SELCO: If You’re Broke, Remember, The Most Important Preps Don’t Cost Money

(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 the author of The Dark Secrets of Survival and  the online courseOne Year in Hell

I read the latest statistics here about inflation, salaries, expenses, and whatnot.

In a bunch of information, I read one of the most interesting statistics for me, and it is info that people here spend around 45 percent of (average) salary on food only. And it is like very essential food, not fancy or dining out.

the best preps don't cost money

Statistics are a funny thing, so it makes sense also to mention that majority of folks get much less than the average salary. But there is also a percentage of people (politicians, and others on the government ‘tit’) who receive salaries 5-6 times larger than the common folks. So “average salary“ is a funny number actually.

But, statistics work that way.

You do not have to be a mathematic wizard to realize (based on these numbers) that a huge number of people are struggling every month to cover expenses only for food, and covering anything else is like science fiction for them.

Those are folks who work and got some salary for it.

The unemployment rate goes from 30 to 50 percent, depending on who you ask –  government or nongovernment sources.

So, there are a lot of hungry people here. The government and statistics do not mention them.

I am not sure about the numbers in your region and the place where you live, but I am positive that there are no good numbers anywhere today, only bad numbers and statistics.

Everyone everywhere is struggling.

Where are preppers in all of this?

I see us through the prism of two important things:

1.) What to do (from the physical side of things)

2.) What to do (from the psychological side)

The physical side

This is clearly a time when you need carefully to think about what you are doing with your own money. Actually that time is here for quite a while already.

Also, this is a time when you carefully need to think and re-think something that I mentioned many times, and that is necessity vs. comfort (luxury).

You as a prepper should know what is really necessary and essential and you should aim for that. These are not times to throw money away on not necessary things.

Keep in mind that the survival industry is also a selling industry, so no matter how something in the Preppersphere looks cool for you to buy, you need to think twice about whether you are going to buy it. Because maybe you can find it for free somewhere, and also keep in mind that buying prepper stuff just to get peace of mind usually only lasts for a short amount of time.

Choose carefully.

On the other side, I do not necessarily advocate sitting on your money (if you have some amount).

In times like these holding a certain amount of money for quick solutions when SHTF makes sense, and for regular expenses while there are still regular expenses. BUT if you are sitting on a bigger amount of money maybe it is time to invest it in something that is more “shielded” against troubles.

(How can you get your food preps better squared away? Check out our free QUICKSTART Guide to learn more.)

Remember that the best preps do not require money.

Since many of us live from paycheck to paycheck if we are lucky enough to have job-we do not have the “troubles” of handling larger amounts of money.

If you are asking yourself, “what can I do these days? I can not afford to invest anything in my prepping?“ then remember that best preps do not require money.

The best preps are skills and plans. Start with those that are free, if you are beyond those steps then go back and again.

  • Recheck your plans and strategies, stashes, and preps…for example go again through your plans about what to do if the SHTF, how and with who. Go through it with your family, and simply do it in the spirit of the latest events worldwide. Maybe you did not plan for something that is happening now. Talk and discuss and work on your plans.
  • Test and retest. There is nothing like bringing it as close as possible to the real stuff, so after you went through the steps mentioned above, and noticed or not changes, do exercises like going through the bug-out route, or testing how fast and when you can meet with your family members if something bad happens. Simply check what works and what does not work with your equipment.
  • Learn… Yes, there is still time to learn stuff, and yes there is lot of stuff that is actually free. Invest time in learning new skills that you find useful for the coming SHTF.
  • Exercise. I know it is easier to say than to do, but it is free. Work on your fitness. You’ll be thankful for it one day.

The psychological side

There is a local saying here from one of the public figures that goes like this (paraphrasing):

“Daily problems about politics, hate. and the nation’s problems are for the people with very low income. People who have a bit better income discuss nice furniture, gardens, and similar. People with average income discuss healthy food, nice living, etc. Folks who have very good income talk only about love and highly spiritual things.”

The message of this is that if you are living normal and wealthy life you do not give s..t about hate, problems, fear and similar or you simply discuss those topics from the point of philosophy.

