How To Acquire Prep Items Quickly And Inexpensively

This is a guest post by Orange Jeep Dad

Anyone paying attention to the news today can decifer the urgency to prepare for a coming crisis. If you think there is no chance of any crisis ever reaching your doorstep, I doubt you would be reading this survival blog. If you ARE aware of the possibilities of natural disasters, financial meltdowns, and partial societal collapse but you know others who are disbelievers, the best thing to do at this point is preparing to have a little extra on hand for them. If they haven’t figured it out by now, odds are…they aren’t going to.

Thankfully we aren’t in the stone age and we have some significant technology to use in our aid to acquire what we need to survive a potential life disruption. This post is written based on my first hand knowledge and use of technology to acquire prep items quickly and inexpensively.

If any suggestions here seem foreign to you, remember back to the last cell phone upgrade where you had to re-learn how to text, how to save contact information…all that stuff that you had learned so well with your last phone, but eventually re-learned. If you don’t have a cell phone, maybe you can relate adapting from your coffee cans tied together with string to your rotary dial phone? But I digress…

The following is a list of ways I have used to acquire a large portion of my prepping supplies.

CraigList. The biggest of the online garage sales. Not only can you search online ads from your computer desktop or laptop. With the invent of smart phones, you can use a specialized application to be notified within MINUTES of the buyer’s posting. I use an app called CraigsNotifica. I wanted an inexpensive clay pigeon thrower to practice my target shooting. I created a search for “clay thrower”, told it what zip codes to look for the item, input the price range I was willing to spend, I elected to only see posts that have pictures (I want to see it BEFORE I go look at it), and I tell the app to check CraigsList every five minutes.

With all these built-in parameters, If someone posts a clay pigeon thrower that meets MY criteria, I am notified within five minutes of that item being posted. That means I am mostly likely to be the first person to call the buyer and my odds of getting to it first are substantial. I have purchased a large portion of my preps with this method and still have several active searches on my Droid right now.

GPS, Mapping & Garage Sales. Garage and estate sales (foreclosure liquidations) are often published online in your local newspaper classified ads, ahead of the sale. Use your smart phone GPS Mapping app or desktop Google Maps to plug-in a handful of sales on an upcoming weekend. Use the maps to plot the shortest distance between each location which will also serve to move you quickly from sale to sale and save gas. Start early and take snacks for the ride. You’ll be amazed at what you find at these sales.

With all the foreclosures these days, folks are desperate to sell off their unwanted items quickly before the banks come take their homes. I came across one gentleman who sold me his backyard shed, large safe, children’s bedroom furniture, and a stand up freezer. After a little conversation, he threw in all his firewood, firewood rack and spare propane grill so he wouldn’t have to move it himself to a new location.

Online deal sites. There are numerous websites on the internet today that consist of a community of “deal finders” or people who report items on sale when they find them. Two such sites are SlickDeals and FatWallet.  Subscribe for free and become a member. This will allow you to do virtually the same thing as the CraigList app only you will set email alerts to notify you as soon as other people post deals. I wanted to stock up on honey last year. I signed in at SlickDeals and went to the User Control Panel. There you will see a section on the left called Deal Alerts. Click Add Deal Alert and input your info. I assigned the Keyword Phrase to “honey,” told it to send alert to “email” and notify me “instantly.”

Every time a member of the site posted a deal on honey, I was notified within an hour. There was a smoking deal on honey atAmazon one day and I bought Ambrosia pure honey from a Colorado supplier with free shipping. I bought enough to supply my family for a year and I didn’t even have to leave my house. Once you find the item you want, at the price you are happy with, you simply return to the deal site and delete your Deal Alert.

FreeCycle. This is an online free recycling website. Items are only allowed to be posted for free. You may find a used microwave or firewood for your winter stockpile. Since you can post things “offered” or “wanted,” you’ll want to set your filter to “offers only” to see only the items being given away. Be patient and see what pops up in your neck of the woods.

By using today’s technology of instant email alerts and blazingly fast search queries, you can systematically acquire the items you deem important to you and your family with minimal effort. No more driving to stores and paying retail prices. Put your request out there, at the price your willing to pay, and let the deals come to you. Happy Deal Hunting.

Please share your thoughts and  tips in the comments below..


  1. There is still plenty of good, quality equipment available from our “throwaway” society. You just need to keep your eyes and ears open. Having a pickup and/or trailer to help haul things to the dump for people is always a handy way to get stuff for free (or nearly so).

