Inflation is out of control and the just-in-time supply chain is showing signs of buckling. Whether we like it or not, we have all become preppers. So what now? Beginner preppers often feel overwhelmed when they first begin walking down that path of prepping and self-sufficiency. There is so much information out there and it's hard to focus on what's right for them or even how to get started.
In this article we will discuss 10 great tips that beginning preppers can use to focus their efforts and avoid feeling overwhelmed.
#1. Buy $10-15 worth of extra canned goods every time you go to the grocery store
With inflation hitting hard, the more you stock up on supplies you know you'll need any way, the better. But building up a complete food supply capable to getting you through tough times can be a daunting experience if you try to do it all at once. Instead, each time you go to the grocery store, buy an extra $10-15 worth of canned goods and store them away.
Within a year, those extra few dollars will average out to hundreds of extra cans of food. Although we don't suggest ONLY using canned gods for your food stores, it should definitely be a part of it and this is a great way to build up that storage affordably.
#2. Visit garage sales and thrift shops
Garage sales and thrift shops are excellent places to find budget-friendly and quality preps. Staples like flashlights, candles and even bugout bags can be found for dirt cheap at garage sales and thrift shops. It may take some time to dig through junk before finding something good, but the money you save will be more than worth it.
Useful tip: Avoid large, chain thrift shops like Goodwill or The Salvation Army. Although these used to be great places to find deals on all kinds of prepper gear, they have significantly raised their prices on this type of gear.
#3. Start building your Prepper Library
In a disaster scenario, knowledge is power. If the S really ever did hit the F, the people who know how to grow their own food, hunt and fish, repair generators and many other types of skills are going to have a huge leg up on everyone else. We have a comprehensive preparedness library with over 200 free ebooks to help you learn everything you could want to know about self-sufficiency.
#4. Save all your plastic bottles for water storage
Water storage is unfortunately one of the most under appreciated prep items and usually lands pretty far down on the list for long term storables. A years-worth of beans and rice, MRE's and pasta are great, but kind of worthless without an abundant source of clean water to cook them in. Unfortunately, if you are like a lot of preppers, you don't have the room, or it's just not practical to use large, 250 gallon water tanks.
Being an apartment dweller myself, I have to get creative with a lot of my prep storage, especially with water. Typically I would get large, 3gallon water "cubes" with a faucet from the big box stores, and although these are great, they seem a little pricey for what you can get for pennies out of the tap. Plus, although they stack quite easily, they're too big to go under the bed and my closets are bulging at the seams already with the rest of my preps.
2 liter bottles and gallon milk/juice/tea jugs are a great alternative to more expensive water storage options. Simply tear off the label, rinse them out a few times (to get rid of the taste of whatever was in there) and then fill them straight from the tap. You can fit about 128 2 liter bottles under a normal bed, which comes out to almost 68 gallons of fresh drinking water. With 3 beds in the apartment, this comes out to over 200 gallons (or well over a month's worth) of water that takes up next to no usable space.
The best part, this costs virtually nothing if you use 2liters, gallon jugs, or any other plastic drink container on a daily basis. It's also a great way to keep a ton of plastic out of the landfills and oceans. So, next time you're ready to throw out that next milk jug or 2 liter, think about water preparedness. Fill up that bottle and stick it under the bed. One day… it just might save your life.
#5. Start saving money….NOW!
One of the biggest mistakes you can make as a prepper is to think that any disaster can be mitigated with money. Yes, money is important and most preps require a financial commitment. However, before buying ANYTHING, do a comprehensive evaluation of your finances.
Is it REALLY necessary to be paying $100+ a month for those cable/netflix/etc/whatever subscriptions? Do you REALLY need to be spending $200 a month going to restaurants? $300 could buy you nearly 600 cans of food, a decent home defense firearm or a generator.
If you find yourself thinking: "I'd really like to get a _____, but we can't really afford it" think about what you could cut back on each month. Chances are you CAN afford it if you cut back on the unnecessary spending.
#6. Before doing anything, put together a documentation package
Although most preppers are quick to stock up hundreds of pounds of food and enough ammunition to fend off even the most determined band of mutant biker hoards, there is one prep item that even some of the most dedicated preppers are quick to put on the back-burner. The documentation package is the most important prep item you can have, and it costs absolutely nothing.
A documentation package is simply a collection of the most important documents and records you have, stored in one place. Insurance Records, Social Security cards, bank account information, evacuation or bugout plans, it all goes into your documentation package. A documentation package will help you in nearly any disaster you'll ever face. Things to include:
- The contacts list from your phone. You should include the names, physical and email addresses and contact numbers for everyone in your phone. Additionally, it is a good idea to have the contact information for businesses you frequent, bars and nightclubs, cab services, medical services, financial/insurance institutions, non-emergency fire/police numbers and your preferred hotels both nearby and en route to your bug-out location. Obviously, after a disaster, your contacts will be extremely valuable. Having this information on hand could literally save your life or the life of another in a bad situation. However, keeping an up to date contact list can be equally vital in a non-disaster scenario. Ever break your cell phone? How long did it take to piece your contact list back together?
- Insurance and financial info. This is a no-brainer. If you're like most people, you probably have numerous bank account numbers, credit or debit card numbers or other sensitive financial information that you may not have committed to memory, or may not be able to remember in a disaster scenario. Insurance information is also vital. In most weather-related disasters, insurance representatives are slammed with claims in a very short period of time. Being one of the first to file your claim will help get you to the top of that list. Copies of your insurance plans, photos, account numbers and immediate contact info should always be included in your package.
- Vital documents. In a disaster scenario, physical copies of vital documentation may be unavailable or destroyed. In some recent disasters, even proving who you were proved nearly impossible without proper documentation. Copying or scanning a copy of your driver's license, medical insurance cards, membership cards, birth records, social security cards and automobile registration could be the difference between getting help now or waiting several days trying to prove your identity.
- Photos. Imagine you needed to bug-out. Right now. Gotta go. You've got 20 minutes. What are you going to take? If you're a prepper this is pretty straight forward, grab your Bug Out Bag, food/water, any valuables, kids, spouse, pets and get out of dodge. Sometimes minutes can really be the difference between life and death. The quicker you can get out and the more organized you can be, the better off you'll be. Instead of taking time to grab all the pictures off the wall, drag out three or four shoeboxes of photos, back up your pictures on a flash drive or cloud based backup system ahead of time. You'll save all the images, they'll take up no room in your pack or bug-out vehicle and when things return to normal, you'll either still have your photos, or you can easily print new copies from your backup.
#7. Learn basic off-the-grid skills
MREs and firearms are great preps to have, but if you can't build a basic fire to cook on or keep warm with, your preps are useless. Basic skills like Fire Starting, Off-grid cooking, food preservation, hunting and fishing will be very useful skills when the SHTF. Check out our free preparedness ebook library which contains a huge assortment of free eBooks to help you learn all the skills you'll need to live off the grid.
#8. Build up your prepper community
Many beginner preppers think that when the SHTF that they'll just hunker down and become hermits until the disaster is over. In a long-term SHTF scenario, your preps are only going to last so long. In order to develop long-term self-reliance, it is crucial to find like-minded people to build your own community with.
So start reaching out to your neighbors, and try to talk to them about prepping and self-reliance. Remember, being a lone-wolf survivor will let your survive, but a prepper community can help you thrive!
#9. Start growing your own food
Storing food for long-term disasters is a great idea. However in some disasters, outside aid or re-supply could be months or even years away. It is absolutely critical that you learn how to produce at least some of your family's food on your own.
If you've never cared for a garden before start small; build a simple 4ft x 4ft raised bed in your backyard, or if you're an apartment dweller, put out a few planting pots on your balcony. Not only will you be providing your family with great home-grown food, but you'll also be developing a useful skill in case the grocery store is ever closed long-term.
#10. Build up your situation awareness every day
Situational Awareness is simply being aware of the world around you. It isn't paranoia or constantly being on the lookout for raiders, but simply being more aware could be the difference between life or death in a disaster scenario.
Practice becoming more situationally aware. Take a different route home or to the office and take note of things you may have not noticed before. Play a game where every day you find 1 or more things that you never noticed before on your daily drive. 90% of violent crimes could be prevented by simply being aware of your surroundings, if you get an uneasy feeling about somewhere, trust it and get out of there. Trust your senses and always be vigilant.