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  1. One technique that I use on parts acquisition is that if I buy at the hardware store, I buy three or four rather than the one piece i need. If I need a faucet for a plumbing project, I buy three faucets. Partly, this is because I live in the country and its a trip to the store, and partly because when something breaks it will be on Saturday evening when the store won’t open again until Monday. Either you have the parts to fix it or you do without. If that’s your water supply or power for your home, that can be a problem.
    Of course, that can lead to a cluttered workshop unless you stay on it.

    I like where this article is going. More please!!

    1. My grandfather was a product of the Great Depression. He was a total pack rat keeping anything and everything. Didn’t matter if it was new or broken, he kept it. As a result of poor organization and management, after he passed, almost everything had to be thrown away. Improper storage resulting in exposure to the elements and mice, squirrels, and chipmunks pretty much finished everything off. So, the rule with some of the things he had was 10 is none. It was very unfortunate. The end result was two large heaping trash cans filled up every week for the last couple years.

      1. So, having a bunch of stuff and extras means nothing if they are not monitored for condition and organized. Organized is one big word. Not knowing where something is or having stuff scattered throughout the property of a type of item does nothing but cause frustration and possibly more money if you cannot find the needed items. Example: Coleman lantern, keep lanterns, spare glass, fuel, and other parts in one place. So, when you need a lantern, you go to where they are stored and you have everything you need in one spot.

        1. INPrepper,

          Can’t agree more. If you can find it you don’t have it. Something else I have realized over the years is that it is important for others, like my wife, to know where to find stuff too. Thus good organization and marking of containers is important. Mouse and rodent proofing is also a must.

  2. Thanks for this article. It inspires deeper thinking about preparedness. We’ve been hit with unprecedented snow and wind the last couple of weeks. Store shelves were empty the first day. Facebook neighbors page…. Someone asking to borrow a snow shovel. Too many take too much for granted.

      1. “In TEOTWAWKI, cash will be toilet paper.”

        That is true but it is a million times more likely that we will have a crisis and NOT TEOTWAWKI. So prepare for what is likely and not what you dream about.

        To not have cash is to not be prepared.

  3. When is too much too much? How can Average Joe have the finances to have anything that will be required (and backed up with multiple spares) for TEOTWAWKI?

    I believe too many “Preppers” think (hope) that in a short period of time the event will pass and their world will return to “normal”.

    I can’t afford to have everything, but I can afford to have basics with some spares.

    1. Matthew,
      Yes , saving stuff may seem a little daunting, it was for us . We focus on the very basics , prioritize things and go from there as the budget allows.

    2. Matthew,

      When you really think about it Preppers are not Average Joes. My income might be average but it is my lifestyle that allows me to afford and to make preparedness a priority. When I was in my twenties I bought guns, knives and survival equipment not fancy vehicles and tons of beer. For years we did not have cable, saving more than $50 per month. I’ve never owned a new vehicle, and keep my vehicles for as long as possible. I don’t buy or wear designer clothes. Basically we don’t play the “keeping up with the Jones'” game. We despise debt and avoid paying interest like the plague. We often buy used or discounted items too. I have been into survival for a long time and $5 here and $100 there have added up into a better than average level of preparedness. Part 2 will expand on this. Good luck with the preparedness.

    3. You can’t possibly know what’s abead, to be able to store everything.
      You need to develop “tribe”, so that what you don’t have, someone else in your tribe will. And visa versa.

      1. +1 to Deplorable Silver Stacker’s comment about need to be in a ‘tribe’. Storing extra food for barter will go a long way toward securing what you don’t have.

      2. Deplorable silver stacker,

        I like the “tribe” idea but our first layer of security/survival should always start with the person looking at you in the mirror. If your tribe was organized enough that equipment was standardized tribe can Definately be a source needed sundries.

  4. Excellent article. I grew up on a farm a couple hundred years ago, and what you wrote about was very much a way of life on the farm. It was more than an hour to any kind of parts store/farm supply,,,,so it wasn’t a great option to not have it when you needed. A nicely stocked garage/shop/shed is not difficult to get stocked. I also spent some seasons as a commercial fisherman in Alaska on crab boats, and once again, an absolute necessity. Another reader commented on the cost of having spares/parts/pieces etc,,,,it doesn’t have to cost much or many times anything! I have had totes of hardware given to me for the price of helping with garage clean outs, yard sales, curb discards,,,and many times, just the effort of taking apart items that have been discarded. People throw away so much that is still serviceable or at least a good donor for parts etc. Organization is a must though,,if you can’t find it or remember you have it, then you waste funds on acquiring it new. Keep this type of article coming! (And I can show my wife I am not totally crazy for this.)

    1. Organization is right, I also try to keep an accurate ledger of our inventory. So I don’t have to go find it to know how much of what type we have. Hope the article is proof enough for your wife!

    2. Rat on! And ignore the comments from your wife/children/grandchildren/friends/neighbours/and anybody else you know! Without sites like this one, I do not know what I would do. I got a secondhand copy of your book, couple of weeks ago. I get my books from abebooks.com- by the way. Whatever you want- they can find it.
      The rest, is a little bit at a time.

    3. In many ways, my wife is worse than me. She keeps every single receipt and even partially used pieces of paper. The result is piles of paper to use for scribbling notes that are already half used. That is just an example among many things.

