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More Tips on Prepping on a Budget, by S.T.

How do you manage the extra expense of prepping when you are already cash strapped? After all, it is like buying for two households. When you are cost conscious you are able to purchase more. I am going to share my experience with you.

I am a single Mom of three and started prepping about a year ago. I would clip coupons and pick up extra cans of veggies a couple of times a month. When I started looking a sites on the internet that listed all the items to have on hand, I became concerned that my cans of veggies were not going to last all that long. Not to mention my kids are picky eaters and feeding them peas and corn every day was a recipe for disaster.

I made lists of food items that added variety, fruit snacks, raisins, cookies, cheese and cracker packs. Individual juice boxes, tuna, Spam (of course.) Soups, canned and dehydrated, beef stew, tortillas, and lots of peanut butter. Individual serving size apple sauce and fruit cups are healthy and convenient. I buy jars of nuts when they are on sale because I have found nuts can fill you up really quickly. We have cereal bars and small boxes of cereal. I have been buying cans of evaporated milk and recently discovered a boxed milk (non soy) because I know powdered milk won’t get drank, not even by me! I felt comfortable when we had about a six month supply on hand. Most stores have their own brand instead of name brand items that can be purchased less expensively and when you are prepping every dime counts.

I have always been a bargain shopper. I love to snoop in second hand shops and garage sales. I made a separate list for tents, camp stoves, canning equipment, hand tools, etc. Every weekend I planned my garage sale route with the items that were listed in the paper. I have recently noticed a number of “man sales” and even though I was the only woman there I found items to stash just in case. Lanterns, radios, flash lights. When I buy these items I try to keep all with the same battery size. Saws, even a brand new packaged solar shower. I found an old cooking device that uses newspaper. Now granted I’m not putting steak on this unit but to use it to heat a can of soup on, this just might be the ticket. I found storage tubs to keep the mice out of the sugar and snacks. I found shelf units and always came home smiling at my good luck, crossing out my items from the list. It’s like God was personally delivering to me what written on my lists.

Wal-Mart is always a place to hunt for bargains, but use a list. The store is designed to make you buy and get distracted by all the latest and greatest. This is where I buy my small bottles of propane much cheaper than I have found at other stores. Also medical supplies we might need. Triple antibiotic, hydrogen peroxide, ibuprofen. Check out the end caps and clearance areas, sometimes you get lucky.  I have gotten used to buying on the internet and found I don’t like paying tax, I also search for free shipping or combined shipping with the same seller. Ebay is one of my favorite sites. Recently I noticed some of the sellers are just getting plain greedy though. For example I had a bottle of 50 water purifying tablets on my watch list, when I put them on my list they were $ 8.99 with free shipping. Yesterday as I was going through my watch list they are now listed for $58.10! Really? That listing got deleted and I found another seller for $8.99 and bought right away, lesson learned. I purchased non GMO seeds last spring on Ebay for much less than the seed sites are selling for. They are also listed under the category of heirloom seeds. Left in the freezer, they are good for ten years. I can also collect the seeds from the veggies I grow. Last year was the first year I attempted growing vegetables by seed. I found a small but sturdy green house on closeout at my local hardware store. Our spring in Northern Minnesota was really wet so we set the green house up inside on the three season porch and used a grow light until the seeds were established enough to be put in the ground. A lot died, but this coming spring I intend to direct sow and put the green house over the garden plot. We had an okay harvest and this gave me the opportunity to use the canning equipment I found at an abandoned storage unit sale. I also found a security system on Ebay for like thirty bucks with free shipping. The cameras face the front and back of the property and we watch from a small black and white monitor.

 I know all the horror stories about Craigslist, but I have found numerous items there. I always bring someone with me (and my trustee stun gun). A month ago I bought a chest freezer for $100.00 and even found a farmer selling beef. My son and I recently took a road trip and stocked the freezer with a ½ beef. Last week I purchased a generator found on this site. Another item crossed off the list. The free listings are an excellent source of possible supplies.

 Harbor Freight has some good bargains as does Fleet Farm a favorite of mine for batteries and pet supplies. I also like to look in Cabela’s bargain cave. Then of course I compare prices on other sites just to make sure I am getting the best price. Don’t rule out Goodwill or The Salvation Army stores, they can be a treasure trove. Dollar stores are filled with items that might be helpful, like toothbrushes, razors, plastic silverware, disposable cups, etc.

I also buy the vitamins and herbs we need from a site called Swanson’s, they have a great selection and flat rate shipping is $4.99. I am a firm believer in all natural healing. Also use the email sign up on sites for extra savings.

My kids all work so I have delegated some of these items to them. My daughter is in charge of pet supplies. My son went through a catalog and bought ammo and guns, knives, swords, small shovels and solar blankets from Cheaper Than Dirt, online and catalog available. The things I would not think of because I haven’t been a boy scout.

I’ve been able to find some excellent books on living in the wild. Just in case we have to leave the safety of our property.

At some point you have to feel secure with what you’ve accumulated. When I began, I wondered how much is enough? I am finding over time that voice had quieted down and I’m not going about this with a fearful attitude. I feel more empowered. I have not found everything, I am still working down my list. I know I have to start filling gas cans for the generator, not found a decent size tent or two way radios. But I know we have enough food and water to get us through. I still fill empty milk jugs, because my kids keep drinking them!

I have also been known to check out construction sites. It is a great place to get wood scraps for fires or even plywood to cover windows and securing doors. Many of these items are tossed aside.

As you buy consider the items might be used in barter situations. Coins, ammo, seeds, water, food, tobacco, just about anything. I know that I would not turn away from others who need help. I would not actively seek them out, but if they show up cold and hungry I will help. We still have to be human and live by the Golden Rule.

Watching the news the last few days has me in awe of the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. So many people expect help in these situations and complain that it does not arrive instantly. All of us can be our own rescuer. We heard the warning. We have to make time to prepare for any emergency. Plan ahead! Being prepared not just for storms or the end of the world scenarios, but because food prices are on the verge of sky rocketing.
Lastly I would like to put in my two cents. I thought I lived on the greatest nation on Earth. I am angry that I have to plan for the end of the world scenario. That  preppers are considered dangerous people. That we are considered terrorists. How did it get to this point?  I am upset that this is my childrens’ reality. That they can not be as carefree as they should be. That America used to be the nation all others strived to be. But secretly there has been a plot against us. That the powers that be (are) want us wiped off the planet. That is the part I have a hard time with. This is just plain wrong, and I know the strong shall survive, being prepared makes you strong. So quietly go about preparing. We have an obligation to survive and take care of our loved ones, no matter what may come.