This is a guest post by John Lewis of Epic Wilderness. He’s got a lot of good things going on over there, you should check it out today.
Prepping for the next SHTF situation can be quite costly if you are aiming to purchase the most sophisticated gear to keep you alive. In actual fact, I believe that knowledge is a much more sophisticated “tool” than gear because having sufficient knowledge can be the reason for your survival.
If you get into debt just for prepping I would advise you to rethink your strategy now! It is not likely that an economic downturn will happen and all the banks in the world will go haywire. [Editor’s note: I have to disagree, this is completely possible.] Although that is possible, you do not want to take the risk of going bankrupt and cause a SHTF situation in your own life.
In my opinion, it would be great to know some of the more frequent disasters in your area and start preparing for them. This is because you have to start off small first and build a foundation before you prep for the big ones which are much harder to prepare for and probably only happen once in a blue moon (or will they ever happen?).
[Editor’s note: John makes a good point here. Start with the smaller, more likely disasters, then work your way up to the EMPs and economic collapse scenarios; in doing so you’ll be better prepared for whatever comes your way regardless.]
1. Make a prepping budget and stick to it
Although this may seem like common sense, the act of budgeting is not common practice among most families. The act of budgeting requires a huge amount of disciple to be implemented for any length of time. If you were to record your everyday expense and budget accordingly, it can go a long way from bankruptcy to financial freedom.
Having a prepping budget can be divided into three courses of action: budgeting for financial concerns, budgeting your time for preparedness and having a good plan.
First and foremost, budgeting for the financials is a serious matter and it would be wise that you only use excess money to spend on preps each month. Try to save as much money as you can by reducing your bills and find ways to increase the active income you can get.
[Editor’s note: It’s all about prioritizing, do you want that new bug out bag or a plasma t.v.? Most American’s choose the latter.]
Furthermore, as for budgeting your time, you need to create time with your family to prepare for the most likely SHTF situation first.
As for having a good plan, you have to develop several plans because there are many kinds of SHTF scenarios out there. For example, you can have a plan for preparing during hot weather but some of this plan obviously won’t work if SHTF during winter.
In addition, you have to keep up with the current events so that you know which disasters to prepare for while making a fool-proof plan that will be practiced intensively.
I would like to share more examples how different plans is a necessity for different kinds of situation. If your house is located in a low-lying area you will need a bug out plan when flood strikes your home. How about living in high ground? There would be higher probability of you having impact from an EMP strike which can totally wipe out your grid.
2. Prioritize your needs and don’t buy unnecessary things
Since every individual has different needs you would need to prioritize your family’s wants and needs and work steadily towards them. This is especially true for food storage because you would want to know what your loved ones are allergic to, what they love to eat, and what they often eat.
But be warned, you should also take into consideration the shelf life of the food and how nutritious the food is. Think carefully what kinds of staple food can provide the most energy while your family loves it. Is it potato? Rice? Or do they simply love bread? Have a discussion with them and prioritize your food list and don’t waste unnecessarily on other food items that just cannot be stored or eaten by you and your family.
[Editor’s note: This is a classic example of the “store what you eat, eat what you store” mentality.]
Another type of priority is that of basic needs. Does shelter come first before food? A rough list of the needs of you and your family would be shelter, warmth, food, water, medicines and sanitation.
3. Be extremely frugal in shopping
After you come up with a budget, it is time for you to make a list of items that you really need to buy and where to purchase them from. Buying in bulk can help you to save money but buying too much of any one item may not be the best strategy.
In addition, I would recommend that you actually take advantage of Craigslist or even garage sales to get the cheapest gear.
It is awesome if you already started collecting coupons because it shows that you already have a head start towards saving a considerable amount of money. For those who have not started, do not fret because you can start now and still save a ton of money. I can confidently say that many people who take coupon-cutting to the extreme are really successful in stockpiling items that are not perishable.
Furthermore, you should make an inventory list of what you already have and avoid buying such items again. It would be better if you can get the things which you need but still do not have before you purchase more of what you currently have at home.
[Editor’s note: this is a tough one, I must admit! My wife often complains that I keep buying stuff we already have, lol.]
4. Learn survival skills seriously
You have to take your learning to the next level when contemplating the best survival skills you can use.
The skills that you have acquired can also save you money in the short-term as well. For example, will you have to call a repairman when your house has a leaking roof or can you fix this yourself?