If you are very poor, or hungry, you live in fear and you can be easily manipulated and driven into hate, rage, and all the bad stuff.
You are dependent and you can easily be manipulated by a lot of things, with promises or fear.

Guess what? There are more and more poor and hungry people, and there is more and more manipulation, hate, promises, and fear. So, as a result, there are a lot of bad things possible to happen, since in my opinion there is a larger mass to be manipulated.

You may be saying it is not true from the point that lot of wealthy people are into hate and wrong things. But the point of the saying is basically, are you dependent and scared?

Now, what you as a prepper could do?

You need to keep that common sense and healthy judgment. Don’t allow yourself to be led in the wrong direction and manipulated.

No matter how times are bad, how low is your salary, or how big are the promises, you, as a prepper in your own core need to be free to judge not based on fear, but on facts and information that you collected alone.

Otherwise, what’s the point of being a prepper or survivalist?

(Want uninterrupted access to The Organic Prepper? Check out our paid-subscription newsletter.)

What are your thoughts?

Do you agree with the saying that Selco mentioned about how the people who are more desperate are the easiest to manipulate with hate and fear?

How are you proceeding with preparedness if money is tight? What can we do when we can’t afford to buy preps?

Let’s talk about this in the comments.

About Selco:

Selco survived the Balkan war of the 90s in a city under siege, without electricity, running water, or food distribution. 

In his online works, he gives an inside view of the reality of survival under the harshest conditions. He reviews what works and what doesn’t, tells you the hard lessons he learned, and shares how he prepares today.

He never stopped learning about survival and preparedness since the war. Regardless of what happens, chances are you will never experience extreme situations as Selco did. But you have the chance to learn from him and how he faced death for months.

Real survival is not romantic or idealistic. It is brutal, hard, and unfair. Let Selco take you into that world.



Selco survived the Balkan war of the 90s in a city under siege, without electricity, running water, or food distribution. In his online works, he gives an inside view of the reality of survival under the harshest conditions. He reviews what works and what doesn’t, tells you the hard lessons he learned, and shares how he prepares today. He never stopped learning about survival and preparedness since the war. Regardless what happens, chances are you will never experience extreme situations as Selco did. But you have the chance to learn from him and how he faced death for months. Read more of Selco's articles here. Buy his PDF books here. Take advantage of a deep and profound insight into his knowledge by signing up for his unrivaled online course. Real survival is not romantic or idealistic. It is brutal, hard and unfair. Let Selco take you into that world.

Leave a Reply

  • Well, ONE problem that a lot conveniently leave out is. You mention that food costs consume about 40 percent of a paycheck, and that’s NOT for fancy food or dining out. One key omission. How many people actually eat at at home and actually prepare and cook their own meals anymore?
    Sadly there are many people who that is the ONLY thing they really know how to do is order out!! So many don’t know how to cook a simple meal, or make a coffee even, let alone prep or plan for an entire week’s worth of meals. For them it’s just the instant gratification, click the phone and the kid on a bike delivers food, and im full for the night!!
    When it hits the fan, these clowns are going to still order their olive toast for breakfast with a double whappa crappa analventi penetrati special from starbucks for 12 dollars a glass.
    These spoiled kids will be the same ones who demand the government tell their landlords they are not allowed to evict them after not paying rent for 4 months, because they just ‘can’t make ends meet’.
    Sadly my niece is one of these people. Crying she can’t pay the electric bill but can order 20 to 30 dollars of starbucks a day for her and the teenager in high school so she can look cool. When I point out to her that she’s spending 900 plus a month at a flippin coffee shop, which is a car payment, your electric bill PLUS all the home made coffee you could possibly drink, Im told, I just don’t understand. Sorry, the Uncle ATM is closed, get your 41t together sweetie.

    You are right, statistics are a funny thing. When I was working in ‘corporate world’ we had a ‘statistical tool’ called Mini-Tab. You plug in your numbers and it had an almost endless supply of algorhythyms you could then manipulate these numbers with. Basically we went through a class that taught us how to use this tool, to make our numbers say what we needed them to say. Collect data, input, then run equations until we got our desired result. It WAS legit, it WAS ‘scientifically proven’ SEE here is the FORMULA so it MUST be true !!!

