Prepping When You’re Poor, Part 1

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Hello, everyone!  Back by demand from Bjarni, I have been told that I should write a blog on what I am doing to prep while poor.  I would like to state that everything in this post and future posts to come in this series is entirely dependent on my budget and experiences in the past 1.5 years.

I am a graduate student, and while I earn enough from my research assistantship to pay bills, I get paid once a month and live paycheck to paycheck with very little breathing room (think the lifestyle of a person who lives off a janitor’s salary).  I live by myself in a studio apartment with 2 cats.  I also have dietary restrictions combined with IBS (read about that here), so my prepping will look different from someone who has a family.  Thus, I strongly suggest that you shape these ideas to your life since preppers are in different stages of life and have different budget requirements.

However, I have noticed a common trend among many new preppers that makes me realize I’m not alone.  Many folks are very financially-limited, are living paycheck to paycheck and do not have any room for budgeting error.  Despite this, preppers who have been living this lifestyle for 10 years or more seem to have completely forgotten what it is like to start prepping while on a tight budget without being overwhelmed.

One of my biggest pet peeves about the prepping community are the individuals who tell you that “You will immediately need X, Y, Z, and this entire list as well.  Without this, you will be screwed.  Get them now.”

Well guess what??  I can’t get X, Y, Z and all of the other supplies now.  Because I get paid once a month, I will get all of those in the next 6 months; but it will absolutely not happen right now.

So what do you do when you are poor but want to prep?  First thing is first, you need to make a list of ALL of your current expences.  Yes, this is called a budget.  Our grandparents did it, and it seemed to work; I have done it ever since I started living on my own.  If you’re poor, become acquainted with this process.

I want you to go through and see if you have any money left over after writing your budget.  Use this left over money to buy prepping supplies.  If you don’t have a lot of money leftover, see if there is anything you can cut out of your budget (cable TV is filled with crap anyways, so cancel it).  JUST DO IT.

That’s right, if there is anything that gives you a little bit of extra money, cancel the useless subscriptions and the costs that don’t really serve you.  Stop going out to eat, stop spending $8/day on Starbucks and cancel the gym membership you haven’t used in 5 months.  This also means that if you can, sell things from your home that you don’t need–not only will this give you cash, but this will also give you space for prepping storage (prepping storage in a confined living space will come in a later part this series!).

It is also important to have an emergency fund.  This fund is a part of prepping–have an emergency fund of $500-$1000 for basic emergencies.  I cannot begin to tell you how many times my emergency fund has saved me when my employer literally *forgot* to pay me, or when my car tires needed to be replaced.

YES, this means you will have to grow up and be financially disciplined about how you live.  If you don’t have the guts to take this first step, I don’t know what else to tell you.  YOU have to be determined to be prepared and I don’t care about your excuses.  Budgets scare people, but your finances don’t care about your feelings.

Don’t give me “But I have kids so…” or “I’m just too poor so…”

I know people personally who live on a very tight budget and have kids, and they still manage to prep.  Are you seriously so limited that you cannot buy an extra canned good or extra bag of beans and rice per week when you go grocery shopping?  I don’t want to hear it.  Live on a budget and stop with the excuses.

I already had a tight budget in place when I started prepping, but I cut some corners from it.  I then figured out how much money I could dedicate per paycheck towards prepping.  For some folks, this is $50, for others this will be more or less.  Do what you can.

I came up with a prepping list for general bug-in objects such as food and personal hygiene.  There are so many lists on the internet that you could use as a template and shape to what you need.  I used these lists as a way to think about what I could use for bug-in supplies:

Preppers Checklist: 10 Things To Do Now!

Preppers Survival Gear List: Ten MORE Things To Do Now

Next, I took these lists and split them up and I wrote possible dates of purchase next to each item or group of items.  These dates are obviously not set in stone, but it kept me disciplined on what to buy when.  Every time I went to the grocery store, I would get several extra food items or personal hygiene items.  Slowly but surely, the list of need-to-buy bug-in supplies decreased.

I also used this same approach for bug-out supplies–make a list and approximate dates of purchase.  Here is a basic list of a walmart bug-out bag you can construct yourself: 

Last but not least, there are some of these tips and many more from prepping author Cat Ellis in her podcast on how to prep on the cheap:

Prepping on the Cheap Part One: Bugging In

This road is slow, but it is worth doing it.  Discipline yourself and your spending, and there is no reason why you can’t prep for yourself or your family on a budget.

2 Responses to “Prepping When You’re Poor, Part 1

  • Looking forward to the rest of this series!

    • Thank you! I got Asababy working on it! She is tied up in school projects, but she is actively working on the next installment

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