I had to do a double take when I noticed my paycheck this year has gotten much smaller. No, I am not working less hours, in fact, I have had to put in some late nights finishing up projects. I compared the deductions line by line to see what had changed from last year: health insurance went up, and mostly, taxes went up. The country may have stepped away from the dreaded fiscal cliff, but for many workers, payroll taxes have taken a chunk out of their take home pay.
If I am feeling the pinch, I am sure a lot of other preppers out there are feeling strapped for cash as well. But we don’t want to stop prepping. Here are a few ideas to help you cope if you find yourself short on funds:
- Even apartment dwellers accumulate unwanted items and clutter: Go through your home and find items you can sell easily such as books, CDs, XBox games. List them on E-bay or Amazon.
- Save up for more expensive items such as a good water purifier by setting aside the budgeted amount for the current month to carry over to next month.
- Have a no-spend week where you buy nothing that week. It’s not as painful as you think; I tried it and described the turn-out here.
- Devote the entire month to learning skills instead. Each weekend, choose one survival skill to try out and devote a couple of hours to learning that skill: filter and purify water, build a fire without matches, cook over an open flame, build a shelter
- If you feel you are already experienced, practice something you haven’t done in a long time. It doesn’t cost you anything to map out at least three routes out of your city, take a free refresher course at a hospital or Red Cross such as CPR, basic first aid, etc.
- Visit your local library, get a library card if you don’t have one. Check out emergency preparedness and survival books. If you already have a library card, check your library’s website online. Most city libraries allow you reserve books that are already checked out. If you plan ahead, you’ll avoid wasting gas.
- Instead of buying more stuff, do a thorough inventory of all your emergency supplies and get yourself organized. You may be surprised and find things you forgot you had, or find items that can be repurposed for prepping. How much camping equipment do you have around? I found some nice sleeping bags we used for a camping trip five years ago that were perfectly fine and only needed freshening up. We also used the sleeping bags as additional comforters when we had an unexpected cold snap last month.
- Even if you have only $5-10 to spare, you can buy emergency supplies at the dollar store
- Have you considered barter? A lot of Craigslist users are not in it for cash, but prefer to barter instead. Again you would have to get yourself organized and find items of value that you no longer need. Make a list of survival or emergency items that you need. Then list your items for barter. If you do try Craigslist, make sure you are mindful of safety at all times.
- Sign up for free samples. Use the free samples to supplement your bug out bag, office emergency kit or personal care buckets. First, you must set up an email address just for signing up for free samples. Do not use this email address for anything else. Google “free samples” and sign up for the sites that look good to you. Even Target and Walmart have sites designated to give away freebies. Checking early in the morning seems to glean the best samples as they usually run out later in the day.
Being tight with cash is nothing to be depressed about. Instead, think of things you can do, instead of what you can’t. With a little creativity, you can continue to prepare for any emergency whatever your financial situation might be.