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Budget Survival: The Ins and Outs

J. Lewis

First, take into account how many mouths you have to feed, what resources you currently have available and what resources will be available if SHTF in your current location.  Figure out a monthly budget that includes money coming in, bills going out, and what you have left over.  This will give you an idea of where you can trim the fat. (We will cover more on this later.)  Next, take an inventory of you already have that will be useful if SHTF, such as lighters, matches, wool clothing or blankets, canned food.  If you have camping gear, include this.  You will want to find or prepare your own “wish list” of items you are in need of.  List items from most to least expensive, and put them in categories of “must have” (food and water) and “nice to have” (spices or a generator).

1. Research

Study books and web sites to help fine tune and add to your list.  Good research will help you to avoid costly, inappropriate purchases.  None of us know exactly how much time we have for preparation, but many of us see that time is short.  Adequate research will play a major role in helping you cover all your bases with a limited budget and time frame.  Building a library of books and other materials that you can refer back to while preparing for and being in survival situations is a good idea.  During stressful times, it may be hard for you to remember all of the information that you have learned.  Further research will help you find what works and what doesn’t in survival situations.

2. Necessities

The obvious necessities will be food, water, and shelter, but you will also need to consider adequate clothing for multiple seasons, hygiene supplies, pet supplies (if you have pets).  You will also need multiple forms of fire starting devices (magnesium striker, lighters, matches, etc.), water purification (Steri-Pen, tablets, filter, etc.).  Don’t forget batteries for devices like the Steri-Pen that are useless without them.  At the very least you will need a .22 LR, but if you can acquire a variety of calibers (pistols, shotguns, rifles), that would be even better.  I recommend a pistol that is 9mm or higher, a 12 gauge or 20 gauge shotgun, and a rifle such as a .223, a 7.62x39mm, or a .308 etc.  Each gun will serve its own purpose.  Pistol=defense, shotgun=defense/hunting, rifle=long range defense/big game hunting.  You need to get an adequate supply of ammunition for each gun you plan on using.

3. Trimming the Fat

Once you have put your finances and budget under the microscope, you should be able to find areas that you can “trim the fat.”  For example, if you have a student loan, consider deferring if for a few months or paying minimum payments on your credit cards and using those payments to get aggressive on stockpiling your supplies.  You might consider not putting much money, if any, into your 401k or other retirement accounts until you have accumulated adequate supplies.  Now, don’t skip payments on your mortgage or car and get yourself into a bind, but be creative about where you can feasibly trim the fat on your budget.  You could treat yourself to that $80 steak dinner, or you could use that same $80 to purchase a week’s worth of rations for your family.  Part of trimming the fat is making sacrifices now (budget meals at home, brown bag lunch) in order to adequately provide for your family if SHTF.

4. Making Your Dollar Stretch Farther

As nice as it would be to be able to have a year’s supply of # 10 cans of food, MREs, Mountain House foods, etc., a year’s supply of any of these for a family could cost you upwards of $3,500 just for food.  Now, I don’t know about you, but I sure don’t have that laying around.  There are many items out there that don’t have as long of a shelf life, but they can feed you if SHTF.  Dinty Moore soups, Spam, condensed soup, powdered milk, potted meats, powdered Gatorade, a variety of nuts, home-made preserves, honey, peanut butter…  there is a huge variety of foods that have a 3 to 4 year shelf life.  All of these foods are readily available, and they are often on sale.

As survival preparedness has become more mainstream, the cost has risen greatly on foods such as MREs, whereas checking weekly grocery ads will commonly find you great sale prices and coupons.  Last week, our local Wal-Mart had the big cans of Campbell’s Chunky soups for $1.25 each.  We bought in quantity.  One can could easily feed 3-4 people in a survival situation and the shelf life is 3-1/2 years.  We also found 7 gallon water containers for half the price that I have seen on survival gear web sites.  Stock up when you find the good deals.  I have learned through experience that often I can find the same or comparable product for less money at a store like Wal-Mart.  Also their camping gear goes on clearance every fall as well as sporting goods stores.

Signing up for store buyer’s clubs or store credit cards can earn you rewards and give you big discounts on merchandise. [JWR Adds: But keep in mind that using buying club cards or a credit card leaves a paper trail, whereas traditional purchases with greenback cash do not.]

I hope this helps you, it comes from trial and error experience.  Stay strong and focused, be prepared.


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