7 Ways to Get Better Prepared for FREE

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These days, there are so many ways to better prepare yourself and your family, though you often hear about the ones that cost money. If you’re like me and on a tight budget, here are a few ways you can get better prepared for free:

1. Learn your way around your home in the dark.

Do you carry a flashlight on you at all times? Chances are, the answer is no. You also don’t always know when the power will go out. Learning how to make your way around your house in the dark without injuring yourself could make a huge difference in an emergency situation and is an easy way to get better prepared for free.

It’s even something you can get the kids involved with. Challenge them to get from one place to another in the house without turning on a light. You could also make it a scavenger hunt. Give them a list of things to collect from different rooms (a pillow from the living room, toothpaste from the bathroom, a tea towel from the kitchen. You get the idea.)

2. Go over your emergency plans with your family.

I recommend sitting down with your family (or, if you’re single, doing it by yourself) and going over your emergency plans about once a month. Not only is it great to get a refresher, keeping everything fresh in your mind, but things change. Maybe someone in your house needs a new medication, and you haven’t added it to your bug-out bag. Maybe your sister is staying with you for a few months, or you have got a new pet. Heck, maybe a fence was put up blocking the main route to your meet-up location, and you need to find a new one.

Things are constantly changing and happening in our everyday life, so it’s important to make sure everything is always up to date. Better to prepare for the changes before they become an issue.

3. Working on projects with free items will help you get better prepared for free.

Projects and DIYs are not only fun, but they’re actually helpful too. When you take time to make homemade pillows or refinish a piece of old furniture, or heck, just making something new and useful out of something old, you’re getting in a lot of good practice. You’re working on things like sewing skills, carpentry, and also just working those muscles in your brain that like to teach you how to think of things in a new light.

Now, you might be wondering, how is it free? Well, sites like Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, Kijiji (if you’re in Canada), VarageSale, and so many more, are constantly listing things for free. Those free things are also often the things that need the most work. In many cases, you can just pick the item up, and then you have a new vessel to practice your DIY skills on. Plus, you may even be able to resell it when you’re done for a little extra pocket money. 

4. Organize your food storage.

This one often goes underrated. Taking the time to organize your food storage, though, is priceless. You first want to make sure that the items closest to their expiry dates are at the front. This way, they get eaten first and have less chance of going bad.

I also strongly recommend taking a full inventory of your preps and keeping track, both as a digital copy and a hard copy. Google Sheets is my favorite resource for this – it’s essentially a free version of Microsoft Excel. The best part is you can access it from nearly any device. That means you can type it all up on the computer and print it out. But, if you’re saying, at the grocery store, and see there’s a sale on beans. You know you have black beans or pinto beans, but you can’t remember which. Just open the phone, look on the app, and you’ll know exactly how much you have of which. 

This will help you keep a more balanced stockpile, and I recommend updating every 1 to 2 weeks.

(For more information on how to build up your food storage, check out our free QUICKSTART Guide on building a 3-layer food storage plan.)

5. Work on skills to become more adaptable to changing situations.

Both Daisy and Selco often talk about the importance of adaptability in any given survival situation, but there is always room for improvement in this arena. 

Practicing skills like scenario run-throughs with loved ones, keeping up with current events, and considering your current preps with a critical eye can all help to increase your adaptability and help you to get better prepared for free. That, and putting yourself in low risk but uncomfortable situations. You have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable sometimes. 

6. Read more.

Reading is honestly one of the best things you can do to prep, in my opinion. I personally read almost everything and anything I can get my hands on. I’m not just talking non-fiction manuals like Prepping for Dummies. Reading fictional books about survival situations like A. American’s series or autobiographies of people who have lived through things similar to 127 Hours.

And, to do it for free, check out your local library. A lot of libraries even have ways to borrow ebooks and audiobooks from the comfort of your own home too. 

7. FEMA training.

Did you know that FEMA actually offers a selection of completely free in-person and virtual classes? Talk about a score for reliable, good-quality training and lessons to help you in emergency situations. You do have to register, but I think it’s totally worth it. Go HERE to see a list of courses being offered right now.

Are there other ways you get prepared for free?

It just goes to show you don’t need thousands of dollars to better prepare yourself and your loved ones for emergencies. Sometimes it just takes a little time and effort.

What’s your favorite way to prep for free? Do you have any creative ways not mentioned here? Share them in the comments.

About Chloe Morgan

Chloe Morgan grew up living with a tight budget. In her late teens and early 20’s all the lessons she’d learned started to slip, like it does for many college age students on their own for the first time, and with their first credit card. As she’s gotten older, she’s started to deal with the repercussions and has taken on a frugal way of living, keeping her costs low, as she pays off debt and saves for her future. Chloe lives in Northern Ontario, Canada, with her cute dog, Rhea.

