Cheap Preps

Posted on: March 25, 2014

Experts keep telling us that the economy is getting better but it sure doesn’t feel that way, does it? As our household budgets get tighter and tighter, it can be difficult to fit “luxury” items such as prepping into the mix. This causes a lot of stress, particularly in households where not everyone is 100% on board with the idea of being better prepared. In some cases, the choice may be buying groceries for the next few days or buying freeze-dried foods to put in the basement for…someday.

Now, one of my biggest pushes when it comes to disaster readiness is to try and do at least one thing every single day that moves you forward with your preps. That one thing doesn’t always have to be huge nor expensive, though.

Here are several suggestions of very inexpensive purchases or projects you may wish to explore when money is tight yet you feel the need to do something with regards to prepping.

Visit your local library
I’ll admit I’m sort of old-fashioned in that I don’t necessarily rely on the Internet for everything. Sure, my Google-Fu is stellar and there isn’t much I can’t find online if I put my keyboard to work. But, there’s just something awesome about libraries. All that information, ready to be absorbed, and for free! Even if your own library doesn’t have quite the resource you’re seeking, they can probably get it through inter-library loan. I’m not just talking about books, either. There are tons of great DVDs out there that can be useful for preppers. Just stop in your library and ask one of the friendly staff members to guide you through searching on their computer catalog. Look for books and DVDs using search terms like bushcraft, survival, prepping, and preparedness.

Make fire starters

Every survival kit needs fire starters and you don’t need to buy them. While tinder tabs and the like work extremely well, you can make ones at home that are just as good. Here are links to a few of them, all using items you probably have at home already.

Fire straws

Matches + Toilet Paper = Roaring Fire

Start a prepping binder

If you hunt around the house, I’d bet you can find at least one old binder you can use for this project. If not, visit your local thrift shop and buy one for a buck or so. A prepping binder is a great way to keep all of your emergency information organized and in one place. Fill it articles you’ve found online, checklists, emergency contact information, all that good stuff. You may want to create dividers to put in the binder, to help with organization. You could buy these or you could make your own from cereal box cardboard or something similar. This should be an ongoing project, too. Keep adding stuff to it as you come across nuggets of wisdom.

If you are struggling with how to organize the binder, you might want to look into purchasing The Preparedness Planner. It is a great tool for this project.

Seed sharing

Many of you already do this, even if just on a limited scale, but consider expanding your horizons a bit. If you have an excess of seeds you’ve saved from past gardens, ask around to see if you might be able to swap some of them for other seeds you want. Make a post on your local Craigslist and you might be surprised at the response. Not only is this a great way to get seeds but you might just meet a fellow prepper.

Inexpensive food for the pantry

Beans and rice are still fairly cheap. Generic canned veggies and fruit are as well. If you watch for sales, you can pick up things like powdered drink mixes, canned meats, and various seasonings at good prices. As always, pay attention to sales flyers and use coupons IF they get you a better price than by buying generics.

Water storage

Filling clean 2L bottles with tap water costs pennies. Commit to storing at least one bottle a week, dating them so you can rotate them out every six months or so. Use the old water in the garden or for cleaning. If you don’t consume bottled soda or juice in your home and therefore don’t have 2L bottles just sitting around, ask family and friends to keep theirs for you. Wash them out with hot water and soap, rinse well, then toss in a cap of bleach and swish it around to sterilize.

Practice skills

Go in the backyard and practice making campfires using a variety of different fire starters, fuels, and configurations. Take a compass to a park and practice navigating your way around on the trails and such. Grab a book on wild edibles from the library and practice identifying different plants in your area. Just get up off your butt and do something.

Go rummaging

I realize that, for some at least, this might not necessarily be a cheap endeavor. I know more than one person who has a hard time controlling themselves at rummage sales and thrift stores, buying a ton of useless crap because it “…might be worth money someday.” But, if you can keep yourself grounded, at least a bit, you can find some incredible deals at garage sales. Now, granted, those deals can sometimes be few and far between. You often have to sift through a TON of crap at a TON of sales before you find that one great bargain. The point is, there are deals out there, for those who take the time to search them out.

Take a class

Just about every park & rec department offers some sort of classes throughout the year. If they aren’t free, they are pretty darn cheap. I’ve taught a few of these classes myself (on the subject of survival kits and general preparedness, ‘natch). It may be worth your time to search out the website for your local park department and see what they are offering. Better yet, stop in at their office and inquire. They usually have pamphlets or booklets listing all the available classes. Look for topics like identifying wild edibles, food preservation, or even assembling bug out bags. You won’t know until you look, right? Go a step further and ask the park folks if they could put together a class on disaster readiness.

Another place to ask about classes is your county extension office. They often offer classes related to gardening and such.

Finally, if you’re serious about expanding your education, get in touch with any local colleges or tech schools. Ask them specifically about auditing classes. Many schools offer this sort of arrangement. Basically, you pay a substantially reduced fee and you are allowed to attend the class as well as take the exams and such. The only difference between you and a “regular” student is you don’t receive actual credit for the class. But, you get all the knowledge, which is the point of attending.

We sometimes are victims of falling into ruts, where we just sit around and lament how broke we are and think about all the great things we could do if we came into a lump sum of cash. We all do this from time to time. I guess it might just be human nature. When you find yourself doing it, try to turn that energy into something productive by using one of the above suggestions.

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