Monday, July 23, 2018

The Dangerous Line Between Prepper and Hoarder

Why Too Much Stuff May Get In The Way of Survival

This is a counter-intuitive article, because we all know that the more food, water, first aid supplies, and other supplies and gear we have, the better off we will be in and after SHTF. But, maybe not. Let's play devil's advocate and challenge the prevailing wisdom.

Is it possible for a prepper to have too much stuff - too many supplies? Would downsizing be a smarter strategy than stockpiling? Consider, if you will, the following: 

1) All those supplies cost money. Money which perhaps could be better used in others ways, such as paying off debt and setting up an emergency fund. Or buying training. Or as a down-payment on a homestead or bug-out location.

2) All those supplies take time, space, and effort to acquire,  organize and maintain. Next to the cost of prepping, this is the complaint I hear most often from folks. Where do I store all this stuff? is a common refrain in the prepper community. Lots of articles have been written, and products recommended to buy, attempting to answer this question. 

3) Too much stuff stored creates the problem of trying to find it. Clutter is a problem. Are you ever not able to quickly find something you know you have? Maybe a tool, or a book, or whatever? You know you have it somewhere but just can't find it. There's a saying: "If you can't put your hands on something you own within five minutes, then you don't really own it.

4) Clutter creates other problems, too. Fire hazards. Trip hazards. Pest problems. Or even something as simple as making it harder to clean the house.

5) Too much stuff will NEVER be enough stuff. There will always be more to buy and stockpile. Got a one year supply of stuff? Gotta get more stuff in case the collapse lasts more than a year. Got two years worth of stuff? Gotta get more, just in case it lasts longer. And so forth, ad infinitum. You will never acquire enough stuff,to last you forever. 

6) Too much stuff will NEVER be enough stuff. It is worth saying again, this time differently: You will not be able to anticipate your every need in during a collapse and in the years following. Sure, you'll need food & water, first aid & medical supplies, extra batteries, and supplies for cleaning, sanitation, and hygiene. But what else will you need? Spare parts? Barter items? Clothing for when yours wear out? Clothing for when your kids outgrow theirs.  educational materials? The list of what you might need goes on and on and on... In fact, "Have You Thought About This" articles are quite common on prepper websites and blogs, each with different items that you might potentially need.

7) Too much stuff may make you a target. Try as you might to maintain operational security, some people are going to figure out that you have a lot of valuable stuff.  Thieves, looters, pushy neighbors, or even the government may decide they want some (or all) of it. 

8) Too much stuff may bog you down. Let's face it, when it comes time to bug-out, you are not going to be able to take all that stuff with you. Reluctance to leave all that useful (and expensive) stuff behind may cause you to hesitate in an emergency, at a time when delays may be deadly.

My Bottom Line: I am not saying not to stockpile stuff. We obviously are going to need food and supplies. But the question is How much do we really need? Considering the potential negatives I've mentioned above (and there are probably more I haven't thought of), I don't think the "more is always better" answer is necessarily the right answer. 

In my own life, I've begun the process of re-evaluating all the stuff I've accumulated over the years. For example, my library contains over 1,500 books. Most of those I've never read and never will, so why keep them all? My goal is to get down to a much more manageable library of only a handful of really useful reference books and a handful of "entertainment" books for my enjoyment.

I am also an avid knife and multi-tool collector, with way more than I will ever need, so why keep them all? Why keep buying more? And there are still other areas of "stuff" that I plan on going through and downsizing.  The idea is to get much more "lean and mean" than I currently am. This will also have side benefits of raising money and making me  much more mobile.

Watch for future articles on downsizing.

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