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Chloe Morgan

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  • 911

    I think that what most people will be unprepared for in a true emergency is how human nature devolves into animalistic hysteria, panic, and predatory behavior. I am talking about people that are in people’s trusted group of people that will suddenly resort to such behavior in an emergency. This behavior has been documented throughout history in what were not necessarily national emergency situtations, but were personal emergency situations for world leaders that resorted to asassinating their own relatives. It is shocking to think that someone could be driven to such behavior, but it has happened over and over again throughout history. The people that you know and trust now, may not be the same people in an emergency situation. I think that that is what people will be most unprepared for. The government, leading corpirations, and governments around the world staged 9/11/2001 in what were personal emergencies for themselves, and all colluded to deceive in a blood bath, and they did it again with the covid-19 fake pandemic. There is no telling what they will do next.

    Andrea Iravani

    • It’s true that in high-stress situations people can behave in unexpected ways. But that’s another thing you can prepare for, for free. There are plenty of books on the subject of dealing with difficult situations with people, and they are found in most libraries. I once went to a course on non-violent communication, and it really helped me to re-think how to deal with stressful situations. The first thing I had to learn is that non-violent communication isn’t about being pacifist and passive, as I thought initially, but about how to navigate successfully these situations without compromising anything that’s really important to you.

      • “books … a course on non-violent communication”

        don’t forget that those are oriented towards an environment with functional services and law enforcement, not a grid-down environment with nothing but what the immediate actors bring to it. the books and course may be misleading in a situation where certain people are declaring themselves to be the new sheriff and are looking forward to using their guns against those who won’t be volunteered for work assignments.

    • Completely agree with this statement. We have a huge task on our hands to make it to the other side, whatever that entails.

  • “what most people will be unprepared for in a true emergency is how human nature devolves into animalistic hysteria, panic, and predatory behavior”

    well most preppers’ plans include withdrawing into isolated areas far from people, specifically to avoid this.

    but of course this applies to preppers too. lots of preppers, when law enforcement goes away, look forward to becoming the sheriff/lord of their little local band, giving orders and eliminating anyone who doesn’t conform to their work assignments.

  • “What’s your favorite way to prep for free?”

    in my opinion one of the features of modern life that will be most missed is container technology – keeping money, salt, water, grains etc in one place and isolated from contamination and bugs is no small matter. lots of containers are available now but are thrown away, these can be stored and/or put to use now before they’re no longer available.

    • ant7, this is an excellent point….many people throw away empty plastic containers that once housed vitamins, prescription medications, or various food products such as mixed nuts, popcorn, rice, or scores of other items. Saving some of these empty containers and washing them out is a very good idea. You might even be able to help out someone else who needs a container or two. Although we don’t go over board, we do this in our household.

  • When I was a kid, my Dad taught us how to make baskets. I have recently started that again. When SHTF, I can make foraging, storage, and other types of containers. Then I can barter for things I need.

  • Doly Garci,
    That is useful information. I have not read any books on that topic. I cannot leave my home though. It can be useful to others though.

  • I belong to a neighborhood FaceBook group. About 40 members in roughly 20 nearby households. We exchange “shady door to door salesman” alerts, strayed off dog/cat, mangy fox sightings (one neighbor is a retired vet and offered his professional opinion), “Amazon claims my package was delivered, did anyone see it?”, “Can I borrow a ____?”. You get the idea. When nasty weather is expected (as happens here in the mid-atlantic US), we use the FB page to check on the elderly and those with small children if they need something from the store. Those of us with 4WD or AWD vehicles post our availability for transport.

    At this point the prepper lightbulb over your head should click on.

    Maybe start a community FB page?

    • “Maybe start a community FB page?”

      if you don’t mind it all being logged in an “extremist watch” data base.

      • Sadly, this was my first response, too. It could have been such a good idea if we weren’t in a technocractic fourth industrial revolution…

    • Stay off FB and other social media when organizing support groups . Look to your immediate neighbors and people from your church or other social groups that you know very well and trust.

      • It’s a great idea to get and stay connected with the neighbors.

        As already pointed out, using social media to do so is a most grievous break in OpSec.

        You can utilize encrypted messaging programs like Signal, or CB radios, telephones, or (my favorite) face-to-face when possible.

        Be there for each other, help each other, but don’t leave yourselves open to outsidePonsurveillance.

        • augh. No edit button. Last line should read, “don’t leave yourselves open to outside surveillance.”

        • Pony Maroni,
          And here I was thinking “outsidePonsurveillance” was a village in France. 😉

          I do not do FB, but I do see the value in it as a means of connecting with neighbors, warnings about crime, lost pets, etc.
          As others have noted OPSEC, and I would agree.

