Every­one has mon­ey on the brain these days.  I don’t care how much mon­ey you have.  A forum I am some­times active on had one young man in col­lege just sought the advice of the mem­bers on how he can get pre­pared, as well as help his fam­i­ly and his girl­friend pre­pare for any tough times ahead.  All this despite the fact that his girl­friend and his fam­i­ly thinks he is off his rock­er.  Many peo­ple are more aware that they need to pre­pare for tougher times ahead.  The same gen­tle­man I am talk­ing about makes min­i­mum wage in a part time job while going to school… He is prepar­ing Bug Out Bags for every­one, and while I think a good Bug Out Bag is essen­tial whether you think you need it or not, there are oth­er areas I think this per­son should be focus­ing on first.  But that is just my opin­ion.  Maybe more on that lat­er.

After look­ing at some of my old posts about bug­ging in and bug­ging out, and know­ing I am re-eval­u­at­ing my mind­set of bug­ging out, thanks to the input of sev­er­al of my read­ers, I think there are oth­er areas than the Bug Out Bag that could and should be focused on first.

Let’s exam­ine this.  Regard­ing food stor­age or “extra food in the house” one of the sim­plest ways I would rec­om­mend any­one start get­ting pre­pared is this area is to just buy a lit­tle more every time you go shop­ping.  Food prices are going up, and by buy­ing jut a lit­tle bit more now, not only helps pre­pare you for the future if there is some type of per­son­al, nat­ur­al, or man made dis­as­ter, it also helps to save you mon­ey, even if you are buy­ing before prices rise.  If you nor­mal­ly buy four cans of tuna a week on sale for $5.00 buy eight cans instead or four.  You have only increased your week­ly bill by five dol­lars, but you have gained four or more meals out of it that are now in your food stor­age.  The adage of “buy what you store, and store what you eat.” makes per­fect sense here.  Also, begin putting a sys­tem togeth­er for replac­ing the food that you do eat.  If you eat a can of tuna, buy two more the fol­low­ing week.  One you have replaced the can you have used, and two, you have added anoth­er can to food stor­age giv­ing you that addi­tion­al meal.  I put up a post some time ago on five dol­lar preps that you can make week­ly that hope­ful­ly won’t break the bank.  The rota­tion con­cept I learned from a Ron Hood video Urban Mas­ter One, The Home.

By doing just a lit­tle at a time, based on your bud­get, you will not be over extend­ing your­self.  You will be slow­ly, yet more rapid­ly than you know, be achiev­ing a pre­pared­ness goal.  One thing you will have to do, how­ev­er, is fig­ure out how much food you want to have stored.  One month, three months, six months, a year?  Even I do not have a year’s worth of food stored (about three months), and I am not sure where I would store it in my apart­ment if I did have it.  I just do not have the space.  I do think, how­ev­er, that by smart­ly man­ag­ing my space as dis­cussed in my post, Apart­ment Prep­ping, the Real Deal, in My Opin­ion.

One of the oth­er advan­tages of doing a lit­tle at a time instead of buy­ing every­thing at once is that you also get to learn what you real­ly eat.  You might think you want to store 200 cans of SPAM, but are you real­ly going to eat it?  By giv­ing your­self a month or two of rota­tion, and by slow­ly sup­ple­ment­ing with items such as white rice, legumes, etc. you will be fill­ing in gaps for pro­tein, vit­a­mins, min­er­als, etc.  If you go out and buy every­thing all at once, I can almost guar­an­tee you that you will buy quite a few items you will nev­er use, eat, or drink, and you will be wast­ing a lot of mon­ey that you did not have to spend to begin with.

I start­ed by stor­ing a few cans of tuna, canned chick­en, a one pound bag of rice, etc. week over week.  In fact, I just pulled a can of chick­en out to make chick­en sal­ad today.  I will be replac­ing that with two cans ear­ly in the week.

Now. All of the above being said, it is no good with­out water.  You may want to first focus on water stor­age.  Why?  Well, first of all, I don’t care if you are in the arc­tic or in Aus­tralia, you need water.  Water stor­age can be inex­pen­sive, and you can get it done rather quick­ly.  It can sit in a clos­et for a year, and you don’t have to touch it unless there is an emer­gency.  They say a gal­lon of water a day per per­son.  Find some water con­tain­ers that can hold five gal­lons of water such as the ones in the link, fill it up with tap water, add 1/2 tea spoon of Clorox unscent­ed bleach, put the cap on, place it in the clos­et (it’s good for ab0ut a year at that point).  Warn­ing, do not put it on a con­crete floor.  Some­thing about the water going bad because it is on the con­crete… Not sure how true this is, maybe some­one else could shed some light.  My point, though, is that the prep­ping does not have to be expen­sive up front…

