Seventy-Five Ways To Save Money For Prepping, by E.S.

There seems to be a significant uptick in the number of people who are concerned about preparing for unforeseen circumstances. Have you been studying on the necessity of prepping, but you wonder how you can afford it? Do you read article after article that outlines someone else’s backup plan, the backup to the backup plan, as well as plans A, B, and C on any number of topics? Are you concerned about inflation and food prices but can barely afford to feed and clothe your children? So am I.

Flash back to 2012, when Hurricane Sandy made landfall on the coast of New Jersey and slowly worked its way on through New York State. My husband was a pastor of a small church in the Hudson Valley, and our family lived in a parsonage inside the church. Having been through hurricanes before, we didn’t think this one would be too bad, given our location. Boy, were we wrong! When it started raining, the creek across the street swelled and jumped its banks, spilling thousands of gallons of water, in addition to the torrent coming out of the sky. Within hours, our entire church was surrounded by 2 1/2 feet of water on all sides. Thankfully, I had moved our van to the only high ground just minutes before the driveway became impassable. We watched helplessly, as the children’s playground equipment was picked up effortlessly by the raging river and floated its way out to the Hudson River. The nightmare was only just beginning.

For the next two weeks, our family– three children, two adults, and one grandmother– would live without water, electricity, and telephone. Through the kindness of our local volunteer fire department, who took pity on their fire house chaplain, we were eventually given a generator to help make things somewhat bearable. We were one of the lucky ones. Some neighborhoods in our area did not get their power repaired for almost a month. I never wanted to be in that position again and began to do research on becoming prepared. One website led to another and, shall we say, my horizons expanded but not my pocketbook.

I compiled this list, with my tongue firmly held in-cheek, to assist the novice. Detailed, technical articles on weapons specification or engine modification are incredibly amazing and informative to read, but they can also be paralyzing for the inexperienced. The temptation is to think, I don’t have that kind of experience, budget, land, or spouse; I can barely keep my head above water, so why should I bother. My hope is to be able to give the new and overwhelmed beginner a place to start. Lest I be accused of not taking TEOTWAWKI seriously, I will gently remind my audience to remember that, once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away, you too didn’t know the difference between OPSEC and OPEC. 😉

“A merry heart does good like a medicine: but a broken spirit dries the bones.” Proverbs 17:22

