Short on Cash for Preps this Month? Here are a Few Ideas

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This post is by Bernie Carr,

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Even if you have only $5-10 to spare, you can buy emergency supplies at the dollar store
  9. 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.
  10. 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.

© Apartment Prepper 2013


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

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  1. This can get expensive unless you are super rich and have the funds for solar equipment, or bunkers. Even food. Freeze dried food can get costly. I just try to get something every week. If it’s a big item then maybe I have to save for a month or a few months.
    I got a late start and I feel the need to catch up with people that have been doing this for years. That’s great if you have a 10 acre farm but not all of us have that luxury. I don’t have anyone to help me so I have to do this myself. It can get a little difficult with heavy or construction type things.
    I will look into the free samples That’s a great idea.

  2. Another way to save money and increase skills is to look up Here in Portland, OR we have about 5 plus groups. Often instructors start a group and charge very little for their training/meetings.

  3. Great tips, one low cost prep is staying updated with the news through various sites as well.

    I did my tax return early this year as well, and instead of paying off a couple of large bills I’m going to use it to make a couple of purchases while I still can.

  4. I like your site a lot. As a SAHM of 4 young kids who rents (small house) I find a lot of your tips and ideas useful.
    I have a few suggestions on this one too as we are usually broke lol.
    -Unpack your Bug out bags (72 hr kits) and make sure nothing needs updated or added.
    -clean out all the juice and soda bottles and fill with either water or dry foods for your storage.
    – re organize an area of your home and see if you can find some extra storage space.
    – do you have a binder for all your important info? Mine gets used daily and in an emergency I can grab it with our BOBs and go and know all of our important documents are not a loss.
    – go fishing. When SHTF you may still have to try to do this in cold weather so if you live in an area you can fish in winter go and try it.
    – re evaluate your finances. They sure did raise taxes a lot and now is a good time to trim the fat off of your expenses. Can you get a better insurance rate? Give up cable and get Netflix or Hulu.
    – make a will, I know about 3 people my age (30ish) that have one and almost everyone I know my age has kids and no will! Sit down and give it some serious thought. Sometimes prepping means leaving your loved ones with peace of mind.
    – research burial costs and such in your area and see if your life insurance is enough. Everyone dies at some point. In the last 3 years 8 people I know ages 25-31 have passed away unexpectedly with no life insurance and they left a family behind.
    – run drills with your family. how fast can you really get out of the house in an emergency?
    – cook double meals so next week your work is done for you and you can have extra time to do what you want.
    – go a step further, practice cooking those meals without your stove or microwave.
    -write down as many of your favorite meals as you can and make a meal plan.
    -print important prepper info and articles and make yourself a couple manuals!
    – try to plan an mini extreme coupon trip! Target is the best place to use coupons that don’t double I have found. 🙂
    – have one person in your home and lock yourself out. Prowl around your place and see just how easy it would be to break in.
    – make a plan to fix the vulnerabilities
    – look around at a different store (don’t buy anything!) just browse and see what available that you need and compare the prices to your regular stores.
    – workout, not having modern convince means manual labor are you up to it?
    – wash your clothes by hand and line dry all week you will appreciate what I mean by manual labor 🙂

  5. Sorry I’m long winded lol…
    – camp at home for a weekend, kill your power and see if you have what you need to get through a few days with no power at minimum. Do it while its cold and make sure your heat preps are up to par.
    – Do you have kids in school? How are you going to educate them if schools are not available? Do you have basic materials and knowledge of how to teach your own kids? Do some research and make a list of needed supplies, think reusable.
    – play hide and seek with your kids and don’t make it easy. I bribe mine with a treat for the kid that hides silently that I couldn’t easily find. It’s good practice for them so if they need to hide they can do it without giving them selfs away. I put noisy things on the floors and in their favorite spots for an extra challenge.
    – can your significant other and kids sew? If not teach them, rice bags (heat packs) are easy to do even by hand and everyone should know the basic stitches.
    – play doctor… Not like that 😉 if you are the injured one and unable to treat yourself would your kids be able to help you? They may not be old enough to take a first aid course but even a preschooler can put on a band aid.
    – research alternative medicine for any conditions your family may have. My kids all have asthma if I can’t afford their daily medications or rescue inhalers or they aren’t available I need to know there is an alternative way to handle it. I did this with my HIgh blood pressure and naturally got it down on my own and was able to stop taking prescriptions for it. Heart disease runs young in my family so this was a serious accomplishment for me.
    – if you have lots of snow go try to build an igloo if nothing else you will gain a skill and your kids will have a blast playing in the snow.
    – do you need to get seedlings ready?
    – check out local churches and charities and see if they have any programs available. We have one that does a free clothing swap once a month. Income doesn’t matter and it doesn’t matter if you bring anything because it has grown so much.
    – make some like minded friends in your area. I’m not saying to place a “prepper friend wanted” ad but talk to people in general and see who thinks like you without giving yourself away.
    – take electronic entertainment away for the week and make sure you & your family can handle a longer period of time cooped up at home with no tv, games, Internet or in needed calls.
    There those should keep you busy for a while without a lot of expense lol.

  6. I coupon and get all kinds of free stuff. 1 paper a week and I go through coupons and ads. I got 14 months of feminine products for just the tax. Free toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, and I will rotate what I buy. My husband was worried he was getting low on razors, I haven’t bought any in a year and a half. I thought he was sarcastic at first but they are normally $11.00 I got them for $.99. That’s the best way for me to stretch my budget.

    1. Hey JL That is great-all the low cost/no cost stuff you get by couponing is impressive! I need to start getting the paper again. Thanks!

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