Prepping, no matter how you do it, takes a certain financial commitment. Prepping is in many ways a lot like saving in that you have to do without and sacrifice today to ensure a better tomorrow. But unlike traditional piggy banking, you won’t see a return on your investment unless things go wrong, like bad wrong.
So while prepping is not a financial liability, per se, it does hoover up your cash, sometimes a lot of it, and getting significant others and loved ones on board the prepping bus can be challenging if a ticket to ride is too costly.
No matter how worried or how passionate you are, you still need to pay the bills, keep the lights on, your insurance and taxes paid and so forth. Somewhere in all of that you might actually want to do something nice for yourselves!
Lucky for you, we are here to help. In this article we’ll give you some ideas on how to stretch those nickels and make your money go as far as possible when you are prepping.
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Watch Your Dimes and the Dollars Will Take Care of Themselves
Prepping isn’t always a noticeable financial hit. What’s a can of beans and a packet of tuna added to every grocery run, eh? Not much! But some preps are big expenses: things like guns, generators, training, vehicle upgrades, property, bulk buys of everything from ammo to clothing to rice and water.
Even if you are prepping small scale, “balling on a budget,” or “caching with coupons,” you can do more with the same amount of resources if you are smart.
Efficiency and adaptability are the hallmarks of good preppers, and that means avoiding waste and loss of useful materiel and provisions. Why should your dollars be any different? Saving just 10% on every, single purchase may not seem like much, but that is $10 for every hundred you spend.
If you do that twice a week that’s $20 still in your wallet. That’s $80 a month, or $960 a year! That is one really nice handgun, a good rifle, a pair of shotguns, a couple cases of ammo, a load of MREs, a ton of bottled water, or at least two professional skill-building classes in just about any discipline or area of expertise you can think of.
Who wouldn’t want any of that?! Not one prepper, I say. Even if you are all set on the provision front, cash is a prep in itself. How big is your nest egg?
He or she who knows more requires less. It is true that skills and expertise can make up for all kinds of gadgetry. The old fable of the lone survivor who heads into the woods with their knife and hatchet and nothing more to carve out a shelter and subsequently live, truly live off the land is no myth! It is harder than woodpecker lips and make no mistake, but it can be done if you are good enough and know enough!
The more you know, the less you’ll need all in all, because you can get things done that lesser-skilled folks couldn’t without their gear, and also because you will go through gear slower: better skill means fewer mistakes and fewer instances of pushing your tools past its design limits
You know why your grandpa had that 100 year old axe? It isn’t necessarily because the axe was made better back then, although many times they were, it was because he knew what the hell he was doing and he took care of his tools.
Expertise will see you get by with less and do a lot more with it at any rate. Don’t neglect your brain and knowledge base in pursuit of stuff! Besides being a better, more capable prepper, your wallet will thank you!
You don’t come to The Survivalist Blog for theory and esoterica alone. We know you want actionable tips and advice so we will deliver. Below are five things you can do right now today to start leaning out your prepping budget while still getting the things you need to be ready for a SHTF situation.
1) Shop Clearance, Closeout and Out of Business Sales
You’d be surprised how many big-box outdoor retailers and smaller hunting and fishing shops pack it in each year. In my town alone, we have seen one major retailer call it quits from bankruptcy, and another large, one-off store come perilously close due to shifting consumer concerns.
To stay afloat, they downsized from their flashy indoor mall frontage to a far smaller and more focused storefront and held a big and I mean big blowout sale to clear up capital.
There were sales on everything from tents and fishing poles to gas lanterns, guns and ammo. Boats, backpacks and more. On my modest haul, consisting of mostly shelter material and clothing, I saved over $400 off of the same retail purchase at street price. You cannot beat that.
It pays to be a price vulture. When a retailer, especially a huge corporate one is circling the drain, swoop in as soon as they stop twitching so you can scoop up those sweet, sweet bargains.
