Continuing the theme of being part of the solution and not part of the problem when crisis strikes, consider that the time to stock up is before a shortage occurs. We may disagree on the reason why, but it seems obvious that we are living at the tail end of a historic period of plenty.
Whether you feel that the price hikes we are seeing are due to peak oil, developing nations gobbling up natural resources, or active war zones sucking in all available oil and ammunition, you can not deny that prices (especially for fuel and metals) have increased significantly over the past few years.
I think it will become far worse. As the cost of fuel increases, the cost of both manufacturing and shipping drive up retail prices across the board. When you factor in the very real risks of an economic crisis (derivatives, real estate, etc), the loss of honeybees from the pollination cycle, corn products being diverted from food to ethanol, and the real potential for global pandemic, you can see the threat of significant price increases for goods with a post-SHTF value.
Even if you focus only on specific products like the impending shortage of honey from [honeybee] Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) or a ban on high capacity magazines during the next presidential administration, you can not deny that shortages have either already begun or are fast approaching.
That said, this is the time to take stock of what you have on hand and compare it to what you would not want to be caught without. Consider what you expect the price of those goods to be in the future and b work your way through your available funds meeting your highest priority needs first.
In general, the “Beans, Bullets, and Band-Aids” mantra is a good place to start.
Beans: You will always need to eat whether there is a TEOTWAWKI event or not. If you take advantage of weekly grocery store sales and group buy discounts to stock up on food you will realize financial savings even if no general price hike or famine occurs. I personally feel that a significant rise in food prices over the next year is almost a certainty and so feel that acquire a food reserve is the top priority.
Bullets: Having food is no good if you have to surrender it to the first thug who comes along. The price of ammunition has increased dramatically as the demand for metals has skyrocketed globally. The political situation in the United States makes impending bans on rifles, ammunition, and magazines very likely in the near future. If you haven’t already stocked up you will pay a higher price, and it is only going to get worse.
Band-aids: Every disaster scenario includes the potential for injury and disease. If you can prevent and/or treat both, the likelihood of survival and the quality of your family’s life increases dramatically.
My chief complaint with survivalist literature in general is the over generalization of recommendations. So my top ten recommended specific purchases are below. Keep in mind that your needs and local market may differ from my own. The following recommendations are based on what I see a need for post SHTF and the likelihood of future shortages in my area.1. Food Grains – rice, oatmeal, beans, wheat, corn – most of us consume far more than we produce. Food grains are cheap especially if bought in bulk and when properly stored can last for years. Regardless of the crisis, food will be needed. It just makes sense to keep several months of food on hand especially in light of the potential shortages that could result from the die off of pollinators, and the potential need for self isolation in case of pandemic. Rice seems the best bargain in my local market. For literally pennies per pound, you can buy insurance against hunger in the form of dry rice.
In addition to grains, watch for grocery store sales on canned goods. Buying 50 cans all at once for 40 cents each is half the cost of buying one can per week for 50 weeks at 80 cents each. I strongly recommend taking advantage of any bargains you run across on shelf stable foods that you normally buy (canned fruits, canned vegetables, canned soups and dry soup ingredients, grains, pastas, etc.).
2. Matches – whether you prefer strike anywhere matches or safety matches, they are cheap, useful, and currently plentiful. They are so cheap that I have listed them as my second recommendation because for less than ten dollars you can have literally years’ worth of matches on hand. Unless you have small children at home, it is well worth storing a book of matches in every bug out bag, camping tote, evacuation suitcase, jacket pocket, and vehicle.
3. If you can still find reasonably priced ammunition, especially 22 Long Rifle bulk packs, buy it. It seems that the opportunity to buy low cost center-fire ammunition is nearly gone. But you may still be able to find 22 long rifle cartridges for less than 2 cents per cartridge. If you can find that price in a brand which functions well in your firearms, I’d recommend buying a large supply. The same is true of 7.62×39 under 15 cents per cartridge and 308 under 25 cents per cartridge. If you can find it, I’d recommend buying it. And don’t forget reloading supplies. As the price of ammunition escalates, reloading will become more popular. It may be worth watching for opportunities to stock up on discounted powder, primers, wads, shot, and projectiles. I recently found a 500 .308 projectiles for $10 at a local gun shop. Few of us have invested in a rifle capable of firing .50 BMG ammunition. If you have, or plan to do so you should buy the ammunition soon. I expect a California style ban on .50 BMG to go nationwide within a decade.