This brings me to bud­get­ing.  You should have a writ­ten bud­get or a bud­get in excel which will allow you to see all your expens­es, income(s) if you have more than one, and you will be able to see how much mon­ey you will have to make your pur­chas­es for stor­age.  In fact, I have a spread­sheet that I have used in the past, and con­tin­ue to use that I will post for you to down­load for your own use and to mod­i­fy how you see fit.  I will do this over the week­end for you.  I am not going to get into a lec­ture here about bud­get­ing.  I am not your spouse or your mom.  I have enough trou­ble tak­ing care of myself, I don’t need to be preach­ing to you about your mon­ey.  There are enough peo­ple in the world to do that already.

Before I move away from mon­ey, how­ev­er, I do want to touch on build­ing an emer­gency slush fund.  I am not talk­ing about a sav­ings account, but a slush fund of cash that you can have on hand if the pow­er goes out in your town, etc.  With­out pow­er, there are no ATM trans­ac­tions, and the bank stops doing busi­ness until pow­er is restored.  In a short term emer­gency sit­u­a­tion, cash can be king.  I rec­om­mend­ed build­ing a cash on hand fund that you keep in a safe place for emer­gen­cies of about $1,000.00.  It may take some time to build, but once it is built, you can be con­fi­dent that a 1,000.00 can dis­creet­ly buy you addi­tion­al sup­plies, get you a motel room in a neigh­bor­ing town, etc. for a day or two until you can return home.    Only use it for emer­gency sit­u­a­tions.  If your car is in need of a repair and you don’t have the cash in your bank, then use the emer­gency mon­ey.  But, if you use it, replace it so there are no sur­pris­es when you need to grab it for the next emer­gency… I know it may be tough to put $1,000.00 aside.  You may have to bud­get for it, sell some stuff, take your tax return and put that mon­ey aside, what­ev­er.  Just try to do it.  His­tor­i­cal­ly, most of the emer­gen­cies that have crept up on me have totaled less than $1000.00.

From a Bug In prepa­ra­tion stand­point, you should think of what sit­u­a­tions might apply to your geog­ra­phy and demo­graph­ic.  Bug­ging in requires some thought based on the sit­u­a­tion at hand.  If there is civ­il unrest, and you decide to bug in, you should think about the con­se­quences of that vs. bug­ging out.  If you live in a snow belt, prepa­ra­tions around fuel and stay­ing warm may be more impor­tant to you.  If you live in Ari­zona, then maybe it is water stor­age that is your main pri­or­i­ty.  What­ev­er the sit­u­a­tion, take your time, and put on paper all the pos­si­ble sce­nar­ios, includ­ing sit­u­a­tions such as it is 3:00 a.m. and there is a fire in your home, or a flood in the base­ment.  Once you have done that you can revis­it each sce­nario and what gear you will require for it. You can then dis­cuss or think about the fea­si­bil­i­ty of each sit­u­a­tion and decide which items of gear to pro­cure first.   I would give this con­sid­er­a­tion before the con­sid­er­a­tion of bug­ging out.  Why, because these are real sce­nar­ios that can hap­pen now, or at least sev­er­al of them, and they may pose a life threat­en­ing sit­u­a­tion to you and/or your fam­i­ly so you may want to deal with them first.  This thought process is a depar­ture from ear­li­er posts on Bug­ging Out that I have writ­ten.  Because I live in the sub­urbs, and deem most sit­u­a­tions as poten­tial­ly life threat­en­ing I have been a pro­po­nent of bug­ging out.  After much dis­cus­sion with oth­ers here on this blog and in my pre­pared­ness meet­up group, I find that there are sit­u­a­tions where bug­ging in is a valid option and con­cern to peo­ple.  It seems to come up more often when some­one has a fam­i­ly with small chil­dren or elder­ly fam­i­ly mem­bers that just are not as mobile as they are.  Which, of course makes com­plete sense, because, hey, your five year old son or daugh­ter prob­a­bly has a short atten­tion span, gets tired quick­ly, etc.  Sim­i­lar­ly, an aging fam­i­ly mem­ber may not be as mobile, have a health con­di­tion, etc. pre­vent­ing you from going mobile.  One area, that I am giv­ing thought to recent­ly is my own age.  I am 41, almost 42.  As I get old­er, I per­son­al­ly will not be as mobile.  I have to con­sid­er that.  What if I break a leg, arm, etc. and am in a cast.  How mobile will I be?   Not so much, I assume… So Bug­ging In is an area I would focus on before bug­ging out.

