How to Survive a Personal Economic Collapse

How to Survive a Personal Economic Collapse

This post is originally appeared in The Organic Prepper

by Daisy Luther

With all that is being written about the national economic collapse, people seem to be waiting for some huge event.

However, for many North Americans, the collapse is here. This isn’t relegated to only lower income neighborhoods. As an article from a Cinncinnati new station stated, “Hunger doesn’t know a zipcode.”

For many people who were formerly financially comfortable, the economic collapse has already happened, in the form of a job loss, hours that have been cut back due to Obamacare requirements for employers, an exorbitant medical bill or other crushing debt, or simply an inflation rate that has outstripped your pay increases. Despite all of the warnings, many people are still going to be absolutely blindsided.
For many families, personal finances have reached a catastrophic level – they are left to make terrible choices:

  • Which utility can I live without?
  • Should I walk away from my mortgage?
  • Should I eat something so I can work harder or should I skip meals so my kids have food?
  • Should I use the grocery money to take my child to the doctor or should I wait and hope he/she improves without medical intervention?
  • Do I risk the IRS-enforced penalties by forgoing enrollment in Obamacare or should I skip that whole grocery shopping thing so I can pay the monthly premiums and enormous deductibles in order to stay in the government’s good graces?

These are the kind of decisions that people across the nation are grappling with every day.

I’m talking about good people, hardworking men and women who have always been employed and paid their bills. A personal financial crisis does not just strike those stereotypical “welfare queens” with the long manicured nails, Gucci knock-off purse, and a grocery cart full of EBT-funded lobster.

I’m talking about the person next door, who seems to have it all together. I’m talking about that quiet family that sits two rows in front of you at church. I’m talking about that two-income family with two children and a car in the driveway that takes them to work and school 5 days a week. I’m talking about people just like you and me.

What is a personal economic collapse?

A personal economic collapse is a little different than the major crises you see all over Europe right now, where huge segments of the population can’t feed their children or stay employed. It is a crisis that just hits your family due to a given set of circumstances. (In actuality North Americans are on the brink of the kind of collapse that is occurring in Europe, but because of easy access to credit and a buy-now, pay-later society, many of us still have the appearance of prosperity.)

Here are some signs that you may be in the midst of a personal economic collapse:
· You can only afford to pay the minimum payment on most of your bills.
· The same dollar amount you used to spend on groceries doesn’t buy enough food to feed your family for the week.
· You can’t afford to go to the doctor when you’re sick.
· You are taking dangerous steps to “stretch” needed medications because you can’t afford the prescriptions.
· Your utility bills are past due and your power is in danger of being cut off.
· You skip meals in order to save money or to have enough food for your kids.
· You’ve lost your job or had your hours cut.
· You have lost property due to foreclosure or repossession (such as your home or your vehicle).

Surviving the crisis

Times are tough but you can survive this.

1)  First you have to see exactly where you are.

It’s time for a brutally honest assessment of your finances. If you use your debit card or credit card for most expenditures, you’ll easily be able to see what you’re spending and bringing in.
Print off your bank account statements for the past 2 months. On a piece of paper, track where your money is going. List the following
· Rent/Mortgage
· Utilities
· Car payments
· Vehicle operating expenses (fuel, repairs)
· Insurances
· Credit card and other debt payments
· Telephone/Cell phone
· Cable/Satellite
· Internet
· Extracurricular activities for the kids
· Extracurricular activities for the adults
· Dining out
· Groceries
· School expenses
· Clothing
· Recreational spending
· Gifts
· Miscellaneous (anything that doesn’t fall into the above categories gets it’s own category or goes here)
Don’t say to yourself, “Well, I usually don’t spend $400 on clothing so that isn’t realistic.” If you spent it, then it’s realistic. You are averaging together two months, which should account for those less common expenses. Brutal honesty isn’t fun, but it’s vital for this exercise.
So….what do you see when you look at your piece of paper with your average monthly expenditures for the past two months? Are there any surprises? Did you actually realize how much you’ve been spending? Most of us will immediately see places that we can trim the budget. Those $1-$5 purchases can really add up. Reining them in may just allow you to take care of an important need that you thought you could not meet.
It can’t continue like this. The economy will not withstand it. Step one is to see where you can cut things out right now from the above expenditures. Can you reduce your grocery bill? Slash meals out? Budget more carefully for gift-giving and school clothes?