  1. Ditch the boob tube. Stick to the basic cable package and save the difference, if you must; it’d be better to give up your TV completely. Spend that newly found time on reading books or working on new skills.
  2. If the complete cessation of TV puts you at risk for a household uprising of Hunger Games proportions, use Netflix and Red Box instead of dish or cable. A Netflix streaming subscription is $8 a month. You could also treat yourself and the family to a one-night Red Box rental every once in a while for $1.
  3. Make the library your best friend. Preview all those books, magazines, DVDs, and CDs, you have on your Amazon Wish List before buying or don’t buy them at all. If your local library doesn’t have what you are looking for, the inter in-state library system is an amazing resource.
  4. Cancel your gym membership. Do push-ups, sit-ups, wall sits, box jumps, et cetera. Go hiking in the woods (with or without a weighted backpack) or biking in your neighborhood park. Not only will you save money, but you will gain valuable endurance and muscle for any grid-down scenario.
  5. Why pay for multiple phones? If you have a mobile phone, disconnect your land line. You could also get rid of your obnoxious $120 per month Verizon cell plan and switch to a prepaid phone. Walmart’s Straight Talk has unlimited texting and long distance for $45 per month.
  6. Don’t let a screaming child (or teenager) rule your finances. Learn to say “no” and mean it! The same goes for teenagers begging you for the latest and greatest “I Whatever”. The proper mantra should be “get a job and pay for it yourself”. You’ll thank me later. This has been a public service announcement.
  7. Don’t play the lottery. Your likelihood of winning should be compared to the probability of you letting someone enter your house to do you and/or your family harm. Nada. Save that money for an emergency fund or for investing in precious metals. “PREESSSOUISSSS. MY PRESSSSOUISSSS!!”
  8. Stop accumulating debt, and develop a plan to pay it off. This goes for any type of lending system that requires you to pay interest.
  9. Log all expenses, and keep a continual tracking system in place. Know where the money goes. (FYI: You don’t have to use credit cards like the author suggests. Saving receipts and plugging in the figures later works just as well for the OPSEC minded.)
  10. Don’t “kill time” or amuse yourself by wandering aimlessly through a store or prowling endlessly on the Internet. Avoid these two like an outbreak of MERS and you’ll avoid the impulse purchases that inevitably add up.
  11. Relocate to a smaller, less expensive location. All the beans, bullets, and Band-Aids will only get you so far. A homestead will get you started on providing for many of your own needs. Read about what you need to know before making such a move.
  12. While we are talking about downsizing, contrary to popular belief, no child ever died because he or she had to share a room with a sibling. “The child. A room to share. Die he will not.”- Ancient Chinese Haiku
  13. Your baby could care less if his/her nursery resembles the latest Pottery Barn catalog. Previously owned cribs, high chairs, and children’s toys can save you loads of money for something that is only used for a short period of time. (Give them a really good wash with soapy water and bleach.) You can always resell them when they are no longer needed.
  14. Even if you had an entire lifetime, you could never read all the free books on Amazon. Download them onto your Kindle or laptop.
  15. “The Return of the Clothesline” is now playing at a theater near you. Start using a clothesline or drying rack and you’ll save energy, prolong the life of your clothes, and your house will be quieter and cooler. Oscar Awards all around!
  16. Only wash your clothing when necessary, and when you do, use cold water for everything except bedding and whites and unless, of course, you are a coal miner, grease monkey, or pig farmer. You’ll save by having smaller-size laundry loads. This DOES NOT apply to undergarments or any items belonging to a teenage boy.
  17. Attend or host a clothing swap. It’s a great way for everybody to get “new” clothes without spending money.
  18. Sewing will be a great skill to know and barter with post-SHTF. Many times articles of clothing will go unworn when buttons come off or a seam comes loose. It is a shame to let nice pieces of clothing go to waste or kids outgrow them without getting as much use from them as you can. It also comes in handy to have a sewing machine so you can take clothes in and let them out without always having to buy new ones.
  19. Practice the art of patience. Continually ask yourself, “Do I have to have it now? Can I buy it cheaper later?” Learn to save up for that $1,500 AR-15, instead of whipping out the credit card and stressing your finances (and possibly your marriage) for the next six months. “For anything worth having, one must pay the price; and the price is always work, patience, love, self-sacrifice– no paper currency, no promises to pay but the gold of real service.” -John Burroughs 
  20. “A penny saved is a penny earned.” Benjamin Franklin was way ahead of his time. Methodically put all your loose change into a piggy bank at the end of each day, and watch the savings rack up. The average adult generates $35.00 worth of loose change a month. Starting with zero, save that $35 per month for 30 years and add a rate of return of 7%. That is $16,481 in savings!!!
  21. Pay a little more on your mortgage each month and potentially save thousands over the life of the loan. Your lender can calculate this for you if you’re considering making that monthly extra a consistent amount. Alternatively, you could make one extra payment per year.
  22. Use open source software and never pay again. Use Libre Office for documents, Linux for your operating system, and other free software available for free on sites like SourceForge.Net.
  23. Talk to your doctor about prescriptions and explain you have trouble affording them. Voila! Free prescription drugs. Stock up on samples of your prescription of choice. This also works for baby formula samples from the pediatrician.
  24. Save money on prescriptionsby avoiding “combo pills”. A combo pill combines more than one type of medication. For example, Lotrel is a blood pressure medicine that costs $70 a month for generic, but you could get a prescription for the two components (Amlodipine and Benazepril) for $6 each.
  25. Embrace your inner snail. Driving 65 miles per hour uses 15% more gas than driving 55 miles per hour. That’s like paying 40 cents more per gallon! Just remember to stay out of the left lane, especially on I-95.
  26. A clean air filter can improve your gas mileage by up to 7%, saving you more than $100 for every 10,000 miles you drive in an average vehicle. Follow the instructions in your automobile’s manual and you’re good to go.
  27. Check Craigslist for free plants; you’ll almost always find them!
  28. Grow a garden. From toxic pesticides to GMO’s and rising food prices, a garden is a great hedge bet against any and all of these buggers. However, one should, in reality, look at this as a long-term scenario that will require some initial capital investment via money, time, study, and sanity, especially around zucchini-harvest time when you will want to completely resist the temptation to lob excess zucchini into the open windows of any random passing vehicles.
  29. Find places to glean in your area. Free produce score!
  30. Don’t waste money on ten different spray cleaners. Put the Internet to use, and Google homemade replacements for just about everything. Then go stock up on vinegar, baking soda, Borax, and hydrogen peroxide.
  31. Recycling is not just for the granola and patchouli crowd. Look twice at things before throwing them away. You can use Christmas cards as gift tags, if you cut off the front. Decoupage that old piece of furniture or spray paint a chandelier to give it a new life. Save nice glass jars for gift giving or organizing just about anything. You’ll never have to buy a box for shipping, if you save a stash.
  32. Shopping online? Never leave the coupon code box blank again! Google the name of the store and add the words “promo code” to the search bar. Sites like RetailMeNot.com offer free coupon codes for just about any product you’re shopping for.
  33. Stack the Deals. Use multiple methods of saving when you shop! Cashback sites, like Ebates, can help you save more online, while Ibotta, Plink, and SavingStar can add to your savings at the stores. Sites, like Plastic Jungle, can save you even more by selling you gift cards at discounted prices.
  34. If you can be disciplined and use these offers as tools, here are 15 companies that are giving away $1,823.40 for trying out their products and services.
  35. Do you live in a college town? Do you frequent yard sales, Ebay, and/or Goodwill stores? Earn up to $750 a month selling used books.
  36. Have your teeth cleaned at a college or university with a dental program or your hair cut at a beauty school. Sometimes this is even free.
  37. Do you have your possessions or do they possess you? Hold a yard sale of your own or sell stuff on eBay. We Americans suffer with a condition known as Affluenza, also known as Spoiled Rotten-itis. Go through your attic, basement, and closets with an impartial eye. Do you really need to keep that sweater Aunt Matilda crocheted ten Christmases ago? Find things that you absolutely don’t need and sell them. It is amazing how much more liberated and less stressed you will feel. It will also free up much needed room to store those preps.
  38. Learn how to do basic home repairs and maintenance. Home Depot offers free classes from the Home Improver Club. You will learn important skills and save money at the same time. That is, of course, unless it’s a major project. You really don’t want to make any mistakes that only a professional can repair (and will charge you accordingly).
  39. Letting that precious heat and cool air escape will cost you. Get that house airtight. Pad your doors and windows. Check the insulation in your attic. What kind of shape is it in? Does it even have a shape? Do you need to add more R-value than already exists?
  40. Invest in a programmable thermostat. Keep your home cooler at night in winter climates or warmer in the day for summer climates.
  41. The layered look is trendy. In cool or cold seasons keep the thermostat at 68 or lower, and wear more layers in the house to save on heating bills.
  42. Sweating is not just for the physically inclined. In a grid-down scenario, there won’t be any electric relief. Don’t use the A/C if you don’t really need to, and try to adapt to the temperature. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Also, you can make this homemade air conditioner.
  43. Your grandparents had the right idea; keep your blinds and curtains closed during the day. Save energy by keeping the warmth in or the sun out, then open the windows to let in the cool night or pre-dawn air. Insulated, honeycomb blinds are pricey, but they are worth the added expense.
  44. Save all those little soap fragments, and make them into a soap ball. Make sure to take any soap in your hotel room home with you, and do the happy dance. You just scored free toiletries!
  45. Save one empty bottle each of shampoo and conditioner, then half-fill them with refills. Top the bottle up with water until full. Voila! They will last twice as long, because modern toiletries are so thick. Even at half-strength, you can achieve satisfactory cleanliness.
  46. Better still; learn to make all your toiletries from scratch.
  47. Sharpen your multi-blade razor on the back of your arm. You really may never need to buy one again! This guy figured out that your arm works like leather.
  48. Gentlemen, if you’re going bald, please shave your head. Don’t buy into all those silly hair restoration promises. Save on haircuts, shampoo, and dignity from embarrassing Mr. Collins-type comb-overs. One name: Sir Patrick Stewart.
  49. This goes for you too, ladies. If you can’t stand the thought of going gray, minimize your exposure to a host of toxic chemicals, and learn to make all-natural hair color.
  50. Discover your local farmer’s market. Your budget will love the prices and you’ll love the fresh taste of just-picked produce! Wait until about a half hour before it is scheduled to end, and you might pick up some extra bargains. Farmers generally loathe to schlep everything back home and are more willing to haggle. To find a farmer’s market near you, visit LocalHarvest.org and enter your zip code.
  51. Are you guilty of running errands every single day or making two trips to the store because you didn’t make a list? Planning ahead will save you both time and gas money.
  52. Stop using plastic bags for food storage. Try to store all food in reusable containers, without having to resort to expendable Ziploc products. Another alternative is to wash zipper-type bags and recycle.
  53. Eventually, all those stockpiled paper towels and napkins will run out. Use washable rags instead. You can make rags out of old clothes instead of throwing them away.
  54. Take one hour and plan out your week’s menu in advance. You will only buy the food that you actually need and save on all the food which is thrown away every week.
  55. Always shop with a grocery list. By planning your shopping in advance, resistance to those impulse purchases will not be futile.
  56. High-end grocery stores are overpriced. You can get everything you need at less expensive stores, utilizing the variety of saving methods contained in this article. There’s a reason why they call specialty stores, like Whole Foods, “a Whole Paycheck”.
  57. Research bulk prices on staple items you regularly use. Check out the different rates on Amazon.com, Vitacost, at places like Sam’s Club/Costco, or through a bulk buying co-op, such as Azure Standard. If you want to get the bulk rate but don’t think you’ll use all of the item, consider splitting up the purchase with a friend or two, so you all benefit from the bulk pricing without having a massive amount of any single item.
  58. Double check your grocery receipts. My local Kroger will refund the entire purchase price of an item if you are overcharged at checkout. For instance, a particular brand of dish washing powder had a tag on the shelf which read “On Sale, $4.34”. After checking out, I noticed that I was charged $5.79 for the powder and was also overcharged on apple juice. I visited customer service and was refunded a total of $8.00– $5.79 for the dish washing powder, $1.99 for one bottle of apple juice, and $0.20 for the other two bottles of apple juice I bought. It pays to know your prices.
  59. Stocking up when the price is low is the key to saving. Having a price book will really benefit you in the long run. Find what works for you– coupons, shopping at several stores, or shopping online. A combination of all three is my technique of choice!
  60. He, who is the early worm, gets the reduced meat. Find out when your grocery store marks down their meat, and beat the rush. Buy beef, fish, and chicken when it’s on special. Then, freeze it in smaller meal-size packs.
  61. Alternatively, buy a side of beef, instead of smaller packages at the store. A chest freezer only costs about $8 a month to operate. You’ll be able to avoid CAFO meat laced with hormones and E.Coli, and you won’t have to pay the laughably expensive grocery store prices for grass-fed beef.
  62. Cook from scratch, often. “Boxed mix does not a cake from scratch make.”-Yentil (cousin of Yoda), quote taken from the book New Dagoba Cooking.
  63. Store bought spice mixes and rubs have all sorts of questionable ingredients in them, like fake fillers, preservatives, and MSG. It is far healthier, cheaper, and tastier to make your own. Here are 17 combinations to start you off.
  64. Challenge yourself to see how long you can go without going to the store! It’s amazing how this will usually inspire you to come up with meals with what you already have on hand, even if you feel like “there’s nothing here to eat”! Check the nooks and crannies of your cupboards, refrigerator, and freezer. Type in the ingredients you have and don’t have on the Ingredient Search Feature on AllRecipes.com, and it will generate a list of recipe ideas for you based upon what you already have on hand.
  65. Make food in batches. Preparing food in larger quantities saves money in the long run. Are you making lasagna for dinner? Cook two, and pop one in the freezer. You won’t be tempted to spend needlessly on takeout on Junior’s game days, if you know there is already a nutritious alternative at home.
  66. Instead of boiling your vegetables until they are cooked, bring the water to a boil and then put a lid on the pot and turn the heat off. The steam and heat in the water will cook most vegetables.
  67. When cooking or baking, turn your oven off 10 to 20 minutes before the cooking time is finished and allow the built-up heat in the oven to finish it off.
  68. Fruit that is going a bit brown or mushy is fine for a smoothie. Pop it in the freezer or dehydrate it if you’re not ready to use it.
  69. Did you know that the typical yogurt marketed to kids contains an average of 7-8 teaspoons of sugar? Making your own yogurt is absurdly easy and cost-effective.
  70. Learn how to soak grains and make your own bread; either by hand or with a machine. The grains will be rendered more digestible and the results will make your skirts fly up.
  71. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to capture wild yeast from the air. Sourdough is more digestible than standard loaves and more nutritious, too. Lactic acids make the vitamins and minerals in the flour more available to the body by helping neutralize the phytates in flour that would interfere with their absorption. The acids slow down the rate at which glucose is released into the blood-stream and lower the bread’s glycemic index (GI), so it doesn’t cause undesirable spikes in insulin. Sourdough is also less likely to cause food intolerance.
  72. Almost every activity at home is less expensive than going out. Invite some friends over and have a cookout or a potluck meal. Everyone will have fun, the cost will be low, and the others will likely reciprocate not long afterwards.
  73. Re-think gift giving. Try not to just buy because you feel you need to but rather think it through very carefully; possibly give a little less, give hand-made, give used things, give consumable things, and don’t be stressed by the whole process.
  74. Talk to your loved ones about your dreams. It might seem strange to find this tip on a list of money-saving strategies, but give me a minute. If you spend time with the people you love the most and come to some consensus about your dreams, it becomes easy for you all to map out a future. If you’re all planning and working together towards a common goal, it becomes easier to stay focused and reach it. Set a big, loud, audacious goal together, and encourage each other during the journey.
  75. Never give up! Whatever it is that is your struggle– finances, family, or burnout– remember that there are a lot of people out there who are experiencing the exact same circumstances. Resist the inducement to think you are alone. Read through the archives of this blog. Learn some new things. Perhaps you’ll be encouraged to keep going, no matter what.

“He conquers who endures.” -Persius

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