This post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com
A friend of mine confided that she had her credit card declined at the check out line as she was paying for bulk items at Costco. She is new to prepping and I had been giving her tips on starting a food storage plan. I felt bad for her – it is awful to get your credit card declined in front of a whole line of people.
I had no idea she was deep in debt; it is not the sort of thing that is usually discussed with friends or family. I think many people are in denial about being debt, just as they are in denial about the need to prepare.
It is unfortunate my friend was not able to get the bulk items just as she was getting started but I think she can start by prepping in small steps. When someone finally wakes up and feels the need to prepare, it is often accompanied by panic. Thoughts about not having enough money to get all the gear you think you need fill your mind, and these thoughts might make you even more paralyzed.
How do you find money to prepare, while you are also trying to dig yourself out of debt?
Make a spending plan.
On one column, list your income. On the opposite column, list your expenses including rent or mortgage, utilities, food, gasoline then list your debts, and possibly savings. Your income less expenses should have a small amount left, and you can allocate that to prepping. I believe you can prep even if you start with $5 a week, as long as you do it consistently.
I have seen advice or comments in other sites saying just run up the credit cards and buy all the emergency supplies even if it’s on credit. I’d stay away from doing making additional charges, because that just sinks you further and further into the pit of debt. In a year or two, if nothing happens, you will still be in debt and you will just blame yourself even more.
It is hard to put the cards away, but that is the only thing that works. If you don’t carry it in your wallet, and it’s out of reach you are less likely to use it. Switch to using cash only.
Try to get more money coming in.
There are lots of ways to make some money on the side. Consider moonlighting, or making money from hobbies. For more ideas, see Short on Cash
While technically not getting more money coming in, using coupons increases your stockpile at a lower cost. See Extreme Couponing.
Learn Self-Sufficiency Skills
Part of prepping is learning to be more self-sufficient and many of these skills can be learned for free. Start now by visiting my section on Self Sufficiency
I encourage you to try out even just one project a month, and you will end up saving some money.
What about Emergency Cash?
I would say as long as you are current on your bills, and are able to set aside a small amount for water, food and emergency supplies, then you should do so. Having a small amount set aside for emergencies will help you avoid relying on credit cards then next time you need to replace a tire, pay for an emergency room visit or other unexpected expense.
Get help and inspiration.
If you are trying to recover from credit card debt, these sites offer excellent advice on giving debt-free living advice (I am not affiliated with any of these sites):
I also like the Surviving and Thriving blog by Donna Freedman, which features a bit of everything but also has some great advice about living well on a small budget.
Being prepared for emergencies and having a small stockpile of your necessities will actually save you money in the long run.
© Apartment Prepper 2016
For low-cost ways to prep: