Letter: Preparing for SHTF


How do I prepare for a SHTF event I see ahead but also deal with being unemployed due to serious illness the last four years? My wife works, but the money gets eaten up by just getting by, and we own no property. Hence, we have no ability to get ahead. Any ideas, please? I find that so frustrating and maddening. I don’t know how to tackle this. Surely others are in the same boat as me. – S.A.

JWR’s Comment:

Right. You aren’t the only one in that sort of situation. I think the best bet would be to either form a retreat group, or integrate yourself into an existing one. Pray hard, and choose your friends wisely.


  1. I was in your position for a long time. The idea I used was to just accept a lower “standard of living” in Ur preparedness. For example instead of a solar system for lighting put back 2 kerosene lamps and fuel instead. In place of a dedicated buyout vehicle most the best use of the vehicle u already have.
    Canceling the cable/ satellite TV would give u about a $100 per month for supplies. That goes a long way over time. Plus maximize your skillset. That costs little to nothing. Hth

  2. “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all [men] liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” James 1:5.
    The greatest blessing would be an improvement in health, which often comes with new discoveries of how to remove the cause of disease, combined with an increased flow of life from nature and God.
    Second, wisdom to live more economically.
    Third, wisdom to increase productivity. Better methods allow us to work smarter.
    Jesus says, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”

  3. It costs nothing to rinse out bottles, add water & a bit of bleach, to store water. It costs little to start a small garden (use containers if you’re in an apartment). There are numerous books & articles on how to prepare for little or nothing.

  4. To anyone who wants to prepare but finds himself in tight financial circumstances, I would highly recommend developing foraging skills. It costs very little money but requires lots if time. Many Preppers think that reading a few online aricles or buying a field guide to wild edibles makes them ready to find food in the wild. The reality is that it takes literally years to develop the skills needed to gather a meaningful quantity of food from nature. You need to both recognize the plants and know where to find them, learn what time of year the different parts can be gathered, practice actually harvesting and preparing them, and learn to store what you’ve gathered. I have been learning seriously for three years now and am certainly not close to being an expert. Foraging skills might save you a little money on your food bill before the event and they could be a concrete skill to offer your potential survival group.

  5. I’m not sure what your health issues are but it appears you’re home most of the day. This gives you plenty of time to learn skills and knowledge. I would suggest you practice cooking with basic items like beans, rice, whole grains, making your own bread etc. Then you have the perfect opportunity to study herbs and spices. Learn to make tintures, infusions and other health items. They really can work. You can use these as barter items to help others keep or get well. As a side effect they may improve your health. They have for my husband and also friends who have tried some of our homemade products. As mentioned, gardening even in containers or the square foot gardening can teach you a lot about producing your own food. Then learn how to preserve your food. Canning isn’t that hard and you can do it in stages then rest while it’s processing. Also dehydrating food is quite simple. Also learning to sprout grains for better health. These are just a few ideas. Like I said you have a great opportunity with your spare time. It’s truly amazing what you can accomplish a little bit at a time if you just apply yourself and keep going. You may deal with a lot of pain like my husband frequently does but you will feel better if you accomplish goals. Even if you have to take frequent breaks. You will feel much better by continually learning useful things.. You CAN do it !

  6. I sympathize with you S.A. Realize that you have two very LARGE assets: yourself and your wife, your determination, values and faith. I agree with Capt. Rawles, there will be a retreat group that needs manpower, even if you don’t have every cool gadget and mountains of supplies.

    People can have all the resources but unless they’ve got a team of motivated, like-minded individuals they are in greater danger. It takes a TEAM to secure a homestead, to man observation posts 24/7, to raise crops and livestock, etc. Learn everything you can to make yourself as valuable as possible.

    Even if your health is less than 100% you’ll still be able to contribute. Use your money wisely, of course, there are bound to be ways you can economize. Focus on the durable essentials. Most of all, get close to God, seek him with all your heart and let him guide you! (Proverbs 3:5-6)

    You asked a good question and all the responses are wise and helpful. Now make a plan and work it!

