Tough Love: You DO Have Enough Money to Prep

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Top Tier Gear USA

People all over the globe are struggling right now to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads. For some, these tips will not be helpful because their situation has become so dire. For the rest of us, though, there are many places that we can cut the budget in order to put aside money to prepare. If you are spending money on any of these things and claiming that you can’t afford to prep, I’m calling “Baloney Sandwich” on that today.

You may not want to make changes. You may not want to sacrifice your little luxuries. You may feel like you “deserve” them or that you have “earned” them.

That may well be the case, but one day if your cupboards are empty, the stores are closed and your kids are shivering in an unheated house, how much luxury would skipping those pedicures while sipping a $6 Starbucks have purchased for you? If you “can’t afford to prep” but you are still spending money frivolously, then you have willfully signed on for a very difficult future.

I’m not suggesting that every person reading this needs to implement each one of these changes, but by picking and choosing, the money you save could be invested in your future – just call it your Prepper’s Insurance Policy.

  1. Drink water. Even if you purchase it in $5 gallon jugs, it’s still the best deal around, with the added bonus of being good for your health. Skip the soda pop, juices and sports drinks.
  2. Join a Farm Co-op. You can get baskets of produce for more than half the year at a fraction of the price.
  3. Stop buying coffee in the drive thru on your way to work every day. You can save anywhere from $300-1300, depending on whether you are a Tim Hortons/Dunkin Donuts/Starbucks person.
  4. Brown bag it. Bring a healthy lunch from home instead of spending $5 or more each work day on your lunch.
  5. Skip the meat – consider 2 meatless meals per week, or at the very least make meat a condiment instead of a main dish.
  6. Cancel cable or satellite. Yes, the kids will complain. Yes, it will suck at first. Then you’ll learn to do other things and it won’t bother you at all.
  7. Lower your thermostat. The Consumer Energy Center says that for every degree you lower your heat under 70 degrees F, you can save up to 5% off your bill. Look into other ways to stay warm.
  8. Don’t use credit cards. If you must, because of an expense account, be sure to pay it off in full before the interest can kick in.
  9. Shop around for car and home insurance to be sure you are getting the best price.
  10. Grow your own veggies and herbs.
  11. Find the best phone plan. For some it may be Skype, for others it may be a cell phone instead of a landline and for still others, especially those who make a lot of long distance calls, it may be a VOIP service with unlimited national calling.
  12. Take shorter showers – this can save you up to $100 per year.
  13. Make homemade pizza instead of ordering delivery. At the very least, go pick the pizza up to save yourself delivery charges and tip.
  14. Hanging your clothes to dry instead of using an electric dryer can save over $300 per year.
  15. Washing your clothes in cold water can save $50 per year – plus your clothes will last longer.
  16. Don’t throw away your leftovers. You can collect small amounts of left overs and combine them into something totally new. We often keep a container in the freezer for leftover veggies. Later we add them to soups or pot pies. Sometimes we have enough miscellaneous leftovers to create an entirely new meal, which is like free food! Another option is what my kids call “leftover buffet” – all the leftovers go out on the counter and the kids can pick and choose their items – the ovenproof dish gets heated up and voila – TV dinner is served! If you have a few servings of dinner left over, put them in single serving containers so that you can grab them for lunches throughout the week.
  17. Eat at home. If you cut meals out to one a month, you can save up to $3000 per year for a family of four. As well, when it is a rare occurrence, it’s much more of a treat.
  18. Shop secondhand. Hit up thrift stores, Craigslist, Ebay, and yard sales before purchasing items new. Seek and ye shall very often find what you need for a fraction of the price. Also check out “Freecycle” – a website dedicated to unloading unwanted things at no charge.
  19. Stay healthy. Sometimes this is easier said than done, but by taking precautions like washing your hands and avoiding sick people you can reduce your risk of becoming ill. Also, good nutrition, vitamins, exercise and sunshine all help to boost your immune system. Being sick results in lost wages, money spent on trips to the doctor,  and expensive medications.
  20. Prep your food ahead of time. Nothing says “drive thru” like a gnawing hunger pain in your stomach on your way home from work. Spend time on the weekend prepping your food for the week ahead so that you are able to have dinner on the table in less time than it takes to wait in line at a fast food restaurant.
  21. Skip the gym and take your workout outside. Walk, run, bike, or hike and save those monthly fees.
  22. Quit smoking. Need I say more?
  23. DIY your hair color. At the very least, touch up your roots at home.
  24. Speaking of hair – consider simplifying. Try to stretch the time between hair cuts, learn to trim your hair yourself, forgo the fancy highlights and procedures, and cut back on the products. I realize not everyone is as enthusiastic about the ponytail as I am but see where you can simplify.
  25. Ditch the fake nails. I used to have a friend that insisted it was necessary to her job to have perfectly manicured fingers. No. If you are not a professional hand model, it’s not. Either learn to do it yourself or simplify to short neat fingernails buffed to a shine. I sincerely doubt any person ever lost a job for not having artificial nails. Clip coupons, but be sure to compare with the price of the less expensive store brands – sometimes coupons aren’t that great of a deal.
  26. Skip the fancy cleaning supplies and use household items like white vinegar and baking soda to keep your house spotless.
  27. Repair instead of replace.  In our disposable society, most  people say “Oh, it’s only $3 – I’ll get a new one.”  Repairing items isn’t just a way to save money – it’s a great way to improve your prepper skills.  Learn skills like mending, darning, welding, simple electrical and mechanical repairs and minor carpentry.
  28. Skip the doggie beauty salon. Learn to groom your dog at home. For the price of one trip to the groomer, you can purchase quality nail clippers and a good brush. Use human shampoo and brush your pet frequently to reduce matting. If your dog requires trimming on a regular basis, consider getting clippers, or at the very least, stretching out the visits with a bit more time in between.
  29. Stay home. When you stay home, you aren’t spending money on gas, drinks, food and shopping. If you are the type of person that needs the social aspect of going out, take your own water bottle and picnic lunch, and focus on free activities like going to the dog park, the museum on free-admission days, and the splash pad with the kids.