Bug­ging Out gen­er­al­ly requires gear.  Gear that as guys, and some­times gals, we jump at buy­ing because it is “stuff we think we need.”  I was guilty of this in the begin­ning… I had to have the “BIG” first aid kit, the this, the that, the stuff… I spent a lot of mon­ey.  Too much mon­ey.  I bought gear I may nev­er use.  I have giv­en some away.  Some of it has been stolen, leav­ing me with­out about $400.00 in gear.  Did I real­ly “need” it.  I replaced it with spare gear I had around my apart­ment, so guess what, I don’t think I real­ly need­ed it.  Be wary of the “gear bug” because when it bites, it bites hard, and leaves your wal­let emp­ty.  Instead pick up a cou­ple of good books on sur­vival skills, prac­tice them, and then think about the gear you need.  Here is why; the more you know, the less you need in the field.  It’s true.  It’s great to have sev­en ways to start a fire, but if you have the knowl­edge to do it with­out a lighter, match­es, mag­ne­sium, fire steel, etc. you real­ly don’t NEED them, do you.  You will be more com­fort­able with­out them.  I read in a recent arti­cle, it took Les Stroud three months of prac­tic­ing every day with a bow drill before he could make fire con­sis­tent­ly ‘almost’ every time.  That is 90 days of prac­tice.  Every day.  But once he had it down, he did­n’t need the match.  Buy your­self a book on build­ing a sur­vival kit like “Build the Per­fect Sur­vival Kit” by John D. McCann, or Dave Can­ter­bury’s “Sur­viv­abil­i­ty for the Com­mon Man.”  Both of these books out­line meth­ods of build­ing a kit that suits your needs with­out going crazy.  As for Bug­ging Out, you also need to make sure you have a place to go.  There are a lot of resources online for bug­ging out.  Two of which I rec­comend are Scott William’s book “Bug Out The Com­plete Plan for Escap­ing Cat­a­stroph­ic Dis­as­ter Before it’s Too Late,” and the fol­low­ing resources:

There are lit­er­al­ly thou­sands of resources online talk­ing about bug­ging out.  Just make sure you are able to do it, if you are going to do it.  My Bug Out Bag is set up for a 10 day trek on foot (worst case sce­nario) to my bug out loca­tion.  How­ev­er, While I am in aver­age shape, and even if I were in excel­lent shape, I would still DREAD the 10 day trek with a pack on my back on foot in the moun­tains of NJ and PA across the Delaware Riv­er, and who knows how many oth­er count­less streams rivers, rocky ter­rains, etc. I would have to go.  Just be pre­pared to do it if you have to, and know that it may be painful…

I have got­ten a lit­tle off top­ic.  To reit­er­ate, the more you know, or rather, the more skills you are pro­fi­cient in, the less gear you may have to bring with you.  So think about that as you learn and prac­tice your skills, and build your Bug Out Bag.  It could save you hun­dreds of dol­lars or more in the long run…

So, now that you have sev­er­al lists, your bud­get, etc., you should sit down and put a list togeth­er of all the equip­ment, gear, etc, that you need to pro­cure to become more pre­pared for what­ev­er emer­gen­cies you have iden­ti­fied for your­self.  If you plan on buy­ing online, make sure you cal­cu­late the ship­ping costs, etc.  This will help you deter­mine your real costs of buy­ing that prod­uct.  i.e. if a Ka-Bar knife costs $59.95 online plus ship­ping of $8.50, your loaded cost on that knife is $68.45, not the $59.95 that they are sell­ing it to you for.  What are some of the oth­er prod­ucts that are asso­ci­at­ed with the knife that you may need to buy.  Well, you need to buy a sharp­en­ing stone or sharp­en­er, that is an addi­tion­al expense.  Maybe you want to upgrade to a Kydex sheath.  There is anoth­er $15.00 approx­i­mate­ly.   By the time you are done acces­soriz­ing your $59.95 knife you may have spent $100.00 on it.  Once you do this, you will have a real­is­tic idea of what you will have to “invest” in your future of prep­ping and being a prep­per.  It has tak­en me some time to pro­cure the items I believe I will require, and more obvi­ous­ly from the above state­ment you already read about spend­ing too much.  How­ev­er, learn from my mis­takes.  Do not spend where you do not have to.  I did not put the prices togeth­er before I bought…  I just bought, and I urge you to iden­ti­fy the costs first.  You may find you can get away with a less­er cost item than the one you are look­ing at that may per­form exact­ly the way the more expen­sive one does.

Good luck, and please feel free to com­ment…

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