    Ive learned long ago that statistics are total crap, and more times than not are not trends or predictors but tools of manipulation and an attempt to sway the public into a mindset of thinking and acting.
    DO you want to be with the ‘correct crowd’, the ‘cool kids’ ,then believe what I tell you, or do you want to be a moron and NOT listen to MY carefully crafted numbers?

    Critical thinking went out the window 2 generations ago. Maybe the world actually DOES need to get rid of a whole lot of useless eaters.

    No I am NOT prejudice, I hate everybody ! Have a Preppy Day !

    • “When I was working in ‘corporate world’ we had a ‘statistical tool’ called Mini-Tab. You plug in your numbers and it had an almost endless supply of algorhythyms you could then manipulate these numbers with. Basically we went through a class that taught us how to use this tool, to make our numbers say what we needed them to say. Collect data, input, then run equations until we got our desired result.”

      This made me smile. It reminded me of someone I deeply admired.

      I was in a conference listening to a respected and brilliant lecturer with a deep background in defense technology and contracting. This was back in 2000. He said:

      “Computed statistics are malleable. If you torture the data long enough it’ll confess to anything.”

      I miss Chuck Missler. Thanks for reminding me of and bringing this little understood truth about statistics into the light.

    • Kids are learning though. My daughter is finally learning how to cook after having her own apartment and realizing the costs of her chosen lifestyle. Now she’s asking me for recipes!

  • As usual, Selco makes more sense than many in the field. When I began my journey in this lifestyle, I also bought a bunch of things. Some of those things haven’t been used since, but I learned from the experience. One thing I’ve learned is that a pile of stuff will help but no pile lasts forever, plus it needs to be defended should others learn of it. Gray woman is my best strategy right now. My preps these days are skills acquisitions.

    Historically, a hungry, fearful, and uneducated populace is easier to control. IMO this is what it comes down to for the elites: power and control. They don’t care if the cities burn, but attack them personally and revenge will be both swift and very public. They’ll let a guilty man walk free if it cements their ability to stay in power. Never underestimate what these elites are willing to do in the name of power.

    And yes, truly Mark Twain spoke when he said there are lies, damned lies, and statistics. If the MSM tells me that inflation is at 8% and dropping but my lying eyes calculate my grocery bill as 20% higher and rising, I believe my lying eyes. I adapt and adjust to what’s available, take advantage of sales as I see them, and cook at home. And remember gratitude! A positive mind is easier to carry than a negative mind, and a better position to deal with reality from.

  • Some more good advise from Selco.
    Preppers need to continually look and revise their lifestyle and their spending habits. Along with this should be a check of your Plan A and Plan B, in case of a SHTF scenario. This includes “escape routes”. Construction, new roads, new home subdivisions, new industrial parks, even new fences, might change your ability to move freely towards your destination.

    Not everybody can afford the latest and greatest prepper gadget, nor should they try to. ( Besides, a lot of them will probably be found abandoned after SHTF. When their owners bugged out and found they could not take all that crap with them). Most of the High dollar Preppers are “Fashion Preppers”.
    It is fasionable to have the latest and greatest gadget and they have to compete with the Prepper Jones family, on who has the coolest stuff.
    Don’t fall into that trap.
    Over Prepping, is as bad as not prepping at all. It is a money pit that will drag you down and consume you. People having this problem may also have insecurity or other mental/emotional issues that need delt with before SHTF, if they are to have any hope of surviving it.

    • You said one key sentence there that EVERYBODY needs to dissect and understand.

      I’ll just pick a few words from it.

      Prepper GADGET. ie, toys, look good but don’t work good ie ..CRAP.

      Your 40 dollar water purification suck thru it straw is not going to be worth crap when it’s growing a week later. You want disinfected water, then learn how to boil it !! it’s not that hard, trust me, you CAN do it!!!

