Sunday, May 30, 2010

Preparedness 101 - #7 - Preparing on a budget

A reader named Rose posted a comment that is important enough to address on its own; namely, how do you prepare on a budget?

Here's her words:

"We've been trying to stock up on some basics as well. Our biggest obstacle is money. We just filled a 100 gallon diesel tank for $310. We are trying to build our supplies, but it is hard to do when you have very little left over every month to even buy 2-3 extra items. Our fuel bill will strap us this month. We could have filled the tank a little at a time to save money, but then if we needed it, we wouldn't have it. What are your secrets to building up supplies without going broke?"

Rose, the answer is the same as the answer to the question of how do you eat an elephant: one bite at a time. Believe me, I understand how difficult it is because we're low income as well.

Whatever happens, I don't recommend going into debt to make preparations. You don't need the extra stress of debt in addition to the stress of preparing for hard times.

When I posted this list, it didn't mean I'm going to go out and buy everything on it in one fell swoop. No possible way! Instead, the list is in my purse so whenever I find myself (a) in town and (b) with a few extra dollars, I can purchase one or two of the items in accordance with whatever extra money I have.

For example, we're planning on going into the city this week to run some errands. Along with the errands, I'll look for a couple items on my preparedness list. Since we're stopping at a couple of thrift stores I'll look for canning jars, glass globes, and sheets. I have to stop at Costco as well, so if we have any extra money I'll buy, say, some throat lozenges or razers. See how it works?

Remember, you have about five core areas you need to prepare for: food, water, heat, light, and sanitation. When money is tight, your preparedness efforts should focus around those.

For the vast majority of us who are on extremely limited budgets, the only thing we can do is what we can do. That sounds trite, so let me explain.

We can't do everything. That's a fact. Don't fight it. Don't whip yourself into despair because you're not ready for TEOTWAWKI. Don't compare your preparations to anyone else's. (That's because we're all in different circumstances and have different needs, not to mention different incomes.)

But here's the nifty little secret: DO SOMETHING. Anything. Anything is better than nothing. Sure, it would be nice to live in a hurricane-proof bunker with ten years' worth of food on hand, but it ain't gonna happen.

And whatever you do, don't adopt that attitude that, since you can't do everything, you aren't going to do anything. With that attitude, you become a leech when the SHTF, and we don't want that, now do we?


  1. thankyou for the answer to my question curiosity sometimes gets the best of me.i made a massive pot of creamed chicken with veggies last night and it was so good that i plan to put up a few pints. earlly this am i went out to the pasture to check out the wild blackberries that are usually ready for picking at this time...alas, we have had too much rain and not enough sunshine..a full week of sun and i will be able to pick gallons-today i managed to forage about a quart. ($5. saved). there is nothing better than a blackberry cobbler out of season and should someone have a bout of the "runs", blackberry juice is a good anti-diahrea. and there is nothing better than a slice of warm homemade bread with a little butter and blackberry jam on a cold evening.

  2. I too am on a budget and as I had mentioned in an earlier post, I watch out for supersales/clearances as well - this accomplishes 2 things: I find products I need for everyday life cheaply and stock up to be prepared. Usually as I'm working thru that stock (before it expires) I come across another supersale as well to refresh the stock. I keep track of what I have as I'm using the stock for daily living and have never desperate had to go out and pay regular price for something or panic about running out anytime soon if SHTF.

  3. Thanks for sharing, Patrice. It sounds like we're doing what most people are- a few things here and there. I neglected to mention we filled up some gas cans as well. My husband commutes 45 miles, so fuel is a big deal to us. He often drives our small car to save money. We are hoping to have enough money next month to fill our 100 gallon regular fuel tank, and eventually, our 500 gallon tank with diesel.

    I need to know how, even though we stock up on basics, say toilet paper, we always seem to have less than our stockpiled amount. Do any other readers have this issue? The disappearing's like the lost sock in the dryer.

    Oh yea, we put up a clothesline outdoors, ordered a laundry soap kit, stocked up on lamp oil, beans, rice and yeast. I still need to get more flour. We've also been busy planting vegetables and are hoping to finally have good luck with corn this year.

    I like to can and yesterday baked and canned 14 pints of Boston Baked Beans, made homemade ketchup and taco sauce, and today canned salsa. I hope to can some more ground beef, stew meat, and chicken soon,so I'm always trying to find good deals on lids.

    Patrice, I made your chicken pies and everyone loved them. They were great! Do you reheat them wrapped in foil in the oven? I imagine a microwave would ruin the crust.

  4. Good response, good advice, Patrice. Something even us veteran preppers need to be reminded of from time to time.

  5. For years I was strapped enough that if I bought an extra bottle of jam, I had to not buy that box of store brand kleenex. If I bought a second bottle of peanut butter, I bought hamburger instead of sausage. As often as not, we ended up using that extra, and the storage got nowhere.
    You do the best you can, and pray that disaster comes later, rather than sooner. A can of peas, a bag of corn meal, you plan and budget and discover you have only week's extra after a whole year. It can be frustrating.
    Do what you can to find other avenues of income. Make sure what you spend money on is not frivolous, only satisfying a momentary whim.
    It's hard with children, especially young teens. They want, really hard, to be at least a little fashionable and in-the-trend, and I can't blame them. I wanted that too. No one wants to be the odd one out. Be sure you do what you can to satisfy this need in little ways while you scrimp, and explain that you love them and would give them the world if you could. But if things go South, you'd rather see them eat peas than wear Prada.