          However, pre-COVID yes, posting that you just bought 12lbs of pasta, or 25lbs of flour, 10lbs of dried yeast could be a OPSEC violation.
          Nowadays, in this inflationary environment, no one bats an eye at that kind of thing. People filling up their vehicles before it gets to half empty. Read more than a few articles about people having to choose between filling up or food.
          2020-21′ I saw a lot of new gardens go up. What used to be a “hobby,” gardening may go mainstream this year. I expect there to be a lot more FB traffic on gardens, gardening, sharing tips etc.
          Is it really OPSEC if dang near everyone is doing it?

          • “Is it really OPSEC if dang near everyone is doing it?”

            yes. automated data algorithms will parse what you post for any indication of “hoarding” and you’ll be taxed extra for “your fair share”. at minimum.

            it will all be on a “social credit” ranking. hits for any mention of “guns” or “firearms” , hits for any mention of “prepping” or “storage”, hits for any mention of “lost it all in a boating accident”, etc. it’ll all be summed into a unitary score in various categories such as “threat”, “hoarder”, “anti-social”, etc, and acted upon.

    • I have a facebook group. Not local as in neighborhood but local as in a group of moms living in the same general area. I do most of the posting. While I do post a bit on “prepping” most of what I focus on is old fashioned skills related to family life, economic hardship or self-sufficiency. The tiny town we live near has a Facebook group where a lot of support networking already happens like alerts for thieves getting caught on trail cams, warnings about someone going through mailbox contents or “I found this dog, are you the owner?” kind of posts.

  • Google sheets…”Google sheets? Really?…Facebook? One cannot be a ‘grey’ (person) and still have any lapse in OP-SEC. Think before you act (write) anything that could be “seen”.

  • I think that it is important to accept that at some point, everyone dies. If there were to be some sort of true emergency in America, to the point where supply chains completely broke down and people were starving, which did happen in Russian Ukraine during the Holodomore, millions starved to death, and some people resorted to cannibalism during that time, It is better to starve than to be a cannibal. People should not compromise their principles, values, and morality in an emergency. People should prepare themselves psychologically for dying over surviving if surviving requires compromising their morality.

  • Piggybacking off of the author’s suggestion about practicing getting around in your home in the dark: practice making an off grid meal, including cleaning up afterward. Pretend the power and water are off. Then, try a whole day of it. It will help you realize where there are gaps in preparation.

    Also, try a week of buying nothing at the grocery store. If supply chain issues get as bad as some are predicting, you’ll want to know now what supplies you might not have thought of.

    • “try a week of buying nothing at the grocery store”

      more accurately, try a month or three of not spending a single dollar on anything at all. THAT will tell you exactly where you stand.

    • Carla, that’s a good idea. In our household, with respect to grocery shopping, we’ve fine tuned only going once every 6 weeks…..it took us some time to get a rhythm going, but now we wait for the next cycle if we run out of something instead of going to get only one or two items. We got into this habit a few years ago because of where we live and the possibility of summer storms having a negative impact – such as being without water and power for more than a week.

  • Unfortunately, I need to say this because idiots in InfraGard, the WHO, and the medical mafia weren’t bright enough to figure it out for themselves, but being a terrorist and or a predatory criminal is a guaranteed way to be a loser for life. Most people know that, but InfraGard, the WHO, and medical mafia haven’t figured it out that only criminals violate people’s rights and only criminals live by the ideology that they are exempt from the law, so now they should prepare to go to prison.

  • One of the things that made me see how unprepared I was, is the fact I was chubby. Getting in shape was almost the first step in my prepping agenda after my son was born.

  • Any thoughts on the Telegram app? I’m pretty sure everything is compromised by now in regards to OpSec and social media apps and there’s truly no way to get around it. Just throwing this app out there as I just left a group on telegram because they were not doing very good OpSec and talked to much.
    I was literally just thinking of going around my house in the dark the other night. Definitely going to do that tonight. Thanks for great post.

    • TexasAntigone, you might already be aware of some of my comments, but I’m sharing for the benefit of others as well. Unless I’m mistaken, Telegram can encrypt (end-to-end) private chats, but not group sessions. You have to enable it for private chats, because it doesn’t do so by default. Many people consider Signal to be better, but not as many people use it – so if you have a group of contacts who already use Telegram, they might not to want to switch. Telegram logs IP addresses and other data, so you’ll want to use a VPN if you don’t already do so. Telegram’s encryption was developed by the Telegram team itself, and it has received some criticism from the cryptography community. Telegram has the ability to read your chats, requires you to provide a phone number to sign up, and although I have no direct knowledge of this – they will most likely provide information to the authorities if requested by a court order. For me personally, I don’t use it because I don’t like the fact the development team is in Dubai.

      • … I should have mentioned, there are alternatives to using your own personal phone number when you sign up….Signal requires a phone number also…..

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