Smart Spending for Preppers Looking for Financial Freedom

by Jerry M – – this is an entry in our non-fiction writing contest.

Using your money wisely can pay many dividends for you over time. Learning to spend your money wisely is a habit most people must learn through discipline, it is usually not inbred into a person’s lifestyle. All, or at least most, of today’s advertising is focused on emotional appeal for your money, not logic and common sense. If we can think logically instead of emotionally we will be far better off in almost every situation we find ourselves in, especially financial ones.

We got serious about a self-reliant lifestyle several years ago and this article is designed to give the reader some food for thought, some direction and glimpses of things that worked for us.

One of the first things we had to adapt to was determining a “want” from a “need”, it took a while to develop that mindset, It was not easy and it took discipline, lots of discipline.

The ability to purchase things you need is governed by your own personal cash flow. Remember that cash flows both ways, in and out just like the tide. Our goal was to plug the money leaks in our cash flow pot. We are retired, so we are on a fixed income. Increasing inflation over time has eroded the buying power of everyone’s dollars. This really hits home when you are on a fixed income.

Let’s look at food purchase of a few items that just about everyone uses. We buy larger quantities of food where and when we can. We buy 5-gallon food grade buckets and gamma lids for daily use and buckets and solid lids for long term storage. Don’t forget at least one lid wrench for the solid lids. A bucket and gamma lid cost us $ 11.00 and a bucket with solid lid about $6.50. If you stack buckets, put a 15”x15” piece of plywood between the buckets to avoid cracking the bottom lid because of weight. We don’t stack them more than 3 buckets high.

We recently bought table salt in a 50# bag for $12.50 which is $.25 a pound and it fills 2 buckets. Buying salt in the convenient 1# containers at $.85 each is far more convenient but cost considerably more money. Another example is white flour in a 50# bag for $11.97 or $.24 per pound. Buying flour in a 5# bag for $3.19makes it $.64 per pound.
We buy a 50# bag of sugar for$27.61 or $.55 a pound or a 32 oz. bag for $2.29 which is $1.14 per pound.

Learn to look at your cost per pound or per ounce when buying food and also know the storage life of the food. We shop at WINCO and Cash & Carry in our area for large quantity items in bulk.
We also cruise through the thrift stores and find lots of “bargains” on a variety of things. We are seniors and a veteran so we receive a 20% discount at our Good Will thrift store.

Most of us carry insurance of some type. Our experience has shown that we get the best coverage and the best price by dealing with an independent insurance agent. The independent agent will have several companies to choose from, they are not locked into one company. We stay away from “company” agents such as State Farm, Safeco, Farmers, etc. and have always done better.

We will never purchase a new car again. The purchase of a new vehicle is probably the worst investment that you can make. As soon as you drive off the lot you have lost at least 10% of the value of what you just paid for the vehicle. We will purchase a vehicle about 2 years old and preferably one from a rental car agency. They will have had a regular service schedule and not a lot of miles on them. We have had good experiences doing this over the years.

We think having a cash stash in a safe place is of paramount importance. Unexpected emergencies will happen from time to time. A safe deposit box is not a safe place, the banks are closed weekends and holidays and every evening too, giving you limited access to your cash. Even though there is lots of talk of eliminating cash in favor of a totally digital system, we think and hope that is a far off future thing. Our goal is to have enough cash to pay 1 year’s taxes, utilities, and make small purchases for a while. Beyond that, if things get that bad, who knows? We keep a cash stash in a small fireproof box that is easily hidden as well as transportable. You can find these at Walmart and other retailers. We also keep another fireproof box with our important papers in it.

Some folks are in favor of having precious metals stashed away. We feel that is fine if you have everything else that you need in place. Keep in mind however that in the 1930’s gold was confiscated by the federal government. The use of gold and silver may also be made illegal under a martial law situation.

You can save money by eliminating cable TV, magazine and newspaper subscriptions, dining out, unnecessary car trips, cigarettes, and perhaps other areas as well. Grow as much of your own food as possible and learn to preserve it. Getting out of debt and staying out is one of the first steps toward financial freedom. Financial freedom is a big stepping stone to self-reliance. Reevaluate your finances from time to time to help you keep on a sound financial pathway.

Remember, these are things we have done that over the years have worked well for us. Your situation may differ a little, but the same principles apply: common sense over nonsense, needs vs. wants and logic over emotion.

Enjoy the journey.

Prizes For This Round (Ends on June 7, 2017) In Our Non-Fiction Writing Contest Include…

First Prize a $999 value:

  1. Numanna Organic Family Pack Bucket a $399 value from LPC Survival Ltd.
  2. CampingSurvival Gear Pack a $400 value from Camping Survival.com.
  3. A $200 gift certificate of prepper books from Prepper Press.

Second Prize a $650+ value:

  1. A case of .308 ammo or $300 off Ammo selection of your choice from LuckyGunner.
  2. A Wonder Junior Deluxe Hand Mill with the Masa/Nut Butter Auger, Drill Bit Attachment, and Bicycle Sprocket Kit a $325 value from ChefBrad.com

Third Prize a $310+ value:

  1. $300 gift certificate from GunMag Warehouse.
  2. A copy of The Prepper’s Guide to Surviving the End of the World, as We Know It: Gear, Skills, and Related Know-How

The Art of Situational Awareness

Today we present another article in our non-fiction writing contest – by Don S

A civilian approach to “Chance favors the prepared mind”

Depending on where you live, no doubt on any or every given morning you can wake to the doldrums of newscast reporting on the crimes against everyday people that have taken place in the last few hours. They run the gamut with 5-10 second blurbs about a deadly assault, robbery, rape and murder at such a pace that not only are we (purposely) constantly desensitized to the plight of others and the state of affairs around us, we are also somewhat unknowingly reduced to a quick reaction to match the quick reporting. Leaving most of us with a response something like “Those poor people”, or “Isn’t that sad”.

But how we react and view these types of stories can and should be used as a training tool for our minds and our families as well. I am blessed with a large family, married and 4 children of various ages. I never, ever, want to see any of them victimized, and I never want to be a victim myself, for many obvious reasons, but the one reason that many of us do not consider is at the top of my list. If I am a victim, it either limits, or ends my capacity to serve and protect my family.

Before going any further I want to be clear that everything from this point on does not mean that I am insensitive to the plight of others, it simply means that I have chosen to go beyond the human emotion of a news story and look for ways to apply it to the lives of my circle of influence for the greater good.

So let’s get into it……….

Are you aware?

You’re on the way home from work and need to pick up something from the store. You whip into the place of business, run into the store at break neck speed,  find your item, proceed to the cashier to wait in line while staring at your cell phone screen checking texts or updating your fakebook status, pay for your item, rush to the car and back into traffic. This is normal everyday life for millions of people, and it takes place all day every day over most of the civilized world. But in that 5-10 minute stop, how many people did you pass or even come close enough to brush shoulders with? How many different actions did you go through while being completely oblivious to what was going on around you?

Or what about this one? Your on your way to wherever, you need fuel and a pit stop, whip into the “convenience” store, swipe a card on the reader, stare at the gas pump screen, (many of which are now going to pumps with music and TV screens to further distract us), start your fueling, run into the store for a restroom break and a drink, run back to the car, hang up the pump, jump in and drive away.

In both of these instances, any so many more like them involving everyday life, you are a potential victim! Let me say that a different way, YOU ARE A POTENTIAL VICTIM!!! The reason is glaringly simple. Being constantly unaware of your surroundings and the people in them make you just the type of target that attackers look for, and let me be ultra-clear at this point. I know we use resources like this site with preparing for future survival in mind, BUT, changing your way of thinking now, and preparing your mind a little each day, can and will make the difference between having a supply cache at home, and actually being there to use it!

What about the poor lady on the news who was beaten at the gas pump then her purse and car stolen? It’s in the news every day, some of the time the person even has pepper spray in their purse. So how did it happen? Most of the time it simply comes down to an attacker who is waiting for a person completely unaware of their surroundings and they can be on top of the person giving them no chance to react and fight back. Men are certainly not excluded from this fact either, and probably the least aware group of all, is our teens and young adults, who like many of their adult counterparts are so absorbed with the digital world (or completely self-absorbed like much of the population) that they go through life without ever seeing the flowers, much less stopping to smell them.

I must interject a point here that many Americans take offense to; many live in middle class to affluent areas, and live with the belief that we work hard to live in safe neighborhoods and shop in safe areas. I work extra hard to provide our family with the same, however  we must begin to shift our thinking because crime is now beginning to target those very areas, they are usually soft targets for criminals, and there is usually more to gain from their point of view. But you cannot lock yourself in and never go out as a way of staying safe, remember, if your life is driven by fear rather than wisdom, you are already a victim.

By this point you should be considering where the holes are in your armor, and thinking about how you can apply simple changes to your everyday routines to take yourself out of the victim pool. Two things should be made very clear,  1. You will not become Jason Bourne overnight, or ever!!  2. You cannot now or ever control every parameter and scenario in life, belief that you can will lead to things we don’t want to discuss here. This article and the personal training with it are meant to raise your alertness and give you the ability to avoid potential danger, or provide the precious milliseconds of reaction time that make the difference if you are in danger.

How do you start?

Exercise 1 – if you are gifted with good memory then great, if not put a post it note on your steering wheel and start here…the next time you pull in for gas at the pump, before you put the car in park and go diving out hurriedly….

  1. Put the car in park, before opening the door, check your rear and both side view mirrors. Is anyone approaching? If so, then check them out for a second, let them pass by if they are close, if they keep lingering and looking in your direction, then there could be cause for concern.
  2. Once you have exited the vehicle, again, look around, check your surroundings, and check the people around you at the other pumps, check for potential threats or suspicious activity. Once you start pumping fuel into your vehicle, rather than being glued to a cell phone screen waiting on the fuel to finish, just look around you every few seconds and be alert.
  3. When you’re finished fueling and reenter your car, stay alert, enter the car, close the door and lock them while you get situated to drive, keep a check on your mirrors until you are safely moving down the road.
  4. If you enter the store, be alert going and coming, when you step inside, check the surroundings, who is in there, is there any cause for fear or suspicion, if so should I exit the building and wait or proceed?

I hope by now you are getting the picture, more could be said here about preparing yourself for possible scenarios inside such as robbers entering the building but that’s a lot more instruction for another time. And this same exercise applies to the mall, grocery store, bank, everywhere!

This is not living in fear, not only are you training your mind and subsequently your body to be prepared and react if needed, but  you might actually get to enjoy some scenery for a change. And I meet a lot of great American people almost every day by just making eye contact (a lost art in our society) and saying hello.

The key is to practice and make this a way of everyday life without being obvious. If you are ducking behind your shopping cart to check your six every time you enter a new aisle at Walmart, not only are you going to draw unwanted attention, you will likely end up on YouTube under the heading “funny surveillance video”. Practicing this way of thinking may be foreign to some at first, but in short order will become second nature and only take milliseconds to perform while you are in public, and one day those milliseconds may add years to your life.

Prizes For This Round Include: (Ends July 29, 2016)

First Prize:

Second Prize: 

Third Prize:

Please read the rules that are listed below BEFORE emailing me your entry… my email address can be found here – please include “writing contest entry” in the subject line.

The more original and helpful your article is, the deeply and less basic it is, the better the chance, that I will publish it, and you will win. Only non-fiction how-to-do-it type articles, please.

How to be a strategic thinker and survive TEOTWAWKI (or everyday life)

Today we present another article in our non-fiction writing contest  Jeff B

I consider myself to be relatively normal, middle of the road type person.  I was sailing along in my life, not completely oblivious, but leaning more towards mild apathy, when it came to TEOTWAWKI scenarios.  I occasionally watched TV shows like Doomsday Preppers and while I admired their preparedness, I had the mindset of most Americans, “I have more important priorities”.

After the emotional and financial turmoil of a divorce, I was left to essentially re-invent my life.  Initially, I was stuck in the same thought patterns, regarding my “McMansion” and other life essentials.   I have always been a saver, my ex-wife a spender.  That was the wedge that eventually split us up.

As an engineer, I did what I always do, make lists. I began to calculate, make spreadsheets, formulate plans, etc.   Being a pragmatic person by nature, the prepper/survivalist mentality is a close fit. Not an exact one, but close.  So I began to investigate that lifestyle.

And suddenly, a light bulb went on.  I began to realize that this lifestyle wasn’t filled so much with the “tin foil hat” wearing, conspiracy theory types, but in fact, more often, people like myself.

The Boy Scout motto is, “Be Prepared”.  Truly words to live by.  If you’re not prepared, you’re either dead or homeless, when the Tsunami hits.  I don’t want to be either.

But where to start? There are so many websites and advice columns to gather information from, it’s difficult to decide.   Sometimes it’s hard to make a decision.  You want to do your due diligence, source out every option, give it a considerable review, but not fall into “Paralysis by analysis”.

To put it simply, you have to start somewhere.  If you consider yourself an educated person, you don’t want to waste time or resources making hasty decisions.   I don’t profess that this template will fit everyone, but here are the steps I took.

  • Realize and accept that (almost) everything you know is useless. Change is inevitable, nothing stays the same, all things eventually change.  If you believe that education is a lifelong pursuit, you’re well on your way. I can flop on the couch like everyone else, and pretend everything is hunky dory.  That gains you nothing. Preparing for changes and positioning yourself  to accept those changes does.  Let people believe what they will, you be the one preparing for the societal changes that are sure to come.
  • Commit to a plan. I can be stuck in a rut occasionally.  Like many people, I have been guilty of procrastinating.  Sure the hedges need trimming, but dammit, I’m binge watching TWD on Netflix.  Committing to a plan means making lists, doing research, budgeting and yes, sacrificing some of your free time. Not all of your free time, but if you want to make progress, get off the couch.
  • Be realistic in you time commitments and planning. For myself, I have time and social commitments, so I can’t really jump into any “full-time” hobby, without neglecting the yard work, house, daughters, etc., etc.  My answer to that dilemma is to devote about 30 minutes each evening to research.  That could be water purification, gardening, or whatever I need to educate myself on.   During the weekends, I compile whatever I have learned into my Master spreadsheet.
  • Don’t narrow your focus. It’s great to be focused, but not to the point of losing sight of your objective.   I tend to go overboard, on occasion.  When I started my prepping journey, there was a lot of news blurbs about guns and ammo.  I went a little OCD, stockpiling ammo, in every conceivable caliber.  Looking back, that time and energy could have been a little more widespread.  By simply reacting, I stockpiled enough ammo to last my lifetime.
  • Slow and steady wins the race. I came back to my senses, after the ammo craze and developed a more sensible approach.  I split my focus into different categories, such as food, tools, storage, precious metals, etc.   Every payday I commit (approx.) $100 into a purchase for one of these categories.  It’s not huge, but persistence pays off  in the long run.
  • Keep a positive outlook. Like many things in life, a positive outlook is often good medicine. The world, particularly the internet, is filled with bad news, forecasting doom and gloom in the financial markets, health care, government, police, etc. etc.   Keep plugging away!   You have made the decision to prepare for an upcoming crisis, so you should rejoice.  The mindless souls who wander this earth, (I used to be one of them) are just going through the motions of life and are somewhat clueless.
  • Operational Security. Keep Quiet. Say nothing, reveal nothing. Let me repeat that, NOTHING.  Do you tell your neighbors or your Mother in Law, when you stock up on toilet paper, motor oil or any other staple? Of course not, it’s mundane information.   Why would you tell anyone you are stockpiling anything?  They are more likely going to think you’re Kooky, rather than relate, so why bother?   I have told only my oldest kid enough for them to carry on, should I pass away. See: Top ten ways to blow your operational security.
  • Discard or sell all useless items. My parents were collectors.  They weren’t “hoarders”, but there were magazines, books, artwork, coins, furniture, on and on and on.  Some of that rubbed off on me, but thankfully (and partly due to moving) I have begun to de-clutter.  I get the sentimentality aspect of keeping possessions; no one wants to throw out their daughter’s soccer trophy.  So don’t, but I have a storage unit filled with items, I don’t use.   I am disposing of these things through EBay or craigslist and when I am through, not only will I have generated a few extra bucks; I will not have the monthly storage unit payment.

These steps are general and everybody is different.   I needed a way to work towards my goals, while still maintaining my current obligations.  At first, I felt a little overwhelmed about beginning to prep. There was so much I needed and I wasn’t sure where to begin.  I made a couple of mistakes in my planning, but who doesn’t?  The important thing is; I started.   And I have continued.  It’s amazing that once you commit to a journey, you feel more secure.  Even though you’re not at your desired goal, you feel better knowing you’re on the way.

Prizes For This Round (Ends July 29, 2016) In Our Non-Fiction Writing Contest Include…

First Prize:

Second Prize: 

Third Prize:

Please read the rules that are listed below BEFORE emailing me your entry… my email address can be found here – please include “writing contest entry” in the subject line.

The more original and helpful your article is, the deeply and less basic it is, the better the chance, that I will publish it, and you will win. Only non-fiction how-to-do-it type articles, please.

Proven Techniques For Putting Together A Survival Binder

What’s the most important part of your preps? Water. Food. Shelter. Defense.

And the correct answer is …. none of the above.

Yes, you need those essential life supporting items but if you asked me what is the most important part of survival prepping, I’d have to say information. Some will disagree with me on this, but that’s okay, we all have our opinions and that’s great – but don’t let your beliefs nullify your good judgement lessening your chance of survival.

Information and individual survival skills are key to survival and I can not stress the importance of a well-rounded and organized survival library. Having a good survival library is in my opinion just as important as having a stocked pantry, as they say; knowledge is power and when it comes to survival you can’t have too much information.

But books are expensive and building a survival library covering all the needed survival skills can run into hundreds or even thousands of dollars, dollars that most of us don’t have.  If you have an extra $1,000 to purchase books and other related research materials raise your hand. Wow, not many hands raised – okay, Jim you can put your hand down now, we all know you’re bank account is overflowing with cash and you poop gold coins. No need to show off…

So for the rest of us, less fortunate survivors, how do we build a survival library without having to take out an extra mortgage on our home, selling our bodily fluids or pimping ourselves out on the nearest street corner. We start a survival binder (or binders), that’s how… Let’s get started…

What Is A Survival Binder?

A survival binder is simply a binder of collected information gathered from various sources both on and off-line. You can use any type of binder you want, but I prefer the cheapest that I can find. I get mine at the local Wal-Mart here is an example of the type I use.

Most department stores carry 20 lb 8.5 x 11 sized 3-Hole punched paper for use in this type of binder if yours doesn’t have this type of paper in stock a 3 Hole Paper Punch works well and is what I use.

To make it easier to keep up with what subject is covered in each survival binder you’ll want to label it with the title or subject covered. If not as your library grows you’ll have to spend a lot of time flipping through each binder trying to find the one you want with the information you need when you need it.

I write the Name / Subject on a one inch wide by eight inch long strip of paper that I cut from a standard sheet and tape this to the spine with clear two-inch packaging tape covering the paper.

One of the great things about the survival binder is that, unlike many books out there covering a broad range subjects that are of no interest or use to you with only one or two subjects about what you need, you can build your survival binder to cover only those subjects and survival skills that you need relative to your area saving you time, space and money.

What you put in your personal survival binder will depend on several factors, including but not limited to your location, survival plans and skill level. For example, if your retreat is in an area where raising a garden isn’t possible, then filling your binder with information on gardening wouldn’t make a lot of sense .

Or say, you live on the Cumberland Plateau of TN then you probably would not have a binder devoted to desert survival skills. You get the idea. Your survival binder should be put together with your individual needs and location in mind – don’t waste time or resources with anything else.

Now the next question is where to find reliable, printable information for free (I love that word… FREE), well let’s see, this blog obviously (check out the print friendly button at the bottom of each post) but where else…

A good place to start when looking for gardening, raising livestock and homesteading information is cooperative extension publications for your state and U.S. department of agriculture publications. Here is the one for my state –University of Tennessee Extension.

FEMA and the American Red Cross have a wealth of free information on emergency preparedness and survival ready to download and print on their respective sites. A good one from FEMA and a great place to start is FEMA Are You Ready? and best of all its FREE 😀 .

Your states Department Of Natural Resources is a great place to find information on topics such as trapping, butchering game, hunting, plants, trees etc..

If you’re looking for military tactics there are many sites (here is a good one) where you can download and print out hundreds of these types of manuals which detail everything from outdoor survival and weapons training to demolitions.

A useful and quick way to find printable information on many subjects is to do a google search for the topic with PDF (Portable Document Format) appended to the search. For example “raising tomatoes pdf” PDF files are great because they are easy to print and put into book form in your binder.

Today’s Task

Take a close look at your area, survival plans, and skills and write down those areas where you need more information – now start a survival binder with the correct information to fill in the gaps. Well, what are you waiting on…

Awareness and Survival – Did You See That…

guest post by By MsgtHug

Ask yourself, why am I busy storing, planning and preparing while most of my neighbors and friends continue with their casual, routine lifestyles? The answer can be explained with one simple word: AWARENESS.

Does that mean we are living under constant fear, awaiting the next SHTF event? Because of our increased awareness we have a greater understanding, and the knowledge to be able to respond properly to these events. The more you know about a potentially fearful encounter, the more aware you become; the more likely you will survive. If we live under fear we often make irrational and spontaneous choices. In awareness mode, we can make choices based on knowledge, and clear, calm thinking.

My first significant encounter with awareness was what now seems to be many years ago. I was testing for employment with a large police department. A black and white photograph was projected onto a screen for a matter of seconds for the entire group to observe. The photo remained in place for a matter of ten to fifteen seconds, then removed. A questionnaire was given to each of us about the photo. It included questions such as:

  • How many people in the photo?
  • How many were wearing caps?
  • How many books were on the shelf in the photo?
  • What time did the clock indicate?
  • Were the windows open or closed?

You get the point. It was all about awareness and seeing the big picture. I got the job and spent the next thirty years developing awareness of what was around me.

What do you look for? Perhaps the most important is where are the people? Think about leaving your local WalMart. Most people walk out the door, pushing their cart and start looking toward the parking lot trying to remember where they parked. What about the people? Do you look to your left or right, near the building to see what is there? Is anyone there, or perhaps even a group of people? The people you do see, what are they doing? Are they looking into cars? Are they watching you or the other shoppers? Are they walking or standing in one place? Are they talking to anyone? How are they dressed? Do you hear anything that could be important? Do you hear anyone walking behind you?

Is any of this information important to you? It may not be, but what if you were also aware the local newspaper has reported several purse snatchings in this area. The more related information obtained the more awareness increases.

It is very important for you to develop strong survivalist awareness. However, it will be just as important for you to not stand out in your efforts. Think about it this way. People who run while others are walking stand out. People who walk while others are running stand out. People trying to “look around” to quickly look nervous and stand out.

Think about watching someone who turns their head and looks to their left then turns their head and looks to the right. Awareness would make you think “lookout”. You can be just as effective by using your peripheral vision. Practice using your full field of vision, not just focusing what is directly in front of you.

You can take it one step further by looking at something other than what you are facing. For example, you can turn your face toward a particular object but use your eyes to look to your target which may be off to the right or left. Sunglasses are a great help here. Just remember you must fit into your surroundings or you will be an awareness victim.

Your own property is a great place to start practicing your awareness. Notice the position of the sun during particular times of the day. Where do you feel it’s heat on your body? Where is the sun in the sky during the morning and during the afternoon? What about noon? Is it straight overhead as most believe? Check it out.

Would this information help you navigate in an emergency? Are there fresh animal tracks around the garden? Has anything been disturbed during the night? Is any of your gas gauges below what they should be? If you practice awareness you can quickly and accurately answer these questions.

Whether you plan to bug out or are forced to leave your location choice to retreat to the great outdoors, your survival awareness may even be more critical. Are you familiar with the local potentially harmful animals and plants in your area? Do you have a compass and know how to use it? Can you navigate unknown terrain? Can you navigate through the area without drawing attention? Do you know about camouflage and concealment? Do you know how to travel in a straight line to prevent going in circles?

I believe the first step in survival is being aware of the possible threats. By becoming aware of those dangers you are more likely to avoid potential risks. Start with simple issues such as what you are wearing. Next work on you immediate surroundings. Finally, reach out for an awareness of your environment.

It is extremely important for each of us to have survival awareness. We need to see the big picture and not have tunnel vision. It is easy to miss something you are not looking for. Therefore, we must acknowledge and accept what is going on around us. Doing so is imperative for your survival.

Prepping For the Frugal Minded

By Rural Buckeye                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         This is an entry in our non-fiction writing contest

Many of us want to be prepared as much as possible when the crap hits the fan. A favorite and another practical method of obtaining items that may of be of such interest is visiting your local recycling center. I have been making frequent visits (every 7-14 days)to a local recycling center for the last 5 plus years. I was and still am amazed at what items end up there. Some of these items can be very useful and others you may want to just to pick them up for a resale. I have found by selling a few of my finds it is a good way to help subsidize your other purchases. Or just hang on to them for bartering items down the road. Scrap prices do fluctuate and depending what the item is made out of, will be a factor when purchasing. But typically all my purchases are around five to ten cents on the dollar of what the item would cost elsewhere. Except for scrap, I pay around twice what they pay out. Keeping in mind that this article is more about acquiring and not on construction or refurbishing items.

Before I continue, I would like to make it very clear. Be careful what you are buying and inspect the items very carefully. Have an idea on why someone may have wanted to get rid of it in the first place. Some of these treasures are just no longer needed and others have defects. I have made bad buys only to take them back and sell them for less than what I paid originally.

Fuel Tanks-A couple of my early on finds were aluminum fuel tanks. One being a 30-gallon tank that came out of a retired boat and the other is a 100-gallon tank that was removed from a tractor trailer rig. Both tanks appeared to be in very good shape, but before filling with fuel I checked them for leaks and cleaned them. The larger tank had 1/2 inch plug leaking. I replaced it with a new one and all is good. These are being used for emergency backup reservoirs and I am going to rotate fuel through them once a year. And yes, I am using a fuel stabilizer.

Hand tools- The one location I go to has a flea market type area setup. These items that they place there are recognized by their employees and set up to sell to people like myself. The reason I mention this is, because some items cost a bit more than d. Because a hoe or rake has very little metal in them, they are put out with a $1.00 price sticker on them. On all hand tools. I have purchased several hatchets, hoe, shovels, maul, sickle potato fork and other oddballs.

Steel-When buying raw steel, I normally pay twice what the center pays out to people I have picked a variety of steel, from 24 gauge galvanized sheet metal to many different lengths of cold and hot rolled steel. Along with piping from 1/2 inch to 6 inch. I have probably collected around 300 to 400 lbs of steel and still have less than $60.00 in it. One of my projects in the making is building a couple of rocket stoves. If you are not familiar with them, use a search engine like google and check them out. They area biomass cook stove that runs very efficient and are fairly easy to construct. Although you will need metal working tools and a welder. The 3″ stove pipe will just be a cook stove, while the 6″ will be a vertical evaporator for boiling down maple sap to syrup. This will be used with a cut off stainless steel beer keg. But the keg really is nothing more than a 20 gallon pot boiling on a wood stove. This is nothing fancy or expensive like a commercial evaporator, but will work just fine for home use. I just want to make enough syrup for my family and some friends. I should have less than $50.00 in it by the time I am done.

Climbing Tree Stands- Believe it or not, someone scrapped out 2 brand new never used climbing deer stands. I have thoroughly inspected them, but I have not yet tried them out. And yes safety is critical here. Heck, they would make great zombie lookouts as well. These just might be a resale item, for I do most of my hunting from a ground blind anymore and I really do not need anymore.

Weight Distribution Hitches- This is something I did not need but I picked up 1 complete unit along with the makings of 3 others along with sway bars. If you do not know what a distribution hitch is. It helps level out a trailer to the truck it is attached to. Just this purchase alone has made me enough money to continue picking the scrap yard for a quite while. I paid $50 bucks for the hitches and turned around and sold them for $350.00. Once again, you have to be careful what you buy because of liability issues. These were a name brand item and appeared to be never used. I sold these on Craigs list and I had no problem getting rid of them.

This is just a small list of items that I have acquired over a small period time. To me, it is a win-win-win-win situation. The person getting rid of the item is freeing up space and picking up a little cash. Fewer items are ending up in the landfills. The recycling center is turning money. Lastly, I am obtaining items that help make life easier now and to be better prepared in the future for whatever may come our way.

Frugal prepper

Deer Stands

Fuel Tank

Fuel Tank

Hand Tools

Hand Tools

Hitch

Hitch

Pot

Pot

The great thing about the treasure trove is that you never know what is going to show up. Good hunting my conservative friends.

Prizes For This Round (Ends April 12, 2016) In Our Non-Fiction Writing Contest Include…

  1. First place winner will receive –   A gift certificate for $150 off of  rifle ammo at Lucky Gunner, an Urban Survival Kit a $109 value courtesy of  TEOTWAWKI supplies, a WonderMix Deluxe Kitchen Mixer a $299 value courtesy of Kodiak Health and a LifeStraw Mission Filter a $109 value courtesy of EarthEasy, and a 4″ Heavy Duty WaterBoy Well Bucket a $106 value and a WaterBoy Tripod Kit courtesy of Well WaterBoy Products for a total prize value of over $867.
  2. Second Place Winner will receive – 30 Day Food Storage All-in-One Pail a $119 value courtesy of Augason Farms.com and Berkey Light with 2 (9″) Berkey Earth Elements a $157 value courtesy of LPC Survival, for a total prize value of $276.
  3. Third place winner will receive –  International MRE Meals Supply a $72.00 value, a LifeStraw Portable Water Filter a $19 value, Yoder’s Fully Cooked Canned Bacon a $15 value all courtesy of CampingSurvival and one copy of each of my books “The Prepper’s Primer” and a copy of “The Prepared Prepper’s Cookbook“ for a total prize value of $137.

Advice for the newly awakened and overwhelmed

by A Different Drummer

This is an entry in our non-fiction writing contest

There are many aspects of personal preparedness that make sense, and I know firsthand that once you take a trip down the rabbit hole, the path to preparedness can be daunting at best, if not completely overwhelming.  To this overwhelming state of mind, I wish to remind everyone that you must walk before you can run.  I know it sounds obvious, but once you start “waking up” to the real world we find ourselves in many are drawn into panic because there is so much to do and seemingly so little time.

Where to start?  What’s most important? Bug out bags?  Food storage?  Water purification? HAM radio? Alternative energy systems?  Defense “tools”?  The list of needs in a SHTF situation is staggering.  However, I believe that while all those things (and more) are important, maybe even essential given the scenario, what I see most overlooked is just good ol’ common sense personal safety in the home.

For example, are you aware that in 2014 there were over 1.2 million fires reported in the U.S. alone?  Those fires led to 3,275 civilian deaths and over 15,000 civilian injuries.  In other words, the S hit the fan for close to 20,000 people that year, from house fires.  Not financial collapse, CME/EMP or the New World Order, house fires.  Just think about that for a minute and let it sink in…

When is the last time you checked your smoke detectors?  Not only do they need to be checked routinely for battery replacement, but smoke detectors also have expiration dates.  This is something most people aren’t aware of.  If you haven’t checked yours in a while, do it today.

Now let me ask you, where are your fire extinguishers?  Do you know off the top of your head or do you need to think about it for a second?  Can you easily grab one, or is it behind a bunch of stuff that will need to be knocked out of the way?  Do your spouse and/or children know where the fire extinguishers are located?  Do they know how to use one if necessary or when NOT to use them? When is the last time you checked the extinguisher to see if it is still good?  Some extinguishers are disposable and have expiration dates; others can be serviced and can last for years.

Have you made a family/household evacuation plan?  If so, have you ever practiced it?  Nothing can make a minor emergency spiral out of control faster than not knowing what to do in said emergency.  Everyone needs to know at least two ways to get out of the home and where to go once they’re out.  I’m not talking about “bugging out”; I’m talking about evacuating your house due to fire, earthquake, tornado, etc.   You’ve made it out of your home, but the street is blocked off, there are emergency vehicles everywhere, maybe news vans and reporters and of course the curious neighbors and passers-by.  Where do you go?  How do your kids find you if this happens while they are away from the house and the LEO blocking the road won’t let them through? At the very least you should practice your evacuation plan at least once a year.  The more you practice, the more your response becomes automatic.  And besides, things change.  Another example; my family’s “muster point” should we need to evacuate is in a little courtyard at a small shopping center down the block.  This worked great for 10 years, until suddenly the courtyard was fenced off completely for construction and was off limits for a year… It’s important to keep things up to date and even better to have a Plan B, just in case.

Aside from the obvious hazard of a house fire, it’s important to prepare yourself, your family and your home for the type of natural disasters most likely in your area.  For me its earthquakes, so keeping tall shelves bolted to the walls and keeping a wrench handy to shut off the natural gas valve are some simple, inexpensive preps I can do to help mitigate risk.  Maybe you live in a hurricane zone, so having pre-cut (and labeled!) plywood sheets for your windows would be a simple, low cost prep that will save you time, energy and further damage when the storms come.

My point is this, we all live with danger, every day of our lives.  There are many things we can do to lower our risk and shorten recovery time, but you have to identify them ahead of time. That is why we all participate in this thing called preparedness! Sure, smoke detectors aren’t exciting and nobody is going to care about the picture you posted of your freshly serviced fire extinguishers in the survival forums, but these are simple things that will most likely do more to save your life and the lives of those you care about than the latest tactical gear.

It’s easy to get caught up with the preparedness “stuff”, I know because I’m guilty of it too.  And I’m not saying the gear and the long term storage foods and all those other goodies aren’t great to have around.  I’m a firm believer in the better-to-have-it-and-not-need-it-than-need-it-and-not-have-it camp but the fact of the matter is that you and your loved ones are far more likely to face a house fire, a natural disaster or some other mundane crisis than you will need to grab your B.O.B. and your AR-15 and head off into the great unknown to fight the Illuminati.

If you’re one of the newly awakened, take a step back, a deep breath and ask yourself “what type of disaster is the most likely to happen to ME?” and go from there.  Apply a little common sense and get your house in order before you spend all your time and resources on the survival toys that so many crow about.  After all, nothing is going to ruin your day more than having all your hard earned preps lost forever for want of a $6 smoke detector.  It’s often said that skills trump gear nearly every time and I believe that.  I also believe that critical thinking is a skill and one that is under used by many.  If you really think about it, I believe you will agree that preparing your home for the everyday, common emergency will give you a much better chance of survival in the long run than say, another hank of paracord or the latest and greatest gadget to show up on the magazine covers.

Prepare smart, with serious consideration for your location and personal needs and before long the overwhelming panic will subside. And once you got your home base covered, you’ll be ready to move on to your next preparedness phase with a clear head.

Prizes For This Round (Ends April 12, 2016) In Our Non-Fiction Writing Contest Include…

  1. First place winner will receive –   A gift certificate for $150 off of  rifle ammo at Lucky Gunner, an Urban Survival Kit a $109 value courtesy of  TEOTWAWKI supplies, a WonderMix Deluxe Kitchen Mixer a $299 value courtesy of Kodiak Health and a LifeStraw Mission Filter a $109 value courtesy of EarthEasy, and a 4″ Heavy Duty WaterBoy Well Bucket a $106 value and a WaterBoy Tripod Kit courtesy of Well WaterBoy Products for a total prize value of over $867.
  2. Second Place Winner will receive – 30 Day Food Storage All-in-One Pail a $119 value courtesy of Augason Farms.com and Berkey Light with 2 (9″) Berkey Earth Elements a $157 value courtesy of LPC Survival, for a total prize value of $276.
  3. Third place winner will receive –  International MRE Meals Supply a $72.00 value, a LifeStraw Portable Water Filter a $19 value, Yoder’s Fully Cooked Canned Bacon a $15 value all courtesy of CampingSurvival and one copy of each of my books “The Prepper’s Primer” and a copy of “The Prepared Prepper’s Cookbook“ for a total prize value of $137.

Would Your Children Survive On Their Own?

We have all read about the street children in Argentina after the economic collapse there, who wander the streets begging, stealing and scrounging through trash to survive.

Many were forced into child labor and prostitution.  Some by their own parents that could not support them or worse exploiting them for their own gain. In many ways, children suffer most after a disaster.

In the aftermath of the 7.0 Earthquake that shook Haiti on 12 January 2010, many children become parent-less. We saw the same thing happen to children in Sri Lanka after the tsunami on Sunday, December 26, 2004.

Many more examples of orphaned children after a disaster could be presented here, but let’s get to the point.

There is a distinct possibility that something could happen to you during or after a disaster leaving your children or grandchildren on their own. Could they survive? Have you done anything to increase their chances?

Could your children survive on their own after a major disaster or TEOTWAWKI event? What would they do if you were no longer there to care for and protect them? Could they make it on their own – would they know what to do?

This is one of those things parents do not want to think about, but not thinking about it won’t lessen the possibility.

Most kids today have few survival skills or an interest in such things, most kids are more interested in playing video games, or when the latest teen celebrity is getting released from rehab.

If you can get them interested and motivated you have already won half the battle.

How you do this will depend on the child, but most will respond best if you make it a game, in other words, do your best to make it fun. Don’t go screaming at them that the world is going to end, or that you could die which would leave them orphaned and on their own. This is especially true when dealing with younger children.

Make it fun and use it as an opportunity to spend time together. Teach them to fish, hunt, trap, shoot, use tools, build a fire, grind grain, garden, cook etc. The important thing is to make it fun and not to stress them out by being pushy or militaristic when teaching.

Books and videos can help your children learn some needed skill, and give you an idea of what to teach them and how to go about doing it. I suggest, “Willy Whitefeather’s Outdoor Survival Handbook for Kids” and “The American Boy’s Handy Book“, and don’t forget to teach other skills such as gardeninghunting and staying safe.

A few months ago, I wrote this post “How Cross-Dressing Makes You a Better Survivalist” where I stressed the need to cross gender lines when learning survival skills. The same thing applies when teaching your children. Don’t just teach boys the “guy stuff” or the girls  “girl stuff” both should have a well-rounded and complementary skill set.

Even disciplined and well-trained children would be at great risk of being harmed or exploited without the guidance and protection of a loving adult. Having an arrangement with a relative or friend to take care of your children, if something was to happen to you is important,  but not always possible.

Many will decline, not wanting the responsibility or make a promise to do so that they never intend to keep.

If you are lucky enough to find someone ready to take on the responsibility of caring for your children in case of such an unfortunate event, the next thing you have to consider is their capabilities.

Let us face it, many people aren’t ready or capable of taking care of themselves or their own children after a disaster. How can they be expected to take care of yours? Can they do it? If not, it’s best to keep looking until you find someone who can.

Whoever you choose, be sure your children get to know and trust them. Spend time with them, hang out, go camping or whatever both families enjoy doing, this will give them time to get to know each other. The last thing you want is a frightened child shooting the stranger who is coming to help them.

Depending on the circumstances, it is probably best if your children stay put or move to a close and predetermined location and wait for the adult to come to them, instead of going out on their own. This should be understood in advance. Be sure your children know what to do ahead of time.

This is one of the most difficult survival situations to contend with and unfortunately, there are no easy answers. I wish I could give you a guaranteed way of keeping your children safe after such an unfortunate event, but I can’t. There are too many variables,  most of which we have no control over.

All you can do is teach them the best you can, make arrangements for their care and pray that God will protect them.

What have you done to prepare your children if you are no longer able to care for and protect them?

Blending prepping into your “normal” lifestyle

Today we present another article in our non-fiction writing contest – Matt in the Midwest

I enjoy prepping. I value independence, self sufficiency, and taking responsibility for myself. I consider it a hobby with perks. I like growing my own food, canning, hunting, shooting, reusing or repurposing materials. I love reading apocalyptic fiction as well as survival nonfiction; homesteading, organic gardening, Mother Earth News, Outdoor Life, Guns and Ammo.

But I also live in the “real” world of having a wife, 2.5 kids, full time job, a mortgage, car payments, vacations, soccer, baseball, and gymnastics. Trying to find a balance or better yet an “integration” of the two worlds is what I try to achieve. Not everything can fit in both worlds. But I use this as a guideline. The more integrated I make prepping into my life the more I can work towards being prepared. Here’s how I do it.

Where to start? That depends on you, your family, cash flow, and interest. I’ll describe my situation and where I’m at. I’m not saying this is the only way or the right way. Just saying this is how one man and family is doing it. I consider our basic needs and multiply to broader situations or applications. Some categories to consider: Water, food, shelter, security, communication, medical, transportation. Get the basics in place then add to each area. Look for ways to work on preps as you go about your “normal” life.

I avoid putting too much emphasis on long term, unlikely to use, hope I never have to use it items or supplies. I don’t own a bulletproof vest, geiger counter, or gas mask. Hard to justify this as useful in my “normal” world. When I consider a purchase, I often ask myself, “will I use it now? (meaning in the next 6 months or so). And would it come in handy in 5-10 years if “bad things happen?” I don’t dwell in the doom and gloom issues, but at the same time, a little preparedness goes a long way. If you have the money, or see a great deal, by all means add something off your wish list.