  2. Firstin Line says:

    Thank you for the valuable info. I was not aware that there were so many sources to fill my list of ‘gotta-have’ items for my bug-in supplies.

  3. Great article “How To Acquire Prep Items Quickly And Inexpensively” I have been known to dumpster diving….Luckily I live in an area that has ample flea markets, road side sellers, yard sales, local ads etc….Slowly but surely getting my wife “On Board…BTW….where did you get your “Bob”..The bozo like practice tool..the red upper torso defensive fighting tool? I have been looking on Craigs for a used one…..”….Hope you and the other pack members have a great week!!!

  4. I’ve used Freecycle before, and I’d say it was 99% sucessful – there’s always that person or two… cleaned out a lot of my unused homeschooling stuff – to other homeschoolers! – and got some stuff that I couldn’t have afforded on my own… just a little work required. Highly recommend it if it’s in your area.

  5. mom of three says:

    We placed an ad in Craigslist, for our stove I got one call on it and the man, wanted to see it I was leary because he wanted to come right now instead of when I wanted him to come over. I wanted my husband, and step son, home to help me with not only moving the stove but to deal with the man, I was home with my than two year, and I didn’t like the idea of people, coming to my house. We finally settled on a time and guess who didn’t show. Be careful, and go with your gut feeling.. We also go after yard sale, days to see what people leave at the curb, in a free pile I’ve gotten planters, a nice business calculator, tea pot, dishes, even toy’s.

    • Mom, I don’t like letting anonymous people control the time they drop in for anything I’ve advertised, either. When they ask, I tell them I’m not home, and won’t be until–whatever time I select. If they ask the address, I tell them my house is very hard to find, and I’ll have to talk them in when they get nearby. Most people, if they really want what I’m selling, will accommodate me.

    • BlueJeanedLady says:

      Mom of three you are so very spot on reminding all to “go with your gut feeling” concerning showing / selling items at your own home / private property.

      Sounds like you might have dodged the proverbial bullet with that ‘no-show’, potential buyer, mom of three! Good for you!

      I don’t kowtow to stranger demands either, mostly as a matter of personal safety from ‘stranger danger’ and I also schedule any look-see inquiries when my husband or another trusted, adult, family member or friend is around. I figure if someone (anyone inquiring about an item I’ve listed in any type of classified ad) is seriously interested in what I have to sell they will abide by my scheduling wishes for showing them the item(s) for sale.

      As well, if the ‘wanna-be’ buyer decides to get pushy or demanding during the initial e-mail or phone contact about my meet & greet schedule I refuse to debate my reasoning with him / her at all. Frankly, it’s none of their concern why I choose the time(s) I choose AND if they are going to get snarky about such – – – well, that’s a lovely, big & bright red flag for me to notice and alert me to the fact I don’t want to do business with them anyway!

      Take care all and stay smart to stay safe!

  6. Hey Orange Jeep Dad, are u the Orange Jeep Dad that posted online about ur temp homestead in Okla & then moved back to AZ? I really enjoyed your posts about getting that old tractor going & cleaning up that homestead. Hope u & your family are well!

  7. A couple ways to reduce the security issues when selling: If the item is small enough, agree to meet in a public parking lot like a grocery store or mall. That way the buyer has no idea where you live, and not likely to rob you.

    For things which must be sold out of the home, a second or third family member/friend is good, as you said. Best is to get the item out of the house and into a garage or carport so the visitor can’t scope out your home from the inside. Oh, they want to use the bathroom? “I’m sorry, but no. We have security issues and don’t make exceptions.” The pushier they get, the more serious the problem.

    Finally, a pocket pistol gives a lot of peace of mind even though it is unlikely to be needed. No reason to show it. Just keep it handy.

    Many years ago -maybe 30 or so- a friend was supposed to buy a car for $2,000 cash -over $4,000 in today’s money-, at his apartment. A couple guys showed up, took the cash, and worked him over with a baseball bat for the fun of it. He was in the hospital for months. If he had had a friend and a gun handy -he did have a heavy revolver, safely locked up because what could go wrong with $2,000 cash and a couple strangers?- things would have ended up differently.

    It was a highly unusual situation, but with serious money on the table and a couple of sadists thrown in, it was pretty horrible for him. Better to be cautious.

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