I thought maybe people with a like mindset would be interested in what works for my family to have more money each month for prepping. Maybe its stuff you haven’t thought of and maybe it will spark discussion that will lead to finding other ways to spend wisely.
- TV – We only pay for streaming Netflix, $7.99/mo. If you are serious about prepping, you don’t want to be stuck on the couch. No need for cable/satellite or the $40 plus per month bill. Spend the extra time getting stuff done and the extra money getting stuff to do it with. The deals for bundling services aren’t that good.
- I don’t play video games anymore. Because of this, we don’t pay for XBOX Live anymore. I think for me it started while watching a Nutnfancy video, where he says something like “Get out there and make some memories!” I slowly realized I didn’t need to waste my time with video games. I wanted to spend more time with my kids and getting things done. Does beating a video game have anything I can use later? I realized it didn’t, but there were so many other things I could be putting my energy into that would.
- We have reduced our Internet service speed to a lower cost package. When I was playing games online all the time, I felt justified spending the extra money. Heck, I needed the speed advantage to keep up with the kids I was playing against!
- My wife cooks more. She uses the food that we are storing. This means I have left over’s to take to work to eat. It also means we eat out less, specifically me, while at work.
- We drink less coffee, not at home, but out. When I do go to a coffee place, I drink hot chocolate. It is significantly cheaper than Mocha and tastes almost the same.
- I work nights. It used to be that my preferred caffeine delivery system was soda. But, two a night, plus at least one a day on the weekends, means A LOT of sugar. As for diet soda, there is enough controversy around aspartame and its side effects to keep me away. Last year, I quit soda completely. I now allow myself to drink some when there are limited options. Trying to stay away from soda has helped me eat out at fast food restaurants much less.
- We don’t use vending machines. Frequently, the soda I drank at work came from the machines at a higher cost. And, if you are already at the machine, how easy is it to grab a candy bar too?
- Our cars are all paid for. As much as I lust after the new cars, I am doing just fine with the ones I have. But it’s tough to find the balance between good running cars that don’t cost a ton & thrashed cars that might as well have a monthly payment to keep them on the road.
- We have turned down the heat in our house. Last year we moved into an older house that has an oil furnace and it is very expensive to fill the tank! Last time we got a tank of gas, the company couldn’t even give us a price estimate ahead of time because the price was fluctuating so much! A sweater, blankets & slippers go a long way towards keeping us warm.
- Buying in bulk is saving us money. Before becoming a prepper, when we saw good deal on something, stocking up consisted of buying 4-5 of it. Now, when we see a good deal, we buy a case. We can do that because our food storage allows us to take advantage of sales. We don’t have to spend our entire food budget each month just to have the food we need to eat that month.
- We can fresh fruits/vegetables. Last summer was our first year seriously canning, but we canned pickles, tomatoes, squash, cabbage, zucchini, beets, corn, pears, blackberries (at least).
- We now have the skills to store food. My wife loves to see whole chickens go on sale; she will can the meat for later use. We have been storing in buckets sugar, wheat, salt, etc.
- Paying attention to sales. Not everything is a good deal. Not everything at Costco is a good deal. Last month we found that the source we had for the pre-packaged Augason Farms hard red wheat went up in price dramatically. We realized that with some work, we could get 25lbs bags from the LDS Cannery and bucket it ourselves for much less.
- For construction projects around our place, we find that checking the cull bin at the Home Depot or Lowe’s nets us a lot of wood for less.
Hopefully, you’ll see that, for my family, the side effects of deciding to have a prepper life style, is mostly a healthier, more active, more family orientated life style. Here are some other places I see that a person might look to change their budget & life style to free up money to use on prepping.
- Look at your habits, I.E. tobacco, energy drinks, alcohol, movies, video games, candy, etc. If we really honestly desire to prepare for TEOTWAWKI, you are going to run out of those things. Work on quitting them now. For some, maybe the motivation of having the money spent on those habits to use elsewhere in your budget is the motivation you need to quit. Be honest with yourself about how much you are spending. If you can’t quit, be honest with yourself about your habit & pay for it in bulk where you save money & still do it. I have friends at work that stop at an AM/PM a couple times a week to pick up energy drinks & cigarettes. I can’t think of a more expensive way to purchase them!
- Lower levels of service for cell phones, internet, cable/satellite, phone etc. Do you really need a phone with a data package? Maybe you say to yourself, you use the data package enough, but do both you & your wife need a data package? Since you both have cell phones, do you really get enough use out of the home phone? Do you really get that much extra benefit from the added Internet speed?
- Are you really using that gym membership? Are there ways you could be exercising for cheaper?
- Follow all suggestions out there for saving money on vehicle gas. Don’t leave the house for just one place; make a combined trip to multiple places. When gas prices are climbing, fill up more often. Keep the tires well inflated and the vehicle tuned up.
- Do the cars you have really fit your needs? Do you have a lifted rig with big tires that only gets off the pavement 10% of the time? Do you drive it more than 30 minutes each way to work? You might be better off finding a smaller car that’s better on gas mileage and park the poor gas mileage mud tires until you need to go off road.
- Insurance, do you really need all you are paying for? Do you have vehicles that qualify for low use discounts? If your cars are paid for, do you really need full coverage? If your cars aren’t valued very high, why not just have liability only on them? Recently we added AAA for roadside assistance and then discovered during an audit of our regular car insurance policy that we were paying for a roadside assistance program through our car insurance company.
- Years like this one (READ: During an election year, check this link, go back at least 4 year) where gas prices are soaring out of control are a bad time to decide to get a very fuel efficient car or motorcycle. The value of them is going up this year. On the flip side, as the gas prices get more out of control, this will be a great year to look at adding a truck or SUV with a big engine. 4 years ago, the last time the gas prices hit $4 per gallon, my Dad got a ~10 year old, low mileage (~80K) 1 ton dually truck with a big block engine for under $4k. Because of the cost of gas, everyone wanted to sell the low gas mileage rigs & very few people wanted to buy them, so he got it for a fantastic price. He barely drives it, but does need a rig to go to the dump with or pull a trailer every so often. I remember reading a couple years ago, when the gas prices stayed reasonable (READ: Not an election year), that Toyota was seeing a slump in the PRIUS sales. There were good deals to be had on high fuel efficiency cars that year.
- Along the same lines, certain things need to be bought & sold seasonally and it’s not always obvious what they are. The best example I can think of here is motorcycles. Here in the Pacific NW, they can only be ridden at most 6 months of the year. Prices go up in the late spring & summer as the weather gets nicer & go down in the fall when people realize they don’t want to have to store the bike through the winter. If at all possible, buy in the fall or winter & sell in the summer. Seasonal purchases could apply to all kinds of recreational vehicles, boats, air conditioners, firewood & heating supplies, camping, hunting & fishing supplies, canning & food storage supplies, etc. In some cases this will be particularly effective when buying from a private party.
Basically it comes down to looking at what you are spending money on and then making honest assessments on whether each thing is giving you good value for the money spent. I sincerely hope that this helps you honestly assess your budget to see is any of your life style changes have created changes in your spending priorities. Good Prepping!