Top Tips to Help the Budget-Conscious Acquire Prepper Supplies

shutterstock_223838977By Cherie

Prepping for a SHTF situation is a good idea, of course, but for people living from paycheck to paycheck, finding the money to stock up on food, water and other supplies is overwhelming. Fortunately, with some financial savvy and budget shopping as well as other techniques and tips, it’s possible to create a stockpile that will help you get through any natural or man-made disaster.

Cut back on what you spend

Traditionally, when people needed extra money to pay the bills or buy something, they would look for more ways to earn cash. This might have included working extra hours at work or taking on a second job. The better strategy is to spend less of what you already make, leaving you a bigger balance in the checking account at the end of the month. This money can then be used to create your stockpile of needed supplies.

To cut back on spending, take a hard look at where your money is going and decide what you can live without. Good examples of things you can cut back on or eliminate include soda, coffee from the local coffee shop, takeout meals, gym memberships, and cigarettes. Other bills like cell phone and satellite TV subscriptions might be able to be pared down to a more basic rate. Adjust your thermostat to save money on the heating/cooling bill.

Tap into other sources of money

If you have a structured settlement or annuity, consider selling your future payments for a lump sum of cash that you can use to help acquire supplies. You can work with a company like J.G. Wentworth, the country’s biggest purchaser of future payments. Other ideas to raise some cash include:

  • Sell any electronics, exercise equipment or collectibles you no longer use
  • Start a little side business, such as pet-sitting, babysitting or house cleaning
  • Sell any stocks or bonds you hold

Go for lower-price items

Instead of feeling overwhelmed by all the supplies you need, focus on picking up several low-price items every week. Backdoor Survival offers a list of 60 highly useful prepping items you can pick up for about a buck apiece. Local dollar stores can be treasure troves for preppers, and you can pick up a ton of great stuff there including disposable lighters, aluminum foil, small plastic storage containers, canned juice, first aid supplies and much more.

If you are a member of a warehouse store, you can get some fantastic deals on shelf-stable food items like tuna, canned beans, granola bars, nuts and bottled water. Check out this list of emergency foods at Costco. Granted, some of these are on the pricey side, but the freeze-dried options are budget-friendly and will give you and your family a good source of ready-to-eat protein.

Hit the garage sales

Two great ways to find supplies: Visit local garage sales on a regular basis, and join an online group like the Freecycle Network. On this site, it’s possible to get even high-priced items like tents, other camping equipment, grills and sleeping bags at no cost.

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12 thoughts on “Top Tips to Help the Budget-Conscious Acquire Prepper Supplies”

  1. In my local area there are yearly case lot sales on canned food items where I find great deals. Also, I find a whole lot of items at the local “Thrift Store” (my wife calls them “Boutiques”). I’ve consistently found 100% wool sweaters for $5 each, nice Columbia Sportswear jackets for $10 each, 5.11 ($49) OD pants for $6, Fleece pullovers for $4 each, Danner Boots (Gore-Tex/Thinsulate) in great shape for $6-$10 per pair, I’ve even found good Camelbaks cheap, BDU tops and bottoms for $8 each. I’ve even found 100% Wooly-Pooly sweaters for $6 each. If you’re by a military base you’ll find a whole lot of military supplies at the thrift store. Just walk through and let items jump out at you. You’ll know what you need and what’s a good deal. Tell other family members to be on the lookout for certain things at certain prices at thrift stores. There are treasures to be found there. I’ve acquired a bunch of wool sweaters with the thought that after “it” happens it will certainly get cold and my neighbors or others will need warm clothes. I see it as a possible good will gesture or possible barter item for the cheap.

  2. Water is of course THE most important prep you will have, but It amazes me how many people concentrate on bottled water as a prep then go out and buy cases of 16-20 oz bottles for $3-5. I used to do that as well when traveling, then had to throw away the bottles at the next rest stop or gas station. Then I had an epiphany one day at the commissary on base. I needed distilled water for my iron to iron uniforms. Distilled water comes in gallon jugs. On the shelf next to the distilled water are gallon jugs of drinking water. FOR .88 CENTS A GALLON. You can store many more gallons than smaller bottles in roughly the same space, they stack better and are easier to grab and go. My wife and I both carry our nalgene bottles everywhere so we can both refill from the same jug and do not have to throw out oodles of smaller bottles. Oh yeah, the jugs are reusable so you can fill them right back up from your water purification system and put them back in storage. So as you get to where you are storing water remember the gallon jugs available everywhere because they are less expensive as well.