      I’ll relish when the fancy fools perish, then I can pick through their fancy toys at will to see if there’s anything I want to keep for myself 🙂

  • well, one way to prep on a severe budget is, especially for many overweight, overfed folks, is to reduce and simplify the diet….all those burgers and pizza aren’t doing you much good anyway, especially as we age…turns out the healthiest old folks are those that eat modestly and simply….also get rid of the factory processed foods…they are no good for you…a simple bowl of fresh picked beans will do your body better than a couple of tombstone frozen pizzas, followed by a double helping of double chocolate ice cream….almost all modern storebought foods are literally loaded with modern ingredients of questionable worth…instead, grow some greens in your garden space….have an avocado tree and some citrus…all this will cost you less than what you are used to eating in this modern world.

  • “If you are very poor, or hungry, you live in fear and you can be easily manipulated and driven into hate, rage, and all the bad stuff.
    You are dependent and you can easily be manipulated by a lot of things, with promises or fear.”

    This statement hits close to home. During the depression (the 1930’s one, not the one we’re in..) my g-grandfather was a distrusted (locally) farmer. He was distrusted because he bought a farm and surrounding land on a tax sale for nonpayment. He was also Hungarian in a sea of Englishmen. The next closest Hungarian farm was my other g-grandfather’s. 10 miles away by horse.

    Two years into the depression he couldn’t stop the thieves, even with five strong sons. So, he started feeding a few and employing them. Guess he chose the right ones, because the thieving stopped. Completely. The English neighbors started taking over all the security for the farm and livestock.., see, thieves know who the other thieves are and will keep them out. Or lie about the way things are. Either way. When push comes to shove we all will manipulate. Just got to do your recon early and sift the wheat from the chaff.

    After the war (WWII, not the last 30 years of wars..) those folks he took care of fell right back into being the same bitter people they were before the SHTF. No surprise there.

    I’ll just copy and paste my g-grandfathers playbook. I’ll feed and take care of my neighbors. 90 years and the more things change the more they stay the same.

    As far as the money spent on preps, lol!, I’m a farmer. My biggest assets (my land and livestock) are also my biggest financial liabilities. I have a plan to disburse my critters to other locations to keep them alive, but in the end, who knows? I’ve spent two years ahead on fuel, material, parts, new rams and bulls and culled down to a skeletal herd and flock that I wouldn’t have recognized two years ago.

    It’s weird, you know, looking out and only seeing 66 head and three pigs compared to 18 months ago. I can make it on this, but all it takes is one disease and I ain’t in business nor feeding nearly as many folks as I’d feel comfortable about right now with the numbers I have on hand.

  • I think that getting to know what is available right now to eat in your neighborhood is very important. For instance, where I live there are numerous forageable foods as well as trees that I planted in my permaculture garden. I found in my recent learning about forageable foods that there are many edible plants in my flower garden that I might not have realized were edible if I had not researched it. Seeds I saved from last year’s garden are also free.

    • thats a thing many people can do, there are a LOT of plants that are edible but not really stand out ish, they look like ground cover or just another weed. This is good, you can have plenty of medicinal food and plants and nobody really knows. Will it taste wonderful… probably not… will it keep you alive,…absolutely. You can always trade for it too. My yard is rather a mess, stuff growing all over the place, however, all those weeds are either edible or medicinal. the neighbors think eww, redneck schmuck. God Bless them, I’ll say a quick prayer for them, when I boil them down for renderings to run my diesel generator for the night, and their lazy ass to feed my pigs for the week. Coffee, Tea, or Me….

