Prepping can quickly become one of the largest financially draining activities that a family can embark on. We all have heard it—preppers that burn through their entire life savings getting ready for something that may never happen and the negative impact it has on the household. It will impact everything from the ability to enjoy a family vacation to draining funds that were earmarked for college or that special wedding for a child. There are so many things we want to do that will shore up our preparedness posture, but to what end?
Most of America lives paycheck to paycheck, waiting for the hammer to fall in the form of illness, home maintenance, or other unexpected costs that can easily plummet a middle-class income family into financial ruin. There are some simple tricks that I have found that will allow you to build your prepared home while making sure that you don’t rob your family of one of the simplest treasures: the ability to enjoy life.
As I started down this road a few years ago, I quickly realized that I, like most of America, had champagne taste on a beer budget. What I came to realize is that we live in a microwave society. We want it now, and we have little patience when dealing with the marketplace, both online and storefront. We are constantly bombarded by sales flyers and invasive ads on our social media, and all edited to make every little trinket look like the coolest and a must-need for our cache. Couple this with all of the movies and TV shows we see in the survival or apocalyptic aftermath genre, and the credit card flies out of our pockets with lighting speed. This is a good spot to start and focus on what we buy, when, and how.
1. KEEP THE CREDIT CARDS FROZEN, CUT UP, OR CLOSED OUT ALTOGETHER.
The average American household credit card debt is around $16,000.00. That’s no small chunk of change, and if you somehow manage to be paying it back at under 18% interest, you’re better off than most. Prepping on credit is just a bad idea. When the chickens come home to roost in the form of interest, you quickly will be paying up to one-hundred percent or more above the cost of whatever you purchased.
2. SET A BUDGET, AND DON’T BUDGE.
There is an endless amount of budget apps, software, and how-to books that will guide you in setting up a family household budget that will ensure you pay what needs to be paid and have good visibility on how much money is left over at the end of the month that you can use toward your prepping goals.
Keep in mind that you will need to keep a slush fund going to address any unforeseen expenses that always seem to creep up.
3. FIND A PAYING HOBBY.
Finding a part-time job or a paying hobby can give you a little extra money every month. You just have to weigh the benefits of it against being away from home more. A perfect solution would be a home-based gig, but they are few and far between.
4. LEARN TO BE A THRIFTY SHOPPER.
As I said before, we live in a microwave society where everyone wants it now, regardless of price. It’s a seller’s market, and retailers are pulling out all the punches, even using psychological manipulation to trick us into impulse buys. If you want something for your prepping needs, do your research, find the best deal, and give it 24 hours to fester in your mind before you pull the trigger on the purchase. You will be surprised how often you talk yourself out of something you really don’t need or the cool-off period allows you to do some shopping around to find a lower price.
5. DO YOU REALLY NEED TO WRAP YOUR HOUSE IN A FARADAY CAGE?
The prepper community is basked in make-believe. I use this example as a learning tool. Think outside the box and use your common sense. Is wrapping the house in copper really going to give you a leg up on everyone else if there is a regional EMP event? Maybe some functions of a faraday cage will give you the ability to be back on the grid via a generator or alternative power source quicker than your neighbor. But is it worth burning through your bank account?
Spending all you have saved in a few purchases for something that may never happen is just not logical for most of us. Taking your time and purchasing slowly over a few years will not only get you prepared just as quickly, but it will also give you the ability to consider each purchase carefully.
Start small by first meeting the FEMA guidelines for preparedness, then branch out into other areas such as home infrastructure enhancement, water, food, then lastly, security.
At least that is my plan. I have a friend that used to say, “he who dies in the most debt wins.” Off the cuff, it’s undoubtedly a catchy theory, I just really don’t want to leave my family with a ton of debt in my absence.
A few years ago, my family faced a major medical situation that not only almost robbed me of my wife and partner in life but could have easily wrecked our finances along the way. From this experience, I learned that spending for a vacation that our family will cherish for a lifetime far exceeded the want or need for a fuller pantry, backup power sources, and more ammo. Choose wisely, because what is life without living?
This article was originally published in Survival Dispatch Insider Volume 3 Issue 8.