While skills and abilities are invaluable and arguably the most important part of preparing yourself for any disaster, it would be naive for a prepper to decide that it is unnecessary to have “stuff”. No matter the scenario for which you prepare, the financial side of preparedness is unavoidable. In part 1, I talked about the benefits of living debt free and importance of developing a budget and sticking with it to better use resources for preparedness efforts. Now, let’s move forward.
What’s next? Now that you have your budget, what is the next step (whether you choose to try for a debt free life or not)?
Assess Your Financial Situation
This part is no new revelation. You will find this same information in other readings about financial wellness. You need to assess your financial situation and evaluate options.
As preppers we often focus our time and energy on our security. And one of the first things you learn is situational awareness or assessing the situation. You must take a hard, honest look at whatever situation you find yourself in to know how you may best act or react.
Things That Can Be Changed Or Done Away With
Our financial preps are no different. Are there things in our finances that can be changed or done away with? Are you paying too much for one service or another? Can you eliminate unnecessary expenditures? Are there things that are not furthering your prepping that can be ousted?
This could even be large things, like your car or your home. Do you really need that big house in the suburbs?
My wife and I chose a double-wide mobile home on 24 acres away from town. It serves a few functions. First, we paid less than one-third of what most people my age are paying for their “normal” house in town, even though we did find a good deal. Second, it is away from people and out of immediate harm’s way, in the event of SHTF. Third, while it’s certainly not my “dream home”, because we spent less and are not keeping up with the Jones’, we are able to afford more prepping necessities.
What about your car? Do you need that latest, most up-to-date car? It’s likely the case that you don’t. It’s also possible that you’re not driving the most prepper-friendly vehicle. While your choice in vehicle should be one strongly considered, it should not be obtained because it’s the “cool” car, or because one “looks better” than another. The latest and greatest is rarely ever actually that.
For a bug out vehicle, many new vehicles would be considered terrible options. You should run a cost benefit analysis, which is a big term for figuring out how to get the best bang for your buck.
What about junk? Do you have stuff sitting around your home that you are not using or stuff that does not benefit your prepping? Do we have old hobbies we no longer enjoy, clothes we no longer wear or no longer find useful, old furniture or things in the garage or boxed in the shed or basement?
Sell it! Then, take the money to pick up something actually useful, or pay down/off some of those debts that are causing you a headache every month.
Remember when you used to play guitar and bought three? Now that you haven’t touched them in years, that’s hundreds of dollars sitting in your home. What about that gaming system or that computer? When was the last time you actually used that $1000 camera you bought?
These are just a few examples I could think of. If you look hard, you will find things you no longer need. Make use of the unused capital.
The next few steps need to take place concurrently.
If you have a savings, whether that is a savings account in a bank or cash buried in a coffee can, that is great! You have a good start.
While we want to put a significant portion of our funds toward prepping, the world is, at least temporarily, still turning. As such, unexpected expenses will “pop up”.
Cars break down, tires get punctures, appliances stop working, people get sick and doctors want money, et cetera, et cetera. The list of potential short-term financial hardships could go on for days. Because of this, it is very important for the prepper to have a savings.
I recommend having a minimum of $1,000 set aside as an emergency fund. This should really be the first item you address once you have assessed your financial situation. If something as mentioned above happens, you will be able to pay for the bill without going further into debt. Then, once used, these funds should be replaced. Consider it a loan to yourself for everyday emergencies.
Cash For Catastrophic Emergencies/TEOTWAWKI
I would also recommend having a savings for catastrophic emergencies (SHTF). This won’t be much at the beginning of this process. But having some cash if The End of the World As We Know It occurs while we are in this process is a great idea. In some situations, cash could be rendered useless. But in some scenarios, you could still find a use for money. Having a SHTF kitty is a really good idea.
Both of these savings can and should be part of your budget with monies set aside regularly. Once you achieve debt freedom, then you can start saving more aggressively.
At Least Six Months Salary
I am not, like some systems out there, suggesting that you should save every extra penny in cash. Although I am saying it’s a good idea to have at least six months salary saved. That way no matter what happens (in a non TEOTWAWKI time), your family will be able to get by.
This more aggressive savings should also be budgeted for. But you should also budget in more significant preps. Since achieving debt-free living, my wife and I have been able to shore up some of our preps that were lacking and also get some new ones in place. We did this all while saving up a six-month salary.
We don’t do much in the way of discretionary spending. This is by choice. We have chosen to apply our income to savings or prepping.
Live Below Your Means
Another part of prepping will be living below your means. The recommendation is usually made to live within your means. And while this may be decent advice, many take this advice and spend right up to their limit. This is bad practice and leaves us with little room in the budget, if any, for prepper spending.
What we should actually be doing is, after our financial assessment, begin living well below our means. Cut out any unneeded expenses.
Include Entertainment Allowances Within Budget
You should have already included entertainment allowances within your budget. You need those entertainments so that you do not go entirely insane. Also, by including this, you will be more likely to stick to your budget.
Decisions We Make Today Will Affect How Well Or If We Survive SHTF
A prepper must not overextend themselves financially. This only ends badly.
You end up with far less money for life saving preparations, and in the end this could kill you and your family. A commonly understood principle for preppers (though maybe not commonly stated in this manner) is that decisions we make today will likely affect how well or if we survive SHTF.
Living below your means will serve a couple of purposes. I will tell you the first today and then go in more tomorrow. The first one is that you will have more income available for prepping and saving for disaster. That is crucial. The more that you are able to gather now, even if it is only slightly more than you would have already had, the better off you are likely to be. Even the slightest advantage could be the difference between survival and death. This is one place where financial prepping shines!
Tomorrow, I will conclude the step on living below your means and get through the final step and conclusion on how to be a financial prepper.
- How To Be A Financial Prepper- Part 1, by Brandon
- How To Be A Financial Prepper- Part 3, by Brandon (Active on 8/2/18)
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:
- 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.
- A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,095 value),
- 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,
- 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),
- Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
- A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
- American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.
- A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
- 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,
- A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
- A transferable certificate for a two-day Ultimate Bug Out Course from Florida Firearms Training (a $400 value),
- A Three-Day Deluxe Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $190 value),
- A $200 gift certificate good towards any books published by PrepperPress.com,
- RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site.
- A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
- 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,
- Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
- Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
- Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances, and
- 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.