I have been chosen by a film company to try out for a documentary on “prepping.” If I am chosen, a film crew will come to my house and film me in all aspects of my daily life.
I don’t feel like a prepper, I just live providently. When I refer to myself, I am also referring to my husband Scott and my children and most of my friends and relatives. It seems that everyone I know lives like this to some degree. I told my husband about it and he asked me, what is prepping? It seems it is a new buzzword for preparing for disasters or hard economic times. We are so used to our way of life that it is normal to us. We don’t consider ourselves preppers.
We have our yearly routine that we do to maintain a level of preparedness at all times. Because I am in the middle of filming the preliminary clips, I have been seriously thinking about how we live and how I could share this way of life with others who are just getting started and want to be more self-sufficient. I am going to list all the things that my family is doing to be prepared.
1. We Are Getting Out Of Debt And Staying Out Of Debt
The most important thing we are doing is getting out of debt and staying out. After all the research I have done on banks and the interest they charge, I realized that my money market account and my savings were never going to increase at the same rate as the interest the bank was taking out for my loans. I realized also that I need to be borrowing from myself instead of the bank, then I can pay myself back and I earn the interest. I am money ahead that way.
So I cashed out my money market certificates and my savings and I paid the highest interest-bearing debts first: Our credit cards, vehicle loans, a loan on a ring my husband and I bought and a flat screen TV that we purchased.
I paid off my mother’s house because she is getting older and making the payment every month is very hard for her. I could have used this money for my own debt, but I had a strong feeling that my mom’s house was more important and she needed to be out from under that pressure.
I came to the conclusion that I had my savings money in the bank and I also had my loan at the same bank. The bank was taking my savings and loaning it back to me and then charging me large amounts of interest. All of a sudden it dawned on me that this was not smart. So I used my savings and paid the high interest bearing loans first, and now I am making the same payments only to myself and I keep the interest for myself. That is how I can get ahead.
The way we started getting out of debt was by listing all monthly expenses and debts on a ledger. We concentrated on the smallest and highest interest bearing debts first. When we got the first debt paid, we took the money from the first one and added it to the second one.
For example, the first one was $100 and the second one was $200. When we paid off the first one, we began paying $300 to the second one each month until that one was paid in full. Then added the $300 to the third debt until it was paid off. We were still paying the same amount each month, but we were compounding the payments to get them paid off sooner.
Most people would say, “Good, I have an extra $300 this month,” and then go spend it or get into more debt. This plan takes discipline but can be done.
I must say that if you are on a fixed income or have no income, it is very difficult to get out of debt. That is why it is called the “Rat Race.” You spin your wheels and go nowhere.
You may have to sell some of your assets to accomplish this goal. I have put some recreational land that we own up for sale. If it sells, I will finish paying off our final debts.
My husband and I made a pact with each other that we would not use our credit cards for any purchase unless it is a debit and we have the extra money saved up for that purchase. We plan ahead and never get in trouble with credit card debt.
Our home is paid for and we are not a slave to a mortgage company. It feels so good to be debt free on our home and know that we won’t be kicked out if times get tough and we get into financial trouble.
We also save up the property tax money each month so that in November when property taxes are due we have the money and it is not a burden on us.
We have a three-month supply of cash on hand (not in the bank) to pay bills just in case the banks shut down or have no funds. It is good to have small bills and coins for smaller purchases. Saving enough money for emergency bill paying takes time. We are frugal and try to save money wherever we can. We pay cash for vehicles and other purchases. If we don’t have the money, we don’t buy it.
2. We Grow A Garden Every Year
We are avid gardeners. Every spring we grow a garden.
My husband grew up on a farm and learned to milk cows at an early age. He would get up by 6 a.m., do his chores, milk the cows and then go to school.
His father was an onion farmer. They also grew corn to sell at the farmers market so the children could have money for school clothes.
We grow a lot more food than we need. However, I have tried to scale down and it hasn’t worked as well, so we give a large amount of food away to our family and friends. We like to grow plants from non-hybrid seeds so we can save them from year to year and have a never-ending supply.
3. I Bottle And Dry Excess Fruits And Vegetables
During harvest time I bottle or put up fruits and vegetables. I make things like salsa, pickles, beats, broccoli, squash, soups, peaches and pears. We enjoy eating the food we grow all year.
I also like to dehydrate the excess produce that we have in our garden. I keep a dehydrator going all the time during harvest time.
I make sun-dried tomatoes, zucchini chips, dried onions, and dried fruit slices such as peaches and pears, raisins, plums and apples. I make fruit leather with a mixture of fruits blended into a puree. I have an herb garden that we use to grow fresh herbs for cooking. I dehydrate them to make herbal seasonings.