I didn’t think I was really prepping for many years. I had hobbies I enjoyed like hunting, fishing, hiking, and camping. I like to reuse things, save money, buy used, repair what I can repair. I also buy bulk when I can. Two for one deals, coupons, dented cans, day old donuts, whatever. Along the way I realized the combination of these activities, and the mindframe of preparedness meshed with what is known as prepping. Adding on to activities you already do is one way of making more progress with your preps.

Thriftiness: I’m a sale shopper. Goodwill, resale shops, yard and estate sales are my favorite places to shop. I once found a new blackhawk tactical pack at Goodwill for $5. Sold! Saved me $80-100 that one time. Kevlar chainsaw chaps for $8? Sold. I often walk away empty handed which is fine by me. Buying to just buy isn’t for me. I’m not a big shopper, but if I’m at a pharmacy to get something, I take the time to walk through looking for clearance or sale items.

I’m happy to buy two for one of something I already use like soap, toothpaste, deodorant. Is this prepping? Yes in two senses. I’m purchasing bulk supplies of things I need and will use and second, I’m saving money that can be used for other purchases. One thing I am careful of is not buying things that will go bad before I use them. Check expiration dates. This is the integration or blending of habits or hobbies that I’ve described.

Will I get rid of our old bike trailer even though the kids are too big? Nope, it’s useful for getting groceries or hauling wood on a camping trip. And it folds up pretty flat in the garage. Also good long term to bug out if needed. Again, think short and long term, daily living as well as doomsday living. This item has applications in both worlds.

I try to balance short term and long term gains. Immediate use versus hope to never need. I can’t afford a bunker on 40 acres. But I can make sure our 21’ camper is adequately stocked and maintained, all the time. I don’t store 500 gallons of stabilized gas. But I do keep 5-10 gallons on hand for the lawnmower, chainsaw, truck, and generator if needed.

Do I have 2000 watts of solar panels with batteries? No, but I do have a portable panel and battery charger for my phone, and many sizes of batteries. Also a 20 watt panel for trickle charging our camper batteries. Look for ways to expand what you’re already doing. Think about what activities you did this week, stores you shopped in. Try to brainstorm ways you could have worked on your preps as you did those same activities. I’m guessing you can come up with some ideas pretty easily.

Family: As I mentioned, I am married with young kids. Does my wife think I’m crazy? Yes, many times. Does she support my interests? Yes, indirectly. She has gone shooting with me, but usually only if we go with friends and she can choose where to eat afterwards. Does she wince when she sees another box on the stoop from Amazon or Midway? Certainly.

Do I show her the tool or book I ordered? Yes, kind of. But only after I put away the new mags or hogue grips in the same box. If she asks, I can call all those things “hunting supplies,” an innocent synonym for survival supplies. She would go nuts if she looked through all the rubbermaid tubs in the basement and garage. I hope to avoid that day. She sees the benefits of growing our own food, reusing or repurposing old materials, camping, canning/freezing our harvest or product of hunting, buying bulk and on sale. These are the easy sells with her.

We do many activities that I consider part of my preps together as a family. We shoot occasionally, garden regularly, fish, go canoeing, camp quite often, cook outdoors, bike, and hike. I consider these great family activities, as well as having additional side benefits of fitness, building skills, food production, navigation, survival skills.

Do I feel that going on a vacation, out of state or out of the country, plane tickets, nice hotels, car rental, etc. is a waste of money? Sometimes. Let’s be honest, most of the time. But my family’s happiness, my wife being happy, us having experiences together, makes us stronger as a whole. And for short and long term survival, I need us to care for each other, love each other, work together, have fun together, have common experiences. At times I do feel paying $100 for a dinner out with my wife is an extravagance. And if given a choice, I’d spend it at Cabelas or Natchez. But my wife wouldn’t have it so I accept it and move on. Save in other ways.

Organization of consumables: We use a two pantry system – the first one is what we use daily, weekly, basic ingredients. The second one is more of the same but in quantity, bulk purchases. I don’t buy long term storage items, like # 10 cans of dried corn or MREs. I might get there eventually but for my family right now, this is not where we’re at. I won’t have the shelf life, but my family will eat what I have because our bulk purchases are an extension of our regular purchases.

We stock the upstairs pantry from the basement pantry, then restock the basement/tier 2 pantry with new purchases. Same system with batteries (a big drawer upstairs and the spares are in a tub downstairs), cleaning supplies, medical supplies. Same with our freezers. A few items in our fridge freezer. Home frozen meat, fruit, and veg in the deep freeze. In our basement, I just built shelves for store bought and home canned food. Build them strong; food weights a lot. You can adapt this for your situation. Keep food visible, easy to get at and you’ll be more likely to use it, keep it up to date.

I would recommend using this two tier system for all consumables, not just food. Anything that has a shelf life should be rotated with the oldest used first. Batteries, vitamins, some medical supplies all can go bad over time. Hate to lose money by having to throw it out. One method it to keep a shelf or cupboard in a bathroom or linen closet for your medical supplies.

Then surplus/bulk purchases can be stored in the basement or in a tub somewhere else. Then when you buy 3 tubes of antibiotic cream or 10 toothbrushes, put them in the tub and rotate up to the bathroom the oldest. A posted inventory list is also very helpful. Just update it as items leave or are added to your designated storage area.

Here are some other activities that help me balance or integrate my immediate personal and family needs with possible long term prepper needs:

chickens – we’ve had between 4 and 20 at different times. Mostly layers but sometimes meat birds. I am no expert, just learned by having them. We’ve lost a fair number to predators but overall I consider them a good investment. Fresh eggs, compost/fertilizer for the garden, and to be honest, they’re just fun to watch. Very entertaining, quite funny at times. The kids love them. having chickens integrates food source, gardening (chicken poop), and family fun.

go bags – bug out, get home, 72 hour bag; call it what you will. But should have one for each family member and include the basics: water, food, shelter, security, medical, communication, transportation. Each might be different, should be different, but the basics need to be covered. We live in the midwest and have 4-5 months of winter with feet of snow and below freezing temps for weeks at a time. I add a winter go bag in addition to my basic one that lives in the truck. It contains mostly extra clothes, candle, pot, handwarmers, snacks. I also add extra tools like two shovels, tow strap , jumper cables. Is this prepping or just being prepared?

garden – integrates food production, healthy eating, family activity, lifelong skill. Canning and freezing gives us more food on hand in the off season.

hunting – fun, kids are beginning to try it out, adds food to the pantry as well as a possible barter item. My wife never had wild game before we met but now it’s more normal to eat venison than beef. I have handheld radios to communicate with the guys I hunt with which would be valuable in other situations. An example of blending hunting and communications into my normal life.

shooting – ties into the hunting, as well as personal defense, family activity, and fun to do with friends or other couples. We will meet up with a few other couples to shoot for an hour or two, then go out to eat. Combines a “prepper” activity with a common social outing. I guess to some it might seem weird, the shooting part on “date night.” But to us it’s just a social outing and could as easily be a movie or hike in the woods before we go eat.

