Have a discussion. Having a discussion and making plans with your spouse, kids, friends and relatives costs nothing. You need to make some decisions and plans before the SHTF, and make sure everyone involved is on the same page in knowing what to do. I suggest you start by reading my short article Disaster Planning: Understanding Potential Disasters. Then, consider your particular situation, circumstances, and concerns carefully. Discuss them with your spouse. Make written plans. Make lists of what you need to do or buy (when you have some extra money).
Improve your finances. This will take some time and hard work, but it can be done. Many of the tips I give in my article Prepping 101: Finances - Get Back to Basics don't cost anything to do, and will help improve your finances greatly over time. Get on a budget or make out a spending plan. Avoid impulse purchases by using a shopping list and sticking to it. Cancel any unnecessary newspaper or magazine subscriptions. Use coupons, compare prices, and shop sales. Shop around to see if you can save money on your home or auto insurance, cell phone plans, etc. Consider cutting back on your cable or satellite TV subscriptions. Avoid overdraft or late payment fees by keeping close track of your spending and bills. Have a yard sale to raise some extra cash and declutter your house at the same time.
Improve your health and fitness. Improving your health and fitness doesn't require gym memberships, special exercise equipment, or expensive "health foods." Here are some FREE health & fitness tips you can start doing today:
- Drink water instead of sodas or sweet tea. You don't have to buy bottled water, as tap water works just as well (and the dirty little secret of most bottled waters is that they really are just tap water).
- Skip the desserts. You'll lose weight and save money at the same time.
- Skip the late night snacks. You'll lose weight and save money at the same time.
- Eat healthier. This doesn't mean buying special health foods or more costly organic foods. Instead, it means eating less junk foods, fast foods, & sweets, and more veggies, especially leafy-greens and cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli and cauliflower).
- Go for a walk. Walking is great exercise. Try to start with a 15-minute walk each day, and over the next several weeks try to work your way up to 45-minutes tor even an hour. Walk around your neighborhood, in your local mall (great way to walk on a rainy day), or at local parks & greenways. Don't quit. The key to walking for fitness is consistency.
- Be active. Yard work - such as cutting grass with a push mower, gardening, raking leaves, chopping wood - makes great FREE exercise. In fact, anything that raises your pulse rate and causes you to lightly sweat counts as exercise.
- Check out your local parks. Local parks often have walking/jogging trails, tennis courts, basketball courts, obstacle/fitness courses, and other opportunities for FREE exercise.
- Calisthenics are FREE. Stretching exercises and calisthenics are FREE. Jumping jacks, sit-ups, toe-touches, leg squats, push-ups, etc., require no special equipment and cost nothing.
- Stop smoking. Yes, this is hard. But it can be done for FREE and it will even save you hundreds, perhaps thousands, of dollars a year.
Store some extra water. Tap water works just fine. You may already have some water jugs & containers with your camping or picnic gear. Use them for your emergency water storage. If you don't, there are other FREE options such as using 2-liter soda bottles (ask friends to save you some if you don't drink soda). Glass wine bottles also work. I buy one or two 3-liter bottles of table wine every month or two anyway, so I've been saving the empty bottles (they have screw-on tops) and using them to store water. (If you do buy water storage containers, please avoid the Ozark Trail 6-gal water jugs, which are defective - see my article Prepper Alert! Defective Product Design).
Use your library card. Libraries are a great source of FREE entertainment and FREE information. You can check out a wide range of books on gardening, canning, country skills, health & first aid, home improvement & DIY, fishing, hunting, nature field guides, edible wild plants, wilderness survival, personal finance, and so forth. Entertainment, too, can be had for FREE at your local library, and not just books to read. Many libraries today have DVDs, board games, puzzles, and other types of entertainment that you can check out for FREE, as well as story times for kids and lecture series for adults.
Exploit FREE information from the web. If you are reading this, you're on the Internet anyway. There are a lot of great websites and YouTube channels full of useful information for you to read or watch. This website (www.TimGamble.com) is full of prepping, survival, and homesteading informationYou should also check out PrepperWebsite for daily links to the best prepper & survivalist articles on the web. Also, check out SurvivalBlog.com, the "Granddaddy" of all prepper/survival websites. There are, of course, lots of other great websites and You Tube channels for you to discover.
You may also be interested in my article, 2017 Edition: FREE Resources for Preppers, Survivalists & Homesteaders.
Work on your relationship with God. I believe in God, and that He can and does answer prayers. Perhaps non-religious folks will try dismiss that aspect of faith, but there are aspects you cannot dismiss. My faith, my relationship with God, provides me with great comfort, hope, peace, and joy. It relieves my anxiety and fear. It helps me stay calm and focused by providing me with inner strength, clearly defining my priorities, and providing an ethical framework for my decision making. All these are extremely useful benefits during times times of high stress, confusion, and turmoil. Even the most non-religious among us must recognize the importance of a good mental attitude to surviving difficult times. I suggest praying and reading the Bible daily.
Not sure about God? Check out the website Peace with God, by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.