We all know prepping isn’t easy. Heck, with increasing grocery prices and uncertainty in the economy, is extremely difficult for most of us to afford to live in the here and now. Trying to purchase extra food, water, and supplies can stretch some people’s budgets so thin it can be difficult to manage. If you think there is just no way you can adequately prep, take some time to consider ways in which you can cut back on the things on which you currently spend your hard-earned money.
I can guarantee that most of you have areas in your life in which you can cut back enough to lower your expenses. However, in order to do this, you need to take a long, hard look at your lifestyle, you need to be ready to redefine what you consider necessities, and you need to be ready to give some things up (or at least cut back on them) to free up some cash flow. Chances are, if you’re a prepper, you have already taken at least a cursory look at how you live, but this might require you to go deeper and make a commitment to change.
What You Really Need
As a prepper, you have already determined what you really need to survive. That’s the whole point of being a prepper, to stock up on the absolute necessities of life so that when times get bad you can still survive. Preppers are stocking up on the basics for survival, not the latest fashions in clothes, a year’s worth of lattes, or the nicest sports car out there. So, when it comes to what you really need in everyday life, take a page out of your prepper book. Am I saying give up everything? Of course not. We do still have to live a little, but we also have to put things into perspective. Here is what we actually need for physical survival in our current world:
- Items for personal hygiene
- Anything that is required to earn an income (such as internet and a laptop, if you work from home as a freelancer)
- A vehicle if you live in rural area (although I have known people who didn’t have one and still managed just fine)
Having said that, human beings have other needs that go beyond the physical. Ever heard of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs? We have the physiological needs (the ones I mentioned in the list above) first and foremost, but when those are met, we also have the need to feel safe, that we are loved and belong, and that we can achieve goals, be respected by others, and find self-fulfillment. There is spending involved in many of these endeavors, but there are still ways to cut back. Let’s take a look.
Suggestions for Ways to Cut Back
There are so many ways you can save money just by changing the way you do things at home. We spend a lot of money on living a lifestyle that few of us can truly afford and none of us really need. From the size of your home to what you do in it you can cut back in so many ways.
- Move into a smaller home: Many people live in homes that are far bigger (and more expensive) than they need
- Get rid of cable or satellite TV: If you need to have something to watch, streaming sites like Netflix are much cheaper
- Cut back your phone and internet services to basic (unless you need them for business)
- Don’t carry both a landline and a cell phone
- Don’t get data on your cell phone, instead stick with talk and text
- Wash in cold water and line-dry your clothing
- Be aware of hidden costs in everything you pay, including credit and bills, and negotiate lower fees where possible
- Pay off your debts (that interest is killing you!)
- Make sure your house is well-insulated and energy efficient
Food is expensive, especially if you are trying to eat healthy. Despite this, there are still ways you can cut down on the amount of money you spend on food, such as with the following suggestions:
- Cook from scratch (it’s far less expensive than prepackaged food)
- Cook large quantities of food at a time and freeze or can the extra
- Grow a garden
- Learn how to hunt and forage for food
- Buy in bulk or when things are on sale
- Don’t buy prepared food, such as pre-cut fruit and vegetables
- Buy whole chickens and cut them up, it’s cheaper than buying chicken parts
- Buy less expensive brands when you can do so without compromising on quality
- Cut out or back on junk food, you don’t need it and it’s sucking up your money
- Stop buying bottled water and get a water filtration system (it might seem costly up front, but it will save you loads of money in the long-run)
- Set up a system to collect and purify rainwater
- Instead of wasting food that will soon go bad, make a meal out of food that needs to be used up each week
- Shop from the bottom shelves because grocery store makes sure the pricier products are at eye-level
- Use coupons!
This might be where most people can cut back the most. The types of things we do for fun, the frequency with which we do it, and the extravagance we take. We can often have a good time with less or while staying closer to home. Should we stop going out and having fun? Of course not! We should still enjoy the things in life before the apocalypse comes, but we need to be smarter about it. Here are suggestions of how to cut back on expenses with our entertainment and lifestyle choices:
- Get rid of your gym membership and start working out in ways that are free: Running, walking, biking, hiking, and resistance exercises can all be done for free at home or out in nature
- Cut back on Starbucks (or your money hole of choice): Yes, Starbucks is wonderful (I’ve bought my weight in chai lattes I’m sure), but you can get their products in grocery stores for a fraction of the cost; you don’t have to cut it out, but cut it back
- Use your car less often and walk, bike, or use public transportation
- Set a limit on how much you are allowed to spend each day
- Do more things together as a family at home, such as playing board games, learning a hobby together, or watching a movie
- If you see something you want, walk away, and if you still want it two days or a week later, then go back and get it; chances are the desire you felt for it will have passed by then
- Stay home on your vacation or do something local, such as camping or visiting local attractions
- Set a monthly entertainment/shopping budget and stick to it: This might be $50 or $100 a month and you’ll need to choose whether you’ll spend that on a movie, going out to dinner with friends, or a new pair of shoes
- We need clothing and shoes, but buying them on sale or at thrift shops saves lots of money
- Don’t pay for a brand name just for the sake of the name when you can just as good quality for less when you buy non-brand name items (this goes for anything you buy)
- One man’s garbage is another man’s treasure: If you see something someone is throwing out that you can use, take it and use it
- Get used furniture and fix it up
- Keep your vehicle tuned up and your filters changed regularly, which will increase your gas mileage
- Make use of craigslist when you need items you can buy used
- Don’t use your credit cards, if you have them; instead save up for what you want or need
- When it comes to gift-giving, think carefully about whether you need to buy something and about the possibility of giving something hand-made, used, or consumable
Final Words of Advice
These are all ways in which you can cut your spending and save money. It might seem like a little here and a little there, but it all adds up to hundreds of dollars a year. If you can do these things and set money aside at the same time, then you will really be ahead of the game. Even if you can only put away a dollar a day, by the end of the year, that’s $365 in the bank.
If you aren’t sure where you are overspending or where you can cut back, print out your bank account statements from the past two or three months and go through them. You can see where you money is going and can have a clearer picture of where you think too much is being spent on certain items or on certain categories of expenses, such as food or clothes. You can list out the following categories and track your expenses for each, averaging them on a per-month basis:
- Mortgage or Rent
- Car payments
- Telephone/Cell phone
- School expenses
- Vehicle operation and maintenance (fuel, repairs)
- Credit card and other debt payments
- Extracurricular activities for all members of the family
- Recreational spending (includes eating out and entertainment activities)
- Miscellaneous (everything else!)
Ultimately, you need to be smart and do without or with less. The key is to find the balance where you feel less stressed about money, but not totally deprived of the good things in life. Then you can take at least some of that extra money and invest it in your preps and you will be ready for whatever disaster or hard times come down the pike. You will be happy and content now and be happier and more content than most people when times get tough.
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