2.) Rethink necessities.

If your finances are out of control, the best possible reality check is a stark look at what necessities really are. It is not necessary to life to have an iPhone, a vehicle in both stalls of your two-car garage, or for your children to all have separate bedrooms. People in Southern and Eastern Europe right now will tell you, as they scramble for food, basic over the counter medications like aspirin, and shelter, that necessities are those things essential to life:
· Water
· Food (and the ability to cook it)
· Medicine and medical supplies
· Basic hygiene supplies
· Shelter (including sanitation, lights, heat)
· Simple tools
· Seeds
· Defense Items
Absolutely everything above those basic necessities is a luxury.
So, by this definition, what luxuries do you have?

3.) Reduce your monthly output

Reduce your monthly payments by cutting frivolous expenses. Look at every single monthly payment that comes out of your bank account and slash relentlessly. Consider cutting the following:
· Cable
· Cell phones
· Home phones
· Gym memberships
· Restaurant meals
· Unnecessary driving
· Entertainment such as trips to the movies, the skating rink, or the mall

4.) Waste not, want not.

We live in a disposable society. Food comes in throw-away containers. People replace things instead of repairing them. If you throw out more than a couple of bags of garbage each week, that’s a very good sign that you may be wasting resources.
Before throwing anything away, pause and think about how it might be able to be reused.
· Food: Many times small amounts of leftovers can be recycled into a brand new meal. Meat bones can be used to make broth or stock. Small amounts of veggies or grains can be frozen and added to a future soup or casserole. Leftovers can be frozen in meal-sized portions to take to work for a brown-bag lunch. (Learn more about repurposing leftovers HERE.)
· Clothing: Clothing that is torn or damaged can often be repaired with only rudimentary sewing skills. If it has been outgrown or cannot be repaired, often the fabric or yarn can be reused for other purposes, from cleaning rags to fashionable accessories like scarves and headbands, or home items like throw pillows, potholders or rag rugs. When all else fails, the fabric can be used for cleaning rags or patches to repair other items. Keep jars full of buttons, elastic, and other notions that can easily be removed before you throw a clothing item away or relegate it to the rag bag.
· Electronics: Obviously, initially you should attempt to repair (or have repaired) electronic items that are not working. If this is not feasible, are there components of the item that can be reused, either now or in the future? What about hardware such as screws or fasteners?
· Containers: Most food comes in a container of some sort. Before throwing the container away, consider whether or not it might be useful. Glass jars, plastic tubs, and plastic bags can often be reused to store food in your refrigerator or to contain food in brown bag lunches. Clean aluminum cans can hold all manner of items, from hardware and tools in a workshop to sewing and craft supplies. Use your imagination.

5.) Take control of your food budget.

The price of food is skyrocketing. Who hasn’t been to the grocery store recently and been shocked at the high price of that cart full of groceries or at the mysterious shrinking food packages that are the same price as yesterday’s larger ones?
· Stockpile: Create a stockpile of nutritious, healthy staples at today’s prices to enjoy when the cost goes even higher tomorrow. (Learn how to create a frugal food stockpile HERE.)
· Preserve: Learn to preserve food yourself when you come across a windfall. Pressure canning, waterbath canning, freezing, and dehydrating can allow you to take advantage of great sales or end-of-season scores.
· Eat less: This suggestion isn’t for everyone, but many of us could stand to shed a few pounds. Perhaps now would be a good time to cut back a little and shrink both your waistline and your weekly food bill. Lots of people eat for the sheer entertainment of it or out of habit. Next time you’re watching TV, grab some mending or a crossword puzzle instead of a bag of potato chips. Dish out slightly smaller servings at dinnertime to leave enough to stretch the leftovers for a brown bag meal the next day.
· Drink water: Skip the beverages and drink water instead. At less than $1 per gallon for purchased water you simply can’t beat the price. It’s better for you, also, than sugar-y drinks. If you are lucky enough to have well water or access to spring water, your drinks don’t have to cost you a penny.
· Focus on nutrition instead of convenience: Buy the best quality of food you can, and skip the processed, nutritionless convenience foods.
· Grow your own. In the summer, grow the biggest garden you can. In the winter, or if you are an apartment dweller, put some sprouts and greens in a sunny windowsill to add some fresh produce for pennies.

