Prepping on a Tight Budget


Few people who get involved in prepping can actually afford it. Oh, there are the few wealthy technocrats who buy houses in New Zeeland as bug out retreats and the ones who buy the bunker apartments made from old missile silos. But those people are by far in the minority. The majority of us are common, working class people, living from paycheck to paycheck. That makes it hard to prep.

Prepping can quickly become overwhelming. There are so many different things to do, in order to be prepared, that it can be daunting. This has stopped many new preppers in their tracks, as they quickly feel like there’s no home and that they’ll never “get there.”

Let me say, we all feel like that at the beginning. The preppers you look at today, who have a year’s worth of food stored up and every survival gadget you’ve dreamed of, all started out that way. None of us were bequeathed a full survival stockpile by the tooth fairy. We had to work at it.

While getting fully prepared is the work of years, each step you take makes your family a little more secure and increases the chances for their survival by a little bit more. So even if you never reach the ideal point you want to, your efforts are certainly worthwhile. Don’t allow yourself to get discouraged, even if your progress seems agonizingly slow. You’re doing a good work.

Even so, what can you do to make the process faster, saving time and accomplishing your goals? That’s what we want to look at.

Create a Prepping Budget

Let’s face it; prepping is going to cost something. So start out by deciding what you can afford to spend on it. That might only be $5 per week; if that’s it, then that’s okay. Just make sure you take that money out of your pocket each week and put it in an envelope to be used just for prepping. You’ll be surprised what you can do with just that much, spread out over a year.

Of course, you’d do better with more, so take a look at your existing budget, with the idea of seeing if there is anything you can cut out, freeing up more money to be spent on prepping. We do this all the time, so that we can have other things we want, so there’s really no reason why we can’t do it for prepping too.

Prioritize Your Purchases

As you develop your plan about how you are going to prepare (and yes, you should develop a plan), you need to set some priorities. Those should more or less follow your survival priorities; so buying food is clearly more important than buying solar panels. But that doesn’t mean that you should just buy food until you have a 10 year stockpile. At some point, it will make sense to buy those solar panels.

The point here is to give yourself a set of guidelines as to what you’re going to spend your money on first. That will help you keep focused as you go forward. Rather than spending money on something, just because you saw a video or read an article on it, you’ll bookmark that and save it for later, when you can fit it into your plan.

Don’t Get Caught Up in Collecting Gadgets

It’s extremely easy to get caught up into buying the latest survival gadget, just because someone claiming to be a former Navy SEAL tells you that said gadget will guarantee your survival. But it probably won’t. There’s no one gadget which is going to meet all your survival needs; and many of the multi-purpose gadgets out there were created more to get you to save money, than to save your life.

Don’t get me wrong; there’s a lot of good survival gear on the market today, which didn’t exist back when I got started. But sadly, not all of it is worth buying. So before you click on that add in your Facebook feed, think it through. Is that item really going to help you survive, or is it just a cool gadget that you want to buy?

Build or Repurpose, Rather than Buy

There’s a lot that you can do yourself, building or repurposing items, rather than having to buy something new just for survival. Of course, a lot of that has to do with how good a do-it-yourselfer you are. But even if you’re not, you can learn. Every top-notch DIY’er today, started out not knowing anything.

Keep your eyes open as you’re driving around, especially the night before trash day. You can find a lot of things sitting on the curb, which can turn into really good survival gear. I scavenged a Fresnel lens out of an old-style big-screen TV (the kind that used to take up a corner of your living room) and made a solar cooker out of it. I also found a garden wagon with a broken wheel, that I was able to make into a useful cart for bugging out, by putting some larger wheels on it. The wheels came from kids bikes I found in the trash.

Then there are things you can make from scratch, which are considerably cheaper than buying them. Solar panels are probably tops on this list, as you can make them for about half of the purchase price. Wind turbines are cheaper too. You can even make your own ballistic armor cheaper than you can buy it.

Buy Used when You Can

Garage sales can be a prepper’s dream, because of the things you can find there. People are constantly getting rid of good stuff, just because they don’t use it anymore. If you’re good at making use of garage sales, you can save yourself a bundle.

Just a few of the items to look for:

  • Camping gear (think bugging out)
  • Hunting & fishing gear
  • Bicycles (for transportation)
  • Storage (for your stockpile)
  • Candles (can be melted down and made into new candles)
  • Canning jars (never buy new)
  • Tools, especially gardening tools
  • Cast iron cookware
  • Carts
  • Oil-burning lanterns
  • Kerosene heater
  • Car batteries (for use in a battery backup system

Buy in Bulk

Some things are best bought in bulk. It really doesn’t make any sense to buy rice or beans in one pound packages at the local grocery store, when they can be bought in 50 pound bags at Sam’s Club or Costco. You’re going to need a lot of both of those, so you might as well save up and buy the larger bags. Besides, you need the larger quantity in order to be able to package it correctly for long-term storage.

Another thing that’s great to buy in bulk is spices. Check the price on the restaurant sized containers of common spices at Sam’s club or your local restaurant supply. You’ll be surprised how much cheaper they are.

You want to be careful doing this though, as not everything is cheaper in bulk. Some companies will try to make you think you’re getting a deal, when you’re not. So check out the price elsewhere and in other sized packages, before investing in that 50 pound bag.

Keep Your Eyes Open for Sales

If sales weren’t invented for preppers, they should have been. Through the years, I’ve saved a huge amount of money by stocking up on things when they are on sale. A couple of years ago I found canned chicken (the larger cans) for $1 each at Wal-Mart. So I bought 150 cans. While that might seem a bit excessive, it was a great way of getting shelf-stable meat for an incredible price.

Bu the best sale I ever got on what could be considered prepping supplies was on turkeys, just before Thanksgiving. Many grocery stores run sales on turkey at that time; but this time, it was incredibly cheap… like 29₵ a pound cheap. The only catch was, you could only buy one per trip. So my wife and I both went to the grocery store and bought one… six times, giving us a total of 12 – 22 to 25 pound turkeys. Fortunately, we had a large freezer, so we could keep them frozen until we were ready to turn them into jerky.