7 Cost-Cutting Moves that can Backfire in a Disaster

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This post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com

Everyone is trying to save a few bucks these days and I can certainly relate.  But there are certain instances when the cheap route is not the best for surviving a disaster.  Fortunately there are workarounds.

Buying the cheapest gear.

The temptation to buy the cheapest item is strong, but not good for the long run.   You run the risk of the item breaking down on you when you most need it.  For example, walking shoes.  I’ve gotten some cheap shoes myself (at a popular “Buy One Get One at Half Off” place)  that fell apart with normal use after just two weeks.  The sole started to shred and pieces of rubber were actually flaking off as I walked.  Lesson learned.  If you have to walk out of the city, you need sturdy but comfortable shoes.   You won’t get very far if your shoes caused you blisters or the sole falls off in mid stride.  The same goes for other equipment such as water filters, backpacks, emergency stoves, flashlights etc.  I’m not saying get the most expensive.  Do your research to get the best item in your price range.   If you find gear at a garage sale or thrift shop, make sure the item works before you buy it.

Giving up your only means of transportation.

I see this advice a lot, especially in big cities that have public transportation.  But if there were a disaster and the trains or buses were not running, you’d want a reliable way to travel.  You may not need a way to get out of the city now, but you might need to in a disaster.  No, I am not suggesting for you to go buy a car now either.  Even if you were to travel by motorcycle, bicycle or carpool, at least have a plan.  Or, make arrangements with a nearby friend or relative you can ride with, if anything were to happen.

Using coupons to buy unhealthy processed foods.

I like coupons as much as the next frugal shopper, but I have noticed most of the coupons in the Sunday paper are for processed foods.  Being healthy is an asset whether in normal times or disasters.  It is much cheaper to make your own dishes from inexpensive foods such as rice and beans than to use coupons on products that are not good for your health. In the long run you will save on medical bills and prescriptions by choosing the healthier foods.

Not paying your premiums for home or renters insurance, giving up flood or health insurance.

All too often I hear about the unfortunate victim of a flood or fire on the news, and the last thing that is mentioned is, “unfortunately the property was not insured at the time of the incident.”   This is one of those things you hope you never have to use, but it’s there if you need it.  Saving the cost of the premium is not worth the risk of loss if an accident or a disaster were to happen.

Not filling up your gas tank in a timely manner because you were waiting to find a cheaper station. 

Gas prices have been getting higher lately and lots of people “drive on fumes” waiting to find a cheaper gas station.  You not only run the risk of running out of gas, if you put off filling up the gas tank and a disaster happens in the middle of the night, you will be kicking yourself for not taking care of it when you had the opportunity.  At a minimum, don’t let your fuel level go below a quarter tank before you gas up.

Not getting your home and car repairs done.

Putting off much needed home repairs such as a fixing a leaky roof or a bad fence is not a good idea, especially when a disaster hits.  A hurricane or even a bad storm will only make these problems worse, and the cost of the repair will just get bigger.  Same thing for apartment dwellers – if you notice something is broken, report it to management right away.  Sometimes it takes a while to get the maintenance crew to fix things.

Similarly, if you keep putting off needed repairs to your car, because you did not want to pay for it, you may regret that decision in a disaster.  I realize sometimes people just cannot afford to get all the recommended repairs.  And sometimes the service centers do recommend additional repairs that are not crucial to the car running well.  I always ask them how critical is it if I hold off one to two months.  The honest technician will tell you which ones you cannot put off.  Compare prices around town and see if your dealer will match their competitors’ prices.  Or, you can learn basic car maintenance such as changing the oil and filter etc.  If you are good with cars, like my brother, order the parts and do it yourself.

Using up your emergency supplies for daily use and not replenishing them because “nothing ever happens.”

I am all for rotating your storage supplies to avoid waste, but that means always replacing what you used up.  I have heard of people that get involved in prepping then lose interest a few months later because nothing happened.  Prepping is just like having insurance.  You don’t drop your car insurance because nothing happened.  No one ever hopes for a disaster to happen but if it does, your supplies will save you.  To avoid waste, check your stock a couple times a year.  Use items before they expire, and replace them.  Many items are still good after the expiration date such as coffee.

© Apartment Prepper 2014


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    1. Hi jacob, you’re right, being in a rural area would have some advantages in that regard. Thanks for the comment.

  1. I think we all (not Bill Gates) have to balance available money verses what we want to buy. I try to do it in a stepped manor in that I decide what I want (usually the higher quality item) and start putting money away for it. But at the same time I look for a used item (Craig’s List, garage sales, thrift stores, or I make it) to get me by till I can purchase the desired item. I have frequent somewhat planned windfalls as I make a few wood craft items and sell them. this allows the money pile to grow in somewhat big jumps that allows me to buy things quicker then saving my penny’s and dimes allows.

    As far as running the autos down to empty, I use to do this. I now buy gas whenever the gauge says 1/2. I just act like 1/2 is the empty mark and fill it up.

    Using coupons to buy unhealthy processed foods, you kinda got me there. I don’t use coupons, but I do like a lot of food of questionable value, but of good taste…

    Transportation wise I use to be an auto mechanic so my autos are in as close to perfect as can be. But I also have a bicycle and a motorcycle and as with the autos they are both in great running shape. I’ve been thinking about getting a gas motor for the bicycle just to make it more useful and fun to ride.


    1. Hi Chuck, That is a great way to get some extra money – selling your wood craft items. This way you get a good amount to step up your supplies. Being able to fix cars is a great skill as well-good for you! Had some unexpected car problems myself – that set me back some. Thanks for the comment.

  2. Your comment about rotating your stored goods is a good one. You do need to replace things as you use them, or you’ll find yourself in a bind when you need them. One word of caution about stored foods – if you buy canned tomato products, you should be sure to use them by or before the expiration date. My hubby bought a case of tomato paste at a warehouse store, thinking it would be good to have on hand and wouldn’t go bad. WRONG! I hardly use tomato paste, and by the time I had to get one out of our storage pantry, the expiration date was well past. I didn’t bother to examine the can (after all, it should still be good, right?) or I probably would have seen the lid was bulged. When the can opener pierced the can, it went Poof/SPURT, and there was a “tunnel” in the center of the tomato paste. THAT can went into the trash. I checked the rest of the cans and discovered that all but 3 or 4 had bulging tops. On a small can like that, it’s hard to tell, but you can see it if you compare a suspected bulge with a good can. I called the company (because I was concerned about the “things should still be good after the expiration date” myth). They told me that their tomato products are good up to the expiration date, but not very far beyond it. The reason is that the canning company is not using the same quality of materials to can their products as they have in the past. So – it comes down to the old maxim of “store what you use and use what you store.” Keep things rotating.

    1. Hi Deb, That is a good tip. What a mess! I will make sure to use them before expiration date. Thanks for sharing your experience with the bad tomato sauce.

  3. I love the “give up your vehicle” I know too many people without cars and can’t hardly do anything, even work because of it…. and my husband works for public transport…

    1. Hi katy, Giving up the car only works in cities that have great public transportation or are “walking or bike friendly” Unfortunately, most cities are not. Thanks for the comment!

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