It can seem like quite an undertaking at first. Remind yourself why you became interested in prepping. The world is unpredictable. The “doom” doesn’t have to be something drastic like a homeland war or terrorist attack. Even economic troubles at home or as a country and localized weather disasters, outbreaks, pandemics — all of these realistic fears may leave you needing at least a few days or weeks worth of supplies.
Approaches and Organization
On the Fence: Here are a few words of advice from preppers for those who are unsure if they can afford to start prepping.
10 Tips for Overwhelmed Beginners: This helpful list breaks down prepping into 10 simple, budget-friendly ideas for beginners.
Two Week Challenge: Try this challenge to see how long you can go without purchasing anything. This is great practice (and money saving) for preppers.
The Tiny Drawer System: This organization system can help you start stocking gradually without losing track of what you already have.
Fortify Against Attacks in 5 Steps: Keep these simple supplies around to fortify your home against looters and burglars. Some of these protections can be installed now.
Prepper Home Defense: Defend your home and property after disaster by knowing how to prepare these traps and warnings.
48 Tips for Home Security: From windows and doors to your garage and landscaping, these tips help you plan ahead for maximum security.
Water Storage Tips: Learn how to store potable water to keep it pure and safe from contaminants.
Purifying Water in an Emergency: In addition to storing potable water, you will also want to learn how to purify water during emergencies.
Water Filter Systems for Preppers: Here is some hard data on the effectiveness of different brands of filters you can use to clean water.
99 Dollar Store Finds: Your local dollar store has many of the supplies a prepper needs in convenient sizes that allow you to spend less at a time.
Survival Gear Checklist: This checklist helps give you an idea of what you might need to budget for, and luckily most of them are cheap.
Poor Man’s Guide to Survival Gear: This type of affordable gear is great for those in rural areas or those who fear they may need to survive outside.
Prepper’s List of Supplies: Categorized in a very useful way, you can learn everything you need for food, water, shelter, first aid, protection and more.
5 Affordable Steps to Be Prepared: These affordable first steps will get you started while you continue to save up and gradually build your stockpile.
How to Build 30 Day Food Supply: Pre-packaged kits are a convenient way to immediately have a foundational 30-day supply of food.
A Year of Food for $300: Feed a family of 4 by stock piling grains and soup ingredients. This plan smartly includes cost for storage containers.
56 Long-Term Survival Foods: Here are both short-term and long-term food lists to help you start your prepper pantry.
Food Storage Calculator: Use this food and water calculator to determine how much you should aim to keep in storage.
Off Grid Cooking: Here are eight methods and the tools you need to cook without utilities.
Tips for Low Cost Prepping
Make Your To-Do List
Start a “Master List” of all the things you need for your preparedness plan. You may want to start one column for necessities and one column for “nice to have” items.
Organization will be key to saving money. Try to prioritize with colored highlighters and keep additional smaller lists separated by category, e.g., “food,” “fortification,” “water purification,” etc.
To avoid over-buying or accidentally getting duplicates, keep a running checklist as well.
Build Your Stockpiles Gradually
You don’t have to shell out thousands for prepackaged food for a year. This is a large upfront cost that many families can’t afford. Many new preppers are excited and want to be prepared for anything by the end of the month, but trying to go too fast will be a huge waste of money.
Instead, start by adding 10 percent to your weekly grocery budget. If you spend $100 a week, spend an extra $10 strictly on food to be stored.
For other small items, you can start visiting dollar stores once or twice a month. Spend $10 to $20 on their toothpaste, bleach, rags, medicine, storage containers and other important essentials.
Don’t forget toiletries like toilet paper and feminine products. Stock up when you find sales or have coupons and store extras in your garage, under the bed, even in the trunk of your car.
For bigger ticket items, like a generator, set aside a percentage of your income each month to save up. This also gives you time to find out about sales.