6.) Reduce your dependence on utilities.

Energy rates are skyrocketing. As the prices begin to rise, more and more people will be unable to pay their bills and eventually their power will be shut off. Check your bill each month and as prices increase, use less power. Try some of these ideas to reduce your reliance and drop your bills.
· Hand wash your clothing
· Hang clothes to dry
· Cook on a woodstove or outdoor grill
· Can foods to preserve them instead of relying on a large chest freezer
· Turn the heat down a few degrees and use non-grid methods to keep warm
· Use rain barrels to collect water
· Direct the gray water from your washing machines to reservoirs
· Turn off the lights and open the blinds
· Use solar lighting whenever possible
How do you intend to weather the storm?
There are bleak days ahead. Have you planned for this? What strategies do you intend to use to weather the financial crisis that is coming for all of us? What suggestions do you have for families who are undergoing their own economic collapses? Please post questions and ideas in the comments section below.

About the Author:

Daisy Luther is a freelance writer and editor who lives on a small organic farm in the Pacific Northwestern area of the United States. She is the author of The Pantry Primer: How to Build a One Year Food Supply in Three Months. On her website, The Organic Prepper, Daisy writes about healthy prepping, homesteading adventures, and the pursuit of liberty and food freedom. Daisy is also a staff writer at The Daily Sheeple, where she helps to “Wake the Flock Up”. You can follow her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter, and you can email her at daisy@theorganicprepper.ca

 

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Downsize Before You Have To

Downsize Before You Have ToThis post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com

I don’t know about you but my finances have been feeling the pinch lately.  I’m not even talking about all the dire economic warnings, but on a personal level, it feels more of a struggle this year than last year.  For one thing my paycheck is smaller:  health insurance premiums as well as taxes increased.  When I go grocery shopping, the same budgeted amount of money buys less food – beef prices have increased due to the drought, and so have fruit and vegetable prices.   On top of that, gas prices are higher too.  The economy does not seem to be getting any better, and we can all feel it.

What’s a person to do, having to cope with these financial difficulties?

Downsize your lifestyle before you are forced to.

Lowering your monthly expenses will ensure you are in a better position than you may have been, in case things get worse.  And if things stay the same you won’t feel as financially stressed.