  • Selco’s correct in stating that the most useful of all one’s Preps costs nothing. It can’t be bought or sold, because it requires a shift in your thinking. No one can make the shift for you. You and you alone are the only one who can make that shift. Other’s, can point the way, but they can’t change your thinking.
    Years ago, I briefly worked in a Chemical Dependency Unit for recovering substance abusers. The counselors would talk about “Stinking Thinking,” as that thinking that leads to abuse. The mindset of “I have problems so I drink/use,” when the reality is “You have problems because you drink/use.” The goal is to help the person recognize that only they can change their circumstances. That same reality applies to everyday life, and it applies to Prepping as well. All the equipments and supplies one can accumulate, does very little good if you don’t know how to use them, and learning at the last minute could have disastrous consequences.
    I liken Prepping to a chess game. A game where one needs to be several moves ahead of where the pieces are on the board. Each move, also requires contingency planning in case the results of the move lead to undesirable situations. The difference between chess and Prepping though, is you’re not facing a single opponent, but multiple opponents all making moves to counter yours. So planning with plans within your plans is a must, as we’ll each face different factors arrayed against us.
    For example,, we won’t just be faced with a long term blackout, but all of the potential crises such a black out will entail, up to and including those that would kill you for your flashlight or lantern. So one needs not only having a way of producing light, but ways to protect that resource.
    Those that live in densely populated urban areas will face threats that those in a rural setting won’t face, and vice versa, as each situation will be new to those of us trying to survive. Though I tend to believe those of us in rural areas are more used to being self reliant to a greater degree.
    Knowledge and the ability to use that knowledge will be key. It’s one thing to know a dozen ways about building a temporary shelter out of available materials, but until you’ve actually assembled a shelter, you won’t know the effort it requires. So Selco is right about testing and retesting your preps to make sure they’re adequate and you’re proficient in their use. You might not have time or opportunity to read the instructions during a crisis. Having a gun, does little good if you don’t know how to safely handle it, load it, shoot it accurately and maintain it, and that goes for a lot of the equipment in our preps.
    So a change in our thinking is the greatest prep we can make. To get rid of our Stinking Thinking, and realize and accept that only you can save yourself from the troubles coming our way. It costs nothing but time. It should also be a continuing and ongoing process that adapts as the situation and circumstances are ever changing.

  • “Daily problems about politics, hate. and the nation’s problems are for the people with very low income.”

    I have to disagree. If you are truly living hand-to-mouth, I’ve been there, done that, there’s no time for politics, hate and the nation’s problems. A person’s focus become very narrow—what shall I eat? Can I stretch the next meal out into two? That package of Ramen is enough for two meals if you add enough water to it. Cooking from scratch is the only way to stretch out the money, to the point of grinding my own wheat to make bread (two cups of wheat make three cups of flour, don’t ask me why). Buy the cheese separate from the macaroni to make mac and cheese, it tastes better that way anyways, then add some tomato slices. Buy as much as possible in bulk, it usually costs less per serving. Pants split? Sew it back up. Shoe Goo really helps stretch out the life of one’s shoes. It works on frayed wires too, if you catch the fraying in time. When you are really desperately poor, there’s no time for politics, hate and the nation’s problems. There’s just the struggle for survival and those dependent on me.

    Now I had the advantage over those in homeless camps of a roof over my head, so I had a place to store tools and bulk items. Even a ’fridge. The sort of things that would fit in a van should I lose my present situation.

    But when I was single, with no dependents, I camped. But I avoided the homeless camps. I used my woodsmanship knowledge to do stealth camping. The park police didn’t mind as long as I kept my camp site clean and off a beaten path. No camp fires allowed (though I wonder if a Solo Stove would have been allowed) but I had a liquid gas stove for hot meals. Could I return to that life? I think so.

    What concerns me are all the people with no skills (other than a desk job) suddenly being out on the street not knowing what to do.

    • RO with respect you did not fall in the “Poor Me” that so many homeless-druggies and such are trapped in.

      You made choices using logic. AND thus, you grew out of that homeless phase.

      Logic is a rare commodity. Thus, the truism of WC Fields that nobody lost money (or political power) overestimating the stupidity of the mass of people.

      I’ve spent too much time working at shelters-food banks, watching folks throw away food because “They don’t like that” (True stories) or I don’t cook (again true stories) or trading the “GOOD STUFF” to others for drugs. Even with the troubles with paychecks today “Hard to Cook” stuff like dry beans are still really cheap while folks are getting fussy about lack of frozen pizza.

      Poor people make poor decisions, they ARE very easy to manipulate, and they VOTE. Politicians and other demagogues are experts at getting the masses to follow them through base instincts like “You’re HUNGRY Because THEY are stealing Your Food”.

      demagogues (plural noun)
      a political leader who seeks support by appealing to the desires and prejudices of ordinary people rather than by using rational argument:

      Berserker talks about “Stinking thinking” it’s real life.