Know Your Expiration Dates
Foods have varying shelf life depending on how they are packaged and stored. When you buy prepackaged food, check the expiration dates and chart them in a calendar. For longer shelf life items, keep a log of what expires under a heading for each year.
When you get close to the expiration of a group of items, start using the food in your daily life while you repurchase more stockpile foods. This way nothing goes to waste and you also don’t end up in a situation where you can’t eat all the food you’ve been saving up. This will ultimately save you money in the long run.
Know How Many Calories & How Much Water You Need
You may be surprised by how many calories are in prepackaged rations. A “meal” can be less than 800 calories. This sounds good now, but survival situations can be physically strenuous leaving you needing 2 to 3 times as many calories as you do in everyday life.
Water supplies can also be a bit confusing. You need potable water to drink and cook food plus water for bathing, washing supplies, flushing the toilet, etc.
You might also want to plan for taking in additional people. In emergencies, it’s not uncommon for extended families or neighbors to come together in one home. To save money, it’s worth asking them what their emergency plans are so you can work together on prepping. Splitting the costs will protect everyone without breaking the bank.
Try Your Food, Including Cooking Methods
Before you buy a dozen pounds of something, try cooking a small batch of your planned emergency meals. You want to be able to tolerate the foods since you’ll be eating them with little variety. If you really dislike it, try experimenting a bit more before you invest in bulk quantities.
This is also a good time to test out your planned cooking methods. You can have some trial and error time and make adjustments to your prepper shopping list as needed.
Grow Your Own Food
Gradually start getting supplies together to grow your own garden. You can pick up extra potting soil when it’s on sale or collect used pots from thrift stores. In most states, you can collect rainwater in barrels to use for watering plants.
Start growing some practice foods so you have time to learn the basics of gardening. As a bonus, you can preserve these homegrown foods for your stockpile.
Don’t Forget Your Pets!
Slowly stock up on canned wet food, flea and tick medication, and other pet supplies. You may also want to get a crate if you don’t already have one so your pet can be safely contained and transported if necessary. Used crates from Craigslist are usually quite cheap.
Home Security and Self-Defense
Many preppers add protection and security to their list of to-dos. If you plan on purchasing weapons to protect your home and family, you will be adding an additional category of costs. Consider the cost of the weapon, range training and practice, ammo (for practice and for long-term storage), safes (since weapons are often targeted in home invasions), and child safety locks.
If you lose your electricity, many of your usual daily routines will be harder, if not impossible. Think about how you will cook food, cool off and warm up, do your laundry, charge your cell phone, etc.
You may decide to purchase a generator, but you’ll still need fuel for it and generators can be relatively expensive, averaging over a thousand dollars. There are also some less expensive ways to generate bare bones electricity to charge a phone or to have light by using various crank-based systems.
You don’t need to stock up on expensive chemical cleaners. Try to instead stockpile cheap items like white vinegar, baking soda, borax, store brand bleach, Rid-X (to break down waste), rubber and medical grade gloves, concentrated dish soap, and so on.
If you have a real reason to be concerned about germs, a few bottles of Lysol can be kept on hand. However, most of your cleaning can come from the inexpensive stuff.
- Budget Resource Guides
- Fax: Everything on online fax. Are you on a budget? You can save money with computer faxing instead of a using fax machine. Recommended Companies: RingCentral & Nextiva. Other useful guides: How-to Email Fax, How-to Send a Fax Online, and Getting a Fax Number.
- Payroll: Everything you need to know about payroll. On a budget? These are 6 different ways you can get payroll software for free for your business and here is a guide on Purchasing Payroll Software. Recommended Companies: Intuit Payroll & QuickBooks.
- Engagement Rings: Everything you need to know about buying engagement rings online. Not sure how much to spend on an engagement ring or how to finance a diamond ring? Find out how to pick the right diamond ring online and save on your engagement ring.
- Useful Resources On Our Website: Here is the How to Contact Congress Resource we created with sample template examples.