  7. When you go shopping ask the bakery department if they have any empty buckets. They come with gasketed lids. Clean and fill these with water.

    When you get enough place three rows under your bed do so and lay a 1X4 or 1X6 across these three rows. It will raise your bed slightly and more water or other supplies can be stored under the bed as you acquire it. The only cost will be the lumber and if you can find a free pallet or salvage lumber you can avoid that.

  8. Learn to use the system which you have paid into for years. If illegal aliens and refugees can get $65,000 in free aid each year, so can you. Almost every state has free stuff for disabled, poor, or unemployed. Get to your local library and check books out for free; some counties have free delivery service for books to your door. Call your local church and county extension and find out where the free food banks are and when the pickup days/times are. Contact the local Habitat for Humanity and see what programs are available and if you can be put on a list to receive help. Every state has a free or low cost medical assistance program. Visit your local Social Security office and find out what the federal government has available; you might be eligible for SSI and if your disability is permanent you could get early Medicare. Depending on where you live you can get free bus/subway passes. If all this free help is offensive to you call your state unemployment office and ask if there is any work for homebound; which there usually is. Don’t give up; stay positive.

  9. I was going to add, the library can be your best friend. They will loan you books on every conceivable subject, so you don’t have to buy them. They can do inter library loans too. Our library will pull the books and have them ready for pick up at the front desk. You can put in your order over the internet. I think they even have a delivery service for the housebound.Also this time of year many stores mark down their seeds and you can purchase them at a great discount.

    1. Our local library also has a seed library of donated seeds that people can ‘check’ out. The local community does a vegetable of the year giving out seeds also.

  10. If you have internet access, one can set up a business on eBay and start off with good items from local thrift shops and build up a bit of a ‘Nest Egg’ and from there become a dealer for “X” knife company.

  11. There are a number of skills that can be developed at little to no cost. Here’s just a few.

    FEMA has an entire set of online training. It costs nothing, and the organizational skills can easily be adapted to neighborhood and street level. Google: fema ics-100

    Local fire departments often give fire safety classes along with first aid classes for free. Ask them about local CERT classes too… also free.

    You can find a number of free resources for getting a ham radio license. The test is usually $14 dollars, and even if you have to put off getting a $30 Chinese 2 meter radio, the skills learned are valuable. You’ll even walk away from it knowing how to improve your basic portable radio (fm/am) and if you attend the local club you might find some really good second hand deals. See here for license info https://survivalblog.com/radio-communication-methods-emergencies-part-5-r-nc

    That’s medical, fire, emergency management, and communications training for nothing to almost nothing.

  12. Craigslist has a section on free giveaways. And the early bird catches the worm. Go to the header “For Sale”, and then search in that column for ‘Free”. You’d be amazed at what people give away.

    There are other useful skills to learn at home such as soap making, food canning, making vinegar, making fermented foods. A useful skill would be learning how to repair items whether it be clothing, shoes, or machines.

  13. i am in a similar position. i spend about 20$ on supplies every month it adds up after a while. i now have about 3 months of supplies for 2 in storage.
    you can do it even though its hard. don’t forget to check out foodbanks too they give away food for free
    so then that would be one prep you don’t need to worry about.

  14. I truly wish to thank all who have replied as some these ideas I was not aware of them . The best thing for me is asking others for help . Very gratefull thanks life has not been easy .

    Blessings and peace of Jesus to all


  15. My mom used to tell me that when you fall in a ditch in the road you need a hand to get up and out . All of you have done that for me and my wife .
    The SB community is what counts in my view .

    Humbly S.A.

  16. If you can ask this question, you probably can write a blog and perhaps take donations. Even if you are homebound, you can search, aggregate information, write commentaries. maybe just share things you find interesting. You might be able to do a podcast. These are just some thoughts, but if you make yourself valuable, maybe you can get some supplies – have you considered reviewing things?

  17. Tz- yes, by nature I am a methodical logical thinker, with a very curious mind,I have not been sure how to do reviews without flubbing it, no college education though, self taught.

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