    • BorderReiver – You are 100%. The only issue I have had with water storage that way is the gallon jug the water comes in. Generally it is in a polypropylene contain – like a milk jug. The smaller bottles are in polyester(PET) bottles. The polyester is a much more rugged polymer. The gallon jugs of more permeable. If the water is used for cleaning, irrigation, etc. I guess it doesn’t matter. I like polyester for my storage. I buy gallon containers in polyester as well but they are more expensive. Appreciate your comments.

  3. One thing I like to do is make my own fire-starting items by buying then saving cardboard egg cartons. I save the lint from my dryer and stuff it into each egg space. I use candle warmers so I always have melted wax available. I pour the wax over the lint and let it cool. It doesn’t take much wax, so don’t overfill. Tear the egg carton apart as needed or to store in a Zip-Loc. I use these all the time to start the fire in the fireplace.

  4. If anyone has any advice re: couponing I would like to learn.At the most I can usually only save about $10 . with coupons on a regular grocery order.
    Thanks. Arlene

  5. Arlene,

    Go to There are videos and other educational articles on couponing and saving money. Also, covers how to determine sale cycles, stacking coupons etc. I attended $10 workshop, and that was the best $10 I have ever spent. Don’t worry if you do not live in the South. Most of the information is useful in the rest of the USA. Keep on saving. The cost of food is only going up.

  6. We have always shopped what used to be called Railroad Salvage grocery stores. Nowadays, they usually have Discount Foods in their names. These stores are local secrets almost, as they usually can be found in small to mid-sized towns. These stores carry “distressed products.” Some cans may be slightly dented and packaging may have been crumpled or for some reason is not perfect. Just be sure the food is still sealed within the packaging. Although they usually have dry foods, I am a little leery of buying those, especially cereals because if they are stored alongside the detergents they can pick up the odors of the laundry products. However, newer cereal brands, especially high end items are well contained in a metallic inner bag and can be trusted. Some things are never going to be too old to use, such as vinegars.

    If you aren’t too particular about those drawbacks, you can sure pick up a lot of food for way less than half of what you would pay at a regular grocer. I stock up on condiments, pickles, expensive things like artichoke hearts for $.50, salad dressings and marinades (often 25 cents a bottle), jellies and jams, canned tuna, gefilte fish, and sardines. I will usually also come home with cases of canned vegetables, beans, and fruits. Canned pastas and boxed dinners are usually safe. You will often find very expensive items that you wouldn’t normally buy, but because they are distressed, the price will be affordable. Also, they usually price similar items all at the same price, so you can get name brands for the same price as store brands, all of which will be priced lower than you have ever seen them at your chain grocery.

    Another attribute of Discount Food shopping is that the stores are often family owned and prices may be flexible if you offer to take a large lot off their hands for a reduced price. In addition, the stock changes from week to week, so you never know what treasures you might stumble upon. So, it’s not only a big savings on groceries, it provides me with entertainment!

    And finally, I have noticed lately that our regular grocery stores are starting to put distressed items out for sale. For example, I got 2 packages of romaine lettuce for a dime and a package of kale for a nickle. I had to go through the leaves and pick out a few questionable pieces, but wow! I have begun to take note of when produce and baked goods are likely to be marked down at the various stores.

    Since these items may be already out of date, we use them up first and put recently dated items that we bought at normal grocers in storage.

    • Appreciate the info Pam. There are a couple of local shops that sell distressed items – mostly expired or extremely close. I have shipped them in small qty mostly because they are a cluttered mess. I shop at Aldi’s quite often which is not selling expired foods but deeply discounted compared t grocery stores. Infact I stocked up today on canned goods.


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