Actually, You CAN Afford to Prep: 30 Easy Spending Cuts to Make It Possible

(Psst: The FTC wants me to remind you that this website contains affiliate links. That means if you make a purchase from a link you click on, I might receive a small commission. This does not increase the price you'll pay for that item nor does it decrease the awesomeness of the item. ~ Daisy)

by Daisy Luther

Author of Be Ready for Anything and Build a Better Pantry on a Budget online course.

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.

  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. If you like your coffee fancy, here are 25 recipes for homemade coffee creamers so that you can be your own barista.
  4. 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.
  5. Skip the meat. Consider 2 meatless meals per week, or at the very least make meat a condiment instead of the 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. Switch to Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon prime. Heck, all three combined will be far less than cable and satellite.
  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. Make sure you are getting the best price. My rates dropped more than $300 a year when I recently changed companies.
  10. Grow your own veggies and herbs. Here are some tips to get going with your garden on a dime.
  11. 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.
  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. Bonus: homemade is delicious and you have control over the ingredients.
  14. 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.
  15. Wash your clothes in cold water. This can save $50 per year and reduce the wear and tear on your clothing.
  16. 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.
  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.  (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.
  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. Here is an article that shows my weekly food prep routine.
  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. If you can’t do it yourself, consider going to a local cosmetology school for your hairdressing needs.
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
  26. 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.
  27. Skip the fancy cleaning supplies. Use household items like white vinegar and baking soda to keep your house spotless.
  28. 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.
  29. 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.
  30. 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?

Picture of Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived, and 3), an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. She is widely republished across alternative media and  Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

Leave a Reply

  • With the availability of services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, etc. ditching cable does not have to be such a big deal. We watched over the air television for over a year. Just recently added internet back. Netflix is hubbie’s favorite. I just still watch regular TV. The grandson was just fine with PBS and our extensive collection of children’s movies. Drinking water vs. soda will not only save you money, but could help you to lose some weight; I consider that a win/win! I think the last time I had a professional hair cut was 1993; I trim my own hair, cut the hubbie’s and grandson’s as well. We still have our ‘unneccesary’ expenses,and don’t spend as much as we should on prepping, but it can be done. Our stores saw us through a rough time when I lost my job and was out of work for 3 years (I was the primary breadwinner at the time). My current income is much less than it was, but we have adjusted, using many of the tips that Daisy listed. Thrift stores are the only stores we shop (unless we need something specific). Buying generic/off brand foods vs. brand names is a biggie too. Aldi’s has an organic line too.

  • Agree with most of these but a couple of comments. I don’t see where saving 5.00 a day by brown bagging lunch adds up to 6000.00. 5 days a week times 52 weeks a year is more like 1300.00. the other is not to use credit cards. this should be don’t carry a balance on credit cards. I use cards all the time and pay them off each month. i pick up about 600.00 a year in cash back and points. This adds up to 50.00 a months to spend on preps. Now if people can’t use CC and not carry a balance that’s another article . To narrow it down you just need to separate NEEDS from WANTS.

  • i have been prepping for many years but always rotate and buy more as needed. my computer crashed in november and i had to get a new one. it was paid off on may 5th so i can put that money into my stash and add a few things i need/want. you have lots of good suggestions in this post. thank you for the info.

  • I think the credit card advice only holds if you do not have the self-discipline to pay your balance off every month. I have a travel points credit card, which I put EVERYTHING on. I pay the balance in full every 20 days, and do not pay interest. I live in western Ontario, my father lives 2 very long days’ drive away in Massachusetts. My travel points pay for the hotels when I drive to visit him. They are free hotel stays, since I never pay interest.

  • One very good resource for saving money on groceries is “The More with Less Cookbook.” Very popular in the 1980’s, this book is loaded with money saving recipes and tips, such as saving all leftover vegetable skins and waste and meat bones to make “garbage soup”, and lots of bean and rice recipes which are both healthier ans save a lot of money over meat. Also when using meat, try cooking Asian meals, in which small amounts of meat are mixed with lots of vegetables and grain, rather than American meals where a $30 roast is the main dish, with veggies and potatoes serving as relatively small ‘sides’. Remember that the serving size of protein (meat, poultry or fish) that the body needs for optimal health is only the size of a deck of playing cards.

  • Unfortunately I learned how to budget and plan more effectively by an on the job accident that left me permanently disabled. I was unable to work at all from various conditions and limitations the injuries left me with. This was a pretty rude awakening in a short amount of time but it really was a blessing in disguise for me. Today at 66 years young and making less than $15,000.00 per year on social security, I am totally debt free from a personal loan and credit card debt. I’ve even managed to put together a savings account with a nice, small amount set by for emergencies that will bail a single woman out of most things that can come up without notice. Was it an easy, fun experience? NO it certainly was not! Did I have help? Yes I did but not from family or friends. I did receive a small settlement from the work related accident but there was no going out and blowing it on frivolous items I didn’t really need . I sat down at the table and went over expenses, loan and CC amounts and trimmed the budget back using many of the ideas here in this article. My income was going to drop permanently quite a bit and I needed to learn how to live on a lot less.

    The biggest take away of this experience for me? I was really surprised by a new sense of contentment in my life and the revelation that it really doesn’t take money to be happy and have good times! I’ve cultivated a group of friends who get together a few times a month at each other’s home over a pot luck dinner and a few movies or some board games we all enjoy. I’ve been prepping for about 20 years so I have camping gear and I’m fortunate to live in one of the most beautiful states in the USA, Oregon. I can still throw my gear in the back of the car and take my pick of a lot of mountain campgrounds and lakes to kick back and relax in, just soaking up the beauty. Occasionally I might exert myself to throw a fishing line in the water or grab my binoculars to identify a bird but spend money like I used to? Nope! My new life is much more rewarding to me. I could have done without the accident but there are many far worse than I am and I’ve been very blessed in many ways.

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