Money Mondays: 8 Ways to Prep When You’re Living Paycheck to Paycheck

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This post is by Bernie Carr,

I read recently that nearly half of Americans would not be able to afford to cover an emergency that costs $400.  Millions of Americans live paycheck to paycheck and the numbers are increasing.  Does that mean they cannot afford to prepare for emergencies?  I believe when you are stretched this thin financially, you can’t afford NOT to prep.

It does take some creativity and some planning but it is possible to prep by doing it little by little.

Here are a few tips to prep when you are living paycheck to paycheck

  1. Cover the basics:  Identify the basic needs that you need should there be an emergency such as a hurricane or earthquake.  The number one need is water.  Start by collecting empty containers such as 2-liter soda bottles.  Wash them thoroughly and fill with tap water.  Store a few in the freezer (leave some empty space on top) so you have plenty of ice.  This in turn helps you save electricity – a full freezer cuts down on power needed to keep it cold.  Store as many bottles as you have space for.  Next you can focus on food.
  2. Watch those grocery fliers for sales.  Even if you feel you don’t have time to clip coupons, you can take advantage of price cuts or “buy one get one free” deals on items that you use frequently.   This past week, one of the neighborhood supermarkets was having a “Get $5 off 5 items” named in the flier.   They happened to have rice and bleach and few other things that I normally use.  I was able to get at least half off the price and stock up on several items by taking advantage of the sale.
  3. Save windfalls and set aside as emergency cash.  You need to keep some cash at home for emergencies.   Use your tax refund, birthday money or even found cash as a base for your emergency cash.
  4. Review all bills and cut out services you no longer use.   I cut out cable a few years ago and have not missed it since.  By doing so, we have been able to save $70 a month.
  5. Review your habits  Can you cut down on your habits that cost you money?   What you spend on lattes, cigarettes or even chips from the vending machine add up over time.  Even if you are not ready to give it up completely, you could cut down the number of times you indulge the habit per day.  In just one week you will have some cash saved up.
  6. Use cash instead of debit or credit cards.  For some reason, using cash instead of cards make you more aware of what you are spending.  Every paycheck, withdraw the cash you are going to need from the bank and limit yourself to the cash at hand.  Swiping a card takes the pain and awareness out of spending.  Cash will remind you to be a lot more careful with your money.
  7. Get a second job or side gig  Moonlighting at another job will help you overcome short term money hurdles, as well as help you save for emergencies.  It does not have to be a permanent thing, just until you are able to pay off some debts, set aside some cash and obtain emergency supplies.  Or you can earn extra money on the side by starting a micro business or make money from clutter.
  8. Get some skills  Prepping is not all about getting gear.  Take a first aid class at the fire department or local hospital.  Learn how to cook from a relative or coworker.  Learn survival tips from You Tube videos.  Start an herb garden on your balcony.  Having skills will help you cope in a disaster.

If you plan properly, you can prepare for emergencies even though you are low on extra funds.  Being prepared actually helps improve your finances in the long run as you can rely on your supplies and savings to tide you over on a rainy day.


© Apartment Prepper 2016

For more tips on prepping on small budget, read my latest book:

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