This is a guest post by Raven and entry for our non-fiction writing contest.
I am on a really super tight budget - and while I don’t like it – I currently get food stamps and receive social security. I have learned how to budget these two in order to not only pay bills with the social security but take my food stamps and have food that lasts at least a month and a half in groceries. So I figured I’d finally write-up how I can do this and still be a prepper. To me, knowledge is power and I am going to give those who are making poor Abe on a penny squeal just like I am doing.
I say this since If we look at history, before all of our modern conveniences of today, look at how folks lived back, say, 1920′s and back. How did they live? How did they survive? How did they provide for their families? Learn those tricks and tips and you can survive anything thrown at you!
I have noticed that a lot of preppers have been talking about what you should and shouldn’t have when all hell breaks loose. I also noticed that there are a lot of “pros” out there that will tell you they can help you survive anything if you just watch this or that video and then buy their books to learn more. Well, I haven’t been able to afford these so called publications but I have actually found all their retold information on the web for free! You just need to look for it. I use Bing as my search engine which i have found much more information on then any of the others. Using key words or simple questions with bring up a ton of things you can use.
With that said, let’s get in to the nitty-gritty of my article. I have found, living in Florida, that every May the hurricane guides come out. Just for information gathering, look up “Florida hurricane guides”. you will come up with a ton of various news stations that publish these for free in PDF form. What’s hilarious to me is that these hurricane guides are basically an identical match to a simple beginning prepper’s guide for bugging out! Interestingly enough, the only things missing is the shelter, how to stay warm and how to cook.
You can also look up, “3 day tent camper list” — this kind of listing will show basically give you ideas on what you would need to take with you out in the woods. Compare these 3 lists, hurricane, camper, prepper, and you will have a great jump off point to start your prepping on a budget!!
Okay so far we have 3 lists to work from. Using these lists, make your own to tailor your family’s needs and comforts. Now for the next part of our budget prepping! Where we can cut costs to start prepping.
I have several avenues I like to use. One is that since hubby is a handyman, he struck up a deal with our landlord to do work in exchange of rent! this has been working great for the past 8 years! This has greatly reduced monies going out. If you have a skill (s) and are basically out of work, try this with your property owner. You can be surprised at how much this is pleasing to them! they get free work done and you get a reduced/free place to live! this is great if you don’t own your own house.
Since part of hubby’s jobs are to paint the inside of our property owners houses, he ends up with a lot of empty 5 gallon buckets from the paint. Now I know you have all been told to use food grade buckets only but paint buckets are just as good and I can teach you why. First. the buckets have a good strong seal to keep the paint from spilling out. The seals are made to be able to repeatedly open and close– we have tested several buckets and found about 233 times is great before the seals start to wear out. once these buckets have been cleaned out, by either rinsing them out with a hose if the paint is still wet, or just letting the sun dry the paint and then peal them out, these buckets are great for putting in your spare clothes, prepackaged foods, DYI MRE’s and so on.
They also hold bulk things like noodles and flour and what have you by just placing a non-scented generic white 13 gallon tall kitchen trash bag in, put in your bulk food, tie the top of the bag-getting out as much air as you can, and placing the bucket lid on tight. I have a paint bucket I did this with 5 years ago with sugar. I was able to put in 25 pounds in the bucket. To see if the sugar was still okay, I opened it a few days ago. It was actually a little hard on the top but about an inch down was still soft and still very edible! I didn’t use the moisture absorbers or anything like that. The only thing I did was keep it in a dark and dry closet. This part is totally up to you.
I have done this with dog, cat and bird food since I have these animals as pets. It can also be smart to do this with kitty litter since kitty litter has more uses then just for a kitty potty.
The next thing I like to do is be a sample hound! this takes about an hour a week/day to sign up for free samples off the net. join several groups/blogs/sites that list whose giving away free stuff. I have received in the past month, approximately $1000 in samples of all kinds for free in my mail box. This is not including the printable coupons for free products which I in turn saved almost $1500 in the past 2 months! This is not an exaggeration! This is real! I have received everything from foods, first aid, pet, cleaning supplies, and so on. I have also entered a slew of contests and have actually won things like Fix a Flat, knives, bb guns, a Winchester rifle, a year supply of dog food (a 40lb bag a week = 2080 lbs of dog food) a 25lb bag of bird seed, seed for a garden, and more. Again - all free!
