Preparedness on a Shoestring Budget (Updated)

Introductory Note: This is an update to a couple of articles that I wrote back in the early days of SurvivalBlog.

I often get e-mails from readers claiming either directly or indirectly that preparedness is “only for wealthy people.”  They believe that working-class people cannot afford to prepare. That is nonsense. By simply re-prioritizing your budget and cutting out needless expenses (such as alcohol, cigarettes, convenience foods, and subscription movie streaming services) almost anyone can set aside enough money for a year’s worth of storage food in fairly short order.

It is amazing what can be done with hard work, ingenuity, and very little money. Some of the best lessons on frugality can be learned from people who live on society’s margins.  While I do not endorse interloping on public lands nor do I suggest that you live like a hermit, the following stories are indicative of what can be accomplished with next to no cash.

First, a father and daughter lived undetected for four years undetected in a Portland, Oregon park.

Next, a story about a hermit who secretly lived for at least three years inside the “secure” Los Alamos nuclear research reservation in New Mexico.

Next, an article about New York City’s “Mole People”.

And this article is also illustrative: A Nantucket Hermit Is Pulled From His Shell.

I recommend the book The Last of the Mountain Men. It is the story of Sylvan Hart (a.k.a.”Buckskin Bill”), a famous Idaho solitary who lived deep in a roadless section of Idaho’s River of No Return Wilderness. His solution to his own unemployment during the Great Depression was to move to the wilderness and live self-sufficiently. The book describes how Hart lived from the 1930s to the 1970s. He mined and smelted his own copper, made his own muzzleloading rifles and pistols, and constructed his house and garden. It is a fascinating book.

And I highly recommend the book Possum Living, by Dolly Freed. She describes how to truly live on next to nothing. It was updated, a few years ago.

And for someone with a “maxi” budget? Consider the Ultimate Secure Home.

I didn’t point out all of the preceding references because I want you to live like hermits or flee into the wilderness and live in a hollowed-out tree like the boy in My Side of the Mountain. Rather, I just want you to start thinking outside the box. Survival is 90% sweat, ingenuity, and perseverance. It is only the remaining 10% that requires cash. Never lose sight of the fact that there is a direct correlation between sweat (or man hours), versus money. If you take the time to do some research and then use even more time and effort to fabricate your own gear, then you can save hundreds if not thousands of dollars. Although SurvivalBlog is fairly heavy on gear recommendations, since we are, after all, talking about preparedness for in the worst case a multigenerational societal collapse.

Here at the Rawles Ranch, we live out in the hinterboonies on a tight budget.  When it came time to erect our garden fence, I made all of the posts from cedar trees that I felled here on the property, rather than buying fancy uniform-looking chemically-treated posts from the lumber yard.

Instead of heating our home with propane or electricity (like some of our more wealthy neighbors do), we heat almost exclusively with firewood. I cut all of our wood myself, either here at the ranch. The only expenses for our firewood are gasoline, gas mixing oil, and bar lubricating oil.

Yes, this all takes time. So does butchering, canning, and dehydrating after harvest. But consider this: Not only are we pinching pennies, but we are also learning useful skills and building a small-scale self-sufficiency infrastructure that will be invaluable when the Schumer Hits The Fan.