To the young man having trouble getting his parents to prepare for disaster, I have some suggestions that may help. These ideas can be easily modified to fit other relatives and friends too.
First, lead by example. Whenever you, personally, do have money, no matter how little, spend a bit to stock up on something you, personally, use. It can be something as inexpensive as a toothbrush, or a bag of potato chips, whatever. Store it in a clear bin somewhere prominently in your room. As your parents see that it is so important to you that you spend part of all the money you get on preparing for disaster, they may begin to believe its importance. It will be slow going if you are buying a toothbrush at a time, but you and your parents will see that bin eventually starting to fill up and you will be encouraged to do more.
Next, buy your parents their own plastic bin with your birthday or Christmas money. (This again emphasizes again how important it is to you.) Stash it in the coat closet, or the laundry room or under a table. (You can stack two bins, put a tablecloth over it, stick a lamp on top and put it next to your bed. Only your family will know its secret identity.)
Then go grocery shopping with your parents at least once a month. When they toss a package of batteries (or whatever) in the cart ask if they will buy an extra one “just in case.” At first do this for just one or two very inexpensive items each trip so they’ll hardly notice. Mention that you’ll put it in their “bin” for them. When you get home be sure you help unload and put the groceries away. Take that extra package of batteries and put it in their bin. Now you have earned brownie points for helping out, and you have helped them to start their own preparations.
By the way, I would not recommend having their bin in plain sight or in the kitchen because it would be too tempting to not buy batteries next month because they know there is a package in storage. (I speak from personal experience here.) But, as they say, “out of site, out of mind.” They won’t have it out reminding them every day. Make sure you do not use anything from either of the bins as that would undermine all you are trying to accomplish. It’s their stuff though, so if they insist on using something just let it go. If you are patient and consistent with your spending and storing, they will be more likely to “see the light.”
Finally, offer to prepare supper at least once a month. Whatever your cook, make twice as much as your family needs. Before you even sit down to eat, package the extra and put it in the freezer. Now your family has at least one day’s supper in case of trouble and it wasn’t even painful. (If you are short on freezer space, store things laying flat in a freezer bag on a cookie sheet. Once frozen turn the bag up on its side like a book on a shelf. You can get a lot more in the freezer that way.)
The key to this whole idea is showing your belief and commitment to your parents in a tangible way. If you are not willing to spend your money preparing, why should they? If you are not willing to take the time to cook extra to freeze, why should they?
Start today. Be consistent, be patient and be imaginative. Even as a broke college student you can do more than you think. – KB