Take a long, critical look at your expenditures and decide what your priorities are. For the $15 per person that you would spend on an outing to the movie theater today, you could buy enough beans and rice to see you through a difficult time in the future. Quite seriously, we are running out of time to purchase things at a reasonable price. Taxes are increasing, prices are increasing and jobs are vanishing. The time to focus is RIGHT NOW.

You can use one of these suggestions or all of them. Be creative and come up with your own ways to save that work well with your life. Realize that by spending money prepping, you will save money in the long run.

For those of you with a black belt in frugality, what are some cuts that you have made in order to meet your goals?

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Contributed by Daisy Luther of The Organic Prepper.

Daisy Luther is a freelance writer and editor who lives in a small village in the Pacific Northwestern area of the United States.  She is the author of The Pantry Primer: How to Build a One Year Food Supply in Three Months. On her website, The Organic Prepper, Daisy writes about healthy prepping, homesteading adventures, and the pursuit of liberty and food freedom.  Daisy is a co-founder of the website Nutritional Anarchy, which focuses on resistance through food self-sufficiency. Daisy’s articles are widely republished throughout alternative media. You can follow her on Facebook, Pinterest,  and Twitter, and you can email her at

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  • Marcus Banana

    Overall gist of this artice: *Kick you consumerist habits*

    – Don’t buy things that have high markup and little value (plastic food, cheap consumer goods)
    – Focus on Substantial Entertainment rather than disposable diversions.
    – This will build your prepping Attitude, Skills, $$$, and resources all at the same time.

    This is excellent advice even for non-prepping times.

    Anyone who has misgivings, let me tell you from the other side: Life is healthier, more stress-free, cleaner, (more $$$) and generally happier when you unplug from our rampant Consumer Culture.

  • Candace Miller

    I try to buy in quantity when things are on sale, especially meat. Then I can repackage for individual meals and cut down on thawing time. Also, I have gotten so that I rarely buy anything preprepared. Pizza is probably the one thing that I don’t make from scratch anymore, but would if I had to. I have a book on making your mixes so I can prepare my own taco seasoning, Bisquick,etc.(Make-A-Mix by Fisher Books).There are also many sources for “fix ahead and freeze” recipes that you can do over the weekend as you suggested. Food Thrift stores like Aldis, Mr. Thrifty, and other true cut rate stores can be a big help, you just need to know your prices.

