How To Be A Financial Prepper- Part 1, by Brandon

There are many parts of being a Prepper that do not involve money, or much money. And skills and abilities are invaluable and arguably the most important part of preparing yourself for any disaster. But it would be naive for a prepper to decide that the stuff part of preparing is unnecessary, useless, or just something to be overlooked. No matter the scenario for which you prepare, the financial side of preparedness is unavoidable.

Finances, A Very Important Part of Any Prepper’s Life

With this in mind, it would seem that having our finances in order would be a very important part of any prepper’s life. And to this end, I have dedicated this article.

Have A Plan In Place

When preparing, you should already have a plan in place for the potential threats considered. That plan should be well thought out, on paper, and easily accessible. Having a plan is the first step. But from there, a well thought out financial plan is crucial to the accomplishment of the prepping goal. It would be simple for a person, whether new or seasoned in the preparedness arts, to dive right in, start buying gear (whether necessary or otherwise), and end deep in debt, or at very least unable to make ends meet each month.

To Be Effective, Live Without Debt and Prep Your Finances

To be as effective (and not only in preparedness) as is possible, you must prepare your finances. In my humble opinion, the best goal is to live without debt. Either way, prepping your finances is crucial for prepping efficiency.

In a Financial Meltdown, No Worry of Collections Man

This is effective in not only many TEOTWAWKI scenarios, but it is also practical in a daily application. Maybe your idea of the impending doom is a financial meltdown. This could be worldwide, American, or even a local or industry related issue. No matter which of these you believe may come, being debt free gets you started in preparing for that situation. Were some massive financial calamity to occur, whether personal or shared, you would have no worry of the collections man knocking down your door and repossessing your cars, your home, or some other items you may have of value.

You’ll Have More Money to Prepare For Your Version of Doomsday

Even if you are not preparing for a financial disaster, you will have much more money to prepare for your version of doomsday. Let me give you some practical examples.

There were some studies in 2018 that showed the following:

1. The average American household has $16,883 of credit card debt.1

2. The average American household pays $1292 per year in interest.2

3. Assuming a 2% payment, that’s about $340 per month in credit card payments.

4. The average monthly payment for a new vehicle is $515 per month3

5. The average monthly payment for used vehicles is $371 per month.4

Wasting Valuable Resources on Paying Back Credit Cards and Car Loans

If you are an average American household, you are paying over $700 monthly on card payments and one used car. If you have an average loan on two used cars, you could be paying over $1000 monthly. Granted, depending which study you read, these numbers may differ. But the point is the same. If you are in debt, you are wasting valuable resources on paying back credit cards and car loans. This doesn’t take into account the requirement to carry full coverage insurance and any other potential cost associated with simply having a loan.

Credit Card Interest

As another example, “according to CreditCards.com, the average credit card’s interest rate is 15%. At the minimum payment of $189, it’ll take 10 years and a month to pay off that $4,717. The total payments would amount to $22,869. That’s an $18,155 cost for a very small loan.”5

Having Debt is Very Expensive

Having debt is very expensive and costs people resources that could be used to otherwise prepare. How much in the way of food stores, ammunition, medical and first aid resources, and other vital preps could be had with an extra $400 per month? How about $1000 a month, or more, depending on your monthly payments?

Living Debt Free is Way To Be

I firmly believe that living debt free is the way to be. Even purchasing your preps with credit is a bad idea. You end up paying significantly more than what the original cost in cash would have been. The example above gives a great illustration for that.

More Than Anecdotal

“Impossible” you may say. “It’s not possible to pay off that much debt and still have money left over.” Fortunately, this idea is more than just anecdotal for me and my family. A few years ago, my wife and I decided to pay off everything. Just this past March, it finally happened. We are completely debt free. Two years ago we had $4,000 of student loans, $12,000 of car loans, and we also had credit card debt on top of that.

Very Doable

Before assumptions are made about our income, we live on less than $30,000 per year for our family of five. Reaching the place of being debt free is very doable. And it will make preparedness much more doable and much more enjoyable. I no longer have to worry if this prep I’m buying will put us in a financial bind or make next month too tight to bear. I can finally afford to play around with ideas I have, instead of settling for this month’s left overs.

The Operative Question: How?

The operative question becomes “how?” How do I do this…get out of debt and live debt free? And the answer is more simple than you may believe. You plan! Just as with other aspects of preparation, you need a detailed plan.

Budget

Before you start paying things off and before you start buying new preps, you need to have a budget. If you do not already have a written budget (on paper or a tablet or phone), you need one. This is probably the most important piece of advice I could give.

Know How Much Money Coming In and Exactly Where Every Penny Has Gone

Just as keeping an inventory of ammunition, a list of food, or other catalog of important preps, you must keep a budget. You need to know exactly how much money you have coming in and exactly where every penny has gone at the end of the month.