  1. Consider moving to a smaller house or apartment.   When your lease is up, evaluate whether it’s a good time to move to a smaller, less expensive space.  Your payments will be lower, allowing you to have more money at the end of the month.  At the same time, your electric bill and gas utility bills will be lower as well, since you are not having to cool or heat a large space.
  2. Give up the “hundreds of channels but nothing to watch” cable plan.  Cut out cable, or do it gradually by switching to a lower plan.  If you are on a one or two year contract that charges high penalties for leaving, here’s some good news.  I had one of those contracts too, but I called the company and found out the contract is to stay with them for the specified number of years, not stay on the same plan.  If you switch to a cheaper plan, you will not incur any penalty.  As long as you stick with them until the end of the contract term, even if you downgrade to the lowest plan, you won’t be charged the penalty for early out.  Talk to your cable or satellite provider and see what you can arrange.  Another thing you can do is negotiate a lower rate just by asking.
  3. Shop for a lower cell phone plan.  Once your contract ends, go month to month for a while and shop for a lower rate.
  4. Shop in your own closet before heading to the mall.  We recently went through all our stuff and found so many unused items and duplicates even though we try to be careful about that.
  5. Lower your food budget  Opt for cheaper cuts of meat, and buy produce in season.  Dust off the cookbooks and search for simple recipes that don’t need a lot of unusual ingredients.  Avoid waste in the kitchen.  Quit buying bottled water and use filtered tap water instead.
  6. Review all your insurance policies and find some discounts.  I recently got a renewal statement for our renter’s insurance and it was $200 higher than last year’s.  I called the agent to discuss ways to lower the premiums.  I opted for lowering some of the coverages and also found a few discounts.  The call resulted in a lower premium overall.
  7. Use less of your household and personal care products  I remember my grandfather used to use masking tape and a Sharpie to note the date he started using each item.  I didn’t understand it when I was a kid, but it to keep track of how long the item would last with normal usage, so he could adjust his habits accordingly.
  8. Stop using credit  It might be tempting to use credit to make ends meet, but charging up the cards only compounds the problem.  Your debt obligations will only increase, adding to your stress.  Instead, use cash for all your purchases and start lowering those balances.
  9. Choose free or low cost entertainment   We used to go to the movies at least once a month, but now that DVDs come out just three months or less after the movie originally came out, we just wait.   Now we have movie night, complete with popcorn, candy and snacks (bought on sale)  Read the community bulletin or paper for events such as school plays, events at the park such as Easter Egg hunts, etc. Having fun does not have to cost much, and for even more free fun, check #10.
  10. Get a library card.  I used to buy books all the time, but found they just add to the clutter once I’m done reading them.  Sell your used books and make some money.  The library also carries music and magazines.  Make the most out of your library visit by checking your book’s availability online first.  Most city or county libraries allow you to place a hold on a book, and they email you when the book is ready for pickup.
  11. Take less expensive vacations    Many frugal families splurge on the family vacation.  However, now is not the time to wipe out your savings for short term enjoyment.  It’s good to take a break – don’t forgo your vacation, but try something closer to home.  Consider camping and hiking – you get to experience nature, and learn a few skills at the same time.
  12. Make things last longer  Try to repair before you replace something, and find a way to repurpose your items.
  13. Let go of wasteful habits   Turn off appliances when not in use.  Guilty of this one – I have a bad habit of leaving the light in the closet on.  You don’t need to wash towels and sheets after just a couple of uses.  Unless you sweat heavily, you may not need to wash your hair everyday.  Combine your errands into one trip instead of spreading them out.  Stop eating out for lunch everyday and start bringing lunch from home.  These are only a few ideas to get started.  Don’t just do things because that’s how you’ve always done it.  Evaluate whether your hobbies are costing you way too much, and find more economical ways to get your materials.  Once you really think about your habits, you will find lots of ways to save.
  14. Find ways to lower your tax bill    There is no “one size fits all” advice for lessening the tax bite (legally of course), but we can all use a few tips.  See this article on how one couple manages their taxes
  15. Put the brakes on “lifestyle inflation”  If you are fortunate to get a nice raise this year, don’t increase your expenses in proportion to your income.  Put your new higher earnings to good use – pay off debt, add to your emergency fund or buy emergency supplies.

Do the above tips only if they make sense to you, and if they fit in with your overall lifestyle.  Keep up your prepping efforts, because they also help you in the long run.

 

© Apartment Prepper 2014

 

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Don’t Toss them Out: 12 Uses for Fruit Peels

12 Uses for Fruit Peels

This post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com

With the price of food so high these days, one of my goals is to avoid food waste, and have been finding interesting ways to grow vegetables from trash.  With spring comes a huge variety of fruit, which I enjoy, but I always feel bad about throwing out the peels.  So I started using them.  Consider these uses and you may never throw them out again.

 

