This is a guest post by Mike S and entry for our non-fiction writing contest.
I don’t like being called a prepper. I didn’t like being called a survivalist before preppers were cool. And even though the my family has gone from your crazy, to you know one of these days we may have to apologize to you, to is it too late to start, I still don’t like the labels. It sets me apart, and makes other people thing we are different, and different is scary. Personally I think of myself as someone who likes comfort….and we all like comfort. Chances are you have car insurance, home insurance, health insurance, life insurance, 401K, savings account, and a spare credit card or three. Why do you have these? To provide comfort in the off chance something goes wrong.
Insurance ranges so much from state to state, and person to person I know it is almost impossible to come up with an average, but after viewing several sights and averaging them I came up with $9000 a year or $750 a month. Let’s just say the average person in America already spends a good amount of money preparing for something to go wrong and having a way to come through it with as little pain and trauma to themselves and their family as possible. Now I won’t get into all the things that could go wrong, but no matter who you are you will need to eat, drink, see, sleep, be protected from the elements, and you will want to be physically safe.
Without going into any specific scenario lets just take one thing that we are use to out of our daily lives, money. With the many different insurances out there, money is the only thing you are actually insured for. You don’t actually get a new house, car, health, or life back, you get money. If we remove money from the equation, we remove all your insurances and savings. Many people try to safeguard against this by buying a more stable form of currency, but in reality those, like our current money, only have the value they are perceived to have. So what am I suggesting?
The majority of my friends claim they don’t prep because it is too expensive. Shout out to MD, I got Dirt Cheap Survival Retreat and loved it. Went out and got copies for all those friends that said prepping was too expensive. But they read the whole book and still added up the cost and never started. Why? Because if you don’t incorporate into your lifestyle, it’s just another expense.
First reduce your insurances to the minimums. Insurance companies make money after paying employees, paying bills, and paying out insurance claims. Keep track of the difference and save it. Start eating healthier, and working out. I work in a hospital and realistically 90% of our patients would never need to come here if they controlled their diet and exercised. I recommend a garden for both. One hour a day in a garden is enough to grow all your food. I grew up on a farm and all of us owed an hour each day to the garden and we not only ate, froze and canned enough for the whole year but gave a lot away. Keep track of the savings from buying at the store and eating out.
Wait for sales and buy in bulk. In college I spent $60 a month on food, and ate enough that while I played rugby, walked to class, and rode a bicycle everywhere still managed to gain weight. Keep track of the savings. Turn off the lights, turn down the heat, and use fans in the summer if you don’t really need the AC. Go for walks instead of watching TV and playing Video Games.
My last apartment I spent $35 a month in electric year round and it was all electric. Sure I wore a sweater and sweat pants all winter and slept with two comforters but it’s kind of cozy and not always a bad idea to know how to dress in a cold situation. Keep track of the savings. Go camping on the weekends. After the initial cost, camping can be a very cheap alternative to what most people end up paying for family weekend trips.
It can also be great in learning what you actually need to survive and what looks good but will never really be used. If you can’t get the gear right away, try primitive camping. A lot of people work their way up to it after finding car camping boring. Keep track of the savings.
By now you may have noticed that we are keeping track of a lot of savings. I am going to break down my brothers and my monthly expenses for you.
- House payment/rent. $2000-425= $1575
- Car payments. $375-0 = $375
- Gas $400-125 = $275
- Insurance $1200-200= $1000
- Utilities $425- 35 = $390
- Food $600-300 = $300
- Phone/internet. $250-150=$100
- Credit Cards $600-0 =$600
Now I know he is buying a house and I rent an apartment. He also has a wife and three kids and I am single, so even if he wanted to he could not live quite the same lifestyle I do. But we are talking about a difference of $4615 a month or almost $70,000 a year and that doesn’t factor in a lot of other expenses that could be cut out, and he claims even thought he would like to, he doesn’t have the money to prep.