If you are able to track where each cent went, you can then adjust your spending accordingly. This is especially important, because you can see problematic spending trends and correct them. You would be surprised how quickly a few trips to the corner convenience store and fast food joints each week will add up.

A Better Sense of Financial Security

Paying more attention to your finances will allow you to notice when bills go up, stop paying late fees, and save more money (or use more on prepping). Generally, you will have a better sense of financial security.

Fees Are a Prepper’s Enemy

The unnecessary fees are especially important. Fees are a prepper’s enemy! Having worked as an insurance agent for a short time, I have personally seen how getting behind of your finances, instead of making your finances work for you, can create a cycle of late fees and financial problems. I’ve seen people every month pay a $30 or higher late fee. Just one bill late each month could be a lost $400-$500 per year in fees alone!

You may find yourself in a similar position. It’s not good to continually find yourself paying late fees, overdraft fees, and other fees constantly. The first step is a budget.

Know If You Are Overextended

A budget allows you to know if you are overextended or not. A budget allows you to know if you can afford this prep or that, and also let’s you know how long you will need to save for whatever the prep is you are looking at next. Additionally, it allows you to see how to do this without putting yourself in financial jeopardy.

Sticking To It

Just as important as having a budget is sticking to it. This may require talking it over with your spouse or significant other. But the spenders must commit to staying true to the budget or it will not work. There are plenty of budget programs and templates out there. You can have an excel spreadsheet, one of the many budget apps available, or if you prefer, an old school paper budget book or financial planner.

Requires Discipline

However you do this, you must stick to your budget. This will require discipline. It will take willpower, but it is worth it.

The budget is the core of the prepper’s financial plan. This plan is what will allow you to be as effective and efficient at collecting and affording the necessary preps for your overall preparedness plan.

Tomorrow, we will move beyond having a budget and get into evaluating whether you choose to try for a debt free life or not.

See Also:

SurvivalBlog Writing Contest

This has been another entry for Round 78 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

  1. A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
  2. A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,095 value),
  3. A course certificate from onPoint Tactical for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses, excluding those restricted for military or government teams. Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
  4. DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper. These have hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels and a hard case, to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel. This can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools. It also provides a compact carry capability in a hard case or in 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
  5. Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
  6. A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
  7. American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.

Second Prize:

  1. A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
  2. A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
  3. A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
  4. A transferable certificate for a two-day Ultimate Bug Out Course from Florida Firearms Training (a $400 value),
  5. A Three-Day Deluxe Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $190 value),
  6. A $200 gift certificate good towards any books published by PrepperPress.com,
  7. RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site.

Third Prize:

  1. A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
  2. A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
  3. Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
  4. Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
  5. Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances, and
  6. Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value).

Round 78 ends on September 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.




13 Comments

  1. Freedom comes with being in control of your own time and resources.
    We all know that unless we choose to move to the wilderness and live in a barter economy we will never be free of taxes.
    Not working to support the banks and credit companies does provide a level of freedom that feels great.

    Staying debt free requires discipline as well. We refuse to take on monthly payments. If we cannot pay cash for what we need, we save until we can. It is easy to fall into old habits. We live a simple life. We get great joy in our God and our gardens.

    We have one CC used for travel to see the grandchildren and paid off monthly. Many health care providers no longer take cash so we use or CC at the doctors office, once again balance is zero monthly.

    We laugh at the offers for mortgage, credit cards, etc. One thing I have noticed is I have been getting offers to pre-plan my cremation, why does everyone want to burn me?

    1. Most people won’t take advice about finances. Much of our spending habits are just that, habits. And there seems to be a huge unconscious aspect to it, as well. Depending how I am “feeling” on a particular day, I can be cheap or extravagant.

      I’ve had to train myself to “walk away” for a little while when shopping, whether in a store or online. Things go much better when I have a plan and a list. And of course don’t shop at the grocery store when you are hungry!

      One part of my self-training was to save every receipt for a month, and review what I had bought. It was a wake up call. There’s a big difference in value between buying a dozen eggs and buying a bag of chips. When you witness your own frivolous purchases in black and white, it’s a real lesson.

      The two times I have sold a house I made large profits; easiest money I ever made. I rolled a lot of it into long term food, metals of the precious and lead varieties, paid off my new car, paid off all my credit card debt. It allowed me to retire on a smaller income.

  2. Debt free? Congratulations on a task well done. We just moved onto our new 5 acre irrigated farm and now have a mortgage. But because I budgeted usually 5 to 10 percent of our gross into a retirement account for 30 years, we also have other properties debt free. And our preps. And our Gadsden flag.

    I tell my adult kids and other young folks they need to live on 80% of their take-home income. Work hard at tithing 10% and putting 10% into your self-directed IRA retirement fund.

    Computational tables showed me that if you put $1000 per year into a solid investment retirement fund every year from age 18 to 30, you can stop adding to it and let it earn for another 40 years.