      Jim makes an excellent point about feeding-hiring the locals as so to stop them from stealing from the farm. I’ve read that sort of story from my families Great Depression diaries.

      You cannot hide from neighbors that YOU’RE Not “Suffering” as Bad as they are. You cannot shoot them all. You have to adapt and deal with the troubles day by day and keep the demagogs from mob ruling your life. Demagogues start small, like “Community Organizers” and rise rapidly with inflammatory speech about injustice, etc.

      Or as it was said in Julious Caeser “Yon Cassis has a lean and hungry look, mark that man, such men are dangerous”.

  • I would add to the exercise part, good dental work and keep up with it.
    Not just brushing, but flossing.
    At some part, no matter how deep you stock, the supply of tooth paste will run out.
    Look for natural alternatives.

    Quality gear. Might cost a bit more up front, but if it last longer, or works better than a cheaper counterpart it will pay for itself. Especially when it comes to clothing, boots, socks, backpacks, tents etc.
    I do not recall the name of the commenter, but he said something to the effect that he was with a long time known wilderness like person, and was excited to show him his skill at lighting a fire using primitive methods. The guy looked at him and said, “Why? Use a lighter,” and handed him a Bic.
    In the past both Selco and others have mentioned the ubiquitous Bic lighter.
    Thing is, seems to me when ever I try to use one, it fails. Or it is not easy to use in some situations.
    Currently I am trying out an EXOTAC, titanLIGHT lighter. Think of a ruggedized lighter. The flints are Ferrocerium that work when wet. You can put two back up flints inside the lighter. You can replace all parts in the field without tools. I have bought extra parts, wicks, and flints. Granted needs fuel, but we keep at least two bottles of lighter fluid on hand at all times. I think this may out long the use of a handful of Bics over time. Of course if the SHTF is prolonged enough, we all will be going back to the days of flint and steel (I have more than a few of those on hand) or bow drill.

    Cooking from scratch is a great way to save on money.
    If you look around, a number of cook books have what are modern takes on what was once peasant food. Stews, soups, pot pies, even roasted chicken. Leftovers can feed a person or family the next day or even two. Also the leftovers can be made into other dishes. What you dont eat of the Sunday roasted chicken, strip the carcass of most of the meat, and make stock. Strain and save the fat. Take the meat and that is chicken tacos the next night. Leftover mashed potatoes, make for potato croquets the next dinner. Leftover pasta, next morning add a few eggs and you have a frittata.

  • Just an observation about the psychological side of the equation: Sure people can get manipulated to accuse XYZ person, or political party of their personal situation. Get enough of them and things start to go sideways, like storming the Bastille sideways.
    As preppers, like to think we are a bit more smart to avoid or recognize that kind of thing and avoid it, least we get the mess on us. I think Selco says something to the effect of, “Dont be there.”

    Side note, we are currently getting anywhere from 10-12 inches of snow, with some serious winds, white out conditions.
    We are not going anywhere.
    We are going to bundle up to attend to the livestock this afternoon, water and feeding.
    Otherwise, sit in front of a good fire, read a good book. Other ways to keep one’s psyche from continuing the downward spiral, are cards games, board games, puzzles, or other hobbies. Heck, even bad karaoke.
    I might polish the barrel on the bolt rifle this afternoon.

  • Agreed – once people are desperate they will find it hard to turn down a universal basic income that requires them to get a digital ID.

    And once the majority have it, the minority can be told to get it too.

    So if you want everyone to get a digital ID……make the majority desperate.

  • One of the reasons people are reluctant to buy “preps” like food, and spend 45 percent of their income on food is the other 65 percent is spent on payments on their mini-mansion, two cars, a truck, two ATVs, their boat, their motor home, and their massive credit card debt. GET OUT OF DEBT! You’d be amazed how little you can live on if you HAVE NO DEBT.

  • You Need More Than Food to Survive

    In the event of a long-term disaster, there are non-food essentials that can be vital to your survival and well-being. Make certain you have these 50 non-food stockpile essentials. Sign up for your FREE report and get prepared.

    We respect your privacy.
    Malcare WordPress Security