  • CP

    You’d be amazed at what the right spices can do to make a cheap and simple meal feel fancy. Italian seasoning, chili powder, and cinnamon (just to name a few) can make very simple, inexpensive meals feel fancier. And in most stores they can be gotten very cheaply. For those who know they’re paying too much for their cell phone, consider a TracFone. If all you do on your phone is talk and text it’s a great option (I pay half of what I used to for cell service). Also, cut entertainment costs by hitting up your local library for not only books but also movies and music. You might be surprised by the good selection. And make friends with board games and puzzles!

    • 41MagMan

      They sure can make a difference, CP. I hate the idea of spending $5 on a box of cereal. Oatmeal is fine for me and MUCH cheaper. So is boiled rice with a little cinnamon and sugar, honey, or maple syrup. I’m not sure how many breakfasts can be made from a 25# bag of rice or a Costco sized box of rolled oats but it is a LOT!

  • Kellie

    I don’t understand when people say “I can’t afford that” to anything that makes reasonable sense to be doing. But, I’m different.

    Anyway, this past month I took a Use It Up Freezer/Pantry challenge. The objective was to save money you would normally spend on these items while also using things up before they expire. I also coupled the challenge with a craft supply spending freeze and debt paydown. I was able to pay off $1300 dollars in debt, and I learned that I have WAY enough freezer and pantry food to do the same thing for the month of February.

    I think having clearly set boundaries and a consistent commitment to meeting the challenge was the key to success on this one. I have to admit that I haven’t had a lot of clear goal-type challenges of this type with this much structure, but I’m hooked!

  • cindy

    Shop for groceries at the no frill grocery store
    Buy food you will eat,not because it on sale
    Have a yard sale of items you don’t use,kids outgrown,or never used.
    Simplify your lifestyle,get rid if the magazine subscriptions you never read,the cable TV,landline phone,stuff that adds up..
    Pick up aluminum cans and sell at the recycle center.
    Buy clothes that you can mix and match and wear throughout the year.

  • Jack

    Thanks, yet again, Daisy!

    This went out to my friends who still don’t get the story of the ant and the grasshopper. It is always funny to see the look on their faces when I tell them “No you won’t share mine, you can bring yours, though.” But, I’ve been canning, shopping thrift and living like the first year that radio was widely available for a looong time.

    • 41MagMan

      So when the modern world hurtles into the crapper, you won’t miss it. Good job. 🙂

  • Wvmomof6

    Cut coupons! I just got 6 cans of tomatoes and two loaves of bread for free last week. Haven’t paid for doedorant for over a year and have a dozen extra stored. Dawn dish liquid is either free or 25 cents.

  • Two weeks ago, I used a coupon on sale items that also had a store coupon. I paid $2.33 for $18.87 (or close). That was a savings of 87%. The next week, I paid $44 for a savings of 60%. I forgot the cost before savings.

    I get free toothbrushes, free toothpaste, free deodornt, and free bath soap. Plus, I furnish these to three children, a dil, and four grandchildren.

    All school supplies for the older grandchildren are gotten with Office Max perks where I recycle all sorts of ink cartridges.

    I recycle cans and all sorts of metal as I clean out my basement.

    I rarely buy food that is not on sale that week. Bread comes from the Bread Thrift Store and usually has three or four days until the ‘use by’ date.

    Apples are $1.99 this week. I am eating the apples I paid $0.99 for a few weeks ago.

    When I buy food on sale, I always buy more than I can use and then can have a surplus for the future.

    • 41MagMan

      “Bread comes from the Bread Thrift Store and usually has three or four days until the ‘use by’ date.”

      I got a cheap Sunbeam bread maker from WalMart that works pretty well. Also makes pizza dough, bread sticks, and other goodies. I like to make a loaf or two a week. It doesn’t bake real good (tops collapse) but I usually bake in the oven anyway, so no problem. A 50-50 blend of wheat and white flour makes a great tasting bread. I add some extras to it to make it even better, such as molasses, honey, an egg, milk instead of water, and some bran if I have it. Really tasty with a little butter and some jam and it makes the house smell terrific. I buy the yeast in bulk and keep it in the fridge. Good stuff! 😀

  • SKIP

    The bull shit black history MONTH is on us already and we here in Afghanistan are getting the full assault and it is only the 2nd!! HAYSUSE FUC*** CHRIST, the entirety of black history and accomplishments could be dealt with by NATGEO in a one hour program WITH commercials. Gonna be a long month!

    • Lonnie

      If that’s all you have to worry about over there then you’re sitting pretty. Get over it and get your mind back on your job. Our prayers are with you!

      • 41MagMan

        Right on, Lonnie. I’d rather be chillin’ in the Stan than crawling through the muck in da Nam. Neither is good. Just sayin’.

      • SKIP

        It would appear that, to the military and da gubmint, the ongoing conflict is of little importance compared to race relations, the large number of sexual assaults and black history month. These troops apparently only have to qualify once a year with their weapons but most units have to attend race relations once a month and “classes” telling them that sexual assault and rape are UNLAWFULL!!! a rather modest term for a capital felony (unless blacks do it apparently)Luckily, I am now assigned to units with very little “dieversity” and even less interest in it. Thanks for the well wishing BTW:)

    • michael

      and your point is…,? That’s why your dumb ass is over there!

      • SKIP

        Does the word MONEY mean anything to you and I get paid a little more than minimum wage. OH! and BTW, I think it is less dangerous to walk around as a White man in Kabul, Kandahar or Bagram than to walk as a white man in Detoilet or SHITCONGO! Deny that if you can with evidence to the contrary.

  • ncjoe

    Kcik your consumerist habits; great idea! I just hope your job or the jobs of close relatives or friends is in one of those consumerist fields that you are advocating people stop spending money on. Then let’s hear you squall about unemployment.

  • Ricki

    I do every single one of the things mentioned and although I get a very small wage I have managed in 18 months to stockpile a huge amount of food and items for most problems that may befall.
    I simply don’t believe people who say they don’t have enough money. Staples such as rice and pasta are a very minimum to store. Clothes and blankets from thrift stores. It just goes on and on if the suggestions above from Daisy are followed.

  • I’ve been doing this kind of shopping for years. I refuse to pay $30 to buy a bear of jeans when I can get a good servicable pair for $4

    I will put out $10 for a whool coat. If it is in poor condition I can pick it up for $3 and cut it into feet patterns. You place it in the bottom of your shoes and It keeps your feet warm and your blood circulating.

    I am expanding the garden this year. I will be adding 2 additional rows and 5 5-gallon planters. I do huggle culture and add straw/leaves to the huggle culture rows and it keeps the rows full of moisture well into the summer.

    I can, freeze and dry vegys/fruits to get me through the winter. I hope to have a year without buying veges after this summers harvest. We will see.

    At this time I can 90% of the pickles that we eat in a year. This summer I will grow pepercini plants and hope to make it 100%.

    I have a good 8 months worth of food in storage for the long haul. And I keep adding items that we use often and some luxuries to keep our spirits up.

    I have made a couple of gallons of blackberry cordial for evening sipping. It will be ready to try in March. I don’t drink much, but a sip of sweet blackberry cordial warms you up on the inside.

    God bless and keep on prepping.

  • Lonnie

    This is a pretty good list. Me and mine have adhered well to this list for many years. BTW, just yesterday my wife went to the local Beauty School to get highlights done and along with getting her nails done it cost only $14. She also shops at thrift stores for clothing and many times comes home with items that still have the original price tags on them.

  • 41MagMan

    Great list! In fact, I am doing everything on the list but one and the female beauty aids. The one thing I am NOT giving up is my long hot shower. Tired, sore, aching muscles NEED this, so it’s not just a Wham! Bam! Gettin’ clean, Ma’am! experience. Plus, I sleep 100% better afterwards. 😀

    • SKIP

      Long Hot shower!! WTF is that lol:)