4. We Have A Year-Round Greenhouse
We have a year-round greenhouse that we start all our seedlings in and grow food in year round. It contains an 800-gallon water tank that helps keep the greenhouse from freezing or overheating. We have fish in the tank all year. If necessary we could grow fish to eat.
We love our greenhouse.
5. We Raise Chickens And Other Animals
We live in the city limits of a small rural community. The entire town is only one mile long, and the population is 2,500. We are allowed to have farm animals on our property.
Many of my neighbors raise horses, cattle, chickens, rabbits, pigs and goats. People raise animals for meat as well. The county fair is full of them waiting to be sold to the lucky bidder.
We purchase meat from the local ranchers in the area. My husband and I have chickens. We collect the eggs every morning and eat them fresh for breakfast. My husband believes that he is healthier because of the free-range fresh eggs he eats.
6. We Store A Year’s Supply Of Food
Because of the religious beliefs of our church and community, most people in my community and in the state of Utah store enough garden seeds, food, water, clothing, bedding, fuel, wood, emergency supplies and camping gear to be prepared for an emergency of some sort.
I am the queen of food storage. I have enough to supply an army. I keep it in different locations for security reasons.
I stockpile a lot of easy-to-make meals that can be cooked by adding water and bringing to a boil. These include things such as soup mixes and premade meals. I also store bulk foods like rice, dried fruits vegetables, wheat, powdered milk, beans, honey, bread baking supplies and all the necessary ingredients to make soup and bread.
7. We Have A Root Cellar
Our root cellar is a cement room similar to a basement, only smaller. It is about 10 feet deep and has a stairway leading to the room.
We keep all our winter vegetables in that root cellar: Carrots, onions, potatoes, squash and apples all store well throughout the winter. There is a building on top of the root cellar in which we keep buckets of dehydrated food.
8. We Have A Wood-Burning Stove In Our Home
A wood-burning stove is a necessity if the power goes off. You need enough coal and wood to build a fire in the stove to heat your home and stay warm.
The top of the wood burning stove is flat so you can boil water in a pot or even cook simple foods on the top of the stove. These stoves will heat entire rooms. If your power goes off in the middle of the winter, you can shut the doors to rooms that are not being used and just heat the part of the house that is absolutely necessary.
We built an outdoor fireplace that we could use to cook in if we had to. It is on our patio and it is nice to just relax by the fire on chilly nights. We also have a barbeque grill that uses propane. We store extra bottles of propane so we could use it if needed.
9. We Have Camping And Evacuation Equipment
We have a special shed on our property in which we keep all our camping, hiking, snowshoeing equipment. We have plastic totes full of Mountain House foods and eFoods pre-made meals. We keep tents, sleeping bags, cots, warm clothing (gloves, wool socks, pants and hats), extra bedding, wool blankets, kerosene lamps, Dutch ovens and a Sun oven.
We have guns and ammo also. We live near the mountains and if we needed to hunt for wild game, we could. We have alternative heating and lighting sources as well. We keep our 72-hour packs in this shed along with our portable water filters. We keep cans of extra gasoline in case we need to take off somewhere. It is a good idea to keep the vehicles full of gas at all times.
10. We Have An Outhouse On Our Property
Our house sits on about a half-acre plot of land. My husband fixed up an old outhouse that was on the property when we moved here 25 years ago. The outhouse has a door on it for privacy. It has a hole dug in the ground about four or five feet deep and has a wooden box built on top of the hole.
The wooden box has a hole in the top with a toilet seat secured over the hole. We use an enzyme and bacteria product called Bio Clean to sprinkle into the hole and eliminate human waste and smells. You can purchase Bio Clean from my website www.peggylayton.com.
11. We Have A 250-Gallon Water Tank In Our Shed
Water is the most important item we have. Without water we won’t live long. We keep a 250-gallon tank in the shed where our camping gear is stashed. We have smaller 5-gallon containers to fill from the larger one.
This is a little bit about how we live. I hope it gives you ideas so you and your family can be more self sufficient.
If you are interested in a great source for pre-made meals that can be stored for 15 years and taste great, check out the eFoods Global meals available from my website. I have been testing out these emergency food storage meals which are packaged in Mylar® pouches. These meals serve four people and are ready to just add water and cook. I find them delicious, convenient, and easy. For more information, click here.
To purchase any of my seven books or any of the other preparedness items I sell, go to my website at www.peggylayton.com