I use and added a couple of squirts…. And voila… designer deodorant. My teenage grandchildren loved theirs. I let them make their own, and they got a kick out of naming their “brand.” I thought by them being the age they are, they’d frown upon the idea of homemade deodorant. I was so wrong about that.
Prepping for emergency lighting and even heat is easy and virtually free. I made oil lamps out of baby food jars, used cooking oil (or hamburger grease, fish grease, etc), and strips of junk mail to fashion a wick out of. These were items I was going to throw away anyway. Now I don’t have to. I save all of my leftover fat and grease in storage containers. I have left over jars from relish and jelly and so forth so I can always have light and/or heat in a power outage. Again, this is another item you can prep that won’t cost you a nickel more than what you’ve already spent. (To see the candle-making post Click here.)
Candle made with used cooking oil
Remember when I mentioned the value in trash? Save any and all bottles, jars, and containers that has a lid and can be used to store other things. Most of them can be washed out, and filled with water and a few drops of chlorine bleach for sterilization. The bleach will add shelf life to your water. Only 8 – 16 drops is needed per gallon, so you’ll need to adjust per container size.You can also use these containers to store your homemade detergents and deodorants. Ask family or neighbors for their used containers, as well. Storing water will cost you almost nothing.
If you decide to make some of your own products, see if you can find a few buyers. Five-gallon buckets can be purchased for less than $3 from Lowe’s, and the lids are like a buck-fifty. So, basically, at your cost of $11 (for bucket, lid, and detergent ingredients) you may be able to sell your detergent and make a hefty profit. I haven’t seen any in my neighborhood, but I guess you can sell them for about $25 or $30. I saw one guy selling his online for $125, but I don’t know how well his business is going. I, personally, would not go over $50. In this economy, I’d most likely stick to the first figures. That way, I’d help the buyer, as well as myself. Use the first $11 to replenish your supplies and the profits to buy more preps. I haven’t tried to sell my product… yet. I’m working on getting some people lined up, though. ;)
Grow your prep. The investment to grow fresh fruits and vegetables is well worth the food yield you’ll receive. You don’t even need a big yard since most of the seeds will grow in pots and buckets. I’m not a “get out in the yard and pull weeds” type of person, so growing in the earth is just not gonna work for me unless I absolutely have no other choice. The yard, on the other hand, may work fine in your situation. If not, those same 5-gallon buckets at Lowe’s will serve the purpose. You can get the seeds to grow tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, and a bunch of other things. Once grown, it’ll help out with grocery costs. Then you can preserve the rest via dehydration and/or canning. To garden even cheaper, save the seeds from fresh fruits and veggies you buy already. Some will argue that since most food in the grocery store is genetically modified, but where do you get the food from that you’re eating anyway on a daily basis?….. Aha…. the grocery store. What’s the difference? Once you have saved yourself some money, you can buy non-GMO seeds. Right now, focus on not starving to death in a SHTF situation.
Another prep you can grow is animals; chickens, rabbits, squirrels, pheasants, or what have you. I don’t plan on doing this (again, unless I absolutely have no other choice). Dead animals freak me the hell out. Once they’ve been killed, cleaned, and stocked in the super market, hey, I’m in there. All I see is meat. But dead, in one piece, bloody, and still wearing it’s nature-made clothing? Uh uh. No sirree, buddy. I’d rather be a vegetarian and learn to love tofu burgers. BUT raising a few animals may be your thing. If you’re not squeamish, or if you have someone who’s willing to do the gross part for you, I’d say go for it. Shoot. Raise some cows and pigs, too, if you can. You’ll end up with lots of fresh meat, dairy, and eggs to fill your freezer and cupboards.
Prepper livestock (Photo credit: audiovisualjunkie)
One last thing that I do practice is skimming off the top. After I purchased my vacuum sealer and bags, I began taking small amounts of things I shop for, and sealing them up to go towards my stockpile. When I open a 5-lb bag of sugar or flour, I get a cup full and seal it up. After all, what’s a cup of sugar? One pitcher of Kool Aid? One pitcher of Kool Aid can be substituted with water once a month (or once a week). There are other areas you can skim from, too; a box of cereal; a pack of Ramen noodles from each 6, 12, or 24 pack bundle you buy; a few scoops of coffee from the coffee can; one egg from the carton can be dehydrated, crushed, vacuum sealed, and put aside.
If you want to prep, you’ve gotta start somewhere. First you have to decide once and for all that that’s what you want to do. If you accept prepping as a lifestyle, the means to do so will come to you as you evaluate your own circumstances. I’ve only provided you with things I’ve done (and a few that I haven’t) to get myself started. The rest is up to you. Good luck!! Blessings.
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