So what is the cost of this great thing called prepping? Well like I said I grew up on a farm. We grew, shot, and bartered for almost everything we had. So I am going to go with the things I know. Remember this is a starters list, for people who say it’s too hard, I am not saying this is the end all be all of prepping or even suggesting you should follow this if you are already on a different track.
First, I think you need a gun. If you are not willing to kill, I believe you will have a much harder time of it. Growing up the most frequently used gun was a .22 rifle. Although there seems to be a great debate as to the usefulness of this on anything weighing more then 20 lbs. I can say with a great deal of confidence it will kill critters 1500 lbs. with a single shot, I’ve killed everything on a farm with one including full-grown bulls. It is also very possible to reduce the noise level to such that it will not be discovered form 30 yards away. While my favorite is a Ruger 10/22, marlin semi-automatic can be had for under $100. Note: for noise reduction a bolt action is best.
I can get Chunky Soup for $1 a can on sale at Krogers, 2 ½ gallons of water for $2, canned vegetables and beans 2 for a $1, mushroom and chicken soup or fruit for under a dollar, 25 lbs. of rice for $25, etc. or prep food for less then $100 a month. A stove that uses wood to cook on can be had anywhere from $30 on up. If wood is not readily available you can get a alcohol stove for similar pricing and I can heat up a can of food or boil a small pot of water for about an ounce.
The rest is out there in the form of yard sales, flee markets, and auctions. I still find pants for a dollar, shirts for a quarter, old tools that are better then what I can get in a hardware store for a small percentage of what I can find them for new. If you really want to get into it, buy them, fix them up, sharpen or clean them, and sell them for more. Just make sure you are shopping from the people who really want to get rid of stuff not the ones who are there to make a quick buck.
Which brings me to the most important part of Prepping, skills. Most people do not know how to sharpen let alone fix a tool, many will pay you to do it or sell the dull ones for very cheap. Bartering is invaluable, if you don’t even need anything and just go to flee markets to learn this skill you will be far ahead. I have started out with something worth less then a 25 cents and traded up different times to a compound bow, a canoe, a gas grill and a nice set of speakers each in less then 2 hours of trading. On a side note, a little kindness goes a long way. When I was finished no one felt cheated or pressured. If they do you will rarely be able to make a favorable deal with them again. Being confident, respectful, and friendly usually makes the trade for you, and even if it doesn’t work out they are much more likely to want to help you out in the future.
The more skills you have the more people will respect and want you to be around. This in itself is a form of currency. While you and Farmer Fred may both be able to sharpen a scythe, if you fixed a rifle or bandaged a wound, they are much more likely to ask you to do it, and be willing to pay you more. And unlike most currencies, the harder times get the more they are worth.
I hope this is useful to some of you still on the fence. Get out there and try it, it’s really a lot more affordable and less crazy then a lot of other hobbies….and one day just may save your life.
* M.D. Creekmore recommends : “Why Aren’t You Using Coupons To Save Money When Stockpiling For Survival?”
Prizes for this round in our non fiction writing contest include…
- First place winner will receive – A $150 gift certificate for Hornady Ammo courtesy of LuckyGunner, a Wonder Junior Deluxe grain mill courtesy of Kitchen Neads, a one year subscription to the Personal VPN service courtesy of unspyable and 1 Case of Survival Cave Food Chicken with 12 14.5 oz. Cans courtesy of LPC Survival.
- Second place winner will receive – $100 off of your next order of Fish Antibiotics courtesy of Campingsurvival.com, a Survival Puck courtesy of SurvivalPuck.com and a SurvivalistBlog.net Coffee Mug courtesy of Horton Design.
- Third place winner will receive – a copy of my book ”31 Days to Survival: A Complete Plan for Emergency Preparedness“ and “Dirt Cheap Survival Retreat” courtesy of TheSurvivalistBlog.net and a copy of “The Survival Medicine Handbook” courtesy ofwww.doomandbloom.net.
Be sure to read the rules before entering… This contest will end on March 17 2014