Something Is Always Better Than Nothing, by V.G.

For someone who was never a “prepper”, Hurricanes here in the South, will make you one, or at least a beginner, and in this tight economy, a little “Something is always better than nothing”.  I live in an area just north of Houston, Texas. My husband has always been of the mindset “you never know when we may need it”, so I have always had to deal with his “stock up on this or that” or “next time you go to the store, you need to get this or that”, you never “know” when we might need it or even “don’t throw that away, it’ll be useful later on”.  Things you don’t normally or wouldn’t think of are exactly the type of things “Oh, I wish I had that” you need or want.

How did I come to be a “beginning prepper”?  Well, instead of me giving you the full lengthy story or a repeat of a similar one, go read “Whether and When to Bug Out – Hurricanes! by TJD in Houston” on Thursday April 28, 2011.  He hit the nail on the head in that article, dead on. We were prepared for Hurricane Ike (because we chose to stay at home as opposed to leave like Rita’s “Hurricane trip from Hell”). But that opened my eyes to prepping, not only for hurricanes but for when TSHTF as well.. I just wished I had found your web site (and impressive, helpful lists/links) prior to Ike to have been able to see what else we needed then, even though we did fine. We already had quite a bit without realizing we were “prepping” thanks to us loving the outdoors and camping, and to be able to “check off” what we have, has been extremely helpful.  Thank you, JWR.

Money is tight with us, but we do try to “gather” things when we can because “you never know when you may need it”.  Which brings me to my reason for writing, in today’s economy, with money getting tighter and tighter, prices going thru the roof on everything, not all of us can afford to get a lot of things or even expensive top name items…but “Something is always better than Nothing”, there are other options to consider or look at.

For example, when shopping, a lot of the drug stores and grocery stores do “freebies”/coupon (i.e. buy 1 get 1 free) deals or (in the case of one of our larger chain grocery stores here) “deal of the week” where if you “buy this item get this item free” type deal.  Just because you “don’t need it now” or “that’s not my usual brand” does not mean 1.) You won’t use it later on or 2.) You can’t barter/trade it for something else when TSHTF later on 3.) It’s free, so why not get it.  Always try to think ahead, think of not just “others” but yourself as well and not just of weather type situations, but the way the current economy is going or when TSHTF.  Let me give you a few examples of deals.  The store may run a “deal” if you buy this name brand deodorant, they’ll give you for free, their store version of it.  Hey… never know when you may need it or can barter with it!  A year ago, they had a “coupon deal” (no, I’m not an extreme couponer or a hoarder, but when it’s an excellent deal, you can bet I’m going to stock up and get as many as I can, depending on what it is) on Revlon nail products (i.e. clippers, files, manicure scissors, etc) for $2.00 off, at the same time, they had Revlon nail clippers small ones on sale for $2.04, and large ones on sale for $2.08!  With the coupon, that made them $.04 and $.08 each!  I bought every single one that day and two weeks later before the end of the month, I bought more.  20 pairs of each for a combined total of $2.40! Now, trust me, no one in their normal, right mind needs 20 pairs each of large and small nail clippers, But I can trade/barter some for something we don’t have later on!  I do the same with toothpaste and free toothbrushes.  I’ve always done that and when Ike hit and we had friends stay with us, we were handing them out because they had forgotten theirs.  It’s the little things that add up at times.  Same with “freebie” coupons (which are becoming harder and harder to get or to use, especially since that show has come on), even if you don’t use it or it’s not your brand, Something is better than nothing and you can Barter with it, another example, I had received (through emails from the manufacturer) coupons for free Folger’s coffee, certain soda’s, certain chips, no need to “buy this to get that free”.  Even though we do not drink coffee, we realize a lot of people do, it makes a great bartering item, and I have several free cans in my freezer.  While you are at the store, start getting in the habit of buying one pound bags each of rice and beans.  At a $1.00 each or less, stock up! Something is better than nothing.

Dollar stores are great places to get items “cheap” to stock up on, especially the larger ones (like down here we have Dollar Tree, $.99 Only, Dollar King),  not only to have for yourself but to barter with as well when TSHTF.  Cheap paper plates (you can get the plastic paper plate holders to make them more sturdy) not only hold food but is also a way to help start a fire if need be.  You can get and stock up on items for kids/adults as time passers, such as playing cards, crayons, coloring books, small games, toys, some reading books.  Kitchen/cookware items such as potato peelers, manual can openers (must have), knives of various sizes and purposes, cutting boards, pot holders, measuring cups and spoons, storage bowls, spices (Got you thinking doesn’t it??).  Kite string (1001 uses for that, just ask my teenage sons), candles, cheap flashlights, matches (can’t have enough of those), lighters, lighter fluid, toilet paper, paper towels, large plastic tubs/bowls (tons of uses for those), clothes pins (a must), dishwashing soap, laundry soap, fabric softener sheets (multiple uses for that as well), safety pins, sewing needles, thread.  Personal/bath items of all kinds, such as soaps, body wash/sprays/perfumes, toothbrushes, dental floss, and toothpaste.  Band-aids and wraps, again, not name brand, but Something is better than nothing.  A lot of them also sell small tools too, such as screwdrivers, hammers, wrenches, screws/nails.  Find a large one in your area and go “window” shopping one day, you might be surprised.

