Friday, March 23, 2012

The Frugal Prepper

   Some of us are struggling these days just to make ends meet. Saving for future concerns can be frustrating when the now puts such high demands on your resources. When I first began researching Prepping, my restless nights became even more so once I realized I couldn’t afford to become an entombed king and wait out whatever storm in luxury like it seemed everyone else was doing. How can I stockpile anything when I can barely get through the week? It’s so easy to get discouraged when faced with things you think you need that you can’t afford. By not giving up and through countless hours of research I’ve discovered that it is indeed possible to be a successful Prepper on a shoestring budget.

   Make a realistic list (no bunker palaces) of supplies you would like to accumulate, or think you need, don’t worry, it will grow and shrink a few times over as you get more involved. And don’t worry about how much it’s all going to cost, just make the wish list.
   Designate an area in your home and begin filling it with supplies from your list -many of the things you’ll need to have in an emergency are probably already in a drawer or cabinet somewhere in your home. Have an extra flashlight or box of baking soda? You’ll need them. Add them to the survival supply area. Have an extra tube of toothpaste? Nevermind, you don’t need it, you have baking soda! Consolidating helps to put everything into perspective and is a visual reminder of progress. As you run out of room in your initial supply space you can move on to cramming things wherever you can -the initial space is just to help get you focused.
   Check out yard sales, flea markets and second hand stores every chance you get. You’ll be surprised at how much treasure you can glean from what others all but give away. The more you check supplies off your list, the more research you’ll be doing in the process and you’ll gradually develop a clearer view of what you really need.
   Now is a good time to have a yard sale yourself. Take a day or so to go through that closet, attic, garage and basement and take an honest assessment of what you really need. Letting go of items that hold memories is not easy to do, I know, but if you’re going to take preparing for your future seriously, you have to face letting go of the past. Put the acquired funds towards your future.
   Recycle every container you empty (except those that held chemicals), sterilize, fill with water and store. Set up rain catchers -barrels, buckets, kiddy pools, soup bowls -anything that will hold water, to collect the rain and save energy costs of running your home faucets. Water you collect and store yourself can be thoroughly purified with chlorine bleach or some other method -check out my “Survival Water Workshop” post for purifying tips. Every liter of water you store further secures your future.
   Save the seeds from your produce -rinse, allow to thoroughly air-dry and store in a cool, dry place away from light. They may not all be viable, but many of them will be. Even if you’ve never been much of a gardener (“Organic Gardening For Beginners” post coming soon) they may still prove to be valuable trading commodities. Every seed saved is a chance for a whole new food source.
   Survival stores have many long-term storage food options like military MRE’s, freeze dried foods, emergency food bars and so on, but can be costly on a limited budget. I suggest comparing prices with as many companies as you can find -some of the differences in pricing and shipping costs for the same products can be drastically different. Keep in mind that a lot of these products need water to rehydrate and a heat source for best results, but emergency food bars are non-thirst provoking and ready to go. Check the nutritional values of these products as well, as you may need to supplement with vitamins. Diversify your supply as much as possible, not just to prevent palate boredom, but for better nutritional variance and preparation requirements.
   Canning your own food at home can be very cost effective since bulk food items can be purchased at discount prices. There are many different options for canning and picking, but the simple boiling-water-bath method can go a long way to storing food and will cost you no more than the jars and lids. You can even get away with utilizing used jars as long as the lips are not damaged, but the lids need to be in prime condition to make a pressured seal. Though home canning may be an intimidating prospect to some of you, refer to my post “Home Canning For Beginners” so I may further encourage you to give it a try -you may find it’s not rocket science after all. Compared to the price of preprocessed, long-term storage foods, home canning can be much more manageable on a shoestring budget -and the pride that comes with doing it yourself… priceless.
   Expiration dates on store-bought canned foods are there to protect the manufacturer from liability pertaining to the degradation of flavor, color and advertised nutritional value. As long as the can has not been damaged or exposed to heat the contents will remain safe to eat, so avoid dented or bulged cans. Regular, store-bought cans of food have been discovered on forgotten shelves and even the ocean floor, decades after their stamped expiration date -thorough chemical analyses found them to be safe to eat with minimal loss of nutritional value. Discount grocery stores sell canned goods with damaged labels or expired “sell by” dates for pennies on the dollar -they couldn’t sell them if they were contaminated, but I would still avoid dented or bulged cans.
   First-aid supplies are necessities that need to be purchased from a reputable source. You could easily waste money purchasing a first-aid kit which may contain a host of supplies you’ll never use, so know what’s in it. Pain reliever/ fever reducer/ antibiotic ointment/ bandages and hydrogen peroxide or some other antiseptic for cleaning wounds are a few of the essentials. Also, consider your medicine cabinet and the products your family uses on a regular basis. Keep on the lookout for buy one-get one free deals to gradually build up a stockpile. If you take prescription medication -refer to my post “Pharmaceuticals After Doomsday” for my research and opinion on that subject.
   Baking soda is inexpensive and a versatile asset to any emergency supply. Refer to my post “Baking Soda: An Underestimated Amazement” for more information about its many uses, including toothpaste.
   If you’re the only member of your immediate or extended family that is preparing for an uncertain future, look to your local community for like-minded Preppers. Check with your local social networks like CL and FB and see who’s out there, you might be pleasantly surprised. Just like people have different social, religious and political views, Preppers are no different. Find out what their views are. For instance, you may not want to be a part of a militant militia, or pious religious group, but then again you may. Ask questions, attend meetings and vet them as much as I’m sure they’ll investigate you. You may not need to stockpile so many supplies if you can tend a garden, cook, sew, work on cars, teach, etc. Everyone has something positive to offer the right group.
   Seeking to be more self-sufficient and responsibility for your own safety can only be commended. Don’t be discouraged by how far you seemingly have yet to go -every step you take, every blog you read, every seed you keep, every fruit you can, every ounce of water you store further ensures a more secure future for you and your family.
   Keep striving -few things worth doing are easy and nothing is more worthwhile than your future.

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