  6. Save the Canning JarsMay 30, 2010 at 1:09 PM

    Yesterday I went to WalMart with my competitor's ads in hand. Libby's vegetables are 82 cents regularly. I showed them the competitions printed ad for Libby's for 44 cents/can. They matched the price without me having to drive 17 miles to the store that was hosting the sale. This is when you buy 24 can (or more), 12 for now and 12 for your stockpile. Tomato sauce was 50 cents at WM, but showed them the Walgreen's ad for 25 cents
    and they matched the price. So I bought double,
    1/2 for now, 1/2 for later. I try to NEVER pay
    full price and now only have to shop the sales.

    So how does one avoid eating out of the stockpile? Put it in a separate location that has been designated for emergency use. Use a sharpe marker to boldly write expiration dates and pull it out and use it before it expires. For example, I have 12 boxes of saltine crackers that have been in the emergency stock for one year now and are just now ending their shelf life. I'm watching for crackers to go on sale and will purchase 12 fresh and eat the old (there are 4 adults at our house). If necessary, I'll send a few boxes to the feeding mission, but I bet we get it eaten. Dr. Paul Williams urges to lay up a 30 day stock IMMEDIATELY and then start building beyond that as you can afford it...a bit at a time. I heard someone say after you hit 6 months of food, go to a year. And after you reach one year's worth of food, start on the second year.

    So how does one find money to even get started?
    First, pray that God will bless your plans. He
    will help! (Oh the stories I could tell here. I prayed for increased funds and my husband handed me a few hundred dollars extra (he sold car parts and God must have moved upon his heart to share). Also my name was drawn from a contest held by our state's major newspaper where I won $500 at the local grocery store that doubles coupons and many items I was getting free. And the same week my local IGA drew my name for $100 more of free groceries. Ask God to help you and He will. It may be that your favorite toothpaste is on sale plus you have 20 coupons for it to where you get 20 tubes free).

    Next, you could have a garage sale in order to A) de-clutter to have room for your stock and B) have cash to bargain hunt. I've sold furniture for bigger amounts of cash fast. Sell whatever you could part with and have no regrets later. Avoid eating out and especially fast-food (adds up). Pack lunches when anyone goes out the door to work. Put off all vacations until you have a good stockpile (I've gone 17 years without a real can be done. When home is pleasant, who needs to escape from it?).

    I always ask for cash for birthdays and Christmas and buy stockpile/necessities. This year I spent my Christmas money for 2 ABC used refillable 10 lb. fire extinguishers (not quite Zales diamonds, hu?) But a diamond won't extinguish a fire!

    For me, it's NO EXCUSES, no rationalizing that I need something that I really don't need... it's time to get it done!

    Patrice conveyed a thought in her writing several months ago...that if the people of the depression had known what was coming, what would they have stocked up on? What would they have wished they had more of?

    So ask yourself: Are hard times coming? What do I want more of? Make a list. Wave it toward heaven and ask God to help you with your list (telling Him you'll add anything He shows you to add to it) and let Him bless your efforts. I believe He will!

    1. Interesting that you feel God blessed and you got some free groceries. That happened to me too. Just when I needed it most, I won our market's drawing for $100 gift certificate. Know God's hand was in that. I have wondered since if every week the person who wins it is the one God know needs it most. : )

  7. Save the Canning JarsMay 30, 2010 at 2:29 PM

    Hey Patrice,

    Just got a link to a Ray Stevens YouTube video
    about illegal immigration. I think you'll want to see this:

  8. Got to figure out how to free up some cash. Maybe not a lot but definitely more than leftover change, I hesitate to give an exact amount. An extra shift at work, getting rid of the 400 channel satellite tv, etc. For most folks freeing up a modest amount of cash to work with every pay period isn't that hard. Take that $20 a paycheck or whatever and put it towards your goals. It really does add up fast.

    Bigger ticket items are a harder one. So much of it is priorities. Years ago I really wanted a nice rifle. I had the usual for my area couple small part time jobs during school to give me pocket money. I slashed my expenses and didn't go out to movies and such with my friends. I hustled and convinced my employer to work me every day (cept Christmas eve and Christmas) over Christmas break. That really sucked. I didn't get a break and missed out on some family/ social stuff but I got that darn rifle. Now it is years later and I can't remember what I missed but still have the rifle. The same could be done with a generator or a fuel tank or a horse or whatever.

  9. I have to comment that I found your statement that "it would be "nice" to live in a hurricane-proof bunker with 10 years of stored food...." hilarious! Of course we all know that no one would be happy about living in a bunker full of supplies. It just brings us back to earth when we hear such a concept expressed as being "nice". I also appreciate the context of the comment. In investing, what you refer to is called "dollar cost averaging". Get a little on a regular basis. Save a bit of money each week, and keep it handy for when a good opportunity to advance your preps comes along. I've been budgeting my preps out this way since 2004. When I look back I'm impressed by how far I've come. but to be honest, if all heck broke loose tomorrow, I'd be behind the 8-ball in a lot of respects. I just keep chipping away at the goal, knowing that I probably will never have a luxury bunker to hang out in. Thanks for your blog. I'm learning a lot. Hopefully I'll have something to contribute at some point.