Even if they aren’t, and hallelujah for a booming economy, you should make it a point to always check out what’s on sale, in the clearance bin or has available rebates.
Manufacturer’s rebates especially are often poorly advertised (unless it is for a vehicle) and are often a great source of savings if you don’t mind waiting for a bit to get them. Deals abound for the sharp-eyed prepper!
2) Use a Rebate and Price-Watcher App
This is the electronic version of the above with a few added perks. Using a free app like Honey (which I use and enjoy) you can instruct it to watch items you want on sites like Amazon and alert you when they drop to a certain price threshold.
Honey can also tack the price trajectories of those items, and if they are climbing you know you should perhaps prioritize another purchase first.
Even better, Honey automatically searches for codes and coupons anywhere you make a purchase online and applies them automatically in a logical order to save you the most money possible.
Yeah, a 20% off coupon might be the best coupon on paper, but Honey knows you will save more by going with 10% and free shipping, so it will go with that instead. You can’t lose!
Honey has one more trick up its sleeve; if it cannot save you money on your purchase, it will give you a certain amount of credit in your piggy bank, called Gold.
Every 1,000 gold you collect is worth a $10 gift card to one of several major brick and mortar and online retailers, essentially paying you back for using their app. And Gold isn’t doled out miserly, either. I make about eight or ten purchases online and I have a $10 gift card ready to print out!
There are other similar apps out there you might try, but Honey is one of the longest running, least invasive and most reliable, so I have them constantly turned on for my browser.
3) Go Analog!
As mentioned above, certain skills can replace expensive gear entirely with Old Ways know-how. Take land navigation for instance. A compass and a map along with a dose of skill and experience will replace a GPS for most folks in its entirety.
Don’t get me wrong, a GPS is an immensely powerful tool and worth having, but if you don’t have one, or cannot afford the model you want and don’t want to settle for cheap junk (a wise decision, grasshopper…) you can do just fine on your travels with brass and paper.
It might not feel that way since our modern tools and technology are so good, but think about this: how did we ever get along before without it?
We know our forefathers did- maps and compasses were the standard navigational aids for centuries before our first satellite every orbited earth.
You can do that for more than just navigation. A prepper skilled and knowledgeable about the principles of thermoregulation will be able to construct a good shelter out of almost any kind of natural or man-made materials.
A tarp, some cordage, emergency blankets and proper attire could completely take the place of a tent, sleeping bags, fullsize blankets and so forth.
The world furnishes much in the way of material and supply if only you have the wisdom and knowledge to make use of it!
4) Do It Yourself!
I for one am thankful that DIY has become cool again. From repairing things that would otherwise be thrown away to maintaining and building the things you need and want, a new and sunny dawn of self-reliance even among non-preppers is upon us.
From car maintenance to home improvement, millions of Americans are rolling up their sleeves and grabbing their toolboxes.
You should definitely be doing the same. Aside from building very real and valuable skills, you’ll save literal fortunes over paying some “expert” to do it for you
Take myself for instance: I was facing a fridge repair not too long ago and was at the end of my rope with it. I was ready to bite the bullet and get a new one, but trying to adhere to my own professed values I decided to call a repairman instead in an effort to make it work. Long story short, two hours and 10 calls later I was facing down at least a $500 repair.
I was incensed! In a huff, I said screw it and started watching YouTube. After a little perusing and a short trip to the library, I was armed with what I hoped was the know-how to diagnose and repair my fridge. I ordered parts which arrived a few days later.
In the end, a $40 part and 20 minutes of work (including the time it took to pull the fridge out, blow the dust bunnies off the back and unscrew the grille) I had a working fridge. I just saved myself over $400!
This extends to other routine services as well. Can you get by changing your own oil? Do you really need a zillion TV channels if you can get antenna service for news?
How much are you wasting on outsourcing when you invariably and inevitably stay just as busy and just as harried? Take control of your life and your checkbook and do more things yourself!