Your Big Market Store (i.e. Wal-Mart, K-mart) is another great place to get good “deals” for cheap at.  For example, you can pick up an 18 pack bundle of wash rags for $4.00, something else you can’t have too many of, for various reasons.  Over the counter medications, store brand, like pain killers, 200 count for $4, allergy pills, 24 count for less than $1.50, something to barter with, and Something is better than nothing.  Solar lights, cheap ones that are $2-$3 each, are great little lights (provided you put them in the sun to charge) to have.  Hand sanitizers, bleach, cleaners with bleach, Wipes of all kinds (Big Ones is a good brand) to “wipe down” with if you can’t get a sponge bath or shower.  Ramen Noodles Soups for a 12 pack box are less than $2 a box, you can easily stock up plenty of those, you can add to them to make them even better (spices, meats, veggies) and Something is better than nothing.  With it being the end of summer, they are getting ready for Christmas, so they are moving a lot of stuff to the clearance section, for example, flip flops for $1 per pair!  Yes, I know it’s not “full coverage” shoes, but Something is better than nothing (they did have other full coverage shoes starting at $5 and up).  After Christmas/winter, they will mark down blankets/throws, something else you can’t have too many of and can barter with.  Look for the clearance section/sales; you’d be surprised what you may find.

Stock up on any and all garden seeds!  Veggies of all kinds (even if you don’t currently eat them) and some flowers.  Something is better than nothing.  Even the dollar stores carry seed packets.  Seeds are good for several years, giving you the chance to start, grow and save your own seeds from your own garden.  There are tons of web sites that give information on how long vegetable seeds will lasts, saving techniques (including freezing to make seeds last years longer), growing information, etc.  Use these resources while they last, especially if you cannot afford to buy too many books.  While you’re at it, start a notebook where you can print information out, put it in the notebook or write down notes for yourself in it. Flowers are not only pretty, but a lot of flowers have multiple purposes, such as pest control or medicinal.  And you don’t have to till/plow huge areas, you can do so many versions/sizes of garden boxes/flower pots, especially with recycled materials.  Look online. Same with survival information, there’s a ton of it, several downloadable reference books and you need to get them.  Whether you print them out, save them to your computer, or zip drive, do it.  I have done all three ways.  My husband and sons actually “read”, discuss and try  out some of the stuff in the books, but later on, when TSHTF, we have “valuable” information we can share/barter with others if need be.  Something is better than nothing.  These free, downloadable books show everything from hunting/fishing to first aid to different ways of cooking or making shelters.  There are even apps for your smart phones you can download.  Start gathering fishing/hunting items and reading/researching homemade hooks, traps, lines, how to filet, skin, etc.  If you can, start practicing now, that way, when TSHTF, you’re already ahead of the game, and maybe you can “pass” that information on to others.

If you can do it, go camping.  It’s a great way to see what you need, what you don’t need, what you can get by with or without.  A camping stove comes in very handy, not to mention they are compact, don’t take up much space, same with the little propane bottles.  A cast iron skillet (or even a dual purpose dutch oven), even though it’s heavy, is worth its weight in gold if it’s seasoned and not dented/pitted (deep dents/scratches).  You can find “used” ones at garage sales for next to nothing, again, making sure they are not dented/pitted, plus “camping/survival” gear.  Which reminds me, those MREs you’ve been saving that are probably expired now, before you throw them completely out, go thru them and separate them.  The food, yes, get rid of it, but save everything else, from the bags, heating packet all the way down to the “condiments”.  It will be useful later on; you can barter with it or add it to your camping stash!  Hit garage and estate sales when you can, it’s a great place to get tools, or other items you may need.

My primary reason for writing this was to bring to your attention other options to try when money is tight (and only getting tighter) but you still want to get “prepared”.  Research information online, download and save to your computer or zip drive the free informational books.  Hit garage and estate sales, go window shopping at your local dollar store.  If you can, every time you go to the store (or at least 1-2 times a month), pick up not only a package of rice and beans, but a 4 roll count of toilet paper, a roll or 2 of paper towels, tea bags, flour  and sugar (have you seen how much they have gone up??  And it’s only going to go higher!), and if you can do it, yeast to make homemade bread and get in the habit of making it.  Even though it may be cheap, store brand or free, when TSHTF, trust me, Something is better than nothing.