  5. Would argue that you should first set your priorities and then how deep. Some items, food prep, axes, sleeping bags, basic requirements to stay alive should be stacked deep. Others to make life more comfortable or for trade goods, can be less of a priority and when a chance appears to acquire them reasonably, and you have basics, then buy them. After that, then you can get the fancy survival materials. Have met a lot of “main stream preppers” that have firearms, knives, good camping equipment and a years supply of freeze dried food that supplies 1,000 calories a day and have no emergency heating or lighting equipment that does not require a $5,000 auto transfer diesel generator to operate and have 10 days fuel stored on site. Biggest mistake in my mind is to listen to those trying to sell you the most expensive and highest tech survival equipment. While a few can afford it, most of us would be better off paying down our debt, tightening up our houses, buying efficient wood stoves and safe chimnies and the equipment to take care of them, etc. In my mind, the biggest danger that most preppers face is the belief that having read the book or watched the video is an actual learning experience and that with the addition of supplies, they are ready. The point of the above post, the little details will kill you, should be considered very carefully.

  6. My Dad was involved in the biggest logistical operation of all time – the Red Ball Express from WWII.

    Reading in Wikipedia – “At its peak, it operated 5,958 vehicles and carried about 12,500 tons of supplies per day” incredible just to think of that!

    Dad, my thoughts are with you this week as I think of your Anniversary on Valentine’s Day. How I wish you two were still around.


  7. Zade and all
    Regarding children
    One is a handful (because children are very good at finding things “to get into”)
    2 is 4
    3 is 9 and
    5 is “hello?”
    The rules work the opposite of prepping rules because they stimulate the others which stimulates others etc.
    Mom of 5 mostly well behaved children who are now all grown
    Mothering is not for Wimps.

    1. For what it’s worth, I swap out new laces right off the bat with 550 cord. I throw the laces themselves into my coat pocket, glove box or in a desk drawer so I have them as a “backup” but honestly the paracord seems to last longer than the boots do!!

      1. DUDE!
        You’re buying the wrong boots. The Military used to say, “take care of yer boots and they will take care of you.” A “good” pair of boots will last a lifetime- if you grow out of them, pass ’em down.

    2. Belts. (for the snowblower, lawn mower and my pants)

      Having had 3 belts, to hold up pants, BREAK this past winter and knowing TEOTWAWKI is going to cause rapid weight loss, something to hold up your pants so you can walk around and do what needs to be done is going to be essential. Go to the same sales referenced above for parts and keep an eye out for belts and suspenders cheap.

      I really like the idea of buying more than one when getting a replacement part for anything in my life. I will start doing that for anything that cost less than $20 and think about it for things over 20 (depending on that month’s bills) Thank you to whomever said that.

      1. When I shop at a thrift store or surplus store, I always looks for USGI web belts. They are made to last. I have the original buckle from boot camp, fifty years past. It will go on most any web belt and it is built to REALLY last.

        Carry on

  8. Thanks for the Coleman remark. I got spare regulator and pump repair kits at Walmart this afternoon with that reminder.

    I started collecting backup camp stoves for cheap a few years ago. Three Coleman fuel, two propane, and then I found an ‘only burned it once’ new dual gasoline/Coleman fuel for five bucks.

    Three stoves fit in a black tub with yellow lid…x 2.

    God Bless you all and keep the 35 degree temps coming… our 3.5 feet of snow is down to 12-16 inches now.

  9. Jar lids is my big hang up. If things stay bad for years a person will use a bunch of them in the process of putting up vegetables for winter consumption as well as canning meat. And your prepper friends likely will not have enough of them so if you have an over abundant supply, you can trade with them for whatever you happen to be short of. My wife is constantly griping at me for buying so many jar lids and just to rub it in she bought me a box of jar lids for Christmas as a gag and she and my daughter had a big laugh but I just thanked her and put the box in with my jar lid stash.

  10. My Grandpa (born in 1909) kept all the nuts/bolts/screws and other hardware and cut off the electric cords from anything that ever broke at his house. He also had a motley collection of worn hand tools that people threw away and he would rescue. He would only refill the gas tank on his pickup when he had enough aluminum cans to cash in…

  11. Good food for thought. The best prep is skills! Not the end of the world stuff – althought that would be nice, but the everyday fix it skills that we should all practice.

    No reason to have a ton of parts if you don’t know exactly what they are and how to use them!

    Most of this stuff has a sheft life longer than us and could also make great barter should it come to that!

  12. I have to restrain myself around the many items my neighbors throw away. One left tools and hardware that I was sorting just today.

    I will give away some of the hardware to men who run a local fixit clinic once a month. Which BTW is an excellent place to meet other folks of the mindset we share. These guys have tools and hardware I have never encountered. And skills that they willingly share.

    So generous. A friend calls it the “gift economy”, which I guess we could call what we do here. I am grateful to each of you for what you share, here and (I am sure) in your lives. Your generosity ripples far and wide.

    Carry on

  13. Can anyone tell me how to go about finding other peppers? I am a 71 year old woman and my husband thinks that I am nuts for gathering up important supplies for emergencies. Any advice appreciated…tough doing this alone.

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