    Saving more is better, but is predicated on us insuring our young friends and family inculcate the values of self support and sufficiency. If they aren’t mentored early into those values, they won’t value their freedom or ours either. Something to consider.

    Best wishes and God Bless.

  3. My wife and I have embarked on a plan to achieve financial freedom. It takes a great amount of discipline as the author stated. We have been budgeting every penny for a year now and have paid off an astonishing amount of debt. It is surprising how much you can get paid when you stop making excuses for frivolous spending.
    Our routine is to sit down and completely go through the budget on every payday. It keeps all the bills as well as our progress fresh in our minds. Without realizing it, we were following the plan espoused by Dave Ramsey. Common sense, discipline, and no excuses!
    While we are not wealthy (or even close to it!) we are blessed beyond measure with God’s grace and mercy.
    Qp

    1. Overall, what Dave Ramsey has to say is pretty good. What I don’t like about Dave Ramsey is he usually gives examples of making extra money by doing things like delivering newspapers, delivery pizzas, etc… except, now you are using your vehicle for business purposes, and if you don’t let your insurance company know and you get into an accident, even if it is not your fault, they may not cover you, and they can if they decide to do so, cancel your insurance.
      All that does is end up costing you far more, rather than helping you save and pay off debt.
      Be wise and if you do decide to use your vehicle for part-time business let your insurance company know, as it will save you a lot of unnecessary problems.

  4. Lee, about your last question, lol. It seems there are a lot of people that want to cremate me too. All I can say is be patient young fellas, you’ll get your opportunity eventually — well maybe — I might out live em yet!

  5. When I was young there were no credit cards. People got credit using personal accounts at the stores they frequented. Only a house mortgage was given in credit and my parents paid cash for everything. Along comes the 70s and banks began issuing credit cards to rich people and professionals, like doctors and lawyers. In the late 70s and 80s department stores like sears began issuing credit cards and average folks began using them for washing machines, dryers, refrigerators, etc. In the 90s all heck broke loose and banks started mailing out credit cards to everyone who had an account. The result is what the author said, people are drowning in debt and they think they can’t get out.

    Looking forward to remaining parts.

  6. Very well said.

    We spent a few years skrimping and putting every extra free dollar to debt back in 2006-2008. By April 2008 we were completely out of debt. I “prepped” more in the following year than I was able to in the previous 8 due to not having a debt load burdening us down.

    Being debt free allows FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT also. A lot of preppers will see the “writing on the wall” when things get bad in the cities, but will have to cling to their jobs and will stay in bad situations risking their families. For what? Payments to Chase visa? Payments on a Mommy Bus SUV for your 2.5 children?

    Lot was really worldly also, look where that got him and his family.

  7. “In my humble opinion, the best goal is to live without debt.”

    Debt free is the way to be. I appreciate your enthusiasm and your evangelism about it.

    The LORD has spoken: “The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant [literal = slave] to the lender.”

    The Dave Ramsey plan works and just because he isn’t a gold guy doesn’t mean it doesn’t.

  8. This is really important. In every financial debacle dating from Jackson’s war on the 2nd Bank of the United States a wave of lawyers, bankers and opportunists descended on the land and gobbled up property from every delinquent debtor. They use federal court in modern times. The entry fee to defending yourself in federal court is $10,000. You cannot represent yourself. They use the judgement to take the property you do have paid off and not just the collateral pledged.

  9. Having a tax strategy can also help you maximize savings. We simply looked at our income vs taxes and realized that if we simply saved more in retirement accounts we could lower our tax bracket and save thousands of dollars. Simple approach, but it works. Our retirement savings goal may be 10% annually but the impact feels like 5%.

    One other attitude that is very prevalent in the preparedness community is “I don’t need retirement accounts because there won’t be a financial system to allow me to stop working. Why save?”. I’ve been hearing that argument since I entered the workforce in the 1980s. Even bought into it for a while. There is no guarantee of a financial calamity serious enough to wipe out retirement accounts and if you’re not saving you are playing a very serious game of chicken. Is avoiding putting 10% away in retirement savings really going to be worth it when you find that you are 60 years old with no savings? Is that 10% so critical to your ability to prepare that you absolutely must spend it on preps? I’ve seen a few people working for companies with generous 401(k) matching policies give up that free money for years and the ultimate missed opportunity cost will be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    We do a financial review annually now. We look at every service provider (insurance, phones, banking, utilities, etc) along with every other expense and get lower price quotes from competitors or cut out certain services altogether. We find that 10% and sometimes more. I also challenge every extra fee I see on bills and sometimes win on those as well. Companies have become really good at charging fees that are well outside of the original contract fees quoted.

    Financial preparedness is a journey and it never really ends. Ideally in my world 10% is tithed, 10% goes into retirement accounts, 10% goes to savings and PMs, and we live on the other 70%. Our preparedness expenditures come out of that 70%. Slow and steady wins the race.

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