So lets recap really quick on how much we have spent so far— about maybe 30 hours a week and $0! So far so good!! Right?!
Next we are going to deal with a food budget. I am not afraid to say that I am on food stamps. This actually does help greatly if you are able to get them. I have found that if you have coupons it will save a ton of money there too! I can use the coupons and get close to $1000 of groceries and spend maybe $150 of my stamps. I can defiantly prep stock like that! I shop places like Wal Mart, Dollar Tree and scratch and dent stores. I like to get the stuff that Dollar Tree has already on shelves that are compact, like their tuna and cracker lunch kits. stuff like that is great for your personal DYI mre kits, taking them out of the package gives you more space since the box they come in is bulky.
Use common sense while shopping. Try to get a bit for prepping every time you go grocery shopping. if you get 4 cans of say tuna- the get 6– the other 2 go in to your storage. if you use this idea then you will have your prepping stores set up in no time. Buying ‘off season’ helps too. Here in Florida, prices of things used for Hurricane preparedness actually goes up in May since June is the start of hurricane season. come December 1st, all these store try to get rid of the ‘hurricane supplies’ and deep discount things. This is when you buy!! Sales are also a great way to prep on a budget.
Another way to get what you need is to join a group on-line that posts things others are giving away just to clear out their spaces. Here it’s called ‘freecycle’. See if there is one in your area and keep watch on it. I have seen people post things like tents, grills, camping stuff and everything else. You can also post things you need but be warned, don’t get to greedy on your ‘wants’ the moderators will ban you so keep the posts to say 3-6 a month and maybe post you have things to get rid of at least once a month.
Another good avenue is to hit yard sales. I have gotten 2 food savers, 5 dehydrators and 2 generators and hadn’t hit my $300 yard sale budget! I actually will put money aside in a special jar to yard sale with and go once every 6-8 months. I also like going to church rummage sales. There is always a good deal to be had there!
So, I have touched on several things so far of where to save money. I would like to touch on one more thing for you. i suggest that you invest in canning and gardening supplies. Having these and the knowledge of what to do with them if key in survival! If you dont like looking at the contents of what is in a jar - get creative and make a label with all the info on it! this will eliminate the idea of – i can’t eat that looking like that! Canning is the most tried and true method of preserving foods for storage. Our grand Parents and generations back have been doing it! I do know for a fact that stuff canned at home actually can last upwards of 50-60 years if kept in the right conditions for northerners a root cellar, for us in the south, a dark closet on the side of the house the sun doesn’t hit at all.
there are a ton of how to videos all over the web on canning various foods. there are also a ton of free kindle books on amazon about prepping cooking farming and canning. I have note books for each subject that i take notes down in. if there is a site to go with the video i go to it and get canning recipes and other information that pertains to me and mine. a case of quart jars at Walmart is like 8 dollars– combine that with your foods that you saved on and got in bulk and you have just prepared your family for at least 12 meals!
Learn how to can in various ways, wet canning - which is traditionally the way to can is great for like soups and pickling and stuff like that – dry canning can be done the same way as wet canning but you don’t add the extra fluid in the jars – this is great for canning cooked meats! you can also dry can things like crackers and dried stuff in the oven - be careful and follow the instructions from those that have tried and tested this method already! and vacuum canning– this is a great thing also for sealing crackers and pastas in jars.
gardening is also a great way to keep the food coming year round! depending on your area will depend on your garden. I totally suggest having a spot inside where you can do an aquaponic garden set up for the winter in the places with snow. I suggest aquaponics anywhere actually! this incorporates fish and plants for healthier and heartier produce and also gives you a meat protein in the fish– It’s a tad expensive to start-up but well worth it, once you get an idea of what you need you can use the idea of freecycle and other avenues along those lines to get the parts you need.
in closing i would like to mention that one thing all the lists do not include is your feet! stock up on good shoes you normally wear that you find comfortable for long periods of time - say for going to the park, going for a walk and so on– keeping shoes like that will save you a migraine later on when S.H.T.F. happy feet make for a happy body.
I hope I was able to help at least one person with this article– Stay safe and prepared!
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