We are never completely prepared, we either are unprepared, or prepared to some degree. So I want to review the past year and see what or how far I’ve come. For those new to the game, they can find it a bit overwhelming, and do little to nothing to prepare. Then there are those that are part time preppers and those that are full time preppers. I fall into the former, but a meeting with some friends 8 months ago re-ignited the drive it takes to prepare. So my one-year odyssey in review.
First order of business is get your family onboard, and perhaps those you want to include in a group, but foremost your family, and don’t just say tings are bad, show them some of the articles you have found on the dollar collapse, EMP , etc, the real reasons you feel the need to prepare, if they are with you it just got a lot easier.
Second get organized, what do you already have? This will save you a lot of money in the long run, as you are less likely to duplicate items.
Next is your plan to bug out, or stay in place. If you are bugging out do you have a location that you can cache some of your gear and foodstuffs, or are you going with what you can haul? If that is the case, figure out what you can haul in one trip. There is no sense in buying 50 cases of MRE s if you only car is a Geo Metro it won’t fit. If you do not have a specific location to bug-out to, I’d strongly urge to plan to stay in place and make the best of it.
Next if you are new to this, start small, plan for 3 days, then 10 days, then 30 days, then 3 months and so forth.
For me my retreat is where I live, I’m not in the American Redoubt , but in the Midwest. My property is in the country, and I’m about 15 miles from the nearest city, (population about 14,000) would I like a retreat further out? Yes, but it is not going to happen I simply can’t afford to move.
I’m an avid shooter, and already have arms, ammo, a lot of ammo, and all the gear that goes with it. I was a bit light in the Battle Rifle category so I sold a few handguns to purchase an M1 Garand (I already had about 2,000 rounds of .30-06 ammo, so it made sense) and an FN-FAL , I had planned on two PTR91s (HK91  clones) but the FAL came along at a price I couldn’t ignore, the seller wanted $650, and admitted the gun wouldn’t cycle. So when I inspected it I found the gas plug installed upside down, I offered $600 and he took it I went home and reinstalled the plug properly and it cycles fine. I also managed a trade of a 1911 for a used PTR91. HK magazines are currently selling at unbelievably low prices.
If you are new to this I’d suggest a 12 gauge pump shotgun to start, and there are a lot of affordable guns out there, even a .22 rifle, and a lot of ammo should be considered. I’ve studied criminal behavior and the majority will be looking for soft targets, and when the SHTF there will be plenty, usually no one stands around and asks what caliber is that?, when you drop the hammer.
Yes there is a lot of cool accessories out there, but paying more attention to the more mundane things in life will go a lot further in insuring your survival. Watch those big box stores for seasonal closeouts, do a lot of shopping, (not buying) keep notes and get the biggest bang for your buck you can. Of further note the biggest of the “Big Box” stores is now selling AR-15s in a lot of locations, at much lower prices than you’ll find at a regular gun shop. I have seen SIG-Sauer, Bushmaster, and Colt.
Remember that it is not the gun that wins the fight it is your training and willingness that win the fight.
I have a propane fired generator, in the 10-Kw range, and a 500 gallon propane tank I put it in 5 years ago, after a two day outage and a the loss of a lot of food. You might see these advertised as “whole house” generators but that is really stretching it, you need to get around at least a 17Kw for an average size house. Of course any generator is likely only going to be good for a short period, for once the fuel is gone that’s it.
I am a self employed firearms instructor, so for me most weeks I have no idea what my income will be until class starts. Some weeks I make $125 before expenses, and some I can much more, so in 2011, I earned the princely sum of less than $10,000 before taxes. So my income is less than half of the other individuals in my group.
If you have a known income, even small you can prep, I so often hear people saying they would like to, but can’t afford to, and that in a word is denial, and if you live in denial it will cost you when the time comes.
My last effort at full scale prepping had been in 1999 with the dire warnings of Y2K , which did not materialize. So after a meeting a year ago, I started my prepping with research, planning and organizing. The gathering begins after the first 3 steps are met, but not completed
Now once you organize things you already have, you start research, and this is vital, you can run helter-skelter and buy a bunch of stuff, but you may have more wants than needs when you are done. Focus on want you need, and if you have less you need to have intensified focus
I first read Patriots , by James Rawles, then dug out my copy of the “How to Survive the End of the World as we Know it”  by the same writer. I also went to the internet and checked a lot of the prepping web sites, making notes to links of free information. It ranged from Military manuals, the LDS Preparedness Manual  to articles on how to milk goats.
I also referred to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs 
Think on this one. Have you thought this one through? Are you prepared in each category?
