A friend, let’s call her Cathy, called me about buying items for her stockpile while she was shopping at Costco. We went over beans, rice, sugar, canned foods, toilet paper and others good bulk items. Cathy told me she’d call me back after she got through the check out line. Not even 30 seconds later, she called back telling me how mortified she was that her credit card was declined and she had no other way to pay. I tried to make her feel better but I don’t think it worked. We hung up soon after, as she left her cart of bulk items behind, muttering something about getting a drink on the way home. I felt bad for her – it is awful to get told that in front of a whole line of people.
I had no idea she was having issues with 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 Coming Up with Cash for Preps
While technically not getting more money coming in, using coupons increases your stockpile at a lower cost. See Extreme Couponing to Boost your Supplies.
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 advise on giving debt free living advice:
Both sites have a members area, however, the free side is excellent and gives enough information to get started. I am not affiliated with any of these sites, I just know countless people have benefited from following these steps.
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.
For low-cost ways to prep:
For easy ways to become more prepared, read my book: