8 Rules For Preparing On A Budget

Budget concept

There are probably hundreds of reasons that could be thought of as to why a person should prepare for difficult times. And while finding a reason to prepare is not difficult, finding the financial resources to do so can be a challenge. Many items that are considered necessities for long-term survival are prohibitively expensive, which has a tendency to lead to discouragement and sometimes complete abandonment of any efforts to protect self and loved ones against emergencies and disasters. A majority of this frustration and inability to prepare because of financial shortcomings can be overcome by using a budget and finding frugal ways to obtain the goods necessary to survive a disaster.

I have seen plenty of blog posts and articles around the Web about prepping on X number of dollars a month or 100 survival items for $5 or less. This is great information, and I have to admit that I have done my share of passing this type of information along. While these tips are great, the greatest way to prepare with limited resources is to make the best decisions with your money and ultimately explore methods to obtain goods and services without having to spend money.

Consider these eight rules for preparing to survive difficult and/or becoming more self-reliant:

No. 1: Determine Threats, Probability Of Threats And Needed Skills/Goods

The primary steps that must be taken in order to prepare effectively and avoid falling victim to wasting money on excess or unneeded things are to determine threats, the probability of experiencing these threats, and what skills and goods will be required to survive these threats. Determining what to prepare for and what will be needed is a great way to ensure that finite resources are not misdirected or wasted.

No. 2: Create And Have A Budget

A major component to preparing on a budget is to create and have a budget. Each dollar that comes in should have a purpose assigned to it, and needs should always be prioritized over wants and desires. With that being said, as income is added to the bank account, assign it a specific purpose regardless of whether it is for housing, groceries, education or preparedness and long-term planning. While the concept of a budget is fairly basic, there are plenty of people who choose to “wing it” as opposed to spending with a purpose. Short of possessing significant amounts of luck, this is an inferior method.

No. 3: Don’t Buy Survival Preparations On Credit

Having to pay more in the long run is rarely helpful and only contributes to being less self-reliant. Living within the confines of actual monetary holdings is perhaps the best way to become self-sufficient and control one’s own destiny. Owing a debt to someone else can merely turn an independent person into a slave.

No. 4: Start With Small And Easily Achievable Goals

The best way to build momentum and avoid becoming discouraged is to take small steps and set goals that can be easily achieved. This can mean doing things like taking a complete inventory of the pantry and identifying holes or weaknesses in food stores. This can be completed in a single afternoon in most cases. Making a list of new skills to learn or existing skills to improve on is another example of an easily achieved goal. Once the basics are taken care of, move onto the more long-term and difficult tasks that are part of your prepping plan.

No. 5: Use Frugal Avenues To Obtain Survival Goods And Equipment

There are very few products or services that are so rare or protected that they are only offered by a single vendor. This makes it possible to look around for the best deal on what you desire. In addition to the typical retail outlets, consider searching for preparedness-related items on websites such as Craigslist or eBay, looking in the classified section of the local newspaper, or even scouring yard sales throughout the spring and summer for someone’s surplus treasure. In addition to new products at bargain prices, it is possible to find lightly used items at pennies on the dollar in comparison to the price of the same thing new.

No. 6: Find Lower-Cost Alternatives If Available

There is always something to be said about name-brand products. Often, the item that carries the name brand also carries a higher level of quality or craftsmanship. With that being said, not all products have a significant gap in the level of quality between brands and price points. As an example, when it comes to things like pasta, there is very little difference in things like the flavor and storage life between the fancy box and the generic box; but the difference between the cost of the two can be significant.

No. 7: Choose Quality Over Quantity

When evaluating products and services, consider higher-quality options over lower-quality, inexpensive options. I say this because there is a difference between being frugal and being cheap. In many cases, you’ll ultimately save money by purchasing a higher-cost, high-quality item. Lower-cost, low-quality items may need to be replaced several times during the life span of higher-quality versions of the same product. Aside from the useable life of such a product, many times the materials used to make a product cost less are far inferior compared to the more expensive product.

One example would be that of a multi-tool. A good multi-tool can cost about $50 and will last several years, even with regular use. An off-brand, cheaply manufactured multi-tool will cost about $10 and is usually not made with tool-grade materials. With regular use, the cheap multi-tool will likely need to be replaced a couple of times a year because of damage or not being capable of withstanding regular use and failing to perform the desired functions. This concept is also valuable concept when it comes to seasonal use items that may not only experience heavy use in season but may be stored, even in the elements, for the other times of the year.

No. 8: Barter For Goods When Possible And Save Cash For Other Expenditures

There is the old saying, “Nothing in life is free.” It is possible that there is quite a bit of truth in that statement, but that does not mean that everything costs money. Money or currency is simply a way of turning one thing of value (labor usually) and turning it into something that can be traded for another item of value (goods and services). The act of bartering for goods simply takes currency out of the equation and allows one person to trade his item or service of value directly for another person’s item or service of value.

Bartering can be done in a variety of ways but starts by identifying things that you possess of value that can be traded for things you need. Most of us have items lying around that we don’t need or use. These are prime items to trade. It is also possible that you have the ability to do something that another person cannot or chooses not to do. These services can be bartered with as well.

If you have items or abilities that you can trade, consider using these things to obtain survival and self-sufficiency items that you need without having to part ways with your cash.

While certainly not the only aspect of survival and self-reliance that matters, working on a budget and making rational decisions on what to do and when to do it can ensure there are fewer missteps in getting prepared for difficult times. In addition to being useful for prepping, working within your limits is a valuable life skill that can impact all areas of your life, in good times and during the bad times.

–Tom Miller

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Personal Liberty

Thomas Miller

lives with his wife and three sons on an island in the Pacific. He loves fishing, woodworking, hiking, swimming, golfing, and generally anything that he can do with his family. Using his skills and knowledge acquired in the Army, honed through multiple combat deployments, and gained through the ongoing study of survival and preparedness, Miller shares his knowledge and thoughts on his blog, thepreparedninja.com. You can also connect with him on Twitter, @preparedninja.

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