by Daisy Luther
We can all agree that prepping costs money. It’s hard to imagine buying extra food when you feel like you can barely buy groceries to make it until the next paycheck. Thinking about spending over $100 on a prepper purchase is enough to induce a cold sweat for a lot of folks. Over at Preppers University, we charge a fee that works out to only $17.50 a week for our live course that helps folks get prepped in eight weeks flat and many people feel that even that is too much for their budgets to handle
But is it really?
Or do you actually blow more than that every single week on frivolous things? If you are like most Americans, it’s entirely likely that you have many places you could slash spending with very little effect on your quality of life.
Can you afford to prep?
One of the most frequent questions I hear from readers is, “What do I do if I can’t afford to prep?”
And my answer is always this. “Are you sure you can’t afford it? What money could you reallocate?”
If you aren’t already in an absolutely dire situation, then nearly all of us have some places that we can cut the budget and put that money to better use. It’s time for some tough love. Some painful, brutal honesty. If you “can’t afford to prep” but you are still spending money on any of the things on the list below, then you have willfully signed on for a very difficult future. One that won’t just affect you, but also your family.
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. (If you are in that situation, this article may be more helpful to you.)
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 many basic necessities would skipping those pedicures while sipping a $6 Starbucks have purchased for you?
30 easy spending cuts that will give you the money you need to prep
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. None of these suggestions are particularly difficult or life-altering. It’s just a different way of looking at things.
- 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.
- Join a Farm Co-op. You can get baskets of produce for more than half the year at a fraction of the price.
- 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. If you like your coffee fancy, here are 25 recipes for homemade coffee creamers so that you can be your own barista.
- Brown bag it. Bring a healthy lunch from home instead of spending $5 or more each workday on your lunch. If you buy cheap (and horribly unhealthy) lunches for only $5, you will save over $1300 per year by bringing last night’s leftovers.
- Skip the meat. Consider 2 meatless meals per week, or at the very least make meat a condiment instead of the main dish.
- 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. Switch to Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon prime. Heck, all three combined will be far less than cable and satellite.
- 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.
- 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.
- Shop around for car and home insurance. Make sure you are getting the best price. My rates dropped more than $300 a year when I recently changed companies.
- Grow your own veggies and herbs. Here are some tips to get going with your garden on a dime.
- Find the best phone plan. For some it may be Skype, for others it may be a cellphone 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.
- Take shorter showers. This can save you up to $100 per year.
- Make homemade pizza instead of ordering delivery. At the very least, go pick the pizza up to save yourself delivery charges and tip. Bonus: homemade is delicious and you have control over the ingredients.
- Hang your clothes to dry. Air-drying instead of using an electric dryer can save over $300 per year. Plus, your clothes will last longer.
- Wash your clothes in cold water. This can save $50 per year and reduce the wear and tear on your clothing.
- Don’t throw away your leftovers. You can collect small amounts of leftovers 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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. (Here are some flu season tips.) Also, good nutrition, vitamins, exercise, and some exposure to sunshine all help to boost your immune system. Being sick results in lost wages, money spent on trips to the doctor, and expensive medications.
- 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. Here is an article that shows my weekly food prep routine.
- Skip the gym and take your workout outside. Walk, run, bike, or hike and save those monthly fees.
- Quit smoking. Need I say more?
- DIY your hair color. At the very least, touch up your roots at home. If you can’t do it yourself, consider going to a local cosmetology school for your hairdressing needs.
- Speaking of hair – consider simplifying. Try to stretch the time between haircuts, 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.
- Ditch the fake nails. I used to have a friend that insisted it was essential 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. Keep in mind they aren’t always the best deal, though. If you purchase mostly whole foods, they may be of little use. Be sure to compare with the price of the less expensive store brands – sometimes coupons aren’t that great of a deal.
- Skip the fancy cleaning supplies. Use household items like white vinegar and baking soda to keep your house spotless.
- Repair instead of replacing. 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.
- 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. 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.
- Stay home. When you stay home, you aren’t spending money on gas, drinks, food and shopping. I love staying home so much I wrote an entire article about the glorious thrift of it. 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.
If you make these changes, we aren’t talking about hundreds of dollars per year. We are talking about thousands of cumulative dollars that could be put to much more practical use.
When you look at it that way, hey, maybe you actually can afford to prep.
There’s no time to lose.
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.
We are running out of time to purchase things at a reasonable price. Taxes are increasing, prices are increasing, war drums are beating, 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. And if you’ve reorganized the money to get prepped, check out our Prepping Intensive course. It’s $17.50 a week for the upcoming session, and more than half of every to-do list is absolutely free. (We even have an easy, 3-part payment plan.) We’ll help you get prepped in 8 weeks, even if your budget is super tight.
For those of you with a black belt in frugality, what are some cuts that you have made in order to meet your goals?