While the research continues every day, I began planning…
I started making lists, and I began to shop, note I did not say buy, but shop I have a limited quirky income so I can’t afford to just throw money at things. In the planning stage you have to think things through, and play what if in your planning.
For instance water, 18 years ago my shallow well pump died, and for need of water I found a small pump I could attach to a cordless drill, attach a hose to each end of the pump and I could draw water, so if the grid is down how do I keep the drill charged?, which lead to a power pack and a small solar charger being added to the list.
The lists will grow every day; make at least a mental note of what you use every day, from toilet paper to food, and think how much of this will I need to get through uncertain times of unknown length? In the planning stage do not focus on any single category above; you have to address each category as you go. If you focus on food, and not security someone can take your food, and if you focus on security you can starve behind a well fortified wall.
The preparations have to be a multi-prong effort, and you need to give yourself some leeway if you are on a budget, that while in the pursuit of certain items, you run across a deal on something else you get it instead. I’ve seen here on the internet some preppers that focus on one subject at a time, then move on to another chapter, this could lead to imbalance. I know one lady who has been solely focused on medical and first aid, and has spend a lot of her resources on items to fill those needs, I explained to her this is stuff you might need, but no matter what happens you will be hungry, If she had spent half of her money on food supplies she would still have enough to outfit an EMS team. Not real sure how good band aids taste, although she may be able to barter.
Also pay close attention to the mundane items like socks and Q-Tips. Yeah I know night vision and body armor is a lot more cool, but feeling like you have a bug in your ear and suffering foot rot is more likely to really happen. How about laundry? Check out some of the low cost items RVers use. Take a close look at what you consume and try to make sure those needs are met
Also for the budget minded think used instead of new
Bugging in or bugging out? My plan is for staying put, and here is where the group will gather, so in that regard those coming here are bringing supplies here, so space is a problem, and I continue to work on getting more space to store buckets, bullets and Band-Aids
I’ve made a considerable investment in adjustable wire mesh shelving units, I did wait till they were on sale, and bought them as need arose but in the past 12 months bought 19 sets at $40 bucks a set. But it allows me access to items without un-stacking stuff to get the container on the bottom.
Also it pays to keep inventory of what you have, and not just what you want, it is easy to use excel and simply update as you add items, once a month I print them out, and review them looking for what I need to balance things out.
In all keeping organized with proper planning and research will help you stay focused on what you need to get done, rather than an aimless quest unsure of your destination.
So in a nutshell with less than $10,000 income, and cashing a useless IRA of less than $8,000 where am I, 12 months later? I have enough stored food to feed 8 for a year, (a mix of store bought, dehydrated, #10 cans and bulk) I have 200 feet of garden fencing the mix of garden tools rain barrels and heirloom seeds to start a garden, started a small raised bed garden with hybrid seeds, and will save the heirlooms, for later.
I have several rolls of barbed wire for security, a few hundred sandbags, and a truckload of sand I have some solar around 200 watts worth plus connections wiring controllers several 2 way radios, four Swedish field phones, a solar powered base station and a couple of emergency radios, I also have four portable power packs that I can plug into,
3 kerosene heaters and around 90 gallons of kerosene, a camping oven stove combo, and 2 camp stoves, 60 cans of propane.100 lbs of charcoal, Pressure canner and jars etc, a food saver and a dehydrator, cast iron cookware, meat grinder, grain mill about 200 lbs of medical supplies, and the training to use it all.
1000 batteries from AAA to D cell, half dozen sleeping bags, rope bungee straps, come-alongs axes 3 chainsaws one gas powered and 2 cordless Black and Decker, for a cordless tool by the time the batteries run down so do I and they are pretty quiet, and log chains, crow bars, bolt cutters, nails, boots to blades, packs, webbing, magazine pouches etc.
I even acquired about 80 ounces of silver, in pre-1965 coins, there was no sense in just leaving the money in the IRA, and stocking up on Nickels
I also invested in a small trailer; it made it a lot easier to haul a lot of the bulky items
It came in handy when I hauled in over a ton of compost, peat moss, and lumber for the raised bed gardening, also several hundred cement blocks, to build defensive fighting positions
I’m planting evergreens and hedges to help hide the property; although with the recent drought we have had they will need to be replanted. I’m 1,000 feet from the nearest road, and prefer to be hidden and just let those that use the road pass by, it does reduce are fields of fire somewhat, but will also lower the chances of having to use those fields of fire, which is better all the way around.
I think the key to getting what I needed was I spent a lot of time planning and looking and little time buying; I worked hard at finding the best deal for my money. So if you don’t have money, spend time.
I’m not as prepared as those in the novel “Patriots” , but I’m way ahead of those in “Survivors .”