No doubt that you can have loads of supplies but if you do not have the right knowledge, such as being able to store it for a longer period of time, will do you little good. Being ignorant on the subject of proper food storage, for example, such as keeping the food out of direct sunlight, the food that you store will quickly spoil.
The skills also include gardening which is also a part of the preparedness journey. Not only you get your very own free supply of food, the food that you get is all organic and extremely fresh!
5. Practice with the plan you currently have
At best, most preppers should actually practice with their family members once a week, or at least even once a month. During a bug out, where will your family meet up? Do they know how to go there in the shortest time possible? How about alternative roads to your bug out location?
More importantly, you can also get considerable insight about how flawed your plans are. I am not saying that your plans will definitely not work, I am just stating that plans not practiced may lead to failure. Since failure in your survival plan may mean certain death, how can you afford that mistake? Get excited about prepping, use the art of deliberate practice to improve your survival plan. If you are not enthusiastic and your practice is not structured, it will not be efficient.
[Editor’s note: Practice does make perfect. It may be one thing for YOU to know your plans but if your family doesn’t know (and practice them too) you could be in for a rude awakening during disaster. I know I need to work on this more myself.]
6. Make simple switches in what you purchase
Instead of rewarding yourself with that ice-cream or treating yourself in a fancy restaurant, it would be better if you can reward yourself a bag of rice or food supply.
Just by switching your spending habits from using your money mostly on what is pleasurable to prepping would make a huge difference. I know this is easier said than done, so I think a paradigm shift is needed. Unless you understand how prepping is so much more imperative than instant gratification, it would be very difficult to go against your own impulse.
[Editor’s note: Most of us have this problem… especially my kids.]
It would be wise if you could change the habit of shopping impulsively to shopping with a budget. You have to see through all the marketing gimmick where companies claim that their prepping items are a must-have by feeding you information regarding how well-made their product is.
Also, you should make switches in habits that can actually cut cost such as cutting back on junk food and buying brands which cost less but still provide the same quality of material. It all comes down to discipline and the knowledge to do so.
Changing your lifestyle habit can be a challenging thing, but it can be extremely rewarding down the road.
7. Use preparedness as a way to get side income and freebies
If you are very passionate about the subject of preparedness you can even guest post on blogs to share your knowledge and tips on preparing for the next disaster. The act of sharing the information not only make your current knowledge more ingrained in you, but you have to stretch yourself to the limit to provide readers with the most important information.
Also, you can start giving advice to people too, especially when sharing from the heart. If you are good enough, some webmasters and people are willing to financially reimbursed you because the content you shared is very good.
If you are really passionate about food storage you can even go to Valley Food Storage’s Free Sample and get free food sample delivered to your doorstep! Just squeeze some cash out for the shipping and handling and you can get free survival food while getting new information regarding which is the best food to store.
[Editor’s note: I haven’t tried the free samples but the guest posting idea is a good one to look into. I’ve seen some blogs that will pay $20 or more for a good post if you have the time and inclination to write.]
8. Form a team of like-minded people
You can never be a “Lone Wolf” when it comes to preparing for the next TEOTWAWKI situation. You must have a team of people–be it big or small–to survive. A few principles must be laid down, however, so that everyone in the team knows what to expect, trusts each other, and so that no one will backstab another person, even when he is desperate.
There are two ways to join a preparedness group. Firstly, you can join an already established group but this requires very intense research. You have to read countless survival forums and reviews before you can take a leap of faith because the community you participate in will be your safety net when a disaster strikes. Also, you have to make sure your values and vision align with the group’s.
You can, on the other hand, decide to create your own group, starting with people whom you think you can work with. This is actually more effective because you start from scratch, beginning and growing with the people that you know you can work with. My advice is that you can use Craigslist to start your local survival coalition, gathering like-minded people nearby you.
[Editor’s note: This is easier said than done, particularly if you include friends and family who, no doubt, may have expectations of YOU taking care of them with little in return.]
By joining a group, you not only get to improve your learning process but you also get the latest information which may not be easily available on the internet.
Preparing for a SHTF situation is about being responsible and this means being responsible for your financials as well! Besides being financially healthy, you will also have peace of mind if you are to prepare properly. I hope that the tips shared here would be very useful and help you get a head start in the journey of preparedness. What do you think is the most effective and affordable way to prepare for the next TEOTWAWKI? Please share in the comment section below.
I am John Lewis, a blogger, survivalist and outdoor enthusiast. While I believe that everyone should enjoy their lives doing things they love, being financially, mentally and physically prepared to face challenges that may arise is inevitably important. You can follow me over at Epic Wilderness.