I guess to sum it up, prepping has become part of our lifestyle, not a separate activity. My “normal” life includes work, family activities as well as shooting, canning, gardening, hiking, etc. I have “blended” or “integrated” those prepper hobbies/activities into my normal life.

My wife would never call herself a prepper but loves to garden and camp and is happy I hunt and shoot. I can accept that. Overall I see prepping as one more way for me and mine to be responsible for ourselves. Personal responsibility is a value I hold dear. Will I ever be done prepping? Not a chance. Because it is not only a list of supplies or a set of skills, but more so a lifestyle I have adopted. So as long as I’m living, I’m prepping.

Prizes for this round (ends October 11 2015 ) in our non fiction writing contest include…

  1. First place winner will receive –  Two Just In Case… Essential Assortment Buckets courtesy of LPC Survival a $147 value, a  Wonder Junior Deluxe Hand Grain Mill courtesy of FoodPrepper.com a $219 value, and a gift certificate for $150 off of  Rifle Ammunition courtesy of LuckyGunner Ammo… Total first place prize value over $516 dollars.
  2. Second Place Winner will receive – A case of Sopakco Sure-Pak MRE – 12 Meals and a Lifestraw Family Unit courtesy of Camping Survival.com, and a One Month Food Pack courtesy of Augason Farms.com
  3. Third place winner will receive –  $50 cash.

The Survival Pyramid : How to Survive The Coming Economic Collapse

by Spudfarmer

As many of us who are preparing for an uncertain future have discovered, trying to prepare to become self-sufficient for an infinite number of scenarios is overwhelming as best. More often it becomes a sort of anxiety provoking undertaking with no end in sight.

It is easy to become so overwhelmed that you just run around buying things you know you will need at some point in the future. A box of bullets here, some canned veggies there, and so it goes.

After all, these are things you know you will need and will be able to put to use at some point, why not buy and store? The problem with this is that is leads to prepping without method and it does not systematically satisfy basic levels of needs. You need a method to keep your efforts focused and deliberate.

The tool I constantly use to help overcome this problem is based on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. As most of you probably know Abraham Maslow (one of the founders of modern psychology) developed a pyramid of human needs with five separate levels. Each level contains different requirements that must be met before moving on to the next level.

Furthermore, each level is supported by the level below it and a person cannot move on to the next level until the previous level has been satisfied. The bottom level of the pyramid contains things like food, water, and sleep.

The top of the pyramid is a level called self-actualization which is the pinnacle of human existence. Many people strive to reach this level but very few ever do. (Think Mother Teresa and Gandhi) It is very simple to apply this same principle to building a survival pyramid with the pinnacle being truly prepared.

I personally like the pyramid analogy, but you can replace it with whatever you like. The basic concept is you are building a survival structure. This structure is all based on a strong foundation and supporting levels. Just like Maslow’s pyramid, each level rests on the previous level and if you try and skip levels or build on a weak foundation, the structure will collapse.

With this information in mind, there are a couple of caveats before we begin. First, the fundamentals of the pyramid are universal, but each person’s pyramid will be different based on their circumstances.

For instance, while my first level living in the Northwest would be food, water, shelter, and heat – someone who is insulin dependent and living in Florida would have a first level of food, water, shelter, and insulin.

Secondly, any item placed in a level will also by extension have things that allow us to use items on the list. So if insulin is on my level one, I must also have a way to refrigerate and use insulin on my level one list. If my food storage consists primarily of grains, a grinder must also be on level one. If my water supply is a year round stream, a filtration system must also be on level one. You get the idea.

So without further ado, here is MY pyramid based on my age, location, family size, financial status, etc… Again, this is extremely abbreviated and only some examples of items in each level, not a comprehensive list.

Level 1: Life Requirements

Water- My water will come from my well with a back up hand pump

Food- 1 year supply of long term storables like wheat, salt, sugar/honey, powdered milk, hand grinder, spare grinder parts, etc…

Shelter- My house

Heat- Wood stove to heat and cook with plus 5 cords wood storage, matches, splitting maul, ax

Level 2: Long Term Survival Tools and Protection

These are things that will be essential to any long term survival plan. This is not even close to a complete list, just examples. Things like toiletries, non-hybrid seeds, garden tools, seasonal clothing, canned fruits & veggies, guns, ammo, medical supplies, etc….

· A Side note – It was extremely difficult to place guns and ammo on level two instead of level one. I’m one of those guys who doesn’t go to the grocery store without my gun. My thinking is that in the purest sense of the word survival, a gun is not necessary. You have to have food and water to exist, but you can survive without a gun. The best part is you don’t have to debate this because it’s my list, you can just make your own.

Level 3: Quality of Life

These are things that would be very nice to have and would upgrade your status from merely surviving to living borderline comfortable. These are things like books for your survival library, chicken coop w/hens, goat for milk, taking an EMT course, vitamins to supplement your diet, antibiotics, etc….

Level 4: Barter/Trades

These are items/skills that will allow you to get the most out of a survival situation. Some things on this list will increase your value as a person in a true TEOTWAWKI situation. This will also allow you to live much more comfortably in this scenario. These are things like welding, mechanical, medical skills that you can use to improve your personal situation as well as trade for other items. Other things might be a beehive for honey production or solar panels to recharge batteries or power electronics. These are skills/things that everyone should be striving to acquire after meeting basic needs.

Level 5: Add to existing stores and luxury items

These are things that are not at all essential but would make life better. Things in here would be candy for children (and yourself), board games, DVDs, music, etc. You would also increase previous set levels of need. More bullets, food for barter, etc….

Your lists should be as detailed and specific as possible. How much wheat? What Kind? Extra parts for a grain mill? What kinds of guns? Calibers? How much ammo? It could go on forever. Furthermore you could have some guns on level two and others on level four.

Your list will also change and will cycle as you become more prepared. The point is to stay focused and purchase starting with absolute necessities and work up.

I don’t care how great a deal you find on another case of ammo, it doesn’t matter if you don’t have your water needs met. Ideally this should take the emotion out of things and make you stick to a budget of sorts. Not as much fun, but far more effective.

As it has been repeated ad nauseam in most survival blogs, everyone’s survival list will be different. We all have basic needs we share, but we also have uniquely different life circumstance that prohibits making a one size fits all list. It’s your list; you get to determine what the priorities are for you and yours.

We all know what we need to survive. In fact, we can even picture most items we need and compile a detailed list. However, the fact remains we need to start viewing prepping as a structure. We have to start with a solid foundation and build up.

We all know what a house looks like, but we wouldn’t start building without plans. We know it would be a futile effort. You would have no idea what the exact measurements were and it would be pointless to try building walls before the foundation was set. The clock is ticking so draw your plans and start building from the bottom.

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