Dried fruit peels

  1. Potpourri:  Dry or dehydrate orange, lemon, tangerine or grapefruit peels.  You can add them to prepared potpourri or make your own.  To dry them without a food dehydrator, follow these steps.
  2. Temporary seed starter:   This works for peels that are bowl shaped and sturdy such as avocado.  Slice the fruit in half, and after scooping out the inside fruit, fill with garden soil and plant your seeds.
  3. Shoe shiner:  Banana peels are great for this – just use the inside of the banana peels to shine your leather shoes.
  4. Marmalade:  Citrus peels are great for making marmalade.  (Note:  If you are going to use the peels for food, try to use organic fruit if you can.  Either way, always clean the peels thoroughly before using.)
  5. Air freshener:  There are a couple of ways to do this:  Cut up the lemon or orange peel into one inch pieces and run them through the garbage disposal.  I’ve done this for years and it does freshen up the garbage disposal and sink.  Or, take whatever citrus peels you have a boil for a few minutes.  The smell will freshen up your kitchen.
  6. Hand softener:  My dad actually taught me this trick:  After peeling a pineapple, rub the fruit side all over your hands and leave on for a few minutes before washing.   Your hands will feel really soft.  Pineapple has an enzyme called bromelain that has anti-inflammatory and cleansing properties.
  7. Sink scrubber:  After squeezing the juice out, I’ve used lemon and orange peel slices as sink or counter scrubbers.  The leftover juice is great for cleaning, and the pulpy part is great for removing grime.
  8. Insect repellant:  Release the orange oil but rubbing the outer part of the orange skin on your skin.  These oils repel mosquitoes and other flying insects.  (Test on a small area first to avoid irritation.)  Orange peels will also repel ants – just leave in areas infested by ants.
  9. Cat repellant:  To keep cats from digging up your garden, leave orange peels around – they don’t like the scent.
  10. Compost:  Fruit peels are great for compost.  If you don’t have space to have a compost pile, you can also cut up the peels and bury them around your garden.  The peels will decompose and supplement your soil.Lemon-vinegar cleaner
  11. Addition to natural cleaners:  Add lemon or orange peels to a jar and fill with vinegar.  Leave it alone for a week or two, strain and use as grease cutter or all-purpose cleaner.  Here is a good recipe for homemade cleaner.
  12. Tea flavoring:  Even after squeezing the juice out, you can use orange, lemon or grapefruit and a flavoring for teas.

© Apartment Prepper 2014

 

Self Sufficiency Saturdays: Homemade Dog Biscuits

Dog Biscuits in a JarWe were looking for all-natural, made in the U.S. dog treats at the pet store.  The affordable brands had a long list of unpronounceable preservatives and additives, and were made in China.   (I haven’t forgotten about Deaths of 500 dogs blamed on jerky treats, FDA says  so we don’t buy pet food from China.)  I found some that fit the bill at the farmer’s market, and at specialty stores, but they were too expensive.

I decided the only way to know what ingredients are being used is to make it myself.  I searched for an easy recipe, with ingredients that are already in my storage, and found the recipe for basic dog treats on the Cesar Milan website.  I adapted the recipe to what I had on hand.

This is how I made the dog treats.

IngredientsdogbiscuitsIngredients:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (you might prefer whole wheat)

1/2 cup hot water (you may use chicken broth instead)

1 teaspoon chicken bouillon (omit if you are using chicken broth)

1 egg

bacon grease

Directions:

1.  Grease two cookie sheets generously with bacon fat.

2.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

3.  In a large bowl, mix the hot water with the bouillon

4.  Add the egg, flour with the bouillon water and stir well.

5.  On a floured board, mix well and keep kneading until the dough is stretchy but no longer wet.  I’ve had to add 1-2 teaspoons of flour.

Rollingdough6.  Roll the dough flat.  I don’t own a rolling pin due to space issues so I used a bottle.  It worked fine.

DogBiscuitsCutouts

7.  Cut out the dough in your desired shapes.  I’ve used various cookie cutters before; this time I used bone shaped cookie cutters.

8.  Place dough pieces on the bacon greased cookie sheets and bake for 30 minutes.

DogBiscuitsReadyIt took me about 30 minutes to mix and shape the dough, and another 30 minutes is needed for baking.  The recipe is easy to make, and does not take long  at all.  Our dog loves them.  And now, I don’t have to run to the store to buy them.

 

© Apartment Prepper 2014

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Are We Headed for Economic Hard Times?

Food Line Great Depression

Lately, I’ve been noticing a lot of dire predictions about the economy.  Whether they happen as predicted or not, it’s a good idea to pay attention to these signs.

This article for Modern Survival Blog caught my eye:

Major Stock Market Crash In January

If you look at the chart, the patterns between today’s stock market and the time period leading up to the Great Depression (1928-29) look uncomfortably similar.

Then I saw this one from SHTFPlan.com:

15 Signs That We Are Near The Peak Of An Absolutely Massive Stock Market Bubble

You can even find concerns from mainstream sources  Take a look at

Be Prepared For Stocks To Crash 40%-55%

Even Clark Howard who offers practical financial advice weighed in:

Is a stock market crash coming?