4. Effective defense weapons – like the FAL and HK91 rifles are getting hard to find for less than $500. If you find one, consider picking it up. I think it very likely that 1994-style ban on the tools of self defense will be enacted within the next presidential term. Not only rifles with specific features but whole technologies like night vision equipment, starlight scopes, thermal imaging, and any rifle chambered to accept 50 BMG cartridges may prohibited by future legislation. If any of these features factor into your retreat defense plans, the time to buy is now.
5. High Capacity magazines – HK91 alloy magazines are currently available for under $3 each. I think the likelihood of a ban on the manufacture and import of high capacity magazines during the next presidency is very high. If they are legal in your state and reasonably priced, I think it prudent to buy multiple high capacity magazines for your own use, as a resale investment, and for the next generation!
6. Over the Counter Medicines – including hydrogen peroxide. OTC remedies for flu, cough, digestive issues can be picked readily and inexpensively now. Why not have a spare box or bottle of each against the day when they might be hard to find? Should a flu pandemic spike demand you will want to stay isolated anyway. Even absent a SHTF event, you will find yourself glad for a well stocked medicine chest when the need arises. As an agent for preventing infection in wounds I prefer hydrogen peroxide. It is incredibly cheap difficult to manufacture at home, and has always proven effective for me as everything from mouth rinse to shallow wound cleanser. I think it is well worth picking up a few spare bottles and storing in a cool dark place. As with all medicines, read and observe the warnings.
7. Hygiene products – especially chlorine bleach to use as a disinfectant and water purifier but also soap, shampoo, feminine products, dental products, tissues, and toilet paper. All are currently cheap, all are needed in our households anyway, and all are worth having on hand when the lights go out, especially in regard to the ability to prevent illness.
8. Oils of every kind – 2 cycle chainsaw oil, engine motor oil, lamp oil, even cooking oil. All are still reasonably priced, have long shelf lives and are not something that we can typically produce on our own. That makes all of them good things to stock up on as far as I’m concerned. With the talk of peak oil and the rapidly increasing cost of distribution (gasoline and diesel fuel) it may be smart to set aside a few cases of whatever oils you use most frequently especially if you plan to use a chainsaw to lay up firewood for a post-TEOTWAWKI winter in snow country.
9. Salt – as previously posted on Survival Blog salt is essential to life, cheap, and presently plentiful. But post a SHTF event you will have a hard time getting it. Don’t think of salt as only for flavoring your food. It is essential to life and valuable as a food preservative in both curing and canning. Iodized salt provides vital iodine as well as salt. It can be used for all the uses that non-iodized salt is used for but you may end up with cloudy pickling solution etc. Non-iodized salt (preferred for canning, pickling, and hide tanning) is currently selling for about 69 cents per pound in my area. When you consider the labor involved in collecting it on your own, that is ridiculously cheap.
10. Honey – the bees are dying. I expect the price of honey to double in the next six months, so I have separated it from the other recommended food purchases but since it is not essential to life I have moved it down to #10. While not essential, honey could make life more pleasant as a shelf stable sweetener should you become dependent on your own food reserves for an extended period of time. You might find some sweetener a welcome relief from the usual flavors. It even has a potential use for sealing wounds against infection in a post-TEOTWAWKI situation. As noted on SurvivalBlog, honey stores indefinitely (crystallization is easily reversed by gentle heating) so why not store it for your own use and as a potential barter item before the price goes up?
If you take advantage of these recommendations and the opportunity to stock up now in general, you will be better prepared to face the potential shortages of the future. You will avoid the risks of being among those fighting to sweep the shelves bare gathering supplies at the 11th hour. And if you take action before the expected price hikes you can gain those advantages at lower cost than those who wait to boot!