5) Trade and Barter
You can keep your cash on hand and still get the things you need by trading and bartering with other people for them, especially other preppers. Swap meets, forums, message boards, and good old fashioned networking will show you plenty of people who have what you want, and conversely things you have that others want. Somewhere in the middle is a deal.
Any old, heck, even broken gear and things you have others may want, and be willing to trade for. Don’t concern yourself too much with monetary value; people who barter are looking to solve a problem or get rid of a problem. That’s all. A good deal is one both parties are happy with. The end!
Another thing you can do is trade skill or work for material goods. If you can take care of a job or project for someone they may pay you in goods or equipment.
Always ask for the thing you want! Never assume that someone has a substantial stake or paid much for the thing they have; they may not have paid anywhere close to retail and so the actual value is much less to them than it would be to you.
You can also use this method to fund your other prepping purchases through arbitrage. If you are able to trade or barter for something and can then turn around and sell that or trade it for something even more valuable, it is totally possible to exponentially multiply the worth of your original trade!
Making best use of this method requires a willingness to keep your eyes peeled for opportunity and polishing up those social and haggling skills. Bartering has been a mode of commerce since the dawn of time and is not going anywhere anytime soon!
You will never go wrong buying the best gear you can afford. That’s a fact. Nine times out of ten, you get what you pay for. But assuming you don’t have more money than Solomon (and who does?) you’ll need to prioritize your purchases.
This is an area where you can save some cash by spending the most on the items you need the most, and less on the items you need less or have a lower penalty for failing.
For instance, take firearms. I and others here on TSB preach the virtues of buying quality guns not just for their performance, but for their longevity.
Good guns are heirloom-quality items that require very little in the way of maintenance, and unless we see another quantum leap in small arms technology, and gun you buy today will likely be future proofed for the rest of your life.
That being said, if all you want is a solidly dependable parka, one that is made to a high standard, is tough and won’t fail when the going gets tough and the temperature goes way, way down, you could turn to a an Arc’teryx or Kitanica for the ultimate examples. You can, and you can also shell out well in excess of $1,000 for either of them, and that’s before you add an optic.
Now, you could get another dependable parka, made by guys who give a damn about their work and their customers and buy a North Face, saving you around $700 right off the top for a solid parka at that price. Are those super-premium parkas better
I have been told by guys who know that, yes, in fact, they are, but the difference is one of degrees, not miles. For most folks that want a parka they can flat out depend on, the North Face will exceed their expectations.
You must be careful with this strategy though, no matter what you are buying: few are the makers who offer both modest price and solid performance. You are many times more likely to be disappointed or betrayed by cheaper goods when the situation gets rough.
One area you can save on is basic commodities for prepping. Things like paper towels, plates, disposable cutlery, underwear, gloves, etc. Anything that will be worn out or used up can stand to be cheaper, non-name brand stuff so long as it has a good shelf life!
Take food for instance. In my own anecdotal taste testing and longevity tests (conducted when rotating my stocks) I have found many-store brand items like canned meats, fruits, veggies and even things like drink mixes and so forth to be not only comparable to national brand goods but in plenty of cases superior!
Compare the savings yourself next time you are at the grocery and see if they don’t start to taste better to you already! If you implement this change as part of your daily grocery getting you’ll save even more, and combined with coupons and other specials the savings can be shocking.
Take careful stock of the things you should spend more on to ensure longevity or performance and start throttling back your spending on the other stuff. Then watch your balance go up, up, up!
Prepping is always costly, but it does not have to cost an arm and a leg. By shopping smart, being resourceful and exploring alternate ways to get what you want you can check off all the items on your shopping list and keep more of your precious cash where it belongs; in your wallet!
Tom Marlowe grew up with a gun in his hand, and has held all kinds of jobs in the gun industry: range safety, sales, instruction and consulting, He has the experience in helping civilian shooters figure out what firearms work best for them.