It’s Too Close for Comfort

Last week, right before Thanksgiving, it was announced at work that management had done some “restructuring”  and a few employees were laid off.  Those of us who were fortunate to have a job were asked to increase our workload to “add value” to the team.   I felt relieved to have a job, but felt bad for the people who lost theirs.

What is your Economic Crash Plan?

Think about your own worse case economic scenario:  for many it’s the loss of income.  Hopefully, unemployment benefits would cover in the event of a job lay-off.  However, expenses would have to be cut back drastically.

  • How long would your emergency savings last- how many months or rent or mortgage can you cover?
  • Start using emergency supplies to avoid having to buy food.  Find out about food banks and other services that can offer help.
  • Can you borrow from retirement plans?  In a crash, you need to take care of the present and keeping a roof over your head.
  • Consider which relatives can you move in with, if you had to.  As undesirable as the possibility might be, remember it’s only temporary and it would still be better than being homeless.
  • If you don’t have relatives you can move with, can you live in a truck or RV if you had access to one? 

It is hard to even consider these ideas, but this mental exercise will help you plan and cope better should your financial fortune take a turn for the worse.

What you can do now

I am hoping everything continues along as normal, and nothing happens.  But just in case, it is a good idea to implement a few good habits now, while there is time.

  • Build your emergency cash fund by using your skills to earn extra income
  • Go through your unwanted items.  Donate or sell them to make room for supplies that you do need.
  • Don’t go overboard with Christmas spending.  Set a limit for gifts, decorations and entertainment and stick to it.  Pay cash for everything.  Using a card makes it easy to overspend.
  • Look at each non-essential bill and decide if you can do without it:  gym memberships, premium movie channels, etc.  If you are not using it, consider getting rid of the service (but be mindful of contract terms and penalties.)
  • Learn to cook more meals at home, you will feel healthier by avoiding fast food, and you’ll save money.
  • Cut down on discretionary spending now, and send the extra money to savings.
  • Build good relationships at work and in your industry.
  • Stop incurring new debt, pay down debt if you can.
  • Stock up on food and supplies while you can
  • Get your checkups, prescriptions, eyeglasses and any elective medical procedures while you have health insurance
  • Learn survival and self-sufficiency skills now.

These measures can only help your finances in the long run.  Prepare while you can.

 

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Self-sufficiency Saturdays: Reusing Zipper Plastic Bags

Just a quick post for today’s self-sufficient Saturday.

Part of becoming self sufficient is learning to make things last as long as possible, so you don’t have to keep buying replacements.

I like the convenience of zippered plastic bags, but don’t like the expense.  I resisted rewashing them because they took so long to dry and there is a chance for mold during our humid summers.  So I figured a way to let them air dry the quickest way possible.

Here is a photo:

Washed ziploc bag

  1. Wash the zipper bags with soap and water.  Rinse thoroughly.
  2. Take a carabiner and attach it to a binder clip.  Hang by the carabiner to a wire hanger, nail or metal shelf.
  3. Hang the zipper bag by one bottom edge and leave it to try.  You can hang multiple bags at once.

I’ve washed gallon, pint, sandwich sizes, all with good results.  (Do not rewash bags that have come in contact with meats.)  If you have a different way of doing this, please share in the comments.

© Apartment Prepper 2013

 

Emergency Essentials/BePrepared

Emergency Essentials/BePrepared

Prepping Items at the Dollar Store

I passed by a new Dollar Tree so I thought I’d check it out.  I had visited the 99 Cents Only Store a while ago, and wanted to see if there were items I could pick up to add to the stockpile.  I took photos of various items that caught my eye.

Water

Spring water was going for $1 per gallon, which is cheaper than our supermarket, where a gallon is going for $1.25.  I run tap water through the Berkey and fill up empty soda bottles, but if you are just starting out you need to build a stockpile of water.   Picking up a couple of gallons of bottled water a week until you have at few days worth of water to start is a good idea.

Canned goods

CannedveggiesThe canned goods were on sale at $0.79.  They had a good selection of canned corn, mixed vegetables, green beans, peas etc.  I normally see them around $1.25 on sale at the supermarket.  Don’t forget to check the expiration dates, and buy only the ones your family will eat.

Paper goods

paperplatesPaper plates, plastic utensils and cups can come in handy during an emergency when you have no water to wash dishes.  They are also good to have for “everyday emergencies” such as a last minute party at the school or a potluck at work.  These are not a bad deal for a dollar a pack.

As for toilet paper, I thought you can get a better deal at discount stores such as Walmart or Target, or even the supermarket when they go on sale.

Personal care

I thought the best deals were on personal care.

Floss

Floss (55 yds) for $1.00 is a good price – I saw the same one at the pharmacy for $1.79.

The cotton swabs were also a good.

I wouldn’t recommend the pain relievers, the ones I saw were close to expiration:  February 2014 is much too close.

Miscellaneous

Nylon Rope

They had some nylon rope, which is good to have, but is usually overlooked.  At the last hurricane we used one to secure a tree branch to keep it from falling over.

GlowsticksGlow sticks are also good to keep at a handy location during a sudden power outage.  They last a few hours, and are entertaining for kids.

Sponges and steel wool were also in abundance, so I picked up a few.

I also spotted safety pins, clothes pins (in case you have to hang laundry out to dry), mini sewing kits – items that I usually forget to pick up at larger stores, but know I will need.

I believe that anyone can slowly build a stockpile, even with just $5 a week, as long as it’s done consistently.  Not everything is a great deal at the dollar store, but as long as you keep track of pricing and always check expiration dates, it is a worthwhile place to check for prepping supplies.

 

 

Water is one of the biggest needs when it comes to survival.  Whether bugging out or sheltering in place, you can never have enough clean water for survival: For your water purifier needs, please visit:

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Use Prepper Skills to Avoid Wasting Food

Croutons

Don’t throw out old bread – make croutons!

I was catching up on my article reader and found these two articles about food waste that riled me up: About 40 Percent Of All Food In The United States Is Thrown In The Garbage  and Top 20 Foods Wasted

It is such as shame that so much food is wasted while other people are going hungry.   We can’t do anything about industrial food waste, but we can certainly minimize throwing away good food in our own homes.

The same self-sufficiency skills that we are learning as preppers also come in handy in helping stretch the food dollar by avoiding waste.

Cooking

  • Use your cooking skills to rescue overripe bananas from the trash by making banana bread.
  • Make croutons out of dry, old bread before it turns moldy.  Here’s a quick recipe:  Slice the bread into small squares.  Drizzle olive oil over the bread pieces.  Sprinkle garlic and onion salt over the mixture as well; use your favorite herbs such as basil, oregano etc for flavor.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes (your oven temps may vary).  Check periodically to make your croutons don’t get overly brown.
  • Make soup or broth out of roast chicken bones, and vegetable scraps.  Store bits of leftover meats, vegetables and starches in a large plastic container in your freezer.  Once you have a good amount, add chicken or beef broth, a few herbs such as parsley and a bay leaf, season with salt and pepper and make soup.
  • When you carve your Halloween pumpkin, don’t throw out the pumpkin seeds.  Wash the seeds thoroughly, removing any pulp.  Dry on a towel or paper towels.  Spread them on a cookie sheet and mix with 2 tbsp of oil.  Add you favorite seasonings or just plain salt and bake in the over at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes.  Keep checking every 10 minutes to they don’t brown too much.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool.  Add some more seasoning if you like.  That’s it!
  • Make it a habit to eat leftovers for lunch the next day.  Now that the holidays are only a few months away, you will have lots of opportunities to stretch your food budget:  See Avoid Holiday Food Waste
  • If your family does not like leftovers, cook less food.  Cut the recipe in half.

Drying

  • I was guilty of using only a pinch of herbs for a recipe and allowing the rest to wilt in the fridge – until I tried drying the herbs myself.  I don’t own a food dehydrated yet, but it is easy to do:  See Drying Herbs without a Food Dehydrator

Canning

  • Canning is a great way to preserve the bounty of each season.  Or, if you find you have an overabundance of a certain fruit in your yard, don’t let them go to waste by canning the extra fruit.  If you don’t want to commit to buying canning equipment, make refrigerator preserves.  They won’t last as long, but at least you can make use of the fruit for a longer time.

Gardening

  • Some of my most popular posts last year was about growing food from trash.  I was surprised to find that new growths could come out of green onion roots, celery stumps and discarded ginger pieces.
  • Use old coffee grounds and crushed egg shells to supplement your soil.

These are just a few ideas for rescuing food and making use of items that would have otherwise been thrown out.  Please share your favorite tips in the comments so everyone can pick up a few ideas.

 

 

 

Self-Sufficient Saturdays: How to Make Banana Muffins without an Electric Mixer

Banana muffin1

Welcome to the latest Self-Sufficient Saturdays feature, where we try out projects that can easily be done in an apartment.

Breakfast muffins are a staple at our house for busy weekday breakfasts.  I used to buy them at the store until I found out how easy it is to make muffins yourself.  There are no special ingredients, and you can rescue overripe, black bananas from getting thrown out.

Just one problem:  my cheap hand mixer that I’ve had for six years finally gave up.

My original recipe required an electric mixer to blend all the ingredients.  Creaming butter and sugar just does not work well without one.   I’ve tried it, and the results were not great.  Through trial and error, I finally found a muffin recipe that works well with hand mixing.  Here is the recipe.

Mushy bananas1

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 ripe bananas
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp sour cream or plain yogurt (I used the homemade kind)
  • Optional:  paper muffin cups to line the muffin tin, OR use cooking oil to grease the muffin tin

Directions:

1.  Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Line the muffin tin with paper cups if you are using them; otherwise, grease the muffin tin with cooking oil.

2.  Mash the bananas with a fork in a large mixing bowl.

3.  With a spatula or large spoon, mix the melted butter with the mashed bananas.

4.  Mix in the sugar, egg, and vanilla.

5.  Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in. Add the flour last and keeping mixing.  You can tell it is well mixed when you no longer see any dry powdery lumps.

Scooping muffin mix1

6.  Pour the mixture into the muffin tin. Tip:  The easiest way to do it is by using an ice cream scoop to pour the muffin mix into the muffin cups.

7.  Bake for 30 to 45 minutes.  My oven gets very hot so it only takes about 35 minutes so check often.  You can tell the muffins are done when you poke with a fork and the fork comes out clean.   I plan to buy a solar oven one of these days, (as soon as the budget allows) and this will be one of the first recipes I plan to make in a solar oven.

These muffins will stay fresh in the fridge from one to two weeks.  But they may get eaten way before then!

 

Home Remedy for Sinus Allergy Sufferers

Sinus Rinse IngredientsMy allergies have started bothering me, with itchy, watery eyes, early morning congestion, sneezing, signaling the start of the fall allergy season.

At my last physical check-up my doctor asked me if I’ve had any health issues bothering me, and I did mention my sinuses bother me every fall and spring.  I can always tell the seasons by my chronic sinus congestion.  I told him I already take antihistamines, but sometimes they don’t help, and I don’t really want prescription inhalers if I can avoid it.  A fellow allergy sufferer himself, he recommended I try the new nasal rinses in the market.  I told him I was not successful with the Neti-pot, but he said the new ones are actually just sinus rinses that work by spraying.  This is the one I tried:

sinusrinseI gave it a try, and it actually gave me some relief.   I used up the pre-made packets, but instead of buying more, I am making my own.  After doing a bit of research, I found a mix that works.  (Please note this is for informational purposes only and not intended as medical advice.  Check with your own doctor before trying out any health remedies.)

Here are the ingredients:

8 ounces lukewarm distilled water (DO NOT USE TAP WATER or any other water except distilled)

3 tablespoons non-iodine salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

Mix all together, fill in a sterile bulb syringe and use as a nasal spray.  (Discontinue use if you feel any irritation/ discomfort or if it doesn’t work for you)

So far it’s worked for me and it does not feel any different than the store bought kind.  I am still keeping a few of the pre-made packets for emergencies and travel, but for now, I am using the homemade version.  I still keep the antihistamines handy, but in an emergency, I am glad I have a backup remedy for nasal allergies.

 

 

Get the real deal. Whether bugging out or sheltering in place, you can never have enough clean water for survival: For your water purifier needs, please visit:

 For beginning preppers

 

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