Most of the advice and I've given in previous articles of the Prepper Financial Series has been general in nature, in that it is good advice for everyone, prepper or not. In today's article, I want to give some prepper-specific financial advice:
Let me start by reiterating this foundational advice: Financial preparedness is important for preppers and survivalists, even those preparing for "the end of the world." Financial preparedness includes spending less than you make, getting out of debt and setting aside money into an emergency fund, among other aspects.
My advice: Think of prepping for TEOTWAWKI not as an escape from your debts and lack of financial security, but rather as an opportunity to successfully address those areas in your life.
Having said that, let's move on to the prepper-specific advice:
1- Avoid "buy everything now" syndrome. Food, guns, ammo, bug-out bags, knives, multi-tools, gear, a mountain retreat and a bug-out vehicle to get there, a homestead... It seems the list of stuff we need to buy is endless, yet we have to buy it all before the SHTF event happens, which will probably be next week. Its a perfect set-up for the "buy everything now" syndrome. Folks new to prepping are especially vulnerable to this syndrome, but it can strike even experience preppers at times. Unchecked, this syndrome can have devastating consequences - everything from money wasted on stuff you really didn't need to mountains of credit card debt.
2- Lists are your friends. In battling the "buy everything now" syndrome, making lists is probably your best defense. Make a list of everything you think you need. Think about it. Discuss it with your spouse/family/group members. Then prioritize that list. What are the most important essentials (maybe label them A)? What are the "nice to have but can wait" items (label them B)? What can you make do without (label them C)? You can have one massive Everything List. Or you might find it more useful to break it down into multiple lists by categories (Food & Water, Guns & Ammo, First Aid & Hygiene, Cleaning & Sanitation, etc.). Whatever works for you.
3- Avoid impulse purchases. This is where those lists come in handy. Don't buy anything that's not on the list. And try to stick to buying those things you labeled with an A (the truly essential items), before you move on to the Bs (nice to haves, but not essentials). Don't buy any Cs if you still have As on your list. See something you really want (and think you need), but it isn't on the list? Write it down and prioritize it, but wait 48 hours before buying it. After 48 hours, review it and see if you still think you really need it. Chances are the impulse will have ebbed.
4- Quality, not quantity. You are not going to be saved by the sheer quantity of supplies you have. First and foremost, you will be saved by your physical health, your mental attitude, and your skills. Next in importance will be the quality of your gear and supplies, not the quantity. Choose quality over quantity. Remember this when working with your lists.
5- Tactical is just a word. A great word for marketing, to be sure. But it is just a word, and one with no official meaning. It is so over-used in marketing stuff to preppers and survivalists that it seems anything available in black is called "tactical" and the price is often jacked-up accordingly. Don't fall for this tactic (pun intended). Evaluate possible purchases based on their usefulness, quality, and price, not on the marketing terms applied to them.
6- Avoid celebrity names. There are a number of survivalists who have become celebrities of sorts due to their TV exposure. Several of them have sold their name to companies making knives, kits, and other gear. I tried a number of these "named" products, and without fail I have found them to be over-priced and often of inferior quality. You will pay a 25%-50% premium just for the celebrity name for a product that will typically be of lesser quality than the cheaper no-name version.
7- Avoid gimmicks. There are a lot of gimmicky products out there. I've bought a few of them myself, much to my later disappointment. Often these products are interesting ideas poorly executed. Sometimes they shoot for the prepper equivalent of "cuteness" or "wow" factor to entice buyers. And they invariably over-promise and under-deliver. Avoid gimmicks by sticking to your lists, searching out reviews (youtube is great for this), and actually holding or even using a item before you buy it.
8- Avoid super-high priced items. A bigger price tag doesn't guarantee a better product. You can get a solid, good-quality survival knife for under $50 (here's one on Amazon that I own, use and like), or you can buy a super-high priced top-of-the-line survival knife for $500 or more. The $500 knife may, or may not, be better quality than the $50 knife, but I'm willing to bet it isn't 10X higher quality.
9- Don't get too caught up in the freeze-dried, long-term storage hype. Yes, many of these foods can store (under the right conditions) for 10 years or more. However, on a per serving basis they are ridiculously expensive, in my opinion. I firmly believe you can put together a 3 to 5 year supply of food using regular canned foods and dry foods for much cheaper, and with more variety and personal choice in what you're getting.
EXCEPTION: It does make sense to buy some perishable foods, like milk, butter, cheese, and eggs, in freeze-dried or powdered forms for long-term storage. I do, and my favorite company for these foods is Augason Farms, because I know their quality is good and prices are reasonable relative to other companies. By the way, I am NOT affiliated with Augason Farms, just a happy customer. (I am affiliated with Amazon.)
10- Look for cheap and even free ways to get your gear and supplies. Some examples: Discount stores, thrift stores, salvage stores, flea markets, yard sales, classified ads, Freecycle.... Also, comparison shop, shop sales, use coupons...
This article is part of an ongoing Prepper Financial Series. Here are the other articles in that series:
*** Foundational Advice: Eliminate Debt and Build Savings
*** Quick Financial Tips for Preppers (and Everyone Else)
*** How To Raise Money For Your Prepping Activities
*** Precious Metals and the Prepper
*** Taming the Family Budget
*** 18 Easy Ways to Save Money
*** 10 Ways to Save Really BIG Money
*** Prepper's Guide to Junk Silver (article from 2014)
Future articles in the Prepper Financial Series will come out on an almost weekly basis, typically on Mondays.
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