With the Florida hurricane season a mere few months away, dutiful Floridians such as myself, like to take this time to inventory their disaster kits. After all, it pays to be prepared, right? The Tampa Bay area, my homestead, has been rather lucky the past decade in terms of seasonal storms. As I perused the interwebs for preparedness checklists and took stock of my disaster inventory, I realized two things: a majority of my friends and family would be woefully unprepared and that I was already a pseudo-prepper without even realizing it.
As I continued my web surfing, I fell down a wormhole and uncovered a whole new world of prepping that grabbed a hold of my attention and broadened my preparedness spectrum. I read on and on and for as “prepared” as I thought I was, I’m not afraid to admit that I became a little overwhelmed. Discovering new acronyms, terminology, methodology and tactics started to open my eyes and soon enough, my wallet.
In the first few months of prepping I was pretty foolish in thinking I could just buy new gadgets and gizmos and turn into He-Man Prepper of the Universe. However, with my budget (and my significant other) that run didn’t last long. I feel that this may be a syndrome many new preppers face; what do I really need and how do I go about getting it?
I think the early excitement for my new found hobby (or new found way of life) somewhat blinded me. Did I need that solar powered charger right away? Probably not. Did my bug out bag need a machete, folding saw, hatchet and e-tool? My achy back tells me no. So for my initial inception into actual prepping, I stumbled out of the gate. But, fear not my fellow newbies, prepping needn’t be overwhelming or exorbitant.
I’d like to share with you some pieces of information that eventually helped me stay grounded and kept my bank account in the red. This will be old news to many folks based on varying degrees of experience (or common sense) but useful tidbits of information nonetheless.
What Do I Already Have?
So where do we start? Well, what do you already have on hand? A good way to keep cost down while prepping is to look around your residence and see what you can already use. I like to fish, and everyone’s bug out bag will be different but I’d like the ability to catch fish. For that reason I keep a small fishing kit in it. This small prep didn’t cost me a dime. I already had a pretty stocked tackle box and in place of a rod, a stick or tree branch would suffice. Here are the contents of my kit:
- Used (and emptied) spice bottle to hold kit pieces
- 10 medium sized hooks
- 3 small bobbers
- 10 pieces sinkers
- Small baggie of power bait
- Small spool of fishing line
I put all those things into my spice bottle (save for the line, spool was a little too big) and ta-da, no cost fishing kit.
Another useful item to have in your pack is duct tape. That stuff fixes everything, or so it goes. I had a roll of it sitting in my tool box. Instead of going out and purchasing a new smaller roll to keep in my BoB, I took an old credit card and wrapped about 15 feet around it. This is quick and easy prep, saves on space and as long as you already have the product, it’s free.
There are many other little projects and ways to utilize products already on hand. I had an extra set of work gloves that went into my bag, I added over the counter drugs to modify my first aid kit and my camping backpack now acts as my bug out bag. Keep an open eye around the house and you may be amazed by what you can use.
You Can’t Buy Knowledge
Well I suppose if you want to be technical, one could purchase all sorts of knowledge filled items but what good would those do if you can’t apply the learned skills? There are tons of resources on the internet that don’t cost money and are helpful in many manners. Everything from edible plants to how to tie a slipknot can be found with a quick search.
With my experience so far, I’ve come across a few folks who label themselves as preppers that own all sorts of gear, vehicles and weapons but have no idea how to start a fire or purify water. Learning these skills merely cost you your time. Get out of the house. Go camping. Use the gear that you have. Apply the skills that you have learned for the week, month or year. Be diligent and keep reading. Rookies aren’t going to know everything right away (or ever, I still have miles to go). Don’t let other preppers belittle you for having literature in your packs or homes. Yes, you should start to comprehend and know how to do the basics but what harm is there in refreshing and keeping your mind sharp?
As far as keeping physical survival books on hand, there will be some cost associated with them. However, I feel that this cost is a justifiable one as what you take out of it, if applied correctly, can never break, rust, wear down or be stolen. Remain vigilant in your quest for knowledge and be practical in its use.
If you had to bug in right now, how long could you ride it out? A month? A week? A few days? Any of these answers are correct because it means one simple thing: you have already started! It’s probably every preppers dream and maybe their goal to be self sufficient and have years and years worth of food and water. However, if most of us were to try to accomplish this right away, we’d end up broke and probably single. So how do we tackle this issue of feeling the anxiety of not being fully prepared?
Well, you have to start somewhere and the most cost effective way is to add a little at a time. Make small goals for yourself. Start with a 72 hour supply. Once satisfied, move on to a weeks supply on hand, then 2 weeks, etc. You may be surprised by how getting a little extra every time you go to the store starts to add up (and keep your wallet from having moths fly out of it).
Look for store ads that offer buy one get ones or that price match on more expensive items. Don’t be afraid or feel foolish about using coupons to save a little. Trust me; you’d look more foolish sitting in a house with no edible food or drinkable water because “coupon cutting” was below your standards.
These are just a few of my observances that have aided in guiding my path for preparedness. There are many more items I haven’t touched upon (gardening, DIY projects) that could fill pages upon pages of websites or pamphlets. I’ll leave that to you, fellow preppers, to delve into and explore. Just remember to keep a level head, your priorities